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.
GATHERING OF LEMMINGS, OR COLLECTIVELY, WHY I LEFT THE REPUBLICAN PARTY: FRC Announces 2014 Values Voters Summit Lineup: A Cavalcade Of Crackpots [TW: Anti-LGBT Bigotry, Homophobia]
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.
When last we left the conservative cast of Duck Dynasty, we discovered that after Phil Robertson’s anti-gay, racist remarks to GQ Magazine a good number of people decided not to tune into their reality television show when it premiered. When the show came back from hiatus in January it had already lost millions of viewers (landing at nearly half of the previous season’s premiere). It seems the trend is continuing.The Hollywood Reporter published an update on Duck Dynasty's ratings yesterday painting a glib picture for the Christian conservative steered reality show. “To every thing there is a season — and duck season's time is clearly waning. The sixth season of A&E mega-hit Duck Dynasty debuted on Wednesday night, averaging 4.3 million viewers after a season of significant ratings fatigue earlier in the year,” they reported.Compare that to their August 2012 season premiere that averaged 11.77 million viewers and the trend line seems obvious.While The Hollywood Reporter danced around the potential reasons for the downward trend (even going so far as to mention that all reality television shows eventually wane and lose the public’s interest), one thing is certain: the downward trend began when Phil Robertson began his now-ongoing rants against the LGBT community, his calls for men to marry underage girls, and laments on the joys of being a cotton-picking slave in the south. It seems that a few (million) people took offense to those statements.
On Thursday afternoon, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) approved a measure that is expected to close four of the state’s five abortion clinics. The new law is directly modeled on similar clinic restrictions in Texas that are already wreaking havoc on women’s access to abortion services in the Lone Star State.
Jindal also signed a measure that will ban Planned Parenthood employees from providing any material about sexual health in public schools. After approving the two pieces of legislation in a Baptist church, the governor released a statement saying he’s “proud to sign these bills because they will help us continue to protect women and the life of the unborn in our state.”
Women’s health advocates, who are concerned about the dwindling access to legal abortion services as Southern states continue to pass harsh restrictions on clinics, disagree.
“When Gov. Jindal heralds his newly enacted law, he is celebrating a measure that corners women into using dangerous back alley procedures, unlicensed practitioners and the black market drugs already seen peddled on the streets of New Orleans,” Ilyse Hogue, the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said in a statement. “By shuttering nearly all legal providers of abortion care in the state, Gov. Jindal is putting at risk the health and safety not only of Louisiana women, but women from the region whose access to safe medical care in their own states has also been foreclosed.”
Since Texas’ harsh restrictions on abortion clinics grabbed headlines last summer, women’s access to abortion clinics has taken a sharp turn for the worse. Dozens of clinics are being forced to close in Texas, leaving hundreds of miles of the state without access to a single abortion provider. Similar laws are tied up in court in Mississippi and Alabama, but would have a similar impact if they’re allowed to take effect. And this legislative session, Louisiana and Oklahoma have moved forward with their own Texas-style clinic regulations. Women in the region are running out of options.
In order to justify tighter regulations on abortion clinics and providers, anti-choice lawmakers like Jindal typically claim that additional policies — like requiring doctors to have admitting privileges with local hospitals, which is the subject of Louisiana’s new law — are necessary to keep women safe. In reality, that’s been thoroughly debunked by medical professionals, who point out that these laws have no real basis in health and safety.
“Major medical groups like ACOG and AMA oppose these laws because they actually harm women by preventing them from getting high quality medical care,” Jennifer Dalven, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union Reproductive Freedom Project, pointed out. “Given that doctors and medical groups oppose these laws, we have to ask ourselves why some politicians are pushing them?”
The main reason that politicians continue to push them is because they’ve been incredibly politically successful. By framing abortion restrictions in bureaucratic terms, it’s possible for these policies to fly under the radar, rather than provoking the widespread outrage that outright bans on abortion tend to inspire.
The only clinic in Louisiana that currently has admitting privileges is one located in Shreveport. The abortion clinics in Baton Rogue and New Orleans likely won’t be able to comply with the law, leaving impoverished women who can’t afford to make a long trip to another city with few options. Amy Irvin, a founding board member of the New Orleans Abortion Fund, an organization that helps low-income people access reproductive services, recently told ThinkProgress that women in the state are “under siege.”
Following the Republican Party’s embarrassing showing in the 2012 elections, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus put together a task force to analyze just what was wrong with the party and which eventually resulted in the release of a report that found that the GOP’s ultra-right-wing ideology was making it increasingly unappealing to voters who see the party as nothing but a bunch of “narrow-minded” and “out of touch … stuffy old men.”
Naturally, the GOP has then gone about systematically ignoring all of the recommendations made in this autopsy report, which is why an anti-gay bigot like Phil Robertson was given a prime speaking slot at last night’s Republican Leadership Conference, where he was introduced by Sarah Palin, no less.
And Robertson was every bit as insightful as one would expect, declaring that when it comes to President Obama, “we’re up against evil like I’ve never seen in my life” and telling the GOP that if it wants to win elections, the party needs to “get Godly”:
Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson kicked off the Republican Leadership Conference at the Hilton Riverside Hotel in New Orleans on Thursday with an entertaining speech in which he mixed his faith in Jesus Christ with an admonition to the GOP to return to the Bible and the fundamental principles of freedom upon which the nation was founded.
“You lose your religion, you lose your morality, you lose your freedom,” Robertson said. “You cannot be right for America if you are not right with God.”
In an event the GOP billed as an “unofficial kickoff” of the 2016 presidential campaign, Robertson drew repeated applause and more than one standing ovation by insisting, “If the country does not turn to God at a fairly rapid clip, we are going to lose the United States of America.”
Robertson jokingly suggested, “The GOP must be desperate to call a person like me.”
Looking at the outfit that is now linked with his Duck Dynasty television persona, Robertson insisted, “These clothes are the best I own.”
What Robertson did not hesitate to speak about was his strong faith in Jesus Christ.
“It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists, but by Christians. Where there is no Jesus, the love rate is always real low and the crime rate is always real high. It’s just that simple GOP. You want to turn the Republican Party around, get Godly.”
He rejected the secular society created by Supreme Court decisions he interpreted as an attack on religion.
“We threw God out of the schools. We threw God out of the courthouses,” Robertson said, in a speech that featured quotes from several Founding Fathers, including George Washington, John Adams, and James Madison.
“Separation of church and state? I’m telling you right [now] what our Founding Fathers said and it doesn’t sound like separating God Almighty from the United States of America. It’s a lie. You remove the Bible out of schools, it was said more 200 years ago, and you are going to be wasting so much time punishing criminals. Education is useless without the Bible. Take the Bible out of schools and there’s going to be an explosion of crime.”
Robertson subtly rebutted charges of prejudice, making it clear comments he made to GQ magazine regarding homosexuality derived solely from his religions conviction.
“There is only one race on this planet and that is the human race,” he insisted.
“Look at all humanity as the human race. Therefore, you do not have the right to color code anybody. We are all one family and we are all made in the image of God Almighty. The color of your skin does not determine the character of your person. In the GOP we have the libertarians, and the conservatives, and the establishment party, but you need to get off all of this divisive talk and be one party united.”
Commenting that, “You can tell a lot about a man when you hear him pray,” Robertson recalled George Washington praying at the founding of the nation.
He then transitioned to discussing Barack Obama.
“I watch what I see coming out of the White House and it is downright embarrassing. How many lies are we going to tolerate? Our Founding Fathers created the greatest republic on the face of the earth and we screwed it up in 238 years. But I’m not throwing in the towel yet on it. As was said, the surest way for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”
Robertson railed against abortion, asking the GOP audience how a nation killing its unborn children possibly thought it could survive.
“The strength of this nation is not the Constitution,” he insisted, “but the law of God and the Ten Commandments upon which the Constitution was founded.”
h/t: Kyle Mantyla at RWW
These states have all rushed to approve new and dangerous abortion restrictions in the past month.
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:
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.
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.
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
Phil Robertson, the controversial star of the hit TV show “Duck Dynasty” will address the upcoming Republican Leadership Conference on Thursday.
Robertson will talk to the annual confab in the evening of its opening day, the conference announced Tuesday. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) are among the people also scheduled to speak Thursday evening at the conference in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Robertson stoked controversy last year when he called homosexuality a sin and compared it to bestiality in a GQ profile, leading A&E to suspend him from “Duck Dynasty” a show that chronicles his Louisiana family, which created a duck call instrument popular among hunters. The suspension was later lifted by A&E and Robertson was restored to the show.
For months, the state has been quietly laying the groundwork to shutter clinics — and it’s poised to accomplish that goal.
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
In the past week, David and Jason Benham have become the folk heroes du jour for the Religious Right, with everyone from Glenn Beck to Bobby Jindal declaring them martyrs to the homosexual movement’s war on religious liberty and free speech.
What actually happened to the Benham brothers is that the Home and Garden TV network dropped plans to feature them in a reality show after Right Wing Watch reported on the anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-Islam activism of the brothers. David particularly seems to have followed closely in the footsteps of his right-wing activist father Flip. The Benham brothers have clearly decided to make the most of their 15 minutes of fame, going from one talk show to the next to decry the “lies” that were told about them – without ever identifying those “lies” – to denounce efforts to “silence” them, and to declare their “love” for gay people.
The Benhams’ media push not only demonstrates the Religious Right’s persecution narrative, but also offers an opportunity to glean some insight into the worldview of Religious Right leaders and activists.
Lesson 1: What “love for homosexuals” looks like as practiced by the Religious Right
With anti-gay attitudes becoming less popular across America, Religious Right activists have increasingly adopted a strategy of declaring their love for gay people as individuals while simultaneously condemning homosexuality itself and the LGBT-rights movement.
That helps explain how the Benhams can say with a straight face that they love gay people and in the next breath describe the LGBT equality movement as part of a spiritual war between God and Satan. (Guess which side the gays are on.) It also explains why David and Jason keep making a big deal out of their claim that they have never attacked a gay person individually. They love gay people, they repeat, they just hate the “agenda,” which they say is to “silence” and “suppress” Christians’ message.
The real “gay agenda,” of course, is to have LGBT people be treated equally by the law and to have their human dignity recognized in our culture and our communities. You cannot say you love gay people while denigrating their efforts to be treated fairly under the law as evil and “demonic.” Well, you can say it, but it won’t be very convincing.
The Benhams, of course, are hardly original in this approach. Even many of the most ferociously anti-gay activists claim to love gay people. From their perspective, it is a loving thing to try to save gays from themselves and the demons supposedly controlling them. This week, the American Family Association’s wildly anti-gay Bryan Fischer hosted the Benham brothers on his radio program, where they agreed that none of them had an ounce of hatred in their hearts, but that, in Fischer’s words, “there really is a very active, aggressive, vitriolic, hate-filled homosexual lobby out there.” The Benhams and their new fans should not be surprised that most LGBT people do not see it as a loving act to try to prevent them from being who they are, living openly without fear, or having the freedom to follow their dreams and find love.
And when it comes to the policy arena, to the U.S. Constitution and laws, the opinion of Religious Right activists about what is sinful does not trump the rights of their fellow citizens. The Benham brothers are outspoken opponents of legal equality for LGBT people. In 2012, David was a spokesperson for a group of Religious Right activists who responded to the Democratic convention and platform with a “Decree for America,” which declared in part, “we refute maneuvers to secure equal treatment under law for same-sex couples…We decree that marriage laws in America will not include unions other than those between a man and a woman.”
Lesson 2: How criticizing one Christian = attacking all Christians
The Religious Right insists that describing the LGBT equality movement – the “homosexual agenda” – as evil, demonic and un-American, has nothing to do with how they feel about gay people, and that it is terribly, horribly, awfully unfair to refer to them as haters or bigots. That’s hard enough to take seriously given the intensely anti-gay rhetoric and record of many Religious Right leaders. But the absurdity is multiplied given that they routinely portray criticism of any particular conservative Christian activist as an attack on all Christians, Christianity itself, and religious freedom.
This has been a tactic of Religious Right leaders from the movement’s earliest days. Suggesting that criticism of the Moral Majority’s divisive rhetoric or the Christian Coalition’s political tactics was somehow an attack on the faith and freedom of religious Americans was meant to muddy the issues and intimidate the movement’s critics. In the case of the Benham brothers, conservative media and pundits have railed that the brothers were fired for their faith, for being “too Christian for cable.”
How is it that the Benhams can denounce the gay rights movement as Satanic while insisting that they have no hostility toward individual gay people, but that Right Wing Watch can be portrayed as “anti-Christian” simply for documenting specific statements that right-wing political activists have made as part of their public advocacy?
Lesson 3: The First Amendment through Religious Right eyes: just for the Right kind of Christians
While Religious Right leaders are quick to equate criticism as an attack on their freedom of speech and religion, some of them are all too happy to limit the free speech or religious liberty of the people they disagree with. That includes the Benham brothers.
In the flurry of public appearances in the wake of the HGTV cancellation, the Benhams and their right-wing fans have portrayed themselves as committed to the principle that everyone in America should have a chance to express themselves. On the O’Reilly Factor, David Benham denounced the gay agenda for seeking “to silence those that disagree with it, and it begins with Christians.” Jason warned that “when an idea seeks to silence any other idea that may disagree with that, then we have ourselves a problem on hand.”
But as blogger Jeremy Hooper recently pointed out, back in November 2004, David, Jason, and Flip Benham were all part of a group of about 15 people who went to a Charlotte, North Carolina city council meeting to complain about the gay pride celebration that had taken place in a city park six months earlier. They were among a group of people who had gone to the Pride event to, in Jason’s words, “tell them that Jesus loves you just the way you are, but he refuses to leave you that way.” But the Benhams and their friends were appalled at what they saw. “This is filth, this is vile and should not be allowed in our City,” said David. Jason urged city council members to reject future permits for Pride celebrations – and seemingly for any LGBT-themed event:
They have a right to apply for this permit, but you have a right and responsibility to deny it. I [implore] you not to be governed by the fear in which you feel. If you deny them this permit you will open a can of worms but you in your leadership position have to take that responsibility and you have to not allow the fear of making this homosexual community mad. You have to accept that responsibility and deny them every permit that they ask for.
In the words of Charlotte Pride organizers, “The Benham brothers once tried to silence us. They failed.”
Some Benham fans, like the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, say flat-out that the First Amendment’s religious liberty protections were only meant for Christians and don’t apply to Muslims, Mormons or other minority faiths. Back when many self-proclaimed “religious liberty” advocates were opposing efforts by Muslims in New York to build a community center – which critics gave the inaccurate and inflammatory name of “Ground Zero Mosque” – David Benham and his father Flip were among them. According to the Anti-Defamation League, David participated in protests against the Center, calling it a “den of iniquity” and labeling Muslims “the enemy” that was attacking America.
In these public debates, “Christian” as used by Religious Right leaders often doesn’t really apply to all Christians, but only to a subset of Christians who share their right-wing politics. Other Christians don’t count. The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, who has bemoaned “cultural elites” who want to “silence” and “bully” people like the Benhams, recently said that pro-gay-equality Christians don’t deserve the same legal protections as he does because “true religious freedom” applies only to those with religious views that align with those of the political Right.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is set to appear on Duck Dynasty when the reality show returns to TV next month for its sixth season.
Jindal, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, defended family patriarch Phil Robertson’s right to free speech last year when he was briefly suspended by A&E for making anti-gay comments in a magazine interview. The governor has called the Robertson family, whose Duck Commander empire is based in West Monroe, La., “great citizens” of the state.
A&E says the Duck Dynasty season premiere on June 11 will feature an appearance by Jindal, who will present Willie Robertson — CEO of the family’s business — with an award.
In February, Jindal was at Duck Commander headquarters to present the first Governor’s Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence to the Robertson family. The award is aimed at honoring “homegrown Louisiana businesses that grow and provide more opportunity, more jobs and more commerce” for the state, according to a news release from the governor’s office.
In the company’s first year of business in 1973, Phil Robertson sold $8,000 worth of duck calls. Today, Duck Commander has sales in the millions.
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.”
Ain’t No Party Like An NRA Party ‘Cause At An NRA Party People Wave Guns Around Like A Bunch Of Jackasses, And Other Gun News
A round-up of the National Rifle Association’s annual convention in Indianapolis.
Over the weekend the National Rifle Association held its annual Gun Fetishization and Circle Jerk for Dim-Bulb Paranoids. The lucky host city was Indianapolis, which saw itself invaded by 70,000 armed lunatics for three days of strutting jingoism and fear-mongering. Ghoulish death-head Wayne LaPierre showed up to give the very same speech that he gave at CPAC last month, which seems appropriate, since the NRA convention is basically CPAC with weaponry. Towards the end of the speech, LaPierre showed a television commercial that has to be seen to be believed (It starts at about 17:05 in the above video). As a bonus, it stars Wonkette favorite Mr. Colion Noir, who we are sad to see has yet to find a director who can get him to tone down the overly dramatic line readings.
Did you feel it? Do you believe in America again?
After LaPierre, the usual band of shitwitted politicians took to the podium to pander to this armed band of donkey-fucking nut bags. Mitch McConnell popped by, though apparently he left the Revolutionary War musket he showed off at CPAC at home. Quite a few of the potential losers to Hillary Clinton in 2016 made speeches, including Mike Pence, Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum and Bobby Jindal, because when you think of manly gun-toting tough guys, you definitely think of the Hindu version of Kenneth the Page.
The greatest speech of the weekend belonged to Sarah Palin, the Dipshit of Denali herself, who popped by to tell everyone that if she were in charge, “waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists.” Remembering that she is not in fact in charge of anything, sphincters across the country immediately unclenched.
One 72-year-old heartbeat away from the presidency. John McCain should never be allowed to make any decision about anything ever after that one. Cindy shouldn’t even let him decide what flavor pudding he gets to gum down for dinner.
We wonder if it occurred to even one of the 70,000 barking seals in attendance that the NRA convention is basically just a big weekend for gun manufacturers to separate even more of the rubes from even more of their money. Wrapping it in a veneer of rah-rah patriotism about taking back the streets from the thugs and criminals, or taking back the country from the people who gave us Solyndra and Benghazi (no really, those were mentioned) does not change that.
For an example of what the NRA hath wrought after years and years of this paranoid insanity, we look no further than a story out of Georgia last week. It seems that one patriot, excited over the state’s passing that “Guns Everywhere” law, couldn’t wait to tell all his liberal fascist neighbors that he would now be strapped all the time, so stick that in your pipes and smoke it, libtards! For an extra soupcon of dickishness, the Georgia man decided to make sure all the small children at the neighborhood Little League field knew it too.
“Anyone who was just walking by – you had parents and children coming in for the game – and he’s just standing here, walking around [saying] ‘You want to see my gun? Look, I got a gun and there’s nothing you can do about it.’ He knew he was frightening people. He knew exactly what he was doing,” said parent Karen Rabb.
All together now: he seems nice.
Back in Indianapolis, a small group of protestors affiliated with Moms Demand Action and Everytown, which is Michael Bloomberg’s new gun control group, bravely put in an appearance outside the NRA convention. This was very upsetting to the gun fondlers, who fear the radical Moms Demand agenda of background checks, suicide prevention, domestic violence and safe storage of guns so that fewer toddlers will keep shooting each other. Advocating for such issues is apparently considered “bullying” by the gun nuts. Which we find hilarious, considering the above story from Georgia or this one about a sales executive in L.A. trying to sell a line of so-called “smart guns.” Her efforts to sell guns that can only be fired by their actual owners have led to a campaign of harassment that includes posting pictures of the address where she keeps a P.O. box online.
The unarmed are always bullying the armed. Everyone knows this.
The gun nuts were also very contemptuous of Moms Demand Action founder Shannon Watts, who apparently had an armed security detail with her, which apparently makes her a hypocrite. Yr Wonkette thinks that if we were going to advocate for gun control in the middle of 70,000 armed, easily angered jerks, and if we had been the target of the kind of invective that has been hurled at Watts since she founded her group, we would want armed security as well. That doesn’t make Shannon Watts a hypocrite. It makes her smart.
In Indianapolis, Watts had a run-in with howling rage harpy Dana Loesch, of whom she has run afoul for a variety of reasons, including apparently calling Loesch a “paid shill” of Magpul Industries, the gun manufacturer that fled Colorado last year after that state imposed some new gun-control laws. Loesch claims she has never been employed by Magpul and has been after Watts for months demanding an apology for this vicious lie. What yr Wonkette finds entertaining about this little argument is that last summer we wrote about a rally Magpul participated in just before Colorado’s new laws went into effect, at which the company handed out hundreds of its 30-round magazines that were about to become illegal. Magpul flew these magazines to the rally by helicopter, along with a noted anti-gun-control advocate by the name of…Dana Loesch! Dana even took two of Magpul’s magazines home with her and named them “Piers” and “Morgan.” Most parents would just get their kids a couple of goldfish.
Anyway, we suppose any appearance fee paid to Dana came from the rally’s organizers and not from Magpul. Or maybe Dana didn’t get an appearance fee at all so she could remain a pure and uncorrupted spokeswoman for her civil right to stroke a gun anywhere and anytime she wants. Yr Wonkette is of the opinion that flying into a gun rally with several crates of Magpul products, speaking at that rally and then taking two of the products home and bragging about them meets the definition of the word “shilling.” And also that Dana Loesch is dumber than a bag of gun hammers.
So you hang in there, Shannon Watts and Moms Demand Action. If you’ve got the gun nuts frothing at the mouth this hard, you must be doing something right.
MoveOn’s Billboard Lampooning Gov. Jindal for Denying Health Care to 242,000 Will Stay Up After Court Rejects Louisiana’s Bid for Preliminary Injunction
Moments ago, Judge Shelly D. Dick of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana issued a ruling in Dardenne v MoveOn rejecting the state of Louisiana’s attempt to force MoveOn.org to take down a billboardcriticizing Gov. Bobby Jindal for denying health care to 242,000 Louisianians.
In her ruling, Judge Dick concluded, “the Lieutenant Governor underestimates the intelligence and reasonableness of people viewing the billboard.”
Judge Dick held that:
“The State has not demonstrated a substantial likelihood of prevailing on its burden of proving confusion by viewers of the billboard. Furthermore, the State has failed to demonstrate a compelling reason to curtail MoveOn.org.’s political speech in favor of protecting of the State’s service mark. Finally, the State failed to demonstrate that injunctive relief is required to ameliorate irreparable injury. There has been no showing of irreparable injury to the State.”
Anna Galland, executive director of MoveOn.org Civic Action, had the following response to the judge’s ruling:
“This decision is a victory for common sense, freedom of speech, and the 242,000 Louisianians being denied health care because of Governor Jindal and Louisiana Republicans’ outrageous refusal to let them access Medicaid. What it means is, our billboard is staying up.
“While we are pleased with today’s outcome, it’s a shame that the state filed this baseless lawsuit in the first place — which nearly every lawyer with basic knowledge of the First Amendment said they’d lose. Lt. Gov. Dardenne should apologize to the taxpayers for this waste of time and money — time and money that could have been better spent finding ways to get Louisianians access to health care.
“For us, this campaign has never been primarily about a billboard, or freedom of speech. It is about expanding access to health care and exposing the fact that Governor Jindal, in an effort to appease the far right-wing element of his party in advance of a likely 2016 run for the White House, has denied 242,000 Louisianians health care coverage. That decision shows that Governor Jindal cares more about politics than people.
“We will not be intimidated or silenced in our campaign to bring health care to Americans who need it. The truth is that denying health care to 242,000 Louisianians and 5 million Americans is a choice that Governor Jindal and Republican governors and legislators across the country are making – and for no good reason.
“Medicaid expansion would be fully funded by the federal government for three years, and then at least 90 percent of the funding would be guaranteed to come from the federal government forever. By saying no to this money, what Governor Jindal is doing is essentially taxing the people of Louisiana to pay for Medicaid for people in other states, but refusing to allow Louisianians to reap the benefits.
“242,000 isn’t just a statistic. It’s a number that represents the real stories of real people, like MoveOn member Veronica Russell, who lives in New Orleans, and earns just above the threshold to be eligible for traditional Medicaid, yet falls into the gap where she earns too little to receive subsidies for health care on the marketplace. So now she’s stuck without health care.
“That’s outrageous. If you work hard, if you contribute to society in the richest country on earth, you ought to be able to access health care. And one of the great things about the Affordable Care Act was that it finally gave people like Veronica an opportunity to get covered. But state officials like Governor Jindal continue to stand in the way.
“We are doubling down on our campaign to ensure every American has access to health care. We are expanding our billboard campaign in Louisiana. And we will will not rest until Governor Jindal and all of the other Republicans blocking access to Medicaid get out of the way.”
Mark Levin: The Go-To Radio Host For GOP Lawmakers Despite Inflammatory Rhetoric | Blog | Media Matters for America
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:
Straw Polls: Rand Paul wins #CPAC2014 Straw Poll, Ted Cruz wins Senate Conservative Fund’s Straw Poll
The results are in for the CPAC and Senate Conservatives Fund straw polls for the 2016 GOP primary.
Rand Paul wins CPAC straw poll for 2nd year in a row.
While over at the SCF version, Ted Cruz won that straw poll.
31 KY Senator Rand Paul
11 TX Senator Ted Cruz
9 Neurosurgeon Ben Carson
8 NJ Governor Chris Christie
7 Former PA Senator Rick Santorum
7 WI Governor Scott Walker
6 FL Senator Marco Rubio
3 TX Governor Rick Perry
3 WI Congressman Paul Ryan
2 Former AR Governor Mike Huckabee
2 LA Governor Bobby Jindal
2 Former AK Governor Sarah Palin
2 Former Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice
1 Former IN Governor Mitch Daniels
1 OH Governor John Kasich
1 IN Governor Mike Pence
1 OH Senator Rob Portman
1 SD Senator John Thune
1 Business Executive Donald Trump
1 Former FL Congressman Allen West
* NH Senator Kelly Ayotte
* KS Governor Sam Brownback
* SC Governor Nikki Haley
* NM Governor Susana Martinez
* SC Senator Tim Scott
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
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.