We Asked GOP Candidates About The Surge In Anti-Muslim Violence In The U.S. Then Things Got Awkward.

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015 |  AP PHOTO/JOHN RAOUX

THINK PROGRESS

LAS VEGAS, NV — Minutes after attending a forum hosted by anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist Frank Gaffney on Monday, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum praised Americans for their tolerance of Muslims in the wake of multiple attacks claimed by operatives of the terrorist group ISIS.

“It’s remarkable, given the attacks that we’ve seen, that America has embraced the Muslim community,” Santorum told ThinkProgress in response to a question about increased attacks and threats against Muslim Americans since the Paris terror attacks.

In addition to attacks and threats, there has also been a rise in anti-Muslim rhetoric within the Republican party. The top Republican presidential candidates have compared Syrian refugees — most of whom are Muslim — to “rabid dogs,” toyed with the idea of a Muslim national database, and seriously debated temporarily barring Muslims from entering the United States.

While this rhetoric has seemingly been helpful for Republicans in the polls, it has made addressing the reality of increased anti-Muslim violence in the United States undoubtedly awkward. When ThinkProgress asked Republican candidate Rand Paul about that violence on Monday, he immediately pivoted to border security. “If we want to defend ourselves against a war on terror, we have to focus on the border,” he said, before outlining broadly his terrorism strategy. Pressed further to specifically address violence against Muslims in America, he pivoted to Donald Trump. “It’s a mistake, as Trump has put forward, to have a religious test to have Muslims into the country,” he said.

Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul takes questions from reporters on December 15, 2015.

Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul takes questions from reporters on December 15, 2015 | CREDIT: EMILY ATKIN

Santorum also seemed wary to answer questions directly about attacks on Muslim Americans. During his speech at Gaffney’s event on Monday, he implied that the Muslim religion was inherently dangerous, arguing that threats coming from within the Muslim world were “old and constant,” derived from “fundamentalist strict adherence to teachings within their holy books.”

Later, when asked by ThinkProgress about anti-Muslim incidents, Santorum praised the majority of Americans who he said had “embraced” the Muslim community, and said any attacker must be “disturbed.” But when asked if he was concerned about the increased reports of attacks and threats, Santorum didn’t condemn it specifically, instead condemning all violence.

“I’m concerned about any time we see an attack on innocent people — mosques, churches or anything else,” he said. “So yes, I’m concerned about it, I’m concerned about the attacks on churches, too.”

The reason for the awkwardness is pretty clear: Many on the political left have blamed Republican politicians for inspiring the acts of violence through their rhetoric. After describing a death threat he recently received, Muslim American Rep. André Carson (D-IN) said last week that the “rise in Islamophobia” can be linked to the “demagoguery” of Donald Trump. In a piece for the New York Times, the Council on American Islamic Relations’s executive director in San Francisco cited “the dangerous anti-Muslim rhetoric from some politicians” while describing the sense of fear in her community.

“Muslim women are discussing whether it is safe to wear their headscarves and what religious exceptions may apply, when such a symbol of their faith puts their lives are at stake,” she wrote.

During Tuesday night’s Republican presidential debate, every candidate was asked about the threat of what CNN’s moderators called “Islamic extremism.” Trump’s proposed ban on Muslim immigration was widely discussed; as was the importance of avoiding “political correctness” when talking about the perceived threat of Islam. Candidates were not asked about the surge in violent acts against Muslims in America.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, however, did assert that anti-Muslim rhetoric could be harmful to fighting ISIS, warning that the United States would not be able to win without the support of the Muslim community.
“We can’t dissociate ourselves from peace-loving Muslims,” Bush said. “If we expect to do this on our own, we will fail.”

Santorum Mocks Liberals For Believing That Diversity Benefits America

CREDIT: AP PHOTO/SUSAN WALSH

THINK PROGRESS

Lagging in the polls and hoping to get a boost before the next Republican presidential debate, Rick Santorum chided the idea that multiculturalism is a benefit for America during a radio interview this week.

In a Tuesday appearance on Mickelson in the Morning, a popular Iowa radio show among conservatives, the former Pennsylvania senator recounted a debate he had had with former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (D).

