October 2010

2012 Candidates Weekly Update 10/12/10

Newt Gingrich

Extremism: Detractors condemn Gingrich’s increasingly heated rhetoric (Politico, 10/11).

Government: Calls Democrats “the party of food stamps” (AP, 10/7).

Health Care: Pushes repeal of reform law to business conference (The Bakersfield Californian, 10/9).

Mike Huckabee

2010: Solicits contributions for Alan Grayson’s opponent Dan Webster (Sunshine State News, 10/11).

Media: Coulter says Huckabee is the “only one true Christian liberal in the country” (Mediaite, 10/10).

Sarah Palin

Poll: Just 22% of Americans view Palin positively (CBS News, 10/6).

2010: Says midterm election represents a “Great Awakening” among voters (Politico, 10/11).

Media: Blasts the “lamestream media” and Tea Party critics at “Patriotic Gala” fundraiser (MSNBC, 10/11).

Foreign Affairs: Tells NewsMax that a nuclear Iran could “lead to an Armageddon” (News Max, 10/11).

Tim Pawlenty

Religious Right: Fundraises for Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition (Iowa Politics, 10/10).

Iowa: Visits three cities and hosts fundraiser with GOP gubernatorial nominee Terry Branstad (Radio Iowa, 10/11).

Health Care: Dubs reform law “one of the worst pieces of legislation in modern history” (Sioux City Journal, 10/9).

Ron Paul

Iowa: Speaking at University of Iowa and a GOP fundraiser later this month (Iowa Independent, 10/11).

Tea Party: Praises “Nullification” movement at Tea Party convention (Slate, 10/9).

Mike Pence

Religious Right: Tells Virginia Family Foundation that “the problems we have as a nation are not just political, but moral” (Richmond Times Dispatch, 10/10).

GOP: Headlines Reagan Day Dinner in Florida (Saint Peters Blog, 10/11).

Mitt Romney

Religious Right: Avoids comment on Mormon leader’s anti-gay speech (Salt Lake City Tribune, 10/7).

Health Care: MA Republicans don’t want Romney to denounce reform law he signed as governor (Boston Globe, 10/8).

Foreign Affairs: Knocks Obama for “apologizing for America” (The Bakersfield Californian, 10/9).

Rick Santorum

Iowa: Launches Iowa Keystone PAC to help state Republicans (Politico, 10/7).

Religious Right: Criticizes ACLU over reproductive rights (NewsMax, 10/9).

A View From Inside The American Family Association

It is not every day that former employees of influential Religious Right organizations step forward to reveal the unpleasant inner-workings of such organizations, but Religious Dispatches' Sarah Posner has gotten several former employees of the American Family Association to do just that.

And I guess it shouldn't come as much of a surprise to learn that the environment inside the AFA is rather toxic, with founder Don Wildmon being described as an autocratic bully who created a culture of fear and intimidation that infected the entire organization, one which has only gotten worse with the addition of Bryan Fischer:

Brad Bullock, who worked for the organization for 17 years spearheading the launch of the radio station and producing the daily radio report, was forced out 3 years ago. He said he admired Wildmon and considered him a friend, but that in dismissing him, Wildmon told him, "you have a problem and you don't know it."

Bullock said the group is "too harsh on homosexuals," though if anyone voiced concerns, "they would be attacked." He described the leadership as "autocratic" and tolerant of petty gossip among employees, like spreading rumors about employees having extra-marital affairs with one another.

Bullock added that Wildmon "chastised" people for taking anti-depressants, and that "a lot of people who had problems felt like they were second class," including Bullock, who said that he suffered from depression while working at the AFA. Employees were fearful of speaking out, according to Bullock. "We were puppies in the corner who learned to keep out mouths shut."

The AFA's radio and news division, in particular, said [Allie] Martin, had become a place where authority could not be questioned, and where the "news" was nothing more than a mouthpiece for conservative "sources" whose views were portrayed as fact. (The Values Voter Summit award citation to Wildmon described One News Now as a "respected online news service.")

And those views were extreme, even by Martin’s standards of conservative evangelicalism. He said that the director of the news service, Fred Jackson, had a "hateful, hateful attitude" that "carried over" into stories. Martin described editorial meetings in which "liberals were accused of hating their kids," while Chad Groening, who covers immigration, described gay people as "degenerates" and "reprobates."

