Ted Cruz’s Radical Supporters: He Won Iowa on the Back of the Scariest Bible-Thumpers in the Business

Cruz came on top in the Iowa caucus by presenting himself as a messiah and winning over the radical religious right.

Source:AlterNet

Author: Amada Marcotte/Salon

Emphasis Mine

(N.B.: based on 2008 and 2012, the Iowa Republican caucus may not be a good predictor of the Republican nominee…)

Ted Cruz’s victory in Iowa doesn’t mean he’ll get the nomination — history shows the Republican caucus in that state is a poor predictor of eventual outcome — but for the religious right, especially the most skin-crawlingly creepy folks in the religious right, Cruz’s edging Donald Trump out at the polls represents a huge victory. Because Monday night meant that while their influence might seem to be on the decline, the religious right proved, once again, that they are still a powerful force on the right. Unfortunately, the Republican Party will still have to pay tribute to the nasty crews that use Jesus as a cover to push their lifelong obsession with controlling other people’s sex lives, especially if those people are female or queer.

A lot of attention has been paid to Trump’s oversized ego, but Cruz’s may be even worse. While Trump likes to portray himself as a “winner,” Cruz clawed his way to victory in Iowa by implying — well, more than implying — that he’s a religious messiah, a prophet who is the next best thing to the second coming of Jesus. While denouncing Barack Obama for his supposed “messiah complex,” Cruz has been suggesting that he is the real deal, and that he will win because “the body of Christ” will “rise up to pull us back from the abyss.”

Cruz has been portraying his campaign, in fact, as a religious war in which the true believers will assert themselves as the rightful rulers of this nation. “Strap on the full armor of God, get ready for the attacks that are coming,” he told supporters, who are treated more like believers, at a campaign stop in Iowa.

Cruz’s father, Rafael Cruz, has gone even further in suggesting that his son is quite literally God’s emissary sent to turn America into a Christian nation (which tends to be defined as a nation that keeps heavy tabs on what you’re doing with your genitals, instead of one that makes sure there’s enough loaves and fishes for everyone). In an interview on Glenn Beck’s show, the senior Cruz and Beck both pushed this notion that Cruz is a prophetic figure come to save us all.

“Everybody was born for a reason,” Beck told Rafael Cruz, while sitting in — no joke — a replica of the Oval Office built for his show. “As I learned your story and saw the fruit of that story, now in your son, I am more and more convinced in the hand of divine providence.”

“Oh, absolutely,” Cruz replied. Who doesn’t want to be the father of the messiah? The last one was literally God himself, after all.

This Jesus-walks act of Ted Cruz’s worked like a charm, as Cruz sucked up a veritable rogue’s gallery of every creepy straight guy who claims he loves Jesus but has his eyes fixed firmly on the crotches of America. As Cruz noted in his victory speech Monday night, Bob Vander Plaats and Rep. Steve King are national co-chairs for his campaign. King, of course, is a notoriously loony right wing nut who has argued that legalizing same-sex marriage means people will now marry lawnmowers and has equated undocumented immigration with the Holocaust.

Vander Plaats, who heads up Iowa’s religious right behemoth, the Family Leader , has argued that his interpretation of “God’s law” should trump the actual laws of our country, that gay marriage will lead to parents marrying their children, and that Vladimir Putin was right to sign a law criminalizing those who speak out for gay rights.

Right before the caucus, Cruz launched“Pro-Lifers for Cruz,” a group that is also a magnet for the most radical elements of the Christian right. It’s chaired by Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, a group that is so virulently anti-gay that the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has declared it a hate group.

Troy Newman, the head of Operation Rescue, is on the board as well. Newman is beyond a radical anti-choicer, a man who believe that abortion doctors should be executed and women who abort pregnancies, which is about 30 percent of American women by age 45, should be jailed for murder. Newman’s single-minded obsession with abortion has led him to blame everything from the California drought to HIV to 9/11 on the fact that we have legal abortion.

Cruz also enjoys the support of David Barton, a powerful crank who rose in the ranks of the religious right by feeding the masses totally false but pleasing stories about American history, designed to create the illusion that our country was basically formed as a theocracy. Barton’s willingness to lie and deceive on behalf of this claim is truly breath-taking, as the SPLC demonstrates:

Another Barton whopper is his repeated claim that John Adams supported religious control of the U.S. government. To make that point, Barton quoted the following Adams passage: “There is no authority, civil or religious — there can be no legitimate government — but what is administered by this Holy Ghost. There can be no salvation without it — all without it is rebellion and perdition or, in more orthodox words, damnation.” But Barton conveniently omits the next part of the quote, in which Adams makes it crystal clear he is mocking those with this belief.

Right before the caucus, Cruz launched“Pro-Lifers for Cruz,” a group that is also a magnet for the most radical elements of the Christian right. It’s chaired by Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, a group that is so virulently anti-gay that the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has declared it a hate group.

And so on and so forth. Cruz has been rolling out a dizzying array of endorsements of the absolute worst of the religious right, which was enough to help push him over the top in Iowa.None of this means that Cruz will be the eventual nominee. But, as history shows, campaigns like his — and like Mike Huckabee’s and Rick Santorum’s in the past — show that the fire-breathing fundies have a lot of political power. This, in turn, means that the Republican Party will still feel obliged to pay fealty to  those who believe that it’s the government’s solemn, Jesus-instructed duty to punish you for having sex outside of their very narrow prescription of what it should look like (straight, married, only for procreation).

If there was one good thing to come out of Trump’s candidacy, it was that his apparent pull with evangelical voters suggested that the single-minded obsession with the underpants of America was finally starting to fade on the right. But the fact that Iowa voters, who are heavily evangelical, broke at the last minute to support the guy who is supported by the sex police shows that we are not quite done with these lunatics. Which is something they’ll be happy to remind party leaders of, even if Cruz eventually loses the nomination.

