Alabama

Gay-Baiting in Birmingham: Syphilis, Sexual Perversion, and Personal Grievances

Massachusetts was not the only place that held a special election last night, as Birmingham, Alabama held its own election to replace former mayor Larry Langford, who was convicted of bribery, money laundering, conspiracy and fraud last year.

The mayoral race pitted William Bell against Patrick Cooper and a few weeks back, flyers [PDF] began circulating attacking Cooper for having supported a gay school board member named Howard Bayless in 2007.

At first, nobody knew where the flyers came from because all they said were "Paid for by Faith in Birmingham," but over the weekend it was revealed that a man named Frank Matthews was responsible.

Matthews, as it turns out, had been appointed co-director of the Office of Citizens Assistance by Langford and was fired from that position in December after getting into a heated argument with supporters of Cooper's campaign during a city-wide Christmas party, for which he vowed revenge:

Matthews said his exit from City Hall now gives him more freedom to campaign against Cooper. "I'm one of the most ferocious anti-campaign operatives in America," he said. "I'm calling in all cards. This is a clarion call."

And that is apparently what Matthews was trying to do not only with his flyers, but also with this letter he wrote claiming Cooper's support for Bayless made him unfit for the office of mayor because he would destroy the city's moral fabric, indoctrinate children, and increase the county's syphilis rates: 

Dear Concerned Citizen,

My name is Frank Matthews. As most of you are aware, I am radio talk-show host and former co-director of the Mayor’s Office of Citizen’s Assistance. First, I want to thank you for your prayers and support during the past few weeks, then I want to thank you for taking the time to read this letter. Many in the media criticize my methods, but I have a great love for our city. With that being said, I felt compelled to write this personal letter to you giving you the facts about Patrick Cooper. While this letter is in no way intended to attack his character, as many people accuse me of doing, it is intended to expose how his values will affect our city’s moral fabric.

As a minister, I am compelled to reveal to you Mr. Cooper’s public position concerning a vital moral issue that impacts the foundation of our families, our churches, our schools, and all of society: the issue of homosexuality. It is true “all of us have sinned and fallen short of bringing God glory” as stated in Romans 3:23. It is also true that we must repent for known sins. The Word of God clearly states homosexuality is a sin according to Romans 1:24-32. God loves us as sinners, but He hates our sin. Traditional marriage between a man and a woman has been the foundation of every civilized culture since the beginning of time. The citizens of Alabama understand this and showed their agreement by voting overwhelmingly in 2006 by an 81% to 19% margin in favor of the Sanctity of Marriage Amendment Act defining marriage as between one man and one woman. In October 2007, Birmingham elected the first openly gay man to public office in Alabama as Howard Bayless won a seat on the Birmingham City School Board governing the affairs of almost 30,000 young hearts and minds in our city. He did this with the support of the largest Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender political action committee in the nation along with the very public endorsement of Patrick Cooper standing proudly at Mr. Bayless’ side. It is not my intention to disrespect either of these men, but it is my duty to remind God’s people that this is an abomination and unpleasing in the eyes of our Heavenly Father.

All across the nation, school boards for children at the elementary and kindergarten levels are approving curriculum that promotes the homosexual lifestyle. This is morally wrong, brings confusion about gender identity to our children, condones sexual perversion, and can ultimately have detrimental influence socially. Not only would Patrick Cooper seek to advance this radical agenda upon our matriculating school children, but he wants to eliminate the “Laptops for Kids” program altogether, and replace it with Pre-K programs. These programs would indoctrinate the acceptance of this lifestyle, by our children, at an even earlier age. Within the last two years, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that Jefferson County had the highest rate of syphilis per 100,000 residents of any county in the nation and warned our citizens about the “epidemic rate” of the growing number of cases. Of course, syphilis is spread through heterosexual as well as homosexual relationships, but we need a leader who will stand for purity and traditional family values.

In conclusion, Patrick Cooper’s anti-traditional family values can only be a detriment to the children of our city. This is not the kind of leadership, vision, and action we want and need in Birmingham. Please get out and vote January 19th for what’s best morally, for Birmingham now and for future generations. Vote William Bell to be the next mayor of our great city!

Brought to you, and paid for, by:
Frank Matthews

The mayoral election was held yesterday, and Cooper lost 54-46.

