Posts tagged "Erick Erickson"

Conservative media figures that embody messages of misogyny and hate will take center stage at a GOP candidate forum in Iowa, despite the party’s own acknowledgment that future electoral victories hinge upon the development of a more tolerant platform.

After Mitt Romney’s loss in the 2012 presidential election, the Republican National Committee drafted a series of recommendations on how to evolve and grow the party into a force that can win consistently in the 21st century. To a large extent, the plan recommended reaching out to women and minorities, after Democrats won both groups by healthy margins that year. The RNC report recommended ”developing a forward-leaning vision for voting Republican that appeals to women.” It went on to suggest that the party needs “to campaign among Hispanic, black, Asian, and gay Americans and demonstrate that we care about them, too.”

But in a move that seems in total opposition to those recommendations, the Iowa Republican candidates for U.S. Senate, as well as Republican Gov. Terry Branstad and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), have chosen to partner with Fox News contributor Erick Erickson, radio host Steve Deace, and The Family Leader, an anti-gay organization headed by Bob Vander Plaats, to conduct a forum for the candidates on April 25.

Despite his role as “moderator” for the event, Erickson’s far-right views on women and minorities are anything but moderate. Erickson has argued that businesses that serve gay couples are “aiding and abetting” sin, that proposed anti-discrimination laws are part of a war on Christians waged by “evil” gay rights activists, and that marriage equality is akin to incest. According to the pundit, gay people are definitely “on the road to hell.”

In fact, Erickson is scheduled to appear at an event for the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) on the night before the candidate forum. The ADF, whose work has been touted by Erickson, is an extreme anti-gay organization working to criminalize homosexuality. The event is billed as “An Evening with Erick Erickson,” making him a de facto spokesman for a group whose stances are so extreme even some of Erickson’s peers at Fox News have distanced themselves from them.

Erickson’s relationship with women’s issues is just as offensive — he is particularly hostile to the idea that women should help support a family financially. Erickson stated on his radio show in 2013 that “some women believe they can have it all, and that’s the crux of the problem,” and told Fox host Lou Dobbs that the recent increase in the number of female breadwinners is “concerning and troubling.” He elaborated on this point, saying, “When you look at biology, look at the natural world, the roles of a male and female in society, and the other animals, the male typically is the dominant role.”

But it’s not just Erickson. The Republican candidate forum will also feature a post-forum focus group moderated by radio host and Washington Times columnist Steve Deace.

Deace maintains strong anti-gay and anti-immigrant views. Most recently, he penned a column suggesting that President Obama and the media were using the story of Michael Sam, an openly gay NFL prospect from the University of Missouri, as an excuse to distract attention away from the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya. He has also compared gay marriage to bank robbery and strongly opposes proposals like the DREAM Act that would aid longtime immigrant children in obtaining a college education.

And the forum itself is presented by The Family Leader, whose president Bob Vander Plaats has called gay people a “public health risk,” likened being gay to adultery and polygamy, and is a vocal supporter of the fringe birther movement.

If right-wing hate mongers like Erickson and Deace continue to be chosen to represent the party, GOP rebranding efforts are likely doomed.

h/t: Brian Powell at MMFA

h/t: Miranda Blue at RWW

MACON, Ga. – 2014 is a Republican year. The party has the map, the candidates, and the money to finally retake the Senate after blowing the last two tries by nominating weak ultra-conservative candidates in critical races. And there’s no way that’s happening again, right?

Not if Georgia has anything to say about it.

The solid red state is shaping up as a key boost to Democratic hopes of retaining the Senate thanks to a GOP primary field both sides believe could produce a nominee too hobbled, too extreme, or too gaffe-prone to win in November.

The candidate causing the biggest headache is Paul Broun, a four-term GOP congressman who opposes abortion without exception, thinks the Big Bang and evolution are “lies straight from the pit of hell,” (gravity waves be damned), and likened President Obama to Hitler and Karl Marxbefore he was even inaugurated.

Then there’s fellow Rep. Phil Gingrey, a doctor who suggested last year that Todd Akin was “partly right” about his theories on “legitimate rape” (Gingrey later apologized).

