Alabama

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!) 

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Alan Keyes' latest column on WorldNetDaily was, this morning, titled "Steele Republicans: Like Overage Whores." It is now titled "Steele's GOP: Principles Lost."
  • The Susan B. Anthony List cites a recent PEW survey to claim that those in the GOP who blame the party's losses on the social conservatives are wrong.
  • Ministry Values is trying hard to start a new feud between the Catholic League and John Hagee.
  • According to an unreliable poll and an equally unreliable right-wing media outlet, Roy Moore is likely to be the winner of Alabama's 2010 governor's race.
  • The Pro-Life Action League has erected two large billboards located near Notre Dame's campus reading "NOTRE DAME: Obama is pro abortion choice. How dare you honor him."
  • George W. Bush has sent a thank-you note to James Dobson for two binders filled with e-mails from CitizenLink readers.
  • Rep. Doug Lamborn will join James and Shirley Dobson for a news conference next week to help reintroduce a bill that calls for naming the first week of May "Religious History Week."
  • David Brody reports that "President Obama will sign a proclamation on The National Day of Prayer but will not be holding any sort of event."

Tilting At Windmills: The On-Going Crusade Against the DHS

Earlier this week I wrote a post about the fact Janet Porter and a gaggle of other fringe right-wing groups announced that they would be placing an ad in The Washington Times in which they demanded the resignation Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano ever the recent “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment” report.  

I’ve already written too much about this idiotic issue, so I’m not even going to get into it again and will simply note that the ad ran today and highlight the groups sponsoring it:

Current sponsors include: American Family Association, Religious Freedom Coalition, Let Freedom Ring, United States Justice Foundation, Faith2Action, Georgia Christian Alliance, Population Research Institute, Vision America, American Decency Association, Americans for Truth, AFA of Pennsylvania, Center for Security Policy, Coalition for Urban Renewal and Education, Eagle Forum of Alabama, Federal Intercessors, Legacy Church (Albuquerque, NM), Liberty Counsel, Move America Forward, Operation Rescue, Reclaiming Oklahoma for Christ, Take Back Our Country and Traditional Values Coalition.

This coalition is also seeking donations so that they can run the ad in other media outlets and vowing to keep up the fight:

Coalition Chairman Janet Folger Porter (who hosts a nationally syndicated daily talk show and is the president of Faith2Action) observed: "If we don't speak out against this unconscionable attack on law-abiding citizens now, the left will use it to discredit everything we do from this point forward."

The irony here, of course, is that everyone realizes the report itself was entirely uncontroversial and that what is really discrediting the Right is their incessant hyperventilation and victimization over the report.

Note to Porter:  we don’t need a meaningless DHS report to discredit everything you do because you are perfectly capable of doing that all by yourself.

Carrie Prejean: The Anti-Marriage Joe The Plumber

One thing I have never understood about the conservative movement is its knee-jerk willingness to hail any person who happens to gain media exposure while expressing conservative views and immediately turning them into the face of the movement.  

They did it with Joe the Plumber and now they are doing it with Miss California, Carrie Prejean, who stated her opposition to marriage equality when asked about during the Miss USA pageant last week.  Since then, she’s been hailed in just about every right-wing media outlet, including World Magazine, WorldNetDaily, OneNewsNow, and Townhall, praised by the likes of Harry Jackson, Roy Moore, Day Gardner, and Gary Bauer, and recently “hired one of the country's premier Christian PR firms, A. Larry Ross Communications—which represents such evangelical powerhouses as Rick Warren” to deal with all the media requests.

As Politico reported earler this week, Prejean has become the Religious Right’s newest star:

Miss California may have lost her shot at becoming Miss USA after expressing her opposition to same-sex marriage, but she’s nevertheless emerged as a star.

After getting booed by the beauty pageant crowd and berated by one of the contest judges on Sunday, Carrie Prejean is suddenly a conservative sensation, a poster girl for the right who has bloggers, talk show hosts and Republican pols singing her praises.