Palin, Bachman, Moore, and Scarborough to Speak At Tea Party National Convention

Where can you find Sarah Palin and Rep. Michele Bachmann rubbing elbows with the likes of Roy Moore and Rick Scarborough?

At the National Tea Party Convention next February in Tennessee:

Tea Party Nation is pleased to announce the First National Tea Party Convention. The convention is aimed at bringing Tea Party representatives together from around the nation for the purpose of networking and supporting the movements' principle goals.

Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska (2006-2009) and the 2008 Republican Vice Presidential Nominee will be the guest of honor and keynote speaker.

Rep. Michele Bachmann will be a breakfast speaker at the convention. Also speaking at the convention are Rep. Marsha Blackburn and former Alabama Supreme Court Judge Roy Moore.

Other participants include: Phil Valentine (Nationally Syndicated Conservative Talk Radio Host), Bruce Donnelly (President, SurgeUSA), Ana Puig, Dr. B. Leland Baker (author of Tea Party Revival), Mark Skoda (The Memphis Tea Party), Keli Carender (aka Liberty Belle), Dr. Rick Scarborough (author of "Enough is Enough"), Lori Christenson (The Evergreen Conifer Tea Party), David DeGerolamo (NC Freedom Tea Party), Walter Fitzgerald (Tea Party Nation - Emergency Preparedness), The Leadership Institute, Judicial Watch, SurgeUSA, FAIR, National Taxpayers Union, American Majority, Smart Girl Politics.

Back in September, Bachmann and Scarborough both appeared at the How To Take Back America Conference, and this is what we got:

We are expecting more of the same the next time around.

Right Wing Leftovers

Eagle Forum Blasts "Personhood" Initiatives

Despite the fact that the effort to pass a "personhood amendment" last year in Colorado was an absolute failure, proponents have continued to press ahead with similar efforts all over the country. 

According to Personhood.net, there are there are efforts underway to "outlaw all abortions and certain types of birth control, including oral contraceptives and the morning-after pill" in various states, including Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, South Carolina, and Virginia.

One of the problems plaguing the effort has been the opposition of most Religious Right and anti-choice groups ... a problem that obviously continues to this day, as earlier this week the Eagle Forum announced its opposition, calling the efforts misleading, hurtful to the anti-choice effort, and basically a scam:

The "personhood" initiative lost by a landslide of 73% to 27% in Colorado in 2008, and its unpopular coattails hurt good pro-life candidates there. This poorly designed initiative would not prevent a single abortion even it if became law, and its vague language would enable more mischief by judges.

Now its organizers, who provide little information about themselves or their funding, spread their disaster to key swing states like Florida, Missouri, Nevada and Montana. This hurtful effort misleads pro-lifers with the false hope that a referendum can overturn Roe v. Wade, when only the U.S. Supreme Court can do that. This enriches pro-abortion groups with a fundraising issue as they claim to preserve abortion by suing to stop this initiative, and they have already filed several lawsuits.

Florida's Catholic Bishops recently banned the collection of any signatures for this ill-advised initiative at churches there, and most pro-life groups also oppose this initiative. We encourage support of pro-life candidates, and oppose hurtful gimmicks like the personhood initiative.

Mat Staver's Anti-Gay Exhibition

In Alabama, a school district has reversed itself and decided that it won't bar Cynthia Stewart from bringing her girlfriend to the prom after the school's principal initially said the couple wouldn't be permitted to attend.

Stewart sought the assistance of the ACLU in getting the initial decision reversed - and it is pretty clear that Mat Staver really does not like the ACLU ... or gays ... and he really, really hates it when the ACLU gets involved in trying to help gays:

According to Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel, the case is typical of the ACLU in that "anything that is anti-moral, anti-religious liberty, and anti-freedom, you can always find them on the other side."

"Here they are again: They're supporting lesbianism in a school situation where...the school does not want to promote lesbianism," the attorney explains. "The prom is [designed] for young men and young women to come and celebrate -- it's not [intended] for an exhibition of lesbianism; and the school simply has said [it's] not going to allow lesbianism in the prom."

...

Staver warns against giving in to the ACLU's demands. "The ACLU would essentially undermine all the core values that made America great," he remarks, "and they would use these radical agendas of homosexuality, abortion, and other kinds of anti-faith and [anti-]family policies to literally undo America."

...