“We were asked a question by a student, what’s the greatest virtue of the United States of America? You know what Howard Dean said? Diversity.” Santorum incredulously noted as the host laughed.

“But that’s what they believe!” Santorum continued. He later went on to criticize President Obama for accepting refugees who are persecuted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Listen to it:

Belittling diversity in America is becoming strangely en vogue among Republicans of late. On a radio show last week, for instance, Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) blamed gun violence on “diversity in America.”

More broadly, attacks on immigrants and minorities have been a near-daily occurrence in the 2016 GOP presidential contest. While Donald Trump has gotten most of the attention for his vitriol, anti-immigrant rhetoric has spread to establishment candidates like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), who joined Trump in questioning birthright citizenship (something he later walked back), and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), who called children of undocumented immigrants “anchor babies.” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, an Indian-American himself, said recently, “Immigration without assimilation is invasion.”

Of course, Santorum’s latest attack on diversity isn’t terribly out of line with his penchant for controversial statements. In the past, Santorum has argued that women were ill-suited to combat because of “emotions that are involved,” said “the NBA” was corrupting American culture, and declared that consensual sex between gay people should be illegal. During his 2012 presidential bid, the Pennsylvania Republican was roundly criticized for making racist remarks about black people and welfare. Despite video evidence to the contrary, Santorum defended himself by arguing that he either said “blah people” or “plives” instead of black.

SCOTT KEYES

Fox Host Hits Santorum On Pope And Climate Change: You’re Not A Scientist (VIDEO)

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TPM LIVEWIRE

“If he’s not a scientist — and, in fact, he does have a degree in chemistry — neither are you,” Wallace said, adding that 80-90 percent of scientists agree that humans contribute to climate change.

The Pope is expected to release a strong statement on climate change in an encyclical by June 18.

“If he shouldn’t talk about it, should you?” Wallace asked.

“We have to make public policy with regard to the environmental policy,” Santorum, a devout Catholic, said. “Whether we like it or not, people in government have to make decisions with respect to our public policy that affect American workers.”

“The Pope can talk about whatever he wants to talk about — I’m saying, what should the Pope use his moral authority for?” he asked.

“He would say he’s protecting the Earth,” Wallace interjected.

“There are more pressing problems confronting the earth than climate change,” Santorum said.

Watch the clip around the 7:20 mark: HERE

BRENDAN JAMES

Republican “Survivor”: A Proposal for Culling the G.O.P. Field

Voters (and viewers) can’t be expected to take fifteen or twenty Republican primary candidates seriously.
Voters (and viewers) can’t be expected to take fifteen or twenty Republican primary candidates seriously. CREDIT PHOTOGRAPH BY ANDREW HARRER/BLOOMBERG VIA GETTY

THE NEW YORKER

A couple of weeks ago, I was driving along the Belt Parkway, listening to Sean Hannity’s radio show, when the right-wing commentator said something that surprised me about the ever-expanding field of Republican primary candidates. This is getting ridiculous, Hannity complained—how are they all supposed to fit on the same stage for a debate?

Hannity’s fears have proved to be well grounded. On Wednesday, the former senator Rick Santorum, who had been the runner-up to Mitt Romney in the 2012 G.O.P. primary, announced his candidacy. On Thursday, it will be the turn of George Pataki, the former governor of New York. Who knows whom Friday will bring? Lindsey Graham? Rick Perry? Donald Trump? Herman (999) Cain? Ted Nugent?

Here, in alphabetical order, are the eight Republican candidates who, by Thursday, will be officially running: Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Pataki, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Santorum. Then there are Jeb Bush and Scott Walker, two front-runners who have all but announced that they are in. Currently in the “exploratory” stage, we have Graham, Trump, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, and the benighted Chris Christie. That makes fifteen, with other outlying possibilities, too.

The number turns out to be too high for Roger Ailes, Hannity’s boss at Fox News. The network (along with Facebook) is set to host the first televised G.O.P. debate, in Cleveland, on August 6th, and it has said that it intends to limit participation to the top ten candidates in the polls, plus those who are tied. “It was a difficult call based on political necessity,” Howard Kurtz, the veteran media reporter, who now works for Fox, explained in a post on Tuesday. “With 17 or 18 Republicans gearing up to run, you simply can’t have a viable debate with all of them. Each candidate would receive a miniscule amount of time. No sustained questioning would be possible. And it would be bad television.”

Not everyone associated with the Republican Party is happy about Fox’s decision. Appearing on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Wednesday, Bill Kristol, the editor of the Weekly Standard, accused Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, of colluding with Fox to cull the field prematurely. “There are fourteen candidates who are serious people,” Kristol said (doubtless prompting a protest call from Trump). “I think they all deserve to be on the stage.” He proposed that they have two debates, with the candidates split up randomly. “Republicans would be interested. They wouldn’t turn off the TV halfway through.”

Kristol raises a good point. If Fox applied its proposed criteria on the basis of current polling data collated by Real Clear Politics, Santorum, who won eleven state primaries in 2012, would barely make the cut. Fiorina, the only female candidate, who has reportedly impressed Republican audiences in Iowa and New Hampshire, would miss out. So would Graham, Jindal, and Kasich, all experienced elected officials. That doesn’t seem fair, or even particularly democratic. So what to do?

The G.O.P. needs a procedure that affords all of the candidates an opportunity to impress while also acknowledging that voters (and viewers) can’t be expected to take all fifteen or twenty candidates seriously. One solution might be to turn the early stages of the G.O.P. primary into a version of “Survivor,” the long-running reality-television series.

Here’s how it could work. Following Kristol’s suggestion, Fox and Facebook would hold two debates on August 6th, with the candidates drawing lots to decide whether they appeared on the first or the second one. Each would receive the same amount of airtime, and the questions in the two debates would be broadly similar.

For the second debate, which CNN is scheduled to host from the Reagan Library, in Simi Valley, on September 16th, things would be different. A limit of twelve candidates would be imposed. Rather than follow the “Survivor” template literally, and have the candidates themselves decide who gets to appear at the debate and who doesn’t, it would be best to rely on surveys of likely Republican voters. The top dozen candidates in the poll of polls on September 9th, a week before the debate, would make the cut; everybody else would miss out. I’d leave it to the network executives and the R.N.C. to decide whether this debate would need to be split in two, like the first one. (CNN has suggested an alternative format for its event, using the full slate of candidates, in which the top ten candidates appear in one debate and the rest in another.)

The winnowing process wouldn’t end there. For the third debate, which will take place in October, there would be another cut, to ten candidates, with the poll of polls again deciding who is invited. And for the fourth debate, in November, there would be a final cut, to eight candidates.

By that stage, the G.O.P.’s Iowa caucus would be on the horizon—it’s now slated for February 2nd, but may well move up a bit—and the field might be starting to narrow of its own accord, regardless. But for now, and for the next few months, there are too many candidates, and some way of treating them equitably needs to be found.

My solution perhaps isn’t the best. Quite probably, it would favor candidates who have raised enough money to launch advertising campaigns and boost their poll numbers—but the current system does that anyway. Another possible objection is that focussing attention on the minor players would blur the message of the front-runners. I doubt that would happen. Bush, Rubio, and Walker would still get the bulk of the media’s attention.

On the upside, shifting to the “Survivor” model would afford everyone an opportunity, and it would inject a bit of excitement into the race early on. Over to you, Reince!

John Cassidy

10 things you need to know today: May 27, 2015

Fifa head Sepp Blatter in 2013 (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

THE WEEK

1.FIFA officials arrested on corruption charges
Swiss authorities arrested several six top soccer officials on Wednesdayso they could be sent to the U.S. to face corruption charges. Plain-clothed officers made the arrests in Zurich as officials were gathering for the annual meeting of FIFA, the sport’s global governing body. Investigators suspect FIFA officials of widespread corruption, including more than $150 million in bribes and kickbacks involving World Cup bids, and media deals dating back to the early 1990s. FIFA’s controversial president, Sepp Blatter, is not named in the indictment.

Source: The New York Times, USA Today

2.Cleveland accepts restrictions on police use of force
Cleveland has agreed to let an independent monitor oversee its police and to subject its officers to new restrictions on the use of force under a settlement with the Justice Department announced Tuesday. A federal investigation found a “pattern of unconstitutional policing and excessive use of force” by Cleveland police. The announcement came three days after 71 people were arrested protesting the acquittal of a white officer charged with manslaughter in the killing of two unarmed black suspects.

