LEARN

Right-Wing Activists Decry Children's Book about Penguins

That form same-sex relationships. DeMar says if we learn from animals, we should legalize “rape, eating our young and eating our neighbors.”

Minuteman Finances Look Even Shadier Than Before

When they appeared, fully armed, on the national scene, the self-appointed border vigilantes known as Minutemen had no greater ally in the news media than the right-wing Washington Times newspaper. Today, with media attention shifted elsewhere and a new Congress less friendly to the anti-immigrant fringe, the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps probably wishes the paper would just leave it alone.

The Less Things Change

Since their “thumping” in last week’s election, the Republican Party has had the opportunity to take stock and learn some lessons.  The most logical lesson would be that the American public rejected the GOP’s increasingly hard-line right-wing ideology and style of governance.  Unfortunately, they seem uninterested in listening to the American electorate and have instead opted to heed the complaints of their right-wing base – namely, the idea that the Republicans lost because they were insufficiently committed to the Right’s agenda.

Thumond-Lott.jpg

That idea is bogus, of course, but the elevation of Sen. Trent Lott to the position of minority whip suggests that the GOP’s strategy going forward is to continue its push ever-rightward.  Or ever-backward, considering that Lott lost his position as Senate Majority Leader in 2002 after saying that the country “wouldn’t have had all these problems over the years” had voters elected ardent segregationist Strom Thurmond as president in 1948. Following the outcry over his remarks, Lott was replaced by Sen. Bill Frist as Majority Leader. 

But just four years after the GOP made a conscious effort to sideline Lott and at least pretended to reject Lott’s extremist views, Republicans in the Senate apparently believe that what they need now is a right-wing partisan warrior like Lott to serve as second in command behind Sen. Mitch McConnell, the new Minority Leader.  

Republicans seemingly are responding to the loss of both houses of Congress not by attempting to moderate their agenda and leadership but by elevating members with shamefully partisan pasts to positions of power throughout the party. Sen. Mel Martinez has been tapped to become chairmanship of the Republican National Committee despite the fact that during the Terri Schiavo debacle, Martinez’s office was responsible for a memo that urged other Republicans to take advantage of this “great political issue” that would get “the pro-life base … excited.”  Earlier, in a bruising primary, his campaign put out flyers saying that his Republican opponent’s support for hate-crimes legislation made him a tool of the “radical homosexual lobby.”

In his post election press conference, President Bush said he told his “party's leaders that it is now our duty to put the elections behind us and work together with the Democrats and independents on the great issues facing this country.”  But in the week since, his party has placed Lott and Martinez in positions of leadership and the President himself has chosen to continue waging fights with Democrats over everything from the John Bolton to Kenneth Tomlinson to judges.  

After an election in which the voters widely rejected the Republican’s right-wing ideology and naked partisanship, the GOP’s post-election response seems to boil down to “you ain’t seen nothing yet.”

Brownback’s Hero: Propagandist David Barton

A few weeks ago, WallBuilders launched its own radio program and though it has only been on the air a short time, it has already had three members of Congress on as guests.  

Barton%20Live.gif For most of its existence, WallBuilders has tended to operate under-the-radar, primarily though its founder David Barton’s non-stop travel around the country where he delivers misleading lectures designed to convince right-wing audiences that the Founding Fathers were evangelical Christians just like them who intended to create a nation of, by, and for Christians.

Despite the fact that Barton’s academic credentials are limited to a Bachelor of Arts degree from Oral Roberts University and an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from Pensacola Christian College, and the fact that scholars have dismissed his work as “convincing to an uninitiated audience … a lot of what he presents is a distortion of the truth,” his books, videos, and lectures have been heartily embraced by the Right as well as right-wing members of Congress.

So far, Rep. Todd Akin, Rep. Bobby Jindal, and Sen. Sam Brownback have all appeared on Barton’s program and were effusive in their praise and flattery for Barton and his work.

For instance, Sen. Brownback, appearing on October 17th

Dave Barton is one of my big heroes.  When I first got into the United States Senate, I was watching some of his videos and it made me mad that we walk over so much of the beautiful heritage that makes our history come to life and he’s done a great job of that , so I’m honored to be on with … one of my heroes, Dave Barton.

The following day, Rep. Bobby Jindal appeared on the program and went on at length about the importance of Barton’s work, which is not too surprising considering that earlier this month, Barton traveled Louisiana with Jindal where the two made several joint appearances

It’s a great honor and privilege to be on the air with you!  Let me tell you, Dave did a fantastic job, went to three churches with us, just reminding us of our nation’s history, our nation’s heritage.  You know, I listen to him, I learn something new on every Capitol tour and every presentation.  The response was tremendous.  People just tell me that every single stop, every single church, they said they learned so much.  The only complaint I got was from some people who couldn’t make it … they were so disappointed they missed hearing him speak in person.  But he did a phenomenal job for us.

What makes him so powerful and so effective is that he has studied the original documents, the founding fathers, the history of our country and he is able to point out in such detail their faith, their intention that this should be a country that’s unafraid to embrace faith.  His ability to show you through fact, after fact … it is so overwhelming, it is so powerful.  He’s got more than enough data to prove his argument and I think that is so important because in today’s history classes, so often our students, our children, are not learning the real history of our country, too often because of political correctness.

As we have chronicled in our recent report on Barton, his work has been plagued by inaccuracies, unconfirmed quotes, and intentionally misleading interpretation and analysis, so much so that it can only be described as propaganda. Even Republican Senator Arlen Specter has blasted his work, saying Barton’s “pseudoscholarship would hardly be worth discussing, let alone disproving, were it not for the fact that it is taken so very seriously by so many people. “ 

Of course, among those who take is seriously are those on the Right, which explains why the Republican National Committee hires Barton every election cycle to travel the country and present his propaganda to select audiences – and is doing so again this year.  

Earlier this year WallBuilders released a DVD designed to misleadingly give African Americans the impression that the Democratic Party of today has been responsible for everything from slavery to the Ku Klux Klan – a tactic that groups like the National Black Republican Association and America’s PAC are exploiting this election season.  

Barton’s ties to the Right and to the Republican Party are deep – to learn more about him, read our report: “David Barton - Propaganda Masquerading as History.”

Making a List

[Elf making a list]The “War on Christmas” season started early this year – way back in June. While it hasn’t gotten too much traction yet – apparently people have other things to do – now Jerry Falwell is joining the fight against “anti-Christmas organizations” like the ACLU that want to “steal Christmas.”

In his “Falwell Confidential” e-mail, the Moral Majority co-founder promotes the “Friend or Foe Campaign” run by his affiliated litigation group, Liberty Counsel. Falwell and Liberty Counsel hope to recreate the magic of last year’s holiday season by instigating boycotts of “retailers who ban[] expressions of Christmas” (by saying “Happy Holidays”) and threatening to sue schools or government offices that don’t adhere to the “Merry Christmas”-only lexicon. From the e-mail:

Anita Staver, president of Liberty Counsel, said, “Christmas is constitutional. We cannot allow our religious liberty and heritage to be swept from the public square.”

When enough people learn the truth — that we can celebrate the religious aspects of Christmas — the ACLU and similar “Scrooges” and “grinches” will lose their power to steal Christmas.

Do civil liberties groups have the “power to steal Christmas”? As he wrote last year, Falwell believes there is some kind of conspiracy on the part of “small minority of our fellow citizens” to “obliterate Christmas,” and the “Friend or Foe Campaign” was used to collect supposed evidence of the “War on Christmas” – even when the cases they found turned out to be trumped-up or bogus (see Right Wing Outrage for 12/20/05 for video of Falwell hyping a bogus story). Still, the efforts of Falwell and other Christmas warriors ensured that there was no time of year we were denied the political hysteria of the far Right.

