This post originally appeared at Think Progress. The League of Women Voters has filed complaints with police in Evanston, IL and the FBI saying that one of their officials has been targeted by death threats relating to a candidatess debate she moderated last week. Kathy Tate-Bradish was a volunteer moderator at the October 21 debate in the state’s 8th District and sparked conservative outrage when she expressed what was perceived as “lukewarm” support for reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Just as the debate was about to begin, an audience member asked Tate-Bradish whether the pledge would be recited. When she “explained the pledge was not scheduled to begin the event, almost all in the crowd of more than 300 stood and enthusiastically recited it anyway.” Tate-Bradish recited the pledge as well, but told the crowd afterwards that the Pledge is not typically recited at candidate debates moderated by the League. Within a few days, Tate-Bradish went from an unknown local League official to a right-wing villain, thanks to Fox News host Glenn Beck, who devoted a significant portion of his October 25 show to attacking her personally:
BECK: We wanted to look at the moderator, Kathy Tate-Bradish, from the League of Women Voters. Oh, she sounds so neutral and everything. I mean, she’s even neutral on the Pledge, apparently — just a typical woman voter trying to get the truth out. No, not so much — not so much. She is on fire for Obama. She is a big-time Obama supporter. In fact, so much so, she’s part of his Organizing for America arm. Hmm. She’s even hosted campaign event in her home in 2007, part of her post on OFA’s, Organizing for America Web site, “Hope Action Change.”
Watch it: The FBI told the Arlington Heights Daily Herald that Tate-Bradish’ complaint has been received and “is receiving due consideration.” League of Women Voters Illinois Executive Director Jan Czarnik, who filed the complaint, told the FBI that Tate-Bradish had been “turned into a cause celebre by Glenn Beck and Fox News.” Czarnik provided the FBI death threats posted on the Internet against Tate-Bradish, and “reported menacing posts on Fox News Channel’s Facebook page and Beck’s website, The Blaze.” Joel Cheatwood, an executive who oversees Beck’s show, issued a statement yesterday saying, “We’re not going to comment on something that’s hypothetical as we have not heard about this complaint.” For more on right-wing violence, see yesterday’s Progress Report.
This post first appeared on Think Progress. For the past year and half, Republicans have done little else but urgently demand that the federal government drastically cut spending to reduce the deficit. However, like much of the rest of their agenda, Republicans have been remarkably vague on what they would actually cut. In interview after interview, journalists have pushed, and even begged, GOP leaders for specifics, always to no avail. When pressed, they hem and haw, often appearing uncomfortable — and in the case of Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH), visibly angry — but can offer nothing more than cop-out answers like repealing unsent stimulus money or an “across the board” cut on all spending. ThinkProgress has compiled some of the more embarrassing of these moments: The video features, respectively, Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), Rep. John Shadegg (R-AZ), California GOP Senate nominee Carly Fiorina, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Rep. John Boozman (R-AR), Gregg, and Sen. John Cornyn (R-AZ). This represents a large portion of the GOP leadership, but there are countless other examples as well. Fiscal conservatives and tea party activists had been hoping that the House GOP’s recently released “Pledge to America” would finally offer specifics on major government cuts — they were almost universally disappointed. After racking up huge deficits under President Bush, Republicans still have no idea — or perhaps desire — to get spending under control.
This post originally appeared on Think Progress. For months, tensions have been growing within the Senate Republican conference over Sen. Jim DeMint’s (R-SC) increasingly brash assertion of authority in opposition to the party leaders. Through his Senate Conservatives Fund, DeMint has spent millions backing tea party candidates to run against those endorsed by the GOP establishment in Republican primaries, and has asserted himself in Washington by abusing Senate rules. It now appears these intra-party tensions have come to a head. Last week, in a fundraising email to supporters, DeMint accused his colleagues of doing “everything” in their power to help Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK) write-in campaign against Joe Miller, the GOP nominee whom DeMint supported during the primary over opposition from mainline Republicans. The email discussed a closed-door meeting in which Republicans decided to allow Murkowski to keep her ranking member position on the Senate energy committee. In interviews with Politico, a number of leading Republican senators offered rare public rebukes of their colleague, accusing Demint of “intensifying a rift within a party that’s trying to unite,” and of breaching protocol by discussing the closed-door meeting:
– “I personally think it’s very counterproductive,” said retiring Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO), calling the attack, “totally inaccurate.” Bond “scoff[ed] at what he and other GOP senators see as DeMint’s apparent attempts to build his national profile at the expense of his colleagues.” – Asked whether DeMint’s message was helpful to the GOP, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) simply said: “No.” – “I would take issue with that,” said Sen. John Thune (R-SD), the number four Senate Republican and likely 2012 presidential candidate. He said DeMint’s statements are “overstating what happened. I think the Republican leadership is very much doing everything they can to help the Republican nominee in Alaska.” – Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) called DeMint’s fundraising email a “mistaken idea,” saying there “isn’t one sitting Republican in the Senate that isn’t supporting Joe Miller.” – Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the GOP conference chairman, chided DeMint for publicizing the closed-door meeting, saying, “Our strong tradition in the Republican Conference is to have a free and open exchange and to keep that among ourselves.” “I’m always disappointed when some member of our conference decides not to follow that tradition. It makes it hard for us to be a team,” he continued.
In response, DeMint remained defiant. While admitting he may have been “perhaps overly aggressive” in the email, DeMint said, “I’m ready to take on those critics because I’m giving my full support to all the Republicans, and I’m not sure that all Washington Republicans are getting behind our candidates.” “I hate to offend my colleagues,” DeMint told Politico, “but the fact is that there is a battle going on for the heart and soul of the Republican Party.”
This post originally appeared on Think Progress. Yesterday, the conservative Weekly Standard leveled what Politico described as an “explosive” accusation against the White House, accusing its operatives of improperly snooping on the tax returns of Koch Industries, the giant oil and gas conglomerate owned by right-wing mega-donors Charles and David Koch. Based solely on the account of the Koch’s general counsel, the Weekly Standard alleged that the White House had obtained, and subsequently revealed, private tax data about the company. According to the Standard, during a conference call with reporters last month, an unnamed administration official suggested Koch was one of a “series of entities that do not pay corporate income tax.” Indeed, many companies that are privately owned do not pay corporate taxes, but instead “pass through” their profits to the company’s owners, who then pay personal income tax on the profit. A company’s tax status is confidential, so Koch’s lawyer and the Standard — noting that the White House and the Koch brothers have clashed publicly in the past over their funding of right-wing attack groups — are suggesting that the White House learned of Koch’s status by illegally obtaining information from the IRS. Other right-wing blogs piled on, and by this afternoon, Fox News dutifully chimed in to defend Koch. Almost entirely ignoring the actual details of the story, host Megyn Kelly and legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr. wondered if “this is a return to the Nixon’s enemy list,” and suggested that the White House is trying to “intimidate” its “political rivals”: Koch’s lawyer is not denying the claim that the company doesn’t pay corporate taxes, but rather is concerned about how the White House knew. But as the White House noted in a statement to Politico, this assumption could be easily made by merely visiting the company’s website, which explains that most of its subsidiaries are the types of companies that are generally “pass-through entities,” and thus do not pay corporate taxes. Rather, they pass profits onto the owners who in turn pay personal income tax. The White House flatly denied any wrong doing, further explaining that several experts testified before a presidential economic board about Koch’s tax status. “If this information is incorrect, we are happy to revise statements,” the White House statement continued. Of course, this kind of wild conspiracy theorizing is nothing new for Weekly Standard, which has implicated the Obama White House in nefarious (and entirely fabricated) schemes to blackmail Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) into voting for the Affordable Care Act, buy Rep. Jim Matheson’s (D-UT) vote on the bill, and bribe Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) to drop out of a Democratic primary. None of these false charges have prevented more mainstream outlets from repeatedly turning to the Weekly Standard as a reliable source. But the tax status of Koch Industries speaks to a much larger issue than the right-wing media’s attempt to baselessly implicate the White House in illegal activity. In the ongoing debate about extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, Republicans repeatedly insist that “small businesses” will be dangerously impacted by the tax rates resetting to a higher level. In reality, as House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) himself has admitted, just three percent of small businesses would actually be affected. Moreover, many of the “small businesses” Republicans whine about are actually huge corporations, such as accounting giant PriceWaterHouseCooper, engineering juggernaught Bechtel Corp., and — if it is indeed a “pass-through” company — Koch Industries, the nation’s second-largest private company.