 

See:http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/ted-cruzs-radical-supporters-he-won-iowa-back-scariest-bible-thumpers-business?utm_source=Amanda+Marcotte%27s+Subscribers&utm_campaign=51b931879e-RSS_AUTHOR_EMAIL&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_f2b9a8ae81-51b931879e-79824733

 

As Trump Circus Continues, Ted Cruz Is Quietly Mobilizing Christian Right Fanatics

Ted Cruz is making a huge play for the religious right. And they like what they’re seeing.

Source: Salon via AlterNet

Author: Heather Digby Parton

Emphasis Mine

While Donald Trump continues to inspire what he calls “the silent majority” (and everyone else calls the racist rump of the GOP) and the other assumed front-runners Walker, Rubio and Bush flounder and flop around, another candidate is quietly gathering support from a discrete, but powerful, GOP constituency. As Peter Montgomery of Right Wing watch pointed out earlier this week, Ted Cruz is making a huge play for the religious right. And they like what they’re seeing.

Montgomery notes that influential conservative Christian leaders have been getting progressively more anxious about the fact that they’ve been asked to pony up for less-than-devout candidates like McCain and somewhat alien religious observers like Mitt Romney when they are the reliable foot-soldiers for the Republican party who deliver votes year in and year out. With this year’s massive field from which to choose including hardcore true-believers Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal and Rick Santorum, these religious leaders are looking closely at all the candidates, but are homing in on Cruz.

Montgomery writes:

One big sign came late last month, when news that broke that Farris and Dan Wilks had given $15 million to Keep the Promise, a pro-Cruz super PAC. Not coincidentally, David Lane told NBC News last year that, “With Citizens United…you can have somebody who gives $15 or $20 million into a super PAC and that changes the game.” The billionaire Wilks brothers from Texas have become sugar daddies to right-wing groups generally, and to David Lane’s Pastors and Pews events specifically.

A couple weeks later, Cruz stopped by the headquarters of the American Family Association. Lane’s American Renewal Project operates under the AFA’s umbrella, and Cruz sounded like he was reading Lane’s talking points. Cruz told AFA President Tim Wildmon that mobilizing evangelical Christian voters is the key to saving America, saying, “Nothing is more important in the next 18 months than that the body of Christ rise up and that Christians stand up, that pastors stand up and lead.”

Cruz held a “Rally for Religious Liberty” in Iowa last week that had the influential Christian right radio host Steve Deace swooning with admiration as Cruz carried on about Christian persecution. He thundered, “You want to know what this election is about? We are one justice away from the Supreme Court saying ‘every image of God shall be torn down!” to massive applause from the audience.

The religious right feels battered after their massive loss on marriage equality. And they expect their candidates to do something about it. It appears they’ve decided the destruction of Planned Parenthood is that crusade and Cruz is only too willing to play to the crowd. According to the Washington Post:

Sen. Ted Cruz, who has assiduously courted evangelicals throughout his presidential run, will take a lead role in the launch this week of an ambitious 50-state campaign to end taxpayer support for Planned Parenthood — a move that is likely to give the GOP candidate a major primary-season boost in the fierce battle for social-conservative and evangelical voters.

More than 100,000 pastors received e-mail invitations over the weekend to participate in conference calls with Cruz on Tuesday in which they will learn details of the plan to mobilize churchgoers in every congressional district beginning Aug. 30. The requests were sent on the heels of the Texas Republican’s “Rally for Religious Liberty,” which drew 2,500 people to a Des Moines ballroom Friday.

“The recent exposure of Planned Parenthood’s barbaric practices . . . has brought about a pressing need to end taxpayer support of this institution,” Cruz said in the e-mail call to action distributed by the American Renewal Project, an organization of conservative pastors.

Not to put too fine a point on it, Cruz says he plans to shut down the government this fall unless Congress agrees to stop all funding of Planned Parenthood. And he’s making a big bet that his campaign will benefit from it:

Cruz implored more than a thousand pastors and religious leaders on Tuesday to “preach from the pulpit” against Planned Parenthood and rally public support for an amendment defunding the family provider in the must-pass federal budget bill in November. If Congress attaches the defunding amendment to the budget instead of holding a vote on the standalone bill, it cannot keep funding Planned Parenthood without shutting down the whole federal government.

“Here is the challenge,” the presidential hopeful explained on the national conference call. “The leadership of both parties, both the Democrats and Republicans, want an empty show vote. They want a vote on Planned Parenthood that has no teeth or no consequence, which allows Republicans to vote for defunding, Democrats to vote for continuing funding, and nothing to change. But the leadership of both parties have publicly said they do not want the vote tied to any legislation that must pass.” 

“It will be a decision of the president’s and the president’s alone whether he would veto funding for the federal government because of a commitment to ensuring taxpayer dollars continue to flow to what appears to be a national criminal organization,” Cruz said.

As I said, the religious right is bursting to reassert its clout in the GOP and this is where they’ve decided to stand their ground. Cruz is going to lead them into battle.

That’s not to say that he’s running solely as a religious right candidate. Byron York reports that at a GOP candidate event last Monday in South Carolina featuring Cruz, Ben Carson and Scott Walker, Cruz received the most thunderous ovation. His speech wasn’t solely focused on the Christian persecution angle but he delivered what York called “an almost martial address” beating his chest about Iran and railing against sanctuary cities with the same fervor he delivered his put-away line: “No man who doesn’t begin every day on his knees is fit to stand in the Oval Office!”

York asked 53 people afterwards who did the best and 44 said Cruz, 6 said Carson and 3 said Walker. (Poor Walker is so dizzy from his immigration flip-flops that he’s stopped talking about it altogether, which the crowd did not like one little bit.) Cruz, on the other hand, has a way of making everything from EPA standards to the debt ceiling sound like a religious war which pretty much reflects the GOP base’s worldview as well.

Cruz is a true believer, but he’s also a political strategist. He has said repeatedly that his base is Tea Party voters and religious conservatives. In key Republican primaries like Iowa and South Carolina nearly 50 percent of the voters define themselves as conservative evangelicals. Cruz is betting that he can turn them out to vote for him.

Nobody knows what’s going to happen in this crazy GOP race. If Trump flames out, his voters will scatter and it will matter who has lined up the other institutional factions in the party. While everyone else spars with Trump and tries to out-immigrant bash each other, Ted Cruz is quietly working the egos and the passions of the millions of bruised conservative Christians who are desperate for a hero. When all the smoke has cleared the field he may very well be one of the last men standing.

 

Heather Digby Parton, also known as “Digby,” is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.

See: http://www.alternet.org/tea-party-and-right/trump-circus-continues-ted-cruz-quietly-mobilizing-christian-right-fanatics?akid=13422.123424.mYzeFH&rd=1&src=newsletter1041555&t=4

Putting Lipstick on a Pig: 4 Messes that Sink the GOP’s Dreams of Regaining the Presidency

How does a party of insular, rigid true believers, thrusting warlike middle fingers towards modernity, talk itself into modernizing?

Source: Alternet

Author: Robert Becker

Emphasis Mine

Beyond rightwing foment and self-flagellation, epic dilemmas bedevil all Republican dreams of regaining a national majority:

1)    Fealty to manifestly discredited belief systems (cultural, economic, religious, and scientific);

2)    Fealty to disgraced, ideological leaders whose arteries are hardening, rhetorically-suicidal and/or slow to get demographic “death spirals;”

3)    Justified anxiety that “rebranding” different enough to engage newly-empowered centrists will alienate far more base zealots already feeling besieged from both sides.

4)    Reactionary robber barons will keep afloat any “anti-business Obama” gang, whatever the setbacks, with plenty more billions to secure favorable permits, subsidies, laws, and deregulation.

In a nutshell, how does a party of insular, rigid true believers, thrusting warlike middle fingers towards modernity, talk itself into modernizing just because it lost one election? Aside from putting lipstick on a pig, where’s the miraculous (earthbound) agency that modernizes angry, resentful Tea Partiers whose outrage targeted the very diverse, younger, secular crowds now crowning the future?

GOP loyalty to losers

On point, unlike liberal losers who politely leave the stage (nearly all but Carter and Gore since 1980), Republican flops and misfits endure for decades, poisoning hate media and Sunday talk shows, even wreaking havoc across GOP primaries. That Newt Gingrich, or shameless, still illiterate Sarah Palin types get to harangue anyone beyond pets, testifies to the unholy resilience of party-wounding blowhards. In fact, Mitt Romney looks to be the exception by getting the quick boot, but then his staggeringly dumb remarks justify exile to the W. gulag. Dick Cheney gets more respect.

What close observer thinks that rightwingers will adapt simply because minority status looms? In fact, authoritarian control freaks live off opposition, especially from upstarts with darker skins with less money (thus  moochers voting themselves ‘gift’ handouts). Face facts, as Mittens speaks for most Republicans (certainly hordes of over-compensated CEOs), his party is beyond “rebranding” but needing once-a-century reformation – or more devastating national defeats.

Further, since Tea Party fanatics would rather fight and lose than switch, they won’t abandon prime commandments. Certainly not 1) big government is bad government, except when killing enemies. Or 2) only low taxes guarantee growth and job creation (ditto, less regulations and red tape). That 3) states rights are still divinely-ordained (bring back the Civil War), or 4) Christianity is, let’s be honest, the world’s best, truest religion. And, finally, what reluctant reformers doubt 5) free-market capitalism isn’t authorized by whatever Biblical texts defend profits, exploiting the earth, and infinitely expandable markets. Hands, anyone?

Disasters only blessings in disguise

Why should hard-hearted, religious fundamentalists, in lock step with economic fundamentalists called robber barons, reconfigure such magical thinking simply because unwashed minorities screw up popular elections. That’d be surrendering under siege, and good Christian soldiers reflexively distort momentary defeats into blessings in disguise, spiritual tests airmailed by God. After all, the big, cosmic truths are self-evident and fixed, and quick, selective historical readings proving majorities are far less perfect than the Good Book. Plus, the GOP is still armed and dangerous, knowing how to organize, collect billions, forge unanimity of thought, marry old-time religion with employment and regressive values, even do what Mormons once celebrated, “lying for the Lord.” For more on the narcotic of lying, see Amanda Marcotte’s excellent piece, “Conservatives’ crisis of confidence.”

Of course willful ignorance extends beyond politics, and the enduringly dumb war against science goes beyond secession chatter after a loss. Blithering idiots indict both the competence and honor of the entire modern science complex, snubbing reproductive and evolutionary biology, geology, anthropology, archeology, ecology, climatology, astronomy plus incontrovertible carbon dating. Nor do like-minded Biblical literalists hesitate to impugn the world’s greatest experts on language, scriptural texts, even independent scholars proving the “inerrant Holy Bible” was a calculated amalgam edited by fallible humans, promoting consensus-building, with marketable chapters that favor church expansion. Will those who defy this sweep of intellectual and moral advancement reverse entrenched fantasies because a black hustler, born who knows where, finagled his way into a second term? Is that the incentive to abandon all that wishful thinking driving glorious conspiracy theories?

Doubt not conservatism

Thus, two weeks of soul-searching and behold, bold and mighty breakthroughs: “Never give up conservative principles, just make them sound less offensive.” Back to the PR drawing board: “better pandering to key demographics.” The “great ideas of conservatism” are untarnished, ruined only by wretched pitchman, like that tin-ear plutocrat, or Karl “over-the-hill” Rove, or FOX goons aghast at actual election results. Rock-ribbed conservatives don’t need change but changed decoys that cover up failed mindsets and disaster agendas.

Forget rebranding: what addicts to unreality need is psychological intervention. But, alas, that only works when the dope fiends (in both senses) admit vulnerability (too much like sin), then accept input from trained, outside experts (sounds like trusting elites). That leaves only a course in miracles, but that’s a longer shot still.