Staver believes the school has the right to set boundaries on the prom, as it is not intended to shine a spotlight on lesbianism.

Why is it that every time a gay person is being discriminated against and fights back in the name of equality, people like Staver see it as an attempt to "promote lesbianism"?  Apparently, in Staver's warped view, anything and everything a gay person does is an "exhibition" of their sexual orientation.

And finally, given the way Staver worded his attack on the ACLU, he is actually saying that the organization is always "on the other side" of everything that is "anti-moral, anti-religious liberty, and anti-freedom" ... and given that it is Staver's Liberty Counsel that is usually on the "other side" of the ACLU on issues, then it must be LC that is siding with those promoting an "anti-moral, anti-religious liberty, and anti-freedom" agenda.

Right Wing Round-Up

  • Pam's House Blend: Washington Times publishes ugly hit piece on Kevin Jennings.
  • Truth Wins Out: Focus on the Family Seeks to Exempt Alabama Gays from Antibullying Protection.
  • Rob Boston: At the Values Voter Summit, Wing-Nut Christian Right Plots Its Comeback.
  • Texas Freedom Network: David Barton Promotes Oklahoma Extremist Sally Kern.
  • Amanda Hess: Ex-Gay Group Calls Hate Crime Laws “Anti-Ex-Gay.”
  • Wow, Hitler and Obama really do have a lot in common.
  • Finally, I'll be out for the rest of the week.  See you Monday.

HuckPAC's Healthcare Threat

Mike Huckabee's PAC, HuckPAC, has issued the following warning

Huck PAC will not endorse any Republican candidate that votes for the government takeover of health care. And if we have endorsed your campaign, and you vote for this monstrosity of a bill, we will revoke your endorsement immediately.

Let's suppose that HuckPAC-endorsed candidate Les Phillip of Alabama announced that he would support healthcare reform and Huckabee revoked his endorsement: would HuckPAC then reimburse Phillip for the tens of thousands of dollars that Huckbee's endorsement has already cost his campaign? 

Just curious.

Chuck Norris Endorses Roy Moore

It didn't work for Mike Huckabee, but maybe Roy Moore will have better luck:

Chuck Norris, internationally known martial arts expert, actor, and media personality has endorsed Judge Roy Moore for Governor of Alabama. Norris believes Judge Moore is the strongest, best qualified candidate in the race for Alabama's gubernatorial leader, the person who can best lead the state forward in the difficult times ahead.

Judge Moore and Chuck Norris have much in common in addition to their strong conservative beliefs, including their martial arts skills and their service in our nation's armed forces. Mr. Norris has won numerous martial arts tournaments around the world. As described in Judge Moore's book, So Help Me God. Jude Moore fought professionally as a kick-boxer in both the U.S. and Australia, and is known for his strong leadership as a judge and as an Army company commander in Vietnam.

Judge Moore's campaign is based on his defense of our individual rights, his plan for creating new jobs through the proven economic principles of Supply Side economics ("Reaganomics") which brought our nation and state out of a severe recession in the 1980's-by cutting taxes and reducing the size of government. He also has a strong plan to eliminate waste and corruption in state government. Judge Moore is well known for keeping his promises.

Moore, for those who may not remember, was tossed off the Alabama Supreme Court back in 2003 for defying a federal judge's order to move a Ten Commandments monument from the state Supreme Court building.

A Sign of Changing Times?

When I saw an article covering a forum hosted by the Alabama Christian Coalition with candidates running for governor, I have to admit that I did not expect this:

Five Republicans and one Democrat running for governor showed up tonight at Taylor Road Baptist Church in Montgomery for a forum sponsored by the Alabama Christian Coalition.

But this was not your typical Christian Coalition forum, at least not compared to what has typically been the focus of political get-togethers sponsored by the group before it underwent a split several years ago and then came back under new leadership, leadership that many Republicans in the state now believe is nowhere near as conservative as the group once was.

Evidence of that was everywhere Monday. For starters, the panel asking questions featured some moderate Democrats along with some Republicans.

The real indication that maybe the focus of the group is not what it once was came when the questions were asked of the candidates. In a two-hour event, not one question was asked about their views on same-sex marriage, abortion, school prayer or even their views on taxes.

Some candidates, such as Republican Bill Johnson, had to seemingly go out of their way to say they were for traditional marriage and against abortion.