An Alabama state legislator introduced a House resolution praising her for speaking out against gay marriage. In a press release, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins stated his “admiration and support” for her and lauded “her fortitude in the face of continued baseless personal attacks.”

“There’s a lot of people cheering you tonight that you stood on your principles, that you put the principles above winning,” Fox News talk show host Sean Hannity told Prejean when she appeared on his television program. “Not enough people do that. And I admire you a lot for it.”

...

“I would like to nominate Miss California as the new face of the marriage movement. Much better than mine!” National Organization for Marriage President Maggie Gallagher wrote on National Review’s The Corner.

The praise from Gallagher is especially interesting because, as Good as You noted, earlier this week she was Twittering that she was about to meet Prejean for lunch – a lunch which must have been quite a success because Gallagher’s fantasies about turning Prejean into the face of the anti-gay marriage movement are about to come true:

Miss California, Carrie Prejean, who offered memorable opposition to same-sex marriage and a young, attractive new face for the movement against it, will appear tomorrow at a press conference hosted by the National Organization for Marriage at the National Press Club, according to a press release from the group.

She'll be launching a new ad, the second in what the group says is a $1.5 million campaign.

The ad, the release says, will address:

What happens when a young California beauty pageant contestant is asked "do you support same-sex marriage?" She is attacked viciously for having the courage to speak up for her truth and her values. But Carrie's courage inspired a whole nation and a whole generation of young people because she chose to risk the Miss USA crown rather than be silent about her deepest moral values. "No Offense" calls gay marriage advocates to account for their unwillingness to debate the real issue: gay marriage has consequences.

Roy Moore Plots Another Run for Governor

Generally, when someone loses their job for refusing to follow a federal judge’s order, it is safe to assume that any dreams for a future political career they may have once held are probably shot, especially after attempts to build a political career on the notoriety gained in losing their job has already failed once. 

But Roy Moore has never been particularly predictable and so that is why he seriously contemplating another run for Governor in Alabama:

Alabama’s Ten Commandments judge, Roy Moore, says he’s “very inclined” to make another race for governor next year.

Moore, a Republican, said he plans to announce a decision June 1, which coincides with when candidates can start raising money for the Republican primary in June 2010.

“Right now I’m very inclined to enter. I feel there is a need, and I feel I’m well qualified for the position,” he said in an interview with the Associated Press.

Moore, 62, ran for governor against Republican incumbent Bob Riley in 2006, pulling only 33 percent of the vote in the GOP primary.

In his last effort, Moore was hampered by his refusal to accept any donations from political action committee, and has decided that this time around he will accept them, he says, unless they represent “something that I can’t at all agree with.”  But that seems to be about the only change Moore is planning on making as he seems to think that his failed 2006 platform is just fine and will be the key to victory this time around:

Moore still has copies of his 2006 campaign brochure in his Montgomery office and he says the issues he talked about then are still pertinent for 2010: stopping legislators from holding two state jobs, limiting legislators to three consecutive terms in the same office, ending annual property tax reappraisals and opposing gambling and same-sex marriages.

“The issues don’t change that much,” Moore said.

Liberty Counsel: Protecting Christian Children From Their Lesbian Mothers

Jeremy highlights this absurd article from WorldNetDaily about "a lesbian [who] is demanding custody of a Christian woman's daughter in a case that could strong-arm Florida into recognizing out-of-state adoptions by same-sex couples" and does a good job of tearing it apart by noting that the women in question were registered as domestic partners in Washington and that the non-birth mother adopted the child and was listed her as a second parent.

The women eventually moved to Florida and split up, and the birth mother "left her homosexual lifestyle, became a Christian and is engaged to marry a man" and is therefore no longer willing to to grant her former partner visitation rights to their daughter.

The adoptive mother is understandably suing and, predictably, the Liberty Counsel is representing the other mother and claiming the "state of Washington cannot rewrite Florida adoption law and commandeer the state to enforce its contrary policy."

The Liberty Counsel seems to have become the organization of choice for mothers who find Christianity and then wish to deny their former partners access to their children.  LC represented Lisa Miller in her fight against Janet Jenkins and today announced that it was representing yet another mother in a similar situation:

N.B. is the biological mother of a nine-year-old girl. At the time of her daughter’s birth, she was in a same-sex relationship in California. Well after the relationship ended, the former partner sued, and a California court declared her a “de facto” parent, granting A.K. visitation rights.

In the meantime, N.B. moved to Alabama with the child and eventually married a man. She filed a parentage action at the Alabama trial court, which ruled that A.K. had no parental rights cognizable in Alabama. A.K. then challenged the jurisdiction of the court to hear the parentage action. The Alabama Court of Appeals agreed with A.K., concluding that Alabama lacked jurisdiction to entertain the parentage action and thus reinstating A.K.’s parental rights. The Court of Appeals denied a petition for rehearing. Liberty Counsel was then retained to represent N.B. and filed the petition for certiorari to the Alabama Supreme Court to reverse the appellate court’s ruling, which was just granted this week.

LC's Mat Staver declares that it is important to fight to deny gay parents right to see their children because those who are pressing the "same-sex marriage agenda are trying to use the back door to accomplish what they cannot through the front door. You cannot do an end run around a state’s marriage policy when that policy clearly affirms marriage between one man and one woman.”

But apparently, what you can do is find Christ and flee to a different state with your child in order to deny your former partner and said child's parent access and then contact the Liberty Counsel, which will come rushing to your defense in the name of protecting the sanctity of marriage and the well-being of families.

Disgraceful.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • WorldNetDaily reports that, at least according to one poll, Roy Moore holds a big lead to become the next governor of Alabama. Of course, it is also WND, so you can't really put too much faith in it.
  • Concerned Women for America comes out hard against the prospect that Kathleen Sebelius might be named the next Secretary of Health and Human Services.
  • Janet Porter warns that passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination act will put an end "to our freedoms and put Christian and pro-family business owners out of business."
  • The Family Research Council bad-mouths a new report from the Guttmacher Institute that says that every dollar spent on family planning saves taxpayers $4 in costs associated with unintended births, while the Pro-Life Action League says the report "smacks of racism."
  • Of the places one would least expect to find a Democratic student group popping up, Pat Robertson's Regent University probably tops the list. But no longer.
  • David Brody posts a lengthy excerpt from an article Bobby Jindal wrote back in 1994 about participating in an exorcism and Jim Geraghty over at "The National Review" is not pleased that Brody is dredging it up at this time.
  • Finally, Gordon Klingenschmitt is angry with the Virginia Senate for killing "a pro-faith bill ... which would have restored the rights of Virginia State Police Chaplains to pray publicly 'in Jesus name.'" We happen to think Michael Shochet had a much more reasonable response:
  • Michael Shochet, cantor of temple Rodef Shalom in Falls Church and a volunteer chaplain coordinator for the Fairfax County Police Department, said he and other chaplains must recognize the difference between ministering to their congregations and being pastoral counselors for people of all faiths.

    "When I don my police uniform, I am no longer representing my congregation as a Jewish clergy," he said. "Instead, I am representing the government, and therefore the public is my congregation."

Two Right-Wingers Mulling Governor Bids

According to news reports, both Club for Growth President Pat Toomey and disgraced “Ten Commandments Judge” Roy Moore are signaling that they might run for Governor of their respective states of Pennsylvania and Alabama.

From the Morning Call:

Former Lehigh Valley Congressman Pat Toomey has begun formally exploring a run for governor, setting up a meeting with area GOP donors as he assesses his potential candidacy in 2010.

Toomey, president of the anti-tax group The Club for Growth, is scheduled to sit down with several influential and deep-pocketed Lehigh Valley Republicans in early February to “discuss his thinking of a possible gubernatorial run,” according to an e-mail invitation sent out Friday on behalf of Arcadia Properties founder Richard Thulin.

