James Bopp

6 Right-Wing Zealots and the Crazy Ideas Behind the Most Outrageous Republican Platform Ever

Note: this story is cross-posted at AlterNet.

The official 2012 Republican Party platform is a far-right fever dream, a compilation of pouting, posturing, and policies to meet just about every demand from the overlapping Religious Right, Tea Party, corporate, and neo-conservative wings of the GOP.  If moderates have any influence in today’s Republican Party, you wouldn’t know it by reading the platform.  Efforts by a few delegates to insert language favoring civil unions, comprehensive sex education, and voting rights for the District of Columbia, for example, were all shot down.  Making the rounds of right-wing pre-convention events on Sunday, Rep. Michele Bachmann gushed about the platform’s right-wing tilt, telling fired-up Tea Partiers that “the Tea Party has been all over that platform.”

Given the Republican Party’s hard lurch to the right, which intensified after the election of Barack Obama, the “most conservative ever” platform is not terribly surprising. But it still didn’t just happen on its own.  Here are some of the people we can thank on the domestic policy front.
 
1. Bob McDonnell.   As platform committee chair, McDonnell made it clear he was not in the mood for any amendments to the draft language calling for a “Human Life Amendment” to the U.S. Constitution and legal recognition that the “unborn” are covered by the Fourteenth Amendment – “personhood” by another name.  McDonnell is in many ways the ideal right-wing governor: he ran as a fiscal conservative and governs like the Religious Right activist he has been since he laid out his own political platform in the guise of a master’s thesis at Pat Robertson’s Regent University. 
 
His thesis argued that feminists and working women were detrimental to the family, and that public policy should favor married couples over “cohabitators, homosexuals, or fornicators.”  When running for governor, McDonnell disavowed his thesis, but as a state legislator he pushed hard to turn those positions into policy.  As the Washington Post noted, “During his 14 years in the General Assembly, McDonnell pursued at least 10 of the policy goals he laid out in that research paper, including abortion restrictions, covenant marriage, school vouchers and tax policies to favor his view of the traditional family. In 2001, he voted against a resolution in support of ending wage discrimination between men and women.”  As governor, McDonnell signed the kind of mandatory ultrasound law that is praised in this year’s platform.  When his name was floated as a potential V.P. pick, Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood decried his “deeply troubling record on women’s health.”
 
2 Tony Perkins.  Perkins heads the Family Research Council, whose Values Voter Summit is the Religious Right’s most important annual conference, at which movement activists rub shoulders with Republican officials and candidates.  Perkins bragged in an email to his supporters how much influence he and his friend David Barton (see below) had on the platform.  Perkins was an active member of the platform committee, proposing language to oppose school-based health clinics that provide referrals for contraception or abortion, and arguing for the strongest possible anti-marriage equality language.  Perkins also introduced an amendment to the platform calling on the District of Columbia government to loosen its gun laws, which Perkins says still do not comply with recent Supreme Court rulings.
 
The media tends to treat Perkins, a telegenic former state legislator, as a reasonable voice of the Religious Right, but his record and his group’s positions prove otherwise.  Perkins has been aggressively exploiting the recent shooting at FRC headquarters to divert attention from the group’s extremism by claiming that the Southern Poverty Law Center was irresponsible in calling FRC a hate group.  Unfortunately for Perkins, the group’s record of promoting hatred toward LGBT people is well documented.  Perkins has even complained that the press and President Obama were being too hard on Uganda’s infamous “kill the gays” bill, which he described as an attempt to “uphold moral conduct.” It’s worth remembering that Perkins ran a 1996 campaign for Louisiana Senate candidate Woody Jenkins that paid $82,600 to David Duke for the Klan leader’s mailing list; the campaign was fined by the FEC for trying to cover it up.
 
3. David Barton.  Texas Republican activist and disgraced Christian-nation “historian” Barton has had a tough year, but Tampa has been good to him.  He was perhaps the most vocal member of the platform committee, and was a featured speaker at Sunday’s pre-convention “prayer rally.” During the platform committee’s final deliberations, Barton couldn’t seem to hear his own voice often enough.  He was the know-it-all nitpicker, piping up with various language changes, such as deleting a reference to the family as the “school of democracy” because families are not democracies.  He thought it was too passive to call Obamacare an “erosion of” the Constitution and thought it should be changed to an “attack on” the founding document.  He called for stronger anti-public education language and asserted that large school districts employ one administrator for every teacher.  He backed anti-abortion language, tossing out the claim that 127 medical studies over five decades say that abortion hurts women.  Progressives have been documenting Barton’s lies for years, but more recently conservative evangelical scholars have also been hammering  his claims about American history.  The critical chorus got so loud that Christian publishing powerhouse Thomas Nelson pulled Barton’s most recent book – which, ironically, purports to correct “lies” about Thomas Jefferson – from the shelves.  Of course, Barton has had plenty of practice at this sort of thing, from producing bogusdocumentaries designed to turn African Americans against the Democratic Party to pushing his religious and political ideology into Texas textbooks. Barton’s right-wing friends like Glenn Beck have rallied around him. And nothing seems to tarnish Barton with the GOP allies for whom he has proven politically useful over the years. 
 