Source: The Washington Post

3.At least 19 confirmed dead after floods hit Texas and Oklahoma
The death toll from unprecedented rains and flooding in Texas and Oklahoma rose to at least 19 on Tuesday. Another 14 remain missing in Texas, including eight members of two families who were in a vacation home swept off by a “wall of water” on the Blanco River. Four died in Houston, which was already flooded when another foot of rain fell on Tuesday. Drivers in the city abandoned at least 2,500 vehicles to seek dry ground. Another 13 people were killed in northern Mexico by a tornado produced by the same storm system.

Source: NBC News, CNN

4.Rick Santorum to announce second bid for the White House
Former senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania is expected to formally announce Wednesday that he is joining the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. Santorum was the runner-up behind nominee Mitt Romney in 2012, but he is polling at around 2 percent, far behind his likely rivals. A devout Catholic staunchly opposed to gay marriage and abortion, he even trailed among evangelical Christians in Iowa. “I’m really going to have an uphill battle ahead of me,” Santorum said in a fundraising email ahead of his announcement.

Source: The Washington Times

5.Appeals court rejects request to lift hold on Obama’s immigration plan
A federal appeals court on Tuesday denied a White House request to lift a ban on President Obama’s executive action on immigration. Obama’s plan, which he unveiled in November, would shield as many as five million immigrants from deportation — including people brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Twenty-six states sued to block the order, and a federal judge in Texas issued a preliminary injunction in February to keep the plan from being implemented until the lawsuit is settled.

Source: The Associated Press, Fox News

6.Nebraska governor vetoes bill to abolish capital punishment
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) on Tuesday vetoed a bipartisan bill to abolish the death penalty in the state. Ricketts said his action was “a matter of public safety” and giving prosecutors “the tools they need to put these dangerous hardened criminals behind bars.” Lawmakers scheduled aWednesday vote to override the veto. The bill would make Nebraska the first conservative state to scrap capital punishment. It passed with two votes more than needed to override a veto, but at least one “yes” vote has publicly changed his mind.

Source: The New York Times

7.Hackers access 100,000 taxpayers’ old IRS returns
Cyber thieves stole tax return information for more than 100,000 taxpayers this year, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said on Tuesday. The criminals used the agency’s “Get Transcript” online service to download old tax returns. About half of their 200,000 attempts to get information were successful. The IRS is investigating. “We’re confident these are not amateurs,” Koskinen said. “These are actually organized crime syndicates that not only we but everyone in the financial industry are dealing with.”

Source: Reuters

8.Extreme heat kills 1,100 in southern India
A heatwave has killed more than 1,100 people in India, as temperatures rose above 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Authorities said Tuesday that most of the victims were elderly, homeless, or construction workers in the southern states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. The deadly heat reportedly has melted roads in the capital, New Delhi. Weather forecasters said the deadly temperatures, would continue through the week, with no relief until a monsoon hits the Indian mainland around May 31.

Source: Hindustan Times

9. Sanders launches bid for the presidency
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) officially launched his campaign for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination on Tuesday. Sanders promised to make fighting income inequality his priority as he appealed to the party’s progressive wing in a longshot attempt to beat frontrunner Hillary Clinton. He said there was “something profoundly wrong” when the nation’s richest 1 percent have so much while others struggle. “This type of rigged economy is not what America is supposed to be about,” he said.

Source: USA Today

10.Lebron James is headed back to the NBA Finals
The Cleveland Cavaliers routed the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night 118-88 on their way to another shot at the NBA Championship. It will be the second appearance for Cleveland in the league’s premier event, and the sixth for star Lebron James. In sweeping the Hawks in four games, Lebron became the first player in NBA history to average 30 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — a hair short of the a triple double — in a playoff series. The Cavaliers will next play the winner of the Golden State-Houston series on June 4 in the first game of the NBA Finals.

Source: ESPN

Harold Maass

Rick Santorum Dances Awkwardly To Song By Man Who Hates Him And Everything He Stands For (VIDEO)

ADDICTING INFO

When Republican Presidential hopeful Rick Santorum took to the stage at South Carolina’s Freedom Summit last weekend, he did a brief and painfully awkward shuffle to a song by a man who basically hates him and everything he stands for.

The eagle-eyed producers over at NowThis caught the moment Santorum dad-danced to Pharrell William’s ubiquitous “Happy” and juxtaposed it with an appearance the singer/songwriter made on The Ellen Show last year. Williams was speaking on the conservative stances that the GOP have taken on a number of social issues, and it’s fair to say that he and Santorum would struggle to see eye-to-eye.

On Equal Marriage, Pharrell sees no place for politicians to restrict the rights of two people who love each other to marry. He says in exasperation:

“You’re telling them who they can marry and who they can’t? What is this?!”

Santorum on the other hand has previously described the abuse of children by Catholic Priests as “a basic homosexual relationship.” Not only does the Pennsylvania Senator oppose same-sex marriage (comparing it to bestiality), but he has also stated his support for state legislators to outlaw LGBT relationships altogether.

Meanwhile back on Ellen, Pharrell moves on to women’s sexual health, another territory Santorum and his Christian Conservatives are seeking to conquer like Missionaries. Pharrell expresses the kind of pained disbelief shared by most progressive Americans on that war on women when he says:

“We have legislators and legislation in place in certain places, that tells women what they can and cannot do with their bodies. How is that possible?”

Rick Santorum, however, sees zero problem with invading the bedrooms and wombs of American women. He is opposed to abortion, even in cases where a woman or girl has been raped. He has even stated he would refuse his own daughter an abortion if she was raped, saying he would instead counsel her to “accept this horribly created” baby, because it was still a gift from God.

The presidential wannabe is also against women in the military, accusing them of causing “compromising situations” by being female, around men (that’s code for “they might make us rape them”).

Any women thinking about using contraception would also not be free to do so under a Santorum presidency- he refers to it as a “grievous moral wrong.”

No wonder he’s dancing so very awkwardly. Perhaps the irony wasn’t lost on him after all.

~

GOP Summit—The Good, The Bad And The Absolutely Crazy

Half-Term Governor of Alaska: Sarah Palin | Jim Young/Reuters

 The Daily Beast

GOP presidential contenders flocked to Iowa on Saturday to try out their pitches on the unofficial beginning of the Iowa Caucus. Hint: Sarah Palin has lost her mind.
You’re going to read a lot of analysis of this weekend’s Freedom Summit as the unofficial beginning of the Iowa caucus.Whether that’s true depends entirely on how many of those who attended are still standing one long year from now—and how many of those who didn’t attend (Jeb Bush, Rand Paul) have campaigns that are still alive and well.The event does serve as a gauge for a candidate’s willingness to pander, and it is the beginning of serious media scrutiny for all the candidates as 2016 candidates,not as quaint spectacles (Donald Trump, Ted Cruz) or interesting anomalies (Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina)…. or familiar former presidential candidates, who made up a non-shocking majority of the featured speakers (Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin).

What did we learn?

Palin is past her sell-by date.

It’s the unofficial policy of many serious political reporters (myself included) to not cover Palin speeches.  So it’s entirely possible I missed a key stretch of her decline that would help make sense of, or have prepared me for, the word-salad-with-a-cup-of-moose-stew that she presented.

Sample passage: “Things must change for our government! It isn’t too big to fail, it’s too big to succeed! It’s too big to succeed, so we can afford no retreads or nothing will change, with the same people and same policies that got us into the status quo! Another Latin word, status quo, and it stands for, ‘Man, the middle class and everyday Americans are really gettin’ taken for a ride.’”

The speech (perhaps a generous description) went on 15 minutes past the 20 minutes allotted other speakers. And even as she ended it, one sensed less a crescendo than the specter of a gong, a hook to pull her off, or—a sincere thought I had—an ambulance to take her… somewhere.

No one else embarrassed themselves out of the race.

The event was organized by immigration hawk Rep. Steve “Cantaloupes” King (with the help of Citizens United) and many pundits fretted (or eagerly anticipated) 47-percent-style gaffes in the service of speakers trying to out-xenophobe each other. I may have missed something, but the anti-immigration rhetoric stayed on the “self-deport” side of offensive. Santorum did some under-the-breath dog whistling in reference to legal immigration, positing that the U.S. is home to more non-native citizens than ever before. He contrasted those non-native-born workers to, ahem, “American workers.” As far as I know, if you work in America, you are an “American worker.” Unless Santorum is thinking of something else.

