May 2010

Fox News: "Fair and Balanced"

On Tuesday, we received a media request from Fox News, asking if someone from People For the American Way would be willing to appear on their program "America’s Newsroom" the following morning to discuss what they are calling "Texas Textbook Wars."

As we have been following the issue closely, we felt prepared to discuss it while being fully aware that Fox's coverage of the issue has been, top date, somewhat less than objective. Nonetheless, we agreed to appear on this segment, only to be informed shortly thereafter that the segment would have to be bumped from Wednesday's program, due to the need to cover the results of Tuesday's various primary elections. 

That seemed entirely reasonable and when Fox asked if we'd be willing to re-schedule the segment for the same time on Thursday, we agreed.  But then, late on Wednesday, we were informed by Fox that the segment was being dropped entirely and that we wouldn't be appearing on the program to discuss this topic. 

Again, that was perfectly understandable as these things happen. 

But all of that took place behind the scenes at PFAW, leaving me was unaware that our participation in the segment had been canceled.  As such, I tuned into Fox's "American's Newsroom" yesterday morning expecting to see our Senior Fellow Peter Montgomery on the program discussing this issue ... but instead, this is what I saw:

Fox had dropped us from this segment and instead decided to just give "concerned parent" Terry Ann Kelly three minutes to explain how conservatives simply want to add some "balance" to the curriculum by teaching children about their religious freedoms.  

Of course, Kelly is a bit more than just some "concerned parent":

Terry Ann Kelly has an expansive background in public speaking, radio and television. Over the past twenty years she has been the host for numerous local, regional and nationally syndicated radio programs. She has taught public speaking and Business Communication classes at the university level for Baylor and Dallas Baptist University.

Inspiring audiences to impact their world, Terry Ann enjoys speaking to organizations and women’s events across the country on topics varying from home and family life to moral and social issues. She has appeared on programs such as Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher, seen by over 5 million viewers. She is the co-author of the book, The Power of a Positive Friend (Howard Publishing) and writes articles for magazines and newspapers. She founded Students Standing Strong in 2004.

So after asking us to come on to debate this issue, Fox canceled on us, telling us that they weren't going to run the segment ... and then proceeded to still run the segment, with only the conservative side represented.

Right Wing Round-Up

  • Wonk Room: Rep. Steve King Upset That Supreme Court Decision Has ‘Turned Iowa Into The Gay Marriage Mecca’.
  • Steve Benen: The Lowdown On Lowden.
  • Dump Bachmann: Michele and Marcus Bachmann $3,814 In Arrears on 2009 Property Taxes.
  • Alvin McEwen: Peter LaBarbera's homophobic lies reap a small benefit.
  • Texas Freedom Network: Keeping Communism Out of First Grade?
  • TPM: Tea Party Leader: 'Islam Is A 7th Century Death Cult Coughed Up By A Psychotic Pedophile'.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • According to the new Coral Ridge Ministries "documentary" on socialism, the whole country is going to end up like Detroit if President Obama has his way.
  • National Association of Evangelicals has announced its willingness to partner with groups that offer contraceptive services and other programs aimed at reducing the number of abortions.
  • The ACLJ is demanding that the Department of Justice allow volunteers to erect a replacement cross Mojave Desert World War I memorial.
  • Mike Huckabee is taking his Fox News show to Las Vegas.
  • Liberty Counsel says Dont' Ask, Don't Tell must be retained because "the military should not be used as a pawn to promote a political agenda, nor should it be used for a social experiment to deconstruct the family." Huh? 
  • I continue to be amazed by rigorous logic displayed by the American Family Association's Bryan Fischer.
  • Finally, the quote of the day from Maggie Gallagher: "Sarah Palin had me at the word 'Trig.'"

Focus On The Family Tries To Distance Itself From Itself

As we noted yesterday, Focus on the Family announced that it was changing the name of its c4 lobbying arm from Focus on the Family Action to CitizenLink, apparently as part of an attempt to continue with its right-wing political agenda while separating the negative ramifications of said agenda from the parent organization.

This move doesn't really make a lot of sense, as everyone knows that CitizenLink is the lobbying arm of Focus on the Family .. but apparently the powers that be over a Focus think this is a wise move

Focus on the Family announced Wednesday that Focus Action, the lobbying arm of the family group, is now CitizenLink, the name of Focus’ online newsletter.

“We wanted to create clarity between the two organizations,” CitizenLink spokeswoman Sonja Swiatkiewicz said.

...

Swiatkiewicz said the re-branding of Focus Action is meant to end the confusion of people attributing Focus Action’s public-policy efforts to Focus on the Family. She said Focus spends its time not in the political arena but in “helping families thrive.”

...

Swiatkiewicz said the stances of Focus Action are identical to CitizenLink’s.

So the agendas of Focus on the Family Action and CitizenLink are exactly the same, but now all the negative attention they generate when they suddenly backtrack and announce that they would oppose a gay Supreme Court nominee simply because said nominee is gay will reflect badly upon CitizenLink instead of Focus on the Family? 

How is that supposed to work, considering that people like Tom Minnery, who has been the main spokesperson for Focus Action and will presumably retain that position with "CitizenLink," are also "senior vice presidents" for Focus on the Family.

The idea that by simply changing the name of its lobbying arm, Focus on the Family is going to be able to separate itself from the political agenda of "CitizenLink" is laughable, especially since every time anyone writes about the activities of CitizenLink from now on, they are simply going to write "Focus on the Family's CitizenLink" or "CitizenLink, the political arm of Focus on the Family."

I know that I will.

Was Susan B. Anthony Anti-Choice? The SBA List Responds

Yesterday, when posting a piece from two experts on Susan B. Anthony who stated that there was little to no evidence that Anthony "strongly pro-life," I speculated that any anti-choice organization that would name itself after Anthony on the grounds that she was a pioneering pro-life activist would have copious evidence to support said claims.

Today, the Susan B. Anthony List responds to the experts' claims ... and just let me say that the SBA's "evidence" is not particularly overwhelming: 

Susan B. Anthony was passionate and logical in her arguments against abortion. The Revolution was her brainchild, co-founded with Elizabeth Cady Stanton as a weekly women's rights newspaper that acted as the official voice of the National Woman Suffrage Association and in which appeared many of her writings alongside those of her like-minded colleagues. Most logical people would agree, then, that writings signed by "A" in a paper that Anthony funded and published were a reflection of her own opinions.

In one house editorial, signed "A", she wrote: "Guilty? Yes. No matter what the motive, love of ease, or a desire to save from suffering the unborn innocent, the woman is awfully guilty who commits the deed. It will burden her conscience in life, it will burden her soul in death; but oh, thrice guilty is he who... drove her to the desperation which impelled her to the crime!" [The Revolution, 4(1):4 July 8, 1869]

That is the entirety of the evidence provided by SBA regarding Anthony's anti-choice views:  one house editorial, signed "A" ... this, despite the fact that the experts addressed this very issue in their original piece, noting that no data exists these house editorials or ever used that shorthand for herself.

The rest of the SBA's response is dedicated to explaining the thoughts of "Anthony's compatriots" on the issue, as if that somehow provides evidence of Anthony's views on the subject.

To make matters worse, the SBA's response ends with this:

And, in case there's still lingering doubt about where Susan B. Anthony's convictions lie, her words to Frances Willard in 1889 speak for themselves: "Sweeter even than to have had the joy of children of my own has it been for me to help bring about a better state of things for mothers generally, so that their unborn little ones could not be willed away from them."

This might be seen as supporting their claim ... if Anthony hadn't been talking about inheritance laws

Anthony neither married nor had children, but when a leading publicist told her he thought she would make a wonderful mother, she took the occasion to comment on the unfairness of inheritance laws as they related to child custody: "I thank you, sir, for what I take to be the highest compliment, but sweeter even than to have had the joy of caring for children of my own has it been to me to help bring about a better state of things for mothers generally, so that their unborn little ones could not be willed away from them."

Rand Paul, The Right Wing, and the Republican Establishment

On Tuesday, Rand Paul shocked the Republican establishment by winning the GOP Senate primary in Kentucky.

On Wednesday, Paul shocked everybody by suggesting that he doesn't really like the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and thinks that the government has no business fighting discrimination in private enterprises.

Not surprisingly, Republican Senators are not particularly eager to come rushing to Paul's defense, for which they are being criticized by right-wing activists like the Family Research Council's Tom McClusky:

Where the NRSC comes back into play is in how quickly its chairman, Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), threw Rand Paul under the bus. Instead of talking to the candidate directly, or not commenting at all until he did, the Texas Senator told Politico “I don’t know what he means by that. I support non-discrimination of people, so I would need to talk to him to see what precisely his concerns were.” Translation: “I’m not a racist, but Rand Paul might be.” Not exactly strong support for a candidate you are supposed to be supporting now that he has won his primary. It is very likely the Republicans will pick up a few Senate seats this year, and even more likely two of those seats will be candidates the NRSC did not initially support, Mr. Paul and Mr. Rubio. Despite any victories the Senate Republicans might see it will definitely be time for new leadership at the NRSC prior to the 2012 elections. In that year Senate Republicans have an even larger chance of gaining the majority – but only if they play it smarter than they have been so far.

Interestingly, Paul doesn't seem to consider himself a Republican candidate so much as he does a Tea Party candidate, telling CBN's David Brody that he has no intention of blindly supporting the GOP and is instead focused on representing and unifying the Tea Party movement so that it can change the Republican Party:

Many people can be a Tea Party candidate but I think in my case it sort of fits the bill very well. I’ve never run for office, never been elected to office and I really and part of the movement in the sense that from the very beginning I went to all their meetings and many people thought that I just had the vote from the beginning. You have to earn the Tea Party vote. I interviewed with every one of the different committees in the Tea Party and they will ask you: will you be a rubber stamp for the Republican Party and that’s not a good thing because they say sometimes the Republican Party is wrong.

...

They do need a Tea Party platform and so I say lets coalesce it into some specific things and these are things I want to run on so when the primary is over and we run in the fall I don’t want to run away from the Tea Party I want to define what the tea party is.

If you go around Kentucky every tea party is by city and sometimes by county and sometimes counties have two of them and sometimes they’re not talking so it will be a job and I’m hoping since I’ve been all around the state and met everyone that I can be a conduit for bringing some of them together and I’ve been suggesting for weeks now lets have a Kentucky Tea Party Convention and try to join together and talk about a platform and I don’t see this as outside the Republican Party. I see this as an influence that can be influential within the Republican Party.

You know, it's hard to see why the Republican establishment should come rushing to defend Paul when Paul considers himself to be a Tea Party candidate on a mission to do away with the Republican establishment.

Who Are The New Sons of Liberty?

A mysterious group is poised to spend a $1 million on anti-gambling ads in Alabama's primary election and nobody seems to have any idea who is behind the group, where the money is coming from, or what they want: 

Something subversive is afoot in Alabama's Republican primary.

A shadowy outfit called the New Sons of Liberty Inc. is poised to launch a major, statewide advertising campaign in connection with the race. The group has committed more than $1 million toward the purchase television air time on networks in the state's five largest media markets, beginning May 21.

The Mobile Press-Register's George Talbot says "the group apparently is related to a grass roots organization called New Sons of Liberty Society," which is a Birther group formed recently in Illinois, but the organization's website provides no information at all, consisting solely of the ad, links to email various candidates running for Governor (except Roy Moore because, as the site says, he "opposes all forms of gambling,") and this message: 

Only when the true corrupting effects of gambling, alcohol, and drug use are widely known will the children of our nation be free to turn away from their lure. Our elected officials hear from those who promote and profit from these so-called industries. Our courts are full of lawyers who are hired to do their bidding.

But when do the people get heard?

Before you support a candidate for governor, make sure you know where he stands. Take just a minute to send an e-mail asking for a clear statement from each candidate. Make them know you are paying attention. Put them on the record.

If you don’t, we all must live with the consequences.

Randy Brinson of the Christian Coalition of Alabama says their research shows that the money is coming from out of state interests though Connecticut, but wouldn't say more, while press investigations have turned up only bits and pieces:

The Associated Press has reported that the New Sons of Liberty was organized April 29 in Washington as a charitable group that can engage in political activity. Listed as directors were Jenny Ann Hunter of Arlington, Va.; Emily Kay Stephenson of Bentonville, Ark.; and Robert Price of Tallahassee, Fla.

Hunter and Stephenson told the Press-Register that the group is a "health care organization." They declined further comment.

Strangely, the address used on the website registration is the same as the headquarters of Concerned Women for America:

The website is registered to a Robert Adams of Washington, D.C., and lists the same address as the Conservative Women of America, which supported Moore's efforts to display a 10 Commandments monument in the lobby of the Alabama Judicial Building.

Barber: "Solicitor Kagan, Do You Identify as a Lesbian?"

When Elena Kagan was first nominated to the Supreme Court, the hard-line anti-gay activists on the Right immediately demanded to know if she was gay on the grounds that gays are immoral, biased, and all around unfit for the court.

But then Politico reported that Kagan was not gay and the Religious Right demands died down ... until today, when Matt Barber returned to the subject in a column for WorldNetDaily:

Media, here's your question: "Solicitor Kagan, do you identify as a lesbian?" Ms. Kagan, your answer is simpler still: "Yes" or "no."

Pipe down, lefties. Yes, it is relevant. Most liberals would disagree, but despite "progressive" protestations to the contrary, character does, in fact, matter. A majority of Americans still consider sexual morality – or a lack thereof – a pertinent factor in contemplating one's fitness for any public service – chiefly, perhaps, a lifetime appointment to our most supreme earthly court.

Every major world religion, thousands of years of history and uncompromising human biology have established that homosexual conduct is among other volitional behaviors rightly filed under "sexual immorality." Indeed, the majority of folks around the world – billions, actually – count this a timeless truth.

But the controversial nature of homosexuality is but one point of concern. Another involves potential conflicts of interest, "real or perceived." If we had a judicial nominee – widely believed a compulsive gambler – tapped to preside over gambling cases, would it not matter? If we had a nominee credibly rumored to use medical marijuana who might someday rule on the legality of medical marijuana, wouldn't such information be germane?

And before you liberals throw out that favorite red herring: "By this logic, Clarence Thomas shouldn't rule on cases involving race or sexuality because he's a black heterosexual male" – remember: skin color is a neutral, immutable characteristic. Being black is what someone is.

On the other hand, being "gay" is what someone does. It involves feelings and changeable behaviors. Homosexual conduct is more akin to the aforementioned gambling or pot smoking behaviors than it is to skin color (and for those in the lifestyle, especially men, sodomy most definitely involves rolling the dice). To compare "black" or "heterosexual" to "gay" is to compare apples to oranges. Understandably, many African Americans find this disingenuous comparison tremendously offensive.

Moreover, "heterosexual" is the state of sexual normalcy. It's our God-given design. There remains no credible or replicated scientific evidence to the contrary. Homosexual conduct is but one of many sexually deviant behaviors. Even Darwin's theory of evolution, which imagines "survival of the fittest," would seem to bolster this self-evident truth. You can choose political correctness. I choose moral and biological correctness.

Still, Kagan's "sexual orientation" remains the pink elephant in the room: Can a sitting justice, potentially engaged in the homosexual lifestyle, be trusted to rule on cases that might well grant special preferred government status to some – including that very justice – while, at the same time, eliminating certain free-speech and religious-liberties rights enjoyed by others? (i.e., hate-crimes laws; the Employment Non-Discrimination Act; constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act; constitutionality of "don't ask don't tell," etc.)

Let's try my favorite thought experiment with this whereby we replace instances of the word "gay" with the word "Christian" and then imagine how the Religious Right would react if we were to write something like this:

But the controversial nature of CHRISTIANITY is but one point of concern ... Still, Kagan's "CHRISTIAN" remains the elephant in the room: Can a sitting justice, potentially engaged in the CHRISTIAN lifestyle, be trusted to rule on cases that might well grant special preferred government status to some – including that very justice – while, at the same time, eliminating the very basic rights enjoyed by others? (i.e., hate-crimes laws; the Employment Non-Discrimination Act; constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act; constitutionality of "don't ask don't tell," etc.)

I'm guessing that if liberals wrote something like that about a Christian Republican SCOTUS nominee, the Right would be outraged about this sort of blatant anti-Christian bigotry.

Right Wing Round-Up

  • Zachary Roth: Tea Party Leader: Allah Is 'Monkey God'.
  • Alan Colmes: Arizona Official Threatens To Shut Off Power To California As Payback For Boycott.
  • David Weigel: Running down the other big GOP primaries.
  • Kevin Drum: Rand Paul, More Than Just Another Nutcase.
  • Steve Benen: The Bart Simpsons of Congress.
  • Finally, Michael Kinsley asks whether Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia can be impartial of if he "is an extremist advocate of the so-called 'Nine Children Agenda.'"

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Rand Paul won Republican Senate nomination in Kentucky last night.
  • Richard Viguerie calls Paul's win a "major vote of no confidence in Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell."
  • Curt Levey of the Committee for Justice suggests that Arlen Specter's loss will make him more likely to vote against Elena Kagan.
  • Isn't it amazing how the views of all women seem to so closely mirror the views of Concerned Women for America?
  • Guess what? Conservative leaders now say they never really trusted Charlie Crist.
  • Last night, Ken Cuccinelli spoke at a fundraiser for a Virginia abstinence education group.
  • Sitting through this could quite possibly be the most unpleasant experience imaginable.
  • Finally, the quote of the day from Alan Keyes on why gays shouldn't be able to get married: "Why are parents and their children forbidden to marry one another? Cut to the chase and the answer is simple. The right to marry includes legal recognition (legitimization) of the married couple’s right to have sexual relations with one another. But it is wrong for parents to have sexual relations with their children. It’s wrong for siblings to have sexual relations with each other. It’s wrong for adults to have sexual relations with underage children. Obviously, unless Mrs. Bush means to argue that these restrictions are unjustified, a committed loving relationship is not enough to establish that people “ought to have” the right to marry."