The display tables at the Values Voters Summit in Washington, DC, are a cornucopia of conservative red meat. One advertises an upcoming conference on creeping Islamic Shariah law (November 11th in Nashville; register online). Near the entrance, a company advertises something called the "Timothy Plan," which helps investors avoid stocks that are "involved in practices contrary to Judeo-Christian principles" (the list includes Disney, CBS, and JP Morgan).
And over near the back doors, there's PFOX (short for Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays), an organization dedicated to combating perceived prejudice against people who say they've stopped being gay. As the group's literature puts it, "without PFOX, ex-gays would have no voice in a hostile environment." Ex-gays have long been a staple on the religious right and at gatherings like this, but the organization has found a renewed sense of purpose following last spring's to-do over Rep. Michele Bachmann's Christian therapy clinic. As The Nationfirst reported, clinics owned by the Minnesota congresswoman and her husband have practiced so-called reparative therapy, designed to cure patients of their homosexuality.
"To boost the economy, why not pay interns?" Why not? MoJo does it.
As Andy Kroll reported this morning, the three-week-old #OccupyWallStreet movement has risen out of many of the same grievances that sparked massive protests at the Wisconsin state capitol. In some cases, as I discovered on Thursday at a satellite demonstration in DC, it even includes the same group of people.
Chad Bucholtz drove to DC ("crammed in like sardine cans") along with 14 others from Wisconsin to attend the rally. A veteran of the union demonstrations in Madison last February, he sees the 99-percent movement as a direct continuation of those efforts. "I see a lot of similarities; in Madison it wasn't just Democrats, it was Democrats and Republicans—maybe former Republicans," said Bucholtz, a student at UW–Milwaukee. "It was both the left- and right-wing people that recognized that the corporate influence of Koch Industries was pretty much buying policies." He politely disagrees with skeptics who say the movement hasn't articulated any specific goals: "We need a constitutional amendment to clarify that money is not free speech," he says. "My opinion is that the root [of the problem] is money buying politics."
Carrie Scherpeltz of Madison, another veteran of the Wisconsin demonstrations, said she expected about 100 Wisconsinites were on there way to show their support. "We were a spark; I personally want to fan it." Her message: "De-rig our economy. They've been rigged in favor of corporatocracy and against the people."
Via Pew, this chart sort of speaks for itself. Support for the nation's biggest institutions (you can add in the media, if you want) have very steadily declined over the last four decades. When you add in a horrible economy, it's really no surprise why so many people have taken to the streets to protest over the last three years:
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) says a nonexistent United Nations treaty could lead to widespread firearm confiscation.
In February, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) sent out an urgent message to his supporters. The subject was the United Nations Small Arms Treaty, a pact under consideration by the UN that would wipe out Americans' Second Amendment rights. If it were to be ratified by the Senate, Paul wrote, it would allow the government to "CONFISCATE and DESTROY ALL 'unauthorized' civilian firearms." And that would be just the beginning. Once implemented, the treaty it would mandate that all guns be registered with the international body, paving the way for "full-scale gun CONFISCATION."
Only there's no such thing as the UN Small Arms Treaty. The senator was broadcasting unfounded propaganda being disseminated by an extreme gun group.
Paul was writing on behalf of the National Association for Gun Rights, a Second Amendment organization that considers the National Rifle Association too moderate. The two have a mutually beneficial relationship: NAGR endorsed Paul and donated $1,000 to his 2010 campaign through its political action committee; in September, Paul sent out another email blast, this time to shill for the organization’s "Frontline Defenders" newsletter, which serves as a fundraising tool for the NAGR. "There's an all-out WAR going on for our gun rights," the newsletter warned, reprising, once more, the specter of a "Small Arms Treaty" bent on mass confiscation.
Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) is getting his own super-PAC.
If you're a running for national office in 2012, there are a few things you need to do: 1.) Do not hire Mark Penn; 2.) Don't tell your base that they "don't have a heart" (they won't like it); 3.) Set up a nominally independent super-PAC—preferably with a longtime ally at the helm—dedicated to raising corporate cash and spending it on your behalf. Since 2009's Citizens United decision, independent super-PACs, which can raise unlimited sums and spend it as they please—provided they don't communicate with any candidate—are all but required for serious candidates. Rick Perry has two of them, for instance.
And now, National Journal's Chris Frates reports that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has gotten in the game, too—paving the way for a spot on 2012 ticket:
The PAC will be run by Cantor's deputy chief of staff John Murray and would give Cantor a vehicle he could use to run for vice president, should the opportunity arise, said a source close to the majority leader's office, who asked not to be named because the source was not authorized to speak publicly. Murray's departure from Cantor's office is imminent, the source said.
Cantor was floated as a potential vice presidential pick in 2008, but one year later a McCain aide called those reports a "complete and total joke." He was briefly mentioned as 2012 presidential candidate (mainly because he was raising a lot of money), but shot down those rumors. He has not endorsed a candidate yet, although he had publicly urged Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to run.