This post originally appeared on Think Progress. Despite having a lesbian sister, Delaware GOP Senate nominee Christine O’Donnell has long history of taking hateful and ignorant positions against gay people, as ThinkProgress has noted in our report on the former anti-sex activist. For example, O’Donnell has said she “cannot understand” why gay people are offended by homosexuality being called a “deviant sexual orientation,” and has claimed that gay people are “attacking the very center of what is America — freedom to have different views.” But in a 2006 quote uncovered by the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent, O’Donnell took an even harsher stance, calling homosexuality an “identity disorder:”
“People are created in God’s image. Homosexuality is an identity adopted through societal factors. It’s an identity disorder.”
As Sargent writes, “O’Donnell’s suggestion that gays suffer from a psychological disorder is far worse than other comments about gays that have already gotten media attention.” Indeed, until 1973 the American Psychiatric Association considered homosexuality to be a disease, causing tremendous problems for gay men and women who were labeled mentally ill. Now, the APA states firmly that “homosexuality is not an illness, a mental disorder, or an emotional problem,” and that “human beings cannot choose to be either gay or straight.” O’Donnell has claimed that her views have “matured” since she was in her 20s, but the recency of this homophobic remark raises serious questions about how much her extremist beliefs have actually evolved.
This post originally appeared on Think Progress. Before Rev. Terry Jones was being condemned by the White House and military commanders in Afghanistan for his planned “International Burn a Quran Day,” he was a pastor at an evangelical church he founded in the 1980s in Cologne, Germany. Jones grew the congregation of the Christian Community of Cologne to as many as 1,000 members, but his radical, hate-filled preachings eventually got him expelled from the church. According to the German magazine Der Spiegel, Jones ruled the church like a tyrant, even as his sermons became increasingly Islamaphobic and hateful, prompting his congregation to kick Jones and his wife out of the church last year:
Various witnesses gave SPIEGEL ONLINE consistent accounts of the Jones’ behavior. The pastor and his wife apparently regarded themselves as having been appointed by God, meaning opposition was a crime against the Lord. Terry and Sylvia Jones allegedly used these methods to ask for money in an increasingly insistent manner, as well as making members of the congregation carry out work. [...] Jones became increasingly radical as the years went by, former associates say. At one point he wanted to help a homosexual member to “pray away his sins.” Later he began to increasingly target Islam in his sermons. A congregation member reported that some members were afraid to attend services because they expected to be attacked by Muslims. “Terry Jones has a talent for finding topical social issues and seizing on them for his own cause,” says Schäfer.
Former members of Jones’ German church described a “climate of fear and control” and said Jones insisted on “blind obedience.” Some former congregants are even “still undergoing therapy as a result of ’spiritual abuse.’” A German Protestant Church official familiar with Jones even said the pastor has a “delusional personality.” In a heated interview on Thom Hartmann’s radio show, Jones confirmed that he had been the head of the Christian Community of Cologne, but refused to respond to Der Spiegel’s allegations, telling Hartman, “If you want to discuss 9/11, that will be fine, if not, I guess we will have to end this conversation”: In response to his plan to burn Qurans, Jones’ old church, said, “We want to distance ourselves fully from this plan and from Jones.” “We are as shocked as the rest of the world,” said Jones’ successor Stephan Baar, adding, “This has nothing to do with us and nothing to do with our beliefs.”
This post first appeared on Think Progress. Among the many radical statements that Nevada GOP Senate nominee Sharron Angle has made, two that stand out are her agreement that there are “domestic enemies” in Congress, and her seeming endorsement of armed insurrection, saying “Second Amendment remedies” may be necessary if “Congress keeps going the way it is.” As ThinkProgress has noted, Angle has refused to distance herself from either of these claims. In an interview with a Nevada radio host last month, Angle twice refused to directly respond to her “enemies” claim, saying only that Democratic policies have “definitely hurt our country.” When confronted with the “Second Amendment remedies” statement in June, Angle refused to comment, and her spokesperson eventually blocked the reporter posing the question from asking any more questions, calling him “‘an idiot’ and another term that can’t be repeated.” In two recent interviews, Angle yet again refused to disavow her dangerous comments. In an interview with ABC, Angle even seemed to double down on the “enemies” claim, saying lawmakers who passed legislation she does not support are “certainly not friends”:
ABC News: Do we have enemies of the country inside the walls of Congress? ANGLE: Certainly people who pass these kinds of policies — Obamacare, cap and trade, stimulus, bailout — they’re certainly not friends to the free market system. ABC News: So, what are they? ANGLE: They’re not friends.
In an interview with CNN, when asked about the “enemies” comment, Angle wouldn’t back away from it, and even refused to say whether or not President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) are “enemies of the state.” She also refused to clarify or back down from her “Second Amendment remedies” statement, saying only that her comment was “spoken in a context”:
REPORTER: Do you feel that the President or Harry Reid are enemies of the state? ANGLE: I don’t think anybody mentioned any names during that conversation and of course those weren’t my words. [...] REPORTER: And what about that statement where you said a Second Amendment response may be necessary if things keep going the way they’re going. And you said we may have to take Harry Reid out. What was all that about? ANGLE: Well, once again, as we said, those things were spoken in a context. … But those are not the issues people are really concerned about. They’re concerned about our homes, our economy, our jobs. That’s what people are concerned about. He’s wanting to take out little pieces of segments of conversations that were about general discussions. We were talking generally about the Founding Fathers and their intent with the Second Amendment.
Angle repeatedly complained that her comments were taken out of context, but when given a clear opportunity to correct the record, she declined. If Angle is trying to “represent mainstream America,” as she said in the CNN interview, then why does she refuse to state clearly that she doesn’t support armed insurrection? Angle’s extremism has even alienated her own supporters, with a Las Vegas Review-Journal/8NewsNow poll showing that “2 in 3 self-identified supporters” of Angle wish “another Republican was on top of the ticket instead.” In June, Reno Mayor Bob Cashell, a Republican from Angle’s hometown, called the Senate nominee “an ultra right winger,” adding, “I can’t support her.”
This post first appeared on Think Progress. One of the chief arguments critics have employed against the construction of the proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero in New York is that the center would be “insensitive” to the families of the victims of the 9/11 terror attacks. “[T]he overriding concern should be the sensitivities of the families of the victims,” wrote Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, who surprised many by coming out against the Islamic center. “The question here is a question of sensitivity, people’s feelings,” said former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani. Some 9/11 families “are crying over this,” he added. But now a “key” 9/11 victims’ families group is breaking with the mosque opposition movement, demanding that an anti-mosque protest planned for September 11th be rescheduled, “and, if it isn’t, that participants back out.” In an email to members reposted by Politico, Dennis McKeon (who started the group Where to Turn as a clearinghouse of information about the attacks and subsequent plans to redevelop Ground Zero) wrote that any protests planned for the ninth anniversary of the attacks “disrespect the memories of our loved ones on this sacred day at this sacred site”:
As most of you probably know there is a proposed protest rally against the mosque being planned for 9/11. There are also reports that there is a pro mosque rally in the works for 9/11 as well. … We have always stood against any rallies scheduled for September 11th and we will do so again with these events. We will be joining other 9/11 organizations in asking that the organizers change the date for these events. If they refuse to change the date we will also ask those scheduled to appear to withdraw from the events. Over the past 9 years more and more of what’s been going on at Ground Zero has excluded the families. … We will never support such activities that disrespect the memories of our loved ones on this sacred day at this sacred site.
Indeed, while conservative critics have attempted to co-opt the families of the 9/11 victims for political purposes, painting them as monolithically opposed to the proposed community center, in reality, their opinions are split, much like those of other New Yorkers. The September 11th protest is to be the biggest yet, featuring former U.N. ambassador John Bolton, right-wing media tycoon Andrew Breitbart, and Dutch Parliamentarian Geert Wilders, a proud hater of Islam. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was scheduled to deliver a video address, but canceled under mysterious circumstances. The protest is being organized by anti-mosque crusader Pamela Geller, who has organized other demonstrations against the proposed center, and uses her blog Atlas Shurgs to pump out new smears against the project’s organizers every day.
This post originally appeared on Think Progress. In April, two students at Cal State Stanislaus found a partial copy of a speaker’s contract for former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. The partial copy revealed that Palin, who was due to speak at the university in June, has “more demands than an opera diva when she hits the road,” as the New York Post put it. It revealed Palin requires a chauffeured black SUV to get her to and from the airport, first class airfare or a private jet, a pre-approved “deluxe hotel” suite, and two bottles of water placed next to the lectern with “bendable straws.” Many doubted the authenticity of the contract, and Palin blasted the students for digging it up, accusing them of trying to “silence” her. But on Friday, a California judge ordered the release of the full contract under a freedom of information law, proving the partial copy is indeed authentic. The full contract confirms her “diva” demands, and provides new details, from her $75,000 price tag to other extravagances she requires:
– Jet: Not just any private plane will suffice: “The private aircraft MUST BE a Lear 60 or larger (as defined by interior cabin space) for West Coast Events; or, a Hawker 800 or Larger,” for East Coast events. But even if organizers arrange for a private jet, if Palin “changes her mind and opts to fly via commercial flights for US events, the Customer must be prepared to cover the cost of first class round trip airfare for two, and full, unrestricted round trip coach for two.” – Visiting with heads of state: For international appearances, Palin “reserves the right to visit privately with the host government’s Head of State,” as well as “accept the invitation of [the] host government to overnight at an official residence.” – Hotels: All hotels have to be “deluxe” and pre-approved by her representatives, with the room booked under an “alias.” Even non-overnight stays require hotel rooms, including a “holding suite” and “one or two single rooms.” – Stage: The contract has very specific instructions about how the stage and lectern should be arranged. Lighting should be “comfortable, but at an appropriate production level for the Speaker,” and the lecterns should be made of wood — “no Plexiglass or thin lecterns.”
The contract also makes numerous demands to limit the public’s and the media’s access to Palin:
– Questions: All audience questions must be pre-approved, and can only be asked by a moderator or “designated representative,” who must be approved by Palin’s party. – Media: “All requests for press or media coverage” of the event must be submitted far in advance for approval. “If media coverage is approved,” Palin’s Representatives need a complete list of “media outlets expected to attend” 10 days in advance. – Recording: The media are only permitted to record the first three minutes of Palin’s speech, and then just for B-roll (no audio, video only). Recording of any other kind is strictly prohibited, unless authorized by Palin, and all personal recording devices, including cell phones, have to be turned off “at all events in which Speaker is present.” Only a campus photographer is permitted document to entire speech, and then only approved photos can be published. – Autographs and photo ops: “Unless agreed to” early on, organizers “shall not permit or assist in the request for autographs while the speaker is on site.” Photo opportunities have to be pre-approved, and photos are for personal use only and can’t be re-printed. The contract provides very specific instructions, including a diagram, of how the photo opportunity should be conducted. – Face-time: Paying the $75,000 for Palin’s visit won’t buy you access to the half-term governor. Palin, her “traveling party, and the plane crew will be the only passengers onboard the private jet.” And “[o]nly representatives of the Speaker or WSB are to meet the speaker at the arriving/departing airports.” – Promotional material: All advertising, press releases, and promotional materials, such as flyers and posters, must be pre-approved, as must be sponsoring organizations. – Receptions: A full list of all those attending (”including name, title, and affiliation”) must be provided in advance.
The tight restrictions on access reflect Palin’s media strategy, which insulates her as much as possible from tough questions by confining her to Facebook statements and Fox News. Palin, who cultivates a salt-of-the-earth image, got into trouble during the 2008 presidential campaign after Politico revealed that the RNC had shelled out $150,000 Palin shopping sprees at Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale’s, among other high-end stores. Palin’s black SUV was likely among this row of chauffeured black cars parked near the Lincoln Memorial on Saturday for Glenn Beck’s big “Restoring Honor” rally and fundraiser:
This post originally appeared on Think Progress. Yesterday, a Maine tea party blog posted some handy advice for activists coming to Washington Saturday to attend Fox News host Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally. Among warnings about how to deal with “African immigrants” — do not “assume they are African Americans” and “especially do not…guess they are from a neighboring country” — the guide advised rally-goers to stay out of the vast majority of the city, and cautioned which portions of Metrorail system are safe. While the entire Green and Yellow lines are off limits, the guide allowed for travel on the Blue and Orange lines, as long as attendees do not stray West of the Eastern Market stop. As for areas outside this tiny safety zone: “you should not explore them.” Unfortunately, the only official parking location for group buses is two stops beyond the last safe stop on the Blue and Orange line at RFK stadium, deep in the forbidden zone:
Buses will not be permitted to drop anywhere near the Lincoln Memorial.[...] Bus parking is available at RFK Stadium for groups. RFK Stadium is adjacent to the Stadium Armory Metro Rail station on the Orange & Blue Rail lines. Walking distance from the bus parking area to this Metro is approximately 0.7 miles. The RFK Stadium Armory station connects to the Smithsonian Metro Rail Station, approximately 1 mile from the Lincoln Memorial event site.
DCist created a map illustrating the guide’s recommendations, which ThinkProgress has modified to demonstrate the danger facing the rally’s attendees when they unload from their buses to find themselves far in the unsafe zone: Map2