Operation Rescue

Rght Wing Leftovers

  • John Hagee explains that Christians who do not bless and defend Israel "will come under the judgment of God."
  • Robert P. George says that if the Supreme Court wades into the battle over marriage "it would be disastrous ... [because] hey would repeat the error in Roe v. Wade: namely, trying to remove a morally charged policy issue from the forums of democratic deliberation and resolve it according to their personal lights."
  • Scott Wheeler of The National Republican Trust Political Action Committee blasts the GOP for not having done more to stop Sonia Sotomayor's nomination.
  • Operation Rescue's Troy Newman has been booted from Women Against the Killing and Exploitation of Unprotected Persons' [W.A.K.E.U.P] advisory board "because of his continued unethical and divisive behavior" pertaining to his on-going fight against Randall Terry.
  • Mike Huckabee's Huck PAC raised $300,000 for the first half of the year and paid out $131,000 in payroll and benefits and $72,100 in fundraising related expenses, while contributing only $17,500 to candidates
  • Finally, Barack Obama is not, in fact, the Antichrist.

Tiller's Killer Asserts He Was An Operation Rescue Donor and Supporter

Over the weekend, the New York Times ran a lengthy piece on the late George Tiller, who was gunned down by an anti-abortion zealot while attending church in May.  The piece focused on Tiller's resolution to continue provided badly-needed services to women in the face of relentless protests, lawsuits, threats of violence, and assassination attempts from anti-abortion activists, most notably Operation Rescue:

“His is the only abortion clinic we’ve never been able to close,” Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, said in an interview.


There seemed an endless supply of fresh accusations.

“Wichita shoppers unknowingly sprinkled with the burnt ash of fetal remains,” declared one news release, referring to the clinic’s crematorium.

“If I can’t document it, I don’t say it,” Mr. Newman of Operation Rescue said, moments before suggesting without any proof that Dr. Tiller had bought off the local district attorney, Nola T. Foulston, by giving her a baby for adoption. He referred a reporter to a Web site that vaguely asserted that Dr. Tiller “may have delivered the ultimate bribe to Nola Foulston.” A spokeswoman for Ms. Foulston declined to discuss the accusation.

Anti-abortion activists routinely portrayed Dr. Tiller’s campaign contributions as “blood money” that co-opted politicians. “He owned the attorney general’s office,” Mr. Newman said. “He owned the governor’s office. He owned the district attorney’s office.”

The article notes that Operation Rescue and Newman eventually changed tactics and began relying on an "obscure Kansas statute allowing residents to petition for grand jury investigations" and then gathered thousands of signatures to convene two grand juries against him. Both times the juries refused to indict him.

Eventually, Tiller was charged with 19 misdemeanor violations of state's late-term abortion law and was acquitted after the jury deliberated for a mere thirty minutes:

It was an enormous victory, but Dr. Tiller’s supporters feared a backlash. Anti-abortion activists who had attended court sessions were disgusted. Mr. Newman remembered one new face among the regulars in court — Scott Roeder, who told other protesters that the trial was a “sham” and had argued in years past that homicide was justifiable to stop abortions.

Roeder is the man charged with murdering Tiller, which brings us to this article in the Kansas City Star in which Roeder disputes Newman's repeated assertions that he was never a member or supporter of Operation Rescue, insisting that he was, in fact, both:

The Kansas City Star interviewed Roeder three times in recent weeks, including once at the Sedgwick County Jail.

In a phone interview Friday, Roeder said he was upset at the president of Operation Rescue, Troy Newman, who had condemned the killing and said his organization had nothing to do with Roeder.

“He said that I never was a member and I never contributed any money,” Roeder said. “Well, my gosh, I’ve got probably a thousand dollars worth of receipts, at least, from the money I’ve donated to him.”

Roeder said he wrote Newman a letter from jail.

“I told him, ‘You better get your story straight because my lawyer said it’d be good for me to show that I was supporting a pro-life organization.’”

For his part, Newman continues to insist that they have no record of Roeder making donations to his organization in their database.

Astronauts + Right-Wing Abortion Group = Anti-Abortion Ad, Obviously.

Throughout the catalog of right-wing organizations, one can easily find examples of attempts to connect two things which, under rational thought, would have no reason being mentioned in the same article, ad, or argument. Usually, the connection (or lack thereof) will leave you scratching your head.

Just take, for instance, Robert Morrison's recent article on the Family Research Council's blog that takes you through a confusing journey from the French national holiday, Bastille Day, to why we shouldn't confirm Sonia Sotomayor. Then there was Operation Rescue's recent press release that tries to connect Sotomayor and her virtually non-existent abortion record to the criminal prosecution of an abortion clinic worker in Florida. Kyle has previously written about the Right's tendency to try and link seemingly distant subjects.

The most recent attempt to connect the unconnected comes in the form of a new television ad from the anti-abortion group, Fidelis. The ad, which launched today, attempts to intertwine the anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch and the importance of a "pro-life" agenda:

Dr. Joseph Kerwin, the first American doctor in outer space, joined other former NASA greats yesterday at a press conference sponsored by the Catholic pro-life group Fidelis, the creator of the new advertisement and its popular web site CatholicVote.org.

The event commemorated both the fortieth anniversary of Apollo 11’s historic landing on the moon and the new ad buy from Fidelis.


Brian Burch, the president of the group, told LifeNews.com that putting a man on the moon was once thought impossible.

“Neil Armstrong will go down in history as one of the greatest explorers. His long journey to the moon started, as each of us started, with a small kick in our mother’s womb,” said Burch. “Today, we salute the astronauts of Apollo 11 and all other brave pioneers who give meaning to the potential of every human life.”

With today marking the anniversary of the liftoff of Apollo 11 and July 20 marking the anniversary of the first moonwalk, the new Fidelis pro-life commercial comes at an appropriate time.

In a note to supporters of the organization, Kerwin talked more about the new "Imagine" television commercial. He said it would "be running regularly on local Houston television stations for the next several weeks."

"Their new ad is already creating buzz in Houston, and I can't wait for the rest of the country to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Apollo 11 with this new ad," he said.

"Next Monday, media outlets around the world will commemorate the historic achievement of Apollo 11. The courage and dedication of the astronauts aboard Apollo 11, and hundreds of others involved in our nation's space program make me proud of our great country," Kerwin added. "But most importantly, the achievements of the space program remind me of the potential of every human life."

"May we never cease to marvel at the gift, and potential of every human life," he concluded.

While I understand the Right's need to come up with new and innovative ways to market their message, I simply don't think comparing Bastille Day and Sonia Sotomayor or abortion and outer space will cut it.

Grasping at the Thinnest of Thin Air

It seems that ever since Sonia Sotomayor's nomination, every facet of the right-wing movement has tried to make their mark on the nominee. Everyone from the Judicial Confirmation Network to the Family Research Council have made their views known. However, for a single issue organization opposing abortion rights, this nomination might have made them feel like they would be on the sidelines, since Judge Sotomayor has an almost non-existent record on abortion.

But that hasn't stopped Operation Rescue from pulling out all the stops. And then some. 

Today, in a press release, Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, brings new meaning to the term "grasping at thin air." The release, titled "Senators Considering Sotomayor Should Take Notice of Delays in Florida Born-Alive Baby Killing Case", outlines the criminal prosecution of an abortion clinic worker from Florida.

The criminal trial of Belkis Gonzalez, who was charged with two felony counts related to the death of a baby born alive during a botched abortion in Hialeah, Florida, in 2006, has been delayed. Just two days before the scheduled July 9th trial date, a new prosecutor, Gail Levine, was assigned to the case, prompting Judge John Thornton to reschedule the trial to begin on October 9, 2009 at 9:00 AM.

Not once does the release mention Sotomayor, until the final paragraph in which Newman goes above and beyond in trying to tie together the prosecution of a Florida man and Judge Sotomayor:

"This is what happens when prosecutors and even judges allow their personal feelings about abortion to interfere with justice. This case should be a lesson to Senators who are considering the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. Sotomayor has shown a similar inclination to allow her personal beliefs to trump the rule of law. That kind of partiality only leads to injustice."

In no way is Sotomayor linked to tthe prosecution of Gonzalez nor does the headline in any way accurately reflect the content of the press release. But that hasn't stopped Newman and Operation Rescue from trying to brand Sotomayor in a way that fits their organization's agenda.

With Tiller Dead, Operation Rescue Turns Its Attention to Carhart

When Dr. George Tiller was gunned-down while attending church in May, Operation Rescue's Troy Newman was quick to issue a statement decrying the assassination and insisting that Tiller's murderer "has never been a member, contributor, or volunteer with Operation Rescue."

In the days that followed, Newman made it clear that OR, which had been targeting Tiller for years, was not going to give up its anti-choice activism, saying "Operation Rescue will not stand by and act as if this organization's Pro-Life message has been silenced by [this] egregious act" and proclaiming that the organization "will continue to advocate for the sanctity of human life, born and unborn."

Tiller was one of only three physicians in the country who performed the types of procedures that made him the focus of the anti-choice activist's protestations and harassment.  One of the others is LeRoy Carhart, the man at the center of the 2000 Supreme Court case Stenberg v. Carhart in which the court held that "Nebraska's statute criminalizing the performance of 'partial birth abortion[s]' violates the Federal Constitution."

So with Tiller now dead at the hands of an assassin, it looks as if Operation Rescue is now focusing its efforts entirely on Carhart:

A coalition of four pro-life groups have sent a letter to Nebraska Attorney General Jon Buning asking him to open a "comprehensive" investigation into late-term abortionist LeRoy Carhart and his Bellevue abortion clinic.

Signing the letter were Troy Newman of Operation Rescue headquartered in Wichita, Kansas, Rev. Pat Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition in Washington, DC, Larry Donlan of Rescue the Heartland in Omaha, Nebraska, and Ann Bowen of Nebraskans United for Life, also of Omaha.

The group expressed concerns about the legality of certain aspects of Carhart's abortion business as well as concerns about the condition of Carhart's run-down abortion clinic that was damaged by an accidental fire earlier this year.

Carhart has indicated that he wants to begin doing risky third trimester abortions at his Bellevue clinic.

"There is concern that this decision will create an unacceptable safety risk to women," the group stated in their letter dated July 6, 2009.

"The safety of the public is our paramount concern, thus we are requesting the most comprehensive investigation of Carhart and his Nebraska abortion business as soon as possible from the Attorney General's office, and that your investigation not be limited solely to the concerns listed in this letter. Women's lives and future health literally depend on it."

Troy Newman moved OR's "offices to Wichita, Kansas in 2002, where he began an intensive campaign to close George Tiller’s abortion mill."

Any bets on how long it is before we see OR announce that it is relocating its offices to Bellevue, Nebraska?

Right Wing Leftovers

  • In retrospect, this 2002 Mark Sanford ad seems a tad hypocritical.
  • Operation Rescue is now going to start targeting Leroy Carhart.
  • The Federalist Society's Leonard Leo has been elected chairman of the United States Commission for International Religious Freedom.
  • Ken Hutcherson lashes out at President Obama over the LGBT event at the White House.
  • Three of Rep. Michelle Bachmann's fellow Republicans are apparently getting fed-up with her Census nonsense.
  • In news that should send shivers down your spine, Steve Dillard's name is among those the state judicial nominating commission has submitted to the Governor for consideration for an open seat on the Georgia Supreme Court.
  • The Vanity Fair article on Sarah Palin has set off a Republican feud.
  • This SaraPAC 4th of July message really has to be seen to be believed.
  • As does this photo set and accompanying interview with her in Runner's World:

The Pro-Life Educators and Students (PLEAS) Pick-Up Right-Wing Support for NEA "Prayer and Picket"

Bob Pawson, national coordinator for Pro-Life Educators and Students (PLEAS), has announced that he's added a few familiar faces to his "prayer and picket" planned for the National Education Association's annual conference in San Diego on July 2nd.

