Peter Montgomery's blog

Scott Walker’s False Claim That America Shares His Anti-Choice Extremism

Miranda reported this morning on Mike Huckabee’s radical and dangerous plan to give fertilized eggs full constitutional rights by declaring them to be human beings. But Huckabee wasn’t the only one at last night's GOP presidential debate making extreme statements when it comes to women’s health care.

Fox’s Megyn Kelly asked Walker about his position that all abortion should be illegal, even in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of a pregnant woman.

Walker did not answer Kelly’s direct question of whether he would really let a woman die rather than have an abortion. Instead he declared his “pro-life” credentials and said, “I’ve said many a time that the unborn child can be protected, and there are many other alternatives that can also protect the life of the mother.”

Of course, those “alternatives” don’t always exist, and the experiences of some women in Catholic hospitals make it clear that women’s lives are at stake when no-exceptions abortion bans are in place.

Walker asserted, “I’ve got a position that’s in line with everyday America.”

That statement is utterly false. Fewer than one in five Americans believes, like Walker, that abortion should be illegal in all circumstances. A recent poll for Vox found that more than two-thirds of Americans would NOT like to see the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade. Kelly noted in her question that 83 percent of Americans believe abortion should be allowed to save a woman’s life.

Gallup reported in May that more Americans describe themselves as pro-choice than pro-life (50 – 44 percent). And even that question understates the depth of Americans’ support for women having access to safe and legal abortion. Researcher Tresa Undem told ThinkProgress recently that people in focus groups are stunned when presented with data about the range of attacks and restrictions on women’s health care:

“When you get in a focus group with people and you show them the entirely of the restrictions and exactly what’s going on, there is total outrage — it’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen in fifteen years of doing public opinion research,” she said.

Of course, last night’s debate was not the first time Walker has lied about his position on women’s access to abortion. In a television ad last year he said that an anti-abortion bill he was pushing “leaves the final decision to a woman and her doctor,” which is basically the definition of being pro-choice. But in May, Walker explained to social conservative leaders that he was using purposefully deceptive language — in the words of anti-abortion activist Marjorie Dannenfelser, “using the language of the other side to support our own position” — a strategy she found impressive. “It’s the whole style of communication and content that you want to see moving into a presidential cycle that will make it different from 2012.”

I’m guessing that Dannenfelser was delighted by Walker’s “everyday America” line.

Fox And Its GOP Friends Stick With Offensive ‘Illegals’

At last night’s presidential debates hosted by Fox News, it was jarring to hear Fox personalities and Republican presidential candidates alike using the derogatory term “illegals” to refer to undocumented immigrants.

Fox and other conservative media outlets have rejected efforts — including Colorlines’ the Drop the I-Word campaign —  to stop using terms like “illegal immigrant” and “illegal alien.” Jose Antonio Vargas, a journalist who “came out” as an undocumented immigrant in 2011, started the following year to challenge media outlets’ use of the term “illegal immigrant.” In January, FoxNews.com said its policy is to describe immigrants who are in the U.S. without authorization as “illegal immigrants,” but Fox News Latino reportedly does not use the term.

Last November, Fusion’s Felix Salmon published an overview of the policies various news organizations have adopted. Some, including the Associated Press, no longer use the term “illegal immigrant.” Some, like the New York Times, still do while encouraging reporters to also consider alternatives in a given context. Some find alternatives like “undocumented” or “unauthorized” to be confusing or bureaucratic.

But the sneering shorthand “illegals” is worse and there is a stronger consensus against its use — but not a universal one. In January, the Santa Barbara News-Press generated controversy, including vandalism of the paper’s building, when it used the term “illegals” in a headline. Fox ran a story about the vandalism with screen text declaring “Trouble with Illegals.”

A copyediting blog, commenting on the Santa Barbara controversy, declared it is no longer possible for journalists to “claim that the word illegal [used as a noun] can be neutral or objective.” Even the Wall Street Journal, whose stylebook says “illegal immigrant” is its preferred term, instructs, “Don’t use illegal or illegals as a noun.”

Despite having low expectations for Fox and the Republican candidates, it was striking to hear so many uses of “illegal” or “illegals” as a noun. Scanning through transcripts of the debates, I confirmed that Fox’s Bill Hemmer used the term twice in the also-rans debate, and Chris Wallace used it three times in the top ten debate. The term was also used by Donald Trump and Mike Huckabee, the latter in his sadly memorable formulation about “illegals, prostitutes, pimps, drug dealers, all the people that are freeloading off the system now.”

This week, New Yorker writer Jeffrey Toobin wrote a follow-up piece to an article he published last month about immigration policy. In his new commentary, he reflects on feedback he received in opposition to his use of “illegal immigrant.” He says he will no longer use the term because it has become so widely regarded as pejorative.

Toobin says it is “clearly wrong” to use the term as a noun — to call someone “an illegal.” Former New York Times editor and columnist Bill Keller came to the same conclusion in late 2011, with help from readers and colleagues, after a column in which he had used “illegals” as shorthand for “illegal immigrants.”

Of course, given the state of the Republican Party on immigration, there were also plenty of uses of the term “amnesty” by candidates, including Jeb Bush making sure to qualify his support for a path to legal status for people now in the country —  “not amnesty” — and Ted Cruz, who slammed the other candidates for having supported “amnesty.” Bobby Jindal had another of the evening’s most memorable lines, declaring “immigration without assimilation is an invasion.” 

Right Wing Touts New Poll Pitting Religious Liberty Against LGBT Equality

Conservative media and Religious Right leaders and activists are touting a new poll that supposedly shows Americans “overwhelmingly” side with “religious liberty” over gay rights. The new poll, conducted by Fox News contributor Patrick Caddell, adopts right-wing framing that pits religious freedom and LGBT equality in conflict with each other. Even in that context, a majority agrees that both religious liberties and the rights of gays and lesbians are important, and that “there can be a common sense solution that both protects religious freedom and protects gay and lesbian couples from discrimination.”

Of course, religious liberty and LGBT equality can happily coexist, despite claims to the contrary from the Right, but anti-equality advocates touting the Caddell poll suggest that the “common sense solution” is a “truce” that would allow business owners to discriminate against gay people based on their religious beliefs. Anti-gay extremist Peter LaBarbera is arguing that the poll shows that people see a war on Christians coming out of the “homosexual activist movement” and he is urging Americans to push for repeal of existing “sexual orientation laws and gender identity laws.”

The Caddell poll, an online survey of 800 voters, asserts that more than two-thirds of Americans – 68% -- believe the government should not be able “to require by law a private citizen to provide a service or provide their private property for an event that is contrary to their religious beliefs.” More specifically, the poll claims that 82 percent of Americans supports the right of a photographer with religious objections to same-sex couples getting married to refuse to photograph a gay couple’s wedding.

Conservatives are complaining that the Caddell poll is being “ignored by the establishment media.” But there are some good reasons for that.

First, Caddell’s numbers are far out of line with other surveys that show Americans are uncomfortable with the can of worms that would be opened by allowing business owners to cite religion as a reason to opt out of laws that apply to everyone else.  In an article in the Atlantic in June, Robert Jones of Public Religion Research Institute writes:

By a margin of nearly two to one, Americans oppose allowing a small business owner to refuse products or services to gay and lesbian people, even if doing so violates their religious beliefs (60 percent oppose, 34 percent favor). Most religious groups oppose these exemptions; white evangelical Protestants are the only religious group with majority support for these exemptions, and even among this group, support is only a bare majority (51 percent).

PRRI has also reported that white evangelical Protestants were the only religious group that gives majority support – and then only 51 percent – to so called “religious freedom” laws designed to protect business owners and others who do not want to serve LGBT people or couples.

By contrast, 59% of white mainline Protestants, 63% of non-white Protestants, and 64% of Catholics oppose allowing small business owners to refuse service to gay and lesbian people on religious grounds, as do nearly three-quarters (73%) of religiously unaffiliated Americans.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll published in March of last year found that “nearly seven in 10 respondents say business should not be allowed to refuse service to gays,” even if that refusal if based on the owner’s religious beliefs.” And an earlier poll, a 2013 survey by Human Rights Campaign and Third Way, reported that when asked specifically about wedding-related services being provided by small businesses, “64% of voters were still opposed to new laws that would allow small businesses to deny wedding-related services based on their religious beliefs, compared to 31% in favor.”

Other polls show more of a split among Americans on the issue, but they too are far from the results Caddell reports. A Pew Research Center survey from last year found Americans about equally divided about whether businesses that provide wedding services should be allowed to refuse service to same-sex couples on religious grounds or whether they should be required to provide services. And an Associated Press-GfK poll from earlier this year found that while a slim majority of Americans said wedding-related businesses should be allowed to refuse service to same-sex couples, only 40 percent said businesses in general should be allowed to. 

Another reason journalists might view the poll with skepticism may be Caddell himself. Caddell is a Fox News regular who is useful to right-wingers by virtue of the fact that he describes himself as a Democratic strategist who helped get Jimmy Carter elected. But he has long since acted as an advocate for the Right by trashing the Democratic Party as the “tool” of special interests and saying “the left doesn’t care about ordinary people.”

Last year, on Sean Hannity’s show, Caddell denounced President Barack Obama as “a raging narcissist who has no grip on reality” and accused Republicans of not opposing him strongly enough. Caddell reportedly helped identify people to appear in an anti-Obama “documentary” distributed by the right-wing group Citizens United.

New York Magazine recently reported that Caddell has been speaking to Donald Trump “almost every day” about his campaign

Already-Huge Heritage Foundation Expands DC Presence To 'Hit Washington Establishment' From 'Close Range'

The Heritage Foundation is a giant within the massive right-wing legal, political and cultural infrastructure that has been built over the past several decades. An ideological marketing operation in the guise of a think tank, Heritage has played a significant role in in getting economic and social conservatives to work together to push the Republican Party further and further to the Right. It operates out of an enormous complex near the U.S. Capitol — one that Heritage has announced is now growing even bigger.

In an email headlined “From close range,” Heritage President Jim DeMint writes:

If we’re going to reclaim America, conservatives have to hit the Washington Establishment from close range.

That’s why a critical phase of The Heritage Foundation’s Reclaim America campaign is building the Freedom Center.

Only steps from the U.S. Capitol, the Freedom Center will be at very close range. It will be your conservative stronghold for retaking our country.

The group’s website says, “The new Freedom Center will be the driving force behind a revitalized conservative resurgence, not just in Washington, but also around the country.”

The Heritage Foundation is vastly expanding our presence in Washington D.C.—the belly of the beast.

Our headquarters in the heart of Washington, D.C. is just two city blocks from the Senate offices, three city blocks from the Capitol building, and three city blocks from the House offices. It’s from this base that we will wage a policy war with the Left and the Establishment at very close range. In politics, proximity matters. That’s why our physical presence is key and that’s why expansion is critical to future conservative victories.

To beat down Big Government, we need to expand our footprint on Capitol Hill.

The Freedom Center will be only blocks from the U.S. Capitol in a remodeled structure already purchased—prime real estate once rented by far-left groups. The modernized Freedom Center will be specifically outfitted for:

  • Educating Congress about how conservative ideas solve today’s problems and help the American people;
  • Reaching the American people with an enhanced media outreach program focused on spreading conservative ideas;
  • Communicating facts to mobilize grassroots Americans;
  • And bringing together conservative groups to coordinate strategy.

In short, the Freedom Center will be a beachhead from which we can advance your principles in Washington from inescapably close range. 

DeMint says that Heritage is trying to raise $1 million for the project by August 18 and that a donor will match gifts made by August 18. According to IRS filings from 2013, the Heritage Foundation had income that year of $112.7 million, with net assets of more than $194 million. Its explicitly political arm, Heritage Action for America, reported income of $8.8 million and net assets of $4.8 million.

NOM’s Brian Brown: Ending Anti-Gay Discrimination Means Giving 'Believers' the Shaft

Religious Right leaders have long argued that legal equality for LGBT people cannot coexist with religious freedom. Now that the Supreme Court has made marriage equality the law of the land, and the LGBT movementis seeking protections against discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations, these claims are getting more shrill.

The Right is worked up about the introduction in Congress last month of the Equality Act, which would provide legal protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, access to public places, federal funding, credit, education and jury service. The Equality Act, says Lambda Legal, “does not change the religious exemptions already in federal law.”

Miranda reported last week that Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage said the Equality Act should be called “The Persecution of Americans Act.” Now, in a new fundraising email, NOM calls the “Beyond Marriage Equality” agenda “an outrageous attempt to persecute Americans who believe in God” and suggests that extending civil rights protections to protect LGBT people would be “catastrophic.”

The agenda being advanced by the left will have a catastrophic impact on every single American as it covers housing, employment, access to public places, federal funding, credit, education and jury service. Gays and lesbians get special legal rights and can beckon the government to target people of faith for investigations and punishment, while Americans who believe in God get the shaft.

But Brown doesn’t speak for “Americans who believe in God.” Most Americans, including religious Americans, support nondiscrimination laws that protect LGBT people. A Public Religion Research Institute survey from June found that 60 percent of white evangelical Protestants support nondiscrimination laws.  As PRRI’s Robert Jones recently wrote in the Atlantic:

Today, nearly seven in ten (69 percent) Americans favor laws that would protect LGBT individuals against discrimination in jobs, public accommodations, and housing, compared to 25 percent who oppose such policies. And there is majority support for these protections across partisan and religious lines. In fact, most Americans actually already believe that workplace nondiscrimination is the law of the land: Three-quarters (75 percent) of Americans incorrectly believe it is currently illegal under federal law to fire or refuse to hire someone because they are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.

A poll conducted for HRC earlier this year found overwhelming public support for a nondiscrimination law.

Religious Right Columnist: Obama Used By Satan Just Like Other ‘Pervert Despots of History’

You may have known that President Barack Obama has done much to advance LGBT equality in the U.S. and overseas, but did you realize that this makes him the latest in a long line of “sex depraved tyrants” who, throughout history, have “brought their respective empires close to and beyond ruin as a result of their megalomania and hubris?” No? Well, clearly you haven’t been getting the Sons of Liberty newsletter from anti-gay rocker and motivational speaker Bradlee Dean. Dean’s endorsers include RWW regulars Bryan Fischer, Harry Jackson, and Michael Peroutka.

“The irony of the Sodomy Rights movement in America,” begins contributor Jason Charles in a column published at Wake the Church as well as Sons of Liberty, “is the fact that it was built on the foundation of human trafficking, slavery, and hedonistic elitist lifestyles of ancient times.”

Charles argues that Rome fell “because it was infected by a contingency of prominent Homosexuals.”

These guilds of homosexuals also seem to be a prerequisite for anyone wishing to ascend to power. They become a spiritual proving ground for Satan as he vets future leaders for their compromised roles in history. People with power issues, especially sexually are often selected by the power brokers of each age for the sole reason they can be controlled and manipulated. Anyone that has become blinded by perversions usually has few moral limits of any kind they won't cross, this makes them ideal candidates for Satan's agenda in this world.

But back to the “new Rainbow tyrant of the modern age,” as Charles describes Obama. Charles places Obama at number 72 (or somewhere between 73 and 76 if you count his references to Bush Sr. and Jr.) on a list of “purported sodomite/bi-sexual rulers of History” that begins with Alexander the Great and continues through Julius Caesar and Adolph Hitler. The Bushes make the article based on their involvement with the Skull & Bones Society at Yale and the Bohemian Grove.

Charles cites WND’s anti-Obama conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi as the source for his assertion that “Obama when living in Chicago was a regular at homosexual bath houses.” And his most recent bit of evidence – those rainbow colors on the White House celebrating the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling.

…the enemy of this world has always had his guilds of sexual perversity for the sole reason of grooming compromised individuals, usually starting with children. Obama is so obsessed with creating a culture of homosexuality he has pushed it into public schools, praised the SCOTUS decision on sodomy-based “marriage” on official twitter accounts, coordinated corporate praise for sodomy-based “marriage,” and even lit up the White House in rainbow colors…

Obama has lived his entire life with disdain for God's natural laws of human sexuality, so of course he would live with disdain of manmade laws, and also Biblical laws, just like all the other pervert despots of history.

Religious Right Teams Up With Anti-Gay Governments at United Nations

American Religious Right groups are teaming up with anti-choice and anti-gay governments and organizations from around the world in order to prevent a new United Nations development proposal currently being negotiated from including language that might lead to some recognition of families headed by same-sex couples, a possibility the Center for Family and Human Rights (C-FAM) describes as “tragic.” (C-FAM was formerly known as the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute.)

C-FAM’s “Friday Fax” warns:

Leftist governments, including the United States, are trying to convince the General Assembly to discard family language from the Universal Declaration [of Human Rights] and instead use phrases that critics consider to be ideologically freighted, specifically “all families” and “various forms of the family.” These types of phrases have been rejected in recent years but the Obama administration has made it a priority to have them used in this important development document.

C-FAM argues that language declaring that “the family is the natural and fundamental unit of society” must be kept in place to prevent Europeans and Americans from having any “wiggle room” to “promote same-sex relations as families through the UN system.”

C-FAM reports that a group of African and Arab nations are leading efforts to strip language about “all families” from the final draft of the “Post-2015 Summit outcome” by proposing language that “EXCLUDES any international recognition to relations between persons of the same-sex as a ‘family,’ as in the case of homosexual civil unions and so-called gay marriage.”

Among the Religious Right organizations fighting tooth and nail to prevent even a possibility that same-sex families might gain recognition at the UN are: C-FAM; National Organization for Marriage; Alliance Defending Freedom Global (ADF was formerly known as Alliance Defense Fund); Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society (sponsors of the World Congress of Families); Human Life International; Personhood USA; Christian Family Fellowship; Family Research Institute; and the American Center for Law & Justice’s European affiliate, ECLJ.

Evangelical Leaders Far From Consensus On Presidential Candidate

Religious Right leaders have been intensely frustrated that their inability to coalesce around a single candidate in the 2008 and 2012 GOP primaries helped John McCain and Mitt Romney, neither of which were evangelical favorites, secure the Republican presidential nomination. Strategists like Tony Perkins and David Lane dearly hoped that things would be different in 2016. As we have previously noted,

Although Perry’s tanking disrupted Lane’s plans to get conservative evangelicals to coalesce around a single candidate in 2012, it seems clear that he has similar intentions for 2016. He told the Houston Chronicle in June [2013], “We’re going to try to eliminate the stuff that they [GOP leaders] do to us every four years, which is picking somebody who has no chance of being viable and they kill us off and we have the McCains and Romneys left.”

But a survey of 94 evangelical “leaders and insiders” — as identified by World Magazine —suggests that they are not even close to a meeting of minds on a favored presidential candidate. Four candidates had the support of more than 10 leaders – Rubio (18), Bush (14) and Cruz and Walker (13 each) – all below 20 percent of the leaders who responded to World’s survey.  

Religious Right Billionaire Wilks Brothers Give Millions To Ted Cruz Super PAC

Dan and Farris Wilks, Texas billionaires who made a fortune from the fracking boom and have showered millions of dollars on right-wing organizations, have given $15 million to Keep the Promise, a super PAC supporting Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign, according to a CNN story by Theodore Schleifer which was highlighted by John Wright at Towleroad today.

"Our country was founded on the idea that our rights come from the Creator, not the government. I'm afraid we're losing that," Farris Wilks, a 63-year-old pastor in the small town of Cisco, said in a statement to CNN. "Unless we elect a principled conservative leader ready to stand up for our values, we'll look back on what once was the land of opportunity and pass on a less prosperous nation to our children and grandchildren. That's why we need Ted Cruz."

Farris’s brother Dan added that America needs a “leader that will stand up for biblical morals…a leader who encourages hard work, not one who tells people who don’t work that they should make the same living as people who do. We need a leader who will make sure America doesn’t end up a socialist nation.”

Last year, RWW documented the Wilks brothers’ massive funding of anti-gay and anti-abortion groups, as well as organizations in the Koch brothers’ political networks. And that’s only counting gifts we know about because they are made through foundations created and funded by the brothers and their wives -- the Thirteen Foundation for Farris and Joann and Heavenly Father’s Foundation for Dan and Staci.

Earlier this year, we reported that the Wilks brothers have been backing the work of Christian-nation extremist David Lane. Lane has always refused to tell reporters who funds his events, which are carried out by his American Renewal Project under the umbrella of the American Family Association. But as we reported in June,

According to the 2013 990 forms filed by the foundations with the IRS, The Thirteen Foundation gave 922,000 that year to the American Family Association. It is not clear how much of that was for Lane’s projects, but the filing from Heavenly Father’s Foundation is more explicit, reporting $750,000 to the AFA for three Pastors and Pews conferences.

In 2013, the Christian Broadcasting Network identified the Wilks brothers as members of Lane’s “Pastors and Pews” network, which brings right-wing candidates, including GOP presidential contenders, to meet-and-greets with conservative evangelical pastors. Lane sponsored an all-expenses-paid trip to Israel taken by more than 60 members of the Republican National Committee in January, as well as a series of prayer rallies for Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal and Nikki Haley.

Not coincidentally, Lane has praised the world of big-money politics created by the Supreme Court with its Citizens United decision and related rulings, explicitly praising multi-million-dollar super PAC donations in an interview with NBC News’s Perry Bacon in 2014: "The problem used to be, you had to raise $2,500 per person, so you had to come up with the bundlers. With Citizens United, I don’t think it’s as big of a hurdle. Now you can have somebody who gives $15 or $20 million into a super PAC and that changes the game.”

The Wilks brothers’ worldview, hinted at in their statements above, is grounded at least in part in the theology taught in the church founded by their father, at which Farris is now a pastor. In his sermons, Farris Wilks has quoted Christian-nation “historian” David Barton, denounced government social spending as socialism, warned that tolerance of “sexual perversion” and abortion “could bring about the end of our nation,” and declared in response to Barack Obama’s re-election as president, “I do believe that our country died that Tuesday night, to all that’s honorable, that’s good, that’s ambitious, and that has justice.”

No wonder they love Ted Cruz.

 

Ted Cruz's Hearing on Supreme Court's Marriage Equality 'Tyranny'

Senator and presidential hopeful Ted Cruz has repeatedly called recent Supreme Court decisions on marriage and health care reform “tyranny.” On Wednesday, he used his platform as chair of the Senate’s Judiciary Subcommittee on Oversight, Agency Action, Federal Rights and Federal Courts to hold a hearing on “Supreme Court activism” in which he said that the marriage equality ruling was “the very definition of tyranny” and that “Justice Kennedy’s pop psychology has no basis in the text and history of the Constitution.”

Among the witnesses Cruz called was John Eastman, chair of the National Organization for Marriage. Eastman said a simple majority of states should be allowed to override Supreme Court decisions. (While we’re talking about “tyranny,” let’s not forget that Eastman recently defended Uganda’s notorious Anti-Homosexuality Act and hoped for its swift reinstatement.)

Cruz is far from the only right-winger crying “tyranny” over the prospect of gay couples getting married. We have seen right-wing activists and politicians denounce the marriage equality ruling in the most apocalyptic terms, and charge that it will bring unprecedented religious persecution to the U.S. Right-wing Catholic Hugh Brown of the American Life League even said that Justice Kennedy had “betrayed” Jesus. Another, Michael Hichborn of the right-wing Catholic Lepanto Institute, said Kennedy should be excommunicated.

Some have been calling for states to resist or ignore the ruling (Liberty Counsel is defending county clerks who refuse to do their jobs), or negate it with a “creative” law. Some are focused on passing laws to allow government officials and business owners to discriminate against same-sex couples – like the proposed federal First Amendment Defense Act. Some are calling for constitutional amendments to overturn the marriage ruling. And some are looking at the 2016 presidential election as an opportunity to pack the Court with far-right justices.

Cruz has called for a constitutional amendment that would require justices to face retention elections, and has said he would also support term limits on justices, an idea promoted by fellow presidential contender Mike Huckabee.

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