Other candidates, such as Republican Bradley Byrne and Democrat Artur Davis, occasionally referred to the Bible when making points. Former Chief Justice Roy Moore, who was the darling of the group as it existed in 2006 when he ran for the GOP nomination for governor, received at best polite applause but not the kind of thunderous ovations he saw three years ago.

Instead of plenty of questions about abortion, prayer and sin, Monday night's forum was filled with questions about health care, the economy, education and yes, some moral issues. But those took the form of what to do about crowded prisons, the candidates pledging not to play the race card -- Davis is black -- and whether gambling should be made legal and taxed.

The Christian Coalition of Alabama has undergone some confusing changes in recent years.  Back in 2006, then-president John Giles announced that they were breaking from the national Christian Coalition and reforming under the name Christian Action Alabama.  The Christian Coalition of Alabama subsequently tapped Randy Brinson as president and the two organizations then got into a legal battle over assets.

Brinson, who was a key backer of Mike Huckabee's presidential campaign, and his organization also made news last year when they attacked Freedom's Watch over ads it ran in the state because Sheldon Adelson, the man behind the organization, had made his fortune in the gambling industry and the even blasted the National Republican Congressional Committee for ads it ran attacking Democratic Congressional Candidate Parker Griffith, claiming the NRCC ad intentionally misrepresented some of Griffith's statements "to cast aspersions on his character, patriotism and even Christian commitment."

Interestingly, Giles left his new organization shortly after it broke with the Christian Coalition and now the organization appears defunct.  Meanwhile, the Christian Coalition of Alabama has been branching out and taking stances one would never have expected from this sort of group:

The Christian Coalition of Alabama teamed up with a Democratic lawmaker on Tuesday to call for better health care for the state's uninsured.

The event may defy con ventional wisdom about Christian Coalition priorities and partnerships, but it is only the latest example of what the group's leader says is an effort to expand its focus.

"Yes, we're ardently pro-life. Yes, we're ardently for marriage," said Dr. Randy Brinson, chairman of the state Christian Coalition. "But beyond just that, there's other moral failings that are having (an) impact. ... Not enough emphasis is put on that."

One such problem is the number of people who lack medical care because they are uninsured or underinsured, said Brinson, a Montgomery physician and lifelong Republican, during a news conference with state Sen. Linda Coleman, D-Birmingham.

Brinson and Coleman said the rising cost of gas and food exacerbate the plight of the uninsured, forcing them to choose between transportation, sustenance and basic medical care.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Carrie Prejean says losing the Miss USA pageant and later her state crown was part of God's plan.
  • The Hill: An aide to former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas), was indicted Friday on public corruption charges related to the wide-ranging case involving Jack Abramoff.
  • Personhood Colorado announces that it is launching an effort to get its "personhood" amendment back on the ballot after its humiliating defeat last year, saying they are "seeing incremental advances for the personhood rights of the preborn."
  • Gary Dull and his Faith and Freedom Institute announce that they will be conducting a "Patriotic Prayer Rally" at Lafayette Park in Washington, DC tomorrow.
  • Janet Porter and gang will be hosting yet another web conference early next month highlighting the upcoming How To Take Back America Conference.
  • Finally, Roy Moore came in second at the straw poll conducted by the St. Clair County [Alabama] Republican Party after a gubernatorial forum featuring all six Republican candidates seeking the party's nomination next year.

Mike Huckabee's Costly Endorsement

Last month, Mike Huckabee and his HuckPAC endorsed Les Phillip who is running for a seat in Congress representing District 5 in Alabama. Huckabee called him "a true American success story" and "an outstanding Conservative Republican who fully understands the important issues facing his district, his state and his country. His principles are the same as those of Huck PAC and me." As such, Huckabee was "pleased to endorse Les Phillip and urge you to support him and his campaign."

When Huckabee headlined an event for Phillips a short time later, Phillips glowed that it was a "complete success" ... but that was presumably before he realized that it had just cost him tens of thousands of dollars:

One of the most curious fundraising reports of the second quarter came from Republican Les Phillip, who is looking to challenge Rep. Parker Griffith (D-Ala.) in a top national race.

If you've heard of Phillip, it's probably because he welcomed former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee to his district for a fundraiser during the second quarter, and Huckabee endorsed him.

It was an expensive endorsement.

