March 2009

Right Wing Leftovers

  • The Religious Right is acting as if President Obama has sold them out with his decision to reverse Bush's stem cell policy.
  • Want to go skeet shooting with Mike Huckabee and Duncan Hunter?  Of course you do!  And for just $250, you can.
  • Tony Perkins sees the bright side of the economic crisis and the news that religious affiliation in this country is dropping, saying that the two are linked and that "if this poll is taken next year" the outcome will be different because "as the economy goes downward, I think people are going to be driven to religion."
  • Finally, Ken Blackwell and Star Parker team up to try to explain why African Americans don't support the Republican Party:
  • Black marriage and families were not always in this sorry state. A substantial body of research shows that the breakdown followed the growth of socially intrusive big government in the 1960s - the same socially intrusive big government that the Democratic Party continues to promote today.

    But these facts are mainly discussed only in conservative intellectual circles - which are overwhelmingly white. Most blacks don’t hear it, or think about it much. The churchgoers probably know it in their bones, but they don’t act on it in the voting booth.

    Instead, the black community drowns in the message that conservatives are racists and that it’s racism that causes black poverty and lack of opportunity.

Peterson Outs Obama as a Corrupt Socialist

Jesse Lee Peterson of the Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny (BOND) is one of those right-wing fringe figures who is, in general, taken seriously by absolutely nobody (with the exception of Sean Hannity).

Peterson, who is black, has carved out a niche for himself as an outspoken foe of racism ... or rather, an outspoken foe of black racism which, in his view, is the same thing as being a Democrat, like when he declares that Barack Obama was elected president thanks to the votes of "black racists and white guilty people" and proclaims that black ministers who supported Obama were leading their congregations straight to hell.

Conversely, when it comes to white racism, Peterson tends to serve primarily an apologist for the likes of Michael Richards or Duane “Dog” Chapman.

Today, Peterson announced that he is branching out beyond his niche a bit and will soon set out on a nationwide tour to expose Barack Obama for the socialist and "supremely corrupt individual" that he is:

BOND Action, Inc., has launched the "Stop Obama's Socialist Change" Campaign and Tour to educate and inform the American public about Barack Obama's dangerous socialist agenda. The campaign includes a nationwide speaking tour and web campaign to reach out to colleges, organizations, and individual Americans across the country.

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, Founder of BOND Action said, "I agree with Rush Limbaugh and I too want Barack Obama to fail in implementing his socialist agenda! With his cold and calculated plan to destroy our free market system, and his corrupt, dangerous appointments -- Obama has come out of the closet! He's launched an all-out assault on capitalism, American values, and the middle class. Our goal is to challenge and expose Obama's dangerous plan and rally the American people," added Rev. Peterson.

According to reports, President Obama's budget proposes almost 1 Trillion dollars in new taxes over the course of the next 10 years, starting fiscal year 2011, most of which are tax increases on individuals. Obama has proposed more federal spending in his first hundred days as president than the amount this nation has spent since its founding some 233 years ago.

"A majority of whites supported Obama to prove that they're not 'racists'", said Rev. Peterson. "And ninety-six percent of blacks voted for him because of his race. More and more Americans, both black and white, are beginning to realize the truth about Obama's massive welfare plan, and his desire to punish the producers in this country. People are feeling let down by the 'Messiah' and regret voting for this-supremely corrupt individual."

Undoubtedly, like everything else Peterson does, this will be a rousing success.

You've Been Fadin', Always Out Paradin', Keep in Touch With Mama King

Sometimes you have to wonder if Alveda King is even capable of discussing issues not related to reproductive choice or of seeing issues through anything other than the spectrum of abortion:

Dr. Alveda King, Pastoral Associate of Priests for Life and niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is tired of the violence in American society ... "A pastor in Illinois is gunned down. Music stars make the news with their fists instead of their voices. Violence more and more intrudes where love and beauty should prevail," said Dr. King, "and I can't help but wonder if this would be the case if we hadn't let legalized violence brutalize people in what should be a haven of nurturing, the womb."