The soft bigotry of low expectation works!

Scott Walker continues to clear the “not Tim Pawlenty” bar, but no one seems to realize how weak of a standard that is. National journalists cooed over Walker’s relatively energetic speech, apparently forgetting they were comparing it to other Walker speeches. In a similar vein, Chris Christie did not intentionally piss anyone off or bully the audience. Christie gave what seemed a lot like a national-audience speech—probably the only speaker that played it so safe.

Sen. Mike Lee gave some sensible, serious suggestions.

I may be engaging in more expectation management, but I was pleasantly surprised by Lee’s earnest and non-applause-line-ridden speech. He beseeched the audience to look for a candidate that was “positive, principled, and proven”—all while explicitly taking himself out of the running. In what could have been a direct jab at his fellow guests, he quipped, “The principled candidate is not necessarily the guy who yells ‘Freedom!’ the loudest.” He could have been quoting Elizabeth Warren when he softened typical GOP bootstrap rhetoric: “Freedom doesn’t mean ‘You’re all on your own,’” he said, “It means, ‘We’re all in it together.’” Elizabeth Warren would approve.

The GOP is going to need to figure out how to run against someone who is not Obama.

Even Lee, who gave what might be the most forward-looking speech, hung many of his arguments on the framework of undoing what Obama has done. Every other speaker followed suit, and some of the night’s biggest applause lines had to do with the same “fake scandals” that already proved insufficiently interesting to the American people: Benghazi, with a dash of IRS. They speak of repealing Obamacare with the zest of people who think of the House’s own fifty-plus attempts as mere warm-ups. Even their foreign policy script has Obama and the specter of American decline as its primary villains—foes that have defeated them twice before.

Texas Lawmaker Wants Constitutional Amendment Allowing Discrimination Of LGBT

State Sen. Donna Campbell (R), seen here looking up at Rick Santorum in 2013, is proposing a constitutional amendment protecting a religious right to discriminate against LGBT people. | Credit AP

Addicting Info

Tea Party State Sen. Donna Campbell (R-TX) believes religious freedom trumps civil rights. On Monday, she proposed an amendment to the Texas Constitution that would allow employers with intolerant religious beliefs to fire LGBT workers and shop owners to turn away LGBT customers.

Campbell’s amendment to the Texas Constitution allows discrimination and violation of LGBT civil rights for religious reasons. The proposed amendment reads as follows:

“Government may not burden an individual’s or religious organization’s freedom of religion or right to act or refuse to act in a manner motivated by a sincerely held religious belief unless the government proves that the burden is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest and it the least restrictive means of furthering that interest,” reads the new resolution. “For purposes of this subsection, the term ‘burden’ includes indirect burdens such as withholding benefits, assessing penalties, and denying access to facilities or programs.”

Campbell’s amendment has met with opposition from some who feel it is redundant and that strong enforcement of religious freedom already exists within the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Others feel the language within the amendment could be too broadly interpreted and lead to unintentional consequences.

Texas Monthly reports that Van de Putte, the chair of the senate’s Committee on Veteran’s Affairs and Military Installations expressed concern that the amendment could strengthen fundamentalist groups such as the Westboro Baptist Church,

“While I know everyone here represents what I would call traditional religious groups, there are religious groups that have very, very different fundamental beliefs. Could this resolution lead to our inability to protect their religious beliefs from infringing on our military funerals?”

Joe Pojman, the executive director of the Texas Alliance for Life had other concerns,

“abortion would become a religious right and taxpayers could be forced to pay for abortions.”

Similar proposals have failed this year in Kansas, North Carolina, South Dakota, Arizona and Oregon. However Mississippi and Kentucky have been successful enacting such a law. Critics describe this legislation as a “license to discriminate.”

Conservative political forces, again on the wrong side of history, have been aiding companies wishing to deny LGBT customers and employees their civil rights. The Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling that reversed decades of legal precedent by allowing religious freedom to trump civil rights has only made conservative voices louder.

