Meet America’s Most Hated Doctors -
You received years of specialized training in a field that you’re passionate about. You’ve decided to work in an area of the country where you feel you can make a difference. You have a family, and you’re primarily concerned about helping other families thrive. But at every turn, the state is enacting more barriers to your professional success. Your job options are limited because you’re not welcome in some American communities. And sometimes, protesters show up outside of the home you share with your children, shouting that they hate the work you do.
You’re on the front lines of the abortion wars.
The politicized debate over reproductive rights is typically framed as a tug of war between life and choice, women and babies, pregnancy and abortion. Although it’s no question that women’s bodies have become a battleground, there are other foot soldiers in this fight who don’t always enter the national conversation. The medical professionals who risk their jobs and their lives to perform legal abortions are under siege.
ThinkProgress spoke to eight individuals who either perform abortions for their patients or operate a clinic where abortions are offered. Some preferred to speak under pseudonyms, and others agreed to use their real names. They face unique challenges depending on which state they call home, but their stories all include a common thread. They want to help women — help them choose the best type of contraception, help them have healthy pregnancies, help deliver their babies, help them decide how many children to have, and help them beat cancer. They’re frustrated that they’re singled out, dealing with personal and professional hurdles that no other type of doctor is forced to experience.
They’re also not naive about what’s at stake in their daily lives.
“Let’s put it this way. You probably interview other professionals for news stories all the time and you never have to worry about whether you can identify their name, or the institution where they work,” Dr. David Eisenberg, a doctor practicing in St. Louis, pointed out to ThinkProgress. “It’s very clear to me that the work that I do puts me at risk on many levels. I’m willing to take these risks, but it’s ridiculous they exist in the first place.”
Casualties in the anti-abortion war
Exactly 21 years ago, Dr. David Gunn was shot three times in the back outside of his abortion clinic in Pensacola, Florida. According to media reports, a 31-year-old abortion protestor yelled “Don’t kill any more babies!” before opening fire at point-blank range. Gunn had been operating a clinic in Pensacola for just over a month before he was killed; it bore no signs advertising what type of services it provided.Everyone who does the work we do can’t forget the things that have happened.”
Gunn was the first doctor to become a casualty of the movement that calls itself pro-life. Since then, there have been seven more. In order to commemorate Gunn’s memory, reproductive rights advocates now mark the date of his death, March 10, as the National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers. Activist groups encourage people to send thank you cards to the people who risk their lives to do this work, an effort that abortion opponents typically mock.
“Everyone who does the work we do can’t forget the things that have happened, and the people who have been murdered and attacked,” Dr. Christopher Estes, an abortion provider in Florida, told ThinkProgress. “But I don’t let it stop me from doing what I do.”
“There can be backlash, and there are consequences. Hopefully they’re minimal — someone doesn’t want to invite you to a dinner party — but they can obviously also be much more serious,” Dr. Stephanie Long, a doctor from California, added.
Long noted that the people who do this work are very aware of which areas carry the highest risk. Before she moved to California, she trained and practiced in Idaho and New Mexico. There weren’t necessarily robust support systems there. She knows people who stopped providing abortion care in Idaho because it was too difficult for them. After all, if you’re the only abortion doctor within hundreds of miles, your clinic is on opponents’ radar, and your profile will likely be raised in the anti-choice community.
“There are big barriers for those in small communities. There’s a lot of fear for what someone might say to your family or your children. You’re not as anonymous as you are in a big city — if you’re walking into a town of 2,000, everyone knows who you are and recognizes you in the grocery store,” Long explained. “There’s a certain point along the path, when you’re picking different jobs, you realize that if you work at certain clinics, your name will be out there. You have to decide if you’re okay with that.”
“For a lot of people, they don’t want to deal with the hassles, they don’t want to become a target, they don’t want their clinic to be picketed. For most doctors, it’s not an ideological issue; it’s a practical issue. This work is hard,” Dr. Jennifer Rojas, which is not her real name, told ThinkProgress.
Rojas prefers to remain anonymous because elevating her profile is a threat to her professional life. She practices in Texas, where a new state law is forcing dozens of abortion providers out of work because they can’t comply with a regulation that requires them to obtain admitting privileges, which is essentially a superfluous partnership with a local hospital. It’s hard enough to get these admitting privileges as it is, and many doctors areunsuccessful. But becoming a target of local anti-choice groups can make it even worse. That can lead certain hospitals to refuse to work with you.For most doctors, it’s not an ideological issue; it’s a practical issue. This work is hard.”
In Ohio, another state with some of the harshest abortion laws on the books, Davis is similarly wary to elevate her profile. She decided not to publicly identify herself because Ohio Right To Life, the most prominent anti-abortion group in her state, already knows who she is. Her name is on their website; they send letters to her home. “They’re praying for me. I get Christmas cards. Stuff like that,” she said.
Davis isn’t necessarily intimidated by the abortion opponents in Ohio. But, like Rojas, she’s well aware of the vast ripple effects of being targeted by the country’s network of anti-choice groups. Protesters will often try to get abortion doctors evicted from their clinics, either by pressuring their landlords or by lobbying to rezone the local area. They’ll implore other medical professionals to refuse to work with the doctors who provide abortion care. And they’ll direct their attention to the hospitals where abortion doctors work, flooding the institutions with phone calls and letters. Davis doesn’t want to invite those type of “shenanigans,” as she calls them.
“They can do whatever they want to do to me. But I don’t want other people who didn’t choose to do this work to have to deal with this,” Davis said.
A new kind of anti-abortion harassment
Merle Hoffman owns one of the oldest abortion clinics in the United States.Choices Women’s Medical Center was founded in New York in 1971, when abortion was permitted in that state but hadn’t yet been legalized across the country. At this point, she’s seen it all.
“I’m in my 43rd year of doing this work,” Hoffman explained in an interview with ThinkProgress. “I’ve seen the ebb and flow over the decades — I’ve seen the murder of my friends, I’ve seen bombings and harassment, and I’ve personally been evicted from previous buildings because of protesters. I once had armed guards in front of my clinic for three months. Providers have had to endure every type of bullying and harassment.”
Although abortion clinic violence makes the headlines less frequently than it did 20 years ago, and there have been a few pieces of legislation enacted on the state and national levels to protect clinics and staff from harassment, that doesn’t mean the issue has gone away. In some ways, abortion providers are more at risk than ever before, now that state legislatures are effectively targeting them.
“Over the last 30 or 40 years since Roe, the different ways that abortion opponents attack safe abortion care have really changed over time,” Amy Hagstrom Miller, the founder and CEO of Texas’ largest independent abortion provider, Whole Woman’s Health, told ThinkProgress. “In the 1980s and 1990s, there were a lot of clinic blockades and bombings. Then they started specifically targeting physicians — there were a lot of murders. Now, you’ve seen a change in the approach. We have this new front of anti-abortion harassment through the legislature and through the court system.”We have this new front of anti-abortion harassment through the legislature and through the court system.”
Abortion opponents have been working to make it too difficult for doctors to provide abortion care by enacting dozens of complicated state-level restrictions that dictate how these services may be performed. Once state legislatures pass tighter restrictions, anti-choice activists can start filing complaints alleging clinics are breaking the new law and endangering their patients. Sometimes they’ll conduct undercover “stings” — posing as a minor trying to get an abortion without telling her parents, or pretending to be a woman forced to have an abortion against her will — in an attempt to catch the clinic staff making a wrong move. Ultimately, they’re hoping to trigger the state’s agencies to step in and conduct surprise inspections. It’s expensive and time-consuming for clinic staff to continue refuting these false claims.
“The state is really a tool of the anti-abortion movement in this scenario,” Hagstrom Miller noted. She’s been personally impacted by this dynamic. Just last week, Hagstrom Miller announced that she will be forced to close two of her five clinics because she can’t afford to keep them operating under Texas’ restrictive new law.
Meanwhile, abortion doctors have no choice but to do their best to navigate a web of complex state restrictions, even if it goes against their best medical judgment. Many of these state laws carry harsh penalties, like thousands of dollars in penalties and decades in jail, and doctors have to protect themselves.
“Every time I perform an abortion, I have to offer the woman the ability to see or hear the heartbeat of her ‘unborn human individual,’ which is what the law states it must be called,” Dr. Kate Davis, whose work in Ohio forces her to navigate several incredibly restrictive anti-abortion laws, told ThinkProgress. “I need to tell her the probability of this pregnancy going to term if she chooses to continue the pregnancy and doesn’t have the abortion. I need to do this both verbally and in writing. From my medical point of view, this is totally unnecessary. But I’m doing it so I don’t get fined, or charged with a misdemeanor or, heaven forbid, a felony.”
Another one of Ohio’s laws prevents Davis from performing later abortions, even in cases when a woman’s pregnancy has gone terribly wrong and her fetus won’t survive. In those cases, her hands are tied and she’s forced to refer her patients to a different doctor out of state.Some of the only complaints I get from patients are when I have to turn them away.”
“Some of the only complaints I get from patients are when I have to turn them away. When I tell them, I’m sorry, I can’t help you, I know how to do the procedure and I could do it safely, but I can’t,” she said. “It’s heartbreaking. People are begging you — as a physician, you know you can help them, but the only reason you can’t is because of a state law.”
‘If I don’t do it, who will?’
Considering the challenges, it’s perhaps no surprise that this country faces a serious abortion provider shortage. The National Abortion Federation (NAF) estimates that the number of abortion providers in the U.S. has dropped 37 percent since 1982. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has warned that “the availability of abortion services is in jeopardy” because of this growing lack of available doctors. Indeed, according to one recent study, 97 percent of OB-GYNs have had patients who have come to them for an abortion — but only about 14 percent of those doctors actually knew how to perform one.
That’s partly because some doctors decide they don’t want to deal with the hassles from anti-choice protesters, or the risks of navigating anti-choice laws. But it’s also partly because of structural barriers that exist within the medical community itself.
Many doctors don’t learn enough about abortion care while they’re in medical school — a 2009 study found that a third of medical schools don’t talk about elective abortion at all during the first two pre-clinical years. And as an increasing number of abortion clinics are being forced to close, and as hospitals have eliminated abortion from the services they provide, students in residency are losing out on opportunities to train. For instance, the doctors training in one of the 600 Catholic-affiliated hospitals across the country are barred from doing abortions. Even if new doctors do enter the field with the knowledge and the desire to practice abortion care, it’s often difficult for them to find a job that allows them to do that work.
So, when asked why they continue to do this difficult work, a common theme emerged among the abortion providers who spoke to ThinkProgress. They all said they don’t really have a choice. They know they’re part of a shrinking pool of people who can help women safely and legally end a pregnancy.
“Coming in as a new physician committed to reproductive rights makes it really difficult,” Long, the provider who trained in rural Idaho, noted. “But it’s not just a commitment in words. It has to be a commitment in actions. If I’m not going to do it, there aren’t a lot of other people who will.”Every day I see these women and I think — where else would they go?”
Davis, the anonymous doctor from Ohio, agreed. “I always knew that if I was going to be an OB-GYN, I would be obligated to provide abortions. The field is dwindling, and the providers we have are graying. If I don’t do it, who’s going to do it?”
“As I saw the increasing restrictions on abortion care, well, I came to this from a point of social justice. Since I have the skills to do this, then why wouldn’t I do it? Being in a state like Texas, where access is such a huge issue, it’s become 90 percent of what I do by default,” Rojas explained. “There aren’t that many people to do it. I couldn’t imagine leaving this, no matter how hard it is, because every day I see these women and I think — where else would they go?”
Luckily, there’s some slow progress emerging in this area. Over the past two decades, abortion rights advocates have been laying the groundwork to begin reversing the doctor shortage. The national Ryan Program, which was founded in 1999 and now has dozens of locations at medical schools across the country, is a central part of that effort. It provides critical financial support for OB-GYN departments, and helps them integrate abortion into the rest of family planning training. And local chapters of Medical Students For Choice are supporting individuals who want to become abortion providers.
A new wave of instructors is helping contribute to this shift, too. Doctors like Estes and Eisenberg, who have transitioned into academia and are committed to teaching their students about abortion services as simply another part of reproductive health care, are changing medical schools from the inside.
“People like me are taking on academic roles and roles in medical education. We’re making sure that students receive appropriate education about family planning care and abortion,” Estes, who works at an institution in Florida that’s home to a Ryan Program, noted. “I’ve been fortunate enough to wind up in a situation where I do an awful lot of teaching and I have some control over the curriculum. I put abortion back in, where it belongs. At the very least, students get to see the truth about it, and not have it hidden away like something we should all be ashamed of.”
Brave enough to speak out
Ultimately, abortion providers are caught in somewhat of a Catch-22. In order to preserve their professional and personal safety, they’re often reluctant to speak publicly about their work. But being forced into silence isn’t a great option, either. That ends up having larger consequences for society’s overall approach to issues of abortion rights, and prevents some of the experts in this space from being able to advocate for their work.
Dr. Gretchen Stuart, an abortion provider in North Carolina who was one of the lead plaintiffs in a successful lawsuit against the state’s forced ultrasound law, pointed out that even the doctors who feel very strongly about wanting to help change restrictive laws are hampered by the threat of potential consequences.This has a profound impact on the willingness of abortion providers to speak out on behalf of themselves and their patients.”
“Personal safety was certainly a consideration when I decided to be the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit. Fortunately, I haven’t had any problems,” she told ThinkProgress. “But you can see that this has a profound impact on the willingness of abortion providers to speak out on behalf of themselves and their patients.”
“We’re sometimes the quietest when we need to be the most vocal,” Dr. Stephanie Long agreed.
Ultimately, the stigma and shame around abortion will persist unless more of the people who have personal experiences with it feel safe enough to share those stories.
“When people ask, what can I do? Well, here’s what you can do. You can help remove the shame, and help women come out of the closet about the fact that they’ve had an abortion,” Merle Hoffman, the CEO of Choices, said. “The biggest weapon in the other side’s arsenal is shame and stigma. The first step is to normalize this.”
“I keep myself ‘out’ about my career and what I do, because if we all hide away and don’t talk about it, this stigma won’t get any better,” Estes explained. “We need to be vocal and educate people about this — abortion is not a terrible social ill, it’s just a part of women’s health.”
That’s the biggest takeaway that the abortion providers who agreed to be interviewed for this story wanted to communicate. They’re not on some sort of evil crusade to harm women. They’re not interested in taking advantage of their patients or talk them into ending a pregnancy. In fact, since most of them are OB-GYNs who provide the full spectrum of women’s health care, they emphasized that caring for pregnant women and delivering babies is one of the greatest joys of their work. They simply don’t see that as separate from helping women exercise their reproductive freedom in other ways, like having a safe abortion.
“The other side tries to vilify doctors and make us into these horrible people,” Dr. Kate Davis said, noting that abortion opponents are sometimes surprised that she seems so nice. “We’re just like anyone else. We’re just trying to take care of our patients.”
h/t: Tara Culp-Ressler at Think Progress Health
Tea Party Activists Aren’t Gearing Up For 2016 — They Want To Refight 1964 -
The conservative movement’s choice for president believes that whites-only lunch counters should be legal. He believes that business owners’ rights trump civil rights, that Medicare should be undermined or even destroyed, and that workers simply have too much power to demand better wages and working conditions from their employers.
I write this words today, two days after voters in the Conservative Political Action Conference’s straw poll selected Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) as their preferred candidate for president in 2016, but they could have just as easily been written in 1964 as Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater was consolidating the support he’d need to become the GOP’s presidential candidate.
Like Paul, Goldwater opposed the federal ban on whites-only lunch counters. Like Paul, Goldwater backed so-called “right to work” laws intended to undermine unions — and the higher wages those unions bring. And like Paul, Goldwater had no love of Medicare. Goldwater once mocked the idea that seniors should enjoy government-provided health insurance as akin to giving them free “vacation resorts” and “a ration of cigarettes for those who smoke and of beer for those who drink.” Paul supports a plan to roll back Medicare that would even make Paul Ryan blush.
The first time Republicans sought the White House with this agenda, it did not turn out too well for them. President Lyndon Johnson trounced Goldwater in one of the most devastating landslides in American history. And yet, if the CPAC straw poll is any indication, the party’s increasingly dominant conservative wing is eager for a rematch.
Out Of The Closet
The parallels between Goldwater’s ascendance and the rise of Tea Party candidates like Paul stretch beyond their similar policy prescriptions. Indeed, the Tea Party is as much at war with Republicans who might compromise their own purity as it is with Democrats who reject hardline conservative values altogether. “We need another come-to-Jesus meeting,” former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin (R-AK) told CPAC this past weekend. “America is counting on the GOP to get it right, and that’s why the establishment can’t blow it.”
Goldwater offered similar protests against a Republican establishment that, in his mind, had strayed too far from the conservative path. The Arizona senator slammed Republican President Dwight Eisenhower for operating a “dime store New Deal,” and he offered himself up to voters as an out and proud alternative to Republicans afraid to be seen as too conservative. Goldwater’s 1960 book The Conscience of a Conservative opened with a direct swipe at self-hating conservatives — “I have been much concerned that so many people today with Conservative instincts feel compelled to apologize for them.” And his campaign buttons and billboards appealed directly to conservative voters to come out of the closet. “In your heart,” Goldwater’s most famous campaign slogan read, “you know he’s right.”
(Johnson supporters responded with a slogan of their own: ”In your guts you know he’s nuts.”)
Conservatives like Goldwater had good reason to remain in the closet in the 1960s. The last president to serve a full term before the dawn of the Great Depression was Calvin Coolidge, a staunch conservative who once proclaimed that “[c]ollecting more taxes than is absolutely necessary is legalized robbery.” In the lead up to the Depression and for several years after it began, the Supreme Court enforced a kind of laissez faire political orthodoxy by striking down laws banning child labor, guaranteeing a minimum wage and protecting the right of workers to organize.
Then the New Deal and the massive government spending project known as “World War II” happened, and America emerged from the Depression as the wealthiest and most powerful nation that ever existed. In 1964, the year Johnson defeated Goldwater, the United States saw an eye-popping 5.8 percent growth in its gross domestic product. Conservative economic theory seemed wholly discredited by the 1960s, and the economics of the New Deal and the Great Society appeared entirely vindicated.
Nevertheless, Goldwater borrowed heavily from pre-New Deal conservatism in shaping his own views. One of the central tenets held by conservatives prior to and during the Roosevelt Administration was that liberalism is not just wrong, it is also forbidden by the Constitution. This is why the Supreme Court so blithely struck down laws benefiting workers in the lead up to the Great Depression. And it’s also why the American Liberty League, a kind of proto-Tea Party formed to oppose FDR and the New Deal, framed its objections largely in constitutional terms. As one early Liberty League supporter described the organization’s creed:
I believe in the Constitution of the United States; I believe in the division of power that it makes, and that it is the duty of every public officer to observe them [sic]. I believe in the rights of private property, the sanctity and binding power of contracts, the duty of self-help. I am opposed to confiscatory taxation, wasteful expenditure, socialized industry, and a planned economy controlled and directed by government functionaries.
Goldwater, more than any other Republican of his era, sought to revive this notion that the Constitution was a fundamentally conservative document. In announcing his opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, for example, Goldwater argued that its provisions regulating private business — the bans on whites-only lunch counters, employment discrimination, racial exclusion in hotels and similar practices — all violated the Constitution. “I find no constitutional basis for the exercise of Federal regulatory authority in … these areas,” Goldwater announced on the Senate floor. “[A]nd I believe the attempted usurpation of such power to be a grave threat to the very essence of our basic system of government.”
In a subsequent speech, Goldwater added that he also opposed the civil rights law because he thought that it violated business owners’ right of “freedom of association.” “There’s a freedom to associate and there’s a freedom not to associate,” Goldwater declared. And the right to not associate with black people was apparently part of this second “freedom.”
In reaching these views, Goldwater relied on the advice of two men who would go on to become some of the most influential constitutional thinkers in the conservative movement.
The first was a fairly obscure Arizona lawyer named William Rehnquist, who would later rise from this obscurity to become Chief Justice of the United States. The same year that Congress passed the Civil Rights Act, the Phoenix City Council enacted a similar ordinance banning many forms of discrimination by private businesses. Rehnquist was one of only three people who testified against the proposed ordinance, and he later published a letter to the editor of theArizona Republic laying out his objections. Though Rehnquist conceded that discrimination by the government itself was out of bounds — “All of us alike pay taxes to support the operation of government, and all should be treated alike by it,” the future chief justice wrote — he held very different views about the government’s power to address private racism. The ordinance, according to Rehnquist’s letter, “does away with the historic right of the owner of a drug store, lunch counter, or theatre to choose his own customers.”
Goldwater sought out Rehnquist’s advice on whether he should support the Civil Rights Act, and then he sought a second opinion from a Yale law professor named Robert Bork — the same Robert Bork that President Ronald Reagan would try and fail to put on the Supreme Court. Yet Goldwater must have known what advice Bork would have given him when he asked for it, as Bork had already laid out his views in a 1963 article published in the New Republic. The principle behind a federal ban on whites-only lunch counters, Bork argued in that piece, “is that if I find your behavior ugly by my standards, moral or aesthetic, and if you prove stubborn about adopting my view of the situation, I am justified in having the state coerce you into more righteous paths. That is itself a principle of unsurpassed ugliness.”
In Your Guts Your Know He’s Nuts
After Johnson’s decisive victory over Goldwater, Republicans largely turned away from Goldwater’s hardline views. Though the party’s next presidential nominee, Richard Nixon, infamously embraced a “Southern strategy” seeking to appeal to white racists, he was careful not to go so far as to oppose LBJ’s landmark civil rights legislation. In a 1964 speech attacking what he called the “irresponsible tactics of some of the extreme civil rights leaders,” Nixon also praised the Civil Rights Act itself — predicting that “[i]f this law is effectively administered, it will be a great step forward in the struggle for equality of opportunity for all Americans.”
As Chief Justice of the United States, Rehnquist sat on three cases where one of his fellow justices — Justice Clarence Thomas — embraced a Goldwateresque view of the Constitution that would have rendered the Civil Rights Act unconstitutional. Yet Rehnquist did not join Thomas’s opinions in these three cases.
Bork also repudiated his past opposition to the Civil Rights Act during his 1973 confirmation hearings before he became Solicitor General of the United States. At these hearings, Bork reportedly “said that he had changed his mind and that his 1963 article had been a kind of thought experiment.”
Which is why Rand Paul’s 2010 statement, that the “hard part about believing in freedom” is that you must also believe in the legality of whites-only lunch counters, is so remarkable. When Paul came out against the Civil Rights Act, he did not simply come out against a widely cherished law, nor did he just take a position well to the right of the Republican Party’s explicit views. Paul embraced a view that was rejected by the very same people who were its leading proponents at the time that the Civil Rights Act became law. The CPAC attendees who embraced Paul as their candidate are effectively trying to wipe away all of this history — the defeat of Goldwater, the reputation of Goldwater’s views by the GOP, the evolution of men like Bork and Rehnquist — and relitigate the election of 1964 more than half a century after Johnson won it in a landslide.
Indeed, in reality, they are doing far more than that. When I floated the premise of this article on Twitter, Mother Jones‘ Nick Baumann pointed out to me that “Barry Goldwater and Rand Paul would disagree on the single most important social issue” — abortion.
Perhaps because Goldwater rose to prominence before Americans’ views on abortion began to polarize along partisan lines, the man who once defined conservatism went to his grave wildly out of step with his party on this contentious issue. Indeed, in a 1994 interview, Goldwater complained that “a lot of so-called conservatives … think I’ve turned liberal because I believe a woman has a right to an abortion.” Abortion, according to Goldwater, is “a decision that’s up to the pregnant woman, not up to the pope or some do-gooders or the religious right. It’s not a conservative issue at all.”
Even more remarkably, Goldwater became a staunch supporter of gay rights in the twilight of his life. After retiring from the Senate, Goldwater supported allowing gay people to serve openly in the military, and he even became honorary co-chairman of a push to ban a federal ban on job discrimination against gay Americans.
In other words, thirty years after Goldwater opposed a federal ban on job discrimination on constitutional grounds, he became one of the leading proponents of a federal ban on job discrimination. Even Barry Goldwater eventually rejected Barry Goldwater’s rationale for opposing the Civil Rights Act.
And yet, Rand Paul does not. Nor does Paul share Goldwater’s views on abortion. Indeed, Paul introduced legislation that would “extend the Constitutional protection of life to the unborn from the time of conception.”
The man CPAC favored to be the next President of the United States, in other words, makes the Godfather of conservatism look like Martin Luther King. Three decades after his own presidential race, Goldwater himself understood that the views he once championed were wrong. Yet Tea Party conservatives would foist these views upon the nation regardless.
h/t: Ian Millhiser at Think Progress Justice
Liberty Counsel's Barber: 'Pretty Soon Christians Are Going To Have To Start Wearing A Yellow Cross' -
"Dr. Chaps" Gordon Klingenschmitt recently interviewed Matt Barber during the National Religious Broadcasters Convention, where the two discussed the legal discrimination bill that was vetoed by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer.
As Barber explained, such laws are necessary because gay activists are intent on forcing Christians to participate in sinful activity and adopt a “post-modern, pagan view of human sexuality” or else risk being run out of business or thrown into jail.
"You know, pretty soon," Barber warned, “Christians are going to have to start wearing a yellow cross. Are we in 1939 Germany here”?Likening modern-day American Christians to Jews under the Nazi regime seems to be Barber’s favorite comparison at the moment.
BarbWire.com: Anti-Gay Business Owners Like Jews In Nazi Germany | Right Wing Watch -
BarbWire, the new conservative website run by Liberty Counsel’s Matt Barber, today posted a Heritage Foundation article called “Four Businesses Whose Owners Were Penalized for Their Religious Beliefs.”
But Barber added his own editorial flare to the article by adding an image of an anti-Semitic Nazi poster which reads, “He who wears this symbol is an enemy of our people,” to describe the supposed persecution of business owners in the US who discriminate against gay customers.
h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW
At #CPAC2014, Michele Bachmann Hits Hillary Clinton: 'We Will Have A Woman President, Just The Right One' -
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) continued her effort on Saturday to tank a potential 2016 presidential bid by Hillary Clinton, telling the crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference that a woman should eventually be president — but not the one many Democrats are rooting for.
"We will have a woman for president, just the right one," she said, adding that Republicans are the only party that had a woman on the presidential ticket this century: former Gov. Sarah Palin as the vice presidential nominee in 2008.
Bachmann, who ran for the Republican nomination unsuccessfully in 2012 and declined to run for reelection in Congress this year, was invited to CPAC as a guest of Jenny Beth Martin, the president and co-founder of Tea Party Patriots.
She went on to attack Clinton’s work as secretary of state, including relations with Russia and the Benghazi attacks in 2012 that killed four Americans.
"She’s going to have to answer a very tough question: Did she pick up the phone and call the secretary of defense and the president of the United States and demand that they send a military rescue operation into Benghazi to rescue Americans that were under fire?" Bachmann said.
The congresswoman said previously that Americans “aren’t ready” for a female president.
"I think there was a cachet about having an African-American president because of guilt," she said in February. "People don’t hold guilt for a woman."
During her CPAC speech, Bachmann went on to attack President Barack Obama for Obamacare and his desire to grant so-called “amnesty” for undocumented immigrants.
h/t: Elise Foley at the Huffington Post
Dumbest NBA tweet of the day —the week? the month?— goes to…*drumroll*…Republican Rep. Pat Garofalo of Minnesota. (pic via @CJZERO)
Conservative radio host bashes other conservative radio hosts: ‘I’m not a yeller, not a screamer’ | The Raw Story -
When conservative radio host Dana Loesch takes to the airwaves with Republican White House hopefuls, the exchanges bear little resemblance to mainstream media interviews like those on CNN or NBC. “You brought the house down!” she told a beaming Texas…
Ben Ferguson Whines MSNBC "Mean-Spirited" to Conservatives -
Oh cry me a frickin’ river, Benny.
This is one of the things that makes me crazy about the conservative punditry is how incredibly thin-skinned they are. They can be as dismissive and mean as they want to be but give them a little bit of their own medicine and suddenly the WATB cries come out.
Ben Ferguson keeps perpetuating the completely unsubstantiated myth of the liberal media by pointing to the singular cable channel of MSNBC. Proof, the hair helmet of conservatism insists, of their hostility to conservatives is that they usually book them at a three (liberals) to one (conservative) ratio, keep interrupting them and aren’t interested in a real debate.
Wait…what? That doesn’t sound like MSNBC’s format, which usually goes with the Left/Right paradigm and invites two guests per segment. That sounds suspiciously like the Sunday show roundtables, if anything. Sally Kohn doesn’t see anything different from that as her experiences as the designated lefty on Fox News, where the ratio got as out of hand as 15 to one.
Neil deGrasse Tyson mocks 'science haters' who love mobile phones and GPS -
Neil deGrasse Tyson, host of Fox’s documentary series Cosmos, said on Sunday that the news media should stop trying to “balance” the debate on scientific issues by hosting people who deny science.
In an interview on CNN’s Reliable Sourcs, host Brian Stelter asked Tyson how to go about brokering a peace in the “war on science.”
"Our civilization is built on the innovation of scientists and technologists and engineers who have shaped everything that we so take for granted today," Tyson pointed out. "So some of the science deniers or science haters, these are people who are telling that to you while they are on their mobile phone."
"They are saying, ‘I don’t like science. Oh, GPS just told us to go left,’" he laughed. "So it’s time for people to sit back and reassess what role science as actually played in our lives. And learn how to embrace that going forward, because with out it, we will just regress back into the caves."
Stelter observed that the news media often tried to balance the climate change debate, even when the two sides were not equal.
"What responsibility do you think the members of the media have to portray science correctly," the CNN host wondered.
"The media has to sort of come out of this ethos that I think was in principle a good one, but it doesn’t really apply in science," Tyson explained. "The principle was, whatever story you give, you have to give the opposing view. And then you can be viewed as balanced."
Conservative group ALEC trains sights on city and local government -
The rightwing group Alec is preparing to launch a new nationwide network that will seek to replicate its current influence within state legislatures in city councils and municipalities.
The American Legislative Exchange Council, founded in 1973, has become one of the most pervasive advocacy operations in the nation. It brings elected officials together with representatives of major corporations, giving those companies a direct channel into legislation in the form of Alec “model bills”.
Critics have decried the network as a “corporate bill mill” that has spread uniformly-drafted rightwing legislation from state to state. Alec has been seminal, for instance, in the replication of Florida’s controversial “stand-your-ground” gun law in more than 20 states.
Now the council is looking to take its blueprint for influence over statewide lawmaking and drill it down to the local level. It has already quietly set up, and is making plans for the public launch of, an offshoot called the American City County Exchange (ACCE) that will target policymakers from “villages, towns, cities and counties”.
The new organisation will offer corporate America a direct conduit into the policy making process of city councils and municipalities. Lobbyists acting on behalf of major businesses will be able to propose resolutions and argue for new profit-enhancing legislation in front of elected city officials, who will then return to their council chambers and seek to implement the proposals.
In its early publicity material, Alec says the new network will be “America’s only free market forum for village, town, city and county policymakers”. Jon Russell, ACCE’s director, declined to comment on the initiative.
Alec spokesman Wilhelm Meierling also declined to say how many corporate and city council members ACCE has attracted so far, or to say when the new initiative would be formally unveiled. But he confirmed that its structure would mirror that of Alec’s work in state legislatures by bringing together city, county and municipal elected officials with corporate lobbyists.
“As a group that focuses on limited government, free markets and federalism, we believe our message rings true at the municipal level just as it does in state legislatures,” he said.
In December, the Guardian revealed that Alec was facing funding problems as a result of fallout from its backing of “stand-your-ground” laws, in the wake of the shooting in Florida of the black teenager Trayvon Martin.
The Guardian also disclosed that Alec had initiated a “prodigal son project”, designed to woo back corporate donors that had broken off relations with the group amid the gun-law furore.
The extension of its techniques to city councils and municipalities across America offers Alec the chance to open up a potential source of funding that might help it solve its budgetary crisis. There are almost 500,000 local elected officials, many with considerable powers over schools and local services that could be attractive to big business.
Alec makes the appeal to corporations explicit in its funding material for the new ACCE exchange. It offers companies “founders committee” status in return for $25,000 a year and “council committee” membership for $10,000.
By joining ACCE’s council committee, corporate lobbyists can “participate in policy development and network with other entrepreneurs and municipal officials from around the country”. In committee meetings, lobbyists will be allowed to “present facts and opinions for discussion” and introduce resolutions for new policies that they want to see implemented in a city. At the end of such meetings, the elected officials present in the room will take a vote before returning to their respective council chambers armed with new legislative proposals.
Nick Surgey of the Center for Media and Democracy, which monitors Alec’s activities, said: “It just wouldn’t be possible for any corporation to effectively lobby the hundreds of thousands of local elected officials in the US, which until now has left our local mayors and school board members largely free from the grasps of coordinated lobbyists. Alec is now trying to change that.”
One of the main criticisms that have been levelled against Alec is that its influence distorts the democratic process by giving corporations a handle over lawmaking. Similar fears are now being expressed about the intentions of ACCE in American cities.
Natalia Rudiak, a Democratic city council member in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, said she was “offended” by the suggestion she needed an outside body such as ACCE, which is licensed in Arlington, Virginia, to tell her what her community needed.
“Local politics in America is the purest form of democracy,” she said. “There is no buffer between me and the public. So why would I want the involvement of a third party acting on behalf of a few corporate interests?”
Rudiak added that she found ACCE’s boast that it will be “America’s only free market forum” patronising.
“If by ‘free market’ they mean weighing supply against demand in the best interests of the people of Pittsburgh,” she said, “then we are debating those issues in the council chamber every single day.”
h/t: Ed Pilkington at The Guardian
The results are in for the CPAC and Senate Conservatives Fund straw polls for the 2016 GOP primary.
Rand Paul wins CPAC straw poll for 2nd year in a row.
While over at the SCF version, Ted Cruz won that straw poll.
2014 CPAC Straw Poll results:
31 KY Senator Rand Paul
11 TX Senator Ted Cruz
9 Neurosurgeon Ben Carson
8 NJ Governor Chris Christie
7 Former PA Senator Rick Santorum
7 WI Governor Scott Walker
6 FL Senator Marco Rubio
3 TX Governor Rick Perry
3 WI Congressman Paul Ryan
2 Former AR Governor Mike Huckabee
2 LA Governor Bobby Jindal
2 Former AK Governor Sarah Palin
2 Former Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice
1 Former IN Governor Mitch Daniels
1 OH Governor John Kasich
1 IN Governor Mike Pence
1 OH Senator Rob Portman
1 SD Senator John Thune
1 Business Executive Donald Trump
1 Former FL Congressman Allen West
* NH Senator Kelly Ayotte
* KS Governor Sam Brownback
* SC Governor Nikki Haley
* NM Governor Susana Martinez
* SC Senator Tim Scott
Alex Seitz-Wald (@aseitzwald):
Here’s a screen grab of the full CPAC straw poll results. pic.twitter.com/pefHfo5WSb— Alex Seitz-Wald (@aseitzwald)March 8, 2014
Senate Conservatives Fund straw poll:
Sen. Ted Cruz (TX) - 42.46% (17,605)
Sen. Rand Paul (KY) - 17.38% (7,207)
Gov. Scott Walker (WI) - 10.42% (4,322)
Other Write-in Candidates - 6.50% (2,696)
Fmr. Gov. Mike Huckabee (AR) - 6.29% (2,608)
Gov. Rick Perry (TX) - 4.44% (1,841)
Sen. Marco Rubio (FL) - 2.47% (1,025)
Fmr. Gov. Jeb Bush (FL) - 2.27% (943)
Gov. Chris Christie (NJ) - 2.00% (828)
Rep. Paul Ryan (WI) - 1.64% (680)
Gov. Bobby Jindal (LA) - 1.26% (522)
Fmr. Sen. Rick Santorum (PA) - 0.93% (386)
Gov. John Kasich (OH) - 0.72% (299)
Gov. Mike Pence (IN) - 0.47% (195)
Gov. Nikki Haley (SC) - 0.40% (165)
Gov. Susana Martinez (NM) - 0.34% (140)
A total of 41,462 votes were cast.
Ann Coulter at #CPAC2014: "If Immigration Reform Passes, 'Organize The Death Squads For The People Who Wrecked America'" -
CPAC today invited conservative commentator Ann Coulter to debate “liberal” journalist Mickey Kaus, who ended up holding the same right-wing views on immigration reform as Coulter, and who even praised ultraconservative GOP Sen. Jeff Sessions. The two tried to outdo each other in bashing supporters of immigration reform, but it was hard to top Coulter.
Coulter attacked MSNBC for “celebrating the browning of America.” “But if you don’t celebrate it you’re a racist,” she added. “It’s going to be people who are not from America who are going to be in theory funding older, white people who are getting to their Social Security and Medicare age. I don’t think that can last, at some point they’re going to say, ‘Screw it.’”
“I used to think everything was about sex, now I realize everything is about immigration,” she added later. Coulter praised Mitt Romney for taking the “most aggressive” stance on immigration and called on the GOP to nominate another staunchly anti-immigrant candidate.
Coulter ended with this call to arms: “Amnesty is forever and you got to vote for the Republicans one more time and just make it clear; but if you pass amnesty, that’s it, it’s over and then we organize the death squads for the people who wrecked America.”
h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW
Ben Carson at #CPAC2014: "Gay People 'Don't Get Extra Rights, They Don't Get To Redefine Marriage'" -
Last year, Ben Carson grouped gay people with the likes of the pro-pedophilia group NAMBLA and “bestiality supporters” as nefarious forces trying “to change the definition [of marriage].” Carson later apologized for the remarks, but today at CPAC the potential presidential candidate sang a different tune, saying that he will “continue to defy the PC police who have tried in many cases to shut me up.”
“I still believe that marriage is between a man and a woman,” Carson said to applause, and denied that he ever compared homosexuality to bestiality. “Of course they’re not the same thing. Anybody who believes that is a dummy, but anybody who believes somebody who says that somebody said that is a dummy, that’s the problem.”
“Of course gay people should have the same rights as everyone else,” Carson continued. “But they don’t get extra rights, they don’t get to redefine marriage.”
h/t: Brian Tashman at Right Wing Watch
CPAC Speaker Jenna Haggar: 'We Live Under The Imperial President His Highness Barack Hussein Obama, Mmm Mmm Mmm' -
South Dakota state representative Jenna Haggar gave a spectacularly awkward speech to CPAC yesterday, where she said that President Obama and his “big government progressive policies” are using “handouts and welfare” to make “generations of Americans dependent on the government.”
Haggar, who serves alongside her father in the State House, said that unlike Americans today, the people who settled South Dakota and the Midwest never needed government aid (she may want to read about the Homestead Acts).
Obama is changing American values, Haggar added, lamenting that "we live under the imperial president His Highness Barack Hussein Obama, mmm mmm mmm."
h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW
Bachmann at #CPAC2014: 'Build The Danged Fence!' | Right Wing Watch -
Michele Bachmann denounced immigration reform in her speech at CPAC today, warning that “Wall Street and big business” are “clamoring for amnesty” in order to turn the US into “a country of dependency and the welfare state.”
Channeling John McCain, the Minnesota congresswoman told CPAC attendees that government officials shouldn’t tackle immigration reform until they “build the danged fence!”
h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW