Georgia

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.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has confirmed his appearance at FRC Action's Values Voter Summit this fall.
  • The president of Liberty University's Democrats Club has resigned and announced that he is transferring to another school.
  • Maggie Gallagher insists that her National Organization for Marriage is not a front group for the Mormon church.
  • The Christian Coalition tells Republicans to lay off Sonia Sotomayor's erstwhile membership in the Belizean Grove.
  • Matt Barber is predictably outraged about the Georgia Supreme Court ruling that children cannot be prohibited from visitation with their gay father, saying "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 -- modeling those behaviors for the child."
  • Beginning today, OneNationUnderGod is launching a prayer campaign focused on the conversion of Catholic politicians to further foster a Culture of Life in this country.

Crazy By Association

When I saw a press release announcing that Alan Keyes was going to be in South Carolina campaigning for a woman named Christina Jeffrey who is running Congress, my first thought was "wow, she must be crazy."

After all, no sane candidate would ever seek the assistance of someone like Keyes and expect to win, so I did a little research to try and found out a little about her on her website:

In these difficult economic times, the citizens in the Up-state of South Carolina deserve better representation in Congress. Christina Jeffrey, with a PhD. in Political Science and a college professor, is a person who has built her life based upon Conservative Principles.

Christina has worked in Germany and Turkey, and understands the international problems we are confronted with today. Christina has been a college professor for many years. She has been a tenured Associate Professor of Political Science at Kennesaw State University in Georgia, and the Congressional Historian for the 104th Congress of the United States. She currently teaches Foundations of American Government at Wofford College.

What I also found out was that her claim to have been the "Congressional Historian for the 104th Congress of the United States" leaves out a few key pieces of information ... like the fact that she held the job for less than two weeks before she was fired by Newt Gingrich:

Fired by Speaker Newt Gingrich as House historian because she complained Nazi views weren't represented in a Holocaust course, Christina Jeffrey said Tuesday that allegations against her ``are slanderous and outrageous.''

In a statement the morning after her firing, Jeffrey, who was hired less than a week ago, also said she was ``fired in the press.''

Reporters, who received materials from Democratic sources, began making inquiries to Gingrich's office after learning of Jeffrey's review of the Holocaust course in 1986.

House Democrats quickly pounced on her eight-year-old review, one saying it bordered on Holocaust revision.

...

Jeffrey, hired at $85,000 a year, headed a panel that reviewed the Holocaust course for the Republican-run U.S. Department of Education. The panel recommended against a federal grant for the course and the department -- insisting the decision was its own -- declined funding in 1986 and again the next two years.

Concluding her remarks on ``Facing History and Ourselves'' a course designed for eighth and ninth graders, Jeffrey wrote: ``The program gives no evidence of balance or objectivity. The Nazi point of view, however unpopular, is still a point of view and is not presented, nor is that of the Ku Klux Klan.''

While Jeffrey insisted at the time and continues to insist that her remarks were taken wildly out of context, this does at least shed some light on just what sort of political candidate openly welcome the support of someone like Keyes.

Right Wing Round-Up

  • At RH Reality Check, Myra Duran explains how "so-called crisis pregnancy centers lure women into their facilities with promises of free pregnancy tests and options counseling. But once inside, most provide women with false or misleading information about abortion, birth control, and sexually transmitted diseases."
  • Jim Burroway reports that the Georgia Supreme Court threw out a lower court’s order banning children from being “exposed” to their father’s gay partner and friends.
  • What is the deal with state-level Republicans sending out racist "jokes" in South Carolina and Tennessee?
  • As we noted last week, right-wingers in Wisconsin are trying to burn copies of "Baby Be-Bop" - Salon reports that the author of the book is not amused.
  • David Neiwert offers more information about Minuteman "tactical" leader/murder suspect Shawna Forde.
  • The Anti-Defamation League reports that white supremacists have "capitalized on the Sotomayor nomination to characterize Jews as "conspirators seeking world domination, having secretly orchestrated the appointment":
  • "How the (expletive deleted) did that Puerto Rican princess Sotomayor get into Princeton? I mean, she was just another welfare spic from the Bronx…Sotomayor was obviously chosen by the Jews at Princeton to fulfill a quota. Then the Jews at some NY law firm hired her to be their token spicarina, and so on…I can't wait to see what kind of f#cked-up opinions she issues from the Supreme Court Bench. I'll bet they're really insane, using all the tortured and twisted Jew-logic they taught her at Princeton."

