Liberty University

Absurdly Unsurprising

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., 3 February 2016. (Detail of photo by Reuters/Gary Cameron)

The lede is the sort of thing that brings that mix of suprise and recognition that there really is nothing surprising about it. Jonathan Easley of The Hill explains that, “Allies of Ben Carson will launch a super-PAC later this month with the aim of turning out evangelical voters for Donald Trump and down-ballot Republicans”, and should the portmanteaux be gruckle or choan, because, to the one, of course they will, and, to the other, why not.

More particularly, what is afoot is that Bill Millis, a Carson fundraiser, is helping put together “an ambitious network of nonprofit advocacy groups” intended to help the Republican nominee apparent work the evangelical crowd.

This is an important point:

The groups have obtained the rights to a database and email list started by televangelist and Liberty University founder Jerry Falwell, and later maintained by Carl Townsend, who founded the influential Christian ministries group InService USA.

“It’s the largest existing database in the world that can send messages to churches, pastors, evangelicals, and Christians of all kinds,” said Sam Casey, a conservative lawyer who is acting as general counsel to the groups.

Indeed, it is nearly a scary prospect, especially recalling the Reagan awakening of 1980. The question this time is just how desperate is the evangelical identity politic. It seems nearly a trembling anticipation to hear the first preacher tell us Donald Trump is a changed man finding his way to Christ.

Laughing will be appropriate, come the day. Calling bullshit will be requisite. And while we might caution one ought to at least attempt some semblance of politeness about calling bullshit, there will be days when such a feat is impossible. Priority will out.

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Image note: Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., 3 February 2016. (Detail of photo by Reuters/Gary Cameron)

Easley, Jonathan. “Carson allies to target evangelicals with pro-Trump super-PAC”. The Hill. 4 June 2016.

Liberty Counsel

Liberty Counsel

Brian Tashman of Right Wing Watch put together a brief list―and thank him, since that means you don’t have to do it yourself―of strange arguments offered in support of Kim Davis, the Rowan County, Kentucky clerk who asserts her ad hoc religion entitles her, as an equally protected constitutional right, to decide who is entitled to their equally protected constitutional rights.

The list itself is pretty straightforward except for its unbelievability; yet here we are, and this is real:

(1) God’s law trumps U.S. law

(2) Davis was elected before Obergefell, so she’s exempt

(3) Davis is the only clerk obeying the law

(4) Gays can just drive to another county

(5) Anti-religious test for office

While it is true that these are all nonsensical, we might take a moment to consider that first, reminding of two points: Insurrection and bad attorneys.

(more…)

The Jeb Bush Show (Quiet Cruelty)

Detail: Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks at the Economic Club of Detroit meeting in Detroit Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015. The Detroit event is the first in a series of stops that Bush's team is calling his "Right to Rise" tour. That's also the name of the political action committee he formed in December 2014 to allow him to explore a presidential run. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Detail of 'Bug Martini' by Adam Huber, 9 March 2015.“For Falwell’s school to be embraced so completely by the Republican mainstream says quite a bit about what’s become of GOP politics in the 21st century, Maybe someone will ask Bush for his thoughts on this over the weekend.”

Steve Benen

This is a quiet cruelty: Christian supremacism is losing ground, and conservative politicians are happy to pander for votes stoking desperate fears and elevating that supremacism as equality and justice. But the loss is inevitable, and will be even more painful for the deliberately manipulated, magnified false hope offered by those such as Jeb Bush, who would continue to pay homage unto bigotry.

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Image note: Detail of Bug Martini by Adam Huber, 9 March 2015.

Benen, Steve. “Jeb Bush heads for Falwell’s Liberty U”. msnbc. 8 May 2015.

Liberty (Cruz Control Cold Cut)

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) during the Reuters Washington Summit in Washington, October 24, 2013. (Jim Bourg/Reuters)

“They make you come. If you don’t come, you get punished.”

Ana Delgado

Symbolism.

Steve Benen notes:

Sometimes, where a presidential candidate launches his or her campaign is every bit as significant as what’s said in the campaign kick-off. In February 2007, for example, Barack Obama began his journey to the White House where Abraham Lincoln denounced slavery a century and a half earlier ....

.... Similarly, eight years later, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) launched his presidential campaign this morning at Liberty University, an evangelical school in Lynchburg, Virginia, created by the late TV preacher Jerry Falwell. And this, too, carries its own significance, conveying a specific message about the Republican senator.

Liberty UniversityAs longtime readers may recall, Liberty University is burdened with an ironic name. The restrictions placed on Liberty’s students are the stuff of legend – its code of conduct dictates that students are prohibited from seeing R-rated movies, listening to music that is not “in harmony with God’s word,” drinking alcohol, dancing, or kissing. Women on campus are prohibited from wearing dresses or skirts “shorter than the top of the knee.”

At one point, Liberty even banned students who wanted to form an on-campus Democratic Party group.

A couple of years ago, however, Liberty announced that students would be allowed to carry loaded firearms on campus.

And, yet, it is Liberty University, so you know they find a way to further denigrate the symbolism. Or, as Shane Goldmacher explains:

Sen. Ted Cruz took the stage to declare his presidential candidacy at Liberty University Monday, surrounded by upwards of 10,000 cheering students. They weren’t all here by choice.

Attendance at convocation at Liberty is mandatory, and a group of students clad in “Stand With Rand” shirts sat center stage—directly in view of the cameras—to log their displeasure with having to be here.

“Of course, you want it to appear as if you have a large audience,” said Eli McGowan, who organized the not-so-subtle protest. “We felt like if we didn’t wear shirts showing our true political preference then the media might think we all supported Cruz.”

“They make you come. If you don’t come, you get punished,” said Ana Delgado, a sophomore, who said students face a $10 fine for not showing up at convocation. Delgado wasn’t among those wearing Paul gear. She is undecided about who she’ll support in 2016, but she didn’t like being forced to be part of Cruz’s announcement.

Because Liberty is the Republican Way.

And now we know what that means.

Okay, fair enough: We’re not surprised.

Anyone? No, seriously.

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Goldmacher, Shane. “These Students ‘Stand with Rand’ at Ted Cruz’s 2016 Announcement”. national Journal. 23 March 2015.

Benen, Steve. “The political salience of Liberty U”. msnbc. 23 March 2015.