Earlier this month, I wrote about Pawson's personal vendetta against the NEA, a group who is hardly an outspoken abortion advocacy group (they dedicate three sentences of their 462-page charter to reproductive rights).

Now, he's gained some support from, among others, the recently jailed Rev. Walter B. Hoye, president of Issues4Life Foundation. Along with Hoye, Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, and Rev. Patrick Mahoney of Christian Defense Coalition have pledged their support:

Bob Pawson of Pro-Life Educators and Students (PLEAS), announces, "Our growing team of pro-life coordinators now includes Jeff White from Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust, Rev. Patrick Mahoney of Christian Defense Coalition, and Troy Newman of Operation Rescue, for the July 2 prayer-and-picket demonstration during the NEA teacher union convention at the San Diego Convention Center and NEA-State-Affiliate offices across America.

"These esteemed pro-life leaders are promoting and recruiting for our peaceful, prayerful demonstrations regarding the NEA leadership's pro-abortion track record. They are speaking at the Rally for Life at New Beginnings Church in Norco, CA, this Tuesday evening alongside Rev. Walter B. Hoye II, president of Issues4Life Foundation."

While Pawson didn't re-affirm his belief that abortion caused the current economic crisis, he did downplay the size of the protests at state-level NEA offices. He also advised parents to bring their children, because hey, they make for good marketing:

"Gather together your family members and a few pro-life friends and just go to your state's NEA-affiliate offices with pro-life posters. Pray and picket for an hour. Children are especially effective messengers highlighting the hypocrisy of teacher-union leaders supporting abortion," said Pawson.

"The number of locations nationwide is more important than the number of picketers at any location. We don't necessarily need hundreds of picketers at each state's NEA-HQ. A dozen or two would be sufficient -- multiplied by many sites across 50 states. Pro-Lifers far from state capitals can picket their county or town's local NEA-affiliate listed in telephone book white pages."

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Judicial Watch has released a "Special Report on Judge Sotomayor's Connection to the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund."
  • Rick Warren will reportedly be attending Islamic Society of North America's annual convention in Washington, D.C. over the Fourth of July weekend.
  • Carrie Prejean is seeking a book deal.
  • Gary Bauer says that Sarah Palin's feud with David Letterman "proves conservatives can fight pop culture and win."
  • Operation Rescue and other Wichita-based anti-abortion groups say they have received death threats in response to last month's killing of George Tiller.
  • The Family Research Council defends Bill O'Reilly's attacks on Tiller, saying "Something has been lost in the canonization of George Tiller--and that 'something' is the truth ... If Bill O'Reilly was fanning anything, it was the facts. We applaud him for drawing attention to a grisly procedure that even the most hardened pro-choice Democrats in Congress oppose.
  • Finally, the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission explains that Tiller's murder was wrong because, even though "Tiller certainly was guilty of murder before God ... lawfully established civil authorities are the rightful ministers of God’s wrath. They have been granted a monopoly by God on the use of the sword, namely capital punishment and physical coercion. "

Bill Donohue Attempts to Distance the Hate Crimes Bill from...Hate Crimes

It is no surprise that Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, is displeased with the Hate Crimes bill that is making its way through Congress. It's also no surprise that he labeled Eric Holder a "master of demagoguery" after the Attorney General supported the bill and cited the recent murders of Dr. George Tiller and Stephen Johns, the fallen Holocaust Museum security guard, to show the hatred that still exists in our society.

What's troubling is Donohue's attempt to sever the connection between the actions of Scott Roeder and James von Brunn and the radical, hateful beliefs that they held. He claims that Roeder wasn't propelled by an extreme anti-abortionist viewpoint and that von Brunn didn't storm the Holocaust Museum due to anti-Semitic views. Rather their actions were solely prompted by possible mental illnesses:

Roeder was never involved in any pro-life organization, and von Brunn is an old man who was as much anti-Christian as he was anti-Semitic. In other words, it is nothing if not demagogic for Holder to exploit these two recent tragedies—committed by madmen, not political activists.

Obviously, the facts directly counter Donahue's claim. Roeder had been in contact with Operation Rescue prior to Dr. Tiller's death and was arrested in 1996 for having the ingredients to make a bomb in the trunk of his car. He was a regular member of anti-abortion rallies in Kansas and a member of the Freeman, a radical anti-government group.

Von Brunn is an anti-Semitic white supremacist whose views were known by federal authorities. The day of the Holocaust Museum shooting, police found a note in his car which undeniably portrays von Brunn's ideals and motive:

"You want my weapons; this is how you'll get them," von Brunn wrote in a note he had signed, according to the arrest affidavit.

"The Holocaust is a lie," the note read. "Obama was created by Jews. Obama does what his Jew owners tell him to do. Jews captured America's money. Jews control the mass media."

Roeder is an anti-abortion fanatic who killed Dr. Tiller for a political purpose. Von Brunn is an anti-Semitic white supremacist who chose the Holocaust Museum for a reason. Therefore, it is baseless for Donahue to label Holder a "demagogue" for simply explaining the need for hate crimes legislation by logically citing two very timely examples of political hate crimes.