For ultimately the GOTP (Good Old Tea Party) doesn’t merely revere American Exceptionalism but Republican Exceptionalism. The right is doomed by the inviolate, mystical conviction of its own superiority. That’s what obstinate obstructionism is all about: truth is not open to discussion, especially framed by secular heathens. I’ll believe in rebranding when the GOP stops disenfranchising voters or backs off Congressional gerrymandering behind its dishonest majority, considering how many fewer overall House votes it received. I’ll accept rebranding when the right stops sabotaging majority rule with chronic filibustering. Since “rebranding” leaves unchanged all core assumptions, we’re finally talking shifts in public relations, not human orcommunity relations. More’s the pity.

The GOP Proctology Clinic?

So folks like Governor Jindal can wish away “the politics of stupid” but what about the politics of ignorance, the willful blindness that denies legitimacy to a re-elected president and unarguable electoral outcomes? Now wouldn’t that neat principle attract awakened minorities and women, profoundly offended by racist, anti-immigrant, anti-women and anti-science ideologues? If true believers are open to adaptation, let’s begin not only with immigration but climate change, fussing less about who caused what than what emergency measures are necessary to stem the tide.

We all search for evidence that real change is in the offing, on the right or the left, for that matter. To this end, I fervently second the cumbersome solution put forth by that stalwart Republican, Haley Barbour – his party demands nothing less than a “very serious proctology exam” that needs “to look everywhere.”  Right, bring on those bloated, obstructed fat cats, kicking and screaming in high dudgeon. Karl Rove, first up, then Romney, Ryan and Rush Limbaugh. No videos, please, for even rationalists can only take so much reality.

Robert S. Becker writes on politics and culture.

See: http://www.alternet.org/tea-party-and-right/putting-lipstick-pig-4-messes-sink-gops-dreams-regaining-presidency?akid=9704.123424.O5Vcj3&rd=1&src=newsletter748106&t=3

Al Hunt: Republicans Face Tough Questions with Rise of Nonreligious

Source: Newsmax

Author: Al Hunt

Emphasis Mine

Don’t expect any official “Atheists for Hillary” outreach, but political progressives are cheered by a study showing a rise in the number of nonreligious Americans.

It’s not because top Democrats are irreligious; both President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are persons of faith. But liberals welcomed the findings of the 2014 Religious Landscape Study, released last week by the Pew Research Center, which showed a country growing less religious. Republicans consistently do well among voters with strong religious beliefs, and Democrats score better with voters who don’t express religious views.

The huge study — a 35,000-person sample — reveals that over the past seven years, there has been a 10 percent decline in self-identified Christians, though they still are more than 70 percent of the population. At the same time, the religiously nonaffiliated, or “nones,” have increased by about one-third and now account for about 23 percent of American adults.  This trend could have political implications. In the last presidential election, Mitt Romney easily won among Christian voters, and Obama carried 70 percent of the unaffiliated. This divide was even more apparent in the 2014 congressional elections.

Evangelical Protestants, the core of the Republican base since Ronald Reagan, have held steady over the past seven years, according to the study, though their share of the population has declined somewhat. In the last presidential and midterm elections, evangelicals made up more than a quarter of the electorate and voted Republican by a four-to-one ratio.

The number of Catholics also has declined slightly. They are about a quarter of the electorate and constitute a political swing group. White Catholics vote are more likely to be Republican, and their non-white counterparts are mainly Democrats.

The growth of the “nones” — designating “people who self- identify as atheists or agnostics, as well as those who say their religion is ‘nothing in particular,'” is most pronounced among younger Americans. More than a third of millennials– 18 to 33 year-olds — have no religious affiliation. This, experts say, probably is fueled by issues such as gay rights and racial tolerance. A quarter of whites are unaffiliated religiously, along with 20 percent of Hispanics and 18 percent of blacks.

There is a debate over the direct political effects.

“We have not yet felt the impact of the religiously unaffiliated at the ballot box,” said Robert P. Jones, chief executive officer of the Public Religion Research Institute. The “nones,” he said, register and vote less than committed Christians. But “there is untapped potential.”

David Campbell, a political scientist at the University of Notre Dame and co-author of “American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us,” suggests the “nones” are becoming more active. He pointed to the recent backlash after Indiana and other states tried to remove barriers to discrimination against same-sex couples based on religious beliefs.

He believes that continuing efforts by conservative factions on gay rights and issues that they consider matters of religious freedom will galvanize the nonreligious.

“The single greatest mobilizing force for secularists is the religious right, especially among millennials,” Campbell said. Even at Notre Dame, the most famous U.S. Catholic institution, “there is almost no sympathy for the religious right’s traditionalist’s views.”

Political leaders of the evangelical movement don’t dispute Pew’s findings, but question the implications. They argue that the ascendancy of nonbelievers would energize their base on issues ranging from same-sex marriage to the “war on Christmas” and even, for some, mixed-religion marriage.

Moreover, they doubt the unaffiliated can coalesce behind any agenda.

“Secular voters are simply harder to organize because unbelief historically is not as animating in terms of political engagement as deeply held religious faith,” said Timothy Head, executive director of the conservative Faith and Freedom Coalition.

With two polarizing camps playing off each other, faith may become like Congress: dominated by the wings with little room in the middle.

See: http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/al-hunt-rise-of-nonreligious/2015/05/17/id/645118/?ns_mail_uid=29344713&ns_mail_job=1621185_05172015&s=al&dkt_nbr=1zh96az1

Independence Day Special: Thirteen Facts About America Conservatives Would Like You to Forget

Source: Daily Kos

Author Richard Riis

1. Conservatives opposed the Founding Fathers, the American Revolution and a lot of other righteous stuff as well.

By definition a conservative is one who wishes to preserve and/or restore traditional values and institutions, i.e. to “conserve” the established order. No surprise then that 18th century American conservatives wanted no part of breaking away from the British Empire and the comforting bonds of monarchical government. Those anti-revolutionary conservatives were called Tories, the name still used for the conservative party in England. The Founding Fathers? As radically left-wing as they came in the 1770s. The Boston Tea Party? The “Occupy Wall Street” of its day.