SCOTUS Round-Up

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

The New York Times:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

The Washington Times:

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

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

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

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

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

The Washington Independent:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Risk-Free Way To Survive The Coming Global Collapse

One of the “perks” of this job is that we end up on lots of right-wing email lists and then our email addresses are sold to others who use those lists to pitch all sorts of fringe ideas and products, which means that our inboxes get cluttered with rambling, over-the-top messages like this one recently sent out through Townhall:

This briefing is a critical, time-sensitive warning.  Please read what I am about to say carefully, because your very life may depend on it.

A whole lot of already shell-shocked people are going to learn the hard way that the veneer of “civilization” is far thinner than most realize.

U.S. Preparing a Military Response to Coming Social Chaos

As the shocking confidential information contained in this briefing shows, the threat of social meltdown and chaos is so large a domestic law-enforcement arm of the U.S. military (referred to by The Army Times as the "Consequence Management Response Force") has been created to deal with what U.S. officials believe to be a coming, unprecedented wave of massive social chaos.

Later I'll show you why many Washington insiders (including officials directly involved in homeland security) are personally making emergency preparations for social chaos. In addition, outgoing Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson told Sen. James Inhofe and Rep. Brad Sherman that so much financial mayhem lies ahead U.S. troops may have to impose martial law to deal with social unrest.

Yes, U.S. Officials Are Quietly Preparing for BIG Trouble Ahead

A new report by the Army War College's Strategic Studies Institute states flatly the U.S. military must prepare for "a violent, strategic dislocation inside the United States" that could be provoked by "unforeseen economic collapse" or "loss of functioning political and legal order."

Late last year, The Washington Post noted the incoming Obama Administration is going to "earmark" at least 20,000 troops returning from Iraq to deal with "domestic emergencies." Since then, the Army Times has broken the story that the domestic emergency army unit has been increased to 80,000 troops, who are being trained right now in Georgia.

In short, U.S. officials expect big trouble ahead — but they are not warning the general public about the danger (much less urge the unsuspecting masses to make basic preparations).

A rare critic of the government's keep-the-public-in-the-dark mentality is former head of the U.S. Commission on National Security, Stephen Flynn.  He noted in a recent Wall Street Journal editorial: "Too many officials believe telling the truth to Americans about the risk would set off a nationwide panic. Thus, they keep us sheep in the dark for our own good."

Boiled down, you need a real plan to deal with massive social dislocations that are headed our way. And you need to get started right now, because the government isn't going to give you a heads-up.

My name is Lee Bellinger, publisher of the monthly financial, health, and taxation intelligence advisory Independent Living. In my two decades of publishing discreet information about threats to your liberty, health and prosperity, never before have we produced as important a document as my best-selling Social Chaos Survival Guide: Smart, Savvy Precautions To Make You Self-Reliant in These Dangerous Times.

This is literally the first one-tenth of the email, which goes on for another fourteen pages and five thousand words.  It’s not even worth trying to debunk this nonsense because it is a) so obviously insane and b) too easy … like merely pointing out that quote attributed to Flynn comes from a five year old op-ed he co-wrote with Warren Rudman, Leslie Gelb, and Gary Hart urging Congress to stop playing politics with the Department of Homeland Security and its spending priorities.

But on and on it goes about how society is about to “come completely unglued,” food, gas, and medicine are going to disappear, and that the government will be forced to unveil a “draconian response to social chaos … when all hell breaks loose.”  

But of course, there is hope in the form of Bellinger’s “Social Chaos Survival Guide” which tells you how to stockpile food and water, plan your escape route, and live off the land … all for the low price of $79.

And here’s where it gets really odd:

Enter your risk-free trial subscription to Independent Living for two full years for a mere $79 (24 information-packed issues at an inflation-busting rate) and I will rush you the 2009 edition of my Social Chaos Survival Guide. And as always, this offer comes with my full guarantee of your total and complete satisfaction.

So society as we know it is about to disintegrate, but Bellinger can offer me a “risk-free” subscription of his insights? And a two year one at that? When the world crumbles, how exactly is Bellinger still going to be able to not only produce his books, newsletters, and DVDs, but also get them delivered to me?  To where, the cave I’m living in?

Anyway, the most entertaining aspect of this screed is just who Bellinger seems to think his target audience is, considering that while we received it via Townhall, it has also been sent out to Newsmax and GOP USA readers as well.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • John Feehery takes up the unenviable task of defending George W. Bush from comparisons to Barack Obama, saying "Linking Bush with Obama is not credible. And bashing Bush without at least acknowledging some of his important achievements is counterproductive to the Republican Party."
  • The Christian Coalition wins again ... this time preventing Sunday alcohol sales in Georgia.
  • It looks like the Club for Growth's Pat Toomey is planning on challenging Sen. Arlen Specter yet again.
  • Focus on the Family warns that atheists are out to destory the National Day of Prayer.
  • Day Gardner commemorates the 157th anniversary of the Dred Scott decision to, predictably, compare it to abortion. Of course, the decision was handed down on this day in 1857, which means its really the 152nd anniversary.
  • Finally, how are Obama and FDR alike?  According to the Eagle Forum, Obama's use of a teleprompter is like FDR's use of a wheelchair:
  • This is one of those dirty little secrets about Obama. He is supposed to be a great speaker, but he cannot give a speech without reading it from a script. The press goes to great lengths to conceal this fact by carefully making sure that the Teleprompter does not show up on TV and in pictures. It is a bit like the way the press would never show FDR in a wheelchair so that people would not know that we had a crippled president.

LaBarbera Continues His Crusade Against the Log Cabin Republicans

A few weeks ago, Peter LaBarbera unleashed a pre-emptive attack against new Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele, warning him not to even consider meeting with the Log Cabin Republicans, whom he called "homosexual activists whose agenda would restrict our precious religious and First Amendment freedoms by using the government to promote aberrant sexual lifestyles."

On a related note, we mentioned last week that John McCain's daughter and former campaign manager are scheduled to speak at the LCR's convention in April ... and guess what?  LaBarbera is not happy about that either:

Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, says McCain is taking the wrong message to young voters.

"I'm afraid that some Republicans are going to think, 'Hey, we have to go pro-gay and try to be hip to get the youth vote,'" suggests LaBarbera. "Look, the kind of youth who are going to be the long-term heroes in the Republican Party are going to be the principled youth of today -- and the principled youth don't want us to play around or go half-way on homosexuality, or just fight gay marriage and not anything else."

Also speaking April 17 at the Log Cabin conference will be Steve Schmidt, John McCain's former campaign manager. The topic of Schmidt's address is "Moving Forward." LaBarbera admits he feels "very sorry" for people like Schmidt, who has a lesbian sister who is living in a domestic-partner relationship.

"They believe that they're showing love for their family member by promoting homosexuality and embracing homosexuality -- and that's just not the case," the Christian activist emphasizes. "Homosexuality is a sin whether your sister or brother or son is engaged in it. We want to hope that those people will come out of that lifestyle because it's wrong."

This latest salvo comes amid a feud LaBarbera is having with Jamie Ensley, the president of the Georgia Log Cabin Republicans, who responded to LaBarbera's attack on the LCR and Steele by calling LaBarbera's Americans For Truth About Homosexuality a “radical Christian domestic terrorist group” and comparing it to Nazis.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • The Victory Christian Center in Tulsa, OK will host the 2009 Night to Honor Israel from 7-9 p.m. March 2 with the Rev. John Hagee speaking.
  • Rick Santorum says the Quran was "written in Islamic,” which is not a language.  It was written in Arabic.
  • FRC says it is understandable that so many Republicans are refusing to run for re-election.  After all, "who can blame them for choosing not to sit at the foot of the most pro-abortion, socialist Speaker of the House in history?"
  • Bill Donohue gets results. Yesterday the Catholic League voiced its outrage over a poster at the University of Georgia, claiming the "famous Michelangelo painting on the Sistine Chapel ceiling that features the hand of God giving life to Adam has been hijacked to promote condoms." The school's Vice President for Student Affairs immediately apologized.
  • On his last day as Johnson County District Attorney, Phill Kline reportedly had copies of abortion records mailed to his office to Lynchburg, Va., where he had taken a job at Liberty University. The Johnson County District Attorney's Office only found out about it because the box was returned because  the address on the label was incorrect.
  • Finally, this quote from Richard Land in opposition to DOJ nominee David Ogden seemed to be worth highlighting:
  • Ogden told the committee during his oral and written testimony that his legal positions on controversial pornography-related cases represented the views of his clients and did not reflect his personal beliefs. But that hasn't been enough to appease opponents, who say that he could have turned down representing those clients if he found their positions so objectionable.

    "That's a moral cop-out, and it's one reason why there are so many lawyer jokes," Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, told Baptist Press regarding Ogden's defense. "… A person's views on pornography are a window to a person's worldview, and this window shows a worldview that is inconsistent with what I want the American Justice Department to be."

Advancing the Right-Wing Agenda Through the Process of Elimination

The AP reports that legislators and right-wingers in Georgia are citing budget shortfalls as the justification for trying to fire college professors who teach things they don't like:

Upset House Republicans are mounting a campaign to purge Georgia's higher education system of professors with an expertise in racy sexuality topics as the state grapples with a $2.2 billion shortfall.

State Rep. Charlice Byrd of Woodstock took House well on Friday to announce a "grass-roots" effort to oust professors with expertise in subjects like male prostitution, oral sex and "queer theory."

"This is not considered higher education," she said. "If legislators are going to dole out the dollars, we should have a say-so in where they go."

Byrd and her supporters, including state Rep. Calvin Hill, said they will team with the Christian Coalition and other religious groups to pressure fellow lawmakers and the Board of Regents to eliminate the jobs.

"Our job is to educate our people in sciences, business, math," said Hill, a vice chairman of the budget-writing House Appropriations Committee. He said professors aren't going to meet those needs "by teaching a class in queer theory."

The Men Behind the Oil

Last week I wrote a post about Rep. Paul Broun, Rob Scheck, and Patrick Mahoney gathering in the Capitol in order to anoint the doorway that Barack Obama will pass through on his way to his swearing in that lead to a post this week vowing to start paying more attention to Broun.  

And so, following through on that pledge, I found this:

Republican Congressman Paul Broun of Georgia told the Associated Press that today's American leadership "needs to serve the Lord Jesus Christ."

But more interestingly, Max Blumenthal has written a good profile of these three men and their mission that contains several bits of interesting information about Broun:

While the Capitol prayer partners appeared earnest in the prayers for the president elect’s success, they have each distinguished themselves from their Christian right comrades by leveling some of the most paranoid imprecations Obama has faced since he arrived in the Senate. On November 10, 2008, a week after Obama’s election victory, Broun took umbrage at the President-elect’s call for a national civilian security force, a proposal also backed by George W. Bush. According to Broun, who acknowledged the possibility that he might be “crazy,” Obama had revealed himself as a radical Marxist Nazi socialist comparable to Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin.

"It may sound a bit crazy and off base,” Broun told an AP reporter, “but the thing is, he’s the one who proposed this national security force. I’m just trying to bring attention to the fact that we may—may not, I hope not—but we may have a problem with that type of philosophy of radical socialism or Marxism. That’s exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany and it’s exactly what the Soviet Union did. When he’s proposing to have a national security force that’s answering to him, that is as strong as the U.S. military, he’s showing me signs of being Marxist.”

After seeming to back away from his comments when he was heavily criticized, Broun announced that he was “not taking back anything [he] said.” “I firmly believe that we must not fall victim to the ‘it can't happen here’ mentality,” he declared in a press release. “I adhere to the adage ‘eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.’”

“Mr. Speaker,” Broun announced from the House floor in 2007, “if we take our dishes and try to wash ‘em in our clothes washers we’re going to have problems, and that’s what we’re doing in our society, Mr. Speaker. We’re trying to do things against God’s inerrant word… So I rise today to support the Bible as the basis of our nation.”

Though he campaigned for reelection in 2008 as “The #1 Congressman on Immigration,” Broun has introduced only one bill since arriving in Washington: a measure banning pornography in the military. “Our troops should not see their honor sullied so that the moguls behind magazines like Playboy and Penthouse can profit,” Broun proclaimed. His spokesman testified to his expertise as an “addictionologist” who is “familiar with the negative consequences associated with long-term exposure to pornography.” Despite such scientific and personal authority, Broun’s bill to protect the troops from pictures of unclad women has gone nowhere.

Given such views, Blumenthal explains, its not hard to understand why he hooked up with the likes of Schenck and Mahoney:

In the early 1990s, Schenck was arrested a dozen times during protests outside women's health clinics and abortion doctors' homes, and was momentarily detained by Secret Service after shoving an aborted fetus in front of Bill Clinton outside the 1992 Democratic National Convention. Four years later, Schenck grew so upset by President Clinton's veto of a bill banning partial abortion that he managed to creep behind him during a Christmas Eve service at the National Cathedral and whisper in his ear, "God will hold you to account, Mr. President.” He was immediately removed from the chapel and interrogated by Secret Service agents.

Schenck spent several months in 1992 picketing the Buffalo, New York, home of Dr. Barnett Slepian, an obscure area abortion doctor that he personally targeted for scorn. Six years later, while cooking dinner for his wife and four children, Slepian was shot to death through his kitchen window by James Kopp, a volunteer at Operation Rescue's Binghamton, N.Y., office. Though Schenck denied knowing Kopp, the two had been arrested together at several clinic blockades.

When Schenck placed flowers at the doorstep of Slepian's office, his infuriated wife returned them with a letter that read, “It's your ‘passive’ following that incited the violence that killed Bart [Slepian] and took away both my and my children's future.”

Schenck attained a new prominence during the George W. Bush era, forging friendly ties with culture warriors like House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Sen. Rick Santorum, and Sen. Joseph Lieberman, who allowed Schenck to hang a Ten Commandments plaque in his office. He even became a golfing buddy of Sen. Orrin Hatch. But DeLay and Santorum are gone from the Congress, victims of their own excesses, while Lieberman and Hatch have become marginalized by the Democratic majority.

Sensing his influence on the wane, Schenck targeted Obama. In January 2007, Schenck described the newly sworn-in senator’s Christian faith as “woefully deficient.” In a March 2008 videoblog, he accused Obama of crypto-Muslim religious sympathies.

Mahoney appeared at Obama’s Capitol Hill office in June 2008 to present his aides with a poster depicting the senator as Uncle Sam, declaring, “I Want YOU To Pay For Abortions.” Mahoney plans to hold an anti-abortion vigil along Obama’s parade route this January 20. “Sadly, President-elect Obama is on the wrong side of history and human rights by embracing the most radical abortion policies of any President in American history,” Mahoney said in announcing the vigil.

A founding member of the hardline anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, Schenck and his allies have engaged in what they call “direct action” to stop abortion by any means necessary. "There's going to be people wounded,” Mahoney, a fellow Operation Rescue leader, declared at a 1993 rally. “It's about whose will shall rule on this planet, God's or man's.”

We'll Have to Start Paying More Attention to Paul Broun

Until last week, we had never paid much attention to Rep. Paul Broun ... in fact, when he showed up last week with Rob Schenck and Patrick Mahoney for some pre-inaugural anointing, it was the first time we had ever written about him. 

But I am beginning to suspect that that is about to change:

Congressman Paul Broun has reintroduced legislation that he says would stop abortion and the "clone-and-kill" mentality in the U.S.

Representative Paul Broun (R-Georgia) believes the "greatest moral issue facing our nation" is the killing of unborn children, and that all Americans have a "moral and constitutional obligation" to protect every unborn child. That's why Broun, a medical doctor, has promised that the Sanctity of Human Life Act will be the very first bill he will introduce in every Congress until abortion is banned in the U.S. He notes the bill scientifically defines life as beginning at the point of fertilization with the creation of a human zygote.

"It gives the right of personhood to that one-celled human being," Broun explains. "If you look at Roe vs. Wade, the whole decision was predicated on no definition of the beginning of life being ever established legislatively." Roe v. Wade is the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in America.

"[But] this [bill] would define life beginning at fertilization," he continues. "It would give the right of personhood to that one-celled human being -- thus that person should be protected under the law as we are today."

We'll probably have to start trying to keep an eye on Tim Echols, one of Broun's former aides, as well, since he seems to have big plans to resurrect the Religious Right in Georgia:

One of U.S. Rep. Paul Broun's closest advisers is starting a consulting firm to bring religious conservatives back to political prominence and elect the first black Republican to statewide office in Georgia.

Winterville resident Tim Echols, a former spokesman for Mr. Broun, resigned Friday as his campaign treasurer to form Gold Dome Consulting.

One of the firm's goals will be to develop black candidates to run for state and federal office on the Republican ticket, Mr. Echols said. The GOP has neglected black voters, but they often share Republicans' conservative views on social and moral issues, he said.

"When it comes to issues of marriage and family, they're Republicans," he said. "But Republicans haven't reached out to them they way we should have."

Mr. Echols, 48, said he is talking with potential candidates but declined to identify them.

Gold Dome will be selective in choosing politicians to advise, and Mr. Echols will spend at least half his time on nonprofit clients, he said.

One of Gold Dome's first clients is the Christian Coalition of Georgia, which once dominated state politics. It lost influence after scandal-plagued Ralph Reed lost his 2006 bid for lieutenant governor and former head Sadie Fields left to start a rival group, the Georgia Christian Alliance.

"I'm going to come alongside them and bring them back to a place of strong stature," Mr. Echols said.

The Anointers Strike Again

As something of a follow-up to my last post, it looks like Patrick Mahoney has found time in his hunger-striking, prayer-vigil-organizing, anti-abortion rally-planning schedule to join a few of his allies for some good old fashioned pre-inaugural anointing:

In a first for presidential inaugurations, Congressman Paul Broun (pronounced BROWN) of Georgia joined the Reverends Rob Schenck (pronounced SHANK) of Faith and Action and Patrick J. Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition, both based in Washington, DC, in a prayer service inside the US Capitol today that included anointing the doorway President-Elect Barack Obama will pass through on his way to the platform to be sworn in as the 44th president of the United States on January 20.

"Anointing with oil is a rich tradition both in the Bible and in the history of the US Capitol," said Rev. Schenck. "Oil symbolizes consecration, or setting something apart for God's use. George Washington used oil during the dedication of the US Capitol. We used oil today to set apart the walkway and doors that will be the literal right of passage for Barack Obama as he ascends to the highest office in our land."

Rep. Broun spoke during the 10-minute prayer service, delivering a short sermon-like talk on the need to obey God and His will, and for the future president to do what is right. Rev. Schenck read Bible passages and applied sacred oil to the doorposts of the arched doorway leading out of the Capitol and onto the inaugural stage, immediately in front of the riser where Obama will stand with Chief Justice John Roberts who will administer the Oath of Office. Rev. Mahoney, who is undertaking a 21-day fast and daily prayer schedule for Mr. Obama across the street from the White House, read an inaugural prayer by Dr. Billy Graham delivered 40 years ago.

You might recall that, a few years ago, Schenck and Mahoney also anointed the seats and doors in the Senate rooms where John Roberts and Samuel Alito held their confirmation hearings ... so at least they are being bipartisan about it.

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