peter montgomery

Take Back America - Reader's Digest Version

The organizers of the How to Take Back America conference kicked off the event on Friday afternoon with a press conference, and they hit a lot of the highlights we can expect to revisit this weekend:  America is either following the classic model of a Marxist takeover on its way to being an eastern bloc country, or it's on the verge of a Nazi-like dictatorship, or both.  Health care reform is about rationing, euthanasia, and pushing the elderly and vets off a cliff.  The "radical homosexual activist movement" is the biggest threat to religious liberty, and ENDA is a bid to "criminalize Christianity."  Legalized abortion is "black genocide."

Phyllis Schlafly, the matriarch of the event, said she believed President Obama was taking America down the road to socialism. Americans, she said, “don’t want our country run by Czars – that was a Russian idea.”
Just in case we thought we’d heard it all and could spend the rest of the weekend in the hotel bar, Janet Folger breathlessly promised that on Saturday she would launch a new grassroots movement of a type never tried before, one that is going to change America.  Stay tuned.

Warning to gays: Religious Right going to stop being so darn nice

If you have followed what Religious Right leaders have been saying about gay people for, oh, the past 30 years, you’d be stunned to learn that Religious Right leaders say the key to resisting the “homosexual extremist movement” is to stop being so nice and polite when it comes to the gays.

About 100 activists at the How to Take Back America conference attended the workshop on “How to Counter the Homosexual Extremist Movement.”   Workshop speakers Matt Barber and Brian Camenker urged people to be loud rabble-rousers when opposing the teaching of tolerance or sex ed in public schools.  They said not to worry about being nice or polite or liked, but to push God’s anti-gay agenda forcefully.   “Christ wasn’t about being nice,” said Barber.   Camenker bragged about having once sent two congregations to scream outside a targeted legislator’s home.
The workshop was largely a parade of horror stories about gay activists using the schools to recruit children and undermine the values taught by conservative Christian parent an exhortation for people to tell the “truth” about “homosexual extremists.”
Barber employed Nazi imagery, with gay propaganda “goose-stepping along” and “trampling” anyone who disagrees. He also strung together the most adjectives I’ve yet heard applied all at once to President Obama, declaring that “this president is a secular humanist, a radical socialist moral relativist.”
Workshop MC Jayne Schindler, from Eagle Forum’s Colorado chapter, complained about the influence of gay-rights activists in the state, which she and others attributed to the influence of gay businessman and activist Tim Gill. Another questioner complained about transgender activism in the state, and claimed that high school guys thought it was great to be able to go into girls’ bathrooms by saying they were getting in touch with their feminine side.
There was some small disagreement about how much people should rely on religious arguments in the public sphere, with Matt Barber urging people to focus on the “ick” factor around gay sex and on claims that homosexuality is a health threat, which he called the movment’s “Achilles heel.”
In response, Sally Kern, the Oklahoma legislator who knows a bit about anti-gay not-niceness, argued that the anti-gay movement had to stay grounded in “God’s truth” and blamed churches for not having done enough.
Camenker, who heads the anti-gay MASS Resistance, came out as Jewish, which made me wonder what he’d thought about the fire-and-brimstone speech by Rick Scarborough just before his workshop insisting that people turning to Christ was the only thing that would save America.

Harry Jackson to Religious Right activists: Please stop sounding like racists

Bishop Harry Jackson, the Religious Right’s favorite African American preacher, asked the mostly white participants at the Values Voter Summit to tone down their anti-Obama rhetoric. He knew they weren’t racists, he explained, but the fact that some people were sounding like racists made it even harder on him as a conservative trying to get other black clergy to join his anti-gay organizing in D.C.
While asking summit participants to be less offensive, Jackson’s Saturday afternoon speech may have actually reached some new personal lows of offensive rhetoric. Let’s review:

1) Gays and liberal Christians are enemies of God who deserve to be struck down. Jackson cited verses from Psalm 68 saying “let God arise, let his enemies be scattered….let the wicked perish at the presence of God.” He described God striking dead a person who wasn’t following instructions about how the Ark of the Covenant should be moved. Who are the wicked? Gays, certainly, but also “folk who are Christians in name only” but are just asking to be struck dead by God for not following His ways.

2) Jackson said repeatedly of people who don’t support his agenda that “there are people in our culture who are easily led.” Do you remember the outcry from the Religious Right when the Washington Post said the same thing about them? But nobody batted an eye when Jackson suggested that African Americans who don’t support him are “in an ideological plantation” and “easily led” to believe the worst “character assassination” about white conservative evangelicals. That’s why, he said, right-wing activists need to tone down their attacks on Obama. In the fight to keep same-sex couples from getting married, he said, he “can’t win if my own black brothers see me as a traitor.”

3) Jackson utterly ignored the existence of African American LGBT people and their leadership in the pro-equality movement in the District of Columbia. He portrayed the battle over marriage equality in DC as a battle pitting rich gay lawyers against black clergy and poor single mothers. Jackson’s litany was a perfect example of the race- and class-baiting he is using to rouse opposition to marriage equality in the District. “Many of our gay people,” he said, are professionals, disproportionately educated, make a lot of money, are living in DC’s fancy new condos. Jackson said a “K Street lawyer who decides to come out and call himself gay” cannot understand the plight of a single mother in Washington, DC raising two kids without a father. This seems to be from his new gays-vs-blacks talking points. Hey, Rev. Jackson, what about all the LGBT people in DC who aren’t rich lawyers, who are people of color, who are raising kids without the legal protections of marriage? Maybe he hasn’t spent enough time in his new hometown to meet any of them yet.

4) Jackson cited his father’s experiences of racism to credential himself for an attack the notion that the gay rights movement is a civil rights movement. “Their movement is a handful of privileged people,” he said, who are “intolerant of anybody with another idea” and who want to “oppress and suppress truth in the name of freedom.”

5) The tea party movement, on the other hand, “is a movement that God is in the background stirring up.”

Jackson, who borrowed a line from fellow Religious Right figure Rick Scarborough to say, “I’m not a Republican or a Democrat, I’m a Christocrat,” ended his speech by leading the crowd in chanting
“Let God arise and his enemies be scattered.”

Respect for women, VVS-style

During Saturday morning’s plenary session at the Values Voter Summit, anti-choice activist Lila Rose bragged about her organization’s attacks on Planned Parenthood, and its success in denying the family planning group some state and city funds.  Rose, whose remarks rivaled Carrie Prejean’s in self-satisfied smugness,  included the standard threats against pro-choice legislators. But the most memorable moment was her suggestion that, as long as abortion remains legal, women should be forced to have the abortions done in the public square. Nice.

Valuable Lesson from the Values Voter Summit: Right's Definition of Religious Liberty

Saturday morning’s speech by Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association may be the most valuable moment of this conference. It’s not often that Americans get an unambiguous look at the Religious Right’s extremely dangerous definition of religious liberty.
Religious liberty is of course a core American value, protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution. And it’s the separation of church and state that protects the right of every American to worship or not as they choose, and protects all Americans from the government using its power to coerce religious belief or worship. It’s one of the constitutional principles that define this country.

Fischer basically attributed the idea of church-state separation to Adolf Hitler, who he said was the inspiration for the forces of “secular fundamentalism” who are bent on “castrating” the church and bringing America a “bleak, dark, vicious, tyrannical” future. Invoking Hitler is practically commonplace name-calling from the right these days. But it was not the most important or provocative point of his remarks.

Today Fischer went a good bit further than televangelist Pat Robertson, who notably called church-state separation a “lie of the left.” According to Fischer’s interpretation of the First Amendment, here’s what religious liberty means: Congress has the liberty to promote religion in any way, as long as it does not single out one Christian sect or denomination and make it the nation’s official religion. That’s it.

According to Fischer, “the only entity that is restrained by the First Amendment is the Congress of the United States.” Thus, he says, it is “constitutionally impossible” for governors, mayors, city councilmembers, or school administrators to violate the First Amendment. Fischer said the “incorporation doctrine” – the idea that the Fourteenth Amendment applied First Amendment protections against state governments, is the “most egregious” example of judicial activism.

So by his definition, a state legislature could declare itself an officially Christian state. Or an officially Baptist or Mormon state. Presumably any public school, city council or state government could require students to attend Christian worship or profess certain religious belief.

Fischer isn’t the only Religious Right leader who holds this radically extreme definition of religious liberty. In their 2008 book, “Personal Faith, Public Policy,” Religious Right leaders Tony Perkins and Harry Jackson said that a 1961 Supreme Court decision, which held that the state of Maryland could not require applicants for public office to swear that they believe in the existence of God, one of “the major assaults that have been successfully launched against the Christian faith in the last forty to fifty years.”

So, to these prominent Religious Right leaders, preventing a state from demanding that its employees swear to certain religious beliefs is an attack on Christianity. And any court that tries to stop a state from imposing religious beliefs on its citizens is judicial activism.

It’s disturbing to note that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is among those who believe the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment does not apply to the states. In a 2004 concurring opinion, Thomas wrote:

Quite simply, the Establishment Clause is best understood as a federalism provision — it protects state establishments from federal interference but does not protect any individual rights. . . . .
[E]ven assuming that the Establishment Clause precludes the Federal Government from establishing a national religion, it does not follow that the Clause created or protects any individual right. . . . it is more likely that States and only States were the direct beneficiaries. Moreover, incorporation of this putative individual right leads to a particular outcome: It would prohibit precisely what the Establishment Clause was intended to protect — state establishments of religion.

Americans deserve to know whether the parade of top GOP officials who engaged in this weekend’s mutual love-fest with Religious Right leaders have the same narrow, distorted view of the First Amendment.

Soothing the Savage Beast

The August 3 issue of the New Yorker includes an only-in-the-New-Yorker-length profile (seven full pages) of right-wing radio host Michael Savage. Savage’s fiercely ugly anti-gay and other extremist rhetoric has often been spotlighted by Media Matters, earning the group a special place in the pantheon of things Savage hates. Savage has called Media Matters “evil” and “Stalinists” and is currently engaged in a ludicrous campaign to challenge the group’s nonprofit status.