King goes on to liken herself to a "real life Madea, packing a Bible instead of a gun" and proclaims that "many young people who hear me speak have taken to calling me 'Mama King.'"

Interesting.  Of course, others who have heard her speak have taken to calling her "misleading":

Some students at Alveda King's speech Tuesday night did not expect a strictly literal interpretation of the advertised "life affirming choices" speech.

The niece of Dr. Martin Luther King spoke out strongly against abortion at her "Can the Dream Survive?" presentation in Warriner Hall's Plachta Auditorium. Some students were surprised to learn that was the topic of her lecture. Several of the about 650-person audience walked out.

"I felt a little misled personally," said Flint senior Detrone Turner, who said he thought the speech was going to be about increasing diversity.

Sponsored by The Student Budget Allocation Committee, The Office for Institutional Diversity and Students For Life, King presented a PowerPoint called "Can the Dream Survive If the Kids Are Dead?"

"That whole adding in 'can the dream survive if the kids were dead' was an aspect that I wasn't expecting," Turner said. "It kind of caught me off guard."

The article also contains a rather surprising piece of information of which I was previously unaware and don't fully know what to make:

A mother of several children, King admitted she had two abortions herself, but that she was tricked into the procedures. The doctor who performed her first abortion did not tell her that she was pregnant.

"I was pregnant and he didn't tell me. It was illegal. It was not 1973. Roe v. Wade had not passed," she said. "Really, I was pregnant (and) he didn't tell me."

The situation was similar for her second abortion.

Perhaps that explains her obsession with the issue, though this revelation only seems to raise more questions than in answers.

Teaching Brownback a Lesson

It has been a rough couple of weeks for Sen. Sam Brownback.

Since he announced that he was supporting Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' nomination to be Secretary of Health and Human Services, he has watched the Family Research Council pull out of the Values Action Team meetings he oversees and his reputation as a pro-life champion has taken a beating.

And now, to make matters worse, his home has been reportedly burglarized:

Burglars made off with thousands of dollars worth of property stolen from the Topeka home of U.S. Senator Sam Brownback last week ... The Senator's wife Mary Brownback returned home around 1:30 p.m. Thursday to find the items missing. Officials say a computer, a television, a video game, a check book and 100-pieces of jewelry were taken.

At least there is some good news on the horizon for Brownback, coming in the form of this admission by one of his biggest critics that pro-life activists have a very short memory and probably won't hold his current heresy against him when he runs for governor next year:

A pro-life activist predicts that if Senator Brownback (R-Kansas) runs for governor in his state, he will still receive the support of the pro-life movement despite his controversial decision to support the nomination of pro-abortion Democratic Governor Kathleen Sebelius for Health and Human Services secretary.

...

Mark Crutcher, the president of Life Dynamics, Incorporated, says pro-life Republicans know they can "pull a stunt" like Brownback did because pro-life activists often have short memories.

"Right now there's probably a lot of anger in Kansas, I would assume, and a lot of people are sickened by Brownback's sell-out," Crutcher shares. "But let's say that he runs for governor and he continues to tell people, 'Oh, I'm pro-life. I did that for some other reason' -- or whatever excuse he uses for his sell-out."

According to Crutcher, that explanation may just work on the voters. "The thing that bothers me [about] the history of the pro-life movement is that once the initial anger and fervor of the moment goes away...if he runs against some pro-abort Democrat, we'll...rally behind this guy."

Last week, Crutcher was blasting Brownback for his willingness to "throw the unborn under the bus for some political advantage" and saying that the pro-life movement has been "stabbed in the back by people like Sam Brownback so many times" that it should have learned its lesson by now.

But apparently the only lesson to be learned from this entire ordeal is that Republican politicians can stab pro-life activists in the back whenever it suits their needs and fully expect to maintain their political support.

Right Wing Round-Up

Today's best reporting on the Right from around the web:

  • RH Reality Check reports that, with a Democratic President, family planning clinics are bracing for an uptick in violence.
  • FishbowlDC notes that the Family Research Council is targeting Chris Matthews for wondering if Gov. Kathleen Sebelius can withstand the "verbal terrorism" of the anti-choice movement.
  • Speaking of which, John Aravosis wonders why the religious right feels free to compare gays and the Supreme Court to terrorists, but then gets upset when they're compared to terrorists.
  • Good as You takes on the absurd notion that the Human Right Campaign is targeting Mormons.
  • Box Turtle Bulletin says that, if you are gay and planning a vacation, you might want to consider avoiding Jamaica.
  • Religion Dispatches discovers Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins debating if Barack Obama is the Antichrist or merely a pre-cursor to the Antichrist.
  • Crooks and Liars has the video and transcript of D.L. Hughley's interview with Frank Schaeffer:
  • [T]he fact of the matter is, I think we have come through a very, very bad time and unfortunately, I'm sorry to say, my dad and I, when I was a young man and he in his career had a lot to do with it. Because we were the people, who along with others like James Dobson, Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell and the others, we put all of this crap in place. And now the reason I wrote "Crazy for God" is because the title is literally that if awe approach God in a certain way, it will drive you crazy. And this has been a period of craziness.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • As expected, President Barack Obama overturned the Bush administration ban on using federal funds for embryonic stem cell research.  Needless to say, the Religious Right is livid: FRC called it a "slap in the face"; Gary Bauer called it "a tragedy"; Operation Rescue called it "morally, unethical and fiscally irresponsible"; and others weighed in as well.
  • It looks like Mitt Romney's appearance at the Club for Growth conference didn't go so well.
  • Human Events reports that Sen. John Thune is the point person for the GOP outreach to conservative groups and regularly meets with the likes of the ACLJ and others.
  • Rob Schenck reports that he has been invited to address a "working session of Christian leaders and other community activists working to preserve traditional marriage in the state of Maryland [that] will meet in the Maryland State Capitol at the invitation of State Delegate Don Dwyer."
  • Chuck Norris announces that he may run for president of Texas and declares that, this Friday, "thousands of cell groups will be united around the country in solidarity over the concerns for our nation."
  • Quote of the Day honors go to Tom McClusky of the Family Research Council: "The Republicans need to take a step back from the big-tent philosophy. All a big tent does is attract a lot of clowns."
  • Finally, the New York Times profiled 14 year-old conservative wunderkind Jonathan Krohn, who declared Barack Obama "the most left-wing president in my lifetime." Matthew Yglesias had a good response to Krohn's sudden stardom:
  • I really struggle to understand why this particular gimmick appeals to conservatives. What does it accomplish to put a 14 year-old front and center at CPAC? What’s the message it’s supposed to send? That the conservative message is childish? That the right’s talking points can be easily mastered by a 14 year-old? That the CPAC audience doesn’t care about the knowledge-base of the speakers there, they just want to hear certain ritual beats repeated? I wouldn’t want to claim that liberals are so high-minded as to be above all that, but I’m hard-pressed to think of an example of liberals trying to flaunt disdain for knowledge and expertise.

The Return of Larry Klayman

Back during the Clinton administration, Larry Klayman was, in the words of the Washington Post, “in the middle of most every Democratic scandal ricocheting through Washington”:

A once-obscure trade lawyer who founded his conservative "watchdog" group Judicial Watch in 1994, Klayman is suing the Clinton administration in 18 separate matters, alleging an array of government cover-ups related to such things as Commerce Department trade missions and the suicide of White House deputy counsel Vincent W. Foster.

Klayman was the source of countless harassing lawsuits against both the administration and the Clinton’s personally stemming from his own incessant hatred of both Bill and Hillary Clinton and the fact that he is, as Jacob Weisberg says, completely “off his rocker”:

This became abundantly evident when I went to interview him at his Washington office this week. After attempting to ascertain whether I was a Clinton spy or worked for Salon magazine ("in our view, a front for the Clinton administration"), Klayman told me that "private investigator types" working for Clinton have been spotted "casing" his office. With darting eyes and barely repressed rage, he alleged that administration secret police keep files on him. He went on to tell me that Ron Brown was probably murdered because of what he knew about various administration scandals. Alleging the existence of forensic evidence of murder, he explained, "Everybody in that lab believed there was a round hole the size of a .45 caliber bullet." (In one TV interview, Klayman suggested the killer was "perhaps the president himself.") The Brown cover-up is the subject of one of the 18 lawsuits Klayman has filed against the administration. Another concerns the investigation into the death of Vince Foster, who Klayman thinks may also have been murdered.

In other words, Klayman is one of the fringe characters who has sprouted in the moist ground of the Clinton scandals as mushrooms do after a spring rain. But Klayman is not treated like a fringe figure. He has, by and large, achieved the mainstream credibility he craves. He is a frequent guest on such TV programs as Crossfire, Rivera Live, MSNBC's Internight, and The Charles Grodin Show (with whose twitchy host he seems to have a special affinity). Klayman is financially supported, praised, and frequently cited by the wider conservative movement. But he isn't just a nutter who gets right-wing foundation money and gets on television. He's a nutter with a law degree who takes advantage of the courts to harass his political opponents.

In late 2003, Klayman stepped down from his position at Judicial Watch in order to make a run for the Senate for Florida, only to come in dead last in the Republican primary. He eventually became embroiled in a nasty and prolonged legal battle with those left behind at Judicial Watch and started a new organization called Freedom Watch, which he appears poised to use as a springboard to reclaim his standing as the Right’s most relentless source of frivolous lawsuits:

An organization that serves as a watchdog on the U.S. government for American taxpayers has launched a campaign to uncover exactly how much tax money is being spent on parties at the Obama White House … Larry Klayman, founder of Freedom Watch, told WND today he's seeking information about the partying in the White House since the Obamas moved in.

Klayman said the reports of the partying at the White House, "with the likes of Steve Wonder and other high priced entertainment stars," will be the focus of document requests being submitted to the General Services Administration. The requests will seek to determine how much taxpayer money is being used.

"Barack and Michelle Obama have been throwing taxpayer funded parties nearly every night with their 'friends' and supporters, with Michelle Obama even exhorting them not to 'break' White House property," Klayman's announcement said.

"This party atmosphere sends the wrong message to the American people. As the Obama-Clinton crowd party on, the American people are suffering greatly," Klayman said.

"It was right to criticize corporate execs for using taxpayer bailout money on bonuses and corporate junkets. In the face of this criticism, it is an outrage for Barack and Michelle Obama to party on, as Rome burns. It's like throwing a party at a funeral," he said.

Understanding the GOP's Pre-Emptive Filibuster Threat

Yesterday, the New York Times ran an editorial criticizing Senate Republicans for preemptively and hypocritically threatening to filibuster President Obama’s judicial nominees if they are not consulted and approve of any nominees before they are made.

Predictably, Ed Whelan doesn’t like it:

1.  The editorial contends that Republican senators are now “threatening … filibusters if Mr. Obama’s nominees are not to their liking”, and it alleges that this threat is “at odds with their previous views on the subject.”  But the Republican senators’ letter does not threaten filibusters for the purpose of defeating judicial nominees “not to their liking”.  It threatens a filibuster if Democrats trample the traditional blue-slip privilege.  

2.  As to the blue-slip privilege:  The editorial states that Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy “must decide whether to follow the Senate’s ‘blue slip’ tradition, which holds that judicial nominees should not move forward without their home-state senators’ support.”  Two sentences later, it asserts that “Republicans abandoned them [blue slips] when they controlled the Senate under Mr. Bush.”  That assertion is a fantasy, an ignorant statement, or an outright lie.  All that Senate Republicans are seeking is maintenance of the same blue-slip practice that they afforded Democrats under President Bush.  There is nothing that Leahy “must decide”—unless he wants to trample the blue-slip privilege.

Let’s take these points one at a time.

Point 1: Whelan says that the Republicans are not threatening to filibuster only if “the traditional blue-slip privilege” is not observed.  Of course, if this letter were really about “blue-slip privileges” it should have been sent to Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy who is in charge of determining the committee’s blue-slip policy, rather than President Obama.  The letter instead was sent to Obama and it makes no mention of blue-slip policy at all.  What it does make is a demand to be consulted on nominations and a threat to prevent them from moving forward if they are not:

We hope your Administration will consult with us as it considers possible nominations to the federal courts from our states.  Regretfully, if we are not consulted on, and approve of, a nominee from our states, the Republican Conference will be unable to support moving forward on that nominee.

Let's be clear, this has less to do with blue-slip policy than it does with the Republicans' very clear threat to filibuster any judicial nominee of whom they do not approve which, as we pointed out before, is a position that is diametrically opposed to the one they held when George W. Bush was in office regarding the Senate’s role in the confirmation process.

In addition, as this Congressional Research Service report [PDF] from last year explains, Senators from the opposition party have traditionally had little influence over the judicial selection process itself and have exercised their power primarily through the use of the blue-slip.  

Which brings us to Point 2: Whelan asserts that the claim that Republicans ignored the blue-slip policy under President Bush is “a fantasy, an ignorant statement, or an outright lie” and that “all that Senate Republicans are seeking is maintenance of the same blue-slip practice that they afforded Democrats under President Bush.”

What practice would that be?  The one Sen. Hatch had of ignoring the blue-slip policy altogether when it served the GOP’s interests, according to the Congressional Research Service?

The Kuhl nomination appears to represent a significant change in the blue slip policies between Chairman Leahy in the 107th Congress and Chairman Hatch in the 108th Congress. During the 107th Congress, Chairman Leahy required both blue slips to be returned, which meant that no action was taken on Kuhl’s nomination. Without the return of California Senator Barbara Boxer’s (D) blue slip, Senator Leahy had declined to advance the Kuhl nomination in the 107th Congress. However, in the 108th Congress, even without Senator Boxer returning her blue slip, Chairman Hatch held a hearing.

Also in the 108th Congress, shortly before the 2003 August recess, Chairman Hatch held a hearing for Henry Saad of Michigan to be U.S. Circuit Court judge for the Sixth Circuit. Chairman Hatch moved forward with the Saad nomination despite the objection of Michigan Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow. This marked the first reported instance that a nomination with two negative blue slips has had any committee action since 1985 and only the second known case in committee history. Senators Levin and Stabenow had returned negative blue slips on March 19, 2003.

Is that the sort of treatment Senate Republicans are demanding?  If so, I am sure the Democrats will be happy to acquiesce.

There is simply no way to believe that Senate Republicans are demanding that they receive the same treatment they accorded to Democrats when President Bush was in the White House and the GOP controlled the Senate as they know full-well that Democratic input in the process was all-but-non-existent. They would be, in essence, asking to be marginalized, ignored and steam-rolled.

In short, the letter the Senate Republicans sent to President Obama is not about the arcane minutia of the blue-slip policy. It is, rather, a sign that, far from playing the role they demanded of Democrats under President Bush, they want to assert their power to obstruct the nominations of President Obama as much as humanly possible.

Everyone Called It The "Nuclear Option" Because That Was Its Name

Yesterday, the Los Angeles Times ran an article on the Senate Republicans' threat to filibuster President Obama’s judicial nominees if they are not “consulted on, and approve of, a nominee” before the nomination is officially made, essentially demanding a pre-emptive veto over the entire process.

The article mentions the showdown during the Bush administration when Senate Republicans threatened to deploy the “nuclear option” to do away with the filibuster of judicial nominees and falsely claims that it was critics of the effort who used that sort of "overheated rhetoric”:

Four years ago, the Republican majority came close to abolishing the filibuster rule. With Vice President Dick Cheney in the Senate president's chair, they planned to change rules so judges could be approved by a simple majority. Opponents called this the "nuclear option" in the overheated rhetoric of the time.

In fact, it was Senate Republicans who coined the term back in 2003 because they knew that deploying it would be a “form of mutually assured destruction.”  This Washington Times article from May of that year contains the first public use of the term regarding the filibuster of judges and it was titled “GOP Senators Keep 'Nuclear Option' in Reserve for Judges”:

Republicans could immediately break the current filibusters against two of President Bush's judicial nominees with a rarely used parliamentary procedure that would confirm them through a simple majority vote, according to a plan under consideration by Senate Republicans.

The tactic would be so drastic in the usually congenial Senate that Republicans refer to it as their "nuclear option."

It wasn’t “critics” who were calling it the “nuclear option” because they were over-reacting – they were calling it that because that was the name given to the plan by the Senate Republicans who were contemplating it.

On a related note, the article notes that the Committee for Justice is claiming that it does not necessarily support the GOP’s pre-emptive filibuster threat:

"Most conservatives feel we should stick with the principle that every nominee should get an up-and-down vote," said Curt Levey, executive director of the Committee for Justice, a group that lobbies for conservative nominees. "They want the Senate courtesies to be respected."

During the Bush era, Republicans repeatedly said the president's nominees deserved a vote on the Senate floor. However, Levey said, the GOP's reluctance to consider filibusters could change quickly. It "will change if [Democrats] try to jam through judicial activists," he said.

Interesting, but it doesn’t really seem to jibe with the post Levey wrote last week on the CFJ’s blog praising the letter as a sign that the GOP was united on the issue and willing to do what it takes to stop Obama’s nominees.

It is sort of like how the Judicial Confirmation Network claimed back in January it was committed to the principle that every nominee deserved an up-or-down vote and then, last week, praised the Senate Republicans for threatening to prevent Obama’s judges from receiving an up-or-down vote.

Right Wing Round Up

Today's best reporting on the Right from around the web:

  • Box Turtle Bulletin reports that Nazi Revisionist Scott Lively has talked Ugandan anti-gay activist Stephen Langa and a Ugandan parliamentarian into proposing a law forcing people convicted of homosexuality into ex-gay therapy.
  • Via Tips-Q we see that British Prime Minister Gordon Brown described the passing of Proposition 8 in California as “unacceptable.' Also via Tips-Q we learned that Lou Sheldon has a Prop. 8-related blog post up on The Hill's Congress blog. Why is The Hill providing a platform for Sheldon?
  • Sen. Tom Coburn says he'll go to prison before he is forced to perform abortions. Unfortunately for him, Wonk Room points out that "refusing to provide abortions won’t land him in jail or bring him the publicity that often comes with incarceration."
  • Good as You highlights the fact that Matt Barber and Concerned Women for America continue to defend Utah Sen. Chris Buttars.
  • Pam notes that Peter LaBarbera is scheduled to return to his old stomping grounds at the Illinois Family Institute and the flier announcing it says "for security reasons, please do not bring any bags or purses."
  • How is the GOP's Hispanic outreach going? According to Mother Jones, not so well.
  • Steve Benen notes that the judiciary is getting tired of The Birthers' antics with today another judge throwing out their lawsuit and mocking "the plaintiffs for being so foolish and wasting the judiciary's time."
  • David Neiwert has a great post on Glenn Beck desperately trying to get Sam Webb of the Communist Party USA to declare that Barack Obama is a Communist ally ... and failing miserably.
  • Finally, this video is hilarious: