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Right Wing Round-Up

The Rise of Al Mohler: From D. James Kennedy to Seminary President

Christianity Today has a long profile of Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, that focuses largely on theological battles within the denomination, but also contains some interesting information ... like the fact that at the age of 15, he was taken under the wing of D. James Kennedy:

At age 15, R. Albert Mohler Jr. had a crisis of faith. Two years earlier, his family had moved from the conservative idyll of Lakeland, Florida, to the other end of the world: Pompano Beach, 200 miles south ... In Pompano Beach, torn from everything he knew, Mohler found himself in class sitting next to the children of rabbis and Roman Catholics, the high-school honors curriculum stirring in his mind the biggest questions of existence.

The curious teen's youth pastor offered the diversions of his megachurch's bowling alley and gymnasium, but had no answers to his questions. He took the boy to meet the minister of a fast-growing congregation down the highway in Fort Lauderdale: Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. D. James Kennedy listened to Mohler and knew just the antidote to his anxieties. Francis Schaeffer's He is Not Silent "had an absolutely determinative impact on my life as a young teenager," Mohler says. "Not that I understood everything that Schaeffer was saying, but it came with incredible assurance that there were legitimate Christian answers to these questions." Schaeffer became a hero; Kennedy, a lifelong mentor. At 15, Mohler was already a friend of culture warriors and a citizen of the wider evangelical world—yet still a born-and-bred member of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBC), where the culture wars seemed remote and evangelical was a "Yankee word."

The article also explains how, in the early 1990s, Mohler became head of the SBC as conservatives were solidifying their control after the bruising battles of the 1980s. At the time, some were hopeful that Mohler would be a moderating influence because "in 1984 lent his signature to a full-page ad in the Louisville Courier-Journal protesting the SBC's recent resolution condemning female ordination" ... but they were quickly disappointed, as Mohler had become heavily influenced by "presuppositionalism" and set about purging the moderates from the faculty: 

Presuppositionalism is a system of thought that boils down to the slogans advocated by that other prominent presuppositionalist, Francis Schaeffer: There is no such thing as neutrality. Every worldview is predicated on certain founding assumptions, and those of Christianity are incompatible with those undergirding the secular humanist worldview. Studying Barth's effort to mediate between the presuppositions of Christianity and those of secular modernity hardened Mohler's conviction that "mediating between modernity and Christian orthodoxy doesn't work."

After graduation, Mohler's stint covering SBC news at the Christian Index convinced him that the battle between conservatives and moderates was not a matter of politics or personalities but of presuppositions. He saw that "these are two fundamentally different understandings of the Baptist faith, Baptist identity, and the future of the SBC," he says. When he took office at Southern Seminary in 1993, compromise and accommodation were not strategies he had in mind.

Within three years of Mohler's inauguration, Southern Seminary's faculty and administration had turned over almost completely. He asserted control over the seminary's hiring and tenure processes, insisting that even inerrantist evangelicals hired as compromise candidates were unacceptable if they supported women's ordination. "It was like John Grisham's The Firm," says Carey Newman, director of Baylor University Press, who joined Southern's faculty in 1993 but left after five tense years. "Al recruited young lieutenants, students who were spies in the classes who would report back to him what was being said in every classroom."

The seminary's Abstract of Principles did not address women's ordination, but Mohler and the trustees believed that faculty should conform to what they considered the prevailing sentiment among Southern Baptist laypeople. Through a combination of forced resignations and "golden parachute" retirement packages, Mohler purged the School of Theology, closed the School of Social Work, and replaced moderates with inerrantist faculty who agreed with him on abortion, homosexuality, women's ordination, and his brand of Reformed theology.

Of course, this sort of hard-line stance doesn't come as much of a surprise given that Mohler is equally opposed to Christians who practice yoga or associate with Mormons.

Right Wing Watch In Focus: "Rogues' Gallery"

Today, People For the American Way released out latest Right Wing Watch In Focus report examining the slate of extremist GOP Senate candidates running for office this year.

Entitled "The Rogues' Gallery: Right-Wing Candidates Have A Dangerous Agenda for America and Could Turn the Senate," the report examines the radical agendas and views held by Joe Miller, Carly Fiorina, Ken Buck, Christine O'Donnell, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Roy Blunt, Sharron Angle, Kelly Ayotte, Richard Burr, Rob Portman, Pat Toomey, Mike Lee, Ron Johnson, and Dino Rossi, plus the role that Sen. Jim DeMint has played in dragging the GOP further and further to the right.

Here is the introduction:

Republicans in the U.S. Senate have already broken all records for unprincipled partisan obstructionism, preventing the administration from putting people into key positions in the executive branch, blocking judicial confirmations, and delaying and preventing Congress from dealing with important issues facing the nation, from financial reform to immigration. Now a bumper crop of far-right GOP candidates threatens to turn the "deliberative body"into a haven for extremists who view much of the federal government as unconstitutional and who are itching to shut it down.

Fueled by the unlimited deep pockets of billionaire anti-government ideologues, various Tea Party and corporate-interest groups have poured money into primary elections this year. They and conservative voters angry about the actions of the Obama administration have replaced even very conservative senators and candidates backed by the national Republican establishment with others who embrace a range of radically right-wing views on the Constitution, the role of government, the protection of individual freedoms, and the separation of church and state.

Recently, Religious Right leaders have been grousing that Republican candidates arent talking enough about abortion and same-sex marriage. But this report indicates that anti-gay and anti-choice activists have little to worry about, as the right-wing candidates profiled here share those anti-freedom positions even if theyre talking more about shutting down federal agencies, privatizing Social Security, and eliminating most of the taxes paid by the wealthiest Americans. A number of these candidates oppose legal abortion even in cases of rape or incest.

Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina is helping to lead the charge with his Senate Conservatives Fund. DeMint, an absolute favorite of both the Tea Party and Religious Right political movements for his uncompromising extremism on both economic and social issues, is at the far right fringe of the Republican Party and has committed himself to helping elect more like-minded colleagues. Sarah Palin, also popular among both Tea Party and Religious Right activists, has also injected her high-profile name, busy Twitter fingers, and PAC cash into numerous Senate races.

Among the right-wing insurgents who defeated candidates backed by national party leadership are Christine ODonnell of Delaware, Joe Miller of Alaska, Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Sharron Angle of Nevada, Ken Buck of Colorado, and Mike Lee of Utah. Others, like Carly Fiorina of California, came through crowded primaries where right-wing leaders split their endorsements, but have now coalesced around her candidacy.

And thanks to the conservative Supreme Courts ruling in the Citizens United case, which said corporations have the same rights as citizens to make independent expenditures in elections, right-wing candidates across the board will be benefitting from a massive infusion of corporate money designed to elect candidates who will oppose governmental efforts to hold them accountable, for example environmental protections and government regulation of the financial industry practices that led the nation into a deep recession.

This In Focus provides an introduction to a select group of right-wing candidates who hope to ride a wave of toxic Tea Party anger into the U.S. Senate. The potential impact of a Senate with even half of these DeMint-Palin acolytes would be devastating to the Senates ability to function and the federal governments ability to protect the safety and well-being of American citizens.

Be sure to read the whole thing.

2010 Right Wing Candidates Weekly Update 9/29

Your update on the right-wing candidates running for US Senate for 9/22-9/29.

Sharron Angle

Government: Angle and her husband are both covered by government health care plans (Alternet, 9/28).

Health Care: Criticized for mocking “Autism” coverage (The Plum Line, 9/27).

Fundraising: Comedian Dennis Miller to raise money for Angle (LVRJ, 9/28).

House: Angle’s unpopularity may hurt Nevada’s GOP House candidates (The Hill, 9/28).

Poll: One poll shows Reid leading Angle by 5%, other finds a tie (Las Vegas Sun 9/25, LVRJ 9/28).

Ken Buck

Poll: DSCC poll shows Buck trailing Bennet by 2% (Politico, 9/29).

GOP: Senators McConnell and Cornyn host fundraiser for Buck (AP, 9/28).

Right-wing: Tries to portray himself as more moderate after primary (RCP, 9/24).

Carly Fiorina

Corporate: Rightwing Koch brothers take interest in Fiorina’s campaign (LA Times, 9/25).

Outside groups: Chamber of Commerce and FreedomWorks to bolster Fiorina (LA Times, 9/28).

Poll: Trails Boxer by 8% in new poll of California voters (San Jose Mercury News, 9/25).

Ad: New ad labels Boxer as “arrogant” (The Atlantic, 9/23).

Joe Miller

Government: Expresses support for increased spending for public health and education in 2004 survey (KTUU, 9/24).

Controversy: Classified himself as “low-income” on hunting license application (Anchorage Daily News, 9/27).

Outside groups: Tea Party Express to help Miller against McAdams, Murkowski (Daily News-Miner, 9/28).

Christine O’Donnell

Finances: CREW looks into O’Donnell’s poor financial record (News Journal, 9/29).

Science: Declares evolution “a myth” on Politically Incorrect (Huffington Post, 9/25).

Controversy: Falsely claims she attended Claremont McKenna and Oxford for graduate school (Mediaite, 9/29).

GOP: Shames Republican leadership for not supporting complete repeal of Health Care Reform (ABC News, 9/28).

Rand Paul

Ad: Blasted for supporting $2,000 Medicare deductible (Herald Leader, 9/29).

Right-wing: Member of ultraconservative medical group (Courier Journal, 9/24).

Poll: Leads Conway by just 2% in latest poll of Kentucky voters (TPMDC, 9/27).

Economy: Speaks out against raising taxes on wealthy (Huffington Post, 9/27).

Dino Rossi

Controversy: BIAW fined for illegally supporting Rossi’s gubernatorial campaign (Seattle PI, 9/24).

Ad: CommonsenseTen hits Rossi on housing crisis (Politico, 9/24).

Marco Rubio

Controversy: Releases Spanish-language ad despite support for English-only policies (Florida Independent, 9/29).

Social Security: Reverses himself on Social Security privatization (St. Petersburg Times, 9/28).

Finances: New questions about Rubio’s expenses flare (Orlando Sentinel, 9/24).

Pat Toomey

Poll: Toomey holds slight lead, but one-third of Pennsylvania voters still undecided (WPVI, 9/29).

GOP: Distances himself from spending under Bush Administration (AP, 9/27).

Right-wing: Columnist examines Toomey’s far-right beliefs while leading Club for Growth (Inquirer, 9/26).

Right Wing Hypocrites Outraged By New Grayson Ad

Rep. Alan Grayson released a new ad in which he called his Republican opponent "Taliban Dan Webster":

And so, of course, the Religious Right is outraged:

“Alan Grayson is an embarrassment to the citizens of Florida,” said Gary Bauer, chairman of the Campaign for Working Families which has backed Webster. “While the voters of his district lose their jobs and their homes he conducts a campaign of smears and hatred against anyone who challenges the tax raising, big government policies that he has voted for. November 2 can’t come quickly enough.”

“The Grayson ads are despicable and reach a new low which reflect the character of the man who approved them,“ said John Stemberger, president of Florida Family Action. “Christians everywhere ought to be outraged at Grayson and his bigoted claims.”

Can I just point out that Stemberger is being sued for $10 million by the attorney for Rifqa Bary's parents for repeatedly accusing him of having ties to terrorists and that the Florida Bar Association is preparing to file a misconduct complaint against him?

Can I also point out that just a few weeks ago, Gary Bauer explicitly compared progressives to Islamic terrorists?

Progressives and Islamists are indeed on the same side. Their common disdain for Christianity explains why left-wing judges in America find any inkling of Christianity in the public square unconstitutional, while Islamist judges in the Middle East deem it executable.

Their common view that life is expendable explains the left’s embrace abortion-on-demand and why the Islamists don’t hesitate to deploy their own children for homicide bombings.

Their common totalitarian impulse explains why each group has as its governing objective to render its subjects entirely dependent on the state for everything in their lives, from education to healthcare.

So what was that they were saying about the despicable new lows reached of those who smears their political opponents?

Florida Bar To File Misconduct Complaint Against John Stemberger

A few weeks back we noted that the Florida Family Policy Council's John Stemberger was being sued for $10 million over his role in the Rifqa Bary saga.

And now it looks like things are getting progressively worse for him as the Florida Bar Association is preparing to file a misconduct complaint against him:

A professional organization for lawyers said Thursday it is drafting a misconduct complaint against the former attorney of a teenager from Ohio who ran away to Florida after converting to Christianity.

John Stemberger, an Orlando, Fla., lawyer, represented Rifqa Bary after she alleged her Muslim parents in suburban Columbus would harm her for converting.

The Florida Bar's grievance committee found enough evidence of alleged misconduct to prepare a complaint, said bar spokeswoman Karen Kirksey.

The bar looked into the matter after a formal complaint was filed with the group by Ohio lawyer Omar Tarazi, who represented Bary's parents in Ohio juvenile court.

Tarazi alleged Stemberger misrepresented himself as Bary's lawyer after Bary returned to Ohio and had new lawyers. Tarazi, who is Muslim, also accused Stemberger of alleging that Tarazi has terrorist ties.

The bar committee expects to file its complaint with the Florida Supreme Court this fall.

Gee, who would have ever imagined that Stemberger's legal work might be questionable:

An attorney suing Dollar Rent-A-Car has apologized for filing a lawsuit that characterized the Irish as hopelessly tethered to pubs and pints and unfit to drive the highways of America.

John Stemberger admitted he made a mistake and promised Wednesday to rewrite the negligence lawsuit he filed in March.

The suit was filed on behalf of the family of Carmel Elizabeth Cunningham, an Irish woman who was killed last year when her boyfriend, Sean McGrath, crashed their rental car. He is also Irish.

Prosecutors say McGrath, 33, was drunk at the time of the crash and have charged him with manslaughter. A warrant has been issued for his arrest.

In the suit, Stemberger claimed Dollar "knew or should have known about the unique cultural and ethnic customs existing in Ireland which involve the regular consumption of alcohol at `Pubs' as a major component to Irish social life.''

He went on to charge that Dollar "knew or should have known that Sean McGrath would have a high propensity to drink alcohol.''

On a side note, according to Stemberger's Twitter account, he attended an Arlington Group meeting in Washington DC last week and then spoke in South Carolina along with Newt Gingrich and David Barton.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • A Florida appeals court struck down the state's ban on gay adoption and Liberty Counsel does not approve.
  • Did you know that Christine O'Donnell's S.A.L.T used to be closely affiliated with Rob Schenck's Faith and Action?
  • Speaking of O'Donnell, looks like she has hired the same attorneys who represented Harry Jackson in his fight against marriage equality in Washington DC.
  • And speaking of Harry Jackson, he says President Obama and the Congressional Black Caucus are are trying to "keep naive African Americans on the political plantation through the mid-term and next presidential elections."
  • Rep. Pete Sessions has reportedly dropped out of attending the Log Cabin Republican fundraiser.
  • Ken Cuccinelli thanks Mike Huckabee and HuckPAC for thanking him.
  • Finally, every member of Glenn Beck's "Black Robe Brigade" is an apostate.

Value Voter Recap: We're All Tea Partiers Now (Including God)

The so-called Values Voter Summit, organized by the Family Research Council and sponsored by a number of right-wing groups, brought more than 2,000 activists (their count) to Washington D.C. for two solid days of speeches, workshops, networking, and a chance to spend time with others who passionately hate President Obama and the Democratic congressional leadership. Addressing the crowd were a number of GOP presidential hopefuls, including Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, and Rep. Mike Pence (who eked out a narrow victory over Huckabee in the straw poll). Not surprisingly, conference speakers echoed the themes heard at the smaller Faith and Freedom conference convened by Ralph Reed just one week earlier.

Here were the top themes emerging from these Religious Right political conferences.
 
1) We’re All Tea Partiers Now (Including God)
 
The Faith and Freedom conference and Values Voter Summit signaled the Religious Right’s full embrace of (or effort to co-opt) the Tea Party movement and its activists’ anti-Washington energies. Rep. Michele Bachmann, a superstar in both the Religious Right and Tea Party movements, railed at Tea Party critics: “If you are scared of the Tea Party movement, you are afraid of Thomas Jefferson, who penned our mission statement [the Declaration of Independence].”
 
The events were also designed to attack the notion that the Tea Party movement is, or should be, focused only on economic issues and not on moral ones. This is more than the ongoing effort to solidify a working electoral partnership among fiscal, social, and national security conservatives. This is an ideological campaign against the very idea that one can legitimately be a fiscal conservative without embracing the Religious Right’s “family values” agenda on issues such as legal abortion and marriage equality. At the Values Voter Summit, there was little patience for libertarians who consider themselves economically conservative but socially liberal. Sen. Jim DeMint, greeted as a folk-hero for his success at backing Tea Party challengers to establishment GOP candidates, took on the idea directly, saying “you can’t be a true fiscal conservative if you do not understand the value of a culture that is based on values.” 
 
Others echoed the theme. A Heritage Foundation video declared that faith is necessary for liberty. Rep Mike Pence, the dark-horse winner of the summit’s straw poll, said America’s darkest moments have come when economic arguments trumped moral principles. Newt Gingrich declared that activists have to go back to making the moral case for free enterprise, not the economic case. David Limbaugh decried “economic justice,” which he called a leftist euphemism for “confiscation.” 
 
At a Values Voter Summit panel on the Tea Party movement, two activists described their work as being inspired in part by instructions they received from God in the early morning hours, like Glenn Beck; one insisted that her activism was not just about taxes but about getting America to turn back to God.
 
2) Nothing is more important than the 2010 and 2012 elections.
 
Nearly every speaker said that the 2010 election is the most important in our lifetime. Speakers insisted that President Obama, his administration, and Democratic congressional leaders are not only wrong, they are evil and are out to destroy the American experiment in limited government and individual liberty.  It is simply not possible to overstate the level of anger and hostility directed toward Obama (described as an America-hating narcissistic Marxist), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. 
 
Activists were told they must fast, pray, and work hard to defeat Democrats this November. The Family Research Council urged people to visit the website of Pray and A.C.T, a campaign led by Jim Garlow, who has been a rising star on the Religious Right since leading religious organizing on behalf of California’s anti-gay Prop 8. Ralph Reed is promising to share with local activists a massive new database of faith-based and fiscally conservative voters that he is building. 
 
Activists were also told that they must plan to keep sacrificing their time, energy and money for the next two years to make sure that Obama is defeated in 2012. Former Sen. Rick Santorum told activists not to expect dramatic improvements even if they win big in November: things won’t really change for the better as long as the White House is in Obama’s hands. Activists were warned that these two elections may be the last chance to stop the nation’s slide toward socialism and the end of America as we know it.
 
Right-wing speakers are optimistic about the possibility of delivering both the House and Senate into Republican hands and electing a conservative Republican president in 2012. FRC’s PAC held a fundraiser Friday night for Christine O’Donnell, the new Tea Party-backed GOP Senate candidate from Delaware, and other like-minded candidates.   Ralph Reed said that voter registration and focused turnout campaigns being waged by his and other right-wing groups would turn this from a good election cycle for Republicans into a historically sweeping one. And there’s particular excitement that Florida GOP Senate candidate Marco Rubio could be the face of the GOP’s future: right-wing strategists see him as Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama rolled into one appealing, Latino-vote-getting package.
 
3) Repealing Health Care Reform the Top Legislative Priority
 
According to several Values Voter Summit speakers, health care reform legislation signed into law by President Obama wasn’t really about health care at all. It was about extending the power of the federal government into tyrannical realms. Repealing “Obamacare” before it fully goes into effect is the top legislative priority of movement leaders. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell was one of several speakers who called the legislation unconstitutional, saying that if the legislation was allowed to stand, it would effectively spell the end of any limits on federal power. 
 
4) Muslims Replace Immigrants as a Top Target
 
While previous conferences have portrayed unchecked illegal immigration as the most dire threat to America, this year’s speakers picked up on the right-wing generated furor over a proposed Islamic center in lower Manhattan – the inaccurately dubbed “Ground Zero Mosque” – to make repeated bitter denunciations of Islam. Immigration was not completely ignored: Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, in a list of complaints, denounced the White House for being an administration “whose idea of a rogue state is Arizona,” and the Heritage Foundation sponsored a workshop on “The Real Cost of Illegal Immigration.” But the real energy was in attacking Islam, which was a primary focus of remarks by Bill Bennett and Gary Bauer.
 
5) Pursuit of Happiness With an Asterisk: Gays Need Not Apply
 
Not surprisingly, all the talk about individual liberty being at the core of our national identity did not extend to the freedom of gay and lesbian Americans to pursue happiness by marrying the person they love. Several speakers exhorted attendees to help mobilize conservative voters in Iowa to turn out for upcoming retention elections and vote against Iowa Supreme Court justices who ruled that denying gay couples the freedom to marriage violated the state’s constitution. The American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, who insisted that there is no confusion about what is right in the sight of God and what is evil in the sight of God, said that politicians who support, defend, and promote “counterfeits” to marriage (which include not only marriage equality but also civil unions and domestic partnerships) are doing something evil and deserve condemnation. Fischer repeated Religious Right claims that LGBT equality and religious liberty are incompatible: “we are going to have to choose between the homosexual agenda and religious liberty because we simply cannot have both.”
 
The federal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law which forbids gay members of the Armed Forces for serving openly and honestly, was also high on speakers’ minds. Sen. James Inhofe urged people to call their senators in advance of a scheduled vote on a defense authorization bill that would include language to overturn Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell as well as language that would, in his words, turn military hospitals into abortion clinics. 

2012 Candidates Weekly Update 9/21/10

Your update on the potential 2012 Presidential candidates for 9/14-9/21:

Mitch Daniels

2012: Newt Gingrich says Daniels should run for President (Courier & Press, 9/21).

Economy: Attends Chamber of Commerce event in Indianapolis (WIBC, 9/20).

PAC: Leadership PAC runs ads encouraging IN voters to support Republicans (Politico, 9/19).

Newt Gingrich

Religious Right: Demands ban on Sharia Law’s use in US Courts (TPM, 9/18).

Health Care: Calls for HHS Sec. Kathleen Sebelius’ resignation, compares her service to “Soviet tyranny” (Politico, 9/18).

GOP: Headlines fundraiser for the Minnesota GOP (Star Tribune, 9/17).

Obama: Gingrich attacked by critics for pushing over the top anti-Obama rhetoric (NY Daily News, 9/20).

Mike Huckabee

Obama: Criticizes President’s treatment of Christians (Newsmax, 9/17).

GOP: “Thrilled” about the defeat of “establishment” candidate in primaries (Huffington Post, 9/20).

2010: Expects a Republican wave in home state of Arkansas (Arkansas Democrat Gazette, 9/20).

Sarah Palin

Iowa: Speaks at Iowa’s Ronald Reagan Dinner, tells Fox News she may “give it a shot” to Presidential run (NY Daily News, 9/18).

2012: Wins straw poll of presidential prospects at RightNation convention (Chicago Sun-Times, 9/20).

2010: Tweets to Delaware’s Christine O’Donnell with a warning against “appeasing nat'l media” that’s “seeking ur destruction” (The Hill, 9/19).

Religious Right: FRC head Tony Perkins suggests that Palin is a “cheerleader” rather than a presidential candidate (Politico, 9/18).

Media: Claims that journalists disrespect fallen troops when they “tell lies” about her (Des Moines Register, 9/17).

Poll: Rasmussen survey says slight majority of Americans identify more with Palin’s views than Obama’s (Rasmussen Reports, 9/20).

Tim Pawlenty

2010: Fundraising for GOP gubernatorial nominee Scott Walker in Wisconsin (AP, 9/20).

Economy: WSJ profiles Governors like Pawlenty and others who visited China (WSJ, 9/20).

Mike Pence

Religious Right: Indiana Congressman wins a plurality of votes at Values Voter Summit’s 2012 straw poll (MSNBC, 9/18).

2012: Speaks to conservative Hillsdale College about the Presidency (EducationNews, 9/21).

2010: Defends Christine O’Donnell in Delaware from attacks (CNN, 9/20).

Mitt Romney

New Hampshire: Romney’s Leadership PAC endorses and donates to victors of GOP primaries (Politics Daily, 9/18).

Religious Right: Lashes out at Obama’s economic and social policies, “counterfeit” values at Values Voter Summit (Religion Dispatches, 9/20).

Poll: Leads 2012 pack with 22% support from Republicans (Public Policy Polling, 9/12).

2010: Going to Florida to stump for Gov hopeful Rick Scott (Daily Sun, 9/20).

Rick Santorum

South Carolina: Tests message in early primary state (Daily Caller, 9/16).

Religious Right: Says that families don’t exist in poor neighborhoods (CBS News, 9/17).

Values Voters' Angry Afternoon Tea

The afternoon of the first day of the Values Voters Summit in Washington, DC, continued the morning’s themes: denunciations of the Pelosi-Reid-Obama axis of evil and celebrations of all things Tea Party – and the insistence that the religion and values agenda of the Religious Right is inseparable from the Tea Party’s limited government goals.

Presidential hopeful Rick Santorum kicked off the session with a reprise of his current stump speech, a denunciation of secularism and an assertion that we can’t have economic freedom without virtuous people, and we can’t have virtuous people without lots of religion in our public life. Like other speakers, he called this November’s elections the most important of our lifetime.
 
Gary Bauer made it clear he was vying for “angriest man” honors, hectoring the audience with bitter complaints about liberals treating the Constitution like toilet paper and the president trying to “set one class against another in the rawest class warfare.” He insisted that “this country is in shock about what’s being done to our nation.” The country is “sick and tired of being lectured by liberal elites.” Bauer claimed, ridiculously, that “almost none” of America’s elites believe the 9-11 attacks were caused by radical Islam. When he attacked Obama and Bloomberg for defending the rights of Muslims to build a cultural center in New York, shouts of “traitor” were heard from the audience. (In contrast, there was only scattered tepid applause when Bauer described as “foolish” the Florida pastor who threatened to burn copies of the Koran.) Bauer ended with a graphic recounting of the violence that took place on the 9-11 flight brought down by the passengers, and demanded that people show the same kind of mettle in taking back America.
 
Delaware’s new GOP Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell urged people to remember how despondent they felt in the early days of the Obama administration, when conservatives were told, she said, to curl up in a fetal position for eight years. “Well,” she exulted, “how things have changed.” O’Donnell also railed against the “ruling class elites” who look down on Tea Party activists and insisted, “there are more of us than there are of them.” She said Tea Partiers are shouting back at these would-be masters, “You’re not the boss of me!” She encouraged people to keep fighting. “We aren’t trying to take back our country, we ARE our country.”
 
The afternoon’s “surprise guest” was not Sarah Palin, as some had speculated, but Dale Peterson – the guy from Alabama whose choppy, quick-edited, gun-toting ad running for agriculture commissioner became a YouTube sensation. Peterson was seemingly meant to be the authentic voice of Tea Party America. He said Obama hates America and is doing all he can to bring down America. Peterson later told journalist Sarah Posner that he doesn’t believe President Obama was born in the U.S.
 
A Tea Party panel brought together three activists who told stories about their own transformations from being moms and conservatives who minded their own business to becoming activists.  Activists Katie Abram and Billie Tucker said their Tea Party work was guided by God waking them up early in the morning with instructions, the same way, one said, God does with Glenn Beck. Tucker describes a disagreement among organizers of their local tea party group. When one argued against adding moral issues to the mission, Tucker responded, saying “God did not wake me up for four months at four in the morning to say, ‘Billie, we’ve got a tax issue.’ He woke me up because he said my country doesn’t love me like it used to love me.”
 
Amy Kremer of Tea Party Express said her group’s mission was focused on fiscal responsibility, limited government, and free markets; she credited Rick Santelli’s rant about the mortgage meltdown with lighting the fire. Kremer, who worked for Joe Miller’s Senate campaign before heading to Delaware to campaign for Christine O’Donnell, urged activists to focus on the fall elections. “The time has come to put down the protest signs and pick up the campaign signs and engage,” she said. “If we’re going to truly effect change it’s going to be at the ballot box.”

Right Wing Leftovers

  • In a surprise move, Richard Land does not approve of any GOP plans to ignore social issues.
  • A email list for right-wing journalists? I am outraged!  
  • Peter LaBarbera is not pleased with Sen. John Cornyn or the Log Cabin Republicans.
  • John Stemberger says his Florida Family Policy Council was hacked because of his support for Rifqa Bary.
  • Finally, the quote of the day from Rob Scheck of Faith and Action, commenting on his meeting with Pastor Terry Jones:  "Throughout history, God raises up the most unlikely servants to do His work ...Pastor Jones is a sincere man of God–a shepherd of souls–and a humble servant-leader. He is most certainly not a charlatan out to get attention through cheap 'stunts' ... By taking the rare action of changing his mind on something of this magnitude, Pastor Jones deserves to now be taken seriously–by Muslims and everyone else."

Right Wing Round-Up

Sheriff Joe To The Rescue!

“Every state needs a least one sheriff like Joe Arpaio,” Sharron Angle told a convention of right-wing bloggers in Las Vegas. And now “Sheriff Joe” of Maricopa County, Arizona, intends to push his hardcore anti-immigrant agenda and promote SB 1070 around the country. After his stint on reality TV with Fox’s “Smile…You’re Under Arrest!” Sheriff Joe is looking to eclipse Tom Tancredo in anti-immigrant politics and demagoguery.

Sheriff Joe will soon address a New Hampshire Republican Party conference and is also slated to speak at the “National Tea Party Unity Convention” in Las Vegas this October. At the Tea Party Convention he will join other right-wing extremists such as Joseph Farah of WorldNetDaily, radio talk show host Neal Boortz, and a whole slew of Tea Party fanatics like William Temple, Victoria Jackson and the rapper “Polatik.”

Increasing his political reach, the Los Angeles Times reports that he is “supporting candidates for Michigan governor, California Assembly and congressional seats in Florida and Missouri, among others.” He recently gave his blessing to Tea Party darling Sharron Angle, who will join Sheriff Joe at the Tea Party Convention, although he later admitted: “I don't know too much about her.”

Famous for building “tent cities” for inmates, racial profiling, sweeps and raids of immigrant communities, and glaring civil rights abuses, Sheriff Joe is now an important endorsement for right-wing candidates outside of Arizona. Politics is not unfamiliar to Sheriff Joe, who launched investigations against critical journalists and political opponents, and was blasted for using the law as “a personal tool to target political enemies or avenge perceived wrongs.”

The New York Times in 2009 detailed the Republican Party’s new anti-immigrant hero and his failed record as Sheriff:

Maricopa County has many times more federal prison condition lawsuits than New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston combined. In September of last year, the National Commission on Correctional Health Care revoked its accreditation of the jails Sheriff Arpaio runs on the grounds of failure to provide adequate health care for inmates.

In October, a federal judge ruled that Sheriff Arpaio’s department had violated the Constitution by depriving inmates of medical care, fed them unhealthy food and housed them in unsanitary conditions.

The Goldwater report suggested that the picture beyond corrections was equally grim, citing the department’s tendency to “clear” cases without any resolution or arrest, and suggested that resources were being diverted to efforts to find illegal immigrants through sweeps that other departments characterized as dangerous.

As a result of the raids, Phoenix’s mayor, Phil Gordon, wrote a letter to the United States Department of Justice accusing Mr. Arpaio of “a pattern and practice of conduct that includes discriminatory harassment, improper stops, searches and arrests.”


The Goldwater report suggests that the trade-off for the letting [sic] the sheriff do his thing may not benefit his constituents. Although his department was “adept at self-promotion and is an unquestionably ‘tough’ law-enforcement agency, under its watch violent crime rates recently have soared, both in absolute terms and relative to other jurisdictions.”

Homicides in the county were up 167 percent in the three-year period ending in 2007 and the report stated that the budget for the department, excluding corrections, had doubled since 2001.

“We have 40,000 unserved felony warrants — murderers and rapists — and instead of serving those warrants, we have this buffoon who spends his time popping out from behind curtains for a reality television show,” said Michael C. Manning, a Phoenix lawyer who has sued the department on behalf of clients repeatedly and successfully in wrongful death suits. “He continues to demean our community by chasing publicity and acting the buffoon.”

Ralph Reed's Spiritual Battle Plan for Political Victory

Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition held a conference in Washington, D.C. this past Friday and Saturday. It attracted some of the expected Religious Right figures – Ken Blackwell, Gary Bauer, etc. – and featured such goodies as Dinesh D’Souza discoursing on the source of President Obama’s “rage.”

This was also the weekend for a FreedomWorks Tea Party rally in D.C., and Reed didn’t pull a huge crowd – a couple of hundred people. Maybe that’s because his event was sandwiched between Glenn Beck’s pre-Labor Day gathering at the Lincoln Memorial and next weekend’s Values Voter Summit, traditionally the big item on the Religious Right political calendar, which could easily attract ten times as many activists as Reed got. 
 
But Reed is interested in different kinds of numbers. He says he’s all about building a grassroots organization that turns out targeted voters. Reed puffed with pride when he recounted the surprise 2002 victory of Georgia GOP Gov. Sonny Purdue, who was behind in the polls right up until Election Day. The pollsters’ likely voter models couldn’t and didn’t take account, Reed says, of the fervent voter registration and turnout work he was organizing in evangelical churches. And he told participants that if conservatives implement his model across the country this fall, it won’t just be a big victory for conservatives, but a historic, earth-shaking victory including races nobody thinks are even in play.
 
He said he regretted that liberals out-organized conservatives in 2006 and 2008 and he pledged never to let that happen again in his lifetime. He gave activists detailed marching orders and the ability to pull up both fiscal and faith-based conservatives from a massive voter database he is compiling.
 
He’s hoping that House Republicans will help the cause when they unveil their reform agenda later this month, and that new candidates will build bridges to voters that haven’t always been comfortable with the conservative movement, including women, African Americans, and Latinos. Reed talked excitedly about Florida’s Marco Rubio, who conservative leaders see as their movement’s Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama rolled into one appealing right-wing package.
 
Reed places himself and his activists squarely within both the Tea Party and Religious Right movements, saying their two goals are to return America to the “Constitutional limited government” our founders intended and return America to God. Of course, spiritual warfare is all the rage on the Religious Right, and Reed is no exception, telling workshop participants “this is ultimately a spiritual battle” and endorsing Pastor Jim Garlow’s prescription for 40 days of prayer and fasting before the election.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • FRC, TVC, and CWA react to the DADT ruling. Shockingly, they disagree with it.
  • It seems unclear whether Terry Jones has actually canceled his "Burn a Koran Day" tomorrow, though Rob Schenck met with him and says he doesn't think he'll go ahead with it.
  • Sean Hannity has joined the Values Voter Summit.
  • Rick Santorum set to deliver a big speech on faith in the public square on the 50th Anniversary of John F. Kennedy's famous speech addressing his faith and the need to separate church and state.
  • Hey, guess what?  The World Trade Center had a Muslim prayer room in it. Didn't they realize how insensitive that was?

Right Wing Leftovers

  • International Burn a Koran Day has been canceled.
  • Which makes the trip by Faith and Action and the Christian Defense Coalition to Florida rather moot now, doesn't it?
  • Bryan Fischer continues to demonstrate just what a tremendous asset he is to the American Family Association.
  • Rick Scarborough has joined the line-up at WorldNetDaily's Take Back America Conference.
  • Rep. Steve King of Iowa, Rep. Tom Price of Georgia, author John R. Lott, and Kris Kobach will speak at the annual Eagle Forum Leadership Conference this weekend.
  • The Christian Coalition sure is web savvy.
  • The Family Research Council wants pharmacists to refuse to stock the new emergency contraceptive pill, ella.
  • Finally, it looks like Mike Huckabee's daytime TV program did not fare too well: "Needless to say, there is no reason to believe The Huckabee Show will return at a later time."

Corporate Interests Betting Big on the GOP

Two separate reports have revealed the flood of corporate dollars buttressing the Republican Party’s push to retake the House and Senate this November. Big business, whether rewarding Republican endeavors to block progressive legislation such as Wall Street reform or simply expecting a GOP wave, has ramped up efforts to support Republican politicians and expenditure committees.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, “in both the first and second quarters of this year, the broad finance, insurance and real estate sector has favored Republican candidates and committees in its political giving.” Their study indicates “an increased frustration with congressional Democrats by Wall Street interests, many of which are still smarting from passage of federal financial reforms they consider onerous.” Of the 25 leading recipients of money from the three industries, 17 were Republican candidates, and the top 5 includes: “Ohio’s Rob Portman ($820,000); Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey ($728,000); California’s Carly Fiorina ($650,000); Illinois’ Mark Kirk ($618,000) and Florida’s Marco Rubio ($613,000).”

Stewart Powell and Yang Wang in the Houston Chronicle describe the intense efforts of the National Republican Senatorial Committee to recruit donors from the corporate world. Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the head of the NRSC, “has aggressively courted business executives who are disappointed in Obama’s performance and unhappy with the Democratic Congress' legislative agenda.” The NRSC has raked in over $4.4 million from interests related to the security and investment industries, and Goldman Sachs alone “boosted donations to the NRSC by almost 200 percent.”  And with the increasing number of "Super PACs" after Citizens United, corporations have more opportunities than ever to back their preferred candidates.

Republicans in Congress are reaping the benefits of their unfailing defense of corporate interests, as seen when GOP leaders even went out of their way to protect British Petroleum after the Gulf oil spill. With Wall Street’s unfettered access to John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, the prospect of Republican majorities is motivating more and more giving to the Republican cause.

Fischer: Muslim Reaction to Quran-Burning Proves They Are All Violent Terrorists

On Saturday, Terry Jones, senior pastor from the Dove World Outreach Center in Florida is planning on burning copies of the Quran to mark the anniversary of 9/11, despite the fact that Gen. David Petraeus says his actions could "endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort [in Afghanistan]."

The AFA's Bryan Fischer says Jones' plan is a step too far:

Pastor Terry Jones intends to burn copies of the Qur'an at his church on 9/11. It's not something I would do were I still in the pastorate, and not something I recommend.

Really?  What exactly is Fischer's standard for what is appropriate when it comes to demonizing Islam?  He's already called for the deportation of every Muslim in the US on the grounds that they are traitors and demanded an end to the construction of any mosques anywhere in America.  So why would Fischer consider burning copies of the Quran to be beyond the pale?  Especially since he seemingly supports it because it proves his point that all Muslims are violent terrorists: 

How can American lives be endangered by doing nothing more than putting a match to pieces of paper, if Islam is a religion of peace and moderation? How can this be?

When atheists and secularists like the minions of the ACLU, get the Bible banned from schools what do Christians do? They make phone calls, send emails, and go to court. What do Muslims do under similar circumstances? They start shooting and throwing bombs.

Notice as well that nobody is asking what Muslims might have done that ticked off Rev. Jones, how the Muslim world may in fact to blame for his little demonstration. Nobody is out there saying that Muslim policies are "an accessory" to his bonfire, or he is "made in the Muslim world" because of Islamic attacks against America. Nope.

Islam has defenders galore, all eager to excuse Muslim violence against Americans on the grounds that Muslims have been provoked by the West. But when Rev. Jones does nothing more than commit violence against a dead tree, he has nary a defender to say that Muslim provocation is to blame. 

So, according to Fischer, the Quran is just a book and if Muslims react badly to the idea of people burning copies of it, it just proves that Islam is inherently violent ... which itself only goes to further demonstrate why the US must take steps to strip all Muslims of their citizenship and expel them from the country.

Bary's Attorney Sues Pamela Geller and John Stemberger for $10 Million

It was one year ago when I wrote my first post about Rifqa Bary, the teenage girl who fled from Ohio to Florida claiming that her Muslim parents were going to kill her for converting to Christianity.

Ove the past year, the person who most eagerly and relentlessly sought to expolit the Rifqa Bary saga for her own political ends was anti-Muslim zealot Pamela Geller of Atlas Shurgs  ... and for her efforts, she is now being sued for $10 million by the attorney who represented Rifqa's parents:

An Ohio lawyer says a blogger and a former attorney for a runaway Christian convert defamed him by alleging he has contacts with terrorists and criminals.

Omar Tarazi (tuh-RAH'-zee) is seeking $10 million in damages in a federal lawsuit filed Friday to compensate for damage he claims to his reputation.

Tarazi represented the parents of Rifqa Bary, a teenage convert who ran away to Florida saying she feared harm from her Muslim mother and father.

He says blogger Pamela Oshry wrongly linked him to Hamas, considered a terrorist group by the U.S. government.

"Pamela Oshry" was the name Geller went by before her divorce.

UPDATE: Tarazi is also suing John Stemberger of the Florida Family Policy Council:

A Muslim attorney on one side of the Rifqa Bary dispute has filed a $10 million defamation lawsuit against Orlando attorney John Stemberger, an activist Christian attorney who worked for the other side.

The suit was filed by Omar Tarazi in federal court in Columbus, Ohio, Friday. It names John Stemberger of the conservative Florida Family Policy Council.

...

Stemberger represented Rifqa for several weeks in Florida. That was in the days just after she ran away but before a state circuit judge in Orlando ordered her returned to Ohio.

In the suit, Tarazi accuses Stemberger of falsely claiming on Fox News that Tarazi was associated with a Columbus-area mosque that had ties to terrorists. It also says Stemberger defamed Tarazi by saying Rifqa's parents fired qualified court-appointed Ohio attorneys to use only one – Tarazi – who was paid by a pro-Muslim group in Ohio, the Council on American-Islamic Relations or CAIR.

Tarazi was paid by no one, according to the suit.

Stemberger on Tuesday called the suit "ridiculous and frivilous."

"This is just an attempt at grandstanding after a loss," he said.

Stemberger acknowledged but would not discuss an investigation by the Florida Bar into possible ethics violations by him for statements he made about the case.

Compare and Contrast: Sarah Palin's Star Power

Gary Bauer marvels at Sarah Palin's star power:

Gary Bauer, chairman of American Values, thinks it is evident that Palin still has a lot of star power.

"Sarah Palin is the only figure in the Republican Party that can go into any mid-size city in America and put 10,000 people in an arena -- so she's a force to be reckoned with," he notes.

While Julie Ingersoll actually attends fundariser headlined by Palin last night in Jacksonville, Florida:

This was a fundraiser for Heroic Media, a faith-based non-profit that publicizes alternatives to abortion. Originally planned for an auditorium that holds over 2000 people, it was moved to a smaller venue (600 seats) and ticket sales remained low even after ticket prices were cut in half. There were still probably 80 empty seats, and it was clear that some number of attendees had free tickets.

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