While Savage loves to hate the media and Media Matters, he’s found a friend in Kelefa Sanneh, author of the New Yorker profile (subscription required), which feels like a many-thousand word promo for Savage’s radio show. Sanneh is smitten with Savage, “more days than not, a marvelous storyteller, a quirky thinker, and an incorrigible free-associator.” He calls Savage’s show “one of the most addictive programs on radio, and one of the least predictable.”

Sanneh doesn’t ignore that Savage has a well-documented hatred of gays and that his central thesis is “that lefties are ruining the world, or trying to,” and quotes some of Savage’s memorable moments, such as the one that got him thrown off MSNBC, when he told a caller “Oh, you’re one of the sodomites. You should only get AIDS and die, you pig.”

But Sanneh finds Savage so weirdly charming and entertaining (he ruminates about death!) that he is quick to dismiss the host’s virulent rhetoric. Here’s Sanneh:

“The immoderate quotes meticulously catalogued by the liberal media-watchdog site are accurate but misleading, insofar as they reduce a willfully erratic broadcast to a series of political brickbats.”

“Immoderate” is an extraordinarily moderate word to apply to Savage’s serial attacks on gay people, which includes such charges as "[t]he radical homosexual agenda will not stop until religion is outlawed in this county," and that gay people "threaten your very survival." Gays, he says, “want full and total subjugation of this society to their agenda.” Savage has also promoted right-wing lies about Obama being born in Kenya and being a Muslim, and said during the campaign:

"I think he was hand-picked by some very powerful forces both within and outside the United State of America to drag this country into a hell that it has not seen since the Civil War of the middle of the 19th century.”

In a podcast interview posted on the New Yorker site, Sanneh said that people from the left and right do “a pretty good job of getting offended at the other people’s pundits.” Sanneh draws a stunning sort of moral equivalence between Savage, the kind of guy liberals “get all worked up about,” and Al Franken , who some conservatives would consider “an angry, hateful guy.”

Sanneh seems uninterested in considering whether the kind of political rhetoric Savage specializes in has the potential to fuel hatred and violence. Savage’s liberal-hating books were among those found on the shelves of the Tennessee man who opened fire in a Unitarian Universalist church last year to vent his hatred of liberals who he said were destroying the country. Sanneh says that Savage’s best-selling books are “political polemics” but says “none capture the freewheeling sensibility of the show or the complicated personality of the man.”

Jackson gets reinforcements in his war against marriage

Bishop Harry Jackson took the next step in his campaign against marriage equality today, testifying before the District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics that the board should approve Jackson’s proposed referendum, which would overturn a new DC law recognizing same-sex marriages conducted legally in other jurisdictions. Jackson and his allies are demanding that the board of elections allow them to put the question before voters.

The only real question facing the elections board is whether overturning the recognition law is a proper subject for a referendum.  Jackson’s legal hurdle is that DC law clearly prohibits a referendum that “would unlawfully discriminate under the Human Rights Act.”  The Human Rights Act states that the city cannot deny benefits based on gender or sexual orientation (among a range of other protections).  Board members seemed skeptical of the arguments by Jackson and his allies that it did not count as discrimination to recognize some marriages carried out in other states but not to recognize others.
Jackson had some new help in the form of Brian Raum, a lawyer from the Alliance Defense Fund, a national Religious Right law firm.  Others testifying for Jackson’s referendum included a couple of other preachers and the director of a teen abstinence group.  Rev. Walter Fauntroy, former DC congressional delegate, was a no-show, though he’s expected to submit written testimony.  (Speaking on Fauntroy’s behalf was attorney David New, who tangled with PFAWF years ago in his unsuccessful efforts to pass a school prayer referendum. He’s now apparently part of Jackson’s legal team.) 
For appalling comic relief of sorts was a guy named Leroy Swailes, who testified in a shirt emblazoned with  The essence of Swailes’ testimony was that this can’t be about human rights because gays are inhuman and anti-Christ.  A woman who took the microphone uninvited at the end of the hearing said she represented “the nations” – and claimed that Latino and Korean Christians in the District were “on fire.”
Jackson is clearly unhappy about recent reporting by the Washington Blade that has called into question the legitimacy of his status as a DC resident, which he swore to in filing paperwork for the referendum.  Jackson’s church is in Maryland and that’s where he has lived and voted until he registered as a DC voter in April.  Jackson deflected reporters’ questions about that status by insisting that he was a legal DC resident and saying that reporters and bloggers were putting his safety and family at risk by making his address public.  He refused to answer a reporter’s direct question about whether he’d moved into the District just to run this campaign.  Keep an eye on the Blade for more on Jackson’s legal residency.


Beware of Prop 8 Backer Seeking ‘Friendship’

On the day the California Supreme Court upheld Prop 8, the ballot initiative stripping same-sex couples of their right to get married in the state, one of the most aggressive backers of the initiative announced that he’s looking for a few good relationships with people who are “opposed to biblical values.” 
Today, the day of the California Supreme Court Proposition 8 ruling (10am PDT), San Diego pastor Dr. Jim Garlow, one of the visible warriors in the battle for traditional, natural marriage in California, is calling for a "two-pronged strategy." He stated, "As pastors, we must unabashedly stand for life and for marriage, even if those two causes are not as hip as they once were. Our goal is not to be chic, but biblical."