4. Kris Kobach.  Kris Kobach wants to be your president one day; until now, he has gotten as far as Kansas Secretary of State.  He may be best known as the brains behind Arizona’s “show me your papers” law, and he successfully pushed for anti-immigrant language in the platform, including a call for the federal government to deny funds to universities that allow illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition – a plank that puts Kobach and the platform at odds with Kansas law.  Immigration is not Kobach’s only issue. He is an energizing force behind the Republican Party’s massive push for voter suppression laws around the country, and he led the effort to get language inserted into the platform calling on states to pass laws requiring proof of citizenship for voter registration.  He also pushed language aimed at the supposed threat to the Constitution and laws of the US from “Sharia law”; getting this language into the platform puts the GOP in position of endorsing a ludicrous far-right conspiracy theory.  Kobach hopes that will give activists a tool for pressuring more states to pass their own anti-Sharia laws.  In the platform committee, he backed Perkins’ efforts to maintain the strongest language against marriage equality.  Even an amendment to the marriage section saying that everyone should be treated “equally under the law” as long as they are not hurting anyone else, was shot down by Kobach.  Kobach also claims he won support for a provision to oppose any effort to limit how many bullets can go into a gun’s magazine.
 
5. James Bopp.  James Bopp is a Republican lawyer and delegate from Indiana whose client list is a Who’s Who of right-wing organizations, including National Right to Life and the National Organization for Marriage, which he has represented in its efforts to keep political donors secret.  As legal advisor to Citizens United, Bopp has led legal attacks on campaign finance laws and played a huge role in bringing us the world of unlimited right-wing cash flooding our elections.  Bopp chaired this year’s platform subcommittee on “restoring constitutional government,” which helps explain its strong anti-campaign finance reform language. 
 
Bopp is also an annoyingly petty partisan, having introduced a resolution in the Republican National Committee in 2009 urging the Democratic Party to change its name to the “Democrat Socialist Party.”  In this year’s platform committee, Bopp successfully pushed for the removal of language suggesting that residents of the District of Columbia might deserve some representation in Congress short of statehood.  His sneering comments, and his gloating fist-pump when the committee approved his resolution, have not won him any friends among DC residents – not that he cares.  He also spoke out against a young delegate’s proposal that the party recognize civil unions, which Bopp denounced as “counterfeit marriage.”  In spite of all these efforts, Bopp has been at the forefront of Romney campaign platform spin, arguing in the media that the platform language on abortion is not really a “no-exceptions” ban, in spite of its call for a Human Life Amendment and laws giving Fourteenth Amendment protections to the “unborn.” 
 
6. Dick Armey.  Former Republican insider Dick Armey now runs FreedomWorks, the Koch-backed, corporate-funded, Murdoch-promoted Tea Party astroturfing group – or, in their words, a “grassroots service center.” Armey has been a major force behind this year’s victories of Tea Party Senate challengers like Ted Cruz in Texas and Richard Mourdock in Indiana, both of whom knocked off “establishment” candidates – FreedomWorks also backed Rand Paul in Kentucky and Mike Lee in Utah in 2010.  As Alternet’s Adele Stan has reported, FreedomWorks’s goal is to build a cadre of far-right senators to create a “power center around Jim DeMint,” the Senate’s reigning Tea Party-Religious Right hero. 
 
To put Armey’s stamp on the platform, FreedomWorks created a “Freedom Platform” project, which enlisted Tea Party leaders to come up with proposed platform planks and encouraged activists to vote for them online. Then FreedomWorks pushed the party to include these planks in the official platform:
      Repeal Obamacare; Pursue Patient-Centered Care
      Stop the Tax Hikes
      Reverse Obama’s Spending Increases
      Scrap the Code; Replace It with a Flat Tax
      Pass a Balanced Budget Amendment
      Reject Cap and Trade
      Rein in the EPA
      Unleash America’s Vast Energy Potential
      Eliminate the Department of Education
      Reduce the Bloated Federal Workforce
      Curtail Excessive Federal Regulation
      Audit the Fed
 
An Ohio Tea Party Group, The Ohio Liberty Coalition, celebrated that 10 of 12 made it to the draft – everything but the flat tax and eliminating the Department of Education.  But FreedomWorks gave itself a more generous score, arguing for an 11.5 out of 12.  FreedomWorks vice president Dean Clancy said that the platform’s call for a “flatter” tax “opens the door to a Flat Tax” and said that they considered the education section of the platform a “partial victory” because it includes “a very strong endorsement of school choice, including vouchers.”
 
Honorable mention: Mitt Romney.  This is his year, his party, and his platform.  The entire Republican primary was essentially an exercise in Romney moving to the right to try to overcome resistance to his nomination from activists who distrusted his ideological authenticity.   The last thing the Romney campaign wanted was a fight with the base, like the one that happened in San Diego in 1996, when Ralph Reed and the Christian Coalition delighted in publicly humiliating nominee Robert Dole over   his suggestion that the GOP might temper its anti-abortion stance.  Romney signaled his intention to avoid a similar conflict when he named Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell to chair the platform committee. 
 
Keeping Everybody Happy
 
The new GOP platform reflects Romney’s desire to placate every aspect of the party’s base.  It also demonstrates both the continuingpower of the Religious Right within the GOP, as well as ongoing efforts to erase any distinctions between social conservatives and anti-government zealots, as demonstrated by Ralph Reed welcoming Grover Norquist to his Faith and Freedom coalition leadership luncheon on Sunday.

GOP Platform Committee Disses DC

The Republican Party’s platform committee spent the day addressing amendments to sections of the platform draft that came up through subcommittees.  It seems that the DC delegation had managed to get into the draft platform some vague language supporting improved representation. It didn’t last. 

The language said that while the Party is opposed to statehood, there could be constructive alternative means of representation that should be considered.  Even that was too much.  James Bopp, delegate from Indiana, dripping contempt for DC, called for that to be hacked out, which it was. He said the District already has representation through its delegate and through the "Democrat Party," which is “of, by, and for the federal government.”

Watch Bopp's comments and his little victory celebration:

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Sarah Palin's PAC filings show donations to Reps. Michele Bachmann and Marsha Blackburn, Virginia gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell, and Sens. Lindsey Graham and Orrin Hatch.
  • LifeNews: A federal judge has issued a ruling saying a collection of pro-life groups don't have standing to file a lawsuit against the FDA over its decision allowing the sales of the morning after pill to minors. The groups wanted to reverse the Food and Drug Administration ruling opening the morning after pill to 17-year-olds.
  • The Republican National Lawyers Association has named James Bopp its Republican Lawyer of the Year.
  • Take that, Woodstock.
  • Focus on the Family President and CEO Jim Daly is scheduled to appear on Thursday night's episode of "Hannity" as part of "The Great American Panel."

Dirtiest RNC Race Ever and Nothing Will Change

Ralph Z. Hallow reports that, according to insiders involved in the race to become the next chairman of the Republican National Committee, the current campaign, which is to be decided tomorrow, has become the "dirtiest ever":

From anonymous charges of racism, old-fashioned graft and outright incompetence, the six-man race for the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee has devolved into the dirtiest - and most closely watched - in recent history.

The 168 members who Friday will elect the next chairman have been inundated with anonymous e-mails attacking the characters and capabilities of the various candidates and, in at least one case, accusing a candidate of conspiring with political consultants to cash in on the millions of dollars in future advertising by the party.

"This is dirtiest ever - and remember, I was the longest-serving state party chairman in the history of this committee," said RNC member and former Ohio Republican Party Chairman Bob Bennett, a supporter of Mike Duncan, the incumbent national chairman who is seeking a second two-year term.

One candidate, South Carolina Republican Chairman Katon Dawson, is the subject this week of an unsigned e-mail to RNC members that bore a hypothetical USA Today front page with the banner headline, "RNC members choose 'whites only' chairman," as a warning of how a Dawson win would be spun.

...

On Monday, Indiana RNC member James Bopp Jr., who formed a self-described conservative rump group of RNC members to fight the [Michael] Steele candidacy, sent members a signed e-mail basically accusing Mr. Steele of lying about his casual relationship with the RLC.

It quoted Mrs. Whitman as saying that she was proud to join with "Michael Steele in creating a powerful and influential group that can bring our party back to its roots while promoting the common-sense centrist values we all hold so dear." The word "centrist" among members of the dominant strain of the Republican Party is an epithet.

...

Another anonymous e-mail to members noted that Saul Anuzis does not have a formal education beyond high school - he attended college for four years but did not finish his degree - and called the salaried Michigan Republican chairman "a paid political hack whose greed and misconduct lost him his job in government. After fifteen years of trying to make it in business, he came back to what he knew best: politics for pay."

A particularly vicious whack at Ken Blackwell, the former Ohio secretary of state and the other black man chasing the chairman's post, appeared in a Jan. 6 anonymous e-mail claiming he was "dangerously incompetent" as secretary of state and accusing him of using taxpayer money to finance TV ads to "boost his own name recognition" in preparation for his failed run for governor.

As entertaining as it has been to watch them tear each other apart, Hallow reports that the viciousness stems from the fact that, in terms of actual substance, there doesn't appear to be any actual differences among the candidate's stances on the hot-button issues of the day:

However, when The Times submitted three questions on the biggest hot-button issues - gay marriage, immigration and federal bailouts - little substantive difference emerged among the six men.

Mr. Duncan was the lone candidate who did not respond initially to the questions, instead sending a single response attacking President Obama and not even doing so on the issues in question. All six men support a constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage, oppose amnesty for illegal immigrants and doubt the government's competence to bail out industries failing in the marketplace.

So no matter who wins, it looks like we'll have yet another anti-gay, anti-immigrant, obstructionist chairman at the RNC. 

How has that been working out for them lately?  

Conservatives Seeks to Control RNC Vetting Process

The Washington Times reports that a group calling itself the RNC Conservative Steering Committee has formed in order to try and control the process of picking the next Republican National Committee Chairman.  Among those involved in the newly formed group is long-time right-wing attorney and early Mitt Romney-backer James Bopp:

In a highly unusual move, 37 self-identified conservatives on the 168-member Republican National Committee have formed a group to vet candidates for the $200,300-a-year, elected post of Republican national chairman, The Washington Times has learned.

An e-mail in which the group dubbed itself the RNC Conservative Steering Committee defines its goal as to ensure the election of a reliably conservative national leader. The group of vetters, however, itself includes several of the candidates for national chairman.

The group was the brainchild of Solomon Yue, an RNC member from Oregon and himself a supporter of one of the candidates for national chairman, sitting RNC Chairman Robert M. "Mike" Duncan.

James Bopp Jr., hired in September by Mr. Duncan to be the attorney of record in challenges in federal courts of the constitutionality of the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance law, is another of the organizers who signed the e-mail. Mr. Bopp said he expects to see grow in numbers as more RNC members ask to join the steering committee.

The committee will use a Dec. 12 conference call to develop the conservative criteria for picking the next national chairman and then will interview no more than four prospects. Voting will take place on Dec. 19 at an undisclosed location in Washington.

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James Bopp Posts Archive

Peter Montgomery, Tuesday 08/28/2012, 8:30am
Note: this story is cross-posted at AlterNet. The official 2012 Republican Party platform is a far-right fever dream, a compilation of pouting, posturing, and policies to meet just about every demand from the overlapping Religious Right, Tea Party, corporate, and neo-conservative wings of the GOP.  If moderates have any influence in today’s Republican Party, you wouldn’t know it by reading the platform.  Efforts by a few delegates to insert language favoring civil unions, comprehensive sex education, and voting rights for the District of Columbia, for example, were all... MORE >
Peter Montgomery, Tuesday 08/21/2012, 5:44pm
The Republican Party’s platform committee spent the day addressing amendments to sections of the platform draft that came up through subcommittees.  It seems that the DC delegation had managed to get into the draft platform some vague language supporting improved representation. It didn’t last.  The language said that while the Party is opposed to statehood, there could be constructive alternative means of representation that should be considered.  Even that was too much.  James Bopp, delegate from Indiana, dripping contempt for DC, called for that to be hacked... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 09/01/2009, 4:27pm
Sarah Palin's PAC filings show donations to Reps. Michele Bachmann and Marsha Blackburn, Virginia gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell, and Sens. Lindsey Graham and Orrin Hatch.LifeNews: A federal judge has issued a ruling saying a collection of pro-life groups don't have standing to file a lawsuit against the FDA over its decision allowing the sales of the morning after pill to minors. The groups wanted to reverse the Food and Drug Administration ruling opening the morning after pill to 17-year-olds.The Republican National Lawyers Association has named James Bopp its Republican... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 01/29/2009, 10:06am
Ralph Z. Hallow reports that, according to insiders involved in the race to become the next chairman of the Republican National Committee, the current campaign, which is to be decided tomorrow, has become the "dirtiest ever":From anonymous charges of racism, old-fashioned graft and outright incompetence, the six-man race for the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee has devolved into the dirtiest - and most closely watched - in recent history.The 168 members who Friday will elect the next chairman have been inundated with anonymous e-mails attacking the characters and... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 12/03/2008, 10:15am
The Washington Times reports that a group calling itself the RNC Conservative Steering Committee has formed in order to try and control the process of picking the next Republican National Committee Chairman.  Among those involved in the newly formed group is long-time right-wing attorney and early Mitt Romney-backer James Bopp: In a highly unusual move, 37 self-identified conservatives on the 168-member Republican National Committee have formed a group to vet candidates for the $200,300-a-year, elected post of Republican national chairman, The Washington Times has learned.... MORE >