Right Wing Round-Up

  • Truth Wins Out reports that the authors of a book on the health of gay men have accused Focus on the Family of distorting their research, making this the tenth time in two years that researchers have claimed that Focus on the Family misrepresented their work.
  • TPM offers more information about anti-immigration zealot/accused murder Shawna Forde's history while Blue Texan reports that Forde shared the stage with Jim Gilchrist at a 2007 event at which several GOP presidential candidates or their representatives appeared.
  • Cristina Page notes that if Troy Newman of Operation Rescue can be judged by his Facebook friends, he's got ties to some violent anti-choice activists.
  • Sarah Posner points out that Rep. John McHugh, who was nominated to be secretary of the Army, has a voting record from his time in the House that "shows a disrespect for church-state separation generally, as well as a disregard for the ongoing infringement of service members' constitutional rights from aggressive proselytization in the armed forces."
  • Spencer Ackerman catches Rep. Pete Hoekstra comparing House Republicans to Iranian protesters.
  • Think Progress catches Rep. Michelle Bachmann vowing to break the law by refusing to answer questions on the US Census.
  • Finally, Media Matters posted this video of Pat Robertson declaring that countries that embrace homosexuality go "down into ruin" and end up "in the garbage heap of history":

Right Wing Leftovers

  • You know what Lou Pritchett? You scare me.
  • Barbara Simpson has been too lazy to get her TV set up for the digital conversion, so now she's mad at the government.
  • Thanks to the Alliance Defense Fund, a local ministry will now be able to hand out religious literature at St. Louis' upcoming PrideFest.
  • Sam Brownback's main primary challenge for Governor has now dropped out.
  • Anti-choice activists are going to recreate the Civil Rights march across the Pettus Bridge in Alabama along with Alveda Kind and 70 pro-life organizations.
  • Sen. Jim DeMint is set to endorse Marco Rubio's bid for Governor of Florida.
  • This column from Kathryn Jean Lopez says that Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America used to work for Operation Rescue, which is something we didn't know.
  • Speaking of K Lo, she is transitioning to a new position at the National Review.
  • President Obama was in Illinois addressing the American Medical Association ... and Peter LaBarbera was there protesting the "radical homosexual agenda."
  • Finally, Pat Boone declares ""Like it or not, believe it or not, the end times seem to be drawing near."

Terry Recruits A New Army of Anti-Choice Warriors

The Randall Terry press conference we covered last week was actually the lead-in to an anti-abortion leadership training seminar that he conducted over the weekend featuring Alan Keyes and Norma McCorvey for some fifty people from around the country at which Terry announced the formation of a new organization to be known as Operation Rescue Insurrecta Nex, as the Washington Times reports:

Randall Terry, one of the best-known abortion opponents in the U.S., launched a new version of Operation Rescue this weekend, calling on activists from across the country to press on despite bad publicity over the May 31 slaying of abortion doctor George Tiller.

Forty-five people from 16 cities met at the Crystal City Doubletree hotel Saturday for a hastily arranged "emergency pro-life training conference" to recruit more foot soldiers in the battle against abortion.

"The freeing moment will come when you decide to take a bullet for this movement," Mr. Terry said in a small ballroom watched over by one security guard. "Then you can't be bullied and intimidated into silence anymore."

Mr. Terry has renamed his movement Operation Rescue Insurrecta Nex - the latter two words meaning 'insurrection against death' in Latin - and is trolling for new affiliates.

"My mission is to raise up a new generation," he said, "to recruit them, train them and unleash them."

He brushes off criticism that activists like him created a climate that goaded the suspect in Dr. Tiller's slaying into action.

"You can't work with me if you can't say abortion is murder and child-killers are murderers," he said. "You've got to be prepared to take the heat over those words. The true terrorists are those who reach into a woman's womb and kill her child."

His opponents "refuse to admit that abortion is the cauldron from which evil flows," he added. "George Tiller reaped what he sowed. He was a murderer."


"We're looking for heroes," he said. "Somebody who'll do the right thing in the face of hostility from enemies and misunderstanding by friends.

"Most pro-life people don't want to end abortion. They just want it to go away. They are being delusional. This battle will require enormous sacrifice, bad press and hostility.

"Do we really think we can waltz into hell and take away this crown jewel of Satan without the brawl to end all brawls?"

What Year Is This?

On April 15, 1995, Timothy McVeigh destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

A little over a week later, President Bill Clinton delivered a speech in which he defended the First Amendment while raising concerns about the impact of violent and hateful rhetoric:

[W]e hear so many loud and angry voices in America today whose sole goal seems to be to try to keep some people as paranoid as possible and the rest of us all torn up and upset with each other. They spread hate. They leave the impression that, by their very words, that violence is acceptable. You ought to see—I'm sure you are now seeing the reports of some things that are regularly said over the airwaves in America today.

Well, people like that who want to share our freedoms must know that their bitter words can have consequences and that freedom has endured in this country for more than two centuries because it was coupled with an enormous sense of responsibility on the part of the American people.

If we are to have freedom to speak, freedom to assemble, and, yes, the freedom to bear arms, we must have responsibility as well. And to those of us who do not agree with the purveyors of hatred and division, with the promoters of paranoia, I remind you that we have freedom of speech, too. And we have responsibilities, too. And some of us have not discharged our responsibilities. It is time we all stood up and spoke against that kind of reckless speech and behavior.

If they insist on being irresponsible with our common liberties, then we must be all the more responsible with our liberties. When they talk of hatred, we must stand against them. When they talk of violence, we must stand against them. When they say things that are irresponsible, that may have egregious consequences, we must call them on it. The exercise of their freedom of speech makes our silence all the more unforgivable. So exercise yours, my fellow Americans. Our country, our future, our way of life is at stake.

For this, Clinton was pilloried by the Right, which prompted People For the American Way to release a memo [PDF] on "free speech, irresponsible speech, and the climate of intolerance" which, remarkably, we could probably release today after making only a few small changes:

Language that attributes heinous motives and goals to individuals and organizations -- such as accusations that liberals are out to destroy Christianity or that advocates for civil rights for gays and lesbians want to molest young children -- destroys any recognition of common interest and any hope of finding common ground among political opponents. That is a terribly dangerous situation in a democratic society.

It is tempting to reassure ourselves by saying that hate speech is the denizen of only the furthest fringes of American political life. Unfortunately, that assertion is clearly not true. Elected officials and highly visible political leaders are among those who spread messages of fear and suspicion, over and over, day in and day out. The repetition of such messages cannot contribute to the well-being of our communities or the health of our society at large. Regardless of whether such messages "cause" violent behavior, they clearly serve to legitimize those who do violate the law.

Pat Robertson is a former Presidential candidate, the patriarch of a political movement, a television broadcaster, and an author. His television show and his books reach millions of Americans. Unfortunately, the message he preaches is often this: Christians are under attack in America by liberals and by a government that wants desperately to destroy their faith and their families. "I do believe this year that there's going to be persecutions against Christians. I think the government is going to step up its attacks against Christians," he told television viewers last year. "The government frankly is our enemy and we're going to see more and more of the people who have been places in office last year ... getting control of the levers of power and they will begin to know how to use them to hurt those who are perceived as their enemies."


Last year, when the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission proposed regulations -- originating with the Bush administration -- to protect American workers against religious bigotry and harassment on the job, Religious Right political groups portrayed the effort in apocalyptic terms, telling members that the Clinton Administration was so hostile to the Christian faith that the government was planning to make it illegal to wear cross-shaped jewelry, carry a Bible to work, or talk about religion with a co-worker. "Why is the Clinton Administration doing this?" asked Jerry Falwell. "Because they do not want God in American society." It was all patently untrue, and the EEOC offered to clarify that the regulations were designed to protect, not inhibit, workers' religious liberty. Nevertheless, the regulations were killed.

The war against the EEOC regulations was an ideal operation for political organizations willing to trade short-term gain for long-term damage to American society. By claiming (falsely) that the end of religious liberty was near, groups could motivate supporters to call and write elected officials. By refusing to acknowledge government officials' willingness to cooperate toward reaching a solution, and demanding instead withdrawal of the regulations, the organizations' leaders could flex their political muscle for members of Congress and brag to their own members that they had prevented the arrival of tyranny. Meanwhile, millions of Americans were convinced that the government was out to destroy their faith and freedom.

Some of the most incendiary invective is directed against gay and lesbian Americans and their allies in the effort to win legal protection from discrimination. Gays and lesbians are routinely portrayed - by individuals at or near the center of conservative politics in America - as evil individuals who prey on children and want to destroy the institutions of church and family. House Speaker Newt Gingrich has parroted the assertion of the Traditional Values Coalition's Lou Sheldon that teaching about homosexuality in public schools amounts to an effort to "recruit" teenagers into homosexuality. Gingrich has promised Sheldon that the House will hold hearings on the gay "influences" in the schools. Last year Sheldon told his supporters that "President Bill Clinton has quietly put into place homosexual special rights regulations that will devastate our freedom of religion, speech and association, not to mention destroy our society's cultural and moral fiber. AND ALL THIS IS BEING DONE BEHIND OUR BACK."


Randall Terry, one of the founders of Operation Rescue, has told followers, "I want you to just let a wave of intolerance wash over you. I want you to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hate is good. ... We have a Biblical duty, we are called by God, to conquer this county. We don't want equal time. We don't want pluralism."


When President Clinton, unequivocally declaring his support for unbridled freedom of speech, called for Americans to respond to hateful rhetoric, his political opponents were quick to twist his words. Pat Robertson told viewers that the President and "those on the left" wanted to use the tragic Oklahoma City bombing "to still the voices of legitimate protest." Oliver North, Rush Limbaugh and others leapt at the chance to glean short-term political gain. When the President in fact called for more speech and more American voices, he was accused of trying to silence voices of dissent. That is precisely the kind of untruth that feeds the current dangerous levels of cynicism and distrust toward the government. And it is ironic to see politically powerful individuals, with powerful voices, claiming the role of victim in order to breed fear and resentment among their supporters.

Right Wing Round-Up

  • On Top reports that the right-wing anti-marriage rally in New York was something of a flop.
  • Good As You points out that the man running around defending Carrie Prejean just so happens to also be the general counsel for the National Organization For Marriage.
  • Speaking of Prejean, Box Turtle Bulletin notes that NOM is not taking the latest news very well.
  • Josh Harkinson explains the story behind Operation Rescue's plans to buy George Tiller's clinic.
  • Via PZ Myers we learn that Coca-Cola is a corporate partner with the Creationism Museum.
  • Media Matters alerts us to the fact that, in the wake of the shooting at the Holocaust Museum, Newsmax published a piece entitled "Obama Breeds Climate of Hate Against Jews."
  • Steve Benen notes that while Fox News' Shepard Smith is worried that his channel's viewers are increasingly "out there," Fox News keeps running Glenn Beck's program, which is the epitome of "out there."
  • Finally, like Alan Colmes we wonder what the reaction would be if, in the wake of left-wing lunatics shooting people in a series of incidents, a liberal web site were to promote stickers denoting the shooting of conservatives?

Right Wing Round-Up

  • TPM is collecting all the info it can find on James von Brunn, the man held in the shooting at the Holocaust Museum today.
  • Tracy Clark-Flory reports that Operation Rescue wants to buy George Tiller's now-closed clinic.
  • Bill O'Reilly claims he didn't refer to Tiller as "Dr. Killer" when covering his murder when he obviously did and Media Matters has the footage.
  • Think Progress points out that when the lone survivor of the deadly attack on the Army-Navy recruiting station in Little Rock, AR last week spoke with reporters yesterday, CNN and MSNBC carried the press conference live while Fox News chose instead to focus on Newt Gingrich’s criticisms of the Obama administration from last night’s congressional Republican fundraiser.
  • Ross Douthat tried to get all philosophical in his latest column on abortion, but Hilzoy, a philosophy professor, was having none of it.
  • Steve Benen notes that it's "not a good sign" when one-third of Republicans have an unfavorable opinion of their own party and a majority have no idea who speaks for the party.

The Religious Right: Always The Victim

It was just over a week ago that Dr. George Tiller was murdered and today his family announced that the clinic he operated in Kansas would be shutting down permanently:

The Wichita clinic of slain abortion provider George Tiller will be "permanently closed," his family said Tuesday.

Operations at Women's Health Care Services Inc. had been suspended since Tiller's death May 31. In a statement released by his attorneys, Tiller's family said it will close, effective immediately.


Randall Terry, who founded the original Operation Rescue group, responded to news that Tiller's clinic would remain closed with, "Good riddance." He said history would remember Tiller's clinic as it remembers Auschwitz and other Nazi concentration camps.

"What set him apart is that he killed late-term babies," Terry said. "If his replacement was going to continue to kill late-term children, the protests would continue, the investigations would continue, the indictments would continue."

In the days that followed, right-wing anti-choice activists were lamenting that Tiller's murder would undermine their cause, warning that "pro-abortion activists and politicians to use this tragedy to manipulate public opinion or our laws," and saying that Tiller was murdered because anti-choice activists feel "helpless" and under attack.

But what has been most remarkable about this is the way that the Right has tried to use Tiller's murder to claim that they are being victimized

Operation Rescue will not stand by and act as if this organization's Pro-Life message has been silenced by Mr. Roeder's egregious act and insidious statements. Operation Rescue will continue to advocate for the sanctity of human life, born and unborn.

While Operation Rescue recognizes the Obama Administration's endeavor of protection of abortion providers we caution that this protection should not be used as a ruse to conduct a witch-hunt against the Pro-Life movement. Neither persecution nor adulteration of the rule of law can be tolerated pursuant to this sad event.

Concerned Women for America's Wendy Wright made a similar complaint

Late Friday afternoon, the DOJ made it clear that it believes other individuals or groups may have been involved in Tiller's shooting on Sunday, May 31. The agency's press release stated it will "work tirelessly to determine the full involvement of any and all actors in this horrible crime, and to ensure that anyone who played a role in the offense is prosecuted to the full extent of federal law." (See earlier story)

Is it a legitimate investigation -- or a political payoff from the Obama administration to the pro-abortion movement? Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America, believes politics could be a motive. But she suspects there may be more behind the announced investigation than meets the eye.

"This may be more of a nefarious effort than it appears on its face," she exclaims, "that in fact, the Department of Justice may be trying to smear pro-lifers, as if we all belong in the same camp, as if we all advocate violence, when it's [actually] just the opposite."

You really have to marvel at the Right's ability to take the cold-blooded murder of the man they routinely demonized as the incarnation of the absolute wickedness of abortion and turn it into a pity party for themselves.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Are people really still protesting Disney World's "Gay Days"?
  • The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property has finally gotten around to issuing a statement condemning the murder of George Tiller.
  • On a related note, Operation Rescue's Troy Newman continues to do all he can to denounce Tiller's murder.
  • Gary Bauer wants to know why President Obama issued a statement following Tiller's murder but not after the murder of Army recruiter William Long.

  • Finally, the "Rediscovering God in America Conference" featuring Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, and David Barton will be shown on GOD TV tomorrow.

O'Reilly Was Not Alone In Targeting Tiller

Bill O'Reilly is deservedly getting lots of attention for his years-long vicious crusade against George Tiller:

But it should be pointed out that O'Reilly had a lot of company in this effort to demonize Tiller, as Religious Right groups had been targeting Tiller for years and regularly holding him up as the epitome of the "evil" that is reproductive choice.

For instance, just last month, more than two dozen right-wing groups and activists sent a letter to Senators opposing the nomination of Kathleen Sebelius to be Secretary of Health and Human Services, citing among their primary concerns her "ties" to Tiller:

Governor Sebelius has long close and personal ties to notorious abortionist George Tiller, known for performing late-term abortions in Kansas, include donations from Mr. Tiller of hundreds of thousands of dollars to PACs and organizations controlled by the Kansas Governor. She has also repeatedly interfered in cases brought against Mr. Tiller, including recruiting a candidate to replace the state attorney general who was originally prosecuting the abortion doctor.

Signatories of the letter included the likes of Tom McClusky of Family Research Council Action, Don Wildmon of the American Family Association, Jim Backlin of the Christian Coalition, Phil Burress of Citizens for Community Values, Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America, Brian Burch of Fidelis, Tom Minnery of Focus on the Family, and Andrea Lafferty of the Traditional Values Coalition.

The fact of the matter is that, for years, right-wing groups sought to make Tiller the face of the abortion fight and a quick search of several of the leading organization's websites demonstrates just how often they citied Tiller in their own anti-abortion efforts.

For instance, Tiller's name was mentioned dozens if not hundreds of times on the websites of organization's like Focus on the Family, Faith 2 Action, Vision America, American Family Association, Christian Coalition, American Center for Law and Justice, the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, the Traditional Values Coalition, and the Alliance Defense Fund where he was often referred to with terms like "accused serial abortionist," the most notorious abortionist in America," "George (the Killer) Tiller," and "Tiller the Killer."

There are at least 78 mentions of the name "George Tiller" on the Family Research Council website, often in connection with statements like this from March of this year:

The trial of notorious Kansas abortionist, George Tiller, is now underway. During his career as an abortionist, Tiller has performed over 80,000 abortions, among them thousands of viable, third-trimester babies. Women travel to Kansas from all over the world to obtain late abortions they cannot get elsewhere. Tiller's body count is greater by far than all the American troops killed in Vietnam ... This man should be in jail. Whatever the outcome of the trial now underway, the fact is that jail is the only appropriate place for 'doctors' who kill children" ... May George Tiller finally be brought to some semblance of justice!

But perhaps no organization outside of the single-issue groups like Operation Rescue made Tiller a bigger target than did Concerned Women for America, which has more than 200 mentions of him on its website, including this column by Janice Crouse from just a few weeks ago:

The bloodshed of the thousands of late-term abortions that Dr. George R. Tiller of Wichita, Kansas, performs each year vastly eclipses the death toll from the struggle over the slavery contest in Kansas in the years immediately prior to the Civil War. The slaughter in Tiller's abortion clinic - by his own account he has performed over 60,000 abortions, with a "special interest" and focus on "late-term" abortions - should justly revive the label of "Bleeding Kansas."

It is hard to know what is in the mind of someone like George Tiller, the abortionist who for years has routinely killed the babies of women in the last stages of their pregnancies - seven, even eight months along ... Tiller takes upon himself the role of God and condemns to death any innocent child whose mother chooses to label it as "unwanted." Then he executes them.

As I've been reading the coverage of Tiller's murder over the last two days, I've been asking myself "why do I even know his name?"  

I don't know the name of even one other women's health provider in this country, yet I was well-aware of George Tiller ... and that is because, for years, the Right had demonized Tiller and his perfectly legal practice, turning him into the poster boy for the abortion debate writ large, and routinely holding him up as the incarnation of the absolute wickedness of abortion. 

Right Wing Reactions to Tiller's Murder: From Subdued, to Crass, to Outrageous

The responses to the assassination of physician George Tiller by right-wing groups have run the gamut. 

The most common response has been to decry the murder and say that violence is never the answer, which has been the point made by the likes of the Family Research Council, American Life League, 40 days of Life, Vision America, and National Institute of Family and Life Advocates.

Focus on the Family likewise issued a statement decrying the killing, but did so in a way that seemed to suggest that the problem wasn’t Tiller’s death, but the fact that he hadn’t been convicted of murder first:

"Tiller recently faced serious charges related to the killing of babies in violation of the law, by the most grotesque procedures administered without anesthetics or compassion. We profoundly regretted the outcome of his legal case, believing the doctor had the blood of countless babies on his hands. Nevertheless, he was acquitted by the court and declared "not guilty" in the eyes of the law. That is our system, and we honor it.

And then there self-serving statements, such as this odd one from Alveda King, lamenting that Tiller was killed in church, saying "just as the womb should be a safe haven, so should church" and one from Operation Rescue stating that the suspect in Tiller's murder "has never been a member, contributor, or volunteer with Operation Rescue."

For its part. the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission vowed not to be intimidated in the wake of Tiller's murder:

"The Christian Anti-Defamation Commission will not allow pro-abortionists or their accomplices in the media to exploit the cowardly act of one misguided individual in order to defame millions of peaceful pro-lifers," said Dr. Gary Cass of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission. "Day and night millions of peaceful pro-lifers sacrificially serve women and their unborn babies. We will not tolerate any attempt to exploit this terrible event in order to further restrict pro-life activities or silence pro-life speech or reverse the gains pro-lifers have achieved in the law."

The nation's most notorious late term abortionist, George Tiller, of Wichita Kansas, was shot and killed while in Church on Sunday. Tiller admitted to having aborted tens of thousands of babies.

"Tiller's death at the hands of a lawless vigilante must be unequivocally condemned," said Cass. "But we cannot allow pro-abortion activists and politicians to use this tragedy to manipulate public opinion or our laws."

Still others are worried about how this will inpact their political agenda, especially as it pertains to opposing Sonia Sotomayor:

They also worried that there would now be an effort to stifle anti-abortion viewpoints during questioning of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. Her exact views on abortion aren't known, but conservatives fear she supports abortion rights.

Said the Rev. Patrick Mahoney, an anti-abortion activist: "No one should use this tragedy for political gain."


Mahoney said he had been conferring with other anti-abortion leaders about how to deal with any backlash to the Tiller killing that might undercut their cause at a time when they are trying to challenge Obama's support for abortion rights.

"I'd hope they wouldn't try to broad-brush the entire pro-life movement as some sort of extremist movement because of what happened in Wichita," Mahoney said. "That's really important — don't use this personal loss for a political gain."

And then finally, there are those like Randall Terry who essentially believe that Tiller deserved to be murdered, which is pretty much the point made by Pat McEwen of Operation Save America:

"He died the way he lived. His was a bloody death." Rev Rusty Thomas, Operation Save America(OSA). "Someone 'chose' to end George Tiller's life this morning, in his church."

"What was an abortionist doing 'in' church, any church...being allowed, welcomed, even venerated? This man killed babies for a living. He charged large sums of money to do it. Then he went to 'church,' made large contributions, and the 'church' (Reformation Lutheran Church) accepted it??" Pastor Mark Holick, Spirit One Christian Center, & OSA.

This is an apostate church, fully complicit in Mr. Tiller's murderous rampage against preborn children. It has provided cover and respectability for him. We have confronted both pastor and church with this trashing of the Gospel of Christ. I can still recall one board member saying, "We have members who believe both ways (pro-life or pro-choice)." Please!

"A man who stiffens his neck after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed -- without remedy." Proverbs 29:1. "George Tiller has been confronted innumerable times with the claims of Christ." Rev Flip Benham, Director of Operation Save America. "We were in Wichita in 1991, pleading for him to receive Christ and stop murdering children. In April 2001, I wrote him a personal letter with the book, Won By Love hoping to speak with him. Every day outside his abortion mill, gentle Christians pleaded with mothers to choose life and with George to choose Christ. We have been to his home, his church, and his work. He is now bowing before Jesus and confessing that He (Jesus) is right and that he (George Tiller) was wrong!"

No doubt the media will paint every Christian, who loves life and lives out that belief in the streets of his city, as a wild-eyed, lunatic, fanatic bent on shooting abortionists. They will attempt to silence the voice of many by using the violence of one. This ploy is the devil's "straw man."

Beware! The one who murdered George Tiller became exactly what George Tiller was -- a murderer.


George Tiller and the DHS Report

It was just a few weeks ago that the Religious Right was up-in-arms over the report released by the Department of Homeland Security called “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment” [PDF] because it contained this footnote:

Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.

Because of this passage, Religious Right leaders immediately began decrying the report as not only "offensive to millions of Americans who hold constitutionally-protected views opposing abortion" but also an outright attack on Jesus Christ:

[Janice Crouse of Concerned Women for America] tells OneNewsNow the report is a direct attack on the church. "[It's] a direct assault on the basic principles of religious beliefs that have been here since the time of Christ," she argues. "These are the things that Christ died on the cross for."

Within days, groups like the American Center for Law and Justice and the Family Research Council were using the report in their fund-raising efforts:

Today, federal employees whose salaries we pay are issuing reports from the Department of Homeland Security that say some conservatives are a grave threat to America. Why? Because we oppose abortion and the massive growth of the federal government. Do they no longer see Al Qaeda or the Taliban as the greatest threat to Americans' liberty? Apparently they are now targeting us. I remind DHS and all who read this that we oppose all violence or lawbreaking. But speaking out is an American right we will not give up!


Will you help Family Research Council (FRC) fight excessive government and defend your rights with a donation today? 

Soon calls began to emerge for an investigation into the drafting of the report, and that was quickly followed by the launching of an ad campaign supported by various right-wing groups demanding DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano's resignation:

Among the groups sponsoring the ad were Operation Rescue, the American Family Association, Faith2Action, Vision America, Americans for Truth, Liberty Counsel, Traditional Values Coalition, and others. 

All of the caterwalling eventually lead DHS to pull the report ... but in light of the details emerging about Scott Roeder, the man arrested in the killing of physician George Tiller, it seems as if the report - far from being an offensive attack on Christians and anti-choice activists - was remarkably timely and accurate.

The real irony here is that the report itself focused almost entirely on violent anti-government extremists and militia groups, never mentioning anti-choice activists outside of this one isolated footnote.

But it was that footnote that the Right seized upon, repeatedly and intentionally misrepresenting what is said in order to generate controversy over the report, culminating in this sort of fear mongering from the ACLJ ... which is now blowing up in their face:

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has labeled you, a member of the pro-life community, THE MOST DANGEROUS DOMESTIC TERRORIST

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Operation Rescue Posts Archive

Brian Tashman, Wednesday 07/27/2011, 1:03pm
Yet another radical endorser has been added to the website of Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s The Response prayer rally: Rob Schenck of Faith And Action. During the 1992 presidential campaign, Schenck was arrested along with Randall Terry “after thrusting a container with a 19-week-old fetus at presidential candidate Bill Clinton,” and four years later told President Clinton “God will hold you to account, Mr. President” for his pro-choice views. Schenk helped Terry found Operation Rescue, one of the most extreme and controversial anti-choice groups in America. Schenk... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 07/07/2011, 6:06pm
Sarah Posner @ Religion Dispatches: The Real Story Behind Rick Perry’s Secret Meetings with Pastors. Andy Birkey @ Minnesota Independent: Is Bradlee Dean Michele Bachmann’s Rev. Wright? Ed Brayton @ Dispatches From The Culture War: Liberty Counsel, the ACLU and Attorney Fees. Steve Benen: Why Inhofe Is Mad At The FAA. Jodi Jacobson @ RH Reality Check: Brownback Nominates Operation Rescue Attorney to Kansas Board of Healing Arts. Good As You: Bachmann in '04: Senators who oppose marriage amendment like soldiers who missed Pearl Harbor... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Thursday 06/30/2011, 10:04am
A coalition of groups opposed to abortion rights wants the government to place graphic warning labels on emergency contraceptives and abortion clinics in the same way cigarette packs are now required to display explicit images. Disregarding the fact that abortion is an exceptionally safe medical procedure, a spokesman for the campaign said, “If you’re going to force cigarette manufacturers to put graphic images on every single pack of cigarettes, you should do the same thing with abortion.” In fact, a number of states already force doctors to read false statements that... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 06/23/2011, 6:09pm
Michael B Keegan @ Huffington Post: Justice Thomas Doesn't Ask Questions, But He Certainly Should Have Some Answers. Judd Legum @ Think Progress: Herman Cain: Jon Stewart Attacked Me ‘Because I’m Black.’ Ashley Lopez @ Florida Independent: Operation Rescue wants information on every abortion provider. Nick @ Bold Faith Type: Who's Speaking at ACT! for America's Anti-Islam Conference? Joe.My.God: Bill Donohue: We Shouldn't Allow Gay Marriage Because People Still Get AIDS. Justin Elliott @ Salon: Did Michele Bachmann just reject... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 05/24/2011, 2:36pm
Last month we noted that Patrick Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition and other radical anti-choice activists held a protest outside Speaker John Boehner's office to demand the defunding of Planned Parenthood in which used white sheets to link the organization to Planned Parenthood. In response to the Religious Right campaign against Planned Parenthood, the organization released videos of featuring celebrities announcing that they stood by the group and its mission. Scarlett Johansson was among those who shot such a video ... and now Mahoney and Troy Newman of Operation Rescue have... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Monday 05/09/2011, 10:00am
Operation Rescue’s Troy Newman charges President Obama with turning the US into a “draconian, tyrannical” country over the Department of Justice’s prosecution of militant abortion clinic protesters who violated the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act. According to the Associated Press, “the Obama Justice Department has filed six lawsuits under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, mostly to seek injunctions and fines,” including a lawsuit against “a Pennsylvania man who posted on the Internet the names and addresses of abortion... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 02/22/2011, 11:31am
Shortly after the last election, Randall Terry and his crew of militant anti-choice activists met with Speaker of the House John Boehner's Chief of Staff in order to deliver their "demand that Republicans who won the House of Representatives hasten the end of legalized child killing in America." Among the threats they delivered was that if "Boehner does not defund Planned Parenthood, we will find people to run against him and other Republicans in the primaries of 2012. Defunding Planned Parenthood is non-negotiable." Last week, the House voted to do just that but that is... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 02/22/2011, 11:31am
Shortly after the last election, Randall Terry and his crew of militant anti-choice activists met with Speaker of the House John Boehner's Chief of Staff in order to deliver their "demand that Republicans who won the House of Representatives hasten the end of legalized child killing in America." Among the threats they delivered was that if "Boehner does not defund Planned Parenthood, we will find people to run against him and other Republicans in the primaries of 2012. Defunding Planned Parenthood is non-negotiable." Last week, the House voted to do just that but that is... MORE >