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The Nativist Strategy Behind World Congress of Families' Anti-LGBT, Anti-Choice Work In Russia

Last year, a slew of American Religious Right activists traveled to Moscow to take part in an international conference called “Large Families and the Future of Mankind.” The conference was funded by top allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin and was organized by the Illinois-based World Congress of Families (WCF ended its official role in the event after the U.S. placed sanctions on some of its funders, but was still clearly the main organizing force behind it.)

The fact that the conference was dedicated to “large families” is important. In a new report for Political Research Associates, Cole Parke exposes how WCF has worked with Russia’s government to exploit fears of a European “demographic winter” and push for policies restricting abortion and LGBT rights. Parke illustrates that behind the “demographic winter” warning is a “cynical manipulation of racial resentments” — not the fear that the country’s population is dropping but that Russian identity might be “redefined as something other than White and Orthodox.”

WCF’s influence at the U.N. relies heavily on its longstanding ties with Russia, one of the five permanent members on the U.N. Security Council. Carlson’s work on the ”demographic winter”—the idea that abortion, birth control, homosexuality, feminism and other ”unnatural” deviations have led to dangerous population decline and a crisis for the ”natural family”—has proven to be particularly effective in garnering favor with Russia’s conservative leadership.

Carlson argues that declining birth rates threaten the decline of civilization—Western civilization. As researcher and journalist Kathryn Joyce puts it, “The concern is not a general lack of babies, but the cultural shifts that come when some populations, particularly immigrant communities, are feared to be out-procreating others.” Put another way, the demographic winter thesis cultivates racism and xenophobia in support of exclusionary “natural family” policies. A main objective of the WCF’s demographic scare tactics is to convert nationalism into natalism, and thereby mobilize a larger anti-abortion, “natural family” base. (Natalism prioritizes human procreation, including public policies that reward birthing children.)

This perspective is commonplace among WCF and its affiliates. Following WCF’s 1997 congress in Prague, Cathy Ramey, associate director of the U.S. anti-abortion organization Advocates for Life Ministries, explained what she’d learned: “As native citizens reject marriage and child-bearing, other non-native groups will simply move in and replace the historic population.” Speaking at WCF V, John Mueller, a researcher at the Ethics and Public Policy Center—a neoconservative think tank in Washington, DC, argued that “fertility would rise and remain above the replacement rate, not only in the United States but also most other countries, by ending legal abortion.”

In Russia and other parts of Europe, a combination of population anxiety and growing anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant sentiment has offered WCF a favorable political context in which to advance its anti-abortion, “natural family” agenda. Carlson and his network have fanned the flames of “demographic winter” anxieties throughout the region.

In June 2011, WCF hosted the Moscow Demographic Summit, describing it as the “world’s first summit to address the international crisis of rapidly declining birthrates.” More than 500 people attended, including Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church; Russian First Lady Svetlana Medvedeva; members of the Russian Duma; and a host of right-wing American scholars and activists.

Within two weeks of the event, President Medvedev—whose wife, Medvedeva, had recently teamed up with the Russian Orthodox Church on a new anti-abortion campaign—signed a law requiring abortion providers to devote 10 percent of any advertising to describing the dangers of abortion to a woman’s health, and making it illegal to describe abortion as a safe medical procedure. This was the first new legislative restriction placed on abortions in the country since the fall of Communism.

Four months later, in October 2011, the Russian Duma passed a law further restricting abortions to within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions for cases up to 22 weeks in instances of rape or medical necessity. The new law also tacked on a mandatory waiting period of two to seven days before an abortion can be performed, a common tactic used by anti-abortion activists in the U.S.

Parke explores how WCF exploits nativist and nationalist fears in order to push restrictions on reproductive rights and LGBT equality in its work in Africa and at the United Nations as well. You can read the full report here.

Sarah Palin: Defeat Hillary Clinton By Calling Liberals The Real Racists And Sexists

Sarah Palin delivered something that some might call a speech at today’s Iowa Freedom Summit, in which she gave advice on how Republicans can defeat Hillary Clinton if the former secretary of state runs for president.

“It’s going to take more than a village to beat Hillary,” she said. “We the people, we realize that this is war, it is war for the solvency, the sovereignty of the United States of America.”

Palin said that Republicans need to prepare for attacks from the liberal media, which seeks to “crucify” conservatives, warning that liberals use Saul Alinsky-inspired political tactics, such as charges of “racism” and “sexism.”

Republicans should reject these “Orwellian” and “disgusting charges from the left,” Palin said, before calling on conservatives to label liberals as the real racists and sexists: “Reverse them, for it is they who point a finger not realizing that they have triple that amount of fingers pointing right back at them revealing that they are the ones who really discriminate and divide on color and class and sex. We call them out. We don’t let them get away with it.”

She urged conservatives to expose the “real war on women with truth because we can handle the truth,” explaining: “It is they who defeat women, they shackle them to the good old boys running Washington, pimping this promise that they have to provide for these little ladies’ every need, because ‘there, there, a woman is just not capable.’”

Sarah Palin: Media 'Crucified' Me Over Dog Photo

In her speech at the Iowa Freedom Summit today, Sarah Palin addressed the major issues facing the country, such as a photo she posted on Facebook of her son standing on a dog.

Palin, never one to shy away from self-victimization, said that the controversy that ensued was proof that the media “crucified” her and is filled with hypocrites who didn’t care about what “the president admitted to doing to those Indonesian puppies,” a reference to a passage in “Dreams from My Father” about eating dog meat as a young boy in Indonesia.

Bobby Jindal: 'We Need A Spiritual Revival To Fix What Ails Our Country'

After four hours of continual prayer, worship, and singing at today's "The Response" prayer rally, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal took the stage to share his personal testimony with the audience.

After recounting his journey to faith in Jesus, Jindal closed out his remarks by declaring that no amount of laws or elections of godly politicians can save America because only wholesale spiritual revival can restore this nation.

"We can't just elect a candidate to fix what ails our country," he said. "He can't just pass a law and fix what ails our country. We need a spiritual revival to fix what ails our country ... We are a united people. We are God's children. We are precious because we are made in His image. God has created us with a God-shaped void in our hearts and we frustrate Him by filling it with things and material goods and substances. Now it is time for us on bended knee to turn back to God in humble prayer. To repent and ask for His blessing because He is a faithful God. He desires our prayers. I believe in the power of prayer and I pray that we will see a spark lighted here, we will see fifty responses in every state in these United States and we will see a spiritual revival ignite across these United States of America":

Donald Trump: 'I Am Seriously Thinking Of Running For President' Because 'We Can’t Have Bush'

Donald Trump is still trying to convince people that he might actually run for president this time, telling today’s Iowa Freedom Summit that he is “seriously thinking of running for president” because Romney “choked” and we “can’t have Bush.”

After claiming that he was the first person to say that it wouldn’t be smart to nominate Jeb Bush because of George W. Bush’s legacy, Trump laid into Jeb Bush, criticizing him for his support for Common Core and his softening position on immigration.

“He’s very, very weak on immigration,” Trump said of Bush. “Don’t forget, remember his statement, ‘they come for love’? Say what? ‘Come for love’? You’ve got these people coming, half of them are criminals. I mean, they’re coming for ‘love’? They’re coming for a lot of other reasons, and it’s not love.”

“I am seriously thinking of running for president because I can do the job,” he told the crowd.

Donald Trump Says He Will Personally Build A Border Fence To Stop 'Islamic Terrorists'

Perennial maybe-presidential-candidate Donald Trump dedicated a good portion of his speech at today’s Iowa Freedom Summit to immigration, which was fitting since the summit is hosted by one of the GOP’s most dogmatic anti-immigrant voices, Rep. Steve King.

Trump told the audience that immigrants, including terrorists, are walking across the border in front of U.S. guards, and no one will stop them … except, of course, for Trump, who pledged that if and when he is elected president, he will take advantage of his extensive construction experience to build the border fence, and it’s going to “be a beauty.”

“Who can build better than Trump?” he asked.

We have to build a fence and it’s gotta be a beauty. Who can build better than Trump? I build. It’s what I do. I build. I build nice fences but I build great buildings. Fences are easy, believe me. I saw the other day on television, people are just walking across the border, they’re walking, the military is standing there, holding guns and people are just walking right in front, coming into our country. It is so terrible, it is so unfair, it is so incompetent and we don’t have the best coming in, we have people that are criminals, we have people that are crooks, you can certainly have terrorists, you can certainly have Islamic terrorists, you can have anything coming across the border. We don’t do anything about it. So I would say that if I run and if I win, I would certainly start by building a very, very powerful border.

Rachel Maddow Takes On 'Questionable Characters' At Jindal Prayer Rally

As we have been reporting, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has decided to hitch his apparent presidential hopes to a collection of Christian-nation extremists, teaming with the American Family Association, influential activist David Lane, and a collection of self-proclaimed prophets and apostles to host a prayer rally in Baton Rouge today meant to turn America “back to God.”

On her show last night, Rachel Maddow took a look at the array of “questionable characters” working with Jindal on his supposedly nonpolitical prayer rally:

Chuck Grassley: Democrats Will Abolish Bill Of Rights By Overturning Citizens United Ruling

Sen. Chuck Grassley addressed the Iowa Freedom Summit today about his opposition to overturning the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling, criticizing the four justices who dissented in the case for having “an upside-down understanding of the Constitution.”

The right-wing group Citizens United, which brought the Supreme Court challenge that ultimately allowed for unlimited, undisclosed corporate spending is the summit’s principal sponsor.

The Iowa Republican added that “liberal elements in the United States Senate” who support a constitutional amendment overturning the court’s decision will put the country on a “slippery slope” that “could lead us to the abolishment of the Bill of Rights as we’ve known it for 230 years.”

How odd that a ruling that is only five years old has apparently been around for 230 years!

Steve King: DREAMers Come From Another Planet

Rep. Steve King got a little mixed up in his remarks at the Iowa Freedom Summit this morning, accidentally remarking that Americans “come from every possible planet.”

The Iowa Republican quickly caught himself and said that the DREAMers protesting the right-wing event are the ones who really come from outer space.

“We’re a great people, we have a vitality that’s unequaled on the planet, we come from every possible planet — every possible continent. There across the street [are] those people that come from the other planet,” he joked. King then returned to criticizing President Obama, alleging that the president is “eroding” America’s foundations of liberty and freedom.

King has previously compared immigrants to dogs and suggested that the majority of DREAMers are drug smugglers with “calves the size of cantaloupes.”

Steve King Summit Kicks Off With Attacks On DREAMers

Jan Mickelson, the conservative Iowa-based radio talk show host, is the emcee of today’s Iowa Freedom Summit, where several GOP presidential candidates have joined Rep. Steve King to appeal to voters in the first-in-the-nation caucus state.

Mickelson boasted of King’s anti-immigrant extremism, and made fun of DREAMers, who organized a protest across from the summit, by likening them to people trying to crash a hotel breakfast.

“Nobody from Iowa cares a sliver about immigration. All of us came from somewhere, but what we do care about is illegal gate-crashers, as Steve would say,” Mickelson said. “This is about rule of law.”

“‘We’ve borrowed the keys and we’re not happy about the maid service, the TV doesn’t work and we can’t eat at the continental breakfast,’” he said while imitating DREAMers. “‘That’s unfair, we’re dreamers, we’re dreaming about that breakfast. That’s pretty much the same argument the protesters outside are using. They haven’t checked in, they’re using property not of their own, they’re demanding room service and they say they can’t be evicted now because their kids have been born in that room they busted into.”