Even if Broun and Gingrey come up short in the state’s May 20 primary, Democrats are hoping a close race will pull the entire GOP field, which also includes Rep. Jack Kingston, former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel, and wealthy businessman David Perdue, uncomfortably to the right. 

In normal circumstances, even a weak GOP nominee would probably be a shoo-in in this conservative state. But Democrats have drafted an unusually strong candidate in Michelle Nunn, whose father Sam Nunn is still revered here for his 25-year career in the Senate.

“What a lot of people don’t understand about the Republicans in Georgia is that up to 2002 a lot of them had a ‘D’ next to their name,” Erick Erickson, the Red State founder who briefly flirted with running himself, said. “They’re very comfortable with names like Carter and Nunn.”

Republicans are bracing for a rough ride, knowing their candidates will battle each other through the primary and likely July 22 runoff while Nunn soaks up a deluge of cash and attention unimpeded.

“One of the people on this stage tonight is going to be your Republican nominee, and after this primary and the runoff they are going to be bruised, battered and broke,” conservative radio host Martha Zoller told the audience at a Republican Senate debate in Macon earlier this month.

Polling is all over the map right now: A survey by Democratic firm Public Policy Polling right before the Macon debate found Broun opening up a double digit lead in the primary, with 27% support to 14% for Gingrey and the rest roughly tied for third place, while a slightly more recent poll by SurveyUSA put Perdue at 29%, Kingston at 19%, and the rest hovering around 10% support.

The stakes couldn’t be higher. For two election cycles in a row, Republicans have almost taken the Senate only to watch flawed candidates like Christine O’Donnell in Delaware in 2010 and Todd Akin in Missouri in 2012 cost them winnable races.

On the Democratic side, Georgia is one of only two top tier pickup opportunities, the other being Kentucky where polls show Republican Leader Mitch McConnell in trouble. For both parties, the path to a Senate majority runs directly through the Peach State.

“It’s an uphill battle in the Senate, but one of the things we have going for us is that Republicans might keep being the gift that keeps on giving and say one outrageous remark,” Jim Manley, a former top aide to Majority Leader Harry Reid, told msnbc.

Race to the right

Georgia’s Republican primary doesn’t fit into a neatly wrapped establishment vs. tea party narrative (think Rand Paul versus Trey Grayson in Kentucky in 2010) or moderate vs. conservative (like Charlie Crist versus Marco Rubio in Florida in 2010.) Any GOP candidate aspiring to statewide office here knows you have to be pro-life, pro-gun, anti-Obamacare, anti-taxes, and willing to play ball with the grassroots in order to stand a chance.

“We’re not identical, but I don’t think there’s a nickel’s worth of difference in our bona fides on the conservative side,” Perdue said in an interview. 

This is pretty much the consensus among the field. “It’s certainly a conservative group,” Gingrey said. 

Broun, nicknamed “Dr. No” for his constant ideological votes against House leadership, conceded to msnbc that, “certainly all our Republicans are conservative to one degree or another.”

Even a candidate like Kingston, who is often pegged as the field’s “establishment” guy, boasts strong ratings from conservative groups, supported an earmark ban under President George W. Bush, and received tea party supportin his failed attempt to take over the Appropriations Committee. Lately, he’s proposed requiring public school students to perform janitorial work in exchange for free lunches.  

His biggest sin in the eyes of some activists is having been in Congress a long time: Handel has gone after him for voting for large spending bills over the years with earmarks attached for things like the Edward Kennedy Institute in Massachusetts.

“It’s kind of easy to vote ‘no,’ but to actually cut a budget you have to go ahead and get in the arena and you get a little mud on your face,” Kingston said in an interview.

With the entire group starting so far to the right, it can be hard for any one candidate to stand out. Still, they try their best.

Everyone supports the Second Amendment, for example, but only Broun’s campaign has raffled off an AR-15, the semi-automatic rifle made infamous by the Newtown school massacre. The whole field wants to get rid of Obamacare, but only Gingrey has promised not to run for re-election if he hasn’t successfully repealed it in one Senate term. Gingrey and Kingston have joined Broun in regularly voting against Republican bills from the right in order to prevent any one of them from gaining separation.