A Voucher Warrior Steps off the Battlefield?

bolick.bmp The voucher movement has been dealt some serious set-backs in recent months. In July, a study by the Department of Education found that public school students outperform their private school peers – undercutting the right-wing’s basic argument that private schools are better. In August, a similar study found that public school students also learn more than students in charter schools. Last month, a survey released by Gallup and the non-partisan education organization Phi Delta Kappa found that public support for vouchers is in a free-fall. A poll of Indiana residents by the Center for Evaluation and Education Policy came up with similar results. And recently major fractures have occurred between different factions of the Right over the proposed national voucher program and the Bush administration’s implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act. All this may have proven to be too much for one of the privatization movement’s biggest stars. An Arizona paper announced yesterday that Clint Bolick, president and general counsel for the pro-voucher Alliance for School Choice has taken a position with a Scottsdale law firm. In recent years, Bolick has committed himself to fighting against public education, he first rose to prominence a crusader against affirmative action as a disciple of Clarence Thomas. He was co-founder of the right-wing legal group called the Institute for Justice and a prominent player in the conservative libertarian community. This news may not indicate Bolick’s outright surrender in the Voucher Wars, but could it be the beginning of a strategic retreat and reorganization at the highest levels of the right-wing coalition against public education?

Forgive Us Our Trespasses

The Family Research Council’s latest email message to its prayer team warns that marriage equality will be the death knell for religious liberty – literally

This week I met with pastors who are partnering with us to produce Liberty Sunday. There will be preaching from America's great pastoral leaders, testimony from civic leaders, policy experts, and everyday Americans whose religious liberties are already being trampled due to same-sex marriage and the homosexual agenda. Americans will see and learn why same-sex marriage and religious liberty cannot coexist. Religious Liberty, the cornerstone of all our liberties, will die an untimely death if Bible believing Americans fail to pray and act now to defeat the legitimization of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts and elsewhere.

FRC claims that the untimely death of religious liberty is already well under way, saying

Religious liberty has already taken a back seat to Court-imposed same-sex marriage in Massachusetts. MA schools now teach children that sodomy and homosexual marriage are normal. One father who objected to his child's homosexual indoctrination was jailed.

Presumably, FRC is referring to this incident from last year

Anti-Gay Activists Get California Veto, Push Two More

“We can no longer allow girlie-men in this state or any state to dictate to our children what they're going to teach them. We need to see them face-to-face and tell them, we have our pants on the right way, we are men and women, we are not confused. And if anyone needs to teach our children, it needs to be us parents, not girlie-men from this building or any other building.”

So said Campaign for Children and Families (CCF) Latino spokesman Luis Galdamez at a rally Tuesday at the California statehouse urging Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to veto a bill that would have prohibited classroom instruction that discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation, along with the current list of “race, sex, color, creed, handicap, national origin, or ancestry.”

Apparently CCF’s chants of “veto, veto, veto” were convincing; Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill yesterday. But the Right wasted little time celebrating, instead pushing for the governor to veto two more gay-friendly bills. “Thanks are due to the many thousands of pro-family Californians who called and e-mailed Gov. Schwarzenegger, urging him to stop this bill in its tracks. We now ask those same men and women to keep telling the governor to do what's right for their state by vetoing two other anti-family bills when they reach his desk,” said Focus on the Family’s Tom Minnery. Randy Thomasson, president of CCF, said simply, “That’s good, but what about the other two sexual indoctrination bills, AB 606 and AB 1056?”

(AB 606, the “Safe Place to Learn Act,” reinforces compliance by school district with California’s anti-discrimination law. AB 1056 establishes a pilot program to promote tolerance between groups.)

Luis Galdamez

Immigration Hearing Not a Learning Experience for Congressman

The House Republicans’ summer-long immigration road show continues, with so-called hearings in New Hampshire on Thursday and Illinois next Tuesday. Meanwhile, a hearing planned for upstate New York has been cancelled for unknown reasons. Perhaps even members of the House committees behind the hearings have begun to sense the futility of such political exercises.

