Showing posts with label Rick Perry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rick Perry. Show all posts

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Quotes from 2012 CPAC

To read about the Occupy movement and 2012 CPAC, click here. To read about the True Tolerance talk at CPAC, click here. To read about race and language at CPAC, click here.

The 39th annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), hosted by the American Conservative Union, took place on February 9-11 at the Marriott Wardman Park in Washington D.C. To wrap up Republic of Gilead's (belated) observations on the conference, here are a few choice quotes from CPAC speakers.

In C-SPAN's video coverage, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) lambasted the White House and liberals for launching "orchestrated" attacks on opponents.
"You all know the liberal playbook. Here's how it works. Pick a target. Freeze it, personalize it, and then polarize it. But rarely have we seen those tactics employed with the kind of zeal we see today. The White House and its lieutenants have made an art form out of the orchestrated attack. They've shown they'll go after anybody or any organization they think is standing in their way."
McConnell also claimed that President Obama is forcing religious institutions to violate their consciences or suffer the consequences, a reference to recent controversies over contraception coverage.
"This is why a president who claims to value diversity is telling the men and women who run religious schools and hospitals and charities in this country that they now face a choice that no one in the United States should ever have to make: violate your conscience, pay a penalty, or close your doors."
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) recounted a story about a bill he read at a small business committee meeting chaired by a Democrat.
"They were providing educational benefits for our wounded warriors, and it's a great thing, and you set aside those educational benefits for--"combat wounded veterans" was the language in the bill. And I read through that and it lifts my heart to see that, but it said combat wounded veterans and women and minorities, and however you want to look at this society, combat wounded veterans need our special honor, and being a woman or a minority doesn't fit you in that category, I'm sorry."
Annoyed, King said that he struck the women and minority language from the document, replacing it with "everybody but white men." Later, King claimed that the U.S. was slipping into a "totalitarian state."
"What happened to our liberty, America? How did this creep in on us? How did a nation born of freedom and liberty lose its freedom and liberty in this way? How does a nation that's blessed by an extraordinary supply of America exceptionalism submit, inch by creeping inch, to the totalitarian state that's descending upon us?"
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota) told the audience that the U.S. is a "Judeo-Christian nation."
"Before Obama was elected, no one had ever heard of a United States president saying to the world that the United States is not a Judeo-Christian nation. I'm here to say we are."
Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) boasted about his unfriendly state policies toward Planned Parenthood.
"Last year, I proudly signed a budget that ended all state funding for Planned Parenthood in my state. [Audience applauds] Since then, there's been about a dozen of those clinics that have shut down in the state of Texas. [Audience applauds] But you see, because left-wing, pro-abortion radicals don't like what we did, President Obama has invalidated a waiver that provides health care for more than 100,000 women in my home state. They literally set aside funding for preventative health care because we refused to subsidize abortion. But why are we even subject to this decision to begin with? Nowhere in the Constitution does it say health care should be run by the federal government."
Finally, Perry accused the Obama administration of launching a "war on faith," caricaturing the recent controversies over contraception coverage by religious institutions as a "pro-abortion agenda."
"Our founders also protected and defended religious freedoms in our Constitution and our young nation. Today, even our religious freedoms are under attack from the Obama administration in Washington. This Justice Department tried to insert themselves in the hiring decisions of religious organizations by challenging the ministerial exception. Fortunately, they failed on a 9-4 vote, I might add. Even those left-wing justices of the Supreme Court thought that was too far a step. Now, though, this administration is assaulting the Catholic Church and people of faith across our nation by forcing their pro-abortion agenda on religious hospitals, on charities, and on employees. The Obama administration's war on faith must be defeated."
I wish I could have been at 2012 CPAC to witness the wingnuttery myself! Maybe next year.

For more information on CPAC 2012, visit cpac2012[dot]conservative[dot]org. To read additional commentary, visit the following links.

American Independent: At CPAC, leaders urge steering birth control conversation toward abortion

Salon: The two Americas clash at CPAC

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Quotes from the Presidential Pro-Life Teletownhall

On December 27th, Personhood USA sponsored the Presidentual Pro-Life Teletownhall, moderated by radio show host Steve Deace. The participating GOP presidential candidates -- Texas Governor Rick Perry, Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich --signed Personhood USA's Presidential Pledge, thereby endorsing the belief that life begins at conception and vowing support for a human life amendment to the U.S. constitution. (See www[dot]personhoodusa[dot]com/blog/personhood-republican-presidential-candidate-pledge) Throughout the evening, candidates reiterated anti-abortion positions discussed during the December 14th Citizens United forum in Des Moines, with emphasis on the belief that personhood begins at conception.