At the same time, Dr. Garlow strongly urges forming friendships with those who oppose biblical truths regarding marriage and life. During the heat of the Prop 8 battle, Garlow reached out hundreds of times to persons who advocated same sex "marriage," in a desire for civil discourse and meaningful relationships.

While in Washington, DC recently, Garlow spent time -- his second such meeting -- with the nation's top leader, funder and proponent of same sex "marriage" with the desire of establishing a friendship, which Garlow hopes will open the door to ministry.

Although Garlow led one of San Diego's largest prolife rallies a week ago and views abortion as a barbaric act, he has reached out and met with the spokesman for Planned Parenthood. "While not compromising biblical values, nor backing down on the issues, I am trying to do what I think Jesus would do -- be with them, and look for the possibility of ministry," says Garlow.
James Garlow isn’t a household name, but the San Diego pastor was a driving force behind the Religious Right’s mobilization of money and volunteers to pass Prop 8. He sponsored a series of organizing meetings and conference calls that pushed pastors to do more to counter what he and other speakers called the satanic gay rights movement.
Garlow reports that he’s been meeting with marriage equality backers seeking to establish civil discourse and “meaningful relationships.” But if anyone in the gay rights movement thinks that meeting with Garlow will accomplish anything other than giving the preacher some additional justification for comparing himself to Jesus, or some good public relations for appearing reasonable, it’s worth taking a few minutes to familiarize yourself with his record. Here are just a couple of highlights:
·         Garlow has said repeatedly that Prop 8 is a spiritual war against Satan, who wants to decimate Gods plan for marriage, and against Satan’s allies in the pro-equality movement. He told pastors on one of his organizing calls, “One of the dumbest things the devil ever did was attack the institution of marriage.” 
·         On one of the subsequent calls, he proposed that Christian families try to circumvent campaign donation disclosure laws.
·         Garlow is also a major pusher of the Religious Right’s Big Lie on Religious Liberty, writing in USA Today that Prop 8 was necessary to keep clergy from being thrown in jail: ”When same-sex relationships — especially marriage — acquire government sanction, anyone in opposition to it must be intimidated, silenced, fined, jailed or at least threatened.”
With that kind of friend….

Harry Jackson Fails to Sway DC Council

The D.C. Council voted 12-1 today to recognize marriages performed legally in other states.  The lone vote in opposition was that of former Mayor Marion Barry, who struck a more conciliatory tone than he did at last week’s anti-marriage rally, at which he led chants and urged preachers to speak out against “immorality.”  Today, Barry recounted his long support for efforts to advance LGBT equality during his years of leadership in the District, and asked people not to make this one vote a litmus test.

Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander had a different story to tell, noting that the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club (the city’s gay Democratic club) had endorsed her even though she had taken a stand in opposition to same-sex marriage in D.C.  On the other hand, she said, since she voted with her colleagues last month to have the District recognize legal marriages performed in other states, she’s had some pastors questioning her Christianity.  In response to those who have threatened to run a “Christian candidate” against her, she said, “I am a Christian candidate.”

A number of other Councilmembers spoke movingly on behalf of the legislation; we’ll have some video highlights available later.

The crowd organized by Bishop Harry Jackson was a different story.  Marriage opponents cheered Barry’s statement and shouted when Alexander spoke.  As soon as the vote was final and the capacity crowd moved into the hallway, raucous shouting broke out among those threatening to vote out every councilmember who had voted for marriage recognition.

Jackson spoke to reporters (describing himself as a D.C. resident) then headed across the street where an anti-marriage rally had been going on during the filled-to-capacity council meeting. Jackson led chants of “It’s not over” and vowed to pursue a legal strategy, a congressional strategy, and a strategy of continuing to organize at the grassroots. 

Oddly, the post-vote rally ended with a religious “marriage” ceremony for a young man and woman from Texas who came to DC and decided to go through the motions of a wedding ceremony presided over by Jackson to make a statement about “right marriage.”  

Report From Harry Jackson's Anti-Marriage Rally in DC

Bishop Harry Jackson, the point man for the Religious Right’s anti-gay outreach to African Americans, hosted a rally in downtown Washington D.C. across the street from the District building where the D.C. Council meets.  Jackson and his outraged entourage repeatedly threatened political retribution against Mayor Adrian Fenty and openly gay Councilmember David Catania for the Council’s preliminary vote to recognize marriages of same-sex couples performed legally in other states. 

Jackson had a much smaller crowd than the thousands he had hoped for.  As the rally began, there were well under 100 people; by the end there may have been close to 200. They were an enthusiastic bunch, shouting “the Devil is a liar” and other encouragement to the speakers.  Jackson made excuses about how little time they had to mobilize, but promised to pack the Council chambers on May 5 for the next vote.  Jackson said his group would be distributing inserts for churches to include in their bulletins this Sunday.

Jackson was joined at the podium by representatives of the Missionary Baptist pastors’ network as well as several Hispanic pastor group representatives, as well as the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, who made a few unremarkable remarks.  Focus on the Family’s James Dobson sent a letter supporting Jackson and attacking the members of the D.C. Council.  To this D.C. resident, the most disappointing moment was former Mayor and current Councilmember Marion Barry leading the crowd in chants against marriage equality (though he noted that he supports civil unions).

For those who have watched Jackson or read People For the American Way Foundation’s new report on him, there was expected rhetoric, such as Jackson criticizing gay rights supporters for “usurping” and “hijacking” the civil rights movement.  He of course had no problem using iconic civil rights songs (Lift Every Voice and Sing, We Shall Overcome) as part of his effort to deny equality to a group of their fellow Americans.

There was also some edgier anti-gay rhetoric.  Jackson compared marriage between gay couples to marriage between close relatives, or between “a man and a three-year old.”  One of the final speakers was a Rev. Daniels, who Jackson recruited for the rally from Florida.  He was fixated on gay sex acts, repeatedly urging people to “explain the act” because it would turn people’s stomachs and turn them against marriage equality.

Jackson ended by sending part of the crowd across the street to stand on the sidewalks in front of the District Building and lift their hands toward it while he prayed, “Washington, D.C., we call you into alignment with the word of God.”

We’ll get some video highlights up later today.

UPDATE: Here is the video of Marion Barry declaring the anti-gay pastors "the moral leaders of this community" and himself "a politician who's moral":

Right Wing Round-Up

  • Our own Peter Montgomery has a post up on Religious Dispatches on the recent Iowa Supreme Court ruling.
  • The Daily Beast reports that Republicans are threatening to filibuster President Obama's nominees if he moves to release the infamous Bush administration's "torture memos" - Drew has more over on the People For Blog.
  • Nate Silver says that if Iowans were given the opportunity to vote on a marriage ban today, "it would pass with 56.0 percent of the vote. By 2012, however, the model projects a toss-up: 50.4 percent of Iowans voting to approve the ban, and 49.6 percent opposed. In 2013 and all subsequent years, the model thinks the marriage ban would fail."
  • John Aravosis reports that Think Progress founder Judd Legum is running for office in Maryland.
  • Tips-Q reports on both Alan Keyes and Steve Deace freaking out over the Iowa marriage ruling.
  • Good as You has the audio of a rather remarkable discussion between Matt Barber and Steve Crampton of Liberty Counsel and a caller on their radio program.
  • AU doesn't like efforts by David Lynch, with support from Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, to get Transcendental Meditation taught in schools.

Heritage Foundation: Change We Can Obstruct

Heritage Email Offer

The Heritage Foundation, a behemoth of right-wing marketing muscle, wasted no time in pledging to stop the Obama administration from advancing progressive policies on health care, the environment, the courts. After eight years of backing the Bush administration, NOW they’re encouraging people to read the Constitution?

Click here to see more of Heritage's email.

Prop 8’s Call to Extremism

As we’ve noted, the organizers of a massive stadium rally pushing the anti-gay initiative in California have snagged for the stage the biggest name in the Religious Right universe. No, not Sarah Palin, but James Dobson of Focus on the Family. One benefit might be to draw media attention from the event’s organizer, Lou Engle. He’s far less well-known than Dobson, and organizers might prefer to keep it that way.

Engle is an unabashed “dominionist” – someone who thinks the church, under the leadership of modern-day apostles like him, should rule over government and other institutions of society. He thinks of himself as a John the Baptist who badgers Christian teens to adopt a radical lifestyle of fasting and prayer that will bring God’s intercession against gays, liberal judges, and the like. And his style – screaming at the top of his lungs and rapidly rocking back and forth – is a sharp contrast with Dobson’s polished media-star demeanor.

A new report by People For the American Way Foundation documents some of his other charms, which include:

  • praying for God to “terrorize” judges until they fall like stars from the sky>
  • believing that the appearance of the goddess Minerva on California’s state seal is a sign of demonic domination over the state by the “Jezebel spirit”
  • suggesting that marriage equality is Satanic and legal abortion spells America’s doom>

Though, given Prop. 8 leaders’ tendency to describe their campaign in apocalyptic terms, and the increasingly shrill and panicky proclamations of doom from the Right over the prospect of an Obama presidency, Dobson and Engle are likely to feel right at home in each other’s company.

Who’s Socialist Now?

The American Family Association’s One News Now is a “news” service in the same way that Fox is “fair and balanced.”  Remember, One News Now is the outfit that published stories about “Tyson Homosexual” because they were so opposed to using the word “gay.”  ONN’s “Daily News Briefs” have become a one-stop shop of wing-nuttery. Today it was also a victim of bad timing

Today ONN’s top “story” – by our old pal Robert Knight -- complained that the national media “ignores Obama’s socialist past.”  Knight, like a number of right-wing bloggers, is up in arms about the fact that Obama was endorsed years ago for state Senate by the progressive New Party. 
But today’s top story in the Washington Post was about the Bush administration forcing major national banks to accept partial nationalization in return for a financial helping hand.  But even the easily enraged Michelle Malkin can’t get worked up about charges of “socialism” when the Treasury Department is taking ownership stake in the banking system.