In debates, the candidates emphasize their biographical distinctions while competing with each other for the most anti-liberal sound bites. The Macon forum, for example, was a Russian nesting doll of populist conservative resentment.

Kingston attacked Harry Reid while Gingrey condemned “rap music,” Hollywood, and trashy music videos for corrupting the youth (“What does the federal government do about it?Nothing!”). Broun accused Gingrey and Kingston of being typical Washington Republicans (“What separates me from my two colleagues here: I’ve never requested an earmark.”). Handel said all three have served too many terms in Washington (“[They] had a combined 42 years to do everything they’re talking about!”) Perdue went after the three of them plus Handel for having held elected office at all (“If you like what’s going on in Washington, pick one of those four politicians.”). 

“It’s been halfway a contest to see who can dislike Barack Obama more,” Todd Rehm, a Republican strategist and editor of GAPundit.com, told msnbc.

Each candidate is also skilled enough to know exactly when to pull back from the anti-government jeremiads, namely when the topic turns to federal spending inside Georgia.

All the major contenders are incensed that Obama has yet to approve funding for a project to deepen the port in Savannah. At the Macon debate, Broun said the state needs more highways while Perdue bemoaned the lack of infrastructure spending in recent years. Asked about potential military base closures that could harm the state’s economy, Broun said the country requires more warships, more planes, and a bigger standing army while Kingston boasted: “I don’t want to kill a fly with a sledgehammer, I want to kill a fly with five sledgehammers.”

Culture clash

The candidates are well aware of party fears that they’ll produce the next Todd Akin and steer clear of social issues when possible. Even Broun is putting the fire and brimstone on ice for now. 

“We’re not going to be voting in the Senate on my religious beliefs,” Broun told msnbc. “We’re going to be voting on trying to shrink the size and scope of government.”

Just because the campaign isn’t wading deep into social issues today doesn’t mean things will stay that way.

Nobody knows how fast things can zoom to the right better than Handel, whose 2010 run for governor turned on the kinds of esoteric culture wars that make national party leaders cringe. Then-candidate Nathan Deal relentlessly attacked Handel for her past association with the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay GOP group, while the abortion fight wandered into extreme territory.

Georgia Right to Life, the state’s most prominent anti-abortion group, opposed Handel because she favored exceptions to an abortion ban in cases of rape and incest and because she supported in vitro fertility treatments. Handel hit back hard, calling her own unsuccessful attempts to have children “the single greatest disappointment in my life.”

GRTL president Dan Becker accused Handel of using her personal grief over being “barren” and “infertile” to justify taking innocent lives. She ended up losing by only about 2,500 votes.

Today, Handel is one of the most famous (or infamous, depending on your views) anti-abortion advocates in the country, and the battle looks somewhat ridiculous as a result. After leaving government, she took a job as vice president for public policy with Susan G. Komen, the breast cancer advocacy group. There she led the group in cutting funding to Planned Parenthood for mammogram screenings, sparking a backlash that ended with her resignation.

“In the governor’s race I wasn’t pro-life enough, fast forward and I became too pro-life,” Handel told msnbc. “My life is a string of ironies, what can I say?” 

This time around, the only Senate hopeful to win GRTL’s endorsement is Broun, which he secured by refusing to vote for a ban on abortions after 20 weeks supported by the National Right To Life Committee. That’s because the bill, which Gingrey and Kingston supported, included rape and incest exceptions.

Republican strategists are skeptical if GRTL still has the same clout it once did, but if Broun wins it will be because he managed to rally the most hardcore anti-abortion and pro-gun activists to his side. Primary races – and especially runoffs – are low turnout affairs in Georgia, which can lead to upsets for candidates with motivated supporters. Broun won his own Congressional seat in 2007 by defeating a heavily favored Republican opponent in a sleepy special election runoff. 

“If it’s Paul Broun in the runoff, I think Republicans in Washington collectively soil themselves,” Red State’s Erickson said.