At one hearing last week in Georgia, Rep. Charlie Norwood lashed out at a witness from the non-partisan Congressional Research Service who wasn’t making the congressman’s points properly:

"What I wanted was witnesses who agree with me, not disagree with me," Norwood said after presiding over an immigration hearing Tuesday in Gainesville.

On Wednesday, the Augusta Republican took center stage over two congressional colleagues at a hearing in Dalton, telling a federal bureaucrat with whom he didn't agree that he would be calling her boss to complain.

Alison Siskin, an immigration specialist with the Congressional Research Service, said studies have been unclear about whether illegal immigrants have had much impact on government health care.

"The studies are all over the place," she said. "There are not studies that have shown rampant abuse."

Norwood told Siskin he was "disappointed" in her testimony, and that he planned to complain to her superiors.

“Facts are stubborn things,” said John Adams, and some studies show immigrants use less, not more health care than others. Perhaps Norwood, who said he did not learn anything new from the hearings he held, prefers Ronald Reagan’s version: “Facts are stupid things.”

Teachers of Evolution Seek to Destroy "Childhood Joy and Ambition," Says Schlafly

Creationism advocates are furious about the recent loss of an anti-evolution majority on the Kansas school board. Watergate figure and high-profile Religious Right operative Chuck Colson bemoaned the “censorship” of not mandating the instruction of “Intelligent Design” creationism in public schools. Wichita pastor Terry Fox (who quit his church shortly after the election to be a full-time activist against same-sex marriage, abortion, and evolution) called evolution a “cult” and “the mother of all liberalism” and cited the “homosexual agenda” and “taking Christ out of Christmas” as related reasons to elect right-wing school board members. Board member Connie Morris, who called evolution a “fairytale” and lost her bid for re-election to a moderate, blamed the “lying liberal media” for her defeat, and Kansas “Intelligent Design” advocate John Calvert complained of a “propaganda” campaign of “systematic misinformation” that Kansas might have trouble competing for science-related business if it maintained a standard of science education opposed by almost all scientific societies.

Now right-wing stalwart Phyllis Schlafly weighs in, claiming that those who take their cues on public-school science curricula from scientists are out to stifle children’s laughter and quash their dreams:

Liberals see the political value to teaching evolution in school, as it makes teachers and children think they are no more special than animals. Childhood joy and ambition can turn into depression as children learn to reject that they were created in the image of God.

Schlafly claims that “The issue in the Kansas controversy was not intelligent design and certainly not creationism,” preferring to refer to “the movement to allow criticism of evolution.” She notes that the Kansas standards point to a non-binding statement that came out of the congressional conference committee negotiating the No Child Left Behind Act that singles out evolution as a “controversy” and calls on schools to teach the “full range of scientific views that exist.”

But as the National Center for Science Education details, the so-called Santorum Amendment – partially designed by “Intelligent Design” advocates as part of a long-term strategy to undermine scientific instruction – was never passed into law.

Ten Commandments Judge Ready to Take It to the Next Level?

In his 1963 letter from the jailhouse in Birmingham, Alabama, Martin Luther King, Jr. defended civil disobedience in the struggle to end racial segregation. In a bizarre twist, the strategy was taken up 40 years later by the highest legal authority in that state, Roy Moore, the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court who was ejected from office for defying a federal court order, and the demands of his eight colleagues, to remove a two-ton granite monument of the Ten Commandments from his courthouse. Moore has since made a career out of his stand against the First Amendment prohibition against government endorsement of religion—he’s gone on tour with the monument, he wrote a book, and he even ran for governor.

Now, it seems Moore is ready to take the leap from nonviolent civil disobedience to “drastic action,” whatever that means. Moore writes on WorldNetDaily.com:

For the sake of the country, drastic action must be taken to defend our right to acknowledge God because, as Ronald Reagan once observed, "If we ever forget that we're one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under."

Moore is making us wait until next week’s column to learn his definition of “drastic action.”

Evolution Opponents Look to Expand Majority on Kansas School Board

The Discovery Institute, the premier national organization promoting the teaching of “Intelligent Design” (ID) creationism in public schools, is launching a campaign in Kansas to persuade voters that the recent decision by the state school board to expand the definition of science to include the supernatural is sound, and to convince Kansans to retain the board members who support ID.

Of the 6-4 majority in favor of ID, four pro-ID members are up for re-election along with one member who favors the traditional definition of science. Jesse Hall is challenging the latter member in a Democratic primary, and he has the support of anti-evolution activists:

Celtie Johnson of Overland Park, an evolution opponent, recently circulated a letter urging people to contribute to Hall and other candidates aligned against evolution in the five-state education board races.

"If we can win all five seats, creating a 7-3 conservative majority in spite of all the media and academia against us, then the liberals and evolutionists would learn the undeniable message that they can no longer get away with cramming evolutionism down ours and our neighbors kids' throats!" she wrote.

Voting Is Patriotic – Isn't It?

With the 4th of July came a new Gallup poll, showing that Americans from all cross-sections of society remain overwhelmingly patriotic—95 percent of respondents said they were proud of their country. That includes liberals, conservatives, the rich and poor – but to some on the Right, “patriotism” is just another word for the right-wing agenda.

For example, RightMarch.com, whose motto is “Patriotism In Action,” sent out an alert Monday celebrating the temporary defeat of reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act of 1965:

Thanks to the efforts of thousands of patriotic Americans, the scheduled vote on H.R. 9, reauthorizing the VRA, was POSTPONED over this issue -- enraging liberal activist organizations like People for the American Way, NOW and NARAL.

The provision RightMarch.com is attacking is the requirement that bilingual ballots be created in areas with substantial language minorities. Not surprisingly, RightMarch.com connects the anti-VRA campaign to the anti-immigration effort:

In light of the Senate recently passing a bill granting AMNESTY to 12 million illegal aliens and importing up to 66 million NEW legal immigrants, America needs linguistic unity more than ever. Offering foreign language ballots while at the same time emphasizing the importance of learning English sends mixed signals to those seeking to assimilate into American society.

A vote on the VRA has thankfully been postponed, but this is only a temporary reprieve -- your Congressman needs to hear from you! [emphasis added]

Interestingly, even Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and the co-sponsor of the severe House immigration bill, which would make an immigration status violation a felony, is pushing strongly for reauthorization of the VRA this year, including the bilingual-ballots provision.

"I have always said that English is the language of commerce and people who came from countries where English is not the first language, if they want to achieve the American dream, had better learn how to speak and function in English," the Wisconsin lawmaker said Wednesday.

"But this deals with the right to vote, and these people are United States citizens," Sensenbrenner said. "They aren't illegal immigrants, but they've gone through the process and they have been naturalized and it seems to me these people should not be confused because they don't have the proper instructions on how to vote (for) the candidates of their choice."

Fun for the Whole Family

Focus on the Family interviewed Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council about the upcoming Values Votes Summit, giving Perkins an opportunity to throw out his best sales pitch

This is designed for many different people, but primarily for Christians who want to make a difference in the life of their nation, who need information, who want to be encouraged and who want to connect with others from their state and other parts of the country. It's for people who are thinking that maybe one day they might want to be a candidate, so they might want to get connected with the right people to learn the proper steps it take. So there's a lot of information, but it's focused on families. This is a family event. This is something that the whole family can come to.

Indeed.  What kid wouldn’t want to spend a weekend in a stuffy conference room at the Omni Shoreham Hotel listening to likes of Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center, Don Wildmon of the American Family Association, and Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline?   

Just try and keep them away!  

