Dallas Morning News ' Wayne Slater Tells National Media "Perry Has Bigger Problems Than ... Conventional Wisdom Suggests"
Maddow Urges Viewers To Read Texas Press About The Case.
From the 08.21.2014 edition of MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show:
BREAKING: Here’s Texas Governor Rick Perry’s Mugshot, Do With It What You Will, The First Sitting Governor of Texas To Be Indicted In Over 100 Years
On Tuesday afternoon Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) turned himself in at the Travis County Criminal Justice Center to be officially processed for charges of abuse of power. He spoke to the press and vowed to fight the charges, before entering the building to get fingerprinted and have his mugshot taken.
You can read more about his indictment here, but what you’ve really come for is the mugshot, so let’s just cut to the chase.
See above. [Mediaite]
Perry was brought up on ethics charges after using his veto power to defund a state “integrity unit.”
A state grand jury has issued an indictment against Texas Governor Rick Perry, charging him with abuse of his office and coercion of a public official. The indictment handed down on Friday afternoon carries two felony charges.
The story began last year when a member of the state’s public integrity unit pled guilty to a drunk driving charge. According to the Texas Tribune, Perry threatened to withhold millions in state funding from the unit, if the member, a Democrat, did not resign. She refused to step down, and Perry made good on his threat, using his line-item veto power to strike $7.5 million in funding for the unit from the state budget.
A liberal watchdog group filed the complaint against Perry, arguing that the veto was political retribution, which makes it a crime under Texas law.
The Travis County grand jury charged Perry with abuse of official capacity, which is a first-degree felony that carries a maximum punishment up to 99 years, according to the AP. The second charge, coercion of a public official, carries a sentence of 2 to 10 years.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s counsel responds to grand jury indictment pic.twitter.com/LwFzNEzC8N— Jon Passantino (@passantino)August 15, 2014
Source: Dashiell Bennett for The Wire
Texas Gov. Rick Perry has been indicted by an Austin Grand Jury over his veto of funding for the Texas Public Integrity Unit.A grand jury was called to determine whether or not Perry broke the law when he threatened to veto the funding. As a result they issued indictments on two felony charges: abuse of official capacity and coercion of public servant. If found guilty on the charges, Perry could be sentenced to a maximum 109 years in prison.Perry promised the veto unless District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg resigned, citing her conviction for drunk driving. Others saw the veto as an attempt to gut the Public Integrity Unit, an agency responsible for violations of environmental law and the agency that began the prosecution of powerful former Rep. Tom DeLay.
An indictment indicates the grand jury believes the state has a strong enough case to send to trial and is not a finding of guilt.[T]he Public Integrity Unit was in the process of conducting an investigation of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas. CPRIT received a ton of money from the Legislature to award grants to high-level medical research projects. The problem: a lot of that money was going to people who shouldn’t have gotten it. And some of those folks had close ties to Perry. Just a few months ago, Lehmberg’s office indicted CPRIT’s former director over his allegedly improper disbursement of an $11 million grant. But when Lehmberg got pulled over with the potato juice in her car last spring, the investigation was just underway.
When Lehmberg’s DWI went public, Republicans saw a way to get rid of a pesky, entrenched foe. […]
H/T: Hunter at Daily Kos
Unfortunately, to the extent there is something that can be called a “libertarian moment” in the Republican Party and the conservative movement, it owes less to the work of the Cato Institute than to a force genuine libertarians clutching their copies of Atlas Shrugged are typically horrified by: the Christian Right. In the emerging ideological enterprise of “constitutional conservatism,” theocrats are the senior partners, just as they have largely been in the Tea Party Movement, even though libertarians often get more attention.
There’s no universal definition of “constitutional conservatism.” The apparent coiner of the term, the Hoover Institution’s Peter Berkowitz, used it to argue for a temperate approach to political controversy that’s largely alien to those who have embraced the “brand.” Indeed, it’s most often become a sort of dog whistle scattered through speeches, slogans and bios on various campaign trails to signify that the bearer is hostile to compromise and faithful to fixed conservative principles, unlike the Republicans who have been so prone to trim and prevaricate since Barry Goldwater proudly went down in flames. The most active early Con-Con was Michele Bachmann, who rarely went more than a few minutes during her 2012 presidential campaign without uttering it. It’s now very prominently associated with Ted Cruz, who, according to Glenn Beck’s The Blaze has emerged as “the new standard-bearer for constitutional conservatism.” And it’s the preferred self-identification for Rand Paul as well.
What Con-Con most often seems to connote beyond an uncompromising attitude on specific issues is the belief that strict limitations on the size, scope and cost of government are eternally correct for this country, regardless of public opinion or circumstances. Thus violations of this “constitutional” order are eternally illegitimate, no matter what the Supreme Court says or who has won the last election.
More commonly, Con-Cons reinforce this idea of a semi-divine constitutional order by endowing it with — quite literally — divine origins. This is why David Barton’s largely discredited “Christian Nation” revisionist histories of the Founders remain so highly influential in conservative circles, and why Barton himself is welcome company in the camps of Con-Con pols ranging from Cruz and Bachmann to Rick Perry and Mike Huckabee. This is why virtually all Con-Cons conflate the Constitution with the Declaration of Independence, which enabled them to sneak both Natural and Divine Law (including most conspicuously a pre-natal Right to Life) into the nation’s organic governing structure.
What a lot of those who instinctively think of conservative Christians as hostile to libertarian ideas of strict government persistently miss is that divinizing untrammeled capitalism has been a growing habit on the Christian Right for decades. Perhaps more importantly, the idea of the “secular-socialist government” being an oppressor of religious liberty, whether it’s by maintaining public schools that teach “relativism” and evolution, or by enforcing the “Holocaust” of legalized abortion, or by insisting on anti-discrimination rules that discomfit “Christian businesses,” has made Christian conservatives highly prone to, and actually a major participant in, the anti-government rhetoric of the Tea Party. Beyond that, the essential tea party view of America as “exceptional” in eschewing the bad political habits of the rest of the world is highly congruent with, and actually owes a lot to, the old Protestant notion of the United States as a global Redeemer Nation and a “shining city on a hill.”
So perhaps the question we should be asking is not whether the Christian Right and other “traditional” conservatives can accept a Rand Paul-led “libertarian” takeover of the conservative movement and the GOP, but whether “libertarians” are an independent factor in conservative politics to begin with. After all, most of the Republican politicians we think of as “libertarian”—whether it’s Rand Paul or Justin Amash or Mike Lee—are also paid-up culture-war opponents of legalized abortion, Common Core, and other heathenish practices. As Heather Digby Parton noted tartly earlier this week:[T]he line between theocrats and libertarian Republicans is very, very faint. Why do you think they’ve bastardized the concept of “Religious Liberty” to mean the right to inflict your religion on others? It appeals to people who fashion themselves as libertarians but really only care about their taxes, guns and weed. Those are the non-negotiable items. Everything else is on offer.
And then there’s the well-known but under-reported long-term relationship of Ron and Rand Paul with the openly theocratic U.S. Constitution Party, a Con-Con inspirational font that no Republican politician is likely to embrace these days.
The more you examine the evidence, the more it seems plain that the “libertarian moment” in the GOP, even it’s real, and even if it’s advanced by Rand Paul as a presidential candidate, isn’t necessarily of a nature that’s going to be wildly popular among secular-trending millennials — or among Draper’s hipsters. To the extent it has a mass base, it’s likely as much or more among conservative Christian soldiers who despise government so long as they don’t control it as among dope-smoking free-loving free-thinking anti-interventionist Reason readers. So the latter might want to think twice before climbing onto the Rand Paul for President bus, or consigning their fate to Republican politics.
h/t: Ed Kilgore at TPM
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.
Conservative pundit Erick Erickson, who once called a Supreme Court justice a “goat fucking child molester” and has been criticized by coworkers for sexist and incendiary remarks, is trying to become a Republican kingmaker. Many Republicans are happily promoting his endorsements, paying his site for advertising, and attending his events.
On August 7-9, Republicans such as Gov. Rick Perry, Gov. Nikki Haley, Sen. Ted Cruz, Rep. Jim Bridenstine, Texas gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott, and RNC chair Reince Priebus will attend Erickson’s 2014 RedState Gathering in Fort Worth, Texas. Previous speakers at the annual event have included Sen. Tim Scott, Gov. Bobby Jindal, and Sen. Marco Rubio.
Erickson is a Fox News contributor and the editor-in-chief of RedState.com, where he, according to his biography, writes “candidly about and challenge the Republican establishment as well as rally conservatives to push their agenda at both the federal and state level.” He believes that “conservatives must unite to clean up the Republican Party. If they don’t, voters will keep rejecting Republican pseudo-socialists in favor of authentic socialists.” His philosophy has led to fights with establishment Republican pundits like Karl Rove and GOP apparatuses like the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
That Erickson would want the Republican Party to tack even further to the right isn’t surprising. This is the same pundit that cites Jesus to deny the threat of climate change, endorses homophobia, and believes Social Security is a “Ponzi scheme” and death panels are real.
But his commentary goes beyond extreme conservative positions and into the realm of remarks that even his own colleagues find “boorish and obnoxious.”
Erickson called then-retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter a “goat fucking child molester,” Michelle Obama a “Marxist harpy wife,” and wondered of Washington state: ”At what point do the people … march down to their state legislator’s house, pull him outside, and beat him to a bloody pulp?” Comments like that drew a rebuke from then-CNN colleague turned current Fox News colleague Howard Kurtz in 2010.
Fox News host Greta Van Susteren earlier this year called Erickson a “creep” who is “boorish and obnoxious” and “has [a] pattern of being disrespectful to women” after he smeared Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis as “Abortion Barbie.” Van Susteren added that the “jerk” “has never been on TV with me.” Fox News host Megyn Kelly sharply criticized Erickson over his sexist assertion that “when you look at biology” the “male typically is the dominant role.”
Despite that history, numerous Republican politicians have touted Erickson’s endorsements in their election fights. Below are thirteen examples of Republicans running for federal office this year who have proudly accepted Erickson’s help:
- Alabama congressional candidate Chad Mathis touts Erickson’s endorsement on his website.
- Georgia congressional candidate Barry Loudermilk writes of Erickson, “Proud to have his support!” Erickson headlined a fundraiser for Loudermilk.
- Georgia Senate candidate Karen Handel released a radio ad featuring Erickson and saying she was “honored” to be endorsed by him. Erickson also recorded a robocall for Handel.
- Georgia Senate candidate Rep. Jack Kingston ran a radio ad featuring Erickson.
- Georgia House candidate Jody Hice held a fundraiser featuring Erickson.
- Kansas Senate candidate Milton Wolf touts Erickson’s endorsement on his website.
- Kentucky Senate candidate Matt Bevin touted Erickson’s endorsement on his website.
- Nebraska Senate candidate Ben Sasse touts Erickson’s endorsement on his website.
- New Jersey congressional candidate Steve Lonegan touts Erickson’s endorsement on his website, adding: “Ask [sic] Erickson said, Steve can win, but he is going to need your help. Can you pitch in as little as $5 to send a real conservative to Washington, DC?”
- North Carolina Senate candidate Greg Brannon writes on a fundraising page that he’s supported by Erickson.
- Oklahoma Senate candidate T.W. Shannon touted Erickson’s endorsement on his website.
- South Carolina Senate candidate Det Bowers touted Erickson’s endorsement on his website.
- Texas congressional candidate John Ratcliffe promotes Erickson’s endorsement on his website.
Milton Wolf, who unsuccessfully challenged Republican Sen. Pat Roberts, bought advertising on Erickson’s RedState email list to promote a March fundraising “money bomb.” Wolf’s sponsored email included a message from Erickson, who wrote: “Please take a look at the email below from Dr. Wolf, and consider supporting his cause. With your help, we can win in Kansas!”