He has also put calls out statewide to supporters this week with the aim of raising $50,000 to do some preliminary polling, said a GOP source who was briefed on his plans this week.

Toomey, in a statement released today, said he has had “several preliminary conversations with supporters of mine regarding a possible run for governor in 2010.”

“Given the state of Pennsylvania’s economy and the disastrous state budget deficits we face, there certainly is a need for major changes in Harrisburg,” Toomey said. “It is still very early in my exploration of a possible run but it is something I will consider.”

From the AP:

Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore says he is seriously considering making another race for governor in 2010.

Moore has been running a legal organization, the Foundation for Moral Law, since losing the Republican primary to incumbent Gov. Bob Riley in 2006. But in recent weeks, a growing number of supporters has been calling and visiting Moore, encouraging him to run again.

Moore says that if he runs, it will be as a Republican. He expects to make a decision in the spring.

It’s Only Discrimination if Skulls Are Cracked

Mike Huckabee has been on quite a roll lately.  While he’s out hawking his latest book, he’s also been weighing in on the issue of Prop. 8’s passage in California.  

Yesterday, he told “The View” that gays haven’t really been seeing their rights violated because they haven’t been getting the skulls cracked:

HUCKABEE: It’s a different set of rights. People who are homosexuals should have every right in terms of their civil rights, to be employed, to do anything they want. But that’s not really the issue. I know you talked about it and I think you got into it a little bit early on. But when we’re talking about a redefinition of an institution, that’s different than individual civil rights.

BEHAR: Well, segregation was an institution, too, in a way. It was right there on the books.

HUCKABEE: But here is the difference. Bull Connor was hosing people down in the streets of Alabama. John Lewis got his skull cracked on the Selma bridge.

And today he told Bill Bennett that Prop. 8 didn’t actually take away anyone’s rights at all:

HUCKABEE: The very people who voted for Barack Obama in California…also voted to sustain traditional marriage. I refuse to use the term, “ban same-sex marriage.” That’s not what those efforts did. They affirmed what is. They did not prohibit something. They simply affirmed something that which has and forever has existed.

Of course, as Think Progress pointed out, that is exactly what Prop. 8 did – it was right there in the description of the amendment: “Changes the California Constitution to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry in California.”

Alabama Christian Coalition Takes on NRCC

We've written before about the odd fight underway in Alabama between the Alabama Christian Coalition and outside groups supporting Republican candidates for Congress.

Back in September, we noted that ALCC president Randy Brinson had attacked Freedom's Watch over ads its was running in the state because Sheldon Adelson, the man behind the organization, had made his fortune in the gambling industry.

Now Brinson and his organization are going after the National Republican Congressional Committee over this ad attacking Democratic Congressional Candidate Parker Griffith:

The Huntsville Times explains that Brinson is now coming to Griffith's defense

Griffith, now a state senator, has maintained since the audio was aired by the committee that his words were taken out of context and that he was speaking from a "spiritual" standpoint, and not about national security ... Randy Brinson, a Montgomery physician and chair of the Christian Coalition of Alabama, said Monday that the commercial intentionally misrepresented Griffith's statements "to cast aspersions on his character, patriotism and even Christian commitment."

"In response to the original questions about Griffith's comments, the Alabama Christian Coalition conducted an interview with Parker Griffith to probe more deeply what he said and meant," Brinson said in a prepared statement. "After speaking to him, we felt that his original statement and explanation were well-rooted in scripture and demonstrated a true love of country and trust in our Lord."

Brinson said the coalition's admonition of the television commercial should not be seen as an endorsement of Griffith but as an encouragement to Parker - and the committee - to campaign differently.

"Actually, I'm a very staunch Republican," Brinson said in a Monday telephone interview. "I just didn't think (Parker's campaign) should take something out of context. You need to win on the issues. That's a much better approach."

It's not every day that you see local right-wing groups blasting the Republican Party for unfairly attacking Democrats; nor do you often see the Republican Party start questioning the motives of those who represent its base:

Alabama Republican Party communications director Philip Bryan said the coalition wasn't giving equal time to both candidates ... "It is also interesting that the Alabama Christian Coalition is adamantly defending and campaigning for Parker Griffith in this race, considering that he is being funded by groups such as the DCCC (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) - as many of this organization's members support abortion on-demand and gay marriage," Bryan said.

Don't Sue Me, Sue God

Somehow we missed this story a few months back about Central Alabama Pride suing Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford for discriminating against the group when he refused to allow city workers to hang Gay Pride Week banners.

For his part, Langford had a rather novel church-state defense:

Langford on Wednesday reiterated his position against signing a proclamation for the event because he said it is inappropriate for a government to endorse a lifestyle that God opposes.

"The bottom line is I don't condone the lifestyle and what they were asking me to do in my official capacity as mayor was to issue a proclamation which in essence endorsed the gay lifestyle," Langford said. "If I had issued such a proclamation, I would in essence be saying that God's position is wrong and I wouldn't dare take a position against God. So as opposed to suing me, they need to be suing God, and the last time I checked, he can defend himself. End of story."

Apparently, in Langford's view, the role of government is to please God and the determination of what is pleasing to God is made entirely by whether Langford personally approves of the the issue at hand. 

Presumably, Langford realized that that sort of defense wasn't going to stand up well in federal court, which is why he's now getting legal representation from Jerry Falwell's Liberty Counsel:

Stephen M. Crampton, a lawyer with Liberty Counsel, has filed notice that he will appear as an attorney of record for Langford. The Liberty Council is a nonprofit legal organization with ties to a fundamentalist Baptist University in Virginia.

TV Ad Drags Right-Wing Rift into the Open

The Religious Right conservatives and the Big Money conservatives usually stick closely to their own turf. Even within the right wing fraternity, good fences make good neighbors. But lately in Alabama, all bets are off (so to speak).

The state chapter of the Christian Coalition, which has split from the national group and calls itself Christian Action Alabama, has been sparring with Freedom’s Watch, a right-wing group funded by casino magnate Sheldon Adelson which has been spending big in the state. The reason is simple: gambling.

Political observers wondered how long the dispute could simmer before bursting into plain view of voters. The DCCC just answered that question with its new ad in the race for Alabama’s 2nd congressional district:

More on Gambling and the Religious Right

Just a few hours ago I wrote about the DNC efforts to highlight John McCain's ties to the gambling industry and target that message at Religious Right voters who vehemently oppose gambling and consider it a sin. 

Now, on a related note, Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post has a piece up about Freedom's Watch, noting that "in the past 10 days, [it] has dropped more than $1.6 million on ads in six House races and two Senate contests" as part of its effort to help Republican candidates. The man behind the organization is Sheldon Adelson, the third richest man in America who just so happened to make his fortune as a Las Vegas casino mogul and, as Cillizza reports, the Religious Right is not happy about his efforts:

Democrats have sought to make Adelson an issue in their response to Freedom's Watch's activities and, in Alabama's 2nd district, got a boost from the state Christian Coalition today.

"Sheldon Adelson does not share our values as Alabamans, and Freedom's Watch's underhanded attack ads do nothing but cheapen the political discourse in this state," said Dr. Randy Brinson, president of the Alabama Christian Coalition. "Where Adelson has placed his treasure makes it quite clear where his heart is: in gambling and in backing the regime in China that persecutes Christians."

For the record, The Christian Coalition of Alabama broke with the national Christian Coalition last year and now goes by the name Christian Action Alabama. But before the name change, they were the ones who were duped into accepting gambling funds by Ralph Reed as mentioned in the previous post.  

According to the recent New York Times article on McCain's ties to the industry, there were concerns that his gambling forays might create the appearance of impropriety and alienate the base, which McCain dismissed:

For much of his adult life, Mr. McCain has gambled as often as once a month, friends and associates said, traveling to Las Vegas for weekend betting marathons. Former senior campaign officials said they worried about Mr. McCain’s patronage of casinos, given the power he wields over the industry. The officials, like others interviewed for this article, spoke on condition of anonymity.

“We were always concerned about appearances,” one former official said. “If you go around saying that appearances matter, then they matter.”

The former official said he would tell Mr. McCain: “Do we really have to go to a casino? I don’t think it’s a good idea. The base doesn’t like it. It doesn’t look good. And good things don’t happen in casinos at midnight.”

“You worry too much,” Mr. McCain would respond, the official said.

Considering that the Religious Right is willing to publicly blast Adleson's political efforts because of the source of his wealth, it seems that it might have been prudent of McCain to have paid a little more attention to the concerns of the base on this issue.

DNC Wedges McCain on Gambling

It is well-known that one of the things that stopped right-wing wunderkind Ralph Reed's political hopes dead in their tracks was his ties to corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff and it was Reed's work with Abramoff in protecting gambling interests that was particularly harmful to his relationship with the Religious Right, especially since Reed had ended up corrupting them in the process:

In 1999, Abramoff subcontracted Reed’s firm to generate opposition to attempts to legalize a state-sponsored lottery and video poker in Alabama, an effort that was bankrolled by the Choctaw Tribe in order to eliminate competition to its own casino in neighboring Mississippi. Reed promised that Century Strategies was “opening the bomb bays and holding nothing back” and his firm ultimately received $1.3 million from the Choctaws for this effort, which included engaging the Alabama chapter of the Christian Coalition, as well as influential right-wing figures such as James Dobson, to work to defeat the proposals.

The strategy had one small problem: the Alabama Christian Coalition had an explicit policy that it “will not be the recipient of any funds direct or in-direct or any in-kind direct or indirect from gambling interests.” (Emphasis in original.) Knowing this, Reed and Abramoff worked to hide the source of the $850,000 paid to the Christian Coalition for its anti-gambling efforts by funneling money from the Choctaws through Americans for Tax Reform, a Washington, DC anti-tax organization headed by their old College Republican friend Grover Norquist. When asked why the tribe’s money had to be funneled through conduits such as ATR, a Choctaw representative stated it was because Reed did not want it known that casino money was funding his operation: “It was our understanding that the structure was recommended by Jack Abramoff to accommodate Mr. Reed’s political concerns.”

Now it looks like the Democratic National Committee is trying to do the same to John McCain by seizing on this recent article regarding McCain's affinity for gambling and his ties to the gambling industry and its lobbyists:

Mr. McCain portrays himself as a Washington maverick unswayed by special interests, referring recently to lobbyists as “birds of prey.” Yet in his current campaign, more than 40 fund-raisers and top advisers have lobbied or worked for an array of gambling interests — including tribal and Las Vegas casinos, lottery companies and online poker purveyors.

The DNC has even produced a web ad highlighting the connection and, in what is certainly not a coincidence, released it exclusively to the Christian Broadcasting Network's David Brody:

The Brody File has learned that the Democratic National Committee is now going after John McCain and what they believe are his questionable ties to gambling lobbyists. The web ad begins Monday but later this week they will start putting the ad up on political, conservative and yes get this….religious websites.

Given the Religious Right's long-held and deep-seated opposition to gambling, these revelations probably aren't going to make McCain's efforts to win its support any easier. 
 

Gary Bauer's Million Dollar PAC

In this CQ article about how much members of Congress raised for their respective PAC in August is this odd little nugget:

With little time left before the Nov. 4 election, lawmakers whose PACs had the largest amounts of cash on hand include Alabama Republican Sen. Richard C. Shelby with more than $2.3 million; Gary Bauer, a social conservative activist who bid for the 2000 Republican presidential nomination, with $1.6 million; and House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer , a Maryland Democrat, with $1.4 million.

When the Family Research Council announced its own PAC a little over a week ago, they budgeted $250,000 - and they are among the biggest, most influential right-wing groups in the nation.  So how has Bauer, who heads the relatively unknown American Values and hasn't run for office in eight years, managed to pull in more than five times that amount for his PAC

McCain Refuses to Cancel Reed Fundraiser

Take a stroll around John McCain’s website and you’ll see that he is no fan of corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff.  In fact, he seems to view him as a symbol of what is wrong with Washington DC and himself as the one man who can fix it:

I led the Abramoff investigation. I can bring about the necessary changes. Are we going to hand off to the next generation these problems? Of course we shouldn't. Have to regain the trust that dollars they send to Washington are being wisely and carefully spent. I know these people (in Congress) well and I know how to reach across the aisle to solve these problems.

McCain says he gets angry when “I uncover a guy like Abramoff ripping off Indian tribes” and when, just last week, his campaign unveiled its “Broken” ad, it cited McCain’s role in leading “the Congressional investigation into Jack Abramoff” as proof of the ad’s assertion that he “fought corruption in both parties.”

Yet, despite his pose as a crusading maverick, McCain has committed himself to attending a fundraiser with Ralph Reed, one of Abramoff’s closest friends and associates who was repeatedly and directly implicated in the very investigation that took down Abramoff:

Republican presidential candidate John McCain so far is ignoring calls from several watchdog groups to cancel an Atlanta fundraiser promoted by Ralph Reed, a longtime friend and business partner of imprisoned lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Reed lost his 2006 campaign for Georgia lieutenant governor in large part because of details about his relationship with Abramoff — much of the information uncovered by McCain’s Indian Affairs Committee investigation into the wide-ranging lobbying corruption scandal.

The Senate probe discovered $4 million in payments Reed accepted to run a bogus anti-casino campaign aimed at reducing gambling competition. An Indian tribe with a competing casino made payments to Reed, which according to the Senate investigation’s final report, were “passed through” Abramoff’s firm, Preston, Gates, Ellis & Rouvelas Meeds, and another organization, Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform.

In our report on Reed written back in 2006, we explained just how deeply involved he was in Abramoff’s shady dealings:     

In 1999, Abramoff subcontracted Reed’s firm to generate opposition to attempts to legalize a state-sponsored lottery and video poker in Alabama, an effort that was bankrolled by the Choctaw Tribe in order to eliminate competition to its own casino in neighboring Mississippi.   Reed promised that Century Strategies was “opening the bomb bays and holding nothing back” and his firm ultimately received $1.3 million from the Choctaws for this effort, which included engaging the Alabama chapter of the Christian Coalition, as well as influential right-wing figures such as James Dobson, to work to defeat the proposals. 

The strategy had one small problem: the Alabama Christian Coalition had an explicit policy that it “will not be the recipient of any funds direct or in-direct or any in-kind direct or indirect from gambling interests.” (Emphasis in original.) Knowing this, Reed and Abramoff worked to hide the source of the $850,000 paid to the Christian Coalition for its anti-gambling efforts by funneling money from the Choctaws through Americans for Tax Reform, a Washington, DC anti-tax organization headed by their old College Republican friend Grover Norquist.  When asked why the tribe’s money had to be funneled through conduits such as ATR, a Choctaw representative stated it was because Reed did not want it known that casino money was funding his operation: “It was our understanding that the structure was recommended by Jack Abramoff to accommodate Mr. Reed’s political concerns.”

Perhaps the most audacious of all of Abramoff’s efforts on which Reed worked was the successful attempt on behalf of the Coushatta Tribe to shut down a rival casino in Texas.  After doing so, Abramoff then sold his lobbying services for $4 million to the same Texas tribe – the Tiguas - vowing to reopen the very casino he had just managed to shut down.

Reed was instrumental in the initial effort, building public support for then-Texas Attorney General, now a US Senator, John Cornyn’s drive to close the casino.  Reed organized a group of Texas pastors to “provide cover” for Cornyn’s effort to shutter the casino, at one point pledging to send “50 pastors to give him moral support” when it appeared as if Cornyn was going to be confronted by protestors.

Reed also developed close ties with sources in Cornyn’s office who kept him informed on developments, which he shared with Abramoff.  When Reed found out from Cornyn’s office that a court decision shutting down the casino was expected soon, he emailed Abramoff.  Thinking ahead, Abramoff was already preparing to fly to Texas to meet with the tribe whose casino was about to be closed thanks, in large part, to his handiwork.  In an email he sent to Reed just before his trip, he wrote “I wish those moronic Tiguas were smarter in their political contributions. I’d love to get my hands on that moolah!! Oh well, stupid folks get wiped out.”

Just days after the Tigua’s casino was closed, Abramoff met with them and offered to work to reopen the casino at no charge, though Scanlon’s PR work was going to cost them more than $4 million.  Abramoff declared himself outraged by the “gross indignity perpetuated by the Texas state authorities” – an “indignity” that he had helped orchestrate and for which he had been well paid.

Of the four men identified in this photo, all were implicated in Abramoff's corruption and three received prison sentences – McCain is attending a fundraiser with the fourth:

AbramoffReedII.JPG

Ralph Reed: Jack of All Trades

If you are Fox News and looking to do a segment related to the Olympics on the issue of China and religion, who better to invite on than a noted expert on the subject … maybe someone like Ralph Reed:

Well, China has always been something of a paradox and a riddle for Americans. I mean, it's an officially communist country that is increasingly embracing capitalism and free enterprise. It is, as you said, an officially atheist country that has arguably one of the most robust churches anywhere in the world. You mentioned the figure of 70 million Christians in China. Some figures go as high as 130 million.

And I think what we're really seeing, Heather, and the Olympics are really putting a spotlight on it, you cannot put the genie back in the bottle once you allow some measure of any kind of liberty. And when you allow cultural exchanges and we have hundreds of thousands of Chinese students who have come here, and then gone back home, there's an exchange of ideas. There's an exchange of Democratic values. The Internet is exploding, and Christianity is part of that flowering of liberty that I don't think the communist government is going to be able to snuff out.

In fairness, it is not as if Reed is completely unqualified to discuss the issue of Christianity and China – after all, he did once shill for Jack Abramoff in his efforts to fend off regulation of the Northern Marianas Islands by citing the fact that the Chinese slave laborers working there were “exposed to the teachings of Jesus Christ”: 

The promise of eternal salvation for Chinese peasants proved to be a useful tool for Reed. In 1999, Abramoff hired him to help lobby on behalf of the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. commonwealth that is exempt from federal wage and labor laws, a loophole that allows garmentmakers to stitch MADE IN THE U.S.A. into their products without having to follow any U.S. rules. It’s also a hellhole for migrant workers: sweatshop labor, sex slavery, forced abortions for imported peasants. None of that was a secret: By the time Reed signed on as Abramoff’s subcontractor, there’d been years of studies and media reports documenting the conditions.

But in August 1999, Reed’s direct-mail subsidiary sent a pamphlet to conservative Alabama Christians urging them to call a Republican congressman and thank him for opposing the imposition of federal rules on the Northern Marianas. The mailer, sent under the auspices of the Traditional Values Coalition, claimed that “the radical left, the Big Labor Union Bosses, and Bill Clinton want to pass a law preventing Chinese from coming to work on the Marianas islands” and that they “have spread vicious lies about this U.S. territory to silence the gospel.” The pamphlet’s grotesque logic: Many of those sweatshop seamstresses and bullied prostitutes “are exposed to the teachings of Jesus Christ…are converted to the Christian faith and return to China with Bibles in hand, ready to spread the gospel and start home churches.”

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