Deace began the forum by alleging that President Obama has shown "absolutely no regard for the inalienable right to life," and that anti-abortion voters seek a champion for the abortion issue. The first candidate to speak was Gov. Rick Perry, who quoted Psalm 139:13 and attributed his anti-abortion stance to the Founders at the 4:35 mark.
"My commitment to the unborn, it's actually rooted in the Founding Fathers documents, and that came from the wisdom of the Old Testament and the natural law written on our hearts. The Declaration of Independence declared life liberty and pursuit of happiness are rights that are endowed by out creator, and that's not open to some arbitrary bureaucrat or a judge in a black robe -- legislator's robes as I refer to them -- or for that matter any human power. They declared it as a right. It comes from God."
Rep. Michele Bachmann stressed that the anti-abortion struggle was "what I would literally die for," outlining her abortion platform at the 21:40 mark.
"We know that President Obama has a war on the family, and just days after he took office, he advanced his cause by reversing Mexico City. Nothing has helped save more human life than the Hyde Amendment, but it doesn't go far enough. What we need to do to upend Roe v. Wade and end that horrible holocaust in the United States of life is to pass the personhood amendment. I am the first person to sign the Personhood USA pledge, and I'm proud to say that, to define life from the moment of conception. We don't have to wait just for the Supreme Court. We can be involved in this ourselves ... As president of the United States ... I will veto any congressional attempt to provide federal funding of abortion."
Moderators read a question submitted by Lou Engle of TheCall, who asked how candidates would combat "chemical abortions" in the wake of Secretary Sebelius' refusal to allow the over-the-counter sale of Plan B. Bachmann replied that repealing Obamacare was the best way to do so, expressing anger that President Obama supposedly has the authority to put "abortion pills" alongside bubblegum in stores. (Bachmann seemed to be conflating emergency contraception with "abortion pills" as she did at the December 14th Des Moines forum.)

Finally, long-time abortion opponent Rick Santorum argued that the life-at-conception position is not a belief, but rather at fact at the 30:28 mark.
"When politicians say 'I believe life begins at conception,' that is conceding ground, and the ground that we concede is by using the term 'believe.' Life beginning at conception is not a belief, it's not an article of faith, it's an article of fact, the biological fact that life in fact begins at conception, and we need to begin to understand that we have to use language that is consistent with what the truth is."
On a final note, although Texas Rep. Ron Paul signed Personhood's USA presidential pledge, he did not speak at the December 27th forum. Indeed, Personhood USA requested clarification from Paul on his anti-abortion stance, according to a December 26th press release at www[dot]personhoodusa[dot]com/press-release/ron-paul-signs-personhood-pledge-personhood-usa-questions-commitment

The fact that several prominent GOP presidential candidates signed Personhood USA's pledge and spoke at a forum it sponsored should give us pause. The anti-abortion stance of several candidates is absolute, condemning the procedure under any circumstances. As the far right becomes more prominent in politics, its beliefs manifests through even more stridently anti-abortion candidates.

To listen to the forum, visit stevedeace[dot]com/news/national-politics/deace-show-podcast-12-27-11/. To read additional commentary, visit the following links.

Des Moines Register: Some GOP presidential candidates sign anti-abortion pledge, but Paul’s stance is questioned

Huffington Post: GOP Candidates Reveal How They Would Enact Pro-Life "Personhood" Laws

Right Wing Watch: Bachmann to Personhood USA: Ending Abortion 'Is What I Would Literally Die For'

Friday, December 9, 2011

Obama Administration Stands Up for LGBT Human Rights; Homophobes Go Ballistic

On Tuesday, December 6th, President Obama issued a historic memorandum announcing initiatives to advance LGBT human rights internationally. The memorandum directed agencies involved in U.S. foreign assistance and diplomacy to safeguard LGBT human rights. Specifically, it called for such agencies to combat criminalization of LGBT status or conduct, protect vulnerable LGBT asylum seekers and refugees, and work with international organizations in the struggle against anti-LGBT discrimination.

The release of the memorandum coincided with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's address to the United Nations in Geneva, in which she urged all countries to respect LGBT civil rights. Secretary Clinton acknowledged the violence and unjust treatment encountered by LGBT worldwide, calling them "an invisible minority." Wisely, she countered common stereotypes that homosexuality is supposedly a Western phenomenon, that homosexuality is a disease than can be cured, that gays are sexual predators, etc. Secretary Clinton also acknowledge that LGBT rights are human rights, and that LGBT persons share "a common humanity." Finally, she announced the launch of a new Global Equality Fund that will support organizations working on LGBT issues worldwide.

This is amazing news. The U.S. government has taken a concrete stand for the global LGBT community, and has issues two powerful statements expressing their support for LGBT human rights. In a world where LGBT people face horrors such as murder, corrective rape, and draconian anti-gay legislation, such support could not be more timely.

Unfortunately -- but not surprisingly -- members of the Religious Right have expressed outrage at this White House show of support for LGBT rights. Tiresome rhetoric about "special rights" and "traditional values" abounds among Religious Right commentators, as the following examples demonstrate.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

More Gems from the Thanksgiving Family Forum

In a prior post, readers were treated to startling quotes from Republican presidential candidates from the first few minutes of the Thanksgiving Family Forum. In this post, we have even more right-wing rhetoric to share from CitizenLink's edited video of the roundtable discussion, available at

First, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich spoke of values and religion, conflating secularism with an absence of values. He claimed that a faction in the U.S. "which believes thing which are profoundly wrong" is determined to destroy values. At the 19:00 mark, he had this to say.

"I don't think liberty means libertine. I don't think liberty means absence of values. None of the Founding Fathers thought liberty meant that. The pursuit of happiness in the 18th century enlightment meant wisdom and virtue ... The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 to organize Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin says 'religion, morality, and knowledge being important,' we need schools. It was the Pelosi House that cut off the first three words, and said 'knowledge being important.' None of the founding fathers would have said that education without character is useful. They would have said it is in fact dangerous. Now what you have today is an outgrowth of the French Revolution. Gertrude Himmelfarb brilliant book on three enlightenments captures it perfectly. The French Revolution was an anti-clerical, anti-God rejection of the larger world in favor of secularism. It has dominated our academic world. Our academic world supplies our news media and our courts and Hollywood, and so you have a faction in America today which believes thing which are profoundly wrong. Now that is a fight. That's not a passivity. In a culture in which they know what they're doing and they are determined to destroy our value system, and we are passive or confused, is a world in which America is going to stay in deep trouble."
Gingrich, like so many other right-wing commentators, painted the world in black-and-white, binary terms. In this vision of the world, forces of faith and morality struggle against immoral secularism, with little room for gray area or thoughtful analysis.

At the 34:20 mark, Gingrich lashed out at the Occupy movement, caricaturing demonstrators as entitled, lazy protesters who need to bathe. The fact that Occupy demonstrators might have valid grievances, pay taxes, or defy stereotypes was not discussed.
"All the Occupy movements start with the premise that we all owe them everything. They take over a public park they didn't pay for, to go nearby to use bathrooms they didn't pay for, to beg for food from places they don't want to pay for, to obstruct those who are going to work to pay the taxes to sustain the bathrooms and sustain the park so they can self-righteously explain that they are the paragons of virtue to which we owe everything. Now that is a pretty good symptom of how much the left has collapsed as a moral system in this country and why you need to reassert something as simple as saying to them, 'go get a job right after you get a bath.'"
Other participants waxed poetic about the "Judeo-Christian" values that supposedly undergird American society. At the 21:19 mark, Texas Governor Rick Perry told the audience that "Judeo-Christian" values need to be the values guiding the issues faced by Congress and the president.
"If you are a pastor, you need to be in the pulpit every Sunday, and frankly every day that you have the opportunity to be in that pulpit, talking about values, because values are going to get decided. Somebody's values are going to decide what the Congress votes on or what the president of the United States is going to deal with, and the question is whose values? And let me tell you, it needs to be our values, values and virtues that this country was based upon in Judeo-Christian founding fathers."
Similarly, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann argued that American exceptionalism is grounded in "the Judeo-Christian ethic" and that the Ten Commandments allegedly formed the foundation of American law. These comments were framed in her larger commentary on the "censorship" of Americans pastors, who must abstain from endorsing candidates to maintain their tax-exempt status. At the 24:08 mark, Bachmann had this to say.
"I think probably the the greatest amount of censorship in this country today is in the pulpits of our churches, because we have a law that limits pastors for what they can say about politics in the pulpit. That's not the American way ... That is the First Amendment, allowing pastors to say whatever they want to say in the pulpit, because one thing they recognize is the the whole concept of American exceptionalism, and American exceptionialism is grounded on the Judeo-Christian ethic, which is really based upon the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments were the foundation for our law."
By branding restrictions on clergy endorsement of candidates as "censorship," Bachmann fails to consider the role this restriction plays in safeguarding church-state separation. Furthermore, by linking America's alleged exceptionalism with "the Judeo-Christian ethic," Bachmann seems to suggest that Christianity is what makes the U.S. strong and unique. Bachmann's statement should be troubling to those who value church-state separation and religious diversity in the U.S.

The candidates' comments at the Thanksgiving Family Forum troubled me for several reasons. First, several candidates conflated American identity with Christianity -- presumably right-wing Christianity -- thereby excluding Americans of other faiths or no faith. To exclude non-Christians from national identity in a religiously diverse society is to promote division. Second, political rhetoric at the Thanksgiving Family Forum demonized secularism and liberalism, promoting a right-wing Christian vision of the state. Sadly, none of this rhetoric was new, as this batch of candidates has made similar statements in the past. In short, American voters need to take these candidates at their word, and remember their theocratic rhetoric in November 2012.

For additional commentary, visit the following links.

Religion Dispatches: Gingrich’s Anti-Secularism Greatest Hits

Slate: Rule of Lord

Def Shepherd: The GOP Thanksgiving Family Forum Debate: The Giblets

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Thanksgiving Family Forum: Government, God, and Gab

On November 19th, the Family Leader hosted the Thanksgiving Family Forum at First Federated Church in Des Moines, Iowa, with CitizenLink and the National Organization for Marriage as keynote sponsors. The forum was an online roundtable discussion among several GOP presidential contenders, including former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas), Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota), Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), former Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pennsylvania), and businessman Herman Cain. Given that several questions posed to candidates involved religion and values, the Thanksgiving Family Forum was a feast of startling quotes. An edited video of the roundtable discussion has been posted at www[dot]citizenlink[dot]com/2011/11/19/thanksgiving-family-forum-complete-video/

Moderator Frank Luntz began the roundtable with a question about the line "so help me God" in the presidential oath of office. At the 4:11 mark, Michele Bachmann claimed that George Washington fervently believed in the force of Providence at work in the early nation, arguing that without God's aid, Americans won't be able to get the U.S. back on track.

"It reminds me that it was George Washington that added those last four words, 'so help me God,' and after he added those four words, he reached down and he kissed the Bible. And I think it's because if there was any American who had seen the hand of God rising up this nation, it was George Washington. He literally said without the aid of Providence, we wouldn't have had this land, and I think the time that we're in right now in this country is also at such a critical time, without his hand, we won't be able to get back on track."
Afterwards, Bachmann talked at length about her conversion to Christianity and experiences with God. Rick Perry also emphasized human dependence on the divine, insisting that a president needs God's wisdom and guidance to lead successfully. At the 6:14 mark, he had this to say.
"Being the president of the United States is got to be the hardest job in the world, and the idea that one of us sitting around this table could do it with our own human intellect, our capability, is beyond any of us, and we have to have that eternal wisdom that comes from God, and so 'so help me God' is almost a plea ... The idea that I would walk into that without God almighty holding me up would scare me to death."
Luntz asked the group what they consider to be the number one value that America needs to reclaim. At the 7:55 mark, Rick Santorum made the troubling claim that American civil law must agree with divine law, throwing in anti-abortion sentiment for good measure.
"America is a country that was founded on the concept that our rights come to us from our creator. Rights come to us from God, and that when God gives us rights, he doesn't say, 'Well, here are your rights, just do whatever you want to do with them." That in fact he has laws that we must abide by. Now unlike Islam, where the higher law and the civil law are the same, in our case, we have civil laws. But our our civil laws have to comport with the higher law ... As long as abortion is legal, at least according to the Supreme Court, legal in this country, we will never have rest because that law does not comport with God's law which says that all life has value ... As long as there is a discornance between the two, there will be agitation."
Santorum them derailed into a lengthy discussion about his faith and the role of God in his election to the U.S. Senate. Hilariously, Luntz called him out on his failed reelection bid at the 9:17 mark.
SANTORUM: I knew, at that moment when I won, I had a constituency of one. And I always felt that way. I always felt like, you know, that God had sort of pulled me out and given me this opportunity. But I've got to tell you, it took me until the United States Senate to really see what God had in store for me.

LUNTZ: So can I ask you then what message was God sending to you when you lost your race for the U.S. Senate?
[Audience laughs]

SANTORUM: Can I first tell you the good news? I mean, come on, You sort of glossed over the good news to get me--I'll get to that.

LUNTZ: Quickly.
At the 10:57 mark, Newt Gingrich stressed that Americans must remember that God supposedly endows humans with rights, casting secularism as short-sighted and narrow in its political vision. His rhetoric about God allegedly being driven from the public square is a familiar Religious Right chestnut.
"It would be to ensure that every American understood that we are endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights, and therefore you have to explain the word 'creator,' and I wouldn't have anybody teaching who felt uncomfortable explaining what the founding fathers meant when they said that our rights come from our creator, because it changes everything else. 'Secular' is a term that comes actually from the Latin secularis meaning 'century,' and it basically says life is very limited, so you might as well get the most you can now. A belief in God is the precise opposite. It's a belief that we are all part of an eternity and that eternity stretches behind us and ahead of us, and therefore we have to measure what we do within the framework of God's greater plan. A country which has been now since 1963 relentlessly in the courts driving God out of public life shouldn't be surprised at all the problems we have because we have in fact attempted to create a secular country which I think frankly is a nightmare. So I think the first step is--this is not sectarian. It's not Protestant, Catholic, Jewish. This is a factual historic statement. Our founding document, which is the base of our government, says we are endowed by our creator and therefore we have responsibilities as citizens to that creator, and if we simply have a system that reasserts that and educates that and tries to live up to that, we will be a dramatically better country, and other policies follow from it."
For this statement, Gingrich received warm applause from the audience. Gingrich neglected to add that not all Americans believe in God (or one god), not all Americans agree on what such a being would expect of humans, and that not all Americans want faith and government entwined. By caricaturing secular government as a short-sighted, he forgot that separation of church and state protect both from each other.

In only the first few minutes of the Thanksgiving Family Forum, candidates flaunted their Religious Right credentials to an approving audience. Amidst pious words about their faith and their visions of God in government, candidates revealed an alarming vision for America.

Stay tuned for even more quotes from the roundtable!

For more information on the Thanksgiving Family Forum, visit www[dot]thefamilyleader[dot]com/thanksgiving-family-forum. For additional commentary, visit the following links.

Why Evolution is True: Republicans insane; want to establish theocracy

The Daily Beast: Best Moments From the GOP's Thanksgiving Family Forum

Huffington Post: Thanksgiving from Hell: The Republican Family Forum

Washington Post: GOP Candidates Court Conservative Christians in Iowa

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Mormons and Evangelicals Clash at 2011 Values Voters Summit

Sign atop a truck outside of
2011 Values Voters Summit
(To read about science and nature at the 2011 Values Voters Summit, click here. To read about homophobia, click here. To read about reproductive issues, click here. To read about Glenn Beck's speech, click here.)

Before I share my account of speeches and sights at the 2011 Values Voters Summit, I want to bring attention to tensions between Mormons and anti-Mormon evangelicals at the summit. As some commentators expected, not only did some attendees express antipathy toward Mormonism, but Mitt Romney and Glenn Beck also spoke out (albeit gently) against anti-Mormon sentiments.

Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association (one of the Values Voters Summit's co-sponsors) created controversy earlier this year when he made a controversial comments about Mormons on AFA's Focal Point. This fact was not lost on Mitt Romney, a Mormon himself. During his speech at the summit on Saturday, October 8th, Romney did not name names, but criticized one of the conference speakers for using "poisonous language."

"We should remember that decency and civility are values too. One of the speakers who will follow me today has crossed that line, I think. Poisonous language doesn’t advance our cause. It has never softened a single heart or changed a single mind. The blessings of faith carry the responsibility of civil and respectful debate."

Glenn Beck, also a Mormon, defended his faith during an afternoon speech on October 8th. Acknowledging the right of unnamed Values Voters Summit speakers to criticize his beliefs, Beck  nevertheless made it clear that he would not apologize for his Mormon religion. "I am a proud member of the Church of Jesus Christ," he told listeners.

Friday, September 23, 2011

News Tidbits

Air Force Times: Schwartz: Don't endorse religious programs

Christian Science Monitor: Pope arrives in Berlin to a dissonant welcome

San Diego Gay and Lesbian News: Meet NOM's new face of hate: John C. Eastman

Fox 19: Miami University could host controversial Westboro Baptist Church

The Advocate: Candidate Vows to Unseat Town Clerk Who Refuses to Marry Gays

CNN: Mideast Action at UN Casts Spotlight on Christian Zionism

American Independent: Perry’s Israel support plays well with Jewish, evangelical voters for very different reasons

Florida Independent: Suspended Priests for Life leader compares supporting abortion rights to supporting terrorism

Minnesota Independent: Bachmann’s campaign hires reflect far right-wing Christianity

Commentary Tidbits