Earlier today, Donald Trump addressed the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, telling the veterans’ group that he would install a veterans’ hotline in the White House and vowing to “pick up the phone personally” if a hotline employee doesn’t properly handle a complaint.
There is reason to believe, however, that Trump might not exactly keep his word. Here are just five instances that reveal Trump’s troubling record on veterans’ issues:
1)Fake Veterans’ Hotline
Just one month after announcing his presidential run last year, Trump claimed that his campaign had “established a hotline (855-VETS-352)” for veterans “to share their stories about the need to reform our Veterans Administration.”
Back in September, Trump organized a fundraiser in San Diego for a group called Veterans for a Strong America, which in turn endorsed Trump.
It turns out, however, that Veterans for a Strong America is simply a one-man group and a total scam.
Rick Cohen of Non-Profit Quarterly writes, “Veterans for a Strong America was and is clearly yet another fake organization willing to use and abuse veterans for the personal or political ends of the man who created it.”
Upset that Fox News host Megyn Kelly was set to moderate a GOP primary debate in Iowa in January, Trump announced that he would skip the debate and instead hold a fundraiser for veterans. After the event, Trump boasted that he had raised $6 million for veterans’ causes.
However, months after Trump’s “fundraiser,” veterans’ charities reported that they were “seeing a fraction of the promised money raised.” The campaign later admitted that the event brought in well short of the $6 million figure that Trump had boasted about on the campaign trail, and reporters discovered that Trump himself never made the $1 million contribution that he pledged to personally underwrite.
Exactly how much did Trump raise for veterans? His campaign doesn’t know. How much of it has been allocated? His campaign doesn’t know that, either. Who were the beneficiaries of Trump’s $1 million contribution? The campaign doesn’t want to talk about it.
Only when he faced immense media pressure and scrutiny did Trump finally fulfill his pledge, months after his January fundraiser and despite the fact his campaign manager had insisted that he had already donated the money.
“If Hillary Clinton and her campaign had been caught making blatantly false claims about donations to veterans’ charities, is there any doubt that it would be one of the biggest stories of the election season?” Benen asked. “How much punditry would we hear about this being proof about Clinton’s dishonesty and willingness to say anything to get elected?”
Much as Trump denied making the remarks that he had clearly made about his veterans’ fundraiser, the candidate hasdenied ever mocking GOP Sen. John McCain for being a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War.
Trump, who made the comments at an Iowa “pro-family” event last summer, did in fact mock McCain for his service: “He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured — I like people that weren’t captured, okay? I hate to tell you.”
He has similarlydenied ever suggesting that U.S. troops in Iraq had stolen money meant for reconstruction projects — again, despite the fact that recordings of his remarks are publicly available.
5)Attacks On Disabled Veterans
While he fashions himself as a champion of veterans, Trump has spent years, since as far back as the 1990s, urging government officials to crack down on disabled veteran vendors on Fifth Avenue, home of the Trump Tower. In 2004, Trump called such vending “deplorable.”
“He’s done more damage to the disabled veterans in this city than any other man,” one of the veterans said of Trump.
“Coach” Dave Daubenmire, an Ohio-based Religious Right activist, spoke Thursday at a rally for Operation Save America’s “Summer of Justice” in Wichita, where he declared that the “effeminized church” and “sissified Christianity” have removed real men from American Christianity and thus paved the way for the appeal of Donald Trump. Claiming that the devil is using Muslim refugees and others to “destroy Christianity,” he said he hoped that things would become so bad under the next president that the church would be forced to become “great again.”
“I’m on a manhunt!” Daubenmire proclaimed several times before explaining, “I believe that we’re in the problem we’re in in America today because there aren’t any men. There aren’t any men. There are a lot of males. There are a lot of guys who are born male. So you’re a male by birth, but you’re a man by choice.”
He said that there are “thousands and thousands of men who love the Lord but are sick of church” because Christianity has become “sissified.”
“They’re sick of the effeminized church,” he said. “They’re sick of going in there and singing sissified songs. They walk into the church, they understand something is terribly wrong in the culture and there is absolutely no relationship between what they hear in the church and what they see going on out there.”
“And the church makes fun of Donald Trump,” he said. “Where’s the Christian Donald Trump? Where’s that man that will stand forth like that and declare the truth that he’s declaring, that will take on political correctness? I’m not talking about Trump. Where are the men of God? Where have we been? And we, we, we’ve created Donald Trump. We have. Our sissified Christianity, men afraid to say anything, hiding behind their wives.”
“We are at a precipice like no other time where the very existence of western civilization is at stake,” Daubenmire continued. “I’m going to say that again. Western civilization’s at stake. The devil is running rampant trying to do everything he can to destroy Christianity. Have you noticed something? Have you noticed that all these Syrian refugees and all these Muslim refugees they’re sending over here, have you noticed that they’re sending them to what we would consider Christian countries?”
He then repeated his claim that white, Christian, heterosexual men are the only ones who can save America.
“If we can’t open our eyes and see that this is not about race, as much as they try to make it about race, it’s not about race,” he said, “it’s about culture, it’s about the Christian culture that the settlers of America and Europe and England, that those groups took the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world. And the only thing standing between tyranny and liberty is a Christian, heterosexual man.”
“If we don’t wake up soon and very soon,” he said, “we’re going to reach a point of no return here in once-great Christian America. Donald Trump ain’t going to make America great again. No, no, no, no, he ain’t going to make America great. I pray that whoever gets in there, whether, whatever, if it’s Hillary, whoever it is, what I’m hoping is that it gets so stinking bad that Trump or Hillary makes the church great again, makes the church great again!”
We recorded the video of Daubenmire’s remarks off a livestream provided by the event’s host church, Word of Life Church in Wichita.
Last week, Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., appeared on “The Eric Metaxas Show” where he warned that “our kids are being brainwashed” in school.
Inhofe recounted a story where “my own granddaughter came home one day” and challenged him over his claims that climate change is a myth.
“I did some checking,” Inhofe said, “and, Eric, the stuff that they teach our kids nowadays, they are brainwash —you have to un-brainwash them when they get out.”
Later in the program, Inhofe urged Republicans to rally behind Donald Trump’s presidential bid, pointing to the future of the Supreme Court. Metaxas said that “it’s kind of game over for republican democracy” if Hillary Clinton appoints liberal justices to the bench.
“How can we possibly remain America if you have six or seven Sotomayors on the court?” he asked.
Inhofe said that while the court is admirably delaying many of the Obama administration’s environmental initiatives, its direction would shift if Clinton were allowed to fill the current vacancy.
“Stop and think how significant it is if they make one change,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be all Sotomayors, it could just be one more change and we’re through.”
After several lines of Melania Trump’s speech at the Republican National Convention last week were found to have been plagiarized from a speech that Michelle Obama gave at the 2008 Democratic convention, some of the Trump campaign’s defenders went to absurd lengths to defend or deny the plagiarism.
Among them was Rachel Campos-Duffy, a spokeswoman for the Koch-funded conservative Latino group Libre Initiative and an RNC speaker, who told the Catholic TV news network EWTN on Thursday that if anyone had plagiarized it was Michelle Obama, because she lifted her 2008 speech from “the opportunity message that has been the platform of the Republican Party.”
In an interview inside the convention hall, EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo asked Campos-Duffy and her husband, Republican Rep. Sean Duffy of Wisconsin, about the plagiarism incident.
Sean Duffy responded that it was all the fault of the media, which wanted “to create a controversy out of nothing,” but Campos-Duffy quickly cut in.
“But I’m not sure, I mean, I’m not sure that she plagiarized,” she said. “I mean, when I saw the two speeches together, I thought, wow, Michelle Obama has really plagiarized the opportunity message that has been the platform of the Republican Party.”
When Arroyo pointed out that “they used the same line at some point,” Campos-Duffy responded that it was “pretty generic stuff” and that the media was simply trying to distract from the fact that Melania Trump “looked spectacular.”
Sean Duffy then alleged that Trump has to avoid every “misstep” because the media is being especially critical of him: “But it goes to the point that Donald Trump has to be better. You can’t open yourself up for these kind of attacks because the media will take them, they’ll run with them, and they’ll run over your story and your message. So be better.”
In an interview with TMZ on the day of Melania Trump’s speech, Sean Duffy attempted to deny that there had been any plagiarism at all, saying, “These are common phrases about family and support of family and ideas about our country, so I don’t think they were so unique a phrase that only a Democrat says it, only a Republican, it’s a lot of common themes that a lot of us share.”
The Republican National Convention and the constellation of right-wing events scheduled during and around the official gathering included plenty of downright disturbing examples of racism, misogyny, religious bigotry, and Mussolini-wannabe-ism. It also included some intensely awkward moments, not all of them caught on television cameras.
Picture Sen. Jeff Sessions sitting on stage with four other speakers on a panel organized by the American Conservative Union Foundation to address the question, “Will conservatives support Trump?”
OK, now picture Sen. Sessions’ face as he tries to remain calm and composed while fellow panelist Heather Higgins, head of Independent Women’s Voice and a Wall Street Journal contributor, tells this joke:
There was a man who was lying in his hospital bed, quite sick, oxygen mask on his nose and mouth. And a young nurse comes in … to give him a sponge bath. And she hears him mumble through his mask, “Nurse, can you check, are my testicles black?”
She is embarrassed at this and kind of horrified, and she says, “Sir, all I’m supposed to do is wash your upper body and your feet.” And he tries again, and says, “Please, please can you check, are my testicles black?”
And so she decides that she doesn’t want his blood pressure to go up and him to be agitated by worrying about this, so she just steels herself for the embarrassment, pulls back the bed clothes, lifts up his hospital gown, takes him in one hand and checks, and she says, ‘Sir, you’re fine. You’re magnificent…
And he takes off his oxygen mask and he says, “Thank you, that was wonderful, nurse. But let me say this again slowly: are my test results back?”
Higgins was trying to make a humorous point about messaging, and people not hearing what you’re trying to say. But she also seemed to be demonstrating the gleeful contempt for “political correctness” that was on display all last week in Cleveland. The attitude seems to be that people should just “have a sense of humor” rather than take offense when something inappropriate or offensive has been said.
As others have noted, conservatives who complain about “political correctness” often seem to be longing for a time when it was acceptable to openly traffic in stereotypes or worse – or in the words of comedian Samantha Bee, to be free of the “cruel shackles of empathy and mutual respect.”
Back to Higgins. In response to a question about Trump’s promise to build a wall on the border with Mexico, Higgins reminded people that Trump has said his wall would have a big door. “Who else would run the golf courses?” she snarked. That comment drew some groans and a loud “whoa” from fellow panelist KT McFarland, and someone else chimed in, “I think it’s Eric Trump, actually.” Rather than letting it go, Higgins added, “No, I meant manage the day-to-day maintenance.”
Higgins said that some conservatives oppose Trump because they don’t genuinely believe him to be conservative; others she described as “ever snob” – people who have a “social discomfort” with the way Trump talks and presents himself and “can’t see themselves or their friends every finding it socially acceptable to say that they’re for Trump.”
She said that those snobby people might never tell a pollster they are a Trump “supporter,” but that if a pollster asks whether they are thinking about voting for Trump they will get a much higher number, because in the end it comes down to a binary choice between him and Hillary Clinton. While many conservatives who backed other candidates are still working their way through the stages of grief, Higgins said, by October and November they’ll get to “acceptance” and vote for Trump.
The Washington Post reported in 2010 that the Conservative Action Project was helping fuel closer coordination across the multifaceted conservative coalition with its weekly Wednesday morning meetings at the Family Research Council. The group also promotes shared messaging and strategy with its “Memos for the Movement.” Now this collection of right-wing leaders has identified its policy priorities for the first 180 days of a new administration.
At a forum organized by the American Conservative Union Foundation at the Republican National Convention, participants were given of a set of pocket cards containing policy proposals, quick facts and “market tested messages” on the one dozen highest priorities selected by Conservative Action Project leaders. The 12 priorities are divided into four categories: Constitutional Issues and the Judiciary; Preserving and Protecting Our Culture; Freeing Our Economy so Everyone Can Win; and Defending Our Freedoms.
The package provides a clear picture of the ideas that right-wing organizations are pushing Trump to embrace. Some are vague, like, “The President should revive Public Diplomacy,” but others are quite specific. Taken together, they’re a pretty good indication of what we’d have in store on the policy front with Trump in the White House.
Among the proposals, which signal the intense desire of right-wing organizations to infuse their priorities throughout the federal government’s executive branch agencies:
Immediately rescind all Obama Executive Orders consistent with recommendations by Constitutional and trusted advisors such as The Federalist Society, The Heritage Foundation, and other conservative advisors and transition committees.
Terminate all executive branch individuals still within their probationary period and freeze hiring for all regulatory positions.
The President should eliminate taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood using executive action and seek a permanent legislative solution.
The President should freeze and withdraw all regulatory activity on the Obama energy and climate agenda.
Submit legislation to repeal Obamacare in its entirety.
The President should support the rule of law and reject amnesty proposals and fully enforce and strengthen interior enforcement measures in the United States.
The policy proposals listed under “Restore Religious Freedom” include calls for the president to ensure passage of the First Amendment Defense Act, which carves out exceptions from nondiscrimination laws for people who claim anti-LGBT religious beliefs, and to “issue an Executive Order requiring that the Executive branch respect the 1st Amendment and provisions of the First Amendment Defense Act.”
The package proposes a new tax code that is “simpler, fairer, flatter and stimulates growth,” insisting that all tax reform “should lower individual and business tax rates, particularly the top marginal rates, to encourage saving and investing.”
It says senators “should vigorously question judicial nominees about their intent to remain faithful to the original meaning of the Constitution and laws.”
On education, the movement’s priority is to “Advance School Choice,” and it calls on the president to appoint “a movement conservative” as secretary of education. It wants the president to “champion the policy of dollars following the children,” language used by advocates for private school vouchers and other forms of public school privatization.
The Conservative Action Project’s “memos for the movement” provide a further sense of the group’s worldview. For example, it responded to last year’s marriage equality decision by the Supreme Court in apocalyptic terms, saying, “The Court’s abuse of power is of such historic proportions that the conservative movement, and indeed every American who cherishes liberty must now address the serious damage done to the cause of freedom and the very foundation of our civil society.”
The president and his liberal allies know what is at stake and so do we. It is nothing short of their intent to eradicate precious constitutional rights. These leftists have made clear their first target is our 1st Amendment right to political speech and the silencing of conservative voices. They mock the 2nd Amendment right of the people to protect themselves and their families and are determined to take away our constitutional right to bear arms. They welcome the prospect of unleashing unaccountable federal agencies like the IRS and EPA to impose a liberal policy agenda that will harm Americans and punish any who dare to disagree with their worldview. And not least of all, they vow to use the Court’s power to impose an “unconditional surrender” in their cultural war against our fundamental institutions of faith, family, marriage, home, and school — and will wipe out any pro-life protections, instead imposing abortion on-demand, up to the moment of birth, paid for by the taxpayers.
Last Saturday, Michele Bachmann appeared on “Understanding the Times with Jan Markell,” where she declared that Hillary Clinton “has innocent blood on her hands” because of her handling of the 2012 Benghazi attack.
“She’s a dangerous woman with bad ideas,” she said.
Bachmann also took issue with the release of another congressional report clearing Clinton of wrongdoing in the incident, blaming the media for not getting tough on the presumptive Democratic nominee: “It’s sick. The media is treasonous in this country. They are part of the treasonous process. I’m sick of the media, like I’m sure most of your audience is. They’re lying, they’re dishonest. Trump’s exactly right about that.”
The former Minnesota congresswoman said that Clinton is trying to “keep Christians at home” on Election Day, arguing that past GOP presidential candidates like Mitt Romney and John McCain only lost because they weren’t true conservatives who failed to inspire a large Christian turnout. (Bachmann’s sixth-place finish in the 2012 Iowa caucus seems to undermine her theory that only far-right candidates can win major elections).
Bachmann said that Clinton is “the most godless woman” in politics who “should’ve been doing time,” before lamenting that America is under God’s judgment.
Among the events hosted by right-wing groups during the Republican National Convention was “The Conservative Pit Stop,” sponsored by the American Conservative Union Foundation with an assist from its friends at the National Rifle Association. The ACU hosts the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, which attracts thousands of participants and a host of Republican officials.
Also speaking: Fox News national security analyst KT McFarland, Heather Higgins of Independent Women’s Voice, GOP pollster Kellyanne Conway, Heritage Foundation VP for Policy Promotion Ed Corrigan, platform committee policy director Andrew Bremberg and former chairman of the Federal Election Commission Don McGahn, a Jones Day attorney who is the lawyer for Trump’s campaign.
The two questions formally on the table were “Will conservatives support Trump?” and “Can we reverse the Obama imperial presidency?” For these panelists, not surprisingly, the answers were “yes” and “yes.” Lee said it is in Trump’s power to win over Cruz supporters like him by adding to the campaign’s message a clear stand on reversing the trend of allowing the federal government and executive branch to accumulate too much power.
The Supreme Court was a major topic at the event, as it was throughout the convention, where the court was cited frequently as the ultimate reason for conservative voters to back Trump despite whatever qualms they might have.
McGahn said the list presents “a defining moment” and “a very, very, very clear choice for Americans.” It contains no moderate or “squishy” judges, he said, “no stealth candidates” and “no David Souters.” A number of them, he noted, clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas or the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
“Everyone on the list is already wearing a black robe,” McGhan said. He explained that there were a number of state Supreme Court justices on the list because many conservative “rising stars” whose age puts them in the “sweet spot” for a Supreme Court nomination are not on the federal bench:
Frankly, anyone in what I consider to be the sweet spot barely had an opportunity to be considered for chance to be considered for a federal court appointment in the last Republican administration so I think the rising stars who are conservative, conservative-libertarian, movement conservative, whatever one wants to label themselves, constitutionalist, textualist, etc., etc., are really going to be found on the state courts, simply because that’s where we are generationally.
McGahn did praise by name a few of the federal judges on the list, including William Pryor and Diane Sykes. And he mentioned state Supreme Court justices Allison Eid of Colorado and Don Willett of Texas, an anti-regulatory judge whose opinion in a Texas licensing case McGahn called “a manifesto on economic liberty we have not seen in our lifetime.”
Sessions also praised Trump’s “great list” of judges, saying it contains “no Souters or Kennedys.”
While everyone on the panel loved Trump’s list, the Heritage Foundation’s Corrigan had one more suggestion: In response to a question about what a President Trump should do on his first day in office, Corrigan suggested that he nominate Sen. Mike Lee to the Supreme Court. (Not long ago we discussed Lee's extreme views about the Constitution.)
Trump’s list of potential Supreme Court nominees was reportedly drawn up with help from right-wing powerhouses the Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation. McGahn also seems to have played a role as Trump’s liaison to the conservative and Washington establishments in putting that list together; in his introduction, the ACU’s Dan Schneider said McGahn “gets a lot of credit for those 11 judges.” McGahn also reportedly helped broker Trump’s March meeting with GOP congressional leaders.
Right-wing moviemaking has been a growthindustryinrecentyears, as conservative activists set out to challenge what they see as the damaging cultural impact of liberalism’s dominance in Hollywood. The latest example is “Torchbearer,” which director Steve Bannon called “a Christian war film” in remarks before a screening in Cleveland during the Republican National Convention last week.
“Torchbearer” stars Phil Robertson, the Duck Dynasty patriarch who became a folk hero in the right-wing war on “political correctness” when the show was temporarily suspended by A&E amid controversy over Robertson's inflammatory remarks about homosexuality and black people in the pre-civil-rights-movement Louisiana. The movie was shown to distributors in Cannes and will be released in theaters in August.
The hour-long film is a collaboration between well-known right-wing groups. Bannon is executive chairman of Breitbart News; the script was written by a Breitbart editor, Rebecca Mansour. It was produced by Citizens United, the organization whose movie attacking Hillary Clinton was used by conservatives on the Supreme Court to gut regulation of political money in Citizens United the court ruling. Religious Right political operative Ralph Reed attended the premiere, and at a reception following the screening, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., took the opportunity to slam Clinton and praise the work of Citizens United.
The idea for “Torchbearer” came from Robertson’s nephew Zach Dasher, who ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2014. The plan began to gel during conversations at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference, at which Robertson was honored with the Andrew Breitbart Award. The film includes a clip from Robertson’s CPAC speech warning about sexually transmitted diseases.
Dasher introduced other pre-movie speakers, calling Citizens United’s David Bossie “Hillary Clinton’s worst nightmare” and celebrating that “Breitbart is waging war on liberalism in America.” Bossie said “Torchbearer” is the sixth collaboration between Citizens United and Bannon.
Dasher said he didn’t want to make a “typical cheesy Christian film.” Judging by that standard, you would have to say the movie succeeds. But it is hard to imagine anyone, even people who share Robertson’s evangelical faith and political beliefs, could enjoy the film very far beyond the opening sequences, which intersperse shots of Robertson calmly boating, fishing and hunting with sneering critics calling him bigoted and stupid, clearly meant to set up the narrator as a common-man hero despised by the cultural elites.
The film combines Robertson presenting an evangelical message of salvation through Jesus Christ with a theory about religion’s role in human history and society. Says Robertson, “When you take out God as the anchor of your civilization you open the door to tyranny and instead of human rights you have the will to power of the ruler who makes himself the sole determiner of what is true and just. Might makes right.”
More specifically, it is a warning to Americans that societies not grounded in reverence and fear for the Judeo-Christian God, and His teachings on right and wrong, inevitably descend into depravity and brutality.
Robertson says the Scopes trial on the teaching of evolution, during which H.L. Mencken mocked religious opponents of teaching evolution in schools, was “a watershed event that would slowly unravel the bond that wove the Creator into the very fabric of American life. God would be cast out of the public square, out of education, out of national discourse, out of the popular culture altogether.”
It is hard to describe how disturbing this movie is, on multiple levels.
Firstly, it visually and emotionally assaults the viewer by lingering on gruesome images of violence and death, using reenactments and animation as well as the most graphic historical footage from Auschwitz and more recent images of victims of ISIS and Boko Haram being beaten, shot and burned to death. I would call the movie’s infliction of trauma gratuitous, but it seems a very purposeful act meant to provoke and inflame and generate a rage to war.
Also jarring are the vast leaps through time and the excising of inconvenient truths that would undermine the moviemakers’ message, which seems to be that the history of the last 2015 years is a story of barbarity inflicted on Christians and others by those who have abandoned God or worship the wrong God or gods.
The movie’s timeline starts in the Garden of Eden, with Adam and Eve inviting evil into the world with their disobedience of God. Then we’re in Athens to talk about Aristotle’s belief in a “first cause” and four centuries later the apostle Paul’s trip there; then to Rome for the execution of Peter and Paul, the emperor Nero’s brutal massacres of Christians, and the Roman empire’s continued persecution of Christians over their refusal to adhere to the “civic religion” (dog-whistle alert) of the time, which required treating the emperor as a god.
From there, we hop to the pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock, conveniently skipping over a millennium-plus of history that includes abundant butchery carried out by people and societies fervent in their religious beliefs, particularly European Christians in wars against heretics and each other and during the conquest of the Americas.
Then it’s a short hop to the American Revolution. Robertson contrasts the American founders’ reverence for God with the atheistic French Revolution and Robespierre’s bloody reign of terror. The movie does not address the American Civil War, in which God-fearing Christians on both sides engaged in bloody combat.
At the turn of the 20th century, Robertson says, “worship of science becomes the new religion.” The film includes a segment on the development of the atomic bomb, “the first weapon of mass destruction.” It features a clip of nuclear scientist Robert Oppenheimer reciting language from the Hindu Bhagavad Gita: “Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.” Robertson responds, “So fallen man, unanchored by God, uses the power of creation to destroy. Mechanized war is upon us.”
It is not entirely clear how this segment fits the movie’s thesis that without the Judeo-Christian God as an anchor, there is no protection for human rights and human dignity. Are the filmmakers suggesting that Franklin Delano Roosevelt — whose public prayers for the D-Day invasion are cited admiringly in the film — was “unanchored by God” and was wrong to back development of the atomic bomb in fierce competition with Nazi scientists?
Speaking of Nazis, the movie devotes significant time to Auschwitz, where Robertson talks at length about the details of the horrific, systematized mass murder that took place there, which he blames in part on philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s claim that God is dead.
To be sure, the Holocaust is a brutal historical reality that should continue to be examined and understood as a warning about the way evil can be fostered and carried out at a national level, something that has been on many people’s minds during this political season. But this movie’s use of the stories and images of the people murdered at Auschwitz feels shamefully exploitative, especially in light of the fact that the film contains not a word about the long history of Christian anti-Semitism. Acknowledging centuries of deadly violence against Jews by Christians and in the name of Christianity would, again, undermine or at least complicate the movie’s central claim, and so it is simply ignored.
The same could be said of the film’s use of the civil rights era in the United States. The movie shows footage of the brutality meted out against those who were peacefully protesting segregation, but portrays this as another example of what happens when societies have rejected God and the weak and powerless are vulnerable to the man “with the biggest stick.”
But the big-stick brutality of Jim Crow and the official violence that enforced it were not being waged by a people who had rejected God. They were carried out by people who declared themselves to be acting in His name. Robertson himself has said that black people were more “godly” and “happy” under Jim Crow.
The movie quotes Martin Luther King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail as an example of religious faith in the service of public righteousness. But it utterly neglects how much slavery and Jim Crow were also justified by religious arguments, and how intensely the civil rights movement was seen by many white Christian leaders in the south as an attack on their faith as well as their culture. The late Rev. Jerry Falwell Sr., whose son had a prominent speaking role at the RNC, preached that the Supreme Court justices who ruled against segregated schools were not heeding God’s word.
Moving to the present era, Robertson warns against poll-driven morality – a not-too-subtle reference to growing support for LGBT people – and says a “sentimental need to be nice to each other” is not enough to ward off barbarism. Warning that “sentimentalism falls prey to nihilism,” Robertson says of the Hippies, “what started out as free love and flowers in your hair ended up with the Manson murders.” The movie includes footage of abortion activists’ anti-Planned Parenthood “sting” videos as well as American pop stars in sensual performances. “We are crotch-driven animals following our instincts,” he complains. “The sexual experience is now the high summit of our happiness.”
As the movie nears an end, viewers are subjected to graphic images of brutality and genocide being carried out by ISIS and affiliated terrorist groups like Boko Haram in Nigeria; Robertson reads from the biblical Book of Revelation.
And then there’s an abrupt shift back into the bayou made famous by Robertson and his family. Robertson wades into the water, where one at a time, people walk out to join him and be baptized. It is strikingly peaceful end to a “war movie.” Even if one is not tempted to join the line of people being baptized by Robertson, the idea of a soothing dip is very appealing after being subjected to “Torchbearer.”
Donald Trump's acceptance speech last night at the Republican National Convention was high on fear-mongering and low on policy specifics. Not surprisingly, one specific policy he did bring up was his promise to "build a great border wall to stop illegal immigration, to stop the gangs and the violence, and to stop the drugs from pouring into our communities." (Although, as the Washington Post pointed out, he left out his promise to make Mexico pay for it.)
Trump's promise to build a wall along the entire border with Mexico has been a cornerstone of a campaign that has cast Mexicans and Mexican Americans as frightening outsiders and criminals. It's not a serious policy proposal. Instead, it's rhetorical prop for a campaign that relies on stirring up fear of outsider.
As the Anti-Defamation League has explained, building a wall along the entire border would be "impractical and very likely ineffective":
A wall or a fence along the entire border with Mexico would be impractical and very likely ineffective. The border between the U.S. and Mexico is almost 2,000 miles long. It spans difficult terrain, including deserts and mountains. Rivers flow along two thirds of the border. Much of the area is private property, which the government would have to buy from the owners to build a fence or wall, and many do not want to sell the land. The logistics alone make building a wall very difficult, if not impossible.
A handful of conservatives, recognizing this reality, have recently attempted to give Trump an out by acknowledging that he won't actually build a wall but is instead talking about a "virtual" or metaphorical wall.
Rep. Blake Farenthold of Texas, an enthusiastic supporter of Trump, said earlier this month that "it's going to end up having to be a virtual wall," saying that aerial surveillance and "strategically placed walls" in urban areas are a more effective border control strategy than a literal wall along 2,000 miles of border. "You can buy a predator drone for what two miles of wall costs," he said.
Another Republican congressman who's supporting Trump, Rep. Chris Collins of New York, has also claimed that Trump's wall will be "virtual," telling a newspaper, “Maybe we will be building a wall over some aspects of it; I don’t know.”
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who has also endorsed Trump, has also claimed that Trump is speaking only metaphorically about a wall, saying, "It’s a wall, but it’s a technological wall, it’s a digital wall … There are some that hear this is going to be 1,200 miles from Brownsville to El Paso, 30-foot high, and listen, I know you can’t do that. ”
Even Dan Stein, the head of the anti-immigrant Federation for American Immigration Reform, has acknowledged that Trump's wall isn't a real thing.
“The wall is a surrogate for getting the border under control,” Stein said last month. “There have been physical structures in place down there since the 1980s. You need physical structures at certain high entry points to channel traffic. Ranchers who are out there in the middle of nowhere, they don’t see why you would need a border wall.”
“The wall is a surrogate for border control operations,” Stein added. “What [Trump’s] saying is he’s gonna get the job done. People who believe he’s actually gonna put a brick on every centimeter of 2,000 miles are in a sense mistaking his intention. The language he’s using is what you use in a political campaign, and if you take Hillary Clinton at her word, then she wants to embrace a limitless immigration platform.”
He isn't proposing a border wall as a serious solution to a serious problem. Instead, it's a rhetorical prop in his campaign of demonizing and scapegoating immigrants, and even some of his allies are admitting it.
It is sad to see Dinesh D’Souza, once considered by many to be a “conservative intellectual,” continue to drift to the far-right fringe. In yet the latest example of this, D'Souza appeared yesterday on Alex Jones’ bizarre conspiracy theory program to discuss his new film on Hillary Clinton.
D’Souza, who claims that Clinton is trying to “steal America,” apparently forgot about the American principle of the right to be represented by an attorney, as he criticized Clinton for representing an alleged rapist in a 1975 trial while she was working as a lawyer in Arkansas.
Referring to an audio recording of Clinton discussing the trial, D’Souza misrepresented Clinton’s remarks and even said he heard “the voice of evil" in the tape.
“And for me, it’s knowing about how psychopaths and sociopaths are,” Jones added. “They have this real self, but everything else is like fake to manipulate. When she goes to California and speaks to Latino groups, she puts on this fake Latino voice. When she goes to Kentucky, she goes, ‘How you doin’ there, boy,’ like she’s, you know, Grandma Clampett getting some possum grits. I mean, it’s like I wouldn’t hang around with anybody that when they got around different groups, talked a different way. I mean, it is bizarre to show that that’s what psychopaths do – and I think she’s a psychopath, I think she’s a full-blown psychopath – is that they do feel this need to just put on these fake acts. It’s very creepy.”
“I think so,” D’Souza added. “And I think she might even have gotten some of this from Bill, because Bill is the master of it.”
D’Souza continued, “People have heard, ‘I did not have sex with that woman,’ but what they actually haven’t heard is you go back and play the old tapes where Bill and Hillary were both confronted with all this stuff and the kind of silky nonsense they put out there, at one point, I think it was Steve Kroft says to the Clintons, ‘Well, you know, I think Americans can kind of accept that you guys, whatever your problems, you’ve worked it out, you’ve made some kind of arrangement, and then Bill jumps in. He goes, ‘Arrangement? We don’t have an arrangement, we love each other. We have a marriage. It’s totally different.’”
Jones interjected: “Yeah, she’s not banging three chicks a day like me too.”
Later, Jones defended Roger Ailes against reports that Megyn Kelly said he had sexually harassed her, claiming that Kelly has “Jezebelian energy” and is secretly “an agent for the Clintons.”
“Well, that’s why Megyn Kelly – I don’t want to get off on a jag – I’ve watched her, I see her on that sinister power trip, it’s that Jezebelian energy, and, you know, Roger Ailes made her who she is,” Jones said. “To see her say, ‘He hugged me once too hard and I want him taken out,’ and I know, because I have the inside baseball, it is from the Clintons, there are talking points, people are being threatened, I’ve talked to the host. And it’s like wow, she really is an agent of the Clintons and all that stuff with Trump and it’s like seeing her join with evil, now, this is a thousand times worse with Hillary, obviously, but it’s just, it’s the creepiness. It’s the dishonor of it. It’s the sliminess that really tells you what we’re dealing with is a bunch of evil people.”
Although Jones said he lacks the energy to control other people, “these evil people” like the Clintons “enjoy… running other people’s lives, knowing what you’re doing, controlling you, ruining you, just because they’re quite frankly jealous of you, and they’re jealous of America, they’re jealous of free market, they’re jealous of open, free societies, compared to everything else, not saying we’re perfect. It’s like what you said in your first film, they want mount our head on the wall.”
In a radio interview at the Republican National Convention today, right-wing author Ann Coulter took credit for Donald Trump's campaign kickoff speech in which he blasted immigrants as “criminals” and “rapists,” while insisting that she doesn't promote racism.
While speaking with Wisconsin talk radio host Charlie Sykes, who is broadcasting from the convention, Coulter claimed that after Trump got a copy of her anti-immigrant book “Adios America!,” he incorporated her material into his infamous speech, or as Sykes put it, started “channeling his inner Ann Coulter.”
Coulter, however, took issue with Sykes when he said that her book promoted a “racist meme” about immigrants.
“My answer is F.U., Charlie Sykes, how dare you?” Coulter responded.
“There’s nothing racist about anything I say,” she said. “To be pro-American is racist?”
Coulter went on to allege that while Americans “should be arrogant about our culture,” students today endure “Chinese-style brainwashing from kindergarten through college” that teaches that “American culture is the worst culture in the world” and claimed that it is now a “hate crime to try to assimilate people.” She also cited Ben Franklin’s criticism of German immigrants to show that restricting immigration is necessary to protect America’s British-inspired culture.
Rep. Glenn Grothman, R-Wisc., said that a Donald Trump presidency would be “a very scary thing” when it comes to foreign policy, reacting to Trump’s latest comments to The New York Times that he wouldn’t necessarily honor NATO’s Article V if Russia invaded a NATO member.
“There’s no question in analyzing Donald Trump, the toughest thing to agonize over is what he’s going to do on foreign policy,” Grothman said while speaking today with radio host Charlie Sykes, adding that he was hopeful that vice presidential nominee Mike Pence “would have a lot of influence” in a future Trump administration so that Trump would not endanger global safety.
A dumbfounded Grothman, a Trump supporter, warned that Trump’s suggestion that the U.S. should not abide by its commitments to allies would create a less safe world and invite a Russian invasion of its European neighbors.
“I think you could almost say it’s a very good chance we’re going to see Russian tanks” in Europe, Grothman said.
Today on “Breitbart News Daily,” reality TV star and conservative activist Phil Robertson spoke with radio host Stephen Bannon and Citizens United president David Bossie about the Republican National Convention, and Robertson urged listeners to rally behind Donald Trump.
The Duck Dynasty patriarch said that evangelicals must turn out and vote because they are facing “spiritual warfare” from “the depraved bunch, this political correct crowd” that is “of the Evil One.”
Robertson, an earlysupporter of Ted Cruz, said that Trump’s former rivals, including Cruz, must rally behind the business mogul, warning that “the alternative” to a Trump presidency is “depravity” and “moral bankruptcy.”
After falsely claiming that Democratic delegates “booed God” at their 2012 convention, Robertson said that a Democratic victory in November would cause him to go into hiding: “If the Republicans and the evangelicals do not get off their posteriors and vote, I think I’m going to head back to the woods and hide out.”
Yesterday on “The John Fredericks Show,” Arizona Republican state Sen. Kelli Ward, who is challenging Sen. John McCain in the state's GOP primary, claimed that the American government has “armed ISIS” and used over $1 billion to train and provide resources to the extremist group.
Ward called Hillary Clinton and McCain “two peas in a pod” when it comes to their “invade the world, invite the world” foreign policy.
“We have nation building abroad and we have open borders at home, we end up with terrorist attacks,” Ward said. “And what we’ve seen because we’ve armed ISIS – and I’m gonna put it right out there, the American government, John McCain, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, have armed ISIS. Even in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act, $1.3 billion put in there by John McCain to fund 'freedom fighters,' I’m putting it in air quotes, 'freedom fighters' in the Middle East, in Syria.
"And we did that before. We put in half a billion dollars – half a ‘b,’ billion, dollars – and we got four or five good rebels who fought for us, and the rest of that money, the rest of that training, the rest of those resources went into ISIS, and so now we’ve got bodies, we’ve got bodies from Benghazi to Orlando, and it’s all on the hands of the people who are in Washington, D.C., right now.”
The American Conservative Union Foundation hosted an event at the Republican National Convention on Tuesday, featuring panel discussions on whether conservatives will support Trump and whether the “imperial Obama presidency” can be reversed. It also included a surprise keynote speech from Donald Trump’s vice presidential pick, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.
Pence was introduced by NRA’s Chris Cox, who said that it is important for conservatives to win the culture war, because right now “everything that we’ve grown up knowing to be good, right and true has been twisted and perverted and repackaged to our kids as wrong.” Cox said the Second Amendment suffered a “devastating loss” with the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. “This is a critical time in American history,” he said. “It’s a critical time for constitutional freedoms.”
Pence’s appearance may have been a practice run of sorts for Wednesday night’s speech. He worked hard to convince attendees that they should feel good about supporting Trump, who Pence repeatedly called “this good man.”
Pence got applause with his first three words, “my fellow conservatives.” He described himself as “a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order.” He gave a short political bio, taking about being inspired to run for office by Ronald Reagan, serving in Congress, and then returning to Indiana, where he has helped usher in the largest school voucher program in the country.
Pence bragged that his “strong Republican leadership” has achieved results in Indiana, “and that’s exactly the kind of strong Republican leadership Donald Trump will bring to the White House.”
Pence described Trump as a builder, a fighter, a father, and a patriot. He said after spending time with Trump, “I know that Donald Trump will be a great president of the United States of America because his heart beats with the heart of the American people.”
Pence compared Trump to Ronald Reagan, who he said “never lost the common touch.” He recalled a story about when, as a young congressional candidate, he met Reagan and said he was grateful for everything Reagan had done for the country. Reagan demurred, saying, “The American people decided to right the ship, and I was just the captain they decided to put on the bridge, and they did.”
Pence said he sees and hears in Donald Trump the same humility and unshakeable faith in the American people that he saw in Reagan.
Pence also had some direct words for those conservatives who have been resistant to Trump’s charms:
So the time has come for us to come together. The primaries are over. It was a big stage up there, with a lot of extraordinarily talented men and women. I say to my fellow conservatives today, it’s time for us to come together, time for us to come together around this good man and reelecting Republican majorities in the House and the Senate, because this is no ordinary time in the life of our nation…
We must decide here and now that Hillary Clinton will never become president of the United States of America…for the sake of a Supreme Court that will uphold the sanctity of life, our Second Amendment and our God-given liberties, we must elect Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States of America.
One theme of this year’s Republican National Convention is the Religious Right getting fully on board the Trump Train. Even before he vanquished Ted Cruz, his final primary opponent, Trump has been aggressively courting the Religious Right, and he has recently sought to shore up support from the movement leaders who backed Cruz and other candidates.
Yes, Trump is a habitual liar whose Bible-waving and political use of religious is transparently cynical, but that isn’t stopping Religious Right leaders from rallying around him. And why not? He allowed the Religious Right to write anti-gay discrimination into the GOP's platform. His promise to fill the Supreme Court with right-wing justices gives them hope that marriage equality in the U.S. will be short-lived. And he is even promising to overturn the federal law that forbids churches, like other tax-exempt nonprofits, from engaging in direct electoral politics, and to sign legislation defunding Planned Parenthood.
When asked why so many evangelicals are supporting Trump in spite of his “interesting” background, his use of “vulgarities,” and other things that might concern a conservative Christian, Reed said, “You’re not electing a pastor-in-chief, you’re electing a commander-in-chief.”
Reed reminded Wright that evangelicals backed Mitt Romney in the 2012 general election even though they had a different approach to faith, and even though Romney had previously held pro-choice and pro-gay views, something for which some conservatives have criticized Trump. “I thought we were members of a faith where we were supposed to welcome converts,” said Reed.
In fact, said Reed, he thinks Trump “has the potential to be the greatest advocate for our values, and do the most to advance that agenda, precisely because he doesn’t necessarily come from where we come from.” In other words, because people don’t view Trump as a Religious Right activist, they might be more receptive to his call for ending the ban on church politicking.
Here’s Reed’s basic case for Trump, starting with the fact that “he is a professing Christian.”
More importantly…he shares our values. He’s pro-life. He’s pro-traditional marriage, which is very important to us…He’s pro-religious freedom. He supported the Hobby Lobby Decision, supports Little Sisters of the Poor, has placed in the platform, at his insistence, at this convention, for the first time in the history of the Republican Party, a call for the repeal of the Johnson Amendment to the internal revenue code, which threatens churches that speak out politically with the loss of their tax-exempt status. That has been used to harass and persecute the Christian community for over half a century. Donald Trump will end it.
For eight years, Republicans have tried to delegitimize Barack Obama’s presidency, falsely claiming that Obama was born abroad and therefore ineligible to be president and that he only won two consecutive elections thanks to massive vote fraud.
Donald Trump, now the GOP’s nominee for president, helped push these myths that paint the president as an illegal usurper who should have never been allowed to take office, while congressional Republicans have refused to treat Obama as a legitimate president.
At last night’s meeting of the Republican National Convention, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie whipped the crowd into a frenzy as the audience repeatedly declared Clinton “guilty” of numerous crimes — including acting as “an apologist for an Al Qaeda affiliate” and negotiating “the worst nuclear arms deal in American history” — and shouted “Lock her up!”
Christie’s speech resembled a show trial more than a typical political address, promoting the message that has been propagated by Trump himself that Clinton should be in prison rather than running for president.
Ben Carson, who spoke later that evening, was more than happy to see that Christie transported Quicken Loans Arena to colonial Salem. The former presidential candidate once againattempted to connect Clinton to devil-worship because of her ties to the late activist and right-wing bogeyman Saul Alinsky:
One of the things that I have learned about Hillary Clinton is that one of her heroes, her mentors, was Saul Alinsky. Her senior thesis was about Saul Alinsky. This was someone that she greatly admired and that affected all of her philosophies subsequently. Now, interestingly enough, let me tell you something about Saul Alinsky. He wrote a book called “Rules For Radicals”.
On the dedication page, it acknowledges Lucifer, the original radical who gained his own kingdom. Now think about that. This is a nation where our founding document, the Declaration of Independence, talks about certain inalienable rights that come from our creator. This is a nation where our Pledge of Allegiance says we are “one nation, under God”. This is a nation where every coin in our pocket and every bill in our wallet says “In God We Trust”. So are we willing to elect someone as president who has as their role model somebody who acknowledges Lucifer? Think about that.
The secular progressive agenda is antithetical to the principles of the founding of this nation. If we continue to allow them to take God out of our lives, God will remove himself from us, we will not be blessed and our nation will go down the tubes and we will be responsible for that. We don’t want that to happen.
Clinton did in fact meet and exchange letters with Alinsky as a college student and even wrote a dissertation about his political ideas. But as the New York Times points out, while Clinton “endorsed Mr. Alinsky’s central critique of government antipoverty programs — that they tended to be too top-down and removed from the wishes of individuals,” she wanted to seek “change within the system” rather than through the outside agitation tactics championed by Alinsky.
And the relationship wasn’t exactly a secret: Clinton wrote about her time — and disagreements — with Alinsky in “Living History.”
On top of all of that, Alinsky’s ode to Lucifer was obviously not a call for Satanism but rather a figurative flourish, not that such a defense would stand up in a witch hunt.
Robertson said that Trump “understands that the evangelicals are crucial to winning this election,” which is why he has pledged to only appoint solidly conservative judges to the bench and push the Religious Right's political agenda.
“Trump is willing to say, ‘Okay, you back me on this and I’m going to back you on your issues,’ and I believe him,” Robertson said. “He looks after his friends.”
The televangelist added that the Supreme Court is “at stake” in the election, along with “all the legislation having to do with all the sexual activity of the United States people, same-sex marriage and all that stuff, plus abortion, that’s on the table. If you’re interested in guns and the Second Amendment, that’s going to be on the table without question. You can go right down the list of key issues that are going to be decided by the Supreme Court and we’re looking at at least two to maybe three vacancies on the court for the next president.”
Paul Weber, the president and CEO of the Family Policy Alliance, the political wing of Focus on the Family, praised the Republican Party's new ultra-conservativeplatform yesterday, saying that the platform "looks like something that was written by us and placed on our own website."
In an interview posted on the organization's website, Weber specifically praised the platform's calls for overturning Roe v. Wade and Obergefell v. Hodges.
Weber also indirectly addressed the concerns of some conservative Christians in voting for Donald Trump, advising viewers to "compare the candidates" and telling them that they "have to vote."
"Seek the welfare of the state," he said. "We have two candidates. You have to choose the best of the two."