Texas

Texas Conservative Student Group Hosting 'Catch An Illegal Immigrant Game'

UPDATE 11/19: YCT head Lorenzo Garcia has cancelled the “game” due to concerns “the university will retailate against [YCT] and the protest against the event could create a safety issue for our volunteers.” He said in a statement that he is “shocked” by the “truly disgraceful” protests against the “Catch an Illegal Immigrant Game,” adding that he will not be “silenced.”

On Wednesday the University of Texas at Austin chapter of Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT) plans to host a “Catch an Illegal Immigrant Game.” According to its Facebook page, students will have to find a person “walking around the UT campus with the label ‘illegal immigrant’ on their clothing” and then turn that person in to a YCT table for a $25 gift card reward.

YCT will be having a "Catch an Illegal Immigrant" event this upcoming Wednesday. The details of the game goes as follows:

There will be several people walking around the UT campus with the label "illegal immigrant" on their clothing. Any UT student who catches one of these "illegal immigrants" and brings them back to our table will receive a $25 gift card.

The purpose of this event is to spark a campus-wide discussion about the issue of illegal immigration, and how it affects our everyday lives.

Last month, the same group hosted an Affirmative Action bake sale which charged students different prices based on their race and gender. Think Progress notes that other right-wing youth groups have hosted similar events in the past.

HT: Latino Rebels.

Ted Cruz's Weekend Plans: Puppy Bombs, Islamophobia, Junk History & Glenn Beck

Sen. Ted Cruz has a busy weekend planned. Not only is he confirmed to headline a Texas conference for state legislators hosted by fake historian David Barton, he is also confirmed to speak at a conference of anti-Muslim activists and right-wing muckrakers in Florida hosted by leading Islamophobe David Horowitz .

Warren Throckmorton reports that Cruz is scheduled to speak at David Barton’s “ProFamily Legislators Conference” along with effusive conspiracy thoerist Glenn Beck, master voter suppressor and now Family Research Council bigwig Ken Blackwell, FRC vice president and radical anti-Islam activist General Jerry Boykin, and anti-gay, anti-Islam activist Rabbi Daniel Lapin. But perhaps the most questions for Cruz should come around accepting an invitation from Barton, who routinely pushes junk science and history and who just this week found himself in hot water among conservatives for telling veterans that it’s unbiblical to have PTSD.

Cruz is also set to join Rep. Louie Gohmert at “David Horowitz’s Restoration Weekend,” along with Horowitz’s fellow anti-Islam activists Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, Erick Stakelbeck and Daniel Pipes; right-wing pundits Ann Coulter and Ben Shapiro; “voter fraud” truther Catherine Engelbrecht ; erstwhile Christian Coalition leader and Jack Abramoff pal Ralph Reed; prankster/martyr James O’Keefe; and rising right-wing star Dr. Ben Carson.

Previous “restoration weekends” have similarly allowed sitting members of Congress – including Sen. Jeff Sessions, Sen. Jim DeMint, Rep. Steve King and Rep. Michelle Bachmann -- to mingle with anti-Islam leaders inluding Geert Wilders, Frank Gaffney, Andrew McCarthy and Pastor John Hagee.

While Horowitz’s summit includes a wide variety of far-right activists, its real star power comes from its Islamophobe coalition.

Horowitz himself has built his career on tying American progressives and mainstream Muslims to radical Islam. He's the editor of FrontPage magazine and has reportedly funded Robert Spencer's JihadWatch website. Horowitz was a leader of the smear campaign against former Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, who anti-Islam activists accused of being a Muslim Brotherhood agent sent to "penetrate" the US government . Horowitz alleged that Abedin, who is married to former Rep. Anthony Weiner, was a "Muslim Brotherhood operative" and "been given a special dispensation to marry a Jew so she can infiltrate our government.” He has also accused anti-tax activist Grover Norquist, whose wife is Muslim, of secretly practicing Islam and leading a Muslim Brotherhood "infiltration" of the Republican Party, and believes that teachers' unions are pushing an “infiltration of Islamic Jihadist doctrines” in the public schools.

Geller is also one of the most vocal figures on the anti-Muslim right. It was Geller who dreamed up and drove the "Ground Zero Mosque" controversy in the summer of 2010. Like Horowitz, Geller sees Islamist infiltration wherever she looks, including theWhite House, public schools, the media, and even the Conservative Political Action Committee (thanks, of course to Norquist). Geller frequently suggests that President Obama is secretly Muslim and has even theorized that the president is the love child of Malcolm X.

Geller even attempted to justify Anders Breivik’s massacre at a Norwegian summer camp (which she initially, of course, blamed on Muslims), writing that the victims would have become “future leaders of the party responsible for flooding Norway with Muslims who refuse to assimilate, who commit major violence against Norwegian natives including violent gang rapes, with impunity, and who live on the dole.” Breivik had extensively cited Geller’s work in his anti-Islam manifesto.

Spencer is another one of the anti-Muslim movement’s leading lights, and also sees sneaking radical Islam in in the “Sharia-compliant” CPAC , the Obama administration,the media, TLC reality shows and progressives, whom he argues are “in league with Islamic supremacists” because of their shared dislike of America and western civilization.

To give you an idea of just how willing Spencer and Geller are to run with any anti-Muslim conspiracy theory, no matter how ridiculous, this month both gleefully picked up a story from New York’s local CBS station that alleged that members of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt were dipping puppies in gasoline and lighting them on fire in order to make puppy bombs. CBS quickly retracted the story, which was sourced to a Facebook message. But the story so perfectly fit Geller and Spencer’s hysterical anti-Muslim narrative that neither has updated their blog post.

We hope that Cruz at least won’t fall for the puppy bombs story. It’s sad enough to ruin what could have been great weekend.

David Barton Announces That He Will Not Run For Senate

After a week of speculation amid effort to recruit David Barton to launch a primary challenge in Texas against Senator John Cornyn, Barton appeared on Glenn Beck's radio program today to announce his decision.

After telling Beck that he had done polling and consulted with trusted advisers, Barton announced even though he believes that it would be a winnable race, he has concluded that "the time is just not right for me."

But there remains a glimmer of hope, because when Beck asked Barton if he might make a Senate run at some point in the future, Barton said "that's definitely a possibility, yes sir":

Barton issued an official statement to The Blaze:

I am deeply honored and humbled by the heartfelt efforts of thousands of people encouraging me to run for the U.S. Senate in 2014. Citizens in Texas and across America know that our nation’s fiscal, moral, and constitutional deficits must be reversed.

I agree with the millions who say we need more constitutionally conservative leaders serving in Congress. The detailed polling data as well as the outpouring of immediate support from across the state indicate this is a race that could be won.

But as important as one seat in the U. S. Senate is, we also have generations of citizens that need to know our constitutional principles and rich heritage. Such education will result in the election of many more constitutionally-minded common-sense patriots in coming years.

As I travel the nation speaking about the founding principles of America, I have noticed a definite growth in the depth of interest regarding our moral and constitutional foundations. People are not only becoming more active in the political process but are becoming more principled and informed about how to restore our constitutional republic.

The solution to our current American crisis will come from the basic actions of our citizens studying the Constitution, voting and campaigning for good candidates, and helping reduce the size of government by personally helping those around us who are in need.

My family and I have carefully prayed about and seriously weighed the encouragement from so many people we respect who have asked me to run for the Senate. But right now, I believe my role is to continue educating, equipping, and inspiring citizens through the work we do at WallBuilders.

I thank all of you who encouraged me to enter this race. I ask you to take the time, energy, and money you so generously offered on my behalf and invest it in electing other constitutional conservatives at every level of government. Our involvement is needed now more than ever before. Our goal hasn’t changed. We each have a role to play to build a winning coalition of citizens who share a commitment to put the country on a sustainable and constitutionally sound trajectory. At this specific time my role will not be as a candidate, but I will continue to work side-by-side with you in the trenches to educate the nation, while also recruiting, training, and electing a new generation of conservative leaders.

Rafael Cruz Tries To Disprove Evolution, Suggests Obama Thinks He Is God

Yesterday, we posted clips of Sen. Ted Cruz’s father Rafael Cruz attacking evolution and warning of Satanic control of America. Now, a reader has alerted us to a speech the elder Cruz gave to a Republican gathering in Texas in March, in which he claimed that he could disprove evolution to the “brainwashed” students in attendance.

After making his usual claim that evolution and gay rights are communist plots, Cruz warned, “We are being brainwashed by the school system and you’re called a ‘retrograde,’ you’re called an ‘idiot’ if you fight evolution. Evolution is not a fact, there is nothing factual about evolution.”

Let me just say something for you kids, evolution is based on jumping from one species to another through mutations. How many of you had biology in high school? Mutations normally go in reverse order, they go backwards, when something mutates it mutates into something worse than it was before. So if evolution moves from species to species by mutation, you’re going backwards, not forwards, it doesn’t make sense. It takes more faith to believe in evolution than to believe in the first two chapters of Genesis. Understand, it is a tool to destroy loyalty to God.

Later in the address, Cruz alleged that President Obama wants people to worship him. “Obama needs for you to see him as God,” Cruz said. “The concept is make government your god. It’s done by evolution, it’s done by destroying the concept of religion and God, and secondly by destroying the family.”

“That’s what this whole thing about homosexual marriage is about,” he added. “It has nothing to do with ‘homosexual rights,’ It has to do with the destruction of the traditional family so that there is no loyalty to the family, loyalty is to the government and government is your god.”

Rafael Cruz: Evolution Is A Communist Lie, Gay Rights Endanger Children

Rafael Cruz, the father of Ted Cruz and the Texas Senator’s number one surrogate, is a favorite among Tea Party and Religious Right activists with his birther, Christian Nationalist and End Times-focused speeches.

15 Things You Need To Know About David Barton, The Man Who Could Be Texas's Next Senator

David Barton’s dishonest and discredited pseudo-history hasn’t stopped him from becoming a star within the Republican Party. Despite the glaring flaws and political bias found in his work, not to mention the fact that actual conservative Christian scholars are among his most vocal critics, GOP candidates for office consistently seek Barton’s advice, counsel and endorsements.

Now, Barton’s WallBuilders deputy and radio show co-host Rick Green has launched a Facebook page to draft Barton run for U.S. Senate against the Republican incumbent John Cornyn.

On October 30, Green wrote that “if the draft page gets 5k likes in just a few days, then we’ll know people want him to run.” As of today, the page currently has fewer than half that number of “likes,” but Barton’s possible run has garnered publicity and made Glenn Beck giddy. Barton recently told Beck that “if the Lord tells me to do it, I’ll do it.”

In anticipation of Barton’s possible run for office, we decided to look through our voluminous Barton archive and pull out the highlights of his radical record.

1. God Is Rightfully Blocking A Cure For HIV/AIDS

Barton is delighted by the fact that God is preventing researchers from finding a cure or vaccine for HIV/AIDS. According to Barton, HIV/AIDS is a punishment for sin and therefore God will block a potential cure: “God says, ‘Hey you’re going to bear in your body the consequences of this homosexual behavior.’” He argues that HIV/AIDS is a divine “penalty” for gay people’s “shameful sexual acts.” On a similar note, Barton has called homosexuality “absolutely reprehensible and disgusting” and said that marriage equality means we “are going down as a nation.”

2. “We Had To Destroy Indian Tribes”

Barton justified the slaughter of Native Americans as a defensive war against tribes who “declared war on all the white guys.” “We had to go in and we had to destroy Indian tribes all over until they said ‘Oh, got the point,’” Barton said, claiming that the tactics were only necessary because Native Americans were resisting missionaries who were trying to “civilize” them.

3. Demons Control Parts Of The Capitol

If Barton runs for US Senate and is elected, he will have to be careful to avoid the demon-controlled parts of Capitol Hill. Barton told televangelist Kenneth Copeland that demonic principalities have control over different government bodies and that is why politicians “think really goofy.”

4. The Bible Opposes Net Neutrality

Did you know that the Founding Fathers, Pilgrims, Puritans and the Bible all opposed Net Neutrality? According to Barton they did. He also argues that Net Neutrality is a “wicked” policy.

5. Founding Fathers Refuted The Theory of Evolution

While the nation’s founders lived long before Charles Darwin published his seminal works, Barton contends that the founders “already had the entire debate on creation and evolution” and sided with Creationism.

6. Evolution Should Be Banned In School Due To Separation Of Church And State

Barton maintains that evolution, secular humanism and atheism are all religions that should be banned in public school because of the separation of church and state. “Darwinism and evolution is a religion. Why don’t we say, ‘Hey, we can’t teach Darwinism in school. That affects the way people behave. I demand separation of church and state. Get Darwinism out of the classroom.’”

7. Government Should Regulate Gay Sex

After comparing homosexuality to cigarette smoking and eating unhealthy foods, Barton proposed: “Why don’t we regulate homosexuality?” He warned that nations that “rejected sexual regulation like with homosexuality” collapse “past the third generation from the time that they embraced it.”

“Nearly one-half of practicing homosexuals admit to five hundred or more sex partners and nearly one-third admit to a thousand or more sex partners in a lifetime,” he added. Barton also claims that a nation will have a spiritual revival once it stops tolerating homosexuality and has “chased the sodomites” out.

8. Schools Turn Kids Gay

Barton “guaranteed ” listeners that if they have children going to public schools “they are getting homosexual indoctrination.” He even said that public schools will “ force them to be homosexual.” Barton’s gay rights conspiracy theories don’t end there: Before the passage of the 2009 Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act, Barton said the law was “designed to single out preachers in the pulpit” and would put pastors in prison if they condemn homosexuality. Of course, that never happened.

9. Country Needs More Hate

Barton considered writing a book entitled, “When tolerance is a sin and hate is a virtue,” telling listeners of his radio show that nowadays “tolerance is a bad thing and hate is a good thing.” “We’re tolerating a lot stuff that destroys our families, that destroys our own character and we can’t tolerate that stuff. We have to get back to the point where hate is a virtue, at least certain kinds of hate.”

10. Bible Opposes Minimum Wage

Many of Barton’s lectures rail against progressive economic policy as unbiblical, arguing that the Bible condemns the capital gains tax, estate tax, progressive income tax and the minimum wage. “Jesus did not like the minimum wage,” Barton contends.

11. Constitution Quotes The Bible ‘Verbatim’

Even though Barton can’t find a single actually verbatim quote from the Bible in the Constitution, he consistently claims that the Constitution quotes the Bible “verbatim.” It is no wonder that he also asserts that God established America’s system of elections. It is no surprise then that Barton advocates the theocratic Seven Mountains Dominionism.

12. Life Begins Before Conception

Barton has said that life doesn’t begin at conception, but actually “life begins before conception.” Not surprisingly, Barton believes that abortion rights will lead to socialism and that abortion is banned under the Seventh Amendment. The Seventh Amendment reads: “In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury shall be otherwise re–examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.”

13. No Limits On Second Amendment

According to Barton, under the Second Amendment there is no limit to what type of weapons people could possess, including tanks, bazookas and fighter jets.

14. Abortion Rights Leads To Divine Punishment

Barton recently claimed that inclement weather linked to climate change isn’t a result of climate change at all, but is actually God’s judgment on America for abortion rights.

15. Prayer Stopped BP Oil Spill, Drought

During a Religious Right conference call, Barton maintained that state declarations of prayer ended a drought in Georgia and also prevented damage on the Gulf Coast from the BP oil spill.

Glenn Beck Can Barely Contain Himself At The Idea Of 'Senator David Barton'

A few weeks ago, Glenn Beck set out on a mission to convince Rep. Louie Gohmert to launch a primary challenge to Sen. John Cornyn; an endeavor that Gohmert was clearly reluctant to undertake.

But now Beck has moved on, predicting that Gohmert will remain in the House where he will run for Speaker, which leaves open the position of primary challenger to Cornyn.  So who does Beck want to see fill that slot?  None other than his best friend David Barton.

"Senator David Barton," Beck just kept repeating on his radio program today, unable to keep the elated smile off of his face just thinking about it:

Texas School Board Chair Hails Creationist Dietitian And Businessman As Biology Experts

At a Texas State Board of Education meeting last month, the Republican head of the school board defended the qualifications of a biology textbook review panelist who said that “creation science based on biblical principles should be incorporated into every biology book that is up for adoption.”

SBOE chair Barbara Cargill defended the panelist, who is not a biologist but… a dietitian. Cargill defended another Creationism advocate on the panel, a businessman, because he has a degree in chemical engineering, saying that not enough biology teachers wanted to serve on the panel reviewing textbooks.

“They might be well-qualified in their own professional fields, but they are no more qualified to review biology textbooks than a biologist would be qualified to review a mathematics or engineering textbook,” Dan Quinn of the Texas Freedom Network points out.

He also notes that Cargill’s claim that teachers didn’t step up to serve on the panels is baloney, as 140 of the 183 of the “individuals who applied or were nominated by State Board of Education members to serve as biology textbook reviewers” were educators, and the “vast majority of them have degrees and teaching experience specifically in biology.”

“Some of them are among the 28 individuals appointed as biology textbook reviewers. But all of the others were passed over for the dietician, business and finance professionals, and various chemical, mechanical, systems and civil engineers who used their positions on the review teams to promote completely discredited junk science attacking evolution (or simply to call for teaching “creation science based on biblical principles” in biology textbooks).”

GOP Official Who Backs White Supremacist And Violent Groups Wants To Be Next Texas Attorney General

A Republican official who is running to be Texas’ next attorney general has defended white supremacists, Mormon fundamentalists and a militant Jewish group that plotted the assassination of a US congressman, the Texas Observer has found.

The Texas Observer reports that Texas Railroad Commission chairman Barry Smitherman penned a letter to his daughter’s school last year criticizing them for using literature from the Southern Poverty Law Center in a lesson on intolerance in conjunction with the book “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

In the letter, Smitherman accused the SPLC of “intolerance” specifically because of its opposition to the Crusaders for Yahweh, the Jewish Defense League, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), Border Guardians and the Oath Keepers. So who are these innocent, patriotic groups?

  • Crusaders for Yahweh, officially known as the Crusaders For Yahweh-Aryan Nations, is a neo-Nazi group that advocates “pro-white Christian identity [and] white nationalism.” Its founder Paul Mullet has criticized the “Jewish media,” called Obama “the Antichrist,” and railed against “nigger behavior.” CrusadersForYahweh.org redirects to a Ku Klux Klan website. 

Here’s Smitherman’s letter, courtesy of Forrest Wilder:

This is Barry Smitherman, [name omitted]’s dad. I am presently helping [name omitted] with this project. While I’m incredibly supportive of reading and analyzing “To Kill a Mockingbird,” an American Classic set in the early part of the 20th century in the rural south, I’m troubled by the “Us and Them” study material provided by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). “To Kill a Mockingbird” not only shows us the tragedy of the Jim Crow south of 60 years ago, played out horribly in the conviction of Tom Robinson for a rape that he didn’t commit, the book also highlights the strength and integrity of Atticus Finch, some of the townspeople of Maycomb, and even apparently a few of the jury members who struggled with their verdict. At the conclusion of the book, Harper Lee has given us hope that the South is moving away from discrimination based upon skin color and toward judging a man (or woman), as Dr. King would say, “not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center, however, has a more radical view of racism, hate, and intolerance. A quick review of their website shows that the SPLC considers many patriot, mormon, and judeo-christian religious groups across America, including some in Texas, to be hate groups. For example, the group “Crusaders for Yahweh” is labeled by the SPLC to be a “Christian identity” group and is placed on the SPLC’s national “hate map.” The same with the “Evangelical Latter Day Saints” (mormons), the Jewish Defense League, which SPLC calls “anti-Arab”, and the Border Guardians, which is labeled by the SPLC as “anti-immigration.” Equally disturbing, the SPLC calls out groups like “We the People”, “patriots”, The “Constitution Party,” and “oath keepers” as groups which subscribe to unfounded conspiracy theories and are “opposed to one world order”.

I identify myself as a Christian and find it intolerant for the SPLC to label me as intolerant. Same with many of the patriot groups that have organized in Texas over the last several years. I personally know members of these groups and they are focused not on racism, but on balancing the federal budget and reducing or eliminating our $16 trillion national debt.

Perhaps you are unaware of the tenants of the SPLC; I encourage you to research it thoroughly during this exercise and to explain to your students that SPLC, which allegedly fights intolerance, is itself often intolerant. Thanks for your consideration of this issue. Barry

Glenn Beck Tries To Convince Louie Gohmert That God Wants Him To Run For Senate

For several days now, Glenn Beck has been leading a campaign to convince Rep. Louie Gohmert to launch a primary challenge against Republican Senator John Cornyn in Texas. Today, Gohmert called into Beck's radio program where Beck told Gohmert that he had been praying on the question and the answer that he heard from God is that Gohmert should run.

Ghomert demurred, saying that he'd need to raise millions of dollars to launch such a challenge, which prompted Beck to tell him that he should not worry about that since God will provide all the funding he would need because "we live in a time of miracles."

"You are the guy," Beck assured him. "As long as we're on God's side, who could stand against us?"

Glenn Beck Vows To Camp Outside Of Louie Gohmert's House Until He Agrees To Run For US Senate

Last week, Glenn Beck became very excited over the idea that Congressman Louie Gohmert would launch a primary challenge against Republican Senator John Cornyn in Texas and today he announced on his radio program that he will be camping outside of Gohmert's house if necessary in order to make his fantasy come true.

"Last night, I made up my mind," Beck declared. "I am going to camp outside of Louie Gohmert's house if I have to, and I mean it.  I am going to be Louie Gohmert's worst nightmare until he says 'yes, I'm going to run for Senate."

Beck went on to call upon his listening audience to take over the various government institutions in their respective hometowns in order to "make sure there is not a single progressive that is running our towns, there's not a single progressive on our city councils, there's not a single progressive in our school boards ... Zero tolerance!"

Robertson: San Antonio Will Put Christians In Jail Over Anti-Discrimination Policy

Pat Robertson and his Christian Broadcasting Network filed a report today that falsely claimed that having a “biblical view” on sexuality has been “criminalized” in San Antonio, Texas. Robertson said San Antonio “has gone off the rails” by adopting a non-discrimination ordinance [PDF] which includes protections for sexual orientation and gender identity, and claimed that the new law would lead to Christians being thrown in prison: “This means that if you speak out about your deeply held religious beliefs they will put you in jail or brand you some kind of a class 3 felon.”

“This whole thing is outrageous and that city council should be replaced,” Robertson charged.

The segment quoted Christian Right activists arguing that gay people are seeking “special rights” while taking away the rights to religious freedom and speech of Christians. CBN reporter Heather Sells even said the new policy “criminalizes those with a biblical view of sexuality.”

Of course, the ordinance neither curtails free speech nor bars anti-LGBT politicians from servicing in office.

And no Pat Robertson, it does not put Christians in jail or turn them into felons.

Watch highlights here:

Former Texas School Board Chairman Gives Bizarre Speech Claiming Biology Books Disprove Evolution

Yesterday afternoon, the Texas State Board of Education held its first hearing on whether to require new high school biology textbooks to teach creationism alongside evolution. One member of the panel appointed by the Texas Education Agency to review potential textbooks –few of whom were actual biologists--  concluded by recommending that high school biology texts be rooted in “bibilical principles.”

Yesterday, People For the American Way sent a letter to the board urging them to reject attempts to inject creationism into science classes. PFAW also joined with the Texas Freedom Network and other groups to deliver 300,000 petitions urging the board to stand up for science.

While most of those who showed up to testify at the hearing supported teaching evolution– our friends at  TFN documented many of these on their great live blog of the proceedings – there were some notable exceptions.

One of the first people to speak was Don McLeroy, a former chairman of the State Board of Education who was prominently featured in the documentary The Revisionaries. While most people were allowed just two minutes to speak, the board let McLeroy go on for over ten minutes in a bizarre speech in which he argued that the current textbooks teaching evolution should be approved because their evidence is so “weak” that children will realize that the theory of evolution is just “words” and a “just so story," and thereby strikes a "final blow" to the theory.
 

Texas Textbook Reviewer Sheds Light On Creationist Efforts To Undercut Science Education

In a letter sent to the State Board of Education, Jimmy Gollihar of the University of Texas at Austin’s Center for Systems and Synthetic Biology describes the lengths to which creationists are going to undermine science and advance Creationism in Texas classrooms, as well as the help they are receiving from board chair Barbara Cargill.

While the panels reviewing science textbooks are supposed to be independent of the school board, Cargill worked closely with creationism advocates on the panels, leading Gollihar to note that Cargill aided “those who might reasonably be regarded as creationists.”

Gollihar’s letter details how the creationists who are serving on the panel not only lack any credentials but seem not to understand basic science, such as the one panelist, a dietician, who demanded that biology textbooks incorporate “creation science based on biblical principles.”

“With such a gross misunderstanding of science, it is hard to fathom that any other comments the reviewer made would have been helpful or even accurate, and it further underscores the unfortunate skewing of the panels away from real, practicing scientists,” Gollihar writes.

As Dan Quinn of the Texas Freedom Network points out, Gollihar’s name was even added to the anti-evolution panelist’s comment.

“The net result of having a huge raft of non-scientists on the panels was that rather than checking for factual errors in the texts I was put into the position of having to painstakingly educate other panel members on past and current literature,” Gollihar continues. “[E]ven beyond the obviously ideologically-derived comments on the materials many of the comments found littered throughout those reviews make no sense whatsoever from a scientific viewpoint.”

He notes that actual biologists are being sidelined in the process as he was “among a small minority of panelists that possessed any post-secondary education in the biological sciences.”

By stacking the panels with advocates of Creationism, the bodies did “not in any way reflect the distribution of viewpoints within the scientific community.”

First, it would seem that the selection process for reviewers is lacking, at best — politically motivated at worst. Coming into the live review session in Austin, I fully expected that as a doctoral student at the University of Texas at Austin I would be the least-qualified member on the panel. My fears of inadequacy would soon subside; it seems that I was in fact one of only two practicing scientists present; indeed, I was among a small minority of panelists that possessed any post-secondary education in the biological sciences. Given the high interest amongst the scientific community in improving science education in Texas, I doubt that the make-up of the panel reflected the application pool in any way.

In fact, I know that several of my colleagues who hold PhD or equivalent degrees in their respective fields were passed over in the selection process. Instead, we had several well-known creationists and even a Fellow of the Discovery Institute, an Intelligent Design think tank. Beyond the established creationists, apologists for “creation science” were scattered throughout each of the review teams. This does not in any way reflect the distribution of viewpoints within the scientific community. It is impossible to conclude that the teams reviewing textbooks were anything other than grossly skewed and obviously biased.

The net result of having a huge raft of non-scientists on the panels was that rather than checking for factual errors in the texts I was put into the position of having to painstakingly educate other panel members on past and current literature. Somewhat unsurprisingly, a reviewer from another table, who is also a well-known creationist without any training in biology, was quite proud that he was the one reviewing the sections on evolution for his table … with no scientific counterpoint to be had. As a result, even beyond the obviously ideologically-derived comments on the materials many of the comments found littered throughout those reviews make no sense whatsoever from a scientific viewpoint and are absolutely not germane to the content prescribed in the TEKS [Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills].

Secondly, I and other members of my group grew increasingly concerned with both the actions and presence of Chairwoman Barbara Cargill during the review of course materials for high school biology. We appreciated her kind words about our service to the state, but we were taken aback by the sheer amount of time spent with other panel members, especially those who might reasonably be regarded as creationists. From our vantage, Ms. Cargill was clearly trying to steer the independent review process by providing specific guidance and direction to the two other teams. She appeared to be pointing to specific locations within certain texts and encouraging the members of the panel to recommend changes to the publishers. It is our understanding that the review process should be absent of any undue influence from SBOE members.

...

Finally, I have recently been made aware that a reviewer from another team made what appears to be a grossly misrepresentative comment to the publisher. For example, in the review of the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt textbook, an incredible resource, a panel member comments:

I understand the National Academy of Science's strong support of the theory of evolution. At the same time, this is a theory. As an educator and parent, I feel very strongly that "creation science" based on Biblical principles should be incorporated to every Biology book that is up for adoption. It is very important for students to use critical thinking skills and give them the opportunity to weigh the evidence between evolution and "creation science."

This is disturbing for a number of reasons. The author of this comment has obviously not mastered the material contained within the TEKS, especially 2C. With such a gross misunderstanding of science, it is hard to fathom that any other comments the reviewer made would have been helpful or even accurate, and it further underscores the unfortunate skewing of the panels away from real, practicing scientists. Moreover, while I entered into this process hoping to improve it, I now find that my name appears on the final document containing this comment! At no time did I ever sign anything resembling such nonsense. In fact, the author of that comment and I never worked on anything together. I do not know how this inaccurate statement and my name have been paired, but because I am a professional in good standing I strongly ask you to please remove my name from anything that does not have my direct signature when providing materials to the public. To do otherwise is to potentially sully my reputation. In sum, the review process is either broken or corrupt.

In hopes of the former, let’s learn from this and ensure that the next generation of students from our state is equipped with a solid foundation in the biological sciences and can compete globally. Future panel members should be experts in the irrespective fields, preferably practicing scientists up to date on the modern information that students need. If necessary, it might be useful to partition the TEKS to academics and professionals who deal with these topics in their work and research. We should absolutely not see network, mechanical or chemical engineers, dieticians or others making decisions or pressuring publishers to change books on biology. Let biologists do biology. We’re actually pretty good at it.

Texas Conservatives Demand Science Textbooks Incorporate 'Creation Science Based On Biblical Principles'

Creationists advising the Texas Education Agency, the state’s board of education, are no longer even trying to hide the fact that they want to insert pseudo-scientific material grounded in religious beliefs into public school science textbooks. Terrence Stutz of the Dallas Morning News reports that evolution detractors appointed to the review boards are urging the textbook publishers to ignore the Supreme Court (along with science) and push Creationism, or be rejected.

One of the panelists reviewing the biology textbooks, a nutritionist, said that “creation science based on biblical principles should be incorporated into every biology book that is up for adoption.”

Religious conservatives serving on state textbook review panels have criticized several proposed high school biology textbooks for not including arguments against Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

The review panels include several creationists. They urge the State Board of Education to reject the books unless publishers include more disclaimers on key concepts of evolution.

One reviewer even suggested a rule requiring that each biology book cover “creation science.” That would run counter to a 1987 U.S. Supreme Court ruling. The decision banned the teaching of creationism in public school science classes.



“I understand the National Academy of Science’s strong support of the theory of evolution,” said Texas A&M University nutritionist Karen Beathard, one of the biology textbook reviewers. “At the same time, this is a theory. As an educator, parent and grandparent, I feel very firmly that creation science based on biblical principles should be incorporated into every biology book that is up for adoption.”

“Now the veil is dropped,” Dan Quinn of the Texas Freedom Network writes. “Some of the reviewers are clearly oblivious to the fact that teaching religious arguments in a science classroom is blatantly unconstitutional.”

The National Center for Science Education and Texas Freedom Network found that the Creationists on the textbook review boards have also:

• asserted that "no transitional fossils have been discovered"

• insisted that there is no evidence for a human influence on the carbon cycle

• claimed that there is no evidence about the effect of climate change on species diversity

• promoted a book touting "intelligent design" creationism as a reliable source of scientific information

• denied that recombination and genetic drift are evolutionary mechanisms

• mischaracterized experiments on the peppered moth as "discredited" and as "fabrication[s]"

Due to the size of the Texas market, textbooks tailored to the state’s standards could be used across the country, making the ramifications of the Creationist influence even greater.

Arguments Against San Antonio’s Anti-Discrimination Ordinance Collapse Under Their Own Ridiculousness

The Religious Right has gone into overdrive to fight a San Antonio ordinance that added “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the city’s non-discrimination policy [PDF], which already included bans on discrimination “on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex…veteran status, age or disability.” But despite their hyperventilating, the measure passed anyway.

The ordinance’s opponents were certainly not helped by their strategy of using far-fetched, over-the-top arguments to mischaracterize the ordinance…because that it was just too easy to point out where went wrong.

Take, for instance, pastor Charles Flowers, a vocal opponent of the ordinance, who appeared on The Janet Mefferd Show on September 6 to charge that councilmembers who backed the measure “don’t deserve to serve any longer” because they “assaulted” the rights of Christians.

His main complaint about the ordinance was that homosexuality is a “sexual lifestyle choice” and not an immutable characteristic…like a person’s religious beliefs.

“There is a strong response coming from this community to rid our city council of people whose judgment -- this is the issue, they could not judge the difference between the sacred suffering of someone involved in the Civil Rights Movement to gain basic human rights based on immutabilities like race, sex, where you were born and your creeds, that don’t change,” Flowers charged. “They couldn’t tell the difference between that and some group that has a sexual propensity or making as sexual lifestyle choice and now seeking protection in order to persecute and punish anybody whose ideology is different from their own.”

That’s right; the arguments from ordinance’s opponents have come down to the claim that a person’s religious beliefs are unchangeable.

Flowers later contended that “speaking out against the homosexual or lesbian agenda could garner you a fine of $500 per day.”

“That’s $15,000 a month that you could be fined in the seventh largest city in America for expressing a difference between the ideology proposed by a city, where homosexuality and lesbianism is concerned, and your personal belief and personal faith.”

“This is like a police state,” Flowers said, adding that employers who don’t believe in gay rights won’t be able to win city contracts.

His claim that people will be fined for speaking out on homosexuality was so blatantly false that Mefferd had to ask him if pastors could be fined. Flowers alleged that the ordinance would only affect businessmen who seek to fire their openly gay staff members or refuse to serve transgender customers.

Now there is a huge difference between a government fining a person for speaking out against homosexuality or for harboring anti-gay views and prohibiting businesses from discriminating against LGBT employees and customers in public accommodation.

Does he really not see the difference or is he just hoping that listeners will fall for the blatant falsehood?

Furthermore, “religious organizations” are clearly explicitly exempted from the ordinance’s provision on public accommodation, employment and housing, so the Christian businesses Flowers mentioned wouldn’t be impacted.

Ted Cruz 'Honored' To Go Hunting With Steve King

Texas senator and likely 2016 presidential candidate Ted Cruz has made a notable friend in Iowa: Rep. Steve King. The Des Moines Register reports that Cruz has accepted King’s invitation to go pheasant hunting on the opening day of the hunting season next month, and was “honored to have received the invite.”

“Yes, we are confirmed for a hunt with King,” Cruz spokeswoman Catherine Frazier said in an email Friday to the Des Moines Register. “The senator has enjoyed getting to know him and work with him on important issues before Congress. He’s honored to have received the invite.”

Prior to the 2012 Iowa Republican presidential caucuses, King hosted former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum twice for bird hunting at Iowa game preserves and Texas Gov. Rick Perry on one occasion. The Iowa congressman said in an interview on Thursday he hopes to shape the debate for the 2016 GOP presidential contest by serving as a “guardrail of constitutional conservatism.”

Cruz’s proud association with King is another sign that the Texan has no plans to moderate his positions in advance of a presidential run. King earned rebukes from his party leadership last month when he insisted that most young undocumented immigrants are drug runners with “calves the size of cantaloupes because they’ve been hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.” He has also compared immigrants to dogs.

Cruz has been one of the most outspoken opponents of the Senate’s bipartisan immigration proposal.
 

Steve Stockman: We’re Not Shutting Down the Government, We’re Saving America!

Rep. Steve Stockman of Texas has a clever new plan to avert government shutdown. Stockman suggests that the House GOP, rather than threatening to shut down the government if Obamacare remains funded, should instead offer to keep the government open except for funding Obamacare.

If the distinction isn’t clear to you, Stockman tried to clear things up in an appearance yesterday on Newsmax, where he explained, “One of the things that we’re doing wrong is that we’re accepting the argument that when we defund Obamacare, that we’re closing the government down. We’re not! In fact, we’re saving the nation’s future by not funding it.”

Stockman went on to explain that the shift in messaging is necessary because, while Republicans have math on their side, “Democrats will bring out somebody in a wheelchair, and we lose the argument on visuals.”

Beck: San Antonio's Anti-Discrimination Proposal Is Just A Bid By Mayor Julián Castro For Higher Office

On Monday night's broadcast of "The Glenn Beck Program," Beck and John Hagee dedicated a segment to railing against a proposed anti-discrimination ordinance in San Antonio, Texas that the Religious Right is convinced would ban Christians from running for office or in any way working for the government.

It is not true, of course, but Beck returned to the topic again last night when he asserted that the filibuster Texas state Senator Wendy Davis carried out against the radical anti-abortion legislation earlier this summer was nothing more than a stunt designed to raise her profile in order to allow her to run for higher office, just as San Antonio's anti-discrimination proposal is an effort by the city's mayor to become Vice President of the United States.

"In this case," Beck said, "the mayor of San Antonio is a Hispanic and he's trying to show Hillary Clinton and all the other Democrats that he is the perfect running mate in 2016."

Because that makes sense, since presidential candidates frequently tap mayors to serve as their running mates:

Right Wing Round-Up - 7/30/13

  • Steve Benen @ The Maddow Blog: The video Steve King thinks he wants you to see.
  • Jeremy Hooper: Pastor who vowed to punch out pro-gay clergy: I am 'truly sorry.'
  • Media Matters: Meet The Fringe Right-Wing Commentators Who Met With Top Republicans To Push For A Benghazi Special Committee.
  • Joan McCarter @ Daily Kos: New anti-Obamacare campaign: Health insurance is bad.
  • TFN Insider: Alarm Bells Are Ringing: Creationists Get Influential Positions in Texas Science Textbook Review.
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