According to his Federal Election Commission report, Phillip raised just $17,000 and spent more than $56,000 during the second quarter.

His disbursements include a $33,990 speaking fee for Huckabee, $600 for photography for the Huckabee event, $438 for a lunch with Huckabee, $6,233 for a stage rental and equipment (presumably for the Huckabee event), and a $2,350 facility rental fee (also presumably for the Huckabee event).

In other words, Phillip spent nearly $45,000 to raise less than $20,000 and took a major financial hit for the Huckabee event.

Perhaps the most painful part is the fact that he was forced to loan his campaign $50,000 in four installments after the event.

The purpose listed? A "Personal Loan from Les Phillip to cover general campaign expenses and Mike Huckabee event expenses."

A Remembrance of CFJ Ads Past

In honor of the Committee for Justice's most recent ad basically accusing Sonia Sotomayor of being a terrorist, I thought I'd dust off the ol' archives and take a look back at the ads CFJ put together during the Bush administration.

Like these newspaper ads they ran accusing Democrats of blocking Bill Pryor for religious reasons:

And the accompanying radio ad:

Why are some in the U.S. Senate playing politics with religion?

As Alabama Attorney General, Bill Pryor regularly upheld the law even when it was at odds with his personal beliefs. Raised a Catholic, those personal beliefs are shared by Rhode Islanders all across the Ocean State.

But some in the U.S. Senate are attacking Bill Pryor for having “deeply held” Catholic beliefs to prevent him from becoming a federal judge. Don’t they know the Constitution expressly prohibits religious tests for public office?

Bill Pryor is a loving father, a devout Catholic, and an elected Attorney General who understands the job of a judge is to uphold the law – not legislate from the bench. It’s time for his political opponents to put his religion aside and give him an up or down vote. It’s the right thing to do.

Thank Senators Chafee and Reed for making sure that the Senate stops playing politics with religion.

Paid for by the Committee for Justice and the Ave Maria List

And who can forget this great ad in support of Miguel Estrada:

America is a monument to the willing, where we can dream and build, despite race creed or color. But there's still intolerance.

President Bush nominated Miguel Estrada to be the first Hispanic ever to serve on the Federal Appeals Court in Washington. But the radical left says he's not liberal enough. For the first time in history they're blocking his nomination with a filibuster.

Call your senators. Tell them it's time for intolerance to end. Anything less is offensive, unfair and not the American way.

Or this one in support of Janice Rogers Brown:

When Janice Rogers Brown, the daughter of a sharecropper, said she'd become an honor student and finish high school, some people said no way.

When Janice went to college and said she'd work her way through law school as a single mother, again they said no way.

Today President Bush wants this highly qualified Judge on the DC Federal Court of Appeals, the second highest court in America, and now John Edwards says no way.

Shame on you, Sen. Edwards.

Support the nomination of Janice Rogers Brown.

So, in summary, the Committee for Justice's positions seems to be:

Bill Pryor - loving father, devout Catholic, terrific judicial nominee.

Miguel Estrada - conservative, Hispanic, epitome of the American dream, terrific judicial nominee.

Janice Rogers Brown - daughter of a sharecropper, honor student, single mother, terrific judicial nominee.

Sonia Sotomayor - terrorist. 

Norquist Giddy About Reed's New Venture

Yesterday in writing about Ralph Reed's triumphant return with his Faith and Freedom Coalition, we noted that his reputation has been badly tarnished by his close ties to imprisoned lobbyist Jack Abramoff. 

One other figure who played a key role in Ambramoff and Reed's business dealings was Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, who often served as a conduit through which Abramoff funneled the money gambling interests ponied up to fund Reed's anti-gambling work among the Religious Right.

As such, it is rather hilarious to see Norquist gushing about Reed's new endeavor:

One veteran conservative leader who's got a pretty good track record himself thinks this is just what the conservative movement needed.

"This is going to be big," said Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist.

It's almost as if Norquist is salivating at the idea of being able to partner with Reed once again in hopes of cashing in, just as he did the last time around:

Reed, who left the Christian Coalition in 1997 to found a political consultancy, said he was counting on Abramoff "to help me with some contacts."

As it turned out, Abramoff needed them too. In 2000 Alabama was considering establishing a state lottery, which would compete with the casino business of the Mississippi band of Choctaws, an Abramoff client. Norquist and Reed were well positioned to help.

