The Republican National Convention announced its lineup of speakers. And in this who’s who of Trump supporters, we can learn a lot about Donald himself, the forces that have united around him, and just how dangerous they really are for America.
Here’s a look at just five GOP convention speakers — get ready.
Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)
Donald has done especially poorly with women voters in the polls. So having a high-profile Republican woman speak at the convention might be a good idea.
But upon a closer look, Marsha Blackburn’s real appeal to Donald might be her alignment with him on a whole variety of conspiracy theories — especially in her role as a Republican point woman in the denial of climate change.
Donald, of course, has his own greatest hits in this department, notably this tweet from 2012:
The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 6, 2012
Blackburn has long argued that the economic costs are too high to deal with climate change — which isn’t happening anyway, she has also maintained.
In early 2015, she faced off against Bill Nye the Science Guy on Meet the Press, saying dismissively: “When you look at the fact that we have gone from 320 parts per million, 0.032 [percent of carbon dioxide], to 0.040, 400 parts per million, what you do is realize it’s very slight.”
Nye answered back: “Once again, the congresswoman is trying to introduce doubt, and doubt in the whole idea of climate change. So what I would encourage everybody to do is back up and let’s agree on the facts. Would you say that the Antarctic has less ice than it used to? When you said you asserted, Congresswoman, that a change from 320 to 400 parts per million is insignificant? My goodness, that’s — that’s 30 percent. I mean that’s an enormous change, and it’s changing the world.” [ed. note: It’s 25 percent, to exact — though in fairness, Bill had to think on his feet while debating.]
As the BBC discovered late last year, Blackburn’s mind is totally closed off to mainstream science — she even said so, herself.
Asked what scientific evidence would persuade her that climate change was a threat, she replied: “I don’t think you will see me being persuaded.” Asked whether she accepted the theory of evolution she said: “No, I do not.”
In that same interview, she even claimed that the world has been cooling over the last 13 years — despite the fact that the previous year of full record-keeping, 2014, was already found to have been the warmest in over 130 years. (For a debunking of the right-wing sleight of hand used to claim global cooling — it involves going back to the last outlier hot year — read here.)
Blackburn even has a link with Donald on his major conspiracy theory: Stirring up suspicion about President Obama’s birthplace — having signed up in 2009 as a co-sponsor of a past House bill to require that presidential candidates produce their birth certificates.
A spokesman for the congresswoman told Politico, however, that Blackburn did not doubt the president’s citizenship, but that instead: “In the wake of the last election, a number of her constituents expressed surprise that candidates don’t have to establish that they meet the constitutional requirements for the office.”
In addition, it was said that Blackburn believed “that aspirants to the most powerful position in the free world should meet the same basic identifying standard as a 16-year-old Tennessean aspiring to a driver’s license.”
Funny: This was never actually a political issue until the election of the first African-American president.
Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke
Clarke should make headlines as an African-American speaker at the convention, on behalf of a candidate for whom support among minority voters is at historic lows. But he’s not exactly a messenger to genuinely reach out to marginalized communities.
Although he is legally elected as a Democrat in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, he is in fact a right-wing Republican who has benefitted from GOP support under the state’s open primary system. Late last year, Clarke accused the Black Lives Matter movement (which he calls “Black Lies Matter”) of being on the verge of teaming up with ISIS in order to overthrow the United States — yes, really.
Before long, Black Lies Matter will join forces with ISIS to being down our legal constituted republic. You heard it first here.
— David A. Clarke, Jr. (@SheriffClarke) October 28, 2015
The very same day he was announced as a convention speaker, he tweeted out a political cartoon with a message accusing President Obama of deliberately seeking to increase violent crime in America, in order to “create chaos and social commotion.”
This sums it up when trying to figure out the Obama domestic policy doctrine. Create chaos and social commotion. pic.twitter.com/AG20kkhXPx
— David A. Clarke, Jr. (@SheriffClarke) July 14, 2016
During an appearance on Fox & Friends, after the killing of police officers in Dallas, he called President Obama the “Cop-Hater-in-Chief” and blamed the president as well as Hillary Clinton (to whom he regularly refers as just “Mrs. Bill Clinton”) for allegedly fueling anger against police.
But this is not to say he actually believes in obeying the law and respecting officers in all cases, though. In July of last year, he called for mass resistance against the federal government against both “King Obama” and the Supreme Court’s rulings upholding health care reform and to legalize marriage equality.
“The next time in your state the federal government tries to put a church or a bakery or a pizza place out of business because they want to live by their religious conviction,” Clarke declared on his radio show, “when I talk about pitchforks and torches, you need to get down there, surround that business and dare the federal government to come in and close it. That’s the revolution I’m talking about, it has to start in the states.”
Question: Would any police officers get hurt in such a confrontation, in order to uphold anti-LGBT discrimination or prevent people from getting health care?
Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey
In 2013, Mukasey appeared at a Breitbart forum and made this stunning declaration against Muslims: “The vast majority of the world’s 1.4 billion Muslims adhere to a view of their religion that agrees on the need to impose Sharia, or Islamic law, on the world.”
Mukasey also criticized former President George W. Bush, under whom he had served, for having called Islam “a religion of peace.”
This matches nicely with Donald’s infamous policy goal of banning Muslims from entering the United States “until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.”
Mukasey is also exactly the sort of mind Donald would appreciate on the subject of torturing people. At a committee hearing in 2008, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) said to Mukasey: “So let me ask you this: Would waterboarding be torture if it was done to you?”
“I would feel that it was,” Mukasey said — while at the same time refusing to say that waterboarding categorically is torture, and offering legal cover to the Bush administration to use it.
In late 2014, Mukasey would declare in an interview on CNN that waterboarding is not legally torture — and that he only gave his earlier answer to Kennedy in order to stop the line of questioning. But he still hasn’t tried it himself.
“I didn’t say that it was torture as to everybody,” Mukasey told Erin Burnett. “I said that I might feel that it was torture as to me — if it caused severe pain, and if it caused long-term suffering. I don’t know whether it would or not, because I’ve never been waterboarded.”
Meanwhile, Donald himself declared at a rally last November his own eagerness to bring back waterboarding. “Would I approve waterboarding? You bet your ass I would!” he told the cheering crowd. As he continued elucidating on the topic, he declared in a surge of bloodlust: “Believe me, it works. And you know what? If it doesn’t work, they deserve it anyway for what they’re doing to us.”
Jerry Falwell Jr.
As the head of his late father’s right-wing Liberty University, Jerry Falwell Jr.’s support for Donald really helps to illustrate just how much the religious right’s involvement in politics is not about spiritual devotion, but is really about the pursuit of power.
This is illustrated well by Falwell’s responses to other Christian leaders, who have called him out for supporting somebody so prolifically immoral as Donald:
“When we step into our role as citizens, we need to elect the most experienced and capable leaders,” Falwell said on Facebook Jan. 27. “As I said, Jimmy Carter is a great Sunday school teacher, but the divorced and re-married Hollywood actor Ronald Reagan saved this nation when it was in nearly the same condition that it is today. Jesus said judge not, lest ye be judged. Let’s stop trying to choose the political leaders who we believe are the most godly because, in reality, only God knows people’s hearts. You and I don’t, and we are all sinners.”
“God called King David a man after God’s own heart even though he was an adulterer and a murderer,” Falwell later said. “You have to choose the leader that would make the best king or president and not necessarily someone who would be a good pastor. We’re not voting for pastor-in-chief.”
Well, that’s reassuring.
And just this past June, he headed up a campaign summit with religious right leaders — and he didn’t seem to mind (or notice) that he was getting his picture taken in Donald’s office, right next to a framed copy of Donald on the cover of Playboy magazine.
— J L Falwell (@JerryJrFalwell) June 21, 2016
So what exactly does Falwell see in Donald? It might have to do with his desire to see Americans arm up and kill Muslims.
This past December, after the terrorist attack in San Bernardino — the same occasion that spurred Donald’s call to ban Muslims — Falwell made this pronouncement in a speech at his university, as a rebuttal to calls for greater gun control: “I’ve always thought if more good people had concealed carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walked in killing.”
Falwell stood by his comments:
WSLS 10 asked him Tuesday to clarify his meaning, and why he chose the word ‘Muslim’ instead of the word ‘terrorist’. “Terrorist would have been a good word to use too, I just was referring to those particular people, and they were motivated by their religion, so it was a relevant term for that event,” said Falwell.
Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI)
This third-term congressman has something in common with Donald: They’re both former reality-TV stars, with Duffy being a former cast member of the MTV’s The Real World. And like Donald, he has also spent time praising anti-vaxxers.
During an appearance on MSNBC in early 2015, Duffy stood up for the rights and dignity of parents who refuse to vaccinate their children — even presenting them as being smarter than the herd of ordinary people.
“I’ll tell you, José [Diaz-Balart], I think a lot of parents who are smart, they’re well read, they’re some of the ones who are choosing not to vaccinate. And oftentimes those who may not be as well read, they are vaccinating,” Duffy said. “So to say you just have a bunch of crackpots who are choosing not to do this with their children, I don’t think that’s actually true.”
The discussion on vaccinations begins at just after the 3:30 mark in the video below:
Duffy continued: “You have well-read parents who are making this decision. You know what, I pick and choose: I vaccinate my kids on most things, but there are some things I might go, ‘You know what, this might not work for me and my values and my family.’ Let’s not have the state come in and start being repressive, and telling us how to raise our kids.”
This was potentially a reference to the vaccine for HPV, a sexually-transmitted disease that often leads to cervical cancer in women — and for which activists on the religious right have objected to mandatory vaccinations that would protect women from that illness.
Donald is himself a notorious fear-monger against vaccines, a position which he stood by even during a debate on CNN last September — even after fellow candidate Ben Carson, explained as a genuine medical expert (whatever else the reader might think of him) that there was no medical evidence that vaccines were harmful or had any link to causing autism.
So there you have it: A convention lineup that seems sure to undermine America’s health in just about every way: Physically, morally, mentally — and even medically.