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Mike Huckabee told a gathering of anti-gay activists that the United States is becoming like communist China and defended his recent claim that President Obama deserves to be impeached.

Huckabee was speaking at the third annual Family Leadership Summit, hosted by The Family Leader and sponsored by anti-gay groups like the National Organization for Marriage and FRC Action. The event was held in Ames, Iowa, and was attended by potential 2016 Republican candidates including Huckabee, Sen. Ted Cruz, Gov. Rick Perry, and Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Speaking on August 9 about his recent China trip, Huckabee noted the country’s policies regarding trade, human rights, one child and forced abortions, and observed: "After we came back, I assessed that what was most disturbing was that China was becoming a lot more like the United States used to be, and America was becoming a whole lot more like China used to be." Huckabee added that America, like China whitewashing the Tiananmen Square massacre, has “completely rewritten our history” to remove God from textbooks. The Fox News host has made similar pronouncements on his show and elsewhere in the right-wing media.

During a media availability, Huckabee defended his recent declaration that President Obama has committed impeachable offenses. Huckabee began by claiming “I don’t think we’re going to have an impeachment, don’t think we even should because there’s no point and it’s not gonna go through.” However, Huckabee still argued President Obama is worthy of impeachment because of his alleged abuse of “the basic constitutional powers,” citing Obamacare and the DREAM Act.  

The Family Leader is an anti-gay group headed by the virulently homophobic activist Bob Vander Plaats. The Iowa group gained notoriety during the 2012 presidential election when it asked candidates to sign a homophobic “marriage vow.” The pledge attacked same-sex relationships as a choice and threat to “individual and public health.” The vow also suggested African-American children were better when they were slaves (the group later retracted that language). 

Vander Plaats has said gays are a “public health risk” similar to smoking, and claimed of marriage quality: “[W]hat we know is it goes against the law of nature, and the law of nature’s God, which means, again, it’s against the Constitution.” He warned against attending an anti-bullying conference, claiming that doing so “is exchanging truth for acceptance and tolerance of harmful behavior.”

Huckabee is a longtime ally of Vander Plaats, who served as Iowa chair for the former Arkansas governor’s presidential campaign in 2008. He endorsed and fundraised for Vander Plaats’ unsuccessful 2010 gubernatorial campaign.

Huckabee regularly speaks at gatherings of anti-gay groups. The pairing is natural, as Huckabee has said he opposes marriage equality because of “the ick factor,” labeled same-sex relationships an “aberration” and once called for AIDS patients to be quarantined.

h/t: Eric Hananoki at MMFA



Tony Perkins fancies himself to be a GOP presidential candidate kingmaker, so it will be interesting to see if any not entirely crazy Republicans will join the above careening clown car crowded with the cavalcade of crackpots who failed in 2012, some of whom (Paul, Perry, Santorum) are expected to make a 2016 run. Ted Cruz won last year’s Values Voters Summit presidential straw poll with 42% of the vote, the largest margin ever seen in that poll’s history and light years ahead of runners-up Frothy Mix and Ben Carson, who barely landed in the double digits.

h/t: Tim Peacock at Peacock Panache

h/t: Tara Culp-Ressler at Think Progress Health

h/t: Kyle Mantyla at RWW


Attacks on women’s reproductive rights have spread rapidly across the country, as state legislatures have enacted a record-breaking number of restrictions on abortion over the past several years. Last summer, all eyes were on Texas while activists protested against a harsh anti-choice measure that’s now forcing clinics to close. This year, there are some new battlegrounds to keep an eye on.

The following states have each approved new abortion restrictions within the past month that represent serious threats to women’s right to choose:

1. Oklahoma

On Wednesday, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) approved a measure requiring abortion doctors to obtain admitting privileges from a local hospital — the same exact measure that was recently enacted in Texas. Although admitting privilege requirements are cloaked in the language of women’s health and safety, doctors agree that they’re entirely medically unnecessary, a thinly veiled tactic for eliminating access to legal abortion.

It’s not hard to see the potentially catastrophic impact of the new law, thanks to the precedent that’s been set by the Lone Star State. Since Texas’ admitting privileges law took effect, multiple clinics have been forced out of business, and some doctors have lost their licenses because they can’t comply with the medically unnecessary policy. That’s left a huge swath of the state without access to a single reproductive health facility.

“If this law is allowed to stand, it will further expand the massive areas of the United States where women’s constitutional right to safely and legally end a pregnancy is under siege by politicians attempting to make abortion nearly inaccessible by driving more and more good health care providers out of practice,” Nancy Northrup, the president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, warned in a statement.

2. Louisiana

Just like nearby Oklahoma, lawmakers in Louisiana recently approved an admitting privileges bill that’s directly modeled on the one in Texas. It’s still awaiting Gov. Bobby Jindal’s signature, but the Republican leader has already confirmed he plans to sign it. The measure is expected to close at least three of the state’s five abortion clinics.

And that’s not all. The Louisiana legislature has been busy attacking reproductive rights from all angles during this current session, and lawmakers have advanced several other anti-choice measures. In addition to the clinic restrictions, the state also approved a bill this week that will bar abortion providers from distributing any health information in public schools. The measure is intended to directly target Planned Parenthood, even though the women’s health organization is the largest sex ed provider in the country.

Reproductive rights activists in the state are pressuring Jindal to veto the two pieces of legislation. “Over and over we’ve witnessed numerous attacks on women, men, adolescents and families’ health. By now, it is clear that legislators are playing politics instead of increasing much needed access to health care and health education,” a petition from Planned Parenthood of the Gulf Coast reads.

3. Missouri

Halfway through May, lawmakers in Missouri approved a measure that will triple the state’s current waiting period for an abortion, requiring women to wait a full three days before being allowed to have the procedure. Only two other states, Utah and South Dakota, currently have waiting periods that long.

Similarly to Louisiana, the abortion opponents in Missouri haven’t been content with just one bill attacking abortion rights. This session, the legislature has considered over 30 separate abortion restrictions. Since the state already has just one abortion clinic left, lawmakers are essentially focusing all of their attention on regulating a single building.

Women’s health activists have also been frustrated with lawmakers’ attitudes this session, accusing male politicians of making condescending assumptions about women’s inability to make health care decisions for themselves. One GOP representative compared choosing an abortion to buying a car, suggesting that women simply need more time to think to prevent them from making a hasty decision. His female colleagues called the comparison “extremely offensive” and “demeaning to women,” and activists protested by dressing up as cars in a legislative hearing.


It’s important to put newly approved abortion restrictions in the context of the anti-choice laws that are already on the books in surrounding states. For instance, if Louisiana and Oklahoma both enact admitting privileges requirements, they’ll join several other Southern states — Mississippi, Alabama and Texas — that have already approved them. Although Mississippi and Alabama are in the midst of legal challenges that have temporarily blocked their laws from taking effect, the country isn’t too far off from a future in which harsh restrictions on abortion providers are in place throughout the South. Slowly but surely, Southern women’s access to abortion clinics is disappearing.

“You’re looking at huge swaths of the country where women’s options are becoming severely limited,” Amanda Allen, the state legislative counsel for the Center for Reproductive Rights, recently pointed out.

Source: Tara-Culp Ressler for ThinkProgress

h/t: Sean Sullivan at Washington Post


The Lone Star State, which now contains a 400-mile swath without a single abortion provider, has become somewhat of a symbol for what happens when harsh state laws force reproductive health clinics out of business. But Texas is hardly the only state that’s successfully advancing this type of anti-choice agenda. In Louisiana, for instance, lawmakers have been quietly laying the groundwork to shutter clinics for the past several months — and they’re currently poised to accomplish that goal.

The latest installment of this saga involves Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), who is currently pushing for a state investigation into Baton Rogue’s only abortion clinic, alleging that it violated federal privacy laws. On Tuesday, Vitter sent a letter to the state’s health department along these lines. Even though the letter doesn’t contain any specific allegations, it asks the department to “impose serious consequences” on the clinic if the accusations are proven true.

Reproductive rights advocates are questioning the timing of Vitter’s concerns. On Wednesday, state lawmakers are scheduled to hear House Bill 388, a measure that’s directly modeled after the new abortion restrictions in Texas. Vitter’s letter, which was released just one day before the final vote, may be intended to influence state lawmakers by reinforcing the myth that reproductive health facilities need tighter regulations.

“It seems like very suspicious timing that David Vitter would release information about an investigation the day before the House hears the bill for final passage,” Ellie Schilling, the lawyer who represents Louisiana’s abortion clinics, told the Times-Picayune. “I’m not really sure why David Vitter is involving himself in this.”

HB 388 would require the abortion providers in the state to obtain admitting privileges from a local hospital, a medically unnecessary requirement that’s often impossible for clinics to comply with. It will likely force the majority of Louisiana’s five clinics to close.

This type of legislation is known as the Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers, or TRAP. It’s an indirect method of restricting women’s access to abortion by making it too complicated and costly for clinics to remain operating. In reality, abortion clinics are alreadyhighly regulated and extremely safe. But conservatives’ rhetoric around “women’s health and safety” has helped advance TRAP laws across the country anyway.

And in Louisiana, abortion opponents have furthered this framework through several different means. At the beginning of this year, the state’s Department of Health and Hospitals attempted to regulate abortion clinics out of existence by imposing complicated and burdensome new rules on abortion providers with little public notice. Those rules were eventually rescinded after a massive outcry. But it’s not hard to see why HB 388, which essentially seeks to accomplish the same goal, has been able to advance so easily this session. The state is all too eager to follow in Texas’ footsteps.

In addition to the admitting privilege requirement, HB 388 includes several other problematic provisions that would limit women’s access to reproductive health care. It would impose a mandatory 24-hour waiting period for surgical abortion procedures. It would also limit the number of abortions that private doctors are allowed to perform before they’re officially considered to be an “abortion provider” — an obscure policy change that could actually have huge implications for women’s access to the procedure, as the number of clinics dwindles and women increasingly turn to private physicians for first-trimester abortions.

Ultimately, these type of restrictions on the medical procedure end up having a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable women, who already struggle to afford the cost of an abortion. Even though Roe v. Wade is still technically the law of the land, an increasing number of harsh state laws ensure that women’s ability to exercise their reproductive rights depend mainly on her bank account and her zip code.