Other Republicans who have rented Erickson’s email list include Sen. Rand Paul, Rep. Steve Stockman, Ken Cuccinelli and Sheriff Joe Arpaio. RedState.com’s advertising page states: “Across the country, we find grassroots candidates and work hard to get them elected.”
In April, Erickson served as the moderator for a Republican Iowa Senate primary debate hosted by a conservative group. Democrats criticized Erickson’s selection, citing his “intolerant” and “hateful” views.
Ratcliffe and Sasse, who were backed by national groups, won their Republican primaries, and several Erickson-backed candidates in the recent Georgia Republican primary were successful. But while many Republican politicians are happy to have his support, Erickson’s endorsement is no guarantee of success for candidates who often enter races as underdogs. Bowers, Brannon, Handel, Kingston, Lonegan, Mathis, Shannon, and Wolf lost their primaries, and Erickson bailed on the sinking candidacy of Matt Bevin as polls closed.
BREAKING: House passes GOP's $694 million border supplemental funding bill, 223-189. The bill faces a veto threat and will not see a vote in the Senate - @frankthorpNBC
- Texas Gov. Rick Perry taps $38 million in emergency funds to pay for National Guard border deployment - @davidSrauf
Two current Religious Right fixations — the “persecution” of American Christians and the need for conservatives to do more to influence the pop culture — have come together in movies like “Persecuted” and “We the People—Under Attack.” The latest entry, “One Generation Away: The Erosion of Religious Liberty,” was screened by Rick Santorum at the Heritage Foundation on Monday night.
Santorum said the movie will be released in September. His EchoLight Cinemas is trying to create an alternative to Hollywood distribution channels by building a network of thousands of tech-equipped churches who will sell tickets for “One Generation Away” and other movies. He says the long-term strategy is to bring more people into churches and put the church back at the center of the culture.
"One Generation Away" is described as a documentary, but it’s really a preaching-to-the-choir call to arms for conservative Christians and pastors to get more involved in culture war battles while they still have the freedom to do so. Among the film’s producers are Donald and Tim Wildmon from the American Family Association, which Santorum said is packaging a shorter version of the movie into more of an activist tool.
The title comes from Ronald Reagan – specifically from a speech to the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce in 1961, a time in which Reagan was working with conservatives to rally opposition to Medicare – “socialized medicine”:
Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.
The thrust of “One Generation Away” is that religious freedom in the United States is disappearing fast, and if the church doesn’t fight for it now, it will soon be gone forever. Before running the film on Monday, Santorum quoted Cardinal Francis George, who said during the debate about insurance coverage of contraception, “I expect to die in my bed. I expect my successor to die in prison. I expect his successor to be a martyr.” That’s just the kind of hyperbolic “religious persecution” rhetoric we have come to expect from Religious Right leaders and their allies in the Catholic hierarchy.
At one point toward the end of the movie, it seems as if the filmmakers might be striking a more reasonable tone, with a couple of speakers saying that Christians should stand up for the rights of people of different faiths — even though the AFA’s chief spokesman opposes First Amendment protections for non-Christians— and others actually acknowledging that it is problematic for American Christians to be complaining of “religious persecution” over policy disputes when Christians and others are facing horrific, deadly persecution in many other parts of the world.
But that caution is quickly abandoned as the movie makes a direct comparison of the status of the Christian church in America with the church in Germany as the Nazis came to power. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a pastor who tried to mobilize German Christians to resist Nazi tyranny and was executed by the regime, is held up as the model that American Christians need to be willing to follow.
Eric Metaxas, a Bonhoeffer biographer who became a Religious Right folk hero when he questioned President Obama’s faith at a National Prayer Breakfast attended by the president, warned that if the church doesn’t link arms to fight, all will be lost. “The good news,” he said, “is that the American church is slightly more attuned to the rumbling heard in the distance than the German church was in the 30s. The bad news is, only slightly, right?”
The movie cuts to Mike Huckabee saying that Bonhoeffer could have saved his life if he had been willing to soften his faith, but that instead he resisted and rebuked the Nazi regime. And then we’re back to Metaxas to complete the Nazi analogy:
“The parallel today is simply that. You have a government, a state, which is getting larger and larger and more and more powerful, and is beginning to push against the church. There’s a window of opportunity where we can fight. If we don’t wake up and fight before then, we won’t be able to fight. That’s just what happened in Germany. And that’s the urgency we have in America now. And people that’s incendiary, or I’m being hyperbolic. I’m sorry, I wish, I wish, I wish I were. I’m not.”
Filmmakers said at the screening that they had conducted 75 interviews for the movie, and it sure feels like it. It includes names that will be well-known to RWW readers, like Mike Huckabee, Tony Perkins, Harry Jackson, Tim Wildmon, Alveda King, Robert George, Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention, Eric Teetsel of the Manhattan Declaration, and Ryan Anderson and Jennifer Marshall of the Heritage Foundation.
Also appearing are Rep. Doug Collins; Rick Perry backer Robert Jeffress; Matthew Franck of the Witherspoon Institute, which sponsored the infamous and discredited Regnerus “family structures” study; Stephen McDowell of the dominionist Providence Foundation; Gregory Thornbury of Kings College; lawyers from the Alliance Defense Fund, the Beckett Fund, the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund; and a number of pastors.
The film also includes interviews with some opponents of the Religious Right, including Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Princeton’s Peter Singer, and Dan Barker of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. Santorum told the audience at Heritage that he wishes he had even more of his opponents included in the film because “they scare the hell out of me” and would help motivate the right-wing base.
In order to keep the movie from being one brutally long succession of talking heads, the filmmakers resort to a tactic of constantly shifting scenes, a couple of seconds at a time, in a way that feels like they got a volume discount on stock images of Americana: boats on the water, kids playing softball, families walking together. There are also odd random fillers, like close-ups of the pattern on a couch in the room in which a speaker is sitting. The endless, repetitive succession of images actually makes the film feel even longer than it actually is. (Zack Ford at ThinkProgress had a similar reaction to this technique.)
The meat of the film, or the “red meat,” mixes the personal stories of people being victimized by intolerant secularists and/or gay activists with miniature David Bartonesque lectures on the Christian roots of America’s founding; the fact that the phrase “separation of church and state” never appears in the U.S. Constitution; the notion that the American government is trying to replace “freedom of religion” with “freedom of worship” and require any expression of faith to take place behind church walls; and the disgracefulness of making any analogies between the civil rights movement and the LGBT equality movement. The 1947 Supreme Court decision in which Jefferson’s “separation of church and state” phrase was invoked by the Court and “changed everything” is portrayed as nothing more than a reflection of Justice Hugo Black’s hatred of Catholics.
Featured “persecution” stories include:
- a long advertisement for Hobby Lobby and its owners, the Green family, which recently won its legal battle against the contraception mandate;
- a baker and florist who ran afoul of their state’s anti-discrimination laws when they refused to provide services for a same-sex couple getting married;
- cheerleaders at a public high school in Texas who were challenged by the Freedom From Religion Foundation for creating football game banners featuring Christian scriptural quotes;
- Catholic Charities being “forced” to give up adoption services rather than place children with same-sex couples;
- an ACLU challenge to a large cross at the Mt. Soledad war memorial; and
- the supposed frontal attack on the religious freedom of military chaplains as a result of allowing LGBT members of the armed forces to serve openly. On this issue, Tony Perkins declares, “The military is being used as a vanguard of radical social policy. And in order for that policy to permeate and to take root, you’ve got to take out the religious opposition.”
In spite of the parade of horrors, the movie tries to end on an upbeat note, saying that the early Christian church expanded while it was being suppressed, and that it will only take “one spark of revival” to change the nation. A familiar theme at Religious Right conferences is that blame for America’s decline rests with churches that don’t speak up and pastors who don’t preach or lead aggressively enough. One Generation Away ends on this point, telling Christian pastors it is their responsibility to wake up and challenge their congregants to live their faith “uncompromisingly.”
During the Q&A after the screening, Santorum said the fact that Hobby Lobby was a 5-4 decision demonstrated the importance of the 2016 election. “Part of me almost wishes we’d lost,” says Santorum, because that would have made the threat clearer to conservative activists. “We are one judge away,” he said, adding that “if we get a Democratic president, our five, or four-and-a-half, justices are not going to hold out forever.”
“I just worry,” he said to the young people in the audience, “that the longer we delay, and America sleeps, and your generation is indoctrinated the way it is, the harder it will be to come back.”
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.
Univision anchor Jorge Ramos appeared on this Tuesday’s The O’Reilly Factor to discuss the recent influx of refugees fleeing violence from Central America. Ramos attempted to counter some of Bill-O’s fearmongering and reminded him that sending children back to countries where their lives are in danger is not exactly the Christian way to approach the problem.
He also pointed out that Rick Perry’s latest stunt of deploying 1000 troops to the border is a huge waste of money that’s not going to work anyway. To no one’s surprise, it fell on deaf ears.
Here’s more from Fox’s blog:
As part of a television special on U.S. border security, Univision anchor Jorge Ramos swam across the Rio Grande River to demonstrate how some illegal immigrants enter the United States. Ramos spoke to Bill O’Reilly about his experience.
ONE YEAR AFTER TEXAS PASSED RADICAL ANTI-ABORTION LAW, TEXAS HAS BASICALLY BECOME HELL FOR WOMEN: Half Of Texas’ Abortion Clinics Are Gone [TW: Sexism, Misogyny]
One year after a stringent state law took effect, all of the dire predictions about abortion access in Texas have come true.
Exactly a year ago, despite Wendy Davis’ historic 11-hour filibuster that energized pro-choice activists across the country, Texas approved a stringent package of abortion restrictions that represented some of the harshest in the nation. As Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) signed the new anti-abortion law into law, he called it a “very happy, celebratory day.” But since then, there hasn’t been much to celebrate.
The number of clinics in the state has been cut in half over the past year, dropping from 41 to just 20, according to a report from Houston Public Media. Many of those reproductive health facilities — which provided family planning services and routine well woman exams, in addition to abortion services — were forced of out business because they can’t comply with the new law, which requires doctors to obtain admitting privileges from local hospitals. Although that policy is framed in terms of keeping patients safe, medical experts are opposed to Texas’ law because it doesn’t actually do anything to improve women’s health.
Heather Busby, the executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, told Houston Public Media that the changing landscape is having serious consequences for the estimated 5.4 million women of reproductive age living in the state. With a dwindling number of clinics available, there are long lines at the facilities that remain open. “We’re seeing people being pushed further into pregnancy, having to leave the state, having to drive and sleep in their cars in parking lots because of these barriers to access,” Busbysaid.
It gets worse. At the beginning of September, another provision of the new law takes effect. Then, clinics will be required to bring their facilities in line with the building codes for ambulatory surgical centers — something that forces them to make unnecessary and costly renovations, like widening hallways and installing air filtration systems. At that point, reproductive health advocates in the state expect the number of abortion clinics to drop to just six; the other 14 facilities won’t be able to afford to make the updates.
None of this is a surprise for the people who have been following the unfolding situation in Texas. For months, abortion providers in the state have been warning that abortion clinics are disappearing, and pointing out that those closures are disproportionately impacting the state’s poorest and most vulnerable residents who don’t necessarily have the means to travel several hours to the nearest abortion provider. In March, when the rural Rio Grande Valley — one of the poorest cities in America — lost its last clinics, advocates called it “a state of emergency for Texas women.”
Now, there are increasing reports of impoverished Texas residents resorting to illegal methods of ending a pregnancy, like buying abortion-inducing drugs on the black market in Mexico. Emergency rooms are suddenly seeing more women suffering from miscarriages — bleeding because they took pills to end their pregnancy outside of the supervision of a doctor. But not everyone can get their hands on those pills. Some women are throwing themselves down the stairs or asking their significant other to punch them in the stomach.
Soon, the crisis won’t be contained within Texas’ borders. Other anti-choice lawmakers have followed in Texas’ footsteps and proposed the exact same type of laws in their own states. In May, Oklahoma and Louisiana became the latest states to approve identical admitting privilege requirements. As these laws sweep the South, abortion clinics are in danger throughout a broad swath of the United States. And that’s on top of the dozens of abortion-related restrictions, like mandatory waiting periods, that are already impeding women’s access to health care.
“Every time a law passes there’s a group of women who can still make it over that barrier,” Amy Hagstrom Miller, who runs several reproductive health facilities in Texas, said in a recent interview with Cosmopolitan. “But with each law, that group gets smaller and smaller. With each law, there’s a group of women who get left behind.”
Source: Tara Culp-Ressler for ThinkProgress
Conservative media are pushing the conspiracy theory that the Obama administration deliberately created the humanitarian immigration crisis on the Southern border for political reasons. The rhetoric echoes claims from Republican politicians, most notably Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who said he didn’t want “to be conspiratorial,” but the administration may be “in on this somehow.”
Child migrants have surged across the border in recent months to flee violence in Central America. President Obama has asked Congress for $3.7 billion to respond to the crisis, as the mass migration has overwhelmed existing detention facilities and border resources.
The president has publicly discouraged the migration, stating in an ABC News interview on June 27: “That is our direct message to the families in Central America: Do not send your children to the borders. If they do make it, they’ll get sent back. More importantly, they may not make it.” PolitiFact called the claim that Obama planned the border crisis “pants on fire” false, writing: “Many of the factors behind the surge of children lie outside the control of the administration. No expert we reached gave any credence to the idea that the administration planned this crisis on the border.”
Gov. Perry has responded to the humanitarian crisis by suggesting the Obama administration is secretly coordinating the effort. In a June 17 Fox News interview with Sean Hannity, Perry said: “We’re doing our part to make sure we can keep our citizens as safe as we can. But the federal government is just absolutely failing. We either have an incredibly inept administration or they’re in on this somehow or another. I hate to be conspiratorial, but how do you move that many people from Central America across Mexico and into the United States without there being a fairly coordinated effort?”
The potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate subsequently appeared on ABC on July 6 and said Obama may have an “ulterior motive” on the crisis.
Other Republican politicians have also suggested President Obama is deliberately creating the border crisis. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) told conspiracy website WND, “If you don’t see them bring reinforcements down there to seal the border, that means that, yes, it’s a Cloward-Piven maneuver to flood the country until we get to the point where we are an open-borders country that welcomes everybody, legal and illegal” (“Cloward-Piven” is a reference to a right-wing conspiracy theory that believes progressives are attempting to overwhelm capitalism, leading to its collapse). Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) similarly claimed it’s “an open secret Obama is trying to flood Texas with illegals to make it into a blue state.” Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) told Fox Business’ Lou Dobbs on June 10 (via Nexis), “Everything that Barack Obama’s doing is intentional, deliberate … This is deliberate, Lou, and all Barack Obama’s asking for is more money to do more of the same.”
Despite evidence to the contrary, many members of the right-wing media have followed their Republican partners in accusing Obama of having “planned” and “orchestrated” the crisis for political gain. Here are ten examples:
Rush Limbaugh Speculates “This Whole Thing Was Planned In Advance By Somebody.” Speaking on the June 24 edition of his radio program, Limbaugh said: “Somebody needs to go to the Oval Office. I don’t know who. I wouldn’t want to be the guy, but somebody better make tracks to the Oval Office right now and tell Obama that this whole thing was planned in advance by somebody. Don’t wait for the newspapers on this — and they’re not gonna trust me when they hear about it.” Limbaugh’s website headlined his remarks, “Obama Regime Planned the Influx of Illegal Alien Children at the Border.”
Newt Gingrich: There’s A “Deliberate Policy Of Maximizing The Number Of Illegal Immigrants.” The CNN host wrote on his website on June 27 that the crisis “is a direct result of deliberate Obama administration policy that encourages illegal immigration” and “appears to be a deliberate policy of maximizing the number of illegal immigrants allowed to stay in the United States.” Gingrich added: “If you have any doubt consider that the Obama administration is deliberately encouraging this surge in illegal immigration, consider that instead of focusing on controlling the border and stopping people from entering illegally, we now have our government using our tax money to hire ‘escort services for unaccompanied alien children.’”
Sarah Palin: “Opening Our Borders To A Flood Of Illegal Immigrants Is Deliberate.” The Fox News contributor called for Obama’s impeachment in a July 8 Breitbart.com post, citing Obama’s allegedly “purposeful” actions with regard to the immigration influx:
Without borders, there is no nation. Obama knows this. Opening our borders to a flood of illegal immigrants is deliberate. This is his fundamental transformation of America. It’s the only promise he has kept. Discrediting the price paid for America’s exceptionalism over our history, he’s given false hope and taxpayer’s change to millions of foreign nationals who want to sneak into our country illegally. Because of Obama’s purposeful dereliction of duty an untold number of illegal immigrants will kick off their shoes and come on in, competing against Americans for our jobs and limited public services. There is no end in sight as our president prioritizes parties over doing the job he was hired by voters to do. Securing our borders is obviously fundamental here; it goes without saying that it is his job.
Lou Dobbs: “All Of This Is Orchestrated By This Administration.” Dobbs stated on the June 26 edition of Fox Business’ Lou Dobbs Tonight: “All of this is orchestrated by this administration. Anybody who doesn’t understand that hasn’t got the common sense that, you know, God gave a goat … The fact is that this administration is working in concert with the Central American governments.”
Monica Crowley: "He Created This Crisis, He Orchestrated It, And He’s Perpetuating It." The Fox News contributor added on the July 10 edition of Fox Business’ Varney & Co. that Obama “wanted the chaos” to pressure Republicans on immigration reform and to turn red states blue.
Jeanine Pirro: “One Conclusion: Barack Obama Is Intentionally Using The Immigration Crisis As An Excuse To Change The Demographics And Ultimately The Electorate.” Pirro added on the July 12 edition of her Fox News program Justice with Judge Jeanine that Obama is using a “Trojan horse” of children to advance his political party, his agenda and his legacy.”
Peggy Noonan Suggests Obama “Let The Crisis On The Border Build To Put Heat On Republicans.”Noonan accused the president of trickery for political gain in her July 11 Wall Street Journal column.
Allen West: “A Planned Event By The Obama Administration.” The Fox News contributor and former Florida congressman wrote on his website on July 3, “it seem [sic] harder to believe it was not a planned event by the Obama administration. That’s not that conspiracy theory - it’s trend analysis.” West wrote on July 14: “I believe the whole immigrant surge is purposeful” and asked if it’s to turn red states blue.
Dinesh D’Souza: Obama Wanted Border Chaos To Put “Republicans On The Defensive.” The conservative filmmaker and campaign finance felon claimed on Fox News on July 15 that Obama wants the crisis to “put the Republicans on the defensive and say, listen, either you give me amnesty or I’m just going to let these people start coming across the border and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
Bryan Fischer: “This Is All Deliberate On The Part Of President Obama.” American Family Association’s Fischer added on the July 14 edition of his program that it was part of his “anti-American agenda” to transform the country.
Rep. Luis Gutiérrez has been a consistent champion for immigration reform. He’s passionate and he’s great at cutting through all the nonsensical talking points Republicans have crafted about this crisis.
He appeared on Face the Nation right after Governor Rick Perry this morning to counter the ridiculous claims Republicans are making. By now, you know the talking points, but just for clarity, here they are along with Gutiérrez’s response.
Obama’s executive order about DREAMers caused the crisis - Gutierrez: One of these things is not like the other. There is a clear difference between kids being brought here by their parents years ago, growing up in this country, being educated here, and the kids running from terrible situations now.
The border isn’t secure - Gutierrez: Border security isn’t the problem and we don’t need the National Guard at the border. These kids are turning themselves into the border patrol. They’re refugees, not crossing the border illegally. Further, the Obama administration deports twice the number of people crossing the border.
Demonizing the children - Gutierrez reminded Rick Perry and the rest of the Republicans that these are children, and the 2002 law, renewed in 2008 is being followed.
The United States is still a democratic republic, formally, but what that actually means in practice is increasingly in doubt — and the Hobby Lobby ruling, deeply disingenuous and sharply at odds with centuries of Anglo-American law, exemplifies how that formal reality is increasingly mocked in practice. It is a practice best described as neo-feudalism, taking power away from ordinary citizens, in all their pluralistic, idiosyncratic diversity, and handing it over to corporations and religious dictators in both the public and the private realm. The Supreme Court’s actions are not taking place in a vacuum — though they are filling one: As Tea Party Republicans in the House increasingly bring democratic self-government to a halt, contracting the power of we the people to act as a cohesive self-governing whole, the Supreme Court’s conservative majority shifts ever more everyday power into the hands of private dictatorships.
Hobby Lobby handed for-profit corporations religious rights for the first time in history — a radical break with all previous precedent, and yet a part of a recent pattern, as Norm Ornstein rightly pointed out:
[F]or the majority on the Roberts Court, through a series of rulings that favor corporations over labor or other interests, it is clear that corporations are king, superior to individual Americans—with all the special treatment in taxes and protection from legal liability that are unavailable to us individuals, and now all the extra benefits that come with individual citizenship. Call it the new Crony Capitalism.
The expansion of corporate power in Hobby Lobby has gotten too little attention, and I’ll return to discuss this further below. But the advancement of theocracy — religious dictatorship — is even less clearly seen through the fog of right-wing propaganda about “religious liberty.”
First, however, an important highlight of a neglected aspect of the Hobby Lobby case, the fact that Hobby Lobby’s self-professed belief appeared out of nowhere just in time for them to file suit, as Stephanie Mencimer noted in March:
The company admits in its complaint that until it considered filing the suit in 2012, its generous health insurance plan actually covered Plan B and Ella (though not IUDs). The burden of this coverage was apparently so insignificant that God, and Hobby Lobby executives, never noticed it until the mandate became a political issue.
In short, Hobby Lobby’s “deeply held beliefs” claims are transparently bogus — as well as being scientifically invalid, since none of the methods involved are abortifacients, as Hobby Lobby claims. These would not matter if they only guided individual private conduct; that’s precisely what religious freedom actually means. You’re free to be a religious hypocrite, because letting someone else judge your sincerity can lead too easily to real religious tyranny. But when you’re already in a position to tyrannize others — as Hobby Lobby is — that’s a whole different ballgame. The tyrant’s freedom is everyone else’s slavery.
Historically, theocracy meant top-down religiously sanctioned dictatorship, exemplified in Western history by the divine right of kings philosophy. No one reads John Locke’s “First Treatise on Civil Government” anymore, because it is a refutation of the divine right of kings — one might as well read a refutation of four element theory in physics class. Locke’s “Second Treatise” provided a sharply contrasted legitimate foundation for civil government — the social contract and the consent of the governed. This is the air we breathe, and have been breathing ever since America was born.
And yet, theocracy and democracy are not two utterly distinct phenomena. Theocracy can well hold sway inside the family, for example, while the larger society retains its democratic form. More to the point, one stream of extreme Christian theocratic thinking — the dominion theology of the New Apostolic Reformation — has no problem (initially, at least) assimilating its goals of a theocratic government with the existing two-party electoral system. As researcher Rachel Tabachnick explains:
Instead of escaping the earth (in the Rapture)* prior to the turmoil of the end times, they [the NAR] teach that believers will defeat evil by taking dominion, or control, over all sectors of society and government, resulting in mass conversions to their brand of Charismatic evangelicalism and a Christian utopia or “Kingdom” on earth.
In early 2010, a leading NAR figure, Edgardo Silvoso, founder of International Transformation Network, which played a major role in promoting and passing Uganda’s anti-gay legislation, confidently said, “It doesn’t matter if the Republican or the Democratic candidate wins the governorship [of Hawaii]. Either one is already in the kingdom.” It didn’t turn out that way, because Neil Abercrombie, Hawaii’s popular long-term U.S. representative, defeated both the NAR-supported candidates — one in the Democratic primary, the other in the general election. Still, Silvoso’s vision might have come true, there could have been a contested two-party election in which both candidates were Christian dominionists — and most in the media (and thereby the public) wouldn’t even have known what was going on.
Sarah Palin was the NAR’s first full-throated state governor (revealing videos here), but Rick Perry has strong NAR connections as well — the religious kickoff to his 2012 presidential campaign was entirely an NAR-run event. But the point here is a broader one: The dividing line between theocracy and a democratic republic is not nearly as sharp as most might suppose, in fact, there may not actually be such a line, only a zone of blurriness for everything involved.
While the NAR represents an international evangelical grass-roots force of remarkable power for how little press attention it has gained, the theocratic push from above in America — duplicity framed in terms of “religious liberty” — comes from a Catholic/Protestant alliance forged in antiabortion political battles of the past 30-plus years, which is also undercovered and poorly understood in the mainstream corporate media, despite being grounded in a phalanx of powerful organizations, from the high-profile Family Research Council and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, through more specialized think tanks and legal advocacy organizations, such as the Becket Fund and the Alliance Defending Freedom. A useful reference is ”Redefining Religious Liberty: The Covert Campaign Against Civil Rights” by Jay Michaelson, published by Political Research Associates in March 2013. In it, he writes:
While the religious liberty debate is a growing front in the ongoing culture wars, it is actually an old argument repurposed for a new context. In the postwar era, the Christian Right defended racial segregation, school prayer, public religious displays, and other religious practices that infringed on the liberties of others by claiming that restrictions on such public acts infringed upon their religious liberty. Then as now, the Christian Right turned antidiscrimination arguments on their heads: instead of African Americans being discriminated against by segregated Christian universities, the universities were being discriminated against by not being allowed to exclude them; instead of public prayers oppressing religious minorities, Christians are being oppressed by not being able to offer them.
In the “religious liberty” framework, the Christian Right attacks access to contraception, access to abortion, same-sex marriage, and antidiscrimination laws—not on moral grounds (e.g., that contraception is morally wrong or that LGBTQ rights violate “family values”) but because they allegedly impinge upon the religious freedoms of others (e.g., by forcing employers to violate their religion by providing contraception coverage)….
In fact, there is not a single “religious liberty” claim that does not involve abridging someone else’s rights.
As I’ve already indicated, Hobby Lobby’s “deeply held beliefs” claims are transparently bogus, but this need not always be the case. What is the case is that the inversion Michaelson describes — that of turning anti-discrimination arguments on their heads — both derives from and contributes to states of confusion in which all manner of bogus claims may flourish. As I noted above, there are legitimate reasons why the content of religious beliefs should not be scrutinized when considering questions of free exercise. But when religion is being imposed upon others, the presumptions ought to be reversed; we ought to be extremely reluctant to allow anyone to impose their religious beliefs on anyone else, no matter how light or innocent that imposition might be claimed to be. The views themselves as well as the manner they are imposed on others ought to be scrutinized as rigorously as possible. Don’t want your religious beliefs questioned? Then don’t impose them on others. When push comes to shove, real religious freedom can be just as simple as that.
And the phony “religious freedom” crowd knows it, which helps explain why outright lies repeatedly slip into their arguments, as Michaelson’s report makes clear. For example, anti-gay “religious freedom” advocates routinely repeat the lie that legalizing same-sex marriage means forcing churches to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies against their will — a flat-out lie.
Legalized civil divorce did not force the Catholic Church to marry divorced individuals, and legalized same-sex marriage would not force them to marry gay individuals, either. Institutional religious practice is almost entirely insulated from civil law. What does change are the rules applying to society at large. Michaelson explains:
Typically, there are five tiers of actors:
1. Churches, clergy, and religious institutions
2. Religious organizations
3. Religiously affiliated organizations
4. Religiously owned businesses
5. Religious individuals
The law treats these tiers differently: churches are rarely required to obey antidiscrimination laws, for example, but religious organizations may be, and religious-owned businesses are. Conservative “religious liberty” rhetoric deliberately misstates harms upward, and tactically expands exemptions downward. On the one side, no clergy will ever have to solemnize any marriage against her/his beliefs, yet restrictions on tier 4 or 5 individuals are cynically extended by conservative messaging to tier 1.
Michaelson then addresses the context of the Hobby Lobby case:
On the other side, conservative “religious liberty” advocates are clearly pursuing a staged plan to migrate extensions downward. In the current HHS benefit battle, for example, the Obama administration first exempted tiers 1 and 2, and then, in February 2013, exempted tier 3. Yet still the Becket Fund has objected that “millions of Americans”—i.e., tiers 4 and 5—are still unprotected.
And this is precisely the logic that the Hobby Lobby decision pursued. The Obama administration’s exemptions of Tiers 1 and 2 were not seen as signs of respect for religious liberty, in line with traditional practice, nor was its further exemption of Tier 3 seen as going the extra mile in a spirit of conciliation. Instead, the accommodation made for Tier 3 was used by Justice Alito to argue for similar treatment for Tier 4. The end result is that women in more than half the nation’s workforce can now be deprived by their employers of their most basic reproductive rights, involving birth control, not abortion.
But that’s just one side of the story. There’s also the economic, corporate power side, where things are a bit more complicated. I quoted above from Norm Ornstein, making the point that Hobby Lobby was part of a broader pattern of shifting power into corporate hands. But it’s striking that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce did not weigh in on the Hobby Lobby Case — it produced no amicus brief. In fact, as noted by David H. Gans of the Constitutional Accountability Center, “the only noteworthy corporate voices to weigh in — the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce and the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce — actually came down against them [Hobby Lobby and its supporters].” Gans also notes another brief from dozens of corporate and criminal law professors, “who argued that Hobby Lobby’s argument would eviscerate the fabric of corporate law, undercutting the corporate veil that protects owners and shareholders from liability for the actions of the corporation.” The brief itself begins laying out its argument thus:
Hobby Lobby and Conestoga each asserts that the religious values of its present controlling shareholders should pass through to the corporation itself. This Court should reject any such “values pass-through” concept. To do otherwise would run contrary to established principles of corporate law.
The essence of a corporation is its “separateness” from its shareholders. It is a distinct legal entity, with its own rights and obligations, different from the rights and obligations of its shareholders. This Court has repeatedly recognized this separateness.
This is yet another indication of how radically the Hobby Lobby decision departs from the existing fabric of Anglo-American law. And yet, there are clearly some in the corporate world who welcome this development, and it’s surely no accident that the same five justices produced both Hobby Lobby and Citizens United. So what’s going on here?
The best answer I know of comes from political scientist Corey Robin, and it involves looking much deeper than the framework of corporate law. The day the decision came down, Robin published “A Reader’s Guide to Hobby Lobby,” listing what he called “a few posts I’ve written over the years that should help put the Supreme Court’s decision in theoretical and historical perspective.” They’re all well worth reading, but I want to focus on just one of them, the first of two that Robin described thus:
2. Second, two posts on free-market types and birth control, how even the most libertarian-ish free-wheeler seeks to control women’s bodies: Love For Sale: Birth Control from Marx to Mises and Probing Tyler Cowen: When Libertarians Get Medieval on Your Vagina.
In “Love for Sale,” Robin discusses Ludwig von Mises‘ classic 1922 text ”Socialism,” and some contemporary discussions concerning it, particularly its fourth chapter, “The Social Order and the Family.” Here is where Robin gets to the heart of the matter:
The real reason Mises’s arguments about women are so relevant, it seems to me, is that in the course of making them he reveals something larger about the libertarian worldview: libertarianism is not about liberty at all, or at least not about liberty for everyone. In fact, it’s the opposite.
Here’s Mises describing the socialist program of “free love”:
Free love is the socialists’ radical solution for sexual problems. The socialistic society abolishes the economic dependence of woman which results from the fact that woman is dependent on the income of her husband. Man and woman have the same economic rights and the same duties, as far as motherhood does not demand special consideration for the women. Public funds provide for the maintenance and education of the children, which are no longer the affairs of the parents but of society. Thus the relations between the sexes are no longer influenced by social and economic conditions….The family disappears and society is confronted with separate individuals only. Choice in love becomes completely free.
Sounds like a libertarian paradise, right? Society is dissolved into atomistic individuals, obstacles to our free choices are removed, everyone has the same rights and duties. But Mises is not celebrating this ideal; he’s criticizing it. Not because it makes people unfree but because it makes people — specifically, women — free. The problem with liberating women from the constraints of “social and economic conditions” is that … women are liberated from the constraints of social and economic conditions.
If you want to know why libertarians reflexively embrace the National Rifle Association’s vision of freedom, but not Planned Parenthood’s (contrasting visions I discussed here), you need look no further. This passage also helps explain why there’s at least a germ of historical sense in the otherwise ridiculous Tea Party accusation that Obama is a “socialist”! By using government to empower women to make their own reproductive choices — not just in theory, but for real — Obamacare’s reproductive healthcare mandate really is acting in the socialist spirit as Mises described it, however market-based the mechanisms involved may be.
But it’s worth lingering a bit further with the socialist vision as Mises describes it, because it is so intimately bound up in what a functioning democratic republic actually does, or at least has the potential to do, when, for example, we take the Constitution’s general welfare clause seriously. What the socialists want, Mises argues, is to eliminate all manner of “natural inequalities”. This would, ironically, make everyone—not just privileged, straight, white males of means — into classic libertarian subjects, exercising their own, individual, unconstrained and uncoerced free choice. And this is the very last thing that libertarians actually want.
This helps explain why, for example, today’s Tea Party Republicans reject unemployment insurance as “socialist” — if someone out of work has any freedom at all to hold out for a job that will cover their mortgage, say, that’s socialism as Mises would describe it. And he has a point: socialism really is just another word for collectively removing the hidden and semi-hidden forms of coercion that otherwise shape and control our everyday lives. That’s why public education is socialist, too — and why Democratic politicians as well as Republicans are so eager to destroy it nowadays. But none of these other examples is quite as visceral or far-reaching as that of giving women reproductive autonomy equal to that of men.
This, then, is the bottom line: Conservatives (including libertarians) stand for the preservation and reinforcement (if necessary) of purportedly “natural” inequalities, which automatically structure all of society into overlapping forms of dominance and submission, in which the vast majority of people are inherently unfree “by nature.” Any collective action taken to free people from such dependent, powerless living conditions is anathema to them. Democracy itself is anathema to them. And Hobby Lobby is just the latest signal that they are firmly in charge.
Do they contradict themselves? Of course! So what? Do facts or logic matter anymore? Don’t be ridiculous! Dictatorship means never having to say you’re sorry — much less even a teensy bit wrong. The damages done to the structure and logic of corporate law? Irrelevant!
At the beginning, I wrote, “The United States is still a democratic republic, formally, but what that actually means in practice is increasingly in doubt.” This doubt can simply be summarized in the fact that any action to promote the general welfare will be automatically blocked and denounced as “socialism” by Tea Party Republicans in the House, while at the same time, the 5-4 conservative majority in the Supreme Court rewrites decades or centuries of precedent to further empower the most powerful elements in our society, to the ever-deepening detriment of the whole.