Not the Glory Days for Club for Growth

Club for Growth, the radically anti-tax and anti-government organization, has often targeted Republican incumbents it deems insufficiently devoted to its free-market fundamentalism. But Politico points out that its endorsement may not be such a great thing for candidates these days.

It couldn't have been a nicer Saturday for Democrat Frank Kratovil, up on stage playing blues guitar for an oyster-slurping, beer-drinking crowd on the water in Queen Anne's County, Md.

 When he's done with his set, reporters from CQ, Politico and the New Republic are waiting to talk with the man who may be the next member of Congress from Maryland's 1st District.

This isn't what the Club for Growth had in mind.

Back in February, the conservative PAC helped knock off moderate Republican Rep. Wayne Gilchrest in the GOP primary here, in the hopes of installing a more conservative Republican in his place.

But it may not work out that way. With less than a month to go before Election Day, Kratovil is running neck and neck with the Club for Growth-backed GOP nominee, Maryland state Sen. Andy Harris, in a district that's about as red as they come.

And with voters worried about their retirement accounts and suddenly suspicious of the free-market economics espoused by the Club for Growth, Kratovil is using the Club for Growth's support of Harris as a way to bludgeon him.

 "We need to stop listening to those people, like my opponent and his million-dollar backers, the Club for Growth, who believe in no regulation," Kratovil says.

For Club for Growth-backed candidates across the country, this is sounding like a familiar story.

Politico reports that Rep. Tim Walberg, elected in 2006 after defeating moderate GOPer Joe Schwarz in a Club for Growth backed primary challenge, is now seeing the Club's backing used as a major line of attack from his opponent. And it's forcing the GOP to spend money to defend what were once considered safe seats:

Still, the club's investment in GOP efforts may end up costing the party more than it saves it, forcing the National Republican Congressional Committee to spend money in what might have been forget-about-'em races if more moderate Republicans were on the ballot.

It seems likely that Grover Norquist's expressed desire to shrink government to the size that he could "drown it in the bathtub" doesn't resonate too well with voters who see the financial meltdown draining their retirement plans as the result of a little too much "magic of the marketplace" and not enough oversight or regulation.

In addition . the group played a key role in funding conservative Rep. Steve Pearce in his New Mexico Senate primary victory against Rep. Heather Wilson. Wilson was viewed as the more electable Republican against Democrat Tom Udall; with Pearce as the nominee, the GOP has written off the seat.

Harry Jackson: Hurricanes, Hard Times Setup for Christians to Take Control

Bishop Harry Jackson, the Religious Right’s most visible African American spokesman, who has recently been shilling for an Astroturf campaign accusing environmentalists of waging a “war against the poor” got back basics when he kicked off this year’s Values Voter summit with a breakfast touting his High Impact Leadership Coalition, pushing his books, and asking for financial support for his anti-gay road tour in Florida to push a constitutional ban on same-sex couples getting married.

But Jackson also had his eye on a bigger prize – “We’re in a time of crisis when the Christians have to determine the course of the nation.” This isn’t a new theme for Jackson. At previous events he has called for activists to bring about “the rule and reign of the Cross” to America. Jackson was introduced by one of his associate pastors, who had sounded the same theme, saying, “now is the moment in history when Black and White churches in America must come together to direct the affairs of our nation.” It’s clear that electing the McCain-Palin ticket is an important step – the warm-up speaker was the chair of African Americans for McCain in Illinois who was promoting a new magazine for Black conservatives that pitches a David Barton-esque view of the Republican Party as the champion of Black America.

Jackson has adopted McCain’s audacious claim to be an outsider seeking change even thought Republicans have controlled the White House for the past eight years. Jackson was so eager to distance himself from the people he helped put into power that he engaged in some overt Bush-bashing, chastising the president and Karl Rove for selling out Christians by not forcing passage of the anti-gay Federal Marriage Amendment.

Jackson claimed that the series of hurricanes and tropical storms, the bad economy, and the war in Iraq are all part of God’s plan to create such hard times in America that people will turn to the church. “God is setting the state for our voice to be heard once again,” he said. “If they’re not going to listen to us in good times, it may take bad times to set that platform.” While joking that he didn’t want to sound like Rev. Jeremiah Wright, he said Wright raised an interesting question – is America, or should America, be under God’s judgment? Jackson said that if Christians, who he said have been playing defense for too long, would go on the offense and count on God’s help to overcome the nation’s sins, there’s still time to avoid that wrath. (Unless, I guess, you’re in the path of one of those stage-setting hurricanes.)

Jackson also told of being confronted in a Boston Market by a gay activist who confronted him about his role on an anti-gay conference call in California, which People For the American Way Foundation documented. “We have spies that are working against us; even in this meeting there may be some spies.” Jackson urged attendees to join in the 40 days of prayer and fasting that evangelical Christians in California have planned seeking God’s help in passing Proposition 8, and suggested it could also balance the fasting and prayers that Muslims all over the world are doing during Ramadan – “there is spiritual warfare going on.”

Religious Right Leaders Bash Obama, Abortion Rights at "Non-Political” Event

A group of national Religious Right leaders used a press conference held in Washington the day before The Call – a “non-political” youth prayer rally on the mall – to talk about the event and to denounce Sen. Barack Obama and criticize Christians who are considering voting for him. Lou Engle, the increasingly visible organizer of similar rallies around the country said the event was designed to mobilize young Christians around ending abortion. Immediately after saying the event was not political, and was not about endorsing a candidate, he launched into an attack on Sen. Obama’s pro-choice record and implicitly questioned the candidate’s faith, describing politicians “who say they’re Christian.” Engle, who is also actively backing anti-gay ballot initiatives on marriage, called pro-choice and pro-equality efforts “false justice movements.” Bishop Harry Jackson, the most visible African American Religious Right spokesman, wasn’t coy about his political message for the day: if Sen. McCain chooses a pro-abortion vice president he will give the election to Obama. Jackson called it “tantamount to political suicide.” Jackson also returned to his standard denunciation of abortion as “black genocide” and “pandemic extermination.” Jackson said that America needs God’s favor, and that this year’s election – an important “expression of desire” for the people of God – will basically let God know whether we deserve it. The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins said that it’s right for evangelicals to offer solutions on issues like AIDS, fiscal policy, and racial reconciliation, but that doesn’t mean all issues are equal. He said young evangelicals are more fervently anti-abortion than their parents, and that waning evangelical support for the Republican Party was a reflection of how poorly the party functioned in power, not a sign of reduced commitment. Asked about Sen. Obama’s outreach to evangelical voters, Jackson said he thought it was good to be considered a swing vote, and hoped that it could push both parties closer to evangelical concerns. Engle was less enthusiastic, denouncing Obama’s record on abortion issues in graphic terms and warning young evangelicals that if they compromised on abortion, history would stand in judgment of them the way it stands in judgment on churches’ silence on slavery. Former presidential candidate and long-shot VP possibility Mike Huckabee said the purpose of the event was “not political at all.” Huckabee, like Engle, cited Martin Luther King, Jr. as a role model, saying it took “not a politician but a preacher” to remind the country of the evils of racism. During Q&A, Huckabee said he’d support McCain no matter who he chose as VP, but he thought a pro-choice running mate would hurt McCain by draining enthusiasm and intensity from his evangelical supporters.

The Randall Terry Show

When Pat Robertson endorsed Rudy Giuliani for president last month, many on the far Right were outraged. Randall Terry, a militant anti-abortion activist, was crushed that the religious-right icon would side with “Beelzebronx”:

Is Pat Robertson so terrified of Hillary that he will betray the Right to Life, Marriage, Self-defense, and The Church Herself as long as a fellow Republican snatches power? Rudy may wade through the blood of the innocent to reach the throne; he may be a stench in the nostrils of Angels – and the nostrils of devils for that matter – but at least Rudy is a stench that comes from the GOP stable – and he's not Hillary. Is this the conviction we expect from Christian Leaders?

Terry, known for his aggressive clinic protests in the 1980s and 1990s, issued a clarion call for pro-life activists to turn those tactics on the D.C. bureau of Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network. Here are a few highlights:

Huckabee Consistent When Convenient

Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee recently took a shot at rival Mitt Romney for having changed his political positions:"I think people should judge Mitt Romney on his record. Is he consistent? Does he say and believe the things now that he said and believed before? That's what ought to be the criteria.” When confronted over the weekend by his 1992 comments about people infected with HIV calling on the federal government to “take steps that would isolate the carriers of this plague,” Huckabee said, "The one thing I feel like is important to note is that you stick by what you said" and that while he might say things differently today, “I don’t run from it, don’t recant from it.” That concern about consistency apparently didn’t extend to his much more recent position on federal government policy toward Cuba. In fact, it only took a couple of hours for him to reverse course when it looked like his previous position might cost him some votes, according to a Miami Herald story about the GOP candidate debate hosted by television network Univisión:
Although the candidates kept it polite on stage, Fred Thompson's campaign circulated press clippings from 2002 in which Huckabee called for an end to the trade embargo with Cuba. In a letter to President Bush, Huckabee wrote at the time: ``U.S. policy on Cuba has not accomplished its stated goal of toppling the Castro regime and instead has provided Castro with a convenient excuse for his own failed system of government.'' That stance is bound to rile many Cuban Americans in Miami-Dade, who believe that the embargo helps undermine Fidel Castro's repressive regime. Huckabee is certain to face questions about the embargo at a Monday morning press conference in Miami, where he is expecting an endorsement from Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio, one of the most prominent Cuban-American Republicans in the state. Caught off guard, Huckabee's campaign said two hours after the debate that he had since changed his position on the embargo after consulting with Cuban-American leaders. ''He's committed to vetoing any legislation that lifts sanctions on Cuba,'' said Huckabee spokeswoman Alice Stewart.

The Speech: Romney still no JFK

Mitt Romney’s speech on religious liberty and the role his faith would play in his presidency – the long-discussed “JFK speech” -- included some Kennedy-esque rhetoric about the fundamental importance of religious liberty, but it was a far cry from JFK’s ringing endorsement of church-state separation. The timing of Romney’s speech, as former Arkansas governor and Baptist minister Mike Huckabee overtook Romney in Iowa polling, seemed to make it clear that Romney’s target audience was the conservative evangelicals who play a major role in Republican primaries. Many of those voters have told pollsters that they’re reluctant to vote for a Mormon, and they have little patience for arguments that church-state separation is good for religious liberty.
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peter montgomery Posts Archive

Peter Montgomery, Thursday 02/10/2011, 6:08pm
Rep. Steve King has staked out turf on the far right of the House Republican caucus. But he’s got more competition there, which may explain the relatively paltry audience that came to hear him in a cavernous CPAC ballroom. King chastised his GOP colleagues, saying that if they had pulled out all the stops they could have killed “Obamacare” in the last Congress in spite of Nancy Pelosi’s “iron fist.” King called the 87 Republican freshman “God’s gift to America.”   But his speech was mostly a loving message about King himself,... MORE >
Peter Montgomery, Thursday 02/10/2011, 6:08pm
Rep. Steve King has staked out turf on the far right of the House Republican caucus. But he’s got more competition there, which may explain the relatively paltry audience that came to hear him in a cavernous CPAC ballroom. King chastised his GOP colleagues, saying that if they had pulled out all the stops they could have killed “Obamacare” in the last Congress in spite of Nancy Pelosi’s “iron fist.” King called the 87 Republican freshman “God’s gift to America.”   But his speech was mostly a loving message about King himself,... MORE >
Peter Montgomery, Thursday 02/10/2011, 5:58pm
At the CPAC panel on “How Political Correctness is Harming America’s Military,” Elaine Donnelly of the Center for Military Readiness continued her campaign against gay and lesbian members of the armed forces serving openly and honorably, but she was upstaged by GOP congressional candidate Ilario Pantano, who insisted that America is meant to be a Christian nation and that the military must reflect biblical values. Donnelly’s remarks were a mostly unsurprising reprise of the arguments she used in her failed effort to prevent Congress from repealnig Don’t Ask, Don... MORE >
Peter Montgomery, Thursday 02/10/2011, 5:58pm
At the CPAC panel on “How Political Correctness is Harming America’s Military,” Elaine Donnelly of the Center for Military Readiness continued her campaign against gay and lesbian members of the armed forces serving openly and honorably, but she was upstaged by GOP congressional candidate Ilario Pantano, who insisted that America is meant to be a Christian nation and that the military must reflect biblical values. Donnelly’s remarks were a mostly unsurprising reprise of the arguments she used in her failed effort to prevent Congress from repealnig Don’t Ask, Don... MORE >
Peter Montgomery, Monday 01/31/2011, 5:15pm
The title of today’s Wallbuilders Live radio broadcast, brought to you courtesy of Religious Right “historian” David Barton, was “Why is Obama Trying to Remove God From the United States?” Barton, whose Christian-nation version of U.S. history is promoted by right-wingers including Glenn Beck and Rep. Michele Bachmann, has attacked Obama’s Christian faith before. Today, Barton and co-host Rick Green were joined by Rep. Randy Forbes to complain about the president’s insufficient godliness.   Forbes has complained about a speech President... MORE >
Peter Montgomery, Monday 01/31/2011, 5:15pm
The title of today’s Wallbuilders Live radio broadcast, brought to you courtesy of Religious Right “historian” David Barton, was “Why is Obama Trying to Remove God From the United States?” Barton, whose Christian-nation version of U.S. history is promoted by right-wingers including Glenn Beck and Rep. Michele Bachmann, has attacked Obama’s Christian faith before. Today, Barton and co-host Rick Green were joined by Rep. Randy Forbes to complain about the president’s insufficient godliness.   Forbes has complained about a speech President... MORE >
Peter Montgomery, Monday 01/31/2011, 11:17am
We have reported on the close ties between the Religious Right and the Tea Party as well as the tensions between social conservatives and libertarians in the Tea Party movement. An article in the February 2011 issue of the AFA Journal, published by the American Family Association, is the latest salvo in the ongoing effort to define the Tea Party agenda.    “Rise of the Teavangelicals” decries efforts by the “homosexual Republican” group GOProud to define the Tea Party as part of a  “leave-me-alone-coalition” that is uninterested in... MORE >
Peter Montgomery, Monday 01/31/2011, 11:17am
We have reported on the close ties between the Religious Right and the Tea Party as well as the tensions between social conservatives and libertarians in the Tea Party movement. An article in the February 2011 issue of the AFA Journal, published by the American Family Association, is the latest salvo in the ongoing effort to define the Tea Party agenda.    “Rise of the Teavangelicals” decries efforts by the “homosexual Republican” group GOProud to define the Tea Party as part of a  “leave-me-alone-coalition” that is uninterested in... MORE >