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Walker Signs New Gun Laws In Office Of Extremist Sheriff Who Wanted To Add Semi-Automatic Rifle To Great Seal

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker further paved the way for his GOP presidential bid today, signing two bills weakening his state’s gun laws, just one week after a gun massacre left nine people dead at a church in South Carolina. Walker said that he went ahead with the planned signing despite the recent attack because if he had postponed it, “it would have given people the erroneous opinion that what we signed into law today had anything to do with what happened in Charleston.”

Walker gave another signal to the far-right base that he is apparently hoping to attract in his choice of location for the bill-signing: the office of Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke.

We last wrote about Clarke when he addressed the National Rifle Association’s convention and called for a semi-automatic rifle to be added to the Great Seal of the United States:

Clarke first emerged as a Tea Party hero in 2013, when he recorded a radio ad urging his constituents to arm themselves because “calling 911 and waiting is no longer your best option.” This earned him the “Constitutional Sheriff of the Year” award from the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officer’s Association, a far-right group that holds that county sheriffs have the power to defy federal laws that they believe are unconstitutional and arrest federal agents enforcing them. Accepting the award, Clarke called the group a “friend for life.”

Last year, Clarke joined conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ radio program to warn that a renewal of the federal assault weapons ban would lead to weapons confiscation and would spark “the second coming of the American Revolution, the likes of which would make the first revolution pale by comparison”:

This year, Clarke has burnished his Tea Party credentials by appearing repeatedly on Fox News to assure its viewers that racial disparities in the justice system are a myth and to attack President Obama for saying otherwise.

While the choice of Clarke’s office for the bill-signing may have seemed mundane to many observers, Walker was sending a clear signal to some of the most extreme elements of his party’s base.

Benhams Celebrate Father's Day By Warning Of Impending Persecution, God's Wrath

Jim Garlow celebrated Father’s Day this year by inviting David and Jason Benham — conservative activists who became Religious Right martyrs when they lost a planned house-flipping TV show after their extreme views came to light — to speak about manly courage at his Skyline Church. As an extra bonus, the Benham brothers brought along their father, Flip Benham, a fiery street preacher and anti-choice activist who told the audience that the real problem of “fatherlessness” in America is the rejection of “the Heavenly Father.”

The elder Benham quoted the book of Malachi: “He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, the hearts of the children to their fathers, or I will smite the land with a curse.”

“That is what is happening here,” he said, “fatherlessness. The Heavenly Father, we reject him, we’ve expelled him from school, we’ve banished him from the schoolyard and he’s been replaced with metal detectors, condoms, drugs and violence of unprecedented order, while we’re looking at each other with awkward amazement wondering what has happened here. When you move God, when you take Him out of the equation, violence always enters in.”

After the brothers told their story of persecution at the hands of gay rights activists, David Benham compared America today to first-century Rome, when Nero “started the persecution against the Christians” by using a “narrative that the Christians and Jews were haters of Rome because they would not bow to the emperor.”

“I’m telling you, the same spirit of Nero is in America,” he said, “and persecution is coming.”

Mat Staver Calls On Christians To Face Potential Gay-Marriage Martyrdom Like Daniel & Esther

In an interview with an Alabama Christian radio station on the day of the arguments in the Supreme Court marriage cases in April, Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver warned that although “we have faced in Judeo-Christian history more dire times than this,” marriage equality opponents should be prepared to face martyrdom at the hands of an unjust government just like Daniel and Esther were in the Old Testament.

In anticipation of a decision striking down gay marriage bans, Staver said, “we must ask for God’s intervention, God’s grace, God’s forgiveness and God’s miraculous turn of events.”

If not, he said, marriage equality opponents should be prepared to emulate Daniel, who was thrown into a lion’s den, and Esther, who risked her life to save the Jews of Persia from execution.

“We may have to stand like that,” he said. “We may have to stand like people of old, like Martin Luther King, Jr., did when he faced unjust laws. And we have to be prepared to face the consequences. But one thing we cannot do, one thing we will not do because we cannot do it, we cannot betray our Lord, we cannot deny reality, we cannot disobey the scripture and the teachings of the church, that’s a line we cannot cross.”

Huckabee: If Supreme Court Strikes Down Gay Marriage Bans, 'Everything Falls Away'

GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee told Iowa-based talk radio host Simon Conway yesterday that if the Supreme Court strikes down bans on same-sex marriage, “religious liberty in this country will radically change and it will never be the same again” and consequently all other liberties will fall away.

“The issue, for example, in marriage is really an issue about religious liberty,” he said. “That’s what the fundamental underlying issue, when the government can tell me how much I can believe, if it can restrict my faith and restrict my belief by putting a boot on religious liberty. Religious liberty is the heart of all freedoms, so if the government tells me what I can believe, they can tell me what I can say, what I can do, where I can go, with whom I can associate, they can restrict how much privacy I have. Everything falls away when the government takes away religious liberty.”

Laughably claiming that marriage equality isn’t “an issue that I’ve put front and center” but that the Supreme Court has forced him to talk about it, Huckabee insisted that the marriage case isn’t “about just having people who want to love each other.”

“No, this is not an expansion of marriage, this is a redefinition,” he said. “And when it changes, religious liberty in this country will radically change and it will never be the same again.”

Huckabee, who has vowed to block a pro-marriage-equality decision from the court if he becomes president, added, “By the way, I don’t think the Supreme Court can make a decision about same-sex marriage because they can no more suspend the law of nature than they can the law of gravity.” Such a decision, he said, would not be “the law of the land.”

“Judicial supremacy leads to judicial tyranny, and that’s where we’re headed,” he said.

Hide Your Grandparents! The Five Most Panicked Right-Wing Reactions To King v. Burwell

In a 6-3 decision this morning, the Supreme Court rejected an attempt by conservative activists to unravel the Affordable Care Act by attacking what was essentially a typo in the law. The court’s decision in King v. Burwell will prevent at least 8 million people from losing their health insurance, so naturally the Right is devastated.

Here are the most panicked reactions from the Right just the first hour following the King decision being handed down:

1. Nothing means anything anymore!

2. We’re becoming a banana republic!

3. Hide your grandparents!

4. Justice Roberts is a tyrant!

5. …who was obviously blackmailed!

Honorable mention: The most popular line on conservative Twitter this morning was written not by a professional pundit, but by  Justice Antonin Scalia in his dissent. We’ll let Glenn Beck share this one:

Update: The Ben Shapiro quote that we originally included in this post was from 2012. But luckily he still has plenty to say! We've also added Michelle Malkin's insight.

Star Parker: Baltimore Riots Result Of 'War on Marriage,' Church-State Separation

Back in April, right-wing activist Star Parker joined Alaska GOP politician Joe Miller on his radio program to discuss the riots in Baltimore and the Supreme Court marriage equality arguments, which had happened on the day of the interview.

Parker naturally found a way to tie the two together, saying that the violence in Baltimore was happening “because we declared a war on poverty during the same time that we were declaring a war on marriage through the feminist movement and declaring a war on religion through scrubbing our schools of God, taking the Bible from the schools.”

Later in the interview, Parker got into the details of the marriage equality case, saying that a ruling striking down gay marriage bans would mean that “as a nation, we have to change every law.”

Gay rights activists, she said, don’t realize this and instead are acting like “two-year-olds” at a toy store who want to “get their way on absolutely everything” even if it “will send this nation into social chaos.”

Miller opined that a ruling in favor of marriage equality would be “terribly upsetting to the social fabric of this nation,” with which Parker agreed, adding that she hoped that the justices would listen to the testimony of the “children raised in [gay and lesbian] households that are basket cases.”>

She then compared a potential marriage equality ruling to the Dred Scott case, which was also “legal but not lawful in God’s eyes.”

Will The Right Reject (Again) A Report on the Threat of Far-Right Extremism?

A new report from New America, released a week after a white supremacist gunned down nine people in a black church in Charleston, finds that since the September 11, 2001, attacks, “nearly twice as many people have been killed by white supremacists, antigovernment fanatics and other non-Muslim extremists than by radical Muslims.”

The New York Times reports that this threat is “familiar to police officers,” three-quarters of whom list antigovernment extremism as a greater threat to their communities than “Al Qaeda-inspired” violence:

If such numbers are new to the public, they are familiar to police officers. A survey to be published this week asked 382 police and sheriff’s departments nationwide to rank the three biggest threats from violent extremism in their jurisdiction. About 74 percent listed antigovernment violence, while 39 percent listed “Al Qaeda-inspired” violence, according to the researchers, Charles Kurzman of the University of North Carolina and David Schanzer of Duke University.

“Law enforcement agencies around the country have told us the threat from Muslim extremists is not as great as the threat from right-wing extremists,” said Dr. Kurzman, whose study is to be published by the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security and the Police Executive Research Forum.

We haven’t heard any right-wing reaction to this report yet. But we aren’t incredibly optimistic that it will be reasonable.

Back in 2009, when the Department of Homeland Security issued a report on countering violent right-wing extremism, the Right went ballistic, with groups including the American Family Association, the American Center for Law and Justice and Concerned Women for America denouncing it as an attack on Christians and veterans.

Liberty Counsel, the Religious Right legal group, even went so far as to print out cards for its members to show their solidarity with the violent right-wing extremists supposedly attacked by this report:

Other right-wing groups started an ad campaign demanding that then-DHS chief Janet Napolitano resign for supposedly having labeled George Washington, Ronald Reagan, Mother Teresa and the pope as “the new terrorists”:

Under pressure, DHS ultimately retracted the report and cut back its team investigating non-Muslim violent extremism, infuriating the self-described conservative Republican analyst who had written the report.

Since then, conservative activists have repeatedly referred back to the report to claim that President Obama is treating all conservatives as potential domestic terrorists, a suspicion that has fed into a number of right-wing conspiracy theories about DHS. Liberty University’s Matt Barber even started defending violent extremists groups just because groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center reported on their activities.

As recently as February, Rep. Ted Poe, Republican of Texas, was complaining on the Family Research Council’s radio program that the Obama administration is “more aggressive toward Americans, Republicans, conservatives, Christians, and concerned about them being threats to the country, which they’re not, than they are about the real threats to our country.”

Never mind that the report focused exclusively on the actual threat of violent, far-right extremism — something that even their strongest detractors aren’t accusing groups like Liberty Counsel and the AFA of being involved in. The Right saw an opportunity to stir up a fake controversy in order to raise money, reinforce the narrative of conservative activists as victims and provoke animosity toward President Obama. In the process they helped make it harder for DHS to investigate a very real threat to American security. But they ended up with a meme that lives to this day.

Council Of Conservative Citizens Head Lashes Out At 'Perverts, Liars And Marxists' In Media

After it was discovered that the man who shot and killed nine people at a black church in Charleston last week cited the white supremacist group Council of Conservative Citizens in his racist manifesto, GOP politicians have been scrambling to return campaign donations from the group’s president, Earl Holt.

In response, CCC released a statement condemning the murders but defending the shooter’s “legitimate grievances” against African Americans. Holt released his own statement saying that the shooter had merely “gleaned accurate information” from the group’s website about “the seemingly endless incidents involving black-on-white murder.” (The Charleston murderer reportedly told his victims that “you've raped our women, and you are taking over the country.”)

But it turns out that the statement that Holt distributed wasn’t all he had to say. In an interview Saturday with the Political Cesspool, a white supremacist radio program hosted by CCC board member James Edwards, Holt read an early draft of the statement, which he said he was waiting for his webmaster to post online.

The statement Holt read on the Political Cesspool was virtually identical to the one that CCC ultimately distributed to the media, except for these paragraphs attacking the media for being “perverts, liars and Marxists,” which for some reason seem to have been removed before the statement was distributed to press:

The C of CC is hardly responsible for the actions of this deranged individual merely because he gleaned accurate information from our website … For the corrupt leftist media and its minions to suggest otherwise is why they are almost universally viewed as dishonest, biased, and irredeemably contemptable.

The C of CC does not advocate illegal activities of any kind, and never has. In fact, the CofCC has always scrupulously observed the law even when our leftist enemies have demonstrably and flagrantly violated it. I would gladly compare the honesty, integrity and law-abiding nature of our membership to that of any group, particularly the perverts, liars and Marxists who comprise the corrupt leftist media.

Listen to Holt read his full original statement:

The Religious Right's Council Of Conservative Citizens Connection

After the manifesto of the man who committed a mass murder at a black church in Charleston last week was found to contain material lifted from the white supremacist group Council of Conservative Citizens, formerly the White Citizens’ Councils, GOP politicians have been scrambling to erase their ties with the group, with several Republicans returning or donating to charity a total of tens of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from the group’s president.

But it’s proving to be more difficult for some in the GOP and their allies in the Religious Right to brush over a long history of ties with the group. As the Southern Poverty Law Center has reported, dozens of elected officials have attended the group’s meetings, including former RNC chair and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and current Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker. Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott has also spoken to the group, as has former Georgia congressman and Libertarian Party presidential candidate Bob Barr.

Lott and the late North Carolina Sen. Jesse Helms even went so far as to provide endorsements of the CCC, according to its newsletter.

A number of prominent figures on the Religious Right have also spoken to or defended the CCC, in a sign of the uneasy and often hidden alliances between the Religious Right and racist groups.

Mike Huckabee

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, now a GOP presidential candidate, submitted a video presentation to the CCC’s 1993 national convention, which the group’s newsletter later reported was a smash it. TPM:

Then-Lt. Gov. Huckabee was invited to speak at the group's 1993 national convention by the its founder, Gordon Lee Baum, according to a 2008 Huffington Post report. Baum told The Huffington Post that Huckabee "sent an audio/video presentation saying 'I can't be with you but I'd like to be speaker next time'" because he was compelled to remain in Arkansas during the convention while then-Gov. Jim Guy Tucker (D) travelled out of state.

The group's 1993 newsletter, which was obtained by Edward Sebesta, who researches neo-Confederate groups, hailed Huckabee's videotaped address as a smash hit.

"Ark. Lt. Governor Mike Huckabee, unable to leave Arkansas by law because the Governor was absent from the state, sent a terrific videotape speech, which was viewed and extremely well received by the audience," the newsletter read.

Huckabee agreed to speak in person at the group’s convention the next year but canceled after a human rights group told him that he’s be sharing the stage with a white supremacist and Holocaust denier.

Tony Perkins

Back when he was a Louisiana state legislator, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins spoke to a 2001 meeting of the Louisiana chapter of the Council of Conservative Citizens. When asked about it several years later, Perkins said he could not “remember speaking at the event.” Unfortunately for him, there’s a picture:

Perkins also has ties to David Duke, a Louisiana politician and Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

Roy Moore

The Alabama chief justice, a Religious Right hero who is currently battling the federal courts in an effort to stop marriage equality in his state, addressed CCC’s national conference in 1995, reports Buzzfeed.

(Image courtesy of Buzzfeed)

This is hardly Moore’s only troubling racist tie. Much of his career has been financed by Michael Peroutka, a former board member of the neo-Confederate League of the South, who shares many of his views on the role of “biblical law.” (SPLC reports that the League of the South’s and CCC’s “membership rolls overlap a good deal” and that the two groups have collaborated on events.)

John Eidsmoe

John Eidsmoe is the intellectual godfather of a strain of Christian nationalism that takes to an extreme the idea that “God’s law” must always be put before “man’s law.” He is a former legal advisor to Justice Moore and now works for the Foundation for Moral Law, a group that Moore founded. He is also famously a mentor of former Rep. Michele Bachmann.

Eidsmoe spoke to the 2005 national convention of the Council of Conservative citizens. He defended himself to the New Yorker, saying he would speak “to anyone.”

Ann Coulter

Perhaps even more than the Religious Right, the anti-immigrant movement sometimes has a hard time drawing a line between itself and the explicitly racist white nationalist and white supremacist movements. For instance, the work of white supremacist Sam Francis, an editor for and enthusiastic endorser of the CCC, occasionally ends up cited in the work of more “mainstream” anti-immigrant activists.

The best example of this nexus may be Ann Coulter, the anti-immigrant pundit beloved of CCC spokesman Jared Taylor and who cites white nationalist Peter Brimelow as an intellectual influence, but who has also been welcomed at Religious Right events like the Values Voter Summit.

Coulter took it upon herself in her 2009 book “Guilty,” to defend GOP politicians who had spoken to CCC, writing that the group’s statements in opposition to “forced integration” and “efforts to mix the races of mankind” were in no way endorsements of segregation:

Republican politicians who had given speeches to a conservative group, the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), were branded sympathizers of white supremacists because some of the directors of the CCC had, decades earlier, been leaders of a segregationist group, the Citizen Councils of America, which were founded in 1954. There is no evidence on its Web page that the modern incarnation of the CCC supports segregation, though its “Statement of Principles” offers that the organization opposes “forced integration” and “efforts to mix the races of mankind.” But mostly the principles refer to subjects such as a strong national defense, the right to keep and bear arms, the traditional family, and an “America First” trade policy.

Roy Beck

Another prominent anti-immigrant activist with ties to CCC is Roy Beck, head of the influential lobbying group Numbers USA, who addressed the group in the late 1990s. The Center for New Community dug up this photo:

This post has been updated to add Roy Beck.

Indiana Anti-Gay Bill Was Ted Cruz's Alamo

At a campaign stop at a shooting range in Iowa earlier this week, captured on video by the conservative blog Caffeinated Thoughts, Sen. Ted Cruz boasted of his support for a since-altered Indiana law that would have opened the door for private businesses to discriminate against LGBT people in the name of religious freedom, comparing his stand to that of Texas soldiers at the Alamo.

“Sadly more than a few Republicans ran for the hills, including more than a few candidates who are running for president in 2016,” he said. :Some of them chose that exact moment to go rearrange their sock drawer.”

But Ted Cruz, said Cruz, was made of stronger stuff.

“In my view, Indiana was a time of choosing. In my view, Indiana was, as William Barret Travis at the Alamo said as he drew the line in the stand, it was a moment to choose which side of the line you stand.”

Cruz previously referred to opposition to Indiana’s measure as a gay “jihad.”

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