Money talks

Democrats are hoping Broun will stay competitive enough to push everyone to the right, but his candidacy could also have a freeing effect: if his rivals assume that Broun has a lock on the most conservative primary voters, they might turn their attention to winning moderate Republicans, many of whom are concentrated in the Atlanta suburbs.

Perdue, the former CEO of Dollar General and Reebok and cousin of former GOP Gov. Sonny Perdue, is betting on this theory. While conventionally conservative on the major issues in the race, he’s positioning himself as a relatively non-ideological outsider. He has been critical of Senator Ted Cruz’s recent efforts to use the debt ceiling as a bargaining chip, for example, which he warns could frighten investors. While strongly opposed to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law, he’s said that he favors working with Democrats to amend it instead of the usual repeal calls. 

“I don’t believe I have to give up my conservative ideals to offer up a compromise position in order to get progress,” he told msnbc. “I’d rather take an 85% solution on the economic issues then sit here and get 0%.”

Perdue bears more than a passing resemblance to Mitt Romney, another well-coifed candidate from a political family who ran for office on his record in the private sector. Unlike Romney, whose complex buyout deals became a liability, Perdue’s most successful business ventures are easier to explain and quantify: his boast that he created 20,000 jobs while running Dollar General passes muster with Politifact, for example. 

Perdue’s personal wealth means he can self-fund and his polling surge has come during a period where he dominated the airwaves with an ad casting his four main opponents as crying babies. He’s uniquely problematic for Handel, who ascended the ranks of Georgia politics as a protégé of Sonny Perdue. The former governor is now backing his cousin’s campaign and Handel has struggled to raise cash without his network. Broun, who has never been popular with big donors, had just $187,000 cash on hand at the end of 2013.

Money matters a lot in Georgia campaigns, where advertising in the Atlanta media market is expensive. Kingston had $3.42 million in the same filing period thanks to a significant war chest left over from past campaign and Gingrey had $2.36 million, giving both the potential for a serious run.

Breaking from the PAC 

In another time, Broun’s lack of funds might have been disqualifying. But in the era of the super PAC, all it takes is one advocacy group or wealthy patron to vault a candidate into contention.

“That is the big question mark, whether the super PACs come in,” Joel McElhannon, a Georgia Republican strategist, told msnbc. “It has the potential to be a big game changer.”

Right now, the outside spending scene resembles Europe 1914, with the major powers – anti-establishment groups like Club For Growth and the Senate Conservatives Fund on one side, more traditional pro-business groups like the Chamber of Commerce and American Crossroads on the other – staying tentatively neutral while events play out on the ground. If any one of them decides to enter the race, however, it could suck them all into a massive air war.

McElhannon raised another possibility: Democrats might pour money into a super PAC of their own to boost Broun’s chances. It’s less paranoid than it sounds. In 2012, Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill helped ensure Akin got the GOP nomination in Missouri with winking “attack” ads highlighting his conservative positions for Republican primary voters. 

The party line among state and national Democratic officials right now is that Georgia’s GOP candidates are equally flawed, but some leaders have cheered Broun on fairly openly in the past.

“If there is a living God, we’ll be facing him as the Republican nominee in November of 2014,” Mike Berlon, then-chairman of the state Democratic party, told USA Today last year. “Unfortunately, we’re probably not that lucky.” 

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h/t: Benjy Sarlin at MSNBC

Continuing his defense of draconian state legislation to allow individuals and businesses to refuse services to gay people on religious grounds, Fox News contributor Erick Erickson suggested that businesses serving gay couples were “aiding and abetting sin.”

Erickson continued his criticism of his Fox News colleague Kirsten Powers’ recent USA Today column, in which Powers criticized “homosexual Jim Crow laws” currently being debated in several state legislatures. Those laws would allow businesses to refuse service to gay customers for religious reasons.

In her column, Powers, an evangelical Christian herself, argued that Christians shouldn’t refuse services to people simply because they disagreed with them, noting that many “Christians serve unrepentant murders through prison ministry.” Erickson responded by asserting that, unlike prison ministers, businesses that serve gay couples would be “aiding and abetting” sin:

See Also: EQ Matters: Kirsten Powers slams draconian anti-LGBTQ laws, while Erick Erickson defends them 

h/t: MMFA 

Local reporting on Texas divorce law has finally put to rest the right-wing media smear that gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis lost custody of her children, debunking this myth as the lie it always was.