In the newsroom, said Martin, "I saw the tone of stories develop in a way I thought was disturbing."

"They get people as news sources to say what they want to say but can't say," he added.

After Obama got elected, said Martin, "this went up to a whole new level, we have to vilify this man."

In 2008, Jackson sent Martin an email with the subject line "attitude problems," citing scripture he said governed "a worker's attitude toward their [sic] superiors." The verses he cited included Ephesians 6:5-8 ("Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, singleness of your heart, as unto Christ") and Colossians 3:22-25 ("Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God.") He closed the email with a "final warning" that "any further breaches in this area will be turned over to Brother Don."

Among the topics about which Martin had raised concerns was the news room's approach to immigration. Martin said that Groening has, for example, called undocumented immigrants "stupid," "scumbag lawbreakers" and "freeloaders." Groening believed that illegal immigration would "destroy" the country, and that "we have the best way of life, and if our borders aren't secured, this country would be destroyed."

Martin also noted that Groening had referred to Muslims as "raghead scumbag terrorists" and referred to Allah as "Satan."

Posner goes on to describe the rabidly anti-immigration attitude of AFA leaders and how that attitude has been promoted in the AFA 's work, as well as Bryan Fischer's long history of bigtory stemming all the way back to his days in Idaho when he invited Scott Lively to participate in conference hosted by his Idaho Values Alliance.

As they say, read the whole thing.

Right Wing Round-Up

Right Wing Leftovers

  • It looks like Janet Porter is finally getting back to work, as she's started recording daily commentaries for AFA radio.
  • Bill Donohue is mad that people can make fun of Catholics but not gays. But what isn't Donohue mad about?
  • If you are going to spend money on attack ads, be sure you are attacking the right person.
  • Mitt Romney is being pressured by conservatives to denounce MA health care reform while being pressured by Massachusetts Republicans not to do so.
  • The National Review calls Joe Miller "Cool As Ice." That is not the phrase I would use to describe him.
  • Finally, Richard Land tries to set the record straight on everything from his support for a mosque in Tennessee to his embrace of Glenn Beck.

The Warped Feminism of the Susan B. Anthony List

Although a number of media narratives describe 2010 election as revealing the rise of conservative woman, the "Awakening of the Conservative Woman," or the "Year of the Mama Grizzly," and what Sarah Palin calls “the emerging conservative, feminist identity,” it’s easy to forget that women have always played a prominent role in the conservative movement: Phyllis Schlafly, Clare Boothe Luce, and Beverly LaHaye, just to name a few.

But are women really running to embrace the rightwing agenda in 2010? Most polls show that the growing support for Republican candidates is a result of disproportionate backing from men, while Democrats still lead among women voters; Sarah Palin, the foremost Republican woman, is viewed favorably by an abysmally low 22% of Americans. But it is true that more and more women are running as Republicans for elected office, and the Religious Right has embraced the fiercely anti-choice Republican Senate candidates like Sharron Angle, Christine O’Donnell, Kelly Ayotte and Carly Fiorina. While it is difficult to say that women are turning to the GOP, at least one group is pushing the narrative that women will be at the center of the Right’s resurgence.

The Susan B. Anthony List was founded by Marjorie Dannenfelser and Jane Abraham, two women long-tied to Republican politics and anti-choice activism. Dannenfelser compared her fight against “the oligarchy of pro-choice women” to Susan B. Anthony’s campaign against second-class citizenship for women, and claims that Susan B. Anthony and the original women’s movement were all “strongly pro-life.”

Of course, real  historians and experts have thoroughly debunked Dannenfelser’s interpretation of women’s history: “Anthony spent no time on the politics of abortion. It was of no interest to her, despite living in a society (and a family) where women aborted unwanted pregnancies.” But the SBA List is now appropriating the legacy of Anthony and the women’s movement to serve their political agenda.

In 2010, SBA List has become a critical voice in the Religious Right in not only transforming the notion of “feminism” but also running extremely deceptive political ads. The group teamed up with the National Organization for Marriage to launch a $200,000 ad campaign against Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer targeted at the Latino community, claiming that Boxer opposed Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Naturally, PolitiFact rated their anti-Boxer ad to be “false” and “highly misleading,” as the Senator is one of the leading advocates of immigrant-rights in Washington.

Now, SBA List has just initiated a campaign targeting anti-choice Democrats who voted in favor of Health Care Reform by employing the immensely discredited and deceptive charge that the new law leads to “taxpayer funding of abortion.” Politico reports that the group plans to spend millions of dollars on television and radio advertisements, billboards, and a bus tour. SBA List has invested heavily in Carly Fiorina of California, New Hampshire GOP nominee Kelly Ayotte, a star of the anti-abortion rights movement, and said that the ultraconservative Nevada Republican Sharron Angle represents an “authentic, pro-life feminism that puts the ‘feminine’ back in the word” who would make “Susan B. Anthony proud.” Yes, the SBA List has such a warped view of feminism that they call the same Sharron Angle who described the situation of a girl impregnated by her father as “really [turning] a lemon situation into lemonade” an “authentic” feminist. Their other top candidate, State Rep. Jackie Walorski of Indiana who is running for the House, is a staunch Religious Right advocate who notoriously sunk hate-crimes legislation by trying to add “fetuses” as a protected class of citizens.

Sarah Palin has emerged as the symbolic head of SBA List, and the group founded the Team Sarah website to attract more women to their brand of “feminism.” “It’s only natural that women like these are responding to someone like Sarah Palin,” writes Dannenfelser, and “now millions of Americans, men and women, are going to the polls to make 2010 not only the Year of the Pro-Life Woman but the dawn of the Decade of Pro-Life Women.”

While SBA List’s view of feminism is different from the more openly anti-feminist groups like Eagle Forum and the Independent Women’s Forum, the groups essentially share the same reactionary ideas and principles. SBA List merely cloaks their anti-women’s rights agenda around a right-wing understanding of “feminism” and a misconstrued view of history.

Is the AFA Blacking Out Bryan Fischer?

Back in August, we noted that the America Family Association had started placing a disclaimer on every blog post written by Bryan Fischer saying that the views expressed were Fischer's along and did not reflect the views of the AFA.

Seemingly the AFA was become aware of just how toxic Fischer was becoming and was trying to distance itself from his radical views ... which is kind of laughable since they continue to give him a daily platform from which to spew his bigotry. 

But today Warren Throckmorton notices something I have been wondering about as well:  why as AFA seemingly started "blacking out" Fischer's blog posts?

As Throckmorton notes, in order to read Fischer's recent posts you have to highlight the text manually, which is not something you have to do with any of the other posts on the AFA blog.

So is this just some temporary technical glitch, or is the AFA actually trying to conceal Fischer's posts? 

Pray and ACT Prayer Targets: Raise Up Christians, Hold Back Satan, And Keep The Ungodly Out of Office

I have been covering the various election-oriented prayer efforts that are currently being carried out by Religious Right groups, including Pray and ACT which consists of not only 40 days of prayer, but also 40 days of fasting.

And to make this grueling process somewhat easier, Pray and ACT and the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission have produced a day-by-day prayer guide [PDF] for participants.  For instance, on October 17 they are to pray for the "Sanctity of Human Life":

Ask God to...

• Convict public officials to protect and serve every member of our society including the most marginalized, voiceless, and vulnerable

• Raise up leaders to end our nation’s culture of death and recognize the equal value of all people

• Give our nation the compassion it needs to assist women struggling with problem pregnancies

• Raise up leaders to protect the weak and the vulnerable from violent attack with no favoritism, partiality, or discrimination

• Help our world leaders develop a consistent ethic of love and life for all people and all circumstances

• Convict the scientific community to end the barbaric practice of embryo destructive stem-cell research

• Help you put an end to our nation’s abortion-on-demand policies

And the next day they are to pray for "God's Design for Marriage":

Ask God to…

• Raise up leaders who will protect God’s design for marriage as the union of one man and one woman

• Convict Christians to uphold the institution of marriage and model its true meaning

• Help the church instill in young people a sound understanding of the importance of marriage

• Cause our nation to understand the destructive effects of redefining marriage

• Help the church engage in compassionate redemptive ministry to those struggling with same-sex attraction

• Help the church minister to those struggling in their marriages

• Cause our nation’s leaders to enact laws and policies that encourage and strengthen marriage

And then, as we get closer and closer to Election Day, the prayer targets become more focused on getting Christians elected to office, with prayers to "prevent Satan from blinding the judgment of our public officials," and "give Christians who run for public office favor in the eyes of the electorate," and "confound the counsel of candidates who don’t support biblical values," and "discourage ungodly people from running for public office."

And finally, just before Election Day, activists are enouraged to pray for the "wisdom to elect the
best officials" and realize that "God’s judgment or blessing on a nation is related directly to the morality of its citizens": 

Ask God to...

• Send the strong convicting presence of His Spirit throughout the nation

• Raise up leaders who will advance and support God-honoring policies, especially policies protecting life

• Help you know who He wants you to vote for in the upcoming election

• Expose to public scrutiny people who are working to undermine God-honoring laws and morality, like efforts to undermine God’s design for marriage

• Convince Christians that they need to be involved in the life of the nation both politically and socially

• Confound the plans of the enemies of the United States.

• Help the United States continue to be the world’s leader in promoting freedom for all people, especially religious freedom.

Santorum: Health Care Reform Will Destroy America By Defunding Our Military

I am used to seeing right-wing leaders claim that gay marriage or abortion or atheism or voting Democratic or what-have-you will destroy America ... but I have never an explanation quite like the one Rick Santorum gave to World Magazine about how health care reform will destroy the US by forcing massive cuts in military spending, just like "the left" always wanted: 

Q: Will this spending have an effect on our military? No European socialist country has any military to speak of, because they can't afford it. We spend $650 billion a year on the military. You're going to hear in the next year or so that we must dramatically cut the military because we can't pay for it: "We can't afford to be the policeman of the world. America's role has to change." The Chinese and the Russians are sitting there licking their chops. This is exactly what the left would like to see, since they see America as an oppressive imperialist country.

Q: The long-term consequences of the healthcare law . . . It will destroy the country.

Kudos to Santorum for uncovering this secret, diabolical sixty-year leftist plot to destroy our military though health care spending all for the benefit of the Russians! 

Will FRC Take Over The "Day of Truth"?

Earlier this week, CNN's Dan Gilgoff reported that Exodus International was shutting down it annual "Day of Truth":

A national Christian organization will stop sponsoring an annual event that encourages school students to "counter the promotion of homosexual behavior" because the event has become too divisive and confrontational, the group's president told CNN on Wednesday.

"All the recent attention to bullying helped us realize that we need to equip kids to live out biblical tolerance and grace while treating their neighbors as they'd like to be treated, whether they agree with them or not," said Alan Chambers, President of Exodus International, the group that sponsored the event this year.

Called the Day of Truth, the annual April event has been pushed by influential conservative Christian groups as a way to counter to the annual Day of Silence, an event promoted by gay rights advocates to highlight threats against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students.

In was just last year that Exodus took over running the Day of Truth from the creators at the Alliance Defense Fund, so it'll be interesting to see if ADF will be willing to retake control over the effort.

If they do, they can probably expect the support of Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, who tells Gilgoff that he is eager to see this sort of effort continue:

We stand ready to work with all pro-family groups to ensure that students continue to hear an alternative to the ideological indoctrination in support of the homosexual movement which has become all too prevalent in our public schools.

As we have repeatedly stated, we unequivocally condemn verbal or physical harassment or violence directed at any person, particularly a child, because of sexuality, religious beliefs, or for any other reason. There is not a shred of evidence to suggest any connection between those kinds of acts and the loving witness of Christian believers or the reasoned dialogue of pro-family activists.

We will never allow the slanders of activist groups that promote homosexual behavior to deter us from speaking the truth in love, and that includes the message that the choice to engage in homosexual conduct is a destructive one and that change is possible for those who experience same-sex attractions.

If FRC refuses to stop "speaking the truth in love" and wants to make sure that students continue to hear the Day of Truth's message, it only makes sense for FRC to take over the organizing of this annual event, does it not?

Right Wing Round-Up