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LEARN Posts Archive

Kyle Mantyla, Friday 08/27/2010, 2:42pm
Earlier this month, just as the right-wing anti-mosque hysteria was getting whipped up, Focus on the Family posted a video in which Stuart Shepard and Bruce Hausknecht complained about how municipalities were discriminating against churches using zoning laws: Shepard: What does this tell us about the state of religious freedom in the United States? Hausknecht: Well, we're seeing first a hostility toward religion. You would think in this day and age of tolerance that there would be tolerance for religious views, religious people. There is not. We're seeing it in the zoning cases, we're seeing... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 08/26/2010, 4:31pm
Speaking of Religious Rigth activists being upset about the fact that Ken Mehlman has come out, you knew it was just a matter of time before Peter LaBarbera weighed in, which he is doing by blasting RNC Chair Michael Steele for saying he is happy for Mehlman and saying that this is proof of why gays must be kept out of the Republican Party: Why couldn’t Mr. Steele just have kept quiet about this tragic revelation by which another sexually confused man seeks to rationalize his misbehavior (sin) by declaring homosexuality part of his inherent being? Nope, instead, like a three-year-... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 08/26/2010, 9:16am
Via CBN's David Brody we learn that a group of Christian leaders have signed on to a letter decrying those who have been questioning the legitimacy of President Obama's faith and urging the media to ignore those who are doing so:  As Christian leaders— whose primary responsibility is sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with our congregations, our communities, and our world— we are deeply troubled by the recent questioning of President Obama’s faith. We understand that these are contentious times, but the personal faith of our leaders should not be up for public debate.... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 08/12/2010, 1:36pm
Back in June, when Peter LaBarber announced his three day anti-gay "Truth Academy," he made it clear that those who did not share his anti-gay views or agenda would not be welcome and that he would actively be screening applicants:  This is a rigorous, 3-day program featuring some of the leading pro-family experts on homosexuality in the Culture War. Prospective attendees will need to be approved with references; this is not open to pro-homosexual activists but only to those who share AFTAH’s belief that homosexuality is immoral and that the GLBT movement is destructive... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 08/12/2010, 10:31am
Last month we noted that Brian Camenker of MassResistance had been invited to speak at a local Tea Party rally in Massachusetts, only to see the entire rally collapse after other speakers backed out when they learned that he was be participating. He's been complaining about it ever since and lashing out at the "RINOs" who are trying to keep social conservatives like him out of the movement instead of recognizing the real reason, which is that his organization is listed as an anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.  Which makes this new email from MassResistance... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 07/19/2010, 12:21pm
Last month we noted that Peter LaBarbera's Americans for Truth would be hosting a three-day training conference for anti-gay activists featuring a who's who of the most hostile voices in the movement, including LaBarbera, Robert Knight, Ryan Sorba, and Matt Barber.  Today Accuracy in Media's Cliff Kincaid, who shares a LaBarbera-level hatred for gays, has now been added to the list of instructors, which explains why he is now writing glowing columns about the conference warning that it is our only hope of save America from its "moral suicide" as gays seek to kill themselves and... MORE >
, Thursday 07/15/2010, 11:14am
According to Representative Sue Myrick (R-NC), Hezbollah agents may be learning Spanish and disguising themselves as illegal immigrants in order to get into the US. TPM reported the following exchange between her and her FOX News interviewer: “It really bothers me because here we are with a porous border, not really paying attention to who is coming over, what's happening with Iran and Hugo Chavez and Venezuela. We know that there are people going to Venezuela learning Spanish and then coming up through Mexico with fake documents trying to cross the border. If they're... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 07/08/2010, 10:51am
I realize that it is probably a fruitless endeavor to try and expose the utter ridiculousness of Glenn Beck's new "university," but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try. TPM's Jillian Rayfield signed up for the first day of "classes" and here is what she was taught: We signed up for the $9.95/month "university." Last night's class was subtitled "Black-Robed Regiment," and "Professor" and right-wing historian David Barton talked for half an hour about happier times in American history, when clergy were a welcome and influential part of... MORE >