Since she announced her candidacy for governor, national right-wing media figures have gone after Davis and scrutinized her parenting choices in a way no male candidate would ever have to confront. One nasty example has been Fox News contributor and RedState editor Erick Erickson, who has repeatedly referred to Davis as “Abortion Barbie,” baselessly questioned her mental health on the basis of routine legal pleadings, and misrepresented the terms of her divorce settlement.

It was also the discredited Erickson who quickly jumped at the opportunity to help spread perhaps the most persistent myth about Davis — that her ex-husband, Jeff Davis, “got custody" of her two daughters following their 2005 divorce decree. This falsehood was unfortunately started by the Dallas Morning News, whose January 18 profile of Davis was criticized for various reporting failures. Although the Dallas Morning News never corrected the language in the original piece, the reporter correctly described what actually happened in a later article, in accordance with the editor’s online admission that the original version “left some readers perhaps too free to misinterpret the situation. We will print a clarification in tomorrow’s newspaper.”

In short, Davis never “lost custody” of her children; rather, she was granted what’s known under Texas law as “joint managing conservatorship" of her daughters. "Custody" isn’t even the relevant legal term in Texas divorce proceedings.

By the time the Dallas Morning News mentioned Davis’ joint conservatorship, the “lost custody” smear had already gained traction. Versions of the myth eventually cropped up in the New York Post (which claimed Davis “lost custody” of her daughters), Breitbart.com (she “gave up custody”), and even Ann Coulter jumped into the fray, accusing Davis of telling “huge whoppers” and erroneously reporting that the Texas family court “awarded [Jeff Davis] full custody.”

Unlike the Dallas Morning News, right-wing media have yet to issue a “clarification,” let alone a much-needed correction and apology to Davis after their smears about Davis’ divorce raced from the fringes of the internet to Fox News. Davis herself expressly pointed this out in a recent speech, saying, "I never gave up custody of my children. I never lost custody of my children. And to say otherwise is an absolute lie." 

Wendy Davis is telling the truth on custody of her children. 

H/T: MMFA

Mitch McConnell will be gone in November (or in the May primary)! 

h/t: Sahil Kapur at TPM

thepoliticalfreakshow:

As President Obama delivered his State of the Union, Republican lawmakers and conservative pundits took to Twitter with their immediate reactions. Obama’s discussion of taking executive action outside of Congressional deadlock provoked particularly creative responses, but they managed to mock equal pay and climate change, as well.

Here are the highlights:

1. Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX):

2. Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX):

3. Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS):

Bonus Huelskamp:

4. Townhall’s Katie Pavlich countered Obama’s portion on climate change being a settled debate:

5. Erick Erickson, during Obama’s comments about equal pay for women and men:

6. Karl Rove:

h/t: Kirsten Powers at The Daily Beast

h/t: Aviva Shen at Think Progress

h/t: Justin Baragona at PoliticusUSA

Conservative pundit and Fox News contributor Erick Erickson questioned the reality of climate change by comparing it to the second coming of Jesus Christ, saying the difference is that “Jesus will return.” But mounting evidence shows that climate change has already taken hold and will worsen if left unchecked, a fact accepted by many in the Christian community.

On January 2, Erickson sparked controversy on Twitter after he tweeted that “[t]he difference between people who believe in the 2nd coming of Jesus and those who believe in global warming is that Jesus will return”:

image

Erickson’s claim contradicts the position put forward by ranking members of the Christian community. In his inaugural mass on March 19, Pope Francis called upon “all men and women of goodwill” to be “protectors […] of the environment”:

Please, I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of good will: let us be ‘protectors’ of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment.

