Georgia

Meet The Oath Keepers

Justine Sharrock has a long article on The Oath Keepers in the latest issue of Mother Jones that notes the organization's ties to Tea Party and 9/12 activists and, by extension, figures like Ralph Reed, groups like the Eagle Forum, and members of Congress: 

Founded last April by Yale-educated lawyer and ex-Ron Paul aide Stewart Rhodes, the group has established itself as a hub in the sprawling anti-Obama movement that includes Tea Partiers, Birthers, and 912ers. Glenn Beck, Lou Dobbs, and Pat Buchanan have all sung its praises, and in December, a grassroots summit it helped organize drew such prominent guests as representatives Phil Gingrey and Paul Broun, both Georgia Republicans.

There are scores of patriot groups, but what makes Oath Keepers unique is that its core membership consists of men and women in uniform, including soldiers, police, and veterans. At regular ceremonies in every state, members reaffirm their official oaths of service, pledging to protect the Constitution—but then they go a step further, vowing to disobey "unconstitutional" orders from what they view as an increasingly tyrannical government.

...

It was while volunteering for Ron Paul's doomed presidential bid that Rhodes decided to abandon electoral politics in favor of grassroots organizing. As an undergrad, he had been fascinated by the notion that if German soldiers and police had refused to follow orders, Hitler could have been stopped. Then, in early 2008, SWAT received a letter from a retired colonel declaring that "the Constitution and our Bill of Rights are gravely endangered" and that service members, veterans, and police "is where they will be saved, if they are to be saved at all!"

Rhodes responded with a breathless column starring a despotic president, "Hitlery" Clinton, in her "Chairman Mao signature pantsuit." Would readers, he asked, obey orders from this "dominatrix-in-chief" to hold militia members as enemy combatants, disarm citizens, and shoot all resisters? If "a police state comes to America, it will ultimately be by your hands," he warned. You had better "resolve to not let it happen on your watch." He set up an Oath Keepers blog, asking soldiers and veterans to post testimonials. Word spread. Military officers offered assistance. A Marine Corps veteran invited Rhodes to speak at a local Tea Party event. Paul campaigners provided strategic advice. And by the time Rhodes arrived in Lexington to speak at a rally staged by a pro-militia group, a movement was afoot.

...

Rhodes has become a darling of right-wing pundits. In a column last October, Pat Buchanan predicted that "Brother Rhodes is headed for cable stardom." Glenn Beck has cited the group as a "phenomenal" example of the "patriot revival movement," while Lou Dobbs declared that its platform "should give solace and comfort to the left in this country." Conspiracy-radio king Alex Jones even put an Oath Keepers segment, including footage of the Lexington speech, on his hit DVD Fall of the Republic. "I can't stress enough how much your organization is scaring the globalists," he told Rhodes on his show.

...

On the conference's final day, National 912 Project chairman Patrick Jenkins stepped up to talk about the National Liberty Unity Summits his group was organizing in cooperation with Oath Keepers. They would provide a chance, he said, for patriots to forge a common agenda and a plan to carry it out. At the first summit, in December, attendees included representatives of groups from FairTax Nation to the Constitution Party to Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum. On hand were Ralph Reed Jr. (former director of Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition and recent founder of the Faith and Freedom Coalition), Larry Pratt (head of Gun Owners of America), and Tim Cox (founder of Get Out of Our House, an organization praised on Fox News for its goal of replacing business-as-usual incumbents with "ordinary folks"). Most notable were representatives Broun and Gingrey, who according to summit organizer Nighta Davis have expressed willingness to introduce legislation crafted by summit attendees. (So, Davis says, have Steve King [R-Iowa] and Michele Bachmann [R-Minn.]. None of the representatives agreed to comment for this story.)

As they say, read the whole thing.

Why Does The Right Oppose Efforts To Help Exploited Children?

Yesterday, I wrote about the fact that a variety of Religious Right groups have come out in opposition to a bill in Georgia that would offer young sex trafficking victims therapy and rehabilitation instead of prosecuting them as prostitutes. 

Since then, I have been trying to figure out just what would make conservative Christian groups oppose such an effort, but all I have been able to find is insane explanations such as this:

"Only pimps, traffickers and johns believe children should be in prostitution, so why make it legal for minors under the age of 16 or 18?" said Tanya Ditty, Director of Concerned Woman for America.

Ditty and her group agree that child prostitutes are victims who need help, but don't think decriminalizing their behavior is an answer.

Her group claims it would only tie the hands of police.

"Upon arrest, victims of trafficking can be identified and placed in diversionary programs designed for rescue and rehabilitation or provided with an affirmative defense to criminal charges," Ditty argued.

"The arrest is the action that allows for identification, education and rehabilitation of these children," she added.

And this:

Georgia Christian Coalition President Jerry Luquire called the bill “horrible,” but said it opens the door for discussion on the issue now that “teenage prostitute” has become acceptable language.

“We can now do something about it,” Luquire said, adding that the proposal decriminalizes prostitution for both parties. “The solution is to go after the buyer. If you eliminate the market, you’ve eliminated the crime.”

Judy Craft of the Georgia Christian Alliance praised the effort as well-intentioned, but misplaced. She said the bill would give “immunity” to young offenders.

“Young, vulnerable and afraid, getting arrested may be the only way these young girls can get off the street and away from their pimps,” Craft said.

She said such a law could open the door for pornography featuring children with no consequences.

The legislation is not going to "decriminalize" prostitution; it would merely change the law to prevent prosecution of those under the age of 16. Since state laws against the sexual exploitation of children and age of consent laws remain in place, those who expolit children in this manner would still face prosecution but the victims would not, which is something these right-wing groups would know if they bothered to actually read the bill:

The inability to prosecute any person involved in an alleged act of prostitution shall not bar prosecution of any other party charged with a violation of this chapter nor serve as a defense to such crime.

The whole point of this effort is to get the young victims of this sort of sexual exploitation away from those who can harm them and offer them therapy and rehabilitation instead of prison terms. 

But for some reason, the Religious Right is opposed to it and is defending its position by claiming that the legislation is designed to protect pimps and pedophiles.

Things The Religious Right Opposes

It never fails to amaze me the types of state-level legislation that local chapters of Religious Right organizations will mobilize to defeat - things like a $10 tax on marriage licenses to fund domestic violence shelters

A bill that would have made a $10 donation to domestic violence shelters automatic when people apply for a marriage license failed in a House committee vote Monday, after the measure was opposed by the Utah Eagle Forum.

...

Utah Eagle Forum Vice President Dalane England called Johnson's proposal "an undue burden on marriage."

But that is nothing compared to this report on the fact that Religious Right groups are mobilizing in Georgia to fight a bill that seeks to offer young sex trafficking victims therapy instead of prosecuting them as prostitutes: 

A state lawmaker and hundreds of child advocates are calling for young girls to be treated as victims and not criminalized as prostitutes.

Sen. Renee Unterman is proposing a bill that would set the minimum age at 16 for prosecuting sex-for-hire ... Unterman says the bill does not decriminalize prostitution but aims to make people aware that young children are not responsible for sexual acts and need rehabilitation and therapy, not jail time.

...

But conservative and Christian groups banned together to oppose the bill. They say it would lead to more prostitution.

"All we would do is be inviting into our state pedophiles and panderers looking for children," says former state Sen. Nancy Schaefer, now president of Eagle Forum of Georgia.

She says correction can also turn a child around and that discipline should not be removed when it comes to children engaging in illegal activity.

For the record, it's not just the Eagle Forum which thinks that the state should be prosecuting 10 year-old sex trade victims because failure to do so would be akin to decriminalization and a boon to pedophiles - so do the Georgia Christian Alliance, the Georgia Christian Coalition, Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition, and the Georgia Baptist Convention.

The Least Useful Report Ever

Today, the Liberty Counsel released a "72-page report today detailing information on each of the nominations and appointments of President Barack Obama" with the aim of exposing just how "radical" this administration has been:    

This report documents the beliefs, words, and actions of the radical group Obama has hand-picked to “change” our nation. The document provides information on more than 100 of Obama’s appointments and nominations. It includes more than 850 citations to articles, websites, and cases regarding these individuals and took weeks to compile.

...

Mathew D. Staver, Founder of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, commented: “President Obama has nominated and appointed the most radical group of ideologues ever assembled by an American President. The list of individuals, their comments, and backgrounds demonstrates that President Obama uses a radical ideological litmus test to select his nominees, which clearly takes preference over experience or qualifications. Obama’s nominations are neither moderate nor merely left of center. They can best be described as radical. They are clearly out of touch with all but a radical fringe. Obama’s pattern of choosing radical ideologues raises serious concern about the competency of the government.”

The report itself [PDF] contains all of the standard right-wing attacks on people like Kevin Jennings, Chai Feldblum, Dawn Johnsen, and David Ogden (whom it claims "supports abortion on demand, child pornography, and the homosexual agenda") but also covers people like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and even Tom Daschle. 

Oddly, for a report aimed at proving that President Obama has filled his administration with "radical ideologues," it dedicates an inordinate amount of space to covering arcane appointees who seemingly have no ideology at all:

Earl Devaney
o Appointed: Head of the White House's Recovery Act Transparency and Accountability Board – February, 2009.
o Former police officer, Secret Service Agent, Inspector General of Department of the Interior, and head of EPA’s Enforcement Division.
o Currently tasked with monitoring spending of the administration's $787 billion stimulus plan.

Why Liberty Counsel saw fit to include Devaney among the list of Obama's "radical" appointments is anyone's guess - and the same goes for John Laub and Stephen Smith:

John H. Laub
o Appointed: Director of the National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice – October, 2009.
o Career academic, focusing on criminology, juvenile delinquency, and juvenile justice.

Stephen James Smith
o Appointed: United States Marshal for the Southern District of Georgia – September, 2009.

For page after page, Liberty Counsel lists people like Kim N. Wallace ("Managing Director and head of the Washington Research Group at Barclays Capital") and Ashton Carter ("Former Chair of the International & Global Affairs faculty at the Kennedy School") as if it demonstrates that the Obama administration is filled with radicals when it does nothing of the sort.

Take, for instance, this listing: 

Rosanna Malouf Peterson
o Appointed: United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Washington – October, 2009.
o First female judge on the bench for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Washington.
o Former president of the Federal Bar Association for Eastern Washington and the Woman Lawyers State Bar Association.
o Practiced general litigation, employment and education law, as well as criminal defense at several private law firms in Spokane.

Apparently, Peterson is one of those "radical ideologues" whose nomination "raises serious concern about the competency of the government" ... which is why her nomination was confirmed by the Senate 89-0 two days ago.

Anti-Immigration Activists On The Warparth

Though the topic has fallen off the radar since 2006, it is widely expected that the Obama administration and congressional leaders will try to move forward on comprehensive immigration reform legislation sometime this year.

As such, we can expect to hear more from right-wing anti-immigration groups like Americans for Legal Immigration, which are still active around the country as demonstrated by the group's response to the failure of legislation in New Jersey that would have allowed undocumented immigrants to obtain in-state tuition rates at public universities. 

AILPAC is rejoicing that it has defeated this "globalist plan to restructure America" and vows to "go on offense" and "fire more politicians in D.C. than you can count": 

"This makes about the 20th time we have helped to defeat this aspect of the Globalist plans to restructure America since 2005," said William Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC. "Citizen activism has helped defeat in-state tuition for illegals in every state except for two in the last five years, since we defeated the measure in North Carolina."

In-state tuition for illegal immigrants is part of a Globalist plan to build an economic block in North America that integrates populations and suppresses Americans using hyper legal immigration and rampant illegal immigration as a nation building tool.

"Tonight we celebrate our latest victory in New Jersey and we thank and congratulate our supporters and activists," Gheen said. "Tomorrow we will announce plans to go on offense to reverse in-state tuition for illegals in the states of Nebraska and Texas using legislation and court challenges."

The defeat of in-state tuition for illegal aliens in New Jersey creates an opportunity for the pro-immigration enforcement Americans to return to strategic positions of political offense. After every battle, each side must decide to advance, dig in, or retreat.

"Tomorrow, we go on offense," said Gheen. "Time for the illegal aliens and their supporters to start playing defense in the states and the elections. Tomorrow we advance in Texas and Nebraska!"

ALIPAC plans to release plans to support legislation in Nebraska that will rescind in-state tuition in the state, after some lawmakers sneaked the provision through without significant public knowledge or input two years ago.

ALIPAC also plans to launch support for a lawsuit that has been filed in Texas to rescind in-state tuition and other taxpayer benefits for illegals.

Other plans are being made to circulate and file strong state level comprehensive immigration enforcement legislation such as the laws passed in Georgia, Arizona, Oklahoma, and South Carolina.

"We are going to launch a major initiative in the states as part of our plans to defeat the Amnesty legislation in Washington," said Gheen. "And then we are going to fire more politicians in D.C. than you can count!"

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Not surprisingly, right-wing groups are not happy with Sen. Ben Nelson or the Senate's health care bill.
  • On a related note, Mike Huckabee headlined a hastily organized anti-health care reform rally in Nebraska where he compared Sen. Nelson to Judas.
  • Ralph Reed has big plans for his Faith and Freedom Coalition as he launches its Georgia chapter.
  • Dick Cheney has been named Human Events' "Conservative of the Year." What an honor.
  • On a similar note, I can't wait to find out who will win Peter LaBarbera's "Gay Grinch of the Year Award."
  • Finally, anti-choice groups are outraged that activist Lila Rose was supposedly "attacked" by a Planned Parenthood, though said "attack" seems to have consisted of having anti-choice literature knocked out of her hand.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Are you anxiously awaiting the return of Norm Coleman?
  • Georgia's Republican House speaker resigned today after a suicide attempt and allegations by his ex-wife of an affair with a lobbyist.
  • I, for one, am shocked: "The report represents a comprehensive review of the [Civil Rights] division’s litigation activity in the Bush administration. When compared with the Clinton administration, its findings show a significant drop in the enforcement of several major antidiscrimination and voting rights laws."
  • Peter LaBarbera: Meredith Baxter Became a Lesbian, Let’s Pray She Becomes a Christian.
  • CWA is concerned what marriage equality in Washington DC will mean to "those with moral beliefs, children, and the poor."
  • Finally, enough with the Reagan worship already:

Eagle Forum Blasts "Personhood" Initiatives

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

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

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

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

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

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

Health Care Reform Will Lead To Forced Abortions

Is anyone surprised that right-wing groups are holding a press conference to claim that including coverage for reproductive health services in healthcare reform legislation are would lead to forced abortions ... or that several Republican members of Congress would join them in making that claim

If so, you obviously haven't been paying attention to what has become of today's GOP:

Today Concerned Women for America will join in a press conference on health care with numerous groups including Focus on the Family Action, National Right to Life, and Family Research Council as well as Representatives Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina,) Tom Price (R-Georgia) and Eric Cantor (R-Virginia.) The press conference will be held in the House Triangle.

"Women are generally the primary decision-makers in the family when it comes to health care. However, our ability to make health care decisions will be snatched away and given to bureaucrats empowered to ration care and pay for abortion," stated Wendy Wright, President of Concerned Women for America.

"The current bill sets up a system whereby bureaucrats decide what health care we can receive, with cost as a major factor. It also will fund abortion. Since abortion costs less than prenatal care, delivery and post-natal care, especially if the mother or child has special needs, it is not unlikely that bureaucrats will put on their green-eye shades and decide that abortion will be covered but expensive maternal and child care is not.

When You Are Wrong, Blame The Gays

The other day Daimeon over at Pam's House Blend caught the Maine Family Policy Council posting this image on its website along with this description:

Who would know the meaning of the symbols shown below, for example? The bumperstickers on this car in Augusta are a silent 'dog-whistle' which tells other homosexuals that the owner supports the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest homosexual rights organization (the yellow and blue equal sign) and has had some contact with a sadomasochist organization in Georgia (a map of the state of Georgia drawn with the colors used by the sadomasochist movement, black and blue.)

The only problem was that the decal of the state of Georgia with a blue line across it is actually "displayed in honor of those injured or killed in the line of duty" in law enforcement.

Today, Jeremy at Good As You noted that MFPC has owned up to the mistake, but did so by blaming gays and society and pretty much everyone but themselves:

Yesterday The RECORD ran a photo of an auto in Augusta which sported two decals, one for the Human Rights Campaign, and one for what we incorrectly stated was the decal of a sadomasochistic organization. It was instead a "Thin Blue Line" decal which honors police.

Given the similarity of the "Thin Blue Line" design to the flag of the sadomasochistic movement, the mistake was understandable ... This is an error that anyone could have made, and is understandable in a society which is no longer shamed by perversion, but actually boasts of perversion and publically endorses it as "pride." The fault lies ultimately with those who seek to normalize deviancy.

We regret, however, if we have unwittingly and unintentionally associated anyone with this despicable movement.

This sort of insanity and vitriol is not an anomaly. In fact, just a few weeks ago the MFPC claimed that "call for same sex marriage and other forms of sexual immorality" are directly linked to urban blight and even said that crops were failing in the state due to gay marriage.

Amazingly, the organization is not just some crackpot fringe group, but is rather a "fully associated" affiliate of Focus on the Family whose leaders routinely participate in events with representatives from groups like the Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America.

Hannity, Voight, and North Join Reed For Faith and Freedom Rally

From the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

More than 1,000 people gathered in Gwinnett County Saturday to wear red, white and blue and listen to Fox News commentator Sean Hannity and conservative organizer Ralph Reed.

The crowd waved flags, prayed and sang “I’m proud to be an American.”

Reed spoke about his new grassroots Faith and Freedom Coalition, which he launched this summer to organize conservatives to get out the vote in 2010. He encouraged the crowd to each call 25 friends to create local chapters.

It’s something of a comeback for Reed, the former head of the Christian Coalition, who has kept a low profile on the political scene after losing a bid in the 2006 primary to be Georgia’s Republican candidate for lieutenant governor.

But Reed worked the crowd into a cheering frenzy when he explained that while he’s not perfect, God called him anyway.

“God doesn’t call perfect people,” Reed said, to a huge, “Amen!” from the crowd. “He calls humble and contrite people.”

Reed spoke against President Barack Obama’s health care plan, the economic stimulus package and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, all three of which elicited strong boos from the crowd.

“We are going to stop the Obama agenda dead in its tracks,” Reed said.

Many in the crowd, including Reed, planned to attend Hannity’s sold-out Freedom Concert at the Arena at Gwinnett Center afterward. The concert series raises money for children whose parents died in military service.

The meeting at the Atlanta Marriott Gwinnett Place was a combination political rally, old-time revival and celebrity entertainment.

In addition to Hannity and Reed, speakers included Lt. Col. Oliver North, actor Jon Voight and six Republican candidates for governor.

Videos clips of the event via YouTube:

Sean Hannity

Jon Voight

Oliver North

The Right Turns Ezekiel Emanuel Into "Doctor Death"

Alex Koppelman has written a good piece on how Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, healthcare adviser to President Obama and brother of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, has become, for the Right, the poster boy for the supposed push for "death panels" and mandatory euthanasia in healthcare reform legislation, despite the fact that, as Koppelman notes, he "opposes even voluntary euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide":

Like Sarah Palin said last week, if you're old, sick or disabled -- or have a friend or loved one who is -- you should be very wary of Democratic healthcare plans. And, too, you should keep an eye on "the Orwellian thinking of the president’s health care advisor, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, the brother of the White House chief of staff." This is, after all, one of the two advisors to President Obama dubbed "deadly doctors" by the New York Post, a man also known as "Doctor Death," who, as conservative blogger Gateway Pundit explained, "supports euthanasia ... [and] believe[s] medical care should be reserved for non-disabled 'participating' members of society."

It's become a growing theme on the right: "Obamacare" will mean mandatory euthanasia for your grandmother in order to save money, and the person who created the ideological underpinnings for that policy is the brother of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

There's a certain irony to that suggestion. Ezekiel Emanuel, who's currently advising the administration on healthcare reform through a post at the White House Office of Management and Budget, is actually one of the country's leading medical ethicists, a forceful defender of people approaching the end of their life. Indeed, he opposes even voluntary euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide.

Koppelman points out that the false claims about Emanuel's work, recommendations, and beliefs are the result of notorious right-wing healthcare hack Betsy McCaughey's intentionally misleading smears, which have been quickly picked up by the Right and spread as gospel.

Case in point: this new Rick Scarborugh Report from Vision America:

Prov. 13:20 states "He who walks with the wise becomes wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm." The phrase "suffers harm" comes from a word that means "to become evil, to be made worse."

A fool is defined in the Bible as the person who says there is no God. I think we are being fair with Scripture to also include those who redefine who God is and who usurp roles which God has reserved only for Himself, including the choice of who lives and who dies.

It seems that our President has surrounded himself with people who believe they have the wisdom to make decisions which our Founders clearly left in the purview of God.

Dr. Ezekiel Emmanuel, one of Obama's top healthcare advisors and brother of Rahm Emmanuel who is the President's Chief of Staff, co-authored an article earlier this year entitled "Principles for allocation of scarce medical interventions" It outlines four principles:

1. Treating people equally - which suggests a lottery type system, because it is "hard to corrupt." In other words, let's just roll the dice to see who gets treatment first!

2. Prioritarianism - treating the youngest first because "they have had the least life." In other words: Good luck Granny, here's another pill!

3. Utilitarianism -maximizes the most life-years produced

4. Promoting and rewarding social usefulness. - In Ezekiel Emmanuel's own words, and reminiscent of members of the Third Reich: Include only irreplaceable people who have suffered serious losses. God, help us stop this madness!

...

If Obama's Healthcare Czar implements this system, God help the very old and the very young. Is this what you want? Sarah Palin put into words what millions are thinking: what will happen to me or my loved one if government bureaucrats decide that my/their life isn't worth saving prolonging? Do we really want a government bureaucrat making these decisions?

Of course, if you actually bother to read "Principles for Allocation of Scarce Medical Interventions" [PDF] you immediately see that it focuses on the allocation of "very scarce medical interventions such as organs and vaccines" of which there is very clearly a finite and limited number. It is not talking about limiting healthcare treatment, but rather focuses on how best to allocate finite medical resources.

And even then, the article is primarily an examination of the various ways currently used in deciding the allocation of such resources, looking at the pluses and minuses of the various methods and concludes by offering its own system, which it calls "the complete lives system":

[T]he complete lives system combines four morally relevant principles: youngest-first, prognosis, lottery, and saving the most lives. In pandemic situations, it also allocates scarce interventions to people instrumental in realising these four principles. Importantly, it is not an algorithm, but a framework that expresses widely affirmed values: priority to the worst-off, maximising benefits, and treating people equally. To achieve a just allocation of scarce medical interventions, society must embrace the challenge of implementing a coherent multiprinciple framework rather than relying on simple principles or retreating to the status quo.

In short, not one word of Vision America's explanation of the article Emanuel co-authored is true ... and neither is this claim:

Dr. Emanuel has also said that in order to save money, doctors must "eliminate the Hippocratic Oath, which has been the foundation of medicine for centuries, and give more attention to cost when delete treating patients." He advocates rationing care to worthy patients who "need it most." This man and others who think like him are advising our President!

Take one guess where this quote, attributed to Emanuel, actually comes from. 

That's right: Betsy McCaughey.

For what it is worth, Ezra Klein conducted an interview with Sen. Johnny Isakson, a Republican from Georgia who pushed for the inclusion of end-of-life planning in the legislation, and Isakson says that claims that it would lead to "death panels ... where people would be euthanized" are absolutely "nuts." 

Klein also points out that Emanuel happens to believe that physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia ought to remain illegal.

But none of that will matter, because right-wing groups don't care about things like facts or reasonable debate ... especially when they can use their lies and distortions to whip up outrage and opposition and, more importantly, use it to raise money:

The time to act is NOW!!! If you believe that God, not Government, should decide who lives and dies, please fax, email and call our Congressmen. You can find contact information at www.Congress.org. We have to attend our Town Hall Meetings and express our outrage at the little value placed on human life in this Orwellian healthcare plan. If we are not motivated to action by this outrage, God help us! The time to act is NOW.

Select here to send a fax to all 535 Congressmen and tell them to vote no on the President's $1.6 trillion takeover of health care. Now is not the time to be silent.

Thank you in advance for your generous support!

Ralph Reed: TEA Party Activist

Ralph Reed has made it clear over the last several weeks that his new organization, the Faith and Freedom Coalition, is "not your daddy's Christian Coalition" by which he means that this new effort will be young, hipper, more tech-savvy, and also more strident.

He's also made clear that much of its focus will be on economic issues, while still maintaining the traditional Religious Right positions on social issues.

And to kick things off on the economic front, Reed spoke at a TEA Party rally last week in Georgia:

"Barack Obama rushed through a stimulus package - $787 billion," [Reed] said, "almost 85 percent of which is pork and waste and bureaucracy."

He said the president's explanation of why "we had to have it right then ... was that if we didn't have it, unemployment would go over 8 percent."

But the jobless rate now is "heading toward 10 percent," Reed said.

He said Obama vowed that the plan would create 4 million jobs. Instead, Reed added, 2.6 million have been lost.

"He was only off by 6.6 million," Reed said.

Drawing cheers for himself and jeers for Obama, Reed also lambasted the president's budget, energy policy and health care proposals.

Reed praised the Tea Party movement, which drew nearly 1,500 people to a similar event at the plaza on April 15, the federal income tax filing deadline.

"These tea parties ... across the country are scaring the White House to death," he said. "... We are putting on our work boots and we're going to take our country back to the principles on which it was founded."

From a quick look at the photos from the rally accompanying the article, it doesn't look like Reed's audience was particularly young, hip, or tech-savvy ... but hey, he's got to start somewhere.

And presumably things will pick-up later this month when Sean Hannity joins Reed for his organization's "Freedom Rally":

Ralph Reed's Key To Success: Be More Strident

Just yesterday I wrote a post explaining that, thanks to the recent announcement that he was heading a new Religious Right organization known as the Faith and Freedom Coalition, Ralph Reed appeared to be "succeeding in resurrecting his reputation and re-establishing himself as a bona fide leader of the Religious Right."

And, despite the fact that this new effort currently consists entirely of Reed, one adviser, one actual employee, and a bare-bones website, I think it is safe to say that the "Ralph Reed Redemption Tour" is officially underway now that he is getting long profiles written up by the Associated Press:

Ralph Reed was once a powerful force in Republican politics, able to marshal millions of religious conservatives to the polls while leading the Christian Coalition.

Then his political career took a tumble in 2006 when he was clobbered by a lesser-known opponent in the Republican primary for Georgia lieutenant governor, leading some to conclude Reed's days as an influential GOP figure were over.

But Reed is searching for a dose of redemption. He's launched a new venture that supporters hope will bolster a Republican Party struggling to find its footing after the 2008 election and a recent string of embarrassing scandals.

"I don't view it as a comeback," Reed said in a recent interview. "I view it as something I've always done — trying to be part of the solution and trying to build at the grass roots (level)."

The startup, known as the Faith and Freedom Coalition, is little more than a Web site, but Reed hopes to turn it into a strident new force that uses social media to capture a broader, younger and more diverse audience.

Perhaps most telling, the man who helped cement religious conservatives into a solid GOP voting bloc said he won't focus his group on social issues, but rather the economic crisis.

"This is not the Christian Coalition redux," Reed said. "It's a much broader attempt. Our primary focus is jobs, the economy, taxes, creating economic opportunity. That's the number one issue in the country right now."

Other than a lukewarm statement from Roberta Combs, current president of the Christian Coalition, saying "there is always room for more people who want to start organizations," the article doesn't really contain any particularly new or revealing information, with the exception of this key quote:

Reed said his organization is looking to be more inclusive by reaching out to Jews, Hispanics, blacks and any other group receptive to a fiscal conservative message.

"It's going to look different from the vehicles we have now. It's going to be younger, it's going to be more strident," he said. "It's going to be principled but less ideologically reflexive. And it's going to have a broader issues agenda."

How exciting. A “broader” and "more strident" version of the Christian Coalition? I can't wait to see how that turns out.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • The American Center for Law and Justice has managed to pressure the Connecticut Department of Children and Families into taking down part of its web site describing a program to train care givers on the needs of gay young people.
  • Michael Steele knows what it takes to win more African American converts to the GOP: collard greens, fried chicken, and potato salad.
  • The Washington Post profiles Randall Terry.  The article is pretty informative and entertaining so you should be sure to read it.
  • For the record, I would just like to note that Janet Porter's Faith 2 Action website has an entire section dedicated to the issue of Barack Obama's birth certificate and citizenship.
  • MassResistance continues to allege that Google is "blocking" its blog.
  • The Right keeps trotting out its standard hate crimes lies in order to oppose anti-bullying legislation.
  • It is worth noting that Alveda King is asserting that her uncle, Martin Luther King Jr., was not a Republican, in contrast to various right-wing claims that he was:
  • “Martin Luther King Jr. was not a Republican or Democrat,” said Alveda King, who was previously elected to the Georgia House as a Democrat, but later appointed to state and federal commissions by Republicans. “But everybody uses Martin Luther King Jr.’s name for their own benefit.”

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Tony Perkins says the "essential issue" of efforts to the overhaul the nation's health care system is "will health care reform force taxpayers to pay for abortions for the first time in 30 years?"
  • On a related note, FRC also produced these fliers [PDF] to be handed out at the July 4th TEA Party rallies promoting their Clear Conscience Health Care site.
  • Alan Keyes explains why, of all the TEA Parties he could have attended, he chose the one in Boiling Springs, S.C: it was the only one that would allow him to talk about God.
  • Speaking of which, at the event at which Keyes spoke, attendees were reportedly handing out fliers reading "Zelaya today, Obama tomorrow."
  • Did you know that Sen. Jim DeMint has a new book out called "Saving Freedom: We Can Stop America's Slide into Socialism"? It was released July 4th.
  • LifeNews reports that President Obama has chosen "'Pro-Life' Catholic Sellout Douglas Kmiec for Malta Ambassador." I wasn't aware that "news" outlets were allowed to call their opponents "sell-outs."
  • Finally, later this month American Vision will be hosting its "Worldview Super Conference III" in Georgia. According to WorldNetDaily, whose own Joseph Farah will be speaking at the event, ""the conference's theme, 'The Great Reversal: How Christians Will Change the Future,' reflects the mission of the organization planning the event, American Vision, which states its purpose is to 'restore America to its biblical foundation.'"

Right Wing Leftovers

  • In retrospect, this 2002 Mark Sanford ad seems a tad hypocritical.
  • Operation Rescue is now going to start targeting Leroy Carhart.
  • The Federalist Society's Leonard Leo has been elected chairman of the United States Commission for International Religious Freedom.
  • Ken Hutcherson lashes out at President Obama over the LGBT event at the White House.
  • Three of Rep. Michelle Bachmann's fellow Republicans are apparently getting fed-up with her Census nonsense.
  • In news that should send shivers down your spine, Steve Dillard's name is among those the state judicial nominating commission has submitted to the Governor for consideration for an open seat on the Georgia Supreme Court.
  • The Vanity Fair article on Sarah Palin has set off a Republican feud.
  • This SaraPAC 4th of July message really has to be seen to be believed.
  • As does this photo set and accompanying interview with her in Runner's World:

More Right Wing Rallies Cropping Up

Earlier this week, I wrote about a series of upcoming "Winning Matters" conferences, a project of the Family Foundation of Virginia and its affiliated Pastors For Family Values, featuring Harry Jackson, Jonathan Falwell, Mat Staver, and Rick Scarborough designed to activate "values voters" in Virginia ahead of the state's off-year elections.

Today we learned that there is another, apparently somewhat affiliated, series of similar rallies taking place featuring many of these same people, but operating under the name Hope for America, which is a project of Jody Hice's Let Freedom Ring Ministries. Several rallies are scheduled for the coming weeks, mostly in Virginia, and likewise featuring Staver, Scarborough, Falwell, and even Zell Miller.

Last night one was held in Roanoke and, judging by the press coverage, it was pretty much what you'd expect for a rally organized by right-wing groups and featuring right-wing speakers like Staver and Scarborough:

The war for the soul and the government of America needs more Christian soldiers.

That was the message delivered Thursday night to about 100 attendees of the "Hope for America Rally" at Penn Forest Worship Center in Southwest Roanoke County.

"America is on the verge of destruction," the Rev. Rick Scarborough told the crowd in a booming Baptist sermon.

"You, beloved, are the hope," he said.

Scarborough is a well-known Texas minister and conservative political activist with ties to the late Rev. Jerry Falwell and several key Republican lawmakers.

In 1992, the firebrand evangelist waged a high-profile battle over sex education in Texas schools and has written several books arguing against the separation of church and state.

Mathew Staver, dean of the Liberty University School of Law, also spoke.

Sponsored by Atlanta, Ga.-based Let Freedom Ring, Thursday's rally was the first of several that are planned across Virginia. Others have been held in or are scheduled to be held in North Carolina and Georgia. Scarborough is expected to speak at many of them.

Let Freedom Ring is affiliated with Jody Hice, a pastor and conservative Christian radio personality in Atlanta and an adherent to the "Christian worldview."

Let Freedom Ring preaches that America was founded by Christian leaders and that the country's freedoms are based on biblical precepts. In its view secular values, such as the separation of church and state, abortion rights, radical feminism and gay rights, have spurred a moral and political decline that Christians must battle, not just in the pews, but in the political sphere.

...

Aaron Evans, a former Fox News radio producer from Martinsville, organized the Roanoke rally with help from The Family Foundation and other conservative Christian groups.

Scarborough preached to the crowd about the dangers of loosening sexual mores. He warned that gay rights legislation could be used to silence pastors who preach that homosexuality is a sin.

"In my lifetime, we have gone from 'Ozzie and Harriet' and 'Leave it to Beaver' ... to 'Sex in the City' and 'Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.'

"We've gone from spin the bottle to hooking up in the eighth grade," he said.

But, Scarborugh preached, "this nation can be saved if pastors would just understand how much God wants to save it."

This reminds me a lot of the "70 Weeks to Save America" crusade Scarborugh tried to launch a few years back that never amounted to much after his key partner, Alan Keyes, decided to run for president and Vision America ran into financial trouble. 

Apparently, this time around, Scarborough has realized that if he wants this done right, he should let somebody else organize it.

AU has more on this rally.

Is the Religious Right Immune from Conduct that’s “Dangerous from a Medical, Spiritual, and Emotional Standpoint”?

Almost a week ago, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that the children of a Georgia man could not be barred from visitation with their gay father and his partner. Makes sense, right? Well, predictably, Matt Barber vehemently disagreed, arguing that children who are exposed to a gay person will be damaged physically and emotionally:

Barber says there appears to be no consideration for the fact that children are very impressionable and could be harmed from exposure to a homosexual environment.

"Obviously it is not in the best interest of a child to be taken by his father and introduced to a group of people who are engaging in abhorrent sexual behaviors, who are modeling abhorrent sexual behaviors and celebration of that [which is] demonstrably dangerous from a medical, spiritual, and emotional standpoint," said Barber

While I strongly disagree with Barber's claim that it's "dangerous from a medical, spiritual, and emotional standpoint" to have children interact with their loving father, I pose a question to Mr. Barber in light of a video that surfaced today.

The video is of an apparent "gay exorcism" of a 16-year-old boy, carried out by Manifested Glory Ministries, a Connecticut-based church. Throughout the video, the church elders can be heard calling on the "homosexual demons" to get out. The child is violently shaking, on the brink of a seizure, and repeatedly vomits as the elders continue to call on the "homosexual demons" to exit his body.

So, Mr. Barber, which seems to pose more of a threat to a child's "medical, spiritual, and emotional" well-being: Allowing children visitation rights with their gay father, and thus avoiding the struggle of growing up in a single-parent environment, or convincing a child that the way he feels is demonic, thus calling for an exorcism which caused the 16-year-old to repeatedly vomit and convulse?

The Christian Anti-Defamation Commission was quick to provide a rebuttal to the widespread outrage that erupted upon the video's surfacing:

Because the video is being so widely viewed on the internet, homosexual activists have viciously attacked the church. These are the same people who demand tolerance for their sexual sin.

By contrast, we know that homosexuals are allowed to participate in vile Gay Pride Parades and perverted fetish festivals on public property throughout the country. These events often involve criminally lewd and lascivious conduct that take place in the presence of children, yet they go unpunished.

Here's the video, I'll let you decide:

Christian Coalition 2.0, Or The Triumphant Return of Ralph Reed

Literally, just yesterday as I was doing my right-wing monitoring, I thought to myself "you know who's name I never see any more?  Ralph Reed."

And for good reason, given his deep ties to Jack Abramoff.  Actually, the last time he made any news was when he was forced to skip a fund-raiser with John McCain last year thanks to the fact that he has been permanently tainted by his association with Abramoff.

But, as Dan Gilgoff reports, Reed is now back with a new organization called The Faith and Freedom Coalition:

Ralph Reed, the Republican operative who built the Christian Coalition into a potent political force in the 1990s by mobilizing evangelicals and other religious conservatives and who did similar work to help George W. Bush win two presidential elections, is quietly launching a group aimed at using the Web to mobilize a new generation of values voters. In addition to targeting the GOP's traditional faith-based allies—white evangelicals and observant Catholics—the group, called the Faith and Freedom Coalition, will reach out to Democratic-leaning constituencies, including Hispanics, blacks, young people, and women.

"This is not your daddy's Christian Coalition," Reed said in an interview Monday. "It's got to be more brown, more black, more female, and younger. It's critical that we open the door wide and let them know if they share our values and believe in the principles of faith and marriage and family, they're welcome."

"There's a whole rising generation of young leaders in the faith community, and rather than nab the publicity I did at Christian Coalition, I want to cultivate and train that rising generation," Reed said. "One question is, who is our future Barack Obama, doing local organizing just like he was in the 1990s?"

The Faith and Freedom Coalition has been quietly active for a few weeks but has attracted no news media notice so far. Reed said that was intentional: "We're less focused on the pyrotechnics than on being a strong grass-roots presence all the way down to the precinct level, which has always been my emphasis."

The idea for the new group, which is still hashing out an organizational blueprint, was born just after Election Day 2008, when exit polls showed that Obama made gains among traditionally Republican religious constituencies, including evangelicals, conservative Catholics, and frequent churchgoers. "Since I left the Christian Coalition, we haven't had an engine designed to turn out this large part of the vote," Reed said. "After the election, people said that I ought to consider doing something about it."

Of course, the Christian Coalition was the engine that turned out "values voters," but it faltered under Reed's control. When he finally jumped ship to launch his own consulting and PR operation and "start humping in corporate accounts,” the organization all but collapsed.

Gilgoff reports that this new effort also features Gary Marx - who happens to be a long-time associate of Reed's and the current Executive Director of the Judicial Confirmation Network - and that, for now, the organization is operating out of his Century Strategies office in Atlanta:

Reed is serving as chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition and says he has filed papers with the Internal Revenue Service to register it as a 501(c)(4), a tax-free designation that permits lobbying and certain political activities. Gary Marx, Reed's deputy at the 2004 Bush campaign and Mitt Romney's conservative outreach director in 2008, will help advise the group. Jack St. Martin, a former top Republican National Committee staffer, is running day-to-day operations.

The Faith and Freedom Coalition plans to launch state and local chapters, as the Christian Coalition did, but is exploring the idea of organizing as much via "virtual chapters" that would operate online with the help of social networking technology. "The Internet's first wave was E-mail, and the next wave was social networking, which Obama perfected," Reed said. "There's going to be a third wave, which we're still developing."

...

Headquartered in the offices of Reed's consulting firm, Century Strategies, near Atlanta, the group plans to open a Washington office but says it will keep its staff small. St. Martin is currently the only full-time employee. "We don't want the huge overhead of a centralized group," says St. Martin, who worked at the Christian Coalition in the 1990s. "We'll have a few generals, but at the end of the day, we're going to emphasize putting boots on the ground out in the field."

Everything about this effort is pure Ralph Reed. From the focus on grassroots mobilization to his use of military language, it sounds like Reed is breaking out his Christian Coalition era playbook and seeking to recapture his former glory, even going so far as to dust off his efforts to reach out to minority groups, which, as I explained in a report [PDF] I wrote about him several years back that chronicled his rise from the College Republicans through his Abramoff-related downfall, is exactly what he tried and failed to do during his last days with the Christian Coalition:

In 1996, in an attempt to reach out to religious African American voters and bring them into the right wing movement, Reed announced that the Coalition was going to raise one million dollars to help rebuild black churches in the South that had been destroyed in a series of fire bombings. What had initially been planned as a one-day fundraising event ended up taking seven months. Similarly, Reed announced in 1997 the creation of the Samaritan Project, “A bold plan to break the color line and bridge the gap that separates white evangelicals and Roman Catholics from their Latino and African American brothers and sisters.” Reed pledged that the Coalition would raise $10 million for inner city churches, but less than a year later the project was abandoned after raising less than $50,000.

The simple point needs to be made that Reed, the man once dubbed "the Right Hand of God," had been seening his star dim even before he left the Christian Coalition and that the influence and power he had accumulated over the years all but evaporated when his efforts to exploit his Religious Right allies for Jack Abramoff's business purposes were finally revealed, culminating in his failed campaign to secure the Republican nomination for Lieutenant Governor in Georgia.

But, as we pointed out in our report: "Reed is still young and American politics is full of redemption stories. No doubt Reed is already writing his."

And with the announcement of this new effort, it looks like that is exactly what he is undertaking now.

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