Florida

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.

Reed Unveils More Speakers at Faith And Freedom Conference

Earlier this month I wrote about Ralph Reed's upcoming Faith and Freedom Conference and Strategy Briefing to be held in Washington, D.C., September 9-11 which Reed is calling the "the political equivalent of NFL minicamp."

Today, Reed sent out an email urging activists to register and provided the first look at the line-up of scheduled speakers he has landed:   

  • Gary Bauer, President, American Values
  • Ken Blackwell, Senior Fellow of Family Empowerment, Family Research Council
  • Glen Bolger, Political strategist and pollster
  • Jim Bopp, Legal Counsel, Faith & Freedom Coalition
  • Brent Bozell, President, Media Research Center
  • Herman Cain, Conservative radio talk show host
  • Tucker Carlson, Political correspondent
  • Teresa Collett, Congressional candidate (R-MN 4th district)
  • Kellyanne Conway, President and CEO, Women Trend
  • S.E. Cupp, Author, “Losing Our Religion”
  • Majorie Dannenfelser, President , Susan B. Anthony List
  • Brian Donahue, Founder, CRAFT Media/Digital
  • Erick Erickson, Founder, RedState.com
  • Mindy Finn, E- Media strategist
  • J. Randy Forbes, Congressmen (R-VA-4th district)
  • John Fund, Political journalist and conservative columnist
  • Dr. Jim Garlow, Coauthor, “Cracking Da Vinci's Code”
  • Tim Goeglein, Vice President, Focus on the Family
  • Ed Goeas, Political strategist and pollster
  • Deal Hudson, Director, Morley Institute for Church and Culture
  • Richard Land, President, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
  • Anna Little, Congressional candidate (R-NJ-6th district)
  • Dana Loesch, Conservative radio talk show host
  • Jenny Beth Martin, Tea Party Leader
  • Jack St. Martin, Partner, Orange Hat Group
  • Jason Mattera, Political Blogger and Author of “Obama  Zombies”
  • Thaddeus McCotter, Congressman  (R-MI-11th district)
  • Bob McDonnell, Governor of Virginia
  • Mark Meckler, Tea Party Leader
  • Grover Norquist, President, Americans for Tax Reform
  • Star Parker, Congressional candidate (R-CA-37th district)
  • Tony Perkins, President, the Family Research Council
  • Tom Price, Congressmen (R-GA-6th district)
  • Karl Rove, Sr. Advisor, White House
  • Patrick Ruffini, E-Media Strategist
  • Chip Saltsman, Former Campaign Manager, Mike Huckabee for President
  • Rick Santorum, Former U.S. Senator
  • Tim Scott, Congressional candidate (R-SC-1st district)
  • Orit Sklar, Executive Director, Fulton County Republican Party
  • Mark Smith, President, Ohio Christian University
  • Matt Smith, Priest
  • Bill Stephens, President, Florida Faith & Freedom Coalition
  • Jim Talent, Former U.S. Senators
  • Hans von Spakovsky, Senior Legal Fellow , Heritage Foundation
  • Jackie Walorski, Congressional candidate (R-IN-2nd district)
  • Lynn Westmoreland, United States Congressman (R-GA-3rd district)

Interestingly, the names Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, and Mike Huckabe are not on this list despite the fact that Reed has been using them in his promos for weeks now: 

Right Wing Round-Up

Right Wing Leftovers

  • After initially announcing that a Christian militia would provide protection during the upcoming "Burn a Quran Day," the militia now says it will not participate because "we don't want to be a part of inciting violence and racism anymore."
  • Richard Viguerie claims that Sen. John McCain's primary win over J.D. Hayworth is a win for the Tea Party.  Huh?
  • Hey Joseph Farah, we get it:  you don't like GOProud.
  • Hey Bryan Fischer, we get it: you don't like Muslims.
  • Hey Cliff Kincaid, we get it: you don't like gays.
  • Finally, Terence Jeffrey is mad at President Obama for recognizing that there are atheists in America, saying it is just making Muslims hate us even more.

Right Wing Round-Up

  • Media Matters: Schlessinger ending her radio show because "my First Amendment rights have been usurped by angry, hateful groups".
  • Christina Bellantoni @ TPM: George Bush Stays Out Of 'Ground Zero Mosque' Fray.
  • Jason Hancock @ Iowa Independent: GOP candidate apologizes for anti-gay statements.
  • Joe.My.God: GOP Candidate For Gov Rips AG Bill McCollum Over Rekers Scandal.
  • Mike Tidmus: When did cheating become a ‘Christian’ value?
  • Towleroad: Watchdog Pushes IRS to Investigate Anti-Gay Pastor for His Support of Oklahoma Rep. Sally Kern.
  • Steve Benen: When even Pat Buchanan thinks you've gone too far...
  • Amanda Marcotte @ Slate: Is Sharron Angle a Christian Reconstructionist?

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Mike Huckabee endorses Bill McCollum for Governor of Florida.
  • A gaggle of right-wing groups are holding a press conference to "voice opposition to the Obama administration's use of narrow discretionary powers to effect de facto amnesty on a broad scale."
  • TD Jakes, Samuel Rodriguez, Myles Munroe, and others are going to teach you how to be a man.
  • NOM's Brian Brown lays out his weak case for opposing marriage equality in Human Events.
  • Liberty Counsel continues to blast the Alliance Defense Fund for losing the Prop 8 trial.
  • And sadly, Bryan Fischer's "good friend" Raul Labrador is trailing badly in his race for Congress.

Right Wing Round-Up

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Ben Quayle has now admitted "that he did, in fact, post comments on DirtyScottsdale.com, a website devoted to chronicling the trashy side of the Scottsdale nightclub scene."
  • Benny Hinn says that he did have a "friendship" with Paula White but that there was "no immorality whatsoever" and now it is over.
  • Billy Graham says your atheist friend might seem like a good person, but they aren't "because a true atheist has no real reason to believe in right and wrong or to behave sacrificially toward others."
  • I can only imagine that this campaign again birth control and "transhumanism" will be a huge hit for the anti-choice movement.
  • Finally John Stemberger, President of the Florida Family Policy Council, wants people to follow him on Twitter. So I did ... and then he blocked me:

As Rifqa Bary Turns 18, Her Parents Speak Out

Today is Rifqa Bary's eighteenth birthday, which means that she is officially an adult and that her long legal saga has finally come to an end.

It also means that the gag order binding all parties has been lifted and while Rifqa so far hasn't made a statement and little is known about her plans for the future other than that she "looks forward to preaching the word to all the nations," her parents are speaking out, revealing that Rifqa sent them letters, videos, and cards and also blasting Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and the Religious Right activists who turned this family's saga into a political and religious circus: 

Her father and mother today disclosed that their daughter two weeks ago sent them a video, along with candy and music, saying she loved them.

She also has sent them letters. In one, she thanked them for helping her be a successful student. She graduated recently from a Columbus-area high school, her father said, and was valedictorian.

"'I'm here because of you guys,' " her father said she wrote them.

...

In the statement, her parents also lambasted Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, saying he turned what should have been a routine case into a circus.

"It was his statements and abuse of his office by putting improper influence on the Florida courts that turned our case from a private family law issue into a media circus. He is responsible for setting the stage for months of wasted time and taxpayer money in Florida and Ohio and all because he wanted to shore up his extreme right-wing base of support for his U.S. Senate run. Gov. Crist should be ashamed of himself for all the harm he has caused our family."

They said their daughter has been a pawn by people focused on "xenophobia and religious bigotry."

So while this part of Rifqa's saga has come to an end, it is probably safe to assume that her professional career as a Religious Right hero is just getting underway. 

Right Wing Round-Up

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