With the guest lineup of World Net Daily's Taking America Back 2010 national conference, it was no surprise that birtherism and bigotry were prevalent throughout the convention. After all, WND's Joseph Farah and Jerome Corsi are perhaps most (in)famous for their repeated birther attacks against President Obama.
Displaying shocking ignorance of his own publication, Farah kicked off WND's first national convention by asking if "anyone at WorldNetDaily ever asserted" that President Obama "is foreign-born." We can. It turns out that one of WND's commentators, Craige McMillan, has referred to President Obama as an "illegal alien" in at least three separate posts on WorldNetDaily's website. Despite Farah's suggestion that WorldNetDaily held itself above the tired questions about President Obama's citizenship, Jerome Corsi was quick to jump on the case.
Questioning the president's citizenship, and thus his eligibility as president, was not the only way speakers at WND's convention attacked Obama. Speaker after speaker attacked Obama's faith as a Christian. Jerome Corsi alternatively claimed that Obama "doesn't believe in God" and that he's a Muslim, Floyd Brown claimed that Obama "hates Christianity" and "is a Muslim," while Aaron Klein said that the president "has a certain affinity toward Islam."
Other attacks against Obama included the zombie lie that Obama supported "infanticide" and an absurd demand by Corsi that Obama "come out and renounce Lucifer." Floyd Brown also stated that the "most important step" for the next session of Congress is to impeach President Obama.
Anti-gay bigotry was also out in force at the Taking America Back convention. WorldNetDaily founder, editor, and CEO Joseph Farah suggested gay marriage would lead to "sexual anarchy" and claimed that opposing gay marriage was akin to opposing "sexual offenses" such as "polygamy, incest, statutory rape, child pornography, molestation, [and] prostitution." Noted anti-gay bigot Robert Knight similarly compared a gay marriage ban to bans on polygamy and incest. However, Jerome Corsi refused to be outdone in this vein, going so far as to link same-sex marriage to pedophilia and bestiality.*
Speakers at the convention were also, to put it mildly, displeased with Imam Rauf's proposal to build an Islamic community center in Manhattan to serve an existing Muslim community as a place for worship and community. After nine months of right-wing anti-Muslim bigotry and incidents of violence against mosque sites nationwide, WND's speakers decided to rachet up the rhetoric against the Islamic community center by declaring that its intention is to promote further attacks by Muslims against America. Aaron Klein flatly stated that "the individuals behind" the Islamic community center in Manhattan don't "have peaceful intentions." As well, WND speaker William Murray said that the purpose of the community center is to host "raiders" to "do even more damage" in America.
Just how does WorldNetDaily plan to top all of this with its next national convention?
From WND's Taking America Back 2010 convention in Miami, FL:
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From WND's Taking America Back 2010 convention in Miami, FL:
From WND's Taking America Back 2010 convention in Miami, FL:
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In his September 21 Wall Street Journal column, deputy editorial page editor Bret Stephen argued for the repeal of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, saying: "Gays in the military: The White House and Congress owe them better":
The values argument isn't the half of it. Since DADT came into force in 1993, some 14,000 service members have been discharged under the policy--the equivalent of an entire division of warfighters. Investigating and processing each case has its costs; so does recruiting and training each replacement. How much? A 2006 commission organized by UCLA's Palm Center and led by former Defense Secretary William Perry put the total cost of each discharge at $42,835, meaning the policy has now cost the U.S. taxpayer around $600 million.
That's not pocket change, especially for a military scrounging for savings. It's also no small matter at a time when the military's recruitment standards for age, education, physical fitness and moral standards have been steadily declining. In the last two years alone the Army and Marines have granted an unprecedented number of "moral waivers" to recruits with previous felony convictions.
But what about the argument that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military would harm recruitment, morale and unit cohesion? Mr. Laich doesn't buy it. Existing military regulations strictly prohibiting or regulating sexual conduct would still apply, and violators would continue to be punished. NATO militaries, as well as Israel's, have integrated gay service members without issue. And similar arguments to the ones being made now against repealing DADT were made when African Americans, and later women, were integrated into the army.
"Five years from now we'll look back at this and say, what was all the fuss?" he says. "These young soldiers, sailors and Marines come from a society where gays and lesbians are readily accepted and work with them and go to school with them."