Catholic leaders have explicitly linked this need to be stewards of the environment with the fight against global climate change. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops announced in 2001 that it accepts the scientific consensus and “the conclusions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change”:

As Catholic bishops, we make no independent judgment on the plausibility of “global warming.” Rather, we accept the consensus findings of so many scientists and the conclusions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as a basis for continued research and prudent action (see the sidebar: The Science of Global Climate Change). Scientists engaged in this research consistently acknowledge the difficulties of accurate measurement and forecasting. Models of measurement evolve and vary in reliability. Researchers and advocates on all sides of the issue often have stakes in policy outcomes, as do advocates of various courses of public policy. News reports can oversimplify findings or focus on controversy rather than areas of consensus. Accordingly, interpretation of scientific data and conclusions in public discussion can be difficult and contentious matters.

Catholic bishops are not alone in calling on Christians to accept the science that speaks to the urgent need for action against manmade climate change. A number of Christian institutions have called upon members to take action against climate change. In 2006, the Evangelical Climate Initiative, a group that includes more than 300 evangelical Christian leaders from across the United States, urged members of the evangelical Christian faith to fight climate change because it “hit[s] the poor the hardest.”

h/t: MMFA

h/t: Benny Johnson at BuzzFeed

h/t: Molly Redden at Mother Jones

Fox News contributor Erick Erickson lashed out at gay rights activists for fighting against anti-LGBT business discrimination, suggesting that they are “evil” and that their effort to ensure equal treatment for LGBT customers is an intolerant campaign to “silence good.”

In a December 9 post for his RedState.com blog, Erickson responded to a Colorado judge’s recent ruling that a Denver baker violated the state’s anti-discrimination law when he refused to serve a same-sex couple. Erickson endorsed anti-gay discrimination on the basis of religious views, writing that the ruling further imperils religious liberty and provides yet another example of how “your sexual preference instead of your faith” matters more in modern society (emphasis added): 

Surely there are plenty of bakers who would bake a cake for David Mullins and Charlie Craig, the gay men who wanted the cake. But they went to Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Denver, CO. When Phillips declined because of his religious beliefs, Mullins and Craig went to the ACLU, which in turn complained to the state that Phillips was discriminating.

There will be no accommodation between gay rights activists and those seeking religious freedom to opt out of the gay rights movement. Gay rights activists demand tolerance for their lifestyle, but will not tolerate those who choose to adhere to their religious beliefs.

Increasingly, courts around the country are siding with the gay rights movement against those relying on the first freedoms of the country. While many would prefer to sit this out, they will be made to care.

Evil preaches tolerance until it is dominate and then it seeks to silence good. We are more and more rapidly arriving at a point in this country where Christians are being forced from the public square unless they abandon the tenets of their faith. In our secular society, Christianity is something you do on a Sunday and who you sleep with defines you.

For Christians defined by their faith, this paradigm of being defined by your sexual preference instead of your faith is deeply troublesome and will see more and more of these stories crop up.

Legal experts have already debunked Erickson’s claim that anti-discrimination laws pose a threat to private religious views. As University of Pennsylvania law professor Tobias B. Wolff and Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern have noted, there’s a clear difference between holding anti-gay views personally and operating a business in the public marketplace that discriminates against people because of who they are. 

Erickson professes his dislike for the notion that “who you sleep with defines you,” but it’s Erickson himself who’s obsessed with denying people rights simply on the basis of their sexual orientation. Would Erickson feel as comfortable telling an interracial couple that “there are plenty of bakers who would bake a cake for them,” but that racist bakers should have the right not to provide them one?

That Erickson sees nothing wrong with subjecting same-sex couples to the whims of business owners’ personal views underscores the right-wing media’s apparent belief that “who you sleep with” is perfectly legitimate grounds for public discrimination.

For Erickson to cloak his defense of anti-gay discrimination in a purported concern for “tolerance” is particularly rich, given his willingness to solicit donations for the extremist Alliance Defending Freedom, an organization working internationally to criminalize homosexuality. 

H/T: MMFA

Erick Erickson: LGBT workplace protections will make us all one gender and cause ‘tyranny and chaos’ (via Raw Story )

In the video embedded below, “Majority Report” host Sam Seder mocked Red State editor Erick Erickson’s online meltdown over the Employee Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA), which provides workplace protections for LGBT people. Apparently, a federal…