If the measure is approved by the state House and Senate, the people of Texas will have to affirm it by a vote in November 2015.

This is a religious civil war: Hobby Lobby only the beginning for new religious theocrats

This is a religious civil war: Hobby Lobby only the beginning for new religious theocrats
Sarah Palin, Antonin Scalia, Rick Santorum (Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster/Reuters/Brendan Mcdermid/Jeff Malet, maletphoto.com)

Salon

 The tyrant’s freedom is everyone else’s slavery.

The United States is still a democratic republic, formally, but what that actually means in practice is increasingly in doubt — and the Hobby Lobby ruling, deeply disingenuous and sharply at odds with centuries of Anglo-American law, exemplifies how that formal reality is increasingly mocked in practice. It is a practice best described as neo-feudalism, taking power away from ordinary citizens, in all their pluralistic, idiosyncratic diversity, and handing it over to corporations and religious dictators in both the public and the private realm. The Supreme Court’s actions are not taking place in a vacuum — though they are filling one: As Tea Party Republicans in the House increasingly bring democratic self-government to a halt, contracting the power of we the people to act as a cohesive self-governing whole, the Supreme Court’s conservative majority shifts ever more everyday power into the hands of private dictatorships.

Hobby Lobby handed for-profit corporations religious rights for the first time in history — a radical break with all previous precedent, and yet a part of a recent pattern, as Norm Ornstein rightly pointed out:

[F]or the majority on the Roberts Court, through a series of rulings that favor corporations over labor or other interests, it is clear that corporations are king, superior to individual Americans—with all the special treatment in taxes and protection from legal liability that are unavailable to us individuals, and now all the extra benefits that come with individual citizenship. Call it the new Crony Capitalism.

The expansion of corporate power in Hobby Lobby has gotten too little attention, and I’ll return to discuss this further below. But the advancement of theocracy — religious dictatorship — is even less clearly seen through the fog of right-wing propaganda about “religious liberty.”

First, however, an important highlight of a neglected aspect of the Hobby Lobby case, the fact that Hobby Lobby’s self-professed belief appeared out of nowhere just in time for them to file suit, as Stephanie Mencimer noted in March:

The company admits in its complaint that until it considered filing the suit in 2012, its generous health insurance plan actually covered Plan B and Ella (though not IUDs). The burden of this coverage was apparently so insignificant that God, and Hobby Lobby executives, never noticed it until the mandate became a political issue.

In short, Hobby Lobby’s “deeply held beliefs” claims are transparently bogus — as well as being scientifically invalid, since none of the methods involved are abortifacients, as Hobby Lobby claims. These would not matter if they only guided individual private conduct; that’s precisely what religious freedom actually means. You’re free to be a religious hypocrite, because letting someone else judge your sincerity can lead too easily to real religious tyranny. But when you’re already in a position to tyrannize others — as Hobby Lobby is — that’s a whole different ballgame. The tyrant’s freedom is everyone else’s slavery.

Continue reading here…

Santorum: Obama’s ‘Minions’ Privately Told Me They Thought I Could Beat Him (VIDEO)

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How long have u suffered from delusions of grandeur, Santorum?

TPM LiveWire

Appearing on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” to promote his new book “Blue Collar Conservatives,” Santorum was asked whether he thought he’d win if his family was game to launch another presidential bid. He lost the Republican nomination last time around to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R).

“Look, I thought I could have won last time,” he said. “I’m convinced. You know I asked one of the Obama minions who were running the campaign ‘Hey, why didn’t you guys help me? I was up there battling Romney and all these folks at MSNBC were saying wouldn’t this be great if Santorum were the nominee, why didn’t you help me? Why didn’t you go out and bang me a little a bit, hit me you know, as being too conservative?'”

“And the consensus was, ‘We didn’t want you, because of this,'” Santorum added, holding up his book.

The former presidential hopeful then recounted how he met with Romney’s campaign manager and pollster after dropping out of the race. Romney’s team showed him a poll from Pennsylvania that found Santorum down by four points among voters who went to the polls during the workday, but up by 21 points after 5 p.m.

“When working people go to the polls,” host Joe Scarborough pointed out.

“This is it. And that’s what the other side is scared to death of,” Santorum said.

Watch below: