March 12, 2014

So it's true, listening to Idina Menzel's voice will make you gay — at least that's what Pastor Kevin Swanson is preaching. According to Right Wing Watch, the Colorado conservative says Disney's Frozen "indoctrinates" kids into turning gay and says the film treats "homosexuality [and] bestiality in a light sort of way."

Explaining that he's totally not a "tinfoil hat conspiratorialist," Swanson says that the "pro-homosexual" Walt Disney Company is working with the gays to create something "very evil." He goes on:

Friends, this is evil, just evil. I wonder if people are thinking: "You know I think this cute little movie is going to indoctrinate my 5-year-old to be a lesbian or treat homosexuality or bestiality in a light sort of way." I wonder if the average parent going to see Frozen is thinking that way. I wonder if they are just walking in and saying, "Yeah, let's get my five-year-old and seven-year-old indoctrinated early." You know they're not, I think for the most part they're oblivious. Maybe they do pick up on pieces of it but they just don't get up and walk out. [AL.com]

Wow, we're sick of all the "Let It Go" interpretations on YouTube too, but this seems extreme.

Jordan Valinsky

12:23 p.m. ET

CNN's Chris Cuomo was barely able to mask his outrage during an interview Tuesday with Republican House candidate Tyler Tannahill, who has refused to suspend his campaign's AR-15 giveaway contest even after the same weapon was used to kill 17 people at a Parkland, Florida, high school last week. "Help me understand, brother," Cuomo said. "Why, after this, would you want to give away the same weapon used to kill all those kids?"

Tannahill, a candidate for Congress in Kansas, announced the giveaway on Feb. 13, a day before the Valentine's Day shooting. After the attack, he said his campaign considered what he called "the typical Republican response: 'Let's hide in our holes, let's say thoughts and prayers and move on.'" He said they ultimately decided against it: "We do have a problem, we have to protect our students, we have to protect our teachers," he told Cuomo.

An emotional Cuomo tried to offer some perspective. "God forbid you knew somebody who was in that school," he said. "And then, right on the heels of [the shooting], when you're trying to get your mind around this madness, there's a guy giving away the same damn weapon that just took your loved one's life."

Cuomo added: "You think that would be seen as a constructive step forward in a conversation about how to stop it, or a slap in the face, and somebody just shaming you with what you had to live through?" Watch the tense exchange below. Jeva Lange

11:44 a.m. ET

President Trump had a very busy Tuesday morning — on Twitter, that is.

All before his 11:15 a.m. ET intelligence briefing, Trump praised Fox & Friends, attacked former President Barack Obama for being soft on Russia, and fought back against an allegation of sexual misconduct. The latter is because on Monday, The Washington Post published a profile on Rachel Crooks, a woman who alleges that Trump kissed her against her wishes 12 years ago when she worked in Trump Tower.

Bloomberg's Tim O'Brien pointed out that Trump's angry tweet is factually inaccurate. Crooks claimed that Trump forced himself on her "in the small waiting area near the elevators" of the Trump Tower office of Bayrock Group, the investment firm where she worked — not in the building's main lobby, like Trump wrote.

The president also asked why he would have behaved as Crooks alleged while in view of "live security cameras," but O'Brien notes that Crooks has asked Trump to release security footage from that day, to no avail. Crooks is one of 19 women who has accused the president of sexual assault or harassment. Kelly O'Meara Morales

10:45 a.m. ET
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Press coverage of President Trump and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has often taken the form of a study in contrasts. Kelly is disciplined, orderly, no-nonsense. Trump is impetuous, chaotic, and often nonsensical. Kelly is portrayed not as a Trump enthusiast like policy adviser Stephen Miller, but as a "studiously apolitical" career soldier shouldering the grim duty of taming Trump.

But what if that's not true? This is the proposal of Perry Bacon Jr. in a new analysis today at FiveThirtyEight. "Kelly seems to have deeply-held views, particularly on immigration," Bacon writes, recently suggesting "undocumented immigrants who had not yet signed up for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program were 'lazy.'"

And like Trump, Kelly's first instinct was to defend former White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter when he was accused of abuse by his two ex-wives. In these and other ways, Bacon argues, Kelly differs from Trump in style, but in substance he is not "a kind of anti-Trump."

As for how the press "bungled the John Kelly story," Bacon presents five ideas for what went wrong, including insider journalism and insufficient knowledge of Kelly's political views. See Bacon's list here, and read The Week's Matthew Walther for the case that Kelly wasn't always this way. Bonnie Kristian

10:43 a.m. ET

On Tuesday, CNN's Alisyn Camerota had some questions for former Republican Rep. Jack Kingston (Ga.), who questioned the authenticity of the students who survived last week's shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. In the wake of the shooting — in which 17 people were killed by a 19-year-old wielding a semiautomatic weapon — students across the country have planned anti-gun demonstrations, which Kingston suggested over the weekend was the nefarious work of "left-wing gun control activists.”

On Tuesday, Kingston appeared on CNN's New Day to explain that claim. Camerota began with a simple question: "Do you think these kids aren't acting on their own volition?"

Kingston acknowledged that the shooting was "a horrible tragedy" but said that the students' "sorrow can very easily be hijacked by left-wing groups. ... Do we really think 17-year-olds on their own are going to plan a nationwide rally?" Kingston claimed this looked like the work of groups associated with liberal financier and frequent right-wing target George Soros.

Camerota insisted otherwise: "I talked to these kids before they knew the body count of how many of their friends had been killed," she said. "They hadn't been indoctrinated by some left-wing group. They were motivated from what they saw and what they endured during that ordeal."

Kingston tried to backtrack, saying, "I don't doubt their sincerity," to which Camerota replied, "Yes you do, Jack." The former congressman then argued that 17-year-olds simply do not have the "logistical ability to plan a nationwide rally without it being hijacked by groups that already had the pre-existing anti-gun agenda."

"Jack, it's just silly," Camerota replied. Watch the whole exchange below. Kelly O'Meara Morales

10:22 a.m. ET
Whitney Curtis/Getty Images

In 2012, the government of Dallas struck a deal with the National Rifle Association (NRA): If the organization would host its 2018 annual convention at the city-owned Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, it could rent the space for free. City Hall would offer a $22,840 discount, and the city's tourism bureau would cover the rest, about $387,000. In exchange, Dallas expected city businesses to rake in some $42 million from around 75,000 convention attendees.

But after a series of high-profile mass shootings, most recently the school shooting in Florida last week, Dallas leaders are less enthused about the arrangement. On Monday, Dwaine Caraway, a city council member who is also mayor pro tem, urged the NRA not to come to Dallas. Should the convention proceed, he predicted, there will be "marches and demonstrations" and "we, Dallas, will be the ones who have to bear the costs, the responsibility, and to protect the citizens."

The city council did not have an opportunity to vote on the NRA convention subsidy. In 2016, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings (D) said he is not personally thrilled about the NRA coming to town, but would prioritize "what makes good business sense."

The NRA responded to Caraway's remarks by noting that "no politician anywhere can tell the NRA not to come to their city" because NRA members already live in Dallas. Bonnie Kristian

10:15 a.m. ET

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team has filed charges against lawyer Alex Van der Zwaan, who is expected to plead guilty Tuesday to lying about an interaction with former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates, the longtime associate of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, CNN reports. Van der Zwaan is also accused of willfully failing to turn over an email communication that was requested by the special counsel's office.

Little has been previously reported about van der Zwaan, who is apparently "a London-based, Russian-speaking son-in-law of Russian oligarch German Khan," writes Washington Post legal reporter Spencer Hsu. BuzzFeed News reports that "according to the criminal information filed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office ... investigators asked van der Zwaan in November about his work in 2012 for the Ukraine Ministry of Justice preparing a report on the trial on Yulia Tymoshenko, the former Ukrainian prime minister."

Van der Zwaan claimed incorrectly to Mueller's team that his last communication with Gates was an "innocuous text message," the charges say. In fact, van der Zwaan spoke "with both Gates and Person A" in September 2016 about a report on the trial of Tymoshenko.

In November, KyivPost reported that "prosecutors on the case want to question members of the Skadden team who came to Ukraine to work on" the report, which sought to justify the imprisonment of Tymoshenko by former President Viktor Yanukovych. Members of the team cited by KyivPost included "Obama administration officials Gregory Craig and Clifford Sloan, as well as [Alex Van der Zwaan] … who prosecutors say acted as an intermediary for the team on much of the trip." Jeva Lange

9:32 a.m. ET
Alex Wong/Getty Images

In the wake of the Florida high school shooting, which left 17 students and teachers dead last week, President Trump has called for tackling "the difficult issue of mental health." His focus has received sharp criticism from experts, including The New Yorker's Adam Gopnik, who writes that Trump's calls say "nothing" because "every country contains mentally ill and potentially violent people. Only America arms them."

The focus on mental health, as it turns out, has far more to do with the public's perception of the gun violence crisis than the reality of the situation. In 2016, people with diagnosed mental illnesses committed less than one percent of all firearm homicides, NBC reports. "There's not really a correlation," explained criminologist Dr. James Alan Fox. "We like to think that these people are different from the rest of us. We want a simple explanation and if we just say they're mentally ill, case closed. Because of how fearful, dangerous, and deadly their actions are, we really want to distance ourselves from it and relegate it to illness."

Americans nevertheless overwhelmingly believe that mental health issues are at the heart of the issue, a new Washington Post/ABC News poll has found. Fifty-seven percent of Americans believe mass shootings in the United States are more of a reflection of "problems identifying and treating people with mental health problems" than "inadequate gun control laws," the poll found. Twenty-eight percent of people said gun control was the central issue, while nine percent said it was both mental health and gun legislation, and two percent said it was neither.

Additionally, over three-quarters of Americans said the Parkland shooting could have been prevented "by more effective mental health screening and treatment." The poll reached 808 adults between Feb. 15 and 18 and has a margin of error of plus or minus four points. Jeva Lange

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