Brian Burch

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.

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. 

Religious Right Tries to Stop Sebelius

A gaggle of Religious Right groups have come out in opposition of Kathleen Sebelius’s nomination as the Secretary of Health and Human Services, releasing a letter [PDF] to Senators asking them to vote against her nomination when it comes up for a vote.

The list of signatories is a who’s who of top-level and lesser known right-wing leaders, including 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.

Among the reasons cited in opposing her nomination is this:

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.

Of course, the “state attorney general who was originally prosecuting the abortion doctor” was Phill Kline, who was bounced out of office because of his anti-abortion zealotry and eventually landed a gig teaching at Liberty University. On top of that, Klein was a Republican and Sebelius was a Democrat, so the idea that she would seek a candidate to challenge him is what is traditionally known as “politics.”

As for her supposed ties to George Tiller and her “interference” in the cases against him, it’s worth pointing out that just last week it took an jury a mere forty-five minutes to acquit him of all the charges.

That, coupled with the fact that both of Sebelius’s home state Senators have already endorsed her, means that the Right’s effort to derail her nomination is, at this point, little more than mere grandstanding.

The Right (Over)Reacts to Biden

Following the announcement that Barack Obama had chosen Sen. Joe Biden to be his running mate, the Right swung into action, with FRC Action quickly releasing a “fact sheet on [the] family record of Senator Joe Biden” while others carefully crafted statements of their own and began plotting strategy. 

Within hours, a new on-line movement touting itself “Catholics Against Joe Biden” appeared on the scene, brought to you by the same people behind the “Catholics Against Rudy” effort during the GOP primary.  Of course, that effort gained attention because the organizers were traditionally Republican supporters proclaiming a GOP candidate unacceptable whereas this new effort is standard partisan criticism cloaked in religious terms.

Apparently Catholics are not only universally opposed, but outright offended, by Obama’s decision to choose Biden - at least judging by the press release from Fidelis, another self-appointed political organization that claims to speak for Catholics:

Fidelis President Brian Burch commented, “Barack Obama has re-opened a wound among American Catholics by picking a pro-abortion Catholic politician. The American bishops have made clear that Catholic political leaders must defend the dignity of every human person, including the unborn.  Sadly, Joe Biden’s tenure in the United States Senate has been marked by steadfast support for legal abortion.”

“Now everywhere Biden campaigns, we’ll have this question of whether a pro-abortion Catholic can receive Communion. Senator Biden is an unrepentant supporter of abortion in direct opposition to the Church he claims as his own. Selecting a pro-abortion Catholic is a slap in the face to Catholic voters,” said Burch.

But both Fidelis and Catholics Against Joe Biden were outdone by Gary Cass of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission who made his displeasure known by blasting Obama as a “fake Christian” and Biden as a “fake Catholic”:  

"Barack Obama's choice of Joe Biden sends a clear message, true Christians need not apply in the Democratic Party," said Dr. Gary Cass, Chairman and CEO of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission. "Instead of picking a true Christian, Obama, a fake evangelical, has selected Biden, a fake Catholic.”

 The CADC proclaims its mission is to “advance religious liberty for Christians by protecting Christians from defamation, discrimination, and bigotry from any and all sources,” but that apparently doesn’t apply to those it considers “fake” Christians such as Obama and Biden.  It might seem odd that an organization founded to protect Christians from defamation would among the most frequently and vocally defaming Obama’s faith, but only if you don’t understand that Cass’s mission is reserved solely for those he deems “true Christians” who have proven their faith via “actions and [holding] the beliefs personified by all of us who proclaim the name of Jesus Christ as Savior: the need to be re-born in Christ and the affirmation of historic Christianity, having a demonstrable and proven record of support for traditional Christian morality.”

What a Difference One Month Makes

Just one month ago, Fidelis, a low-level right-wing organization always on the look-out for anything that might suggest anti-Catholic bigotry, especially as it pertains to Bush judicial nominees, was crowing that “social conservatives” had spoiled John McCain’s “campaign surge”:
A victory in Michigan would have locked in John McCain as the GOP front-runner, but conservatives suspicious of the Arizona Senator overwhelmingly voted against him Tuesday, handing the perceived front-runner a major defeat. “Social conservatives remain unconvinced whether John McCain is truly committed to the fundamental issues of life, faith and family. In the face of new developments on stem cell research, McCain continues to support using taxpayer dollars to fund embryo-killing research. On marriage, he not only voted against the federal marriage amendment, he has barely uttered a word on protecting the traditional family on the campaign trail. Values voters are looking for strong leadership in defense of life and family, and John McCain has yet to show how he will lead on these issues,” said Brian Burch, President of Fidelis. ... “Other conservatives are frustrated with McCain over immigration, his opposition to tax cuts, and his leading role in limiting the free speech of pro-life groups, and other advocacy groups during election campaigns. Put simply: John McCain hasn’t closed the sale with conservative voters,” continued Burch.
But apparently, in just one month’s time, McCain has managed to “close the sale with conservative voters” on all of these issues, because Fidelis has just endorsed him:

Fidelis Political Action, the political arm of the one of the fastest growing Catholic advocacy organizations, today announced that they have endorsed Senator John McCain in his bid for the Republican nomination for President. Brian Burch, President of Fidelis Political Action issued the following statement: “Fidelis is pleased to join a growing chorus of conservatives nationwide in supporting Senator John McCain in his bid for the presidency. As a Catholic based advocacy group, Fidelis believes McCain’s pro-life record, his commitment to selecting judges who will respect the Constitution, and even his controversial positions on immigration and torture merit the support of Catholics, and we are proud to stand with him as he prepares for a very difficult election ahead. … “The stakes of this election are too large to ignore. Abortion supporters are awaiting the opportunity to eliminate eight years of progress on pro-life legislation by electing a President who supports abortion. There are six justices on the Supreme Court over the age of 68, and granting a President Hillary or President Obama the opportunity to fill possible vacancies would be disastrous. Our endorsement of Sen. McCain is not simply a compromise endorsement. America needs the experienced leadership of John McCain.

What a miraculous turn of events! Do you suppose the presence of Joseph Cella - a former Fidelis president, Fred Thompson-backer, and anti-Rudy activist – on McCain’s newly announced Virginia Family Issues Leaders committee had anything to do with that?
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Brian Burch Posts Archive

, Thursday 07/16/2009, 2:40pm
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... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 06/01/2009, 5:14pm
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... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 03/30/2009, 4:31pm
A gaggle of Religious Right groups have come out in opposition of Kathleen Sebelius’s nomination as the Secretary of Health and Human Services, releasing a letter [PDF] to Senators asking them to vote against her nomination when it comes up for a vote. The list of signatories is a who’s who of top-level and lesser known right-wing leaders, including 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... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 08/25/2008, 11:33am
Following the announcement that Barack Obama had chosen Sen. Joe Biden to be his running mate, the Right swung into action, with FRC Action quickly releasing a “fact sheet on [the] family record of Senator Joe Biden” while others carefully crafted statements of their own and began plotting strategy.  Within hours, a new on-line movement touting itself “Catholics Against Joe Biden” appeared on the scene, brought to you by the same people behind the “Catholics Against Rudy” effort during the GOP primary.  Of course, that effort gained... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 02/13/2008, 10:22am
Just one month ago, Fidelis, a low-level right-wing organization always on the look-out for anything that might suggest anti-Catholic bigotry, especially as it pertains to Bush judicial nominees, was crowing that “social conservatives” had spoiled John McCain’s “campaign surge”: A victory in Michigan would have locked in John McCain as the GOP front-runner, but conservatives suspicious of the Arizona Senator overwhelmingly voted against him Tuesday, handing the perceived front-runner a major defeat. “Social conservatives remain unconvinced whether John McCain is truly committed to the... MORE >