The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) bills itself as an event convened to "crystallize the best of the conservative thought in America" that will showcase "all of the leading conservative organizations and speakers." Media covering CPAC 2013 should know that the conference's speakers, from the most prominent to the lesser-known, have a history of launching smears, pushing conspiracy theories, and hyping myths about the validity of President Obama's birth certificate.
Until the last few paragraphs, Phyllis Schlafly's latest Townhall column is a fairly typical right-wing assault on education spending, filled with angry denunciations of "the notoriously useless program called Head Start." Again: Fairly typical stuff -- for some reason, conservatives hate spending money to help kids learn. But then things take an interesting twist -- Schlafly comes up with something worth spending money on:
Children should be taught to read in the first grade by an authentic phonics system in which they learn the sounds and syllables of the English language and how to put them together to read words of more than one syllable. There is nothing expensive or mysterious about this basic task.
Instead of wasting more federal money on grant-writers and grant-readers, tell local districts to award a bonus to first-grade teachers based on how many kids they actually teach to read. Let the teacher select the phonics system she thinks will help her win the bonus.
And then this note:
Phyllis Schlafly is the author of a phonics system for first-graders called "First Reader," which sells for only $29.95 with an accompanying Workbook for $9.95 (free shipping).
Well, that certainly works out nicely.
According to Schlafly's Eagle Forum website, the "First Reader" workbook has been around since 1994. So I couldn't help wondering if Schlafly has used her various columns to tout the efficacy of phonics systems without disclosing her financial interest in doing so. And, as it turns out, she has.
Last September, Creators Syndicate distributed a Schlafly column that denounced "non-phonics in reading instruction" as an approach that "parents find offensive." That column did not include a disclaimer noting Schlafly's authorship of a phonics program. But that's only the most recent of several examples of Schlafly touting phonics without disclosing her interest in doing so, which include a July 2003 Schlafly column and another from August 27, 2007:
Public schools should teach all first-graders to read by the time-tested phonics system, and teach all schoolchildren to know and use the fundamentals of arithmetic by the end of the third grade. This would end the shocking epidemic of illiteracy that now permits students to get into high school and even graduate without being able to read, write or calculate change at the grocery store.
And in October of 1999, Schlafly wrote an entire column denouncing a textbook that criticized phonics, somehow managing to write "The textbook includes a chapter warning teachers against a 'Far Right' conspiracy of 'laypersons' to teach phonics … The textbook identifies yours truly as a co-conspirator" without ever getting around to mentioning that she sells a phonics system.
Remember: If it seems like conservative media figures are trying to sell you something, they probably are.
Here, The Daily Caller's Caroline May quotes Phyllis Schlafly saying feminists "are really spooked by [Sarah] Palin because she's done everything and she is a success. Besides she is pretty and they cannot stand her" without quoting a single feminist or progressive in response.
But don't worry, Tucker Carlson's very serious journalism web site features an opposing viewpoint alongside that article: Carey Roberts' attack on Palin's "over-heated gender-bending rhetoric," which runs under the header "Sarah Palin needs to rein in her harsh feminist rhetoric."
And that's how things work at The Daily Caller, which Carlson once insisted would not be a right-wing site: The smear that feminists don't like Sarah Palin because she's pretty is 'balanced' by the claim that Palin herself is a shrill feminist.
(Roberts previously wrote a Daily Caller column that distort[ed] domestic violence laws in order to argue for loosening the definition of domestic violence, earning a rebuke from the National Network to End Domestic Violence.)
In a February 1 column, Phyllis Schlafly called for cutting the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and blamed the law for marriages "broken by false allegations of domestic violence." From Schlafly's column:
While the U.S. House is trying to figure out how to cut wasteful and/or extravagant federal spending, members should be mindful of Reagan's advice to begin by cutting programs that are harmful. One that fits this definition is the billion-dollar-a-year Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), now up for re-authorization.
The fiscal problem is that a billion dollars a year is streaming into the hands of left-wing feminists to pursue their agenda, which does not include preserving or restoring marriage. Taxpayers' funds are used to lobby for feminist legislation, to train law enforcement and judicial personnel in feminist ideology and in the aggressive enforcement of feminist laws, and to break up families instead of giving them pro-family and anti-substance-abuse counseling.
The VAWA appropriation is only the start of its high cost to taxpayers and society. When marriages are broken by false allegations of domestic violence, U.S. taxpayers fork up an estimated $20 billion a year to support the resulting single-parent, welfare-dependent families.
Later this week, Family Research Council Action will convene its "Values Voter Summit," which lists "protect marriage" as one of its values. One of the featured speakers at the event, however, has a controversial view on just how to protect marriage: Phyllis Schlafly, a longtime conservative activist and syndicated columnist, has repeatedly claimed that married women can't be sexually assaulted by their husbands.
As Right Wing Watch noted, in 2007, Schlafly reportedly told an audience: "By getting married, the woman has consented to sex, and I don't think you can call it rape." She later reiterated her views in an interview with a Washington University student newspaper:
Could you clarify some of the statements that you made in Maine last year about martial rape?
I think that when you get married you have consented to sex. That's what marriage is all about, I don't know if maybe these girls missed sex ed. That doesn't mean the husband can beat you up, we have plenty of laws against assault and battery. If there is any violence or mistreatment that can be dealt with by criminal prosecution, by divorce or in various ways. When it gets down to calling it rape though, it isn't rape, it's a he said-she said where it's just too easy to lie about it.
Was the way in which your statement was portrayed correct?
Yes. Feminists, if they get tired of a husband or if they want to fight over child custody, they can make an accusation of marital rape and they want that to be there, available to them.
So you see this as more of a tool used by people to get out of marriages than as legitimate-
Yes, I certainly do.
The "Values Voter Summit" will also feature advice from apparent values champion and Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich.
In recent days, right-wing media figures have stoked class warfare while discussing taxes, asserting that it's not "fair" for the government to "steal" money from those who "succeed" and give it to -- in the words of Wayne Allyn Root -- "those who couldn't care less, sit on the couch, and watch Oprah all day." These media figures have suggested that those without federal income tax liability or those who benefit from tax credits or government assistance are "freeloaders" who don't work hard or succeed.
Liz Cheney said that Elena Kagan's decision while she was dean of Harvard Law School to reimpose restrictions on military recruiters because of the military's discriminatory "don't ask, don't tell" policy was "radical." But Kagan made her decision only after a federal appeals court -- including a judge appointed by President Reagan -- struck down the law requiring access for military recruiters. Moreover, Kagan's policy was similar to policies at many other law schools.
From the February 19 CPAC event, "Going Rogue":
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