"ATR was opposed to a government-run lottery for the same reason we're opposed to government-run steel mills," Norquist told TIME. Reed publicly opposed gambling. It wouldn't do to have casino owners directly funding an antigambling campaign.

So Abramoff arranged for the Choctaws to give ATR $1.15 million in installments. Norquist agreed to pass the money on to the Alabama Christian Coalition and another Alabama antigambling group, both of which Reed was mobilizing for the fight against the lottery. Reed knew the real source of the money was the casino-rich Choctaws. The antigambling groups say they didn't.

On February 7, 2000, Abramoff warned Reed that the initial payment for antilottery radio spots and mailings would be less than Reed thought. "I need to give Grover something for helping, so the first transfer will be a bit lighter," Abramoff wrote.

The transfer was apparently lighter than even Abramoff expected. In a note to himself on February 22, Abramoff wrote, "Grover kept another $25K!"

Norquist says he had permission. He says a Choctaw representative -- he can't remember who -- instructed him on two occasions to keep $25,000 of the money for his group.

If Reed is trying to re-establish himself as a trustworthy player on the Right, it probably doesn’t help to have Norquist gleefully rubbing his hands together in the background.

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."

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Who cares what Charlie Daniels think about hate crimes legislation? WorldNetDaily, that's who.
  • The lawsuit filed by a Regent University law student who was suspended after posting a picture on the Internet of school founder Pat Robertson making what appeared to be an obscene gesture has been tossed out.
  • On May 19, the Christian Coalition of Alabama and Committee for Justice held a joint benefit dinner which featured Ward Connerly. That is just ... well ... a pretty odd mix.
  • This quote for Roy Moore is just what people are looking for in a governor: "I have no problem with obeying my oath to the Constitution and disobeying unlawful orders." Of course, Moore likes to decide for himself what constitutes an unlawful order, which is entirely the problem.
  • The Faith and Freedom Institute will be hosting its very first Faith and Freedom Regional Conference on Monday and Tuesday, June 15-16 at the Hickory Metro Convention Center in Hickory, NC. You remember them, don't you?
  • Finally, I always find it entertaining when the gaming industry responds to the Religious Right's efforts to fight gambling because they just let loose:
  • Focus [on the Family] also lists a number of like-minded organizations that have joined them in attempting to impose their lifestyle choices on others.

    Despite the frequent use of the word family, and Focus' own description of the consortium as "pro-family," the assembled associations are primarily fundamentalist religious groups ... "These close-minded people are only for freedom if it's the freedom to do exactly as they do," says Bradley. "Like free speech, it's not really liberty until you support something you yourself don't choose.

    "They worry about the US becoming a national casino, yet many others worry about it becoming a national church, of a very narrow range of denominations. Still, freedom lovers support their right to choose their religion, as long as they don't impose it on us."

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Despite the fact that the Right is rallying behind his primary opponent, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist holds a comfortable lead.
  • WorldNetDaily reports that, in addition to Sen. Jim DeMint, Sen. Mel Martinez and Sen. Saxby Chambliss have vowed to oppose hate crimes legislation.
  • Roy Moore claims that, in the first eleven days of his gubernatorial campaign, he's raised money from all 67 counties in Alabama and every state in the union.
  • An ally of Ken Hutcherson is running for school board in Washington state.
  • Finally, a group called the Progressive Group for Independent Business is bringing Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh to Canada to raise $1 million for candidates running in the next election.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Ann Coulter: clever and classy as always.
  • Roy Moore is running for Governor of Alabama because "We cannot and will not allow activist judges from California and Massachusetts to push their own immoral opinions on the people of this state."
  • The ACLJ is stepping in to defend those arrested while protesting President Obama's speech at Notre Dame.
  • You know who is really responsible for George Tiller's murder? Kathleen Sebelius.
  • The Florida Supreme Court has rejected Liberty Counsel's request to throw out the Florida Bar's friend-of-the-court brief against the state's ban on gay adoption.
  • I always thought the National Organization for Marriage was dedicated solely to fighting efforts to grant marriage equality.  Apparently not.

Just The Sort of Conservatives The Right Had In Mind

For the last several weeks, Jeremy at Good As You has been keeping a running list of the right-wing groups and figures who have equated homosexuality with pedophilia in opposing marriage equality or hate crimes legislation.