“The New Orleans Abortion Fund is outraged by this bill, which will push women and their families further into poverty,” Amy Irving, a founding board member of the organization, which provides financial assistance to low-income individuals who need to end a pregnancy, told ThinkProgress. “Louisiana lawmakers continue to pass laws that erode our communities’ social safety net and demonstrate that they do not trust women to make decisions about their healthcare and abortion, in particular. This bill will penalize low income women, especially.”

In a previous interview with ThinkProgress, Irving said she’s noticed an uptick in the number of New Orleans women resorting to potentially dangerous methods of ending a pregnancy, like buying abortion-inducing drugs on the black market, as they lose access to legal clinics. That dynamic is already unfolding in Texas in the aftermath of its recent clinic closures, and there’s no reason to think the trend won’t continue in Louisiana if the state passes a similar law.

If Louisiana lawmakers approve HB 388, Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) is expected to immediately sign it into law. When it was first introduced, the governor’s office released a statement praising the legislation, saying “these reforms will build upon the work Governor Jindal has done to make Louisiana the most pro-life state in the nation.”

Source: Tara Culp-Ressler for ThinkProgress

H/T: Peter Montgomery at RWW

h/t: Catalina Camia at USA Today's On Politics

Speaking at Liberty University’s 2014 Commencement yesterday, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (R) attacked “elite” liberals who, he claimed, have launched “an assault on the freedom of expression in all areas of life.”

“Today the American people, whether they know it or not, are mired in a silent war,” Jindal began. “It is a war — a silent war — against religious liberty.” He claimed that Obama Administration’s argument against Hobby Lobby “strikes at the core of our understanding of the free exercise of religion.”

“Under the Obama regime,” he continued, “you have protection under the First Amendment as an individual, but the instant you start a business, you lose those protections. And that brings us to the second front in this silent war: the attack on our freedom of association as people of faith.”

Jindal claimed that the Obama Administration would prevent religious groups from selecting “their own ministers or rabbis.” “Thankfully,” he said, the Supreme Court decided to shoot down the administration, “so for the time being, at least, the federal government doesn’t get to decide who can preach the Gospel.”

“Make no mistake — the war over religious liberty is a war over free speech. Without the first, there is no such thing as the second.”

He then discussed the Duck Dynasty controversy. “You may think that I was defending the Robertsons simply because I am the governor of their home state, the great state of Louisiana,” he said. “You would be wrong about that. I defended them because they have every right to speak their minds.”

The real issue is that “liberals” are doing everything in their power to “silence debate.” The new left in America is completely intolerant of people of faith,” Jindal said. “The left no longer wants to debate. They simply want to silence us.”

“As you well know,” he continued, “the same thing happened again this week, with another demonstration of intolerance from the entertainment industry. HGTV was working on a new show featuring the Benham brothers — twin brothers who graduated from right here at Liberty University in 1998.”

“I know they’ve already been recognized,” Jindal said, “but I’d like to ask them to stand so we can give them another round of applause for their courage and grace. HGTV cancelled the show this week, allegedly, because they learned that one of the brothers protested at the Democratic Party convention, and the other had protested at an abortion clinic.”

“If these guys had protested at the Republican Party convention or here at Liberty University,” he concluded, “instead of cancelling their show HGTV probably would’ve given them a raise.”

h/t: Scott Kaufman at The Raw Story

h/t: Greg Legum at Wonkette


Will Mark Levin’s vulgar analysis of Hillary Clinton finally be enough to keep top GOP officials off his show?

On the March 21 edition of his radio show, Levin highlighted a Gallup poll showing that the majority of respondents, 18 percent, feel Clinton’s gender is the most positive aspect of her potential presidency. Levin summarized the results by asking "Hillary Clinton’s gender? Do they mean her genitalia is her top 2016 selling point? Is that what that means?" Levin later said "But the key is it’s her genitalia. That’s why so many people would vote for her. I wonder if Bill Clinton would vote for her because of that. He seems to — well, he likes genitalia but maybe not hers."

Levin has a long history of offensive commentary on his radio show. He has accused President Obama of abusing children, compared marriage equality to incest, polygamy, and drug use, compared supporters of the Affordable Care Act to Nazi “brown shirts,” and advocated for Obama to be impeached.

Despite this rhetoric, prominent conservatives have given tacit approval to Levin’s views by appearing on his show. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) called into his show as recently as February. Levin hosted House Budget Committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) to talk about the new budget agreement reached in December. Levin criticized Ryan’s budget deal with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) later that month.

Levin’s hateful rhetoric has also earned him praise from the conservative community — he was recently named the winner of the Conservative Political Action Conference’s Andrew Breitbart Defender of the First Amendment Award. He is also listed as one of the speakers on the NRA’s “Leadership Forum” in April, speaking alongside other prominent conservative GOP leaders like Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) and Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Marco Rubio (R-FL).

From the 03.21.2014 edition of Premiere Radio Networks’ The Mark Levin Show:

h/t: Olivia Marshall at MMFA

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):

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.