Some of the other “traditional” values supported by conservatives over the course of American history have included slavery (remember that the Republican Party was on the liberal fringe in 1860), religious persecution, the subjugation of women and minorities, obstacles to immigration, voter suppression, prohibition and segregation.  Conservatives started off on the wrong side of American history, and that’s where they’ve been ever since.

2. The United States is not a Christian nation, and the Bible is not the cornerstone of our law.

Don’t take my word for it. Let these Founding Fathers speak for themselves:

John Adams: “The government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.” (Treaty of Tripoli, 1797)

Thomas Jefferson:Christianity neither is, nor ever was, a part of the common law.” (Letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814)

James Madison: “The civil government … functions with complete success … by the total separation of the Church from the State.” (Writings, 8:432, 1819)

George Washington: “If I could conceive that the general government might ever be so administered as to render the liberty of conscience insecure, I beg you will be persuaded, that no one would be more zealous than myself to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of spiritual tyranny, and every species of religious persecution.” (Letter to the United Baptist Chamber of Virginia, May 1789)

You can find a multitude of similar quotes from these men and most others who signed the Declaration of Independence and/or formulated the United States Constitution. These are hardly the words of men who believed that America should be a Christian nation governed by the Bible, as a disturbing fundamentalist trend today would have it be.

3. Long before the United States even existed, it was drawing “problem” immigrants.

After being pretty much run out of England as anti-government radicals, the religious dissidents we know today as the Pilgrims settled in Leiden, Holland, where they set about making themselves that nation’s immigrant problem. Sticking to themselves and refusing to “blend in” with their new homeland, the Pilgrims grew alarmed by the unpalatable ideas to which their children were being exposed, such as religious tolerance (good for the Pilgrims, bad for everyone else) and national service (like all Dutch residents, the Pilgrims were eligible for the draft). When their children began picking up the Dutch language, the Pilgrims had had enough. By then the Dutch had, too. Next stop: Plymouth Rock.

4. Those Pilgrims were commies… and it saved their lives.

Governor William Bradford’s memoirs confirm that the first thing the settlers did upon arrival in the Plymouth Colony was to set up a textbook communist system of production and distribution. Every resident of the colony was expected to share, to the extent of his or her ability, the chores of hunting, farming, cooking, building, making clothing, etc., and, in exchange, everyone shared the products of that communal labor.

That commie-pinko economy sustained the Pilgrims through their first brutal year in the New World, after which it was decided that the colony was sufficiently stable to allow householders their own plot of land on which to grow crops they were free to keep for themselves. The fact that the colonists’ productivity increased exponentially with their own land begs the question: were the Pilgrims working harder now that they got to keep the product of their own labor or, conversely, were they prone to slacking off when the goods came whether they worked hard or not?

I guess you could say the Pilgrims were the kind of lazy, shiftless “takers” that conservatives are always railing against.

5. One of the Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson, hated Thanksgiving.

In fact, Thomas Jefferson once called a national day of Thanksgiving “the most ridiculous idea” he’d ever heard of.

Despite being first proclaimed by George Washington in 1789, Jefferson believed a national day of thanksgiving was not consistent with the principle of separation of church and state and refused to recognize the holiday in any of the eight years in which he was president of the United States. “Every one must act according to the dictates of his own reason,” Jefferson once wrote, “and mine tells me that civil powers alone have been given to the President of the United States, and no authority to direct the religious exercises of his constituents.”

For the record, Presidents Andrew Jackson and Zachary Taylor refused to issue Thanksgiving Day proclamations during their administrations, too. Can you imagine what Fox News Channel would have made of these administrations’ “War on Thanksgiving”?

6. The Pledge of Allegiance was written by a socialist.

The Pledge was written in 1892 for public school celebrations of the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ arrival in the Americas. Its author was Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister, Christian socialist and cousin of socialist utopian novelist Edward Bellamy. Christian socialism maintains, among other ideas, that capitalism is idolatrous and rooted in greed, and the underlying cause of much of the world’s social inequity. Kinda puts the red in the ol’ red, white and blue, doesn’t it?

7. Roe v. Wade was a bipartisan decision made by a predominantly Republican-appointed Supreme Court.

Technically, Roe v. Wade did not make abortion legal in the United States, the Supreme Court merely found that the state of Texas’ prohibition on abortion violated the 14th Amendment Due Process Clause and that states could exercise varying degrees of discretion in regulating abortion, depending upon the stage of pregnancy. The Court also held the law violated the right to privacy under substantive due process.
That being said, the landmark 1973 ruling that conservatives love to hate, was decided on a 7-2 vote that broke down like this:

Majority (for Roe): Chief Justice Warren Burger (conservative, appointed by Nixon), William O. Douglas (liberal, appointed by FDR), William J. Brennan (liberal, appointed by Eisenhower), Potter Stewart (moderate, appointed by Eisenhower), Thurgood Marshall (liberal, appointed by LBJ), Harry Blackmun (author of the majority opinion and a conservative who eventually turned liberal, appointed by Nixon), Lewis Powell (moderate, appointed by Nixon). Summary: 3 liberals, 2 conservatives, 2 moderates.

Dissenting (for Wade): Byron White (generally liberal/sometimes conservative, appointed by JFK), William Rehnquist (conservative, appointed by Nixon). Summary: 1 liberal, 1 conservative.

By ideological orientation, it was an across-the-board decision for Roe: conservatives 2-1, liberals 3-1, moderates 2-0; by party of presidential appointment: Republicans 5-1, Democrats 2-1. No one can rightly say that this was a leftist court forcing its liberal beliefs on America.

8. Conservative icon Ronald Reagan once signed a bill legalizing abortion.

The Ronald Reagan conservatives worship today is more myth than reality. Reagan was a conservative for sure, but also a practical politician who understood the necessities of compromise. In the spring of 1967, four months into his first term as governor of California, Ronald Reagan signed a bill that, among other provisions, legalized abortion for the vaguely-defined “well being” of the mother. Reagan may have been personally pro-life, but in this instance he was willing to compromise in order to achieve other ends he considered more important. That he claimed later to regret signing the bill doesn’t change the fact that he did. As Casey Stengel liked to say, “You could look it up.”

9. Reagan also raised federal taxes eleven times.

Okay, Ronald Reagan cut tax rates more than any other president – with a big asterisk. Sure, the top rate was reduced from 70% in 1980 all the way down to 28% in 1988, but while Republicans typically point to Reagan’s tax-cutting as the right approach to improving the economy, Reagan himself realized the resulting national debt from his revenue slashing was untenable, so he quietly raised other taxes on income – primarily Social Security and payroll taxes – no less than eleven times. Most of Reagan’s highly publicized tax cuts went to the usual handout-takers in the top income brackets, while his stealth tax increases had their biggest impact on the middle class. These increases were well hidden inside such innocuous-sounding packages as the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982, the Deficit Reduction Act of 1984 and the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987. Leave it to a seasoned actor to pull off such a masterful charade.

10. Barry Goldwater was pro-choice, supported gay rights, deeply despised the Religious Right, and – gasp! – liked Hillary Clinton.

It’s a measure of just how much farther right contemporary conservatism has shifted in just a generation or two that Barry “Mr. Conservative” Goldwater, the Republican standard-bearer in 1964, couldn’t buy a ticket into a GOP convention in 2014.

There’s no debating Goldwater’s deeply conservative bona fides, but check these pronouncements from the man himself:

“I am a conservative Republican, but I believe in democracy and the separation of church and state.  The conservative movement is founded on the simple tenet that people have the right to live life as they please as long as they don’t hurt anyone else in the process.” (Interview, Washington Post, July 28, 1994)

A woman has a right to an abortion. That’s a decision that’s up to the pregnant woman, not up to the pope or some do-gooders or the Religious Right.” (Interview, Los Angeles Times, 1994)

“The big thing is to make this country… quit discriminating against people just because they’re gay. You don’t have to agree with it, but they have a constitutional right to be gay. … They’re American citizens.” (Interview, Washington Post, July 28, 1994)

“Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know; I’ve tried to deal with them. Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me? And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate. I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of ‘conservatism.’” (Congressional Record, September 16, 1981)

“If [Bill Clinton] let his wife run business, I think he’d be better off. … I just like the way she acts. I’ve never met her, but I sent her a bag of chili, and she invited me to come to the White House some night and said she’d cook chili for me.” (Interview, Washington Post, July 28, 1994)

11. The first president to propose national health insurance was a Republican.

He was also a trust-busting, pro-labor, Nobel Peace Prize-winning environmentalist. Is there any wonder why Theodore Roosevelt, who first proposed a system of national health insurance during his unsuccessful Progressive Party campaign to retake the White House from William Howard Taft in 1912, gets scarce mention at Republican National Conventions these days?

12. Those “job-killing” environmental regulations? Republican things.

Sometimes being conservative can be a good thing, like when it applies to conserving America’s clean air and water, endangered wildlife and awesome natural beauty. Many of Theodore Roosevelt’s greatest accomplishments as president were in the area of conserving America’s natural environment. In 1905, Roosevelt formed the United States Forestry Service. Under his presidential authority, vast expanses of American real estate were declared off limits for private development and reserved for public use. During Roosevelt’s time as president, forest reserves in the United States went from approximately 43 million acres to about 194 million acres. Talk about big government land grabs!

The United States Environmental Protection Agency, arch-enemy of polluters in particular and government regulation haters in general, was created by that other well-known GOP tree hugger, Richard Nixon. In his 1970 State of the Union Address, Nixon proclaimed the new decade a period of environmental transformation. Shortly thereafter he presented Congress an unprecedented 37-point message on the environment, requesting billions for the improvement of water treatment facilities, asking for national air quality standards and stringent guidelines to lower motor vehicle emissions, and launching federally-funded research to reduce automobile pollution. Nixon also ordered a clean-up of air- and water-polluting federal facilities, sought legislation to end the dumping of wastes into the Great Lakes, proposed a tax on lead additives in gasoline, and approved a National Contingency Plan for the treatment of petroleum spills. In July 1970 Nixon declared his intention to establish the Environmental Protection Agency, and that December the EPA opened for business. Hard to believe, but had it not been for Watergate, we might remember Richard Nixon today as the “environmental president”.

Oh, yes – conservatives would rather forget that Nixon was an advocate of national health insurance, too.

13. President Obama was not only born in the United States, his roots run deeper in American history than most conservatives’ – and most other Americans’ – do.

The argument that Barack Obama was born anywhere but at Kapiolani Maternity and Gynecological Hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii, is not worth addressing; the evidence is indisputable by any rational human being. But not even irrational “birthers” can dispute Obama’s well-documented family tree on his mother’s side. By way of his Dunham lineage, President Obama has at least 11 direct ancestors who took up arms and fought for American independence in the Revolutionary War and two others cited as patriots by the Daughters of the American Revolution for furnishing supplies to the colonial army. This star-spangled heritage makes Obama eligible to join the Sons of the American Revolution, and his daughters the Daughters of the American Revolution. Not bad for someone some conservatives on the lunatic fringe still insist is a foreigner bent on destroying the United States of America.

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Emphasis Mine

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When You Hear Conservatives Talking About Religious Liberty, Watch Out

Source: Alternet

Author: Bob Shryock

“At the dawn of the Tea Party revolution, many conservatives were optimistic. The prevailing attitude among reporters and insiders alike was that the Republican Party had shed its misguided moralism and embraced hard-nosed economic realism as its core platform. Political author Dick Morris wrote, “No longer do evangelical or social issues dominate the Republican ground troops….There is still a litmus test for admission to the Republican Party. But no longer is it dominated by abortion, guns and gays. Now, keeping the economy free of government regulation, reducing taxation, and curbing spending are the chemicals that turn the paper pink.”

New York Times reporter Kate Zernike, author of Boiling Mad: Inside Tea Party America, agreed. “For decades, faith and family have been at the center of the conservative movement. But as the Tea Party infuses conservatism with new energy, its leaders deliberately avoid discussion of issues like gay marriage or abortion.”

Yet despite its focus on libertarianism, this new Republican bloc has spent the last three years fighting with unprecedented aggressiveness on the very social issues it was supposedly unconcerned with. Between 2011 and 2013, Republicans enacted 205 anti-abortion laws, more than they had in the prior 10 years combined (189). The Kansas house passed a bill that would give any individual, even essential government employees and hospital workers, the right to deny service to gay people. Though the bill did not pass the senate, similar bills are being introduced in at least nine other states, according to Mother Jones.

So what had changed? More than anything, it was the way that opposition to abortion and gay rights was justified: in the words of BuzzFeed’s McKay Coppins, “in terms of protecting religious freedom instead of enforcing ‘family values.’” This change made Republicans appear more moderate, but actually signaled a rightward shift. Conservative ideas of religious liberty posited that the government’s eventual goal was the oppression of conservative Christians, and compromise on any religious liberty issues—which encompassed abortion, gay rights, and the Affordable Care Act—would be a violation of Christian faith. The notion of religious liberty thus gave small-government politics a cosmic imperative.

The Rhetoric of Religious Liberty

In the last few years, Republicans have become more and more focused on not “paying for abortions.” In February, Jeff Jimerson, one of the chief petitioners for a ballot measure in Oregon that would outlaw using state funds to pay for an abortion, summarized this view in the New York Times. Jimerson said, “We don’t want to make this a pro-life thing. This is a pro-taxpayer thing. There are a lot of libertarians in Oregon, people who don’t really care what you do, just don’t make me pay for it.”

Jimerson’s views happen to be in line with the official 2012 GOP platform, which opposed “using public revenues to promote or perform abortions or fund organizations which perform or advocate it” and said the party would not “fund or subsidize health care which includes abortion coverage.”

On the surface, this position may seem a softer stance, perhaps one that could offer a place for abortion rights with a conscience exemption. This makes it all the more strange that the last three years have seen renewed anti-abortion efforts at the state level. Stranger still, the laws passed during the last three years have done very little to block the government from funding abortions: the four most popular restrictions in 2013 were laws that limited insurance coverage, banned abortion pills, instituted 20-week bans, and restricted the function of abortion providers.

How did opposing paying for abortions lead to the largest anti-abortion rights push in memory? According to New York Times reporter Jeremy Peters, “by framing the abortion debate in terms of fiscal conservatism, [Republicans] can make a connection to the issue they believe will ultimately decide who controls Congress next year — the Affordable Care Act.”

Eric C. Miller, professor of communication ctudies at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, noted in an analysis of a recent Bobby Jindal speech that, “When he takes up the claim that ‘the freedom to exercise your religion in the way you run your business’ is ‘under assault,’ for instance, you can bet that he’s talking about abortion. You can also bet that a Hobby Lobby anecdote is about to drop. Here the freedom to run a business according to conscience routinely stands in for the less marketable freedom-to-not-provide-comprehensive-health-insurance-for-female-employees.”

Besides worrying that the ACA’s contraception mandate would force religious employers to fund birth control, conservatives also expressed concerns that the ACA would create a “ financial windfall” for Planned Parenthood, and that it would “ entangle taxpayer funds in abortion coverage.”

All of these concerns can be encompassed by objections to the state funding abortion. Because of this, legislation that attempts to prevent government funding of abortion is often also anti-Obamacare legislation. As Jimerson’s petition website claims, “This initiative would prohibit public funds in Oregon from being used to pay for…government-subsidized health insurance plans created by ObamaCare.”

Still, why all the anti-abortion laws that seem to have no connection to the ACA? In fact, the fight against the ACA has simply caused conservatives to connect liberty with anti-abortion laws more generally, not just ones that directly deal with “paying for abortions.”

The evangelical Christian minister David Barton said that people who are “pro-abortion” are really “pro-socialism.” This is, “they’re pro bigger government, less individual rights and responsibilities.” In Barton’s mind, pro-choice ideas are always connected to big government liberalism, and libertarianism is thus pro-life. In this environment, fighting government, fighting the ACA, and fighting abortion have been so connected that a blow against abortion rights is a blow against the ACA, and also the (imagined) repressive state, even when the specifics of the law have everything to do with restricting individual freedom and nothing to do with the ACA at all.

Religious Liberty Justifies New Anti-Gay Movement

In 2013, a new brand of “religious liberty” stories circulated around right-wing news outlets. Townhall.com told readers about an “ Air Force Officer Forced to Remove Bible From Desk,” a Fox News article titled “Soldier Who Read Conservative Books Now Faces Charges” gained 12,000 likes, and “Investigation: Bakery Forced to Make Lesbian Wedding Cake” made headlines at WorldNetDaily. “ Judge Orders Wedding Cake Baker to Serve Gay Couples,” wrote the Drudge Report in December. According to Todd Starnes, a Fox News journalist who popularized many of these stories, “Christians are trading places with homosexuals,” that is, events like the repeal of don’t ask/don’t tell had flipped the narrative of oppression and oppressor.

Accoroding to Starnes, the government was now in the process of staging a war on Christianity. Ken Klukowski, a professor at Liberty University, at the time the director of the Family Research Council’s (FRC) Center for Religious Liberty, accused President Obama of “Chicago-style thuggery” toward Christians in an interview with the Christian Post last October. Retired Lt. General and Family Research Council vice-president William Boykin accused Obama of, in the words of a Christian Post reporter, supporting a “large and secretive Marxist movement seeking to remove all dependence on God and references to the deity from civil society.”

The FRC, an organization focused narrowly on abortion and same-sex marriage, could thus say without irony, “Our message is simple but enormously important: Everything we care about hinges on religious liberty.” Republican advocacy groups weren’t the only ones obsessed with the idea: every major Republican presidential candidate in 2012 claimed religious freedom was under attack.

The rhetorical transformation did not go unnoticed. Jay Michaelson of Political Research Associates wrote in a report titled “Redefining Religious Liberty” that “Religious conservatives have succeeded in reframing the debate, inverting the victim-oppressor dynamic, and broadening support for their agenda” and that the religious liberty argument represented a “key front in the broader culture war designed to fight the same social battles on new-sounding terms.”

It may have sounded nicer, but the practical implication of religious freedom rhetoric was a more virulent homophobic agenda. Michaelson wrote that this new discourse should not be understood “as an attempt to create not religious exemptions” but rather “ the evisceration of civil right protections themselves. If any individual or business can refuse to recognize a person’s civil rights on the pretext of religious belief, those rights are functionally meaningless.”

Religious Liberty Rhetoric Leads to Government Shutdown

On the eve of the government shutdown, Representative Michelle Bachmann told a reporter from the Washington Examiner, “This is historic, and it’s a historic shift that’s about to happen, and if we’re going to fight, we need to fight now.”

Less than a month prior, Bachmann stated, on the radio show of Olive Tree Ministries’ Jan Markell that Obama’s actions as President signaled the rapture: “Rather than seeing this as a negative, we need to rejoice. Maranatha, come Lord Jesus, his day is at hand…. When we see up is down and right is called wrong…these days would be as the days of Noah.”

Bachmann wasn’t the only one to view herself as what the Daily Beast’s Joe McLean called a “ modern prophet of the apocalypse.” Four days later, Ted Cruz said at the FRC’s Values Voters Summit that America was “a couple of years” away from the “cliff of oblivion.”

Apocalyptic ideas have been part of America since its founding, and among conservative Christians, they’re experiencing something of a renaissance. According to author Chip Berlet, “Since the early 1990s, a sector of the political right in the United States has embraced a specific set of conspiracy theories revolving around government plans to impose tyranny.”

In the ’90s, this synthesis of evangelical Christianity and anti-government paranoia was restricted to the margins: militias, homeschoolers and scattered megachurch pastors. But they gained a wider audience through media: radio shows, websites and books, most notably, the apocalyptic thriller series Left Behind, by Tim LaHaye. In Left Behind, satanic forces and government forces literally mix—the antichrist, Nicolae Carpathia, ascends to power by becoming president of the United Nations, and uses that role to bring the world under his control, all with the aid of the (mostly liberal) folks who hadn’t been raptured. Left Behind sold 63 million copies. Moral Majority founder Jerry Falwell said Left Behind had a greater “impact on Christianity” than “any book in modern times, outside the Bible.”

Today’s conservatives may not have quite so dramatic a vision of the apocalypse, but Tea Partiers like Bachmann and Cruz seem to have internalized the idea that, to borrow a phrase from progressive Christian blogger Fred Clark, “the abolition of all religion…is exactly what [liberals] are hoping for.” They’ve also made use of the conservative infrastructure LaHaye helped to construct: a group he founded, the Council for National Policy, called the “most powerful conservative group you’ve never heard of” by ABC, designed and built the government shutdown.

According to the Nation’s Lee Fang, the CNP’s ad-hoc coalition, the Conservative Action Project, “initially floated the idea of attaching funding for Obamacare to the continuing resolution, and followed up with grassroots organizing, paid advertisements and a series of events designed to boost the message of senators like Ted Cruz.” The justification for these actions was, in the words of the Conservative Action Project, the Affordable Care Act’s “ unprecedented  attack on life and religious liberty.”

For conservatives, religious liberty was built on an anti-government, apocalyptic attitude, which posited what Eric C. Miller calls an “overarching conspiracy.” Conservative religious liberty claims rely on the idea that people in power really do desire the end of, or at least dramatic restrictions on, conservative Christianity.

Jay Michaelson wrote, “One recurring theme in the right-wing literature is the sense of a ‘coming storm’…Like the red menace, the secularist danger is imminently looming. The metaphors are appropriately biblical: soon there will be a flood of litigation, a firestorm of controversy. Indeed, these apocalyptic pronouncements resonate closely with…Christian Reconstructionism/pre-millennialism specifically. The ‘coming storm’ and the End Times are not distant from one another.”

Rob Shryock is a freelance journalist covering topics such as evangelical Christian culture, religion in the military and Islamophobia. He frequently writes for Religion Dispatches.

Emphasis Mine

See: http://www.alternet.org/tea-party-and-right/when-you-hear-conservatives-talking-about-religious-liberty-watch-out?akid=11561.123424.lwfyaK&rd=1&src=newsletter965135&t=5

Credible Threats Revealed

The Department of Homeland Security said today that it was studying several “credible threats” made to the United States government in a two-hour broadcast Wednesday night from a location believed to be the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California.

From:borowitzreport.com andy@borowitzreport.com

“September 10, 2011

‘Credible Threats’ Made to US Government

Homeland Security Studying Two-Hour Video from Wednesday Night

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) – The Department of Homeland Security said today that it was studying several “credible threats” made to the United States government in a two-hour broadcast Wednesday night from a location believed to be the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California.

Homeland Security spokesman Harland Dorinson said that the Department did not want to alarm the American people, “but whenever you have a group of individuals threatening to dismantle the US government piece by piece, it has to be taken seriously.”

In reviewing the two-hour tape, Homeland Security officials said they found threats to some of the most essential functions of the US government, from Social Security to the Federal Reserve.

While stopping short of saying that the speakers were engaged in some sort of jihad, Mr. Dorinson did note that a tone of religious extremism dominated the video.

“One speaker in particular, seemed bent on rolling back the advances of science and plunging America back into the Dark Ages,” he said.

But the most terrifying moment in the tape came when that same speaker received thunderous applause from the audience after threatening to execute people.

“We’re posting pictures of this individual on our website,” Mr. Dorinson said.  “Hopefully he will be captured before he can carry out any of his plans.”