To that list, he can now add William Smith. Who's William Smith, you ask. We'll let David Ingram at the Legal Times blog explain it:

The new chief Republican counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee wrote a blog post last month in which he linked same-sex marriage to pedophilia, according to a Web site that has since been taken down.

William Smith’s post responded to a recent speech by Steve Schmidt, a Republican campaign consultant who advised Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign. Speaking in Washington to the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay rights group, Schmidt had urged Republicans to support same-sex marriage.

“I wonder if next week Schmidt will take his close minded stump speech to a NAMBLA meeting. For those unfamiliar with NAMBLA, the acronym is for North American Man Boy Love Association,” Smith responded on wsmith.org in a post dated April 20.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) announced Smith as chief counsel May 13, after Sessions replaced Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee. Sessions named three other lawyers to top positions as part of a sweep of Specter’s former committee staff.

Smith’s Web site is no longer visible, though Google has kept a “cached,” or archived, version of the site. It was visible earlier this month. The mailing address, e-mail address, and phone number on the Web site’s domain name registration match the address and phone number on Smith’s Alabama bar registration.

...

Smith’s post continued:

Schmidt would quickly tell you that he is not advocating that we support 60 year old men in their desire to rape 8 year old boys, but he would not classify his opposition as narrow minded. No! This is a principled position; there is some logic behind it, Schmidt would say.

Is Schmidt then going to take his close minded stump speech to the Bestiality Club? Again, his answer would be no, although there are a group of people who embrace this lifestyle.

Schmidt and other gay lifestyle proponents would say that my opposition is based on the slippery slope approach. I say that it is based on principle and that it is no more close minded than their position for gay unions. The difference between me and Schmidt is that I’m not a maverick. I’m guided by something called Christian principles. And I don’t need people in California, New York and Washington to tell me what the principles should be.

Not long ago, we noted that Religious Right groups were overjoyed that Sessions had been chosen to serve as ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee because, as Jay Sekulow put it, "he will bring in some conservative staff."

Presumably, Smith was just the sort of conservative they had in mind.

SCOTUS Round-Up

Several related articles today, all pretty much saying the same thing:  even though right-wing groups are doubtful that they’ll actually be able to defeat President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, they are raising lots of money to try and do so anyway and, in doing so, hope to make it an issue in the 2010 elections.

The New York Times:

While conservatives say they know they have little chance of defeating Mr. Obama’s choice because Democrats control the Senate, they say they hope to mount a fight that could help refill depleted coffers and galvanize a movement demoralized by Republican electoral defeats.

“It’s an immense opportunity to build the conservative movement and identify the troops out there,” said Richard A. Viguerie, a conservative fund-raiser. “It’s a massive teaching moment for America. We’ve got the packages written. We’re waiting right now to put a name in.”

Gary Marx, executive director of the conservative Judicial Confirmation Network, said donors, whom he declined to identify, had committed to contributing millions of dollars for television, radio and Internet advertisements that might reunite conservatives in a confirmation battle.

Conservatives face big obstacles, though, in rousing supporters or spurring Republican lawmakers to mount an all-out fight.

The movement is much diminished from four years ago under President George W. Bush, when Supreme Court vacancies last arose and conservatives marshaled their forces to champion his nominees. (Judge Richard Posner, a prominent Reagan appointee, wrote recently that the conservative movement suffers from “intellectual deterioration.”) Republicans have lost control of the White House and Congress, have no clear party leader and have received low approval ratings.

And some leading groups are having budget woes. Focus on the Family, a Colorado-based evangelical group led by the semi-retired James C. Dobson, rallied social conservatives in support of Mr. Bush’s judicial nominees, but it recently cut more than 200 jobs.

The conservative movement is sharing its resources as it prepares for the nomination. The Judicial Action Group, founded in 2006 and based in Alabama, has organized a research network — dubbed the Supreme Court Review Committee — of about 15 “pro-family ministries” and conservative legal groups, said Phillip Jauregui, president of the group.

 

Manuel Miranda, who has led conference calls for conservative groups about judges, said the focus on such issues would present “a great opportunity to really prepare the great debate with a view toward Senate elections in 2010 and the presidency.”

“It isn’t just about the nominee,” he said. “It’s about the fact that the American people gave control of presidency to a Democrat who will appoint a certain type of judge and the Senate that will most likely rubber stamp that choice.”

Bruce Hausknecht, judicial analyst for Focus on the Family’s political arm, said he believed that despite conservatives’ recent political troubles in other arenas, the public still prefers their judicial philosophy.

“This is an issue that if Americans focus on it, it will bring out their conservative side,” he said. “And that could help the political fortunes of conservatives in the future.”

The Washington Times:

Republicans are going on offense to tarnish potential Supreme Court justice hopefuls, attempting to spark an early fight over President Obama's first nomination to the high court.

Wendy Long and Gary Marx of the Judicial Confirmation Network penned a memo for activists on the issue last week, predicting, "The first Obama nominee to the Supreme Court will be hailed by Democrats, liberal interest groups and many in the media as a 'moderate.' No matter how liberal, activist, or extreme she may be."

They said they have crafted a video to "expose the liberal activist records of those who have been named as front-runners to fill Justice [David H.] Souter's seat."

Scott Wheeler, executive director for the National Republican Trust PAC, sent a letter to Republican senators, warning that activists "will hold them accountable" for the nomination process, so they should "keep steadfast and stay true to your Republican conservative values and beliefs."

Mr. Wheeler also went after Mr. Obama's empathy standards, saying that because they "have nothing to do with interpreting the law or the rule of law ... It is up to you and your fellow Republican colleagues to stop such a nomination."

The Washington Independent:

Conservatives, on the other hand, have a number of catch phrases they want to apply to Supreme Court nominees. “We will continue to be using the metaphor of the neutral umpire,” said Marx, echoing the language used by now-Chief Justice John Roberts in his 2005 confirmation hearing. Marx listed two other qualifications a justice should possess: “judicial restraint” and “not legislating from the bench.”

He also pulled out a Biblical reference to make his point. King Solomon, he said, did not need “empathy” or “compassion” to resolve the famous baby case. “Was that compassionate?” he asked rhetorically. “No, it was wisdom.”

Despite their success in determining which terms have come to dominate the debate, conservatives acknowledge that their purpose may not be so much to block the confirmation of a justice as to score political and perhaps fundraising points for future elections.

Marx says that the confirmation debate will have “three huge implications”: it will educate the American people about the issues, help them understand Obama’s true political philosophy and set the stage for the 2010 U.S. Senate campaigns.

According to [Brian Darling of the Heritage Foundtion], the effects of this battle could extend to 2012 as well. “Whoever this nominee’s going to be,” he said, “if the court moves forward on gay marriage or restricts the Second Amendment or goes forward with another change that’s unpopular among the American public… that’s something that will affect the president’s reelection bid.”

Still, the game is likely to change considerably when Obama announces his nominee. “To be honest, I think this is all noise,” Darling conceded. “It will become completely irrelevant when the nominee is put forth.”

Finally, the Right sees signs of hope for its chances of stopping Obama’s SCOTUS nominee in their obstruction of Dawn Johnsen’s confirmation: 

Curt Levey, executive director of the Committee for Justice, says the stalled Johnsen nomination should send President Obama the message that he does not have a free hand to appoint someone "extreme" to the Supreme Court, even when there are 59 or 60 Democrats in the Senate.
 
"Dawn Johnsen was an executive branch appointee to the Department of Justice. They get more deference, not less, from the Senate than judicial nominees," he notes. "So, if he were to appoint somebody anywhere near as extreme as Dawn Johnsen to the Supreme Court, the nominee would very likely not be confirmed by the Senate."
 
A bold but unlikely pick for Obama, according to Levey, would be black Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears, who is a friend of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and is more moderate than the other potential High Court picks whose names have been floated. 

Right Wing Round-Up

  • Steve Benen writes that "elevating Sen. Jeff Sessions (R) of Alabama to be ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee is an unusually bad idea."
  • RH Reality Check interviews Kathryn Joyce, author of "Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement."
  • Pam highlights Peter LaBarbera's inane and offensive opposition to the Uniting American Families Act.
  • Speaking of LaBarbera, Tips-Q catches him predictably coming to the defense of Rep. Virginia Foxx.
  • Good as You notes that the National Organization for Marriage is running their radio ads in Washington, DC with one less-than-subtle change.
  • Finally, allow us to offer our congratulations to Pastor Dan and his family (along with our hopes that he doesn't have swine flu!) 
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