In the meantime, it's worth noting that there are an estimated 48,000 homosexuals on active duty or the reserves, many of them in critical occupations, many with distinguished service records. If they pose any risk at all to America's security, it is, paradoxically, because DADT institutionalizes dishonesty, puts them at risk of blackmail, and forces fellow warfighters who may know about their orientation to make an invidious choice between comradeship and the law. That's no way to run a military.
Tomorrow, the U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote on cloture for the annual defense authorization bill. The bill includes a provision that would authorize the repeal of the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy banning open service by gay men and lesbians. Polls show that an overwhelming majority of Americans support overturning that law.
But the Washington Times -- America's foremost anti-gay daily -- isn't letting DADT disappear without a fight. Tomorrow's edition will include two op-eds rife with the sort of misinformation that conservatives have been pushing throughout the debate.
First up, this screed from Reagan administration official and nutty birther Frank Gaffney. Gaffney's hysterical rant, titled "D-day for the U.S. military," is based on the idea that repealing DADT "could break" the armed forces. (Incidentally, I'm pretty sure that D-day was "D-day for the U.S. military.")
As we've previously noted, these fears have been greatly exaggerated by the anti-gay right. In fact, 25 nations -- including vital U.S. allies like the United Kingdom, Israel, Canada, and Australia -- allow gay men and lesbians to serve openly in their armed forces without a problem. Fears in those countries that permitting open service would hurt retention simply never came to pass. That's why military experts like Chairman of the Joints Chiefs Mike Mullen and former chairmen Colin Powell and John Shalikashvili support repealing DADT.
The Times tastefully illustrates the column with a "Future recruiting poster" featuring Uncle Sam telling possible recruits, "I Want YOU To Be FABULOUS!" Classy.
The Times is also featuring an op-ed from retired Col. Robert Labutta suggesting that allowing gay men to serve openly would somehow lead to an outbreak of HIV in the military. There's simply no evidence to support this conclusion -- as Labutta himself noted, active-duty personnel are regularly tested for the disease, and according to a 2003 study of the impact of the decisions to allow gay men and lesbians to serve openly in the military in the United Kingdom, Israel, Canada, and Australia, "Not a single one of the 104 experts interviewed believed that the Australian, Canadian, Israeli, or British decisions to lift their gay bans ... increased the rate of HIV infection among the troops."
In a September 16 editorial, The Washington Times wrote that members of the military "who oppose the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) agenda are no longer welcome" if the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy is repealed. From the Times' editorial:
Next week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is expected to begin floor debate on a defense authorization bill that would repeal the Clinton-era "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy and allow homosexuals to serve openly in the armed forces. Last month, a top military official offered a glimpse of how the military might look should the new policy take effect: Those serving who oppose the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) agenda are no longer welcome.
Those were the views of Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Bostick, the Army's deputy chief of staff in charge of personnel matters who spoke about "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" before several hundred troops at the European Command headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany.
Servicemen should not be booted from the military because of their sincerely held religious convictions. It's unseemly for a senior officer to equate those who hold traditional values with racists and bigots. Lt. Gen. Bostick's careless words demonstrate his unsuitability to the task, and, for that reason, he should withdraw from further involvement in the Pentagon panel set to issue a report on the new policy by Dec. 1. The Senate also should reject this attempt to undermine the effectiveness, morale and morals of the military on the behalf of a radical fringe.
A Washington Times editorial attacked federal Judge Virginia Phillips's decision striking down the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. The Times argues that "Phillips demonstrated little evidence that she has any knowledge of the unique requirements of service in uniform." But it's hard to take the Times' attempt to show superior knowledge about the military seriously when the Times apparently doesn't even know the name of the military's code of criminal laws, which the Times erroneously refers to as the "Universal Code of Military Justice."
This code is actually called the "Uniform Code of Military Justice."
The Times states:
The decision rested heavily on the 2003 Supreme Court ruling that struck down the Texas sodomy law and established rights associated with the "autonomy of self that includes freedom of thought, belief, expression, and certain intimate conduct." In applying this logic to the military, Judge Phillips demonstrated little evidence that she has any knowledge of the unique requirements of service in uniform. The military is not a vehicle for actualizing the "autonomy of self," and restrictions on expression and activities are essential to the life of a serviceman. Judge Phillips noted that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" "captures within its overreaching grasp such activities as private correspondence between servicemembers and their family members and friends, and conversations between servicemembers about their daily off-duty activities." The judge seems to imply, wrongly, that being off duty is similar to being a civilian and that what troops do on their off time is not governed by the Universal Code of Military Justice. [emphasis added]
However, a Google search for "Universal Code of Military Justice" (in quotes) mainly pulls up hits for the "Uniform Code of Military Justice." Indeed, the first hit for the search is the U.S. military's Web page for the Uniform Code of Military Justice:
As Media Matters noted earlier this week, GLAAD -- the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation -- has been calling on Pro Football Weekly TV co-host Dan Hampton to apologize for saying, "The Cowboys think they are Clint Eastwood -- they're more of the Brokeback variety if you know what I'm talking about."
Hampton did just that on this week's show saying that he was "an idiot" and that he was "truly…sorry."
Noting that the government "called no witnesses" in Log Cabin Republicans v. Gates, Hot Air's Allahpundit argued that the Obama administration shirked its legal responsibility to defend the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. In fact, while President Obama has called for the repeal of DADT, the Justice Department clearly met whatever legal responsibility it has to defend DADT.
Allahpundit quotes from the district court's opinion in Log Cabin Republicans, which states, "it again must be noted that Defendants called no witnesses, put on no affirmative case, and only entered into evidence the legislative history of the Act." Allahpundit the speculated: "Sounds like the feds maybe kinda sorta wanted to lose this one, possibly to help break the logjam in the Senate. (Maybe something for the lame-duck session?)"
However, the very opinion from which Allahpundit quotes also noted the reason the government did not put on witnesses or present evidence other than the legislative history: because it contended that all such evidence was irrelevant to the case. From the opinion:
Defendants asserted relevance (and often other) objections to nearly every exhibit Plaintiff sought to introduce into evidence during trial, as well as to nearly all the testimonial evidence offered. According to Defendants, because Plaintiff challenges the constitutionality of the statute on its face, rather than challenging its application, the only evidence the Court should -- indeed may -- consider, is the statute itself and the bare legislative history; thus, according to Defendants, all other evidence is irrelevant.
Moreover, the government filed hundreds of pages of legal briefs in the case to defend DADT and has defended the policy in the Supreme Court as well.
A federal judge today ruled that the ban on gay and lesbian troops serving openly in the military is unconstitutional. As the Los Angeles Times explains, Judge Virginia A. Phillips found that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" doesn't protect military readiness but, rather, undermines it.
Specifically, Judge Phillips wrote:
Taken as a whole, the evidence introduced at trial shows that the effect of the Act has been, not to advance the Government's interests of military readiness and unit cohesion, much less to do so significantly, but to harm that interest. The testimony demonstrated that since its enactment in 1993, the Act has harmed efforts of the all-volunteer military to recruit during wartime. The Act has caused the discharge of servicemembers in occupations identified as "critical" by the military, including medical professionals and Arabic, Korean, and Farsi linguists. At the same time that the Act has caused the discharge of over 13,000 members of the military, including hundreds in critical occupations, the shortage of troops has caused the military to permit enlistment of those who earlier would have been denied entry because of their criminal records, their lack of education, or their lack of physical fitness.
Judge Phillips is correct -- the ban doesn't protect military readiness or unit cohesion. Earlier this year, Media Matters released a comprehensive document rebutting myths and falsehoods about Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Here are two of the most relevant sections:
GLAAD -- the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation -- is calling on Pro Football Weekly TV co-host Dan Hampton to apologize for saying, "The Cowboys think they are Clint Eastwood -- they're more of the Brokeback variety if you know what I'm talking about."
According to GLAAD, Hampton has already apologized this week for saying "that when the Vikings meet the Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints for a rematch of last year's NFC Championship game (which the Vikings lost in overtime) they need to "go down there and hit that town like Katrina.'"
GLAAD's Aaron McQuade writes:
Hampton wasn't actually saying the Cowboys players are gay, but by making this comment, Hampton telegraphed to his audience that gay men are not good enough, just as he doesn't believe the Dallas Cowboys are good enough. Hampton was a tremendous player for the Chicago Bears throughout the 1980s, he's a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he's a television personality, and whether he likes it or not, he's a role model. Every day, millions of kids across this country are harassed, bullied and beaten because of attitudes like this. Hampton should not be using his platform to encourage homophobia.
Dan Hampton needs to apologize for this offensive and defamatory statement, just as he needed to apologize for his Katrina comment. We will be calling Pro Football Weekly to voice our concerns.
You can contact the show with your thoughts on Hampton's comments by clicking here.
As Box Turtle Bulletin's Jim Burroway writes:
By all accounts from those who have met the reclusive Doug Coe who heads the group, Coe is a very quiet and charming man. With this New Yorker article, it is evident that [The New Yorker's Peter] Boyle has fallen for Coe's charms. Boyle describes The Family as little more than a "frat house", composed in equal parts of Democrats and Republicans, Christians and Jews. In fact, he appears to have fully bought the line about The Family not being a Christian organization at all, but merely a group of people whose sole mission is to influence powerful political and business leaders "to follow Jesus." One wonders exactly how one is supposed to define Christianity better than that, and to impose its tenets, if not its theology, from the top. Boyle's description of events in Uganda are equally naïve.
When Uganda's Parliament took up a bill last year that would have punished some homosexual acts with death, ["Family" member Bob] Hunter and his friends in the Fellowship felt they had the standing to urge the proposed measure's defeat. [Uganda President Yoweri] Museveni appointed a commission that studied the matter and then recommended that the bill be withdrawn.
One wonders how Boyle managed the dexterity to write those two lonely sentences with his hands over his ears while singing "lalalala" to drown out the noise.
Nowhere does he mention that it was MP David Bahati, a key "Family" man in Uganda — a guy who organizes Uganda's version of the National Prayer Breakfast that the Family is best known for in the U.S. — who proposed the bill, stands by it, and still insists that the bill must be passed in it entirety so that they can begin "to kill every last gay person." Boyle would have you believe that the Family was responsible for the bill being dead when in fact the bill, while stalled, is still very much alive. It is currently in committee, and MP Bahati and other Ugandan Family members continue to push for its full enactment. Others however recommend that the bill be dismembered with different provisions attached to other bills with less flag-waving titles, and passed surreptitiously.
As Metro Weekly's Chris Geidner points out, Jim Burroway and Jeff Sharlet are required reading for anyone interested in covering or learning more about the secretive group and, perhaps most notably, its ties to the horrific anti-gay activity happening in Uganda:
If you don't follow Jim Burroway and the work of the folks at Box Turtle Bulletin on Uganda's anti-gay activity -- most notably the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill -- you're missing out on one of the important stories about international inequality faced by LGBT people.
If you don't follow Jeff Sharlet's work on the Family (or the Fellowship, or the folks behind the C Street house), you're missing out on great journalism about the extraordinary influence of one religious organization in American public life.
For a primer on C Street and why this story matters, check out some segments from MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show after the jump.
As he attempts to rebrand himself as a spiritual leader, Glenn Beck has surrounded himself with religious and secular figures who share a fervent opposition to the "homosexual agenda."
The battle between WorldNetDaily founder Joseph Farah and Ann Coulter over the right-wing author's decision to keynote a gathering of gay Republicans is set to take a different path on September 17.
GOProud -- the gay GOP group Coulter will be addressing -- put out the following press release indicating its board chairmen will be debating Farah, the right-wing's homophobic birther king:
Today, GOProud, the only national organization representing gay conservatives and their allies, announced it has accepted World Net Daily's offer to participate in a debate at their "Taking America Back" conference on September 17th in Miami, FL. Christopher R. Barron, Chairman of GOProud's board, will square off against World Net Daily's Joseph Farah.
"Since we announced that conservative author and columnist Ann Coulter would be headlining our Homocon 2010 in New York City, Farah has attacked GOProud, attacked Ann, and challenged our work almost every single day," said Barron. "I look forward to standing on the stage with Mr. Farah to defend GOProud, to debunk the misinformation he has spread, and to make the case for GOProud's conservative mission."
Farah and Barron have agreed to debate the thesis, "Is GOProud Conservative?"
"I welcome the opportunity to debate whether GOProud is really a conservative organization. Our work on behalf of conservative policies and conservative candidates speaks for itself," continued Barron.