Indiana

The Great and Powerful ACORN

When President Barack Obama announced his nomination of David Hamilton to a seat on the United States 7th Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday, Wendy Long of the Judicial Confirmation Network was first out of the gate to blast the nomination because Hamilton reportedly had ties to the ACLU as well as the Right’s favorite bogeyman, ACORN:

Hamilton has a history as a hard-left political activist, and his choice signals that Obama does intend to push extreme liberals onto the bench and politicize the courts as we've never seen before.

Hamilton was a fundraiser for ACORN (nice ACORN payback, Mr. President) and served as vice president for litigation and a board member of the Indiana ACLU.

Hamilton’s purported ties to ACORN immediately worked its way into right-wing commentary on the nomination, being highlighted by Newbusters, Powerline, Curt Levey of the Committee for Justice, and the Family Research Counciltwice, which complained that ACORN was getting it very own judge.

The idea that President Obama’s nomination of Hamilton was “payback” to ACORN quickly became the right-wing talking point of the day, with people claiming that he was “a big shot at ACORN” and leading to posts like this one written by Matthew Vadum at “The American Spectator” entitled “ACORN's Federal Judge”:

Giving the term judicial activism new meaning, President Obama has nominated an ACORN loyalist to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, the Chicago Tribune reports … The Judicial Confirmation Network notes that Hamilton previously worked as a fundraiser for ACORN, the radical direct-action group that not only resurrects the dead and gets them to the polls every election but also shakes down banks and pressures them to make home loans to people who can't afford to pay them back.

In nearly every instance, Hamilton’s ties to ACORN can be tracked back to Long and the Judicial Confirmation Network yet, oddly, when the group issued its own release on his nomination, it made no mention of his work with ACORN.

Now we know why:

Wendy Long, counsel for the Judicial Confirmation Network, labeled Judge Hamilton a "hard-left political activist," noting his work with the Indiana ACLU and suggesting he had an affiliation with the community organizing group ACORN.

"After college as a young man, he served one month as a canvasser for ACORN, helping them raise money door to door.

Hamilton graduated from college in 1979.  

I knew that ACORN was influential, but I had no idea it was so powerful that the President of the United States was obligated to pay it back by giving a federal judgeship to someone who worked for it for one whole month some thirty years ago.

Right Has No Intention of Relenting in Confirmation Battles

The New York Times reports today that President Obama is set to make his first judicial nomination in the coming days:

President Obama is expected to name his first candidate to an appeals court seat this week, officials said, choosing David F. Hamilton, a highly regarded federal trial court judge from Indiana, for the appeals court in Chicago.

The article says that Hamilton has the support of both of Indiana's senators and that the administration is hoping his nomination will serve “as a kind of signal” that it wants to move beyond the bruising and nasty confirmation fights of the past:

The administration official said the White House was hoping to reduce the partisan contentiousness of judicial confirmation battles of recent years.

“We would like to put the history of the confirmation wars behind us,” the official said.

Considering this immediate response from Wendy Long of the Judicial Confirmation Network, it looks like those on the right have no intention of allowing that to happen:

It's interesting that this is what Obama and the New York Times call a "moderate": Hamilton is a history as a hard-left political activist, and his choice signals that Obama does intend to push extreme liberals onto the bench and politicize the courts as we've never seen before.

Hamilton was a fundraiser for ACORN (nice ACORN payback, Mr. President) and served as vice president for litigation and a board member of the Indiana ACLU. In 1994, when President Clinton nominated him to the district court, the ABA rated him as ‘not qualified,’ apparently of his almost purely political (as opposed to legal and judicial) experience.

Interestingly, he is also the brother-in-law of perhaps the hardest left radical Obama appointee to the Department of Justice, Dawn Johnsen.

Beginning to notice a pattern here?

Indeed we are noticing a pattern here - in fact, it is a pattern that we've been noting for a while in which the Judicial Confirmation Network, a group founded to ensure that President Bush's judges were confirmed, is now leading the fight to make sure President Obama's judges aren't.

Focus on the Family Shacks Up With Schenck

There is nothing particularly ground-breaking contained in this latest video update from Rob Schenck of Faith and Action, but it does provide some interesting insight into how closely many of the right-wing groups we write about here are intertwined.

Schenck is discussing the expansion of their ministry into new space and, at the 1:40 mark, he begins to relate all of the various groups who currently occupy space in Faith to Action’s Washington DC headquarters, among them the Christian Defense Coalition, Priests for Life, the National Pro-Life Action Center, the Judicial Action Group, and the Life Education and Resource Network.

Schenck also states that they recently had a new addition, saying they are now sharing the space with the man who is the "eyes and ears of Focus on the Family for Capitol Hill."  That would be Tim Goeglein, the former Bush Administration aide was forced to step down after admitting he plagiarized numerous columns when he was writing for The News-Sentinel in Fort Wayne, Indiana and last week was hired by Focus to be their chief lobbyist in DC.  In fact, in its announcement, Focus explicitly referred to Goeglein as the man who would “be our eyes and ears in Washington.”

We have written about Schenck a number of times, most recently when he, Pat Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition, and Rep. Paul Brown anointed the door at the Capitol before Barack Obama’s inauguration.  While far from a household name, Schenck has seemingly been becoming more influential over the last few years – he met privately with John McCain during the campaign and even received a VIP invitation to McCain’s announcement that Sarah Palin would be his running mate, where he had the opportunity to speak with both of them.  

He also has a history of harassing Democratic politicians, especially former President Bill Clinton, having been arrested back in 1992 for thrusting a fetus at him during the campaign and being stopped by the Secret Service after confronting him outside of the Washington Cathedral in 1996. He was also deeply involved in the early 1990’s in protesting women’s health clinics, including targeting one where a doctor was eventually assassinated.

And now Focus on the Family’s lead lobbyist will apparently be sharing office space with Schenck and the gaggle of fringe Religious Right groups who inhabit his orbit.

Dirtiest RNC Race Ever and Nothing Will Change

Ralph Z. Hallow reports that, according to insiders involved in the race to become the next chairman of the Republican National Committee, the current campaign, which is to be decided tomorrow, has become the "dirtiest ever":

From anonymous charges of racism, old-fashioned graft and outright incompetence, the six-man race for the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee has devolved into the dirtiest - and most closely watched - in recent history.

The 168 members who Friday will elect the next chairman have been inundated with anonymous e-mails attacking the characters and capabilities of the various candidates and, in at least one case, accusing a candidate of conspiring with political consultants to cash in on the millions of dollars in future advertising by the party.

"This is dirtiest ever - and remember, I was the longest-serving state party chairman in the history of this committee," said RNC member and former Ohio Republican Party Chairman Bob Bennett, a supporter of Mike Duncan, the incumbent national chairman who is seeking a second two-year term.

One candidate, South Carolina Republican Chairman Katon Dawson, is the subject this week of an unsigned e-mail to RNC members that bore a hypothetical USA Today front page with the banner headline, "RNC members choose 'whites only' chairman," as a warning of how a Dawson win would be spun.

...

On Monday, Indiana RNC member James Bopp Jr., who formed a self-described conservative rump group of RNC members to fight the [Michael] Steele candidacy, sent members a signed e-mail basically accusing Mr. Steele of lying about his casual relationship with the RLC.

It quoted Mrs. Whitman as saying that she was proud to join with "Michael Steele in creating a powerful and influential group that can bring our party back to its roots while promoting the common-sense centrist values we all hold so dear." The word "centrist" among members of the dominant strain of the Republican Party is an epithet.

...

Another anonymous e-mail to members noted that Saul Anuzis does not have a formal education beyond high school - he attended college for four years but did not finish his degree - and called the salaried Michigan Republican chairman "a paid political hack whose greed and misconduct lost him his job in government. After fifteen years of trying to make it in business, he came back to what he knew best: politics for pay."

A particularly vicious whack at Ken Blackwell, the former Ohio secretary of state and the other black man chasing the chairman's post, appeared in a Jan. 6 anonymous e-mail claiming he was "dangerously incompetent" as secretary of state and accusing him of using taxpayer money to finance TV ads to "boost his own name recognition" in preparation for his failed run for governor.

As entertaining as it has been to watch them tear each other apart, Hallow reports that the viciousness stems from the fact that, in terms of actual substance, there doesn't appear to be any actual differences among the candidate's stances on the hot-button issues of the day:

However, when The Times submitted three questions on the biggest hot-button issues - gay marriage, immigration and federal bailouts - little substantive difference emerged among the six men.

Mr. Duncan was the lone candidate who did not respond initially to the questions, instead sending a single response attacking President Obama and not even doing so on the issues in question. All six men support a constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage, oppose amnesty for illegal immigrants and doubt the government's competence to bail out industries failing in the marketplace.

So no matter who wins, it looks like we'll have yet another anti-gay, anti-immigrant, obstructionist chairman at the RNC. 

How has that been working out for them lately?  

Focus Gets Former Bush Administration Loyalist, Plagiarist

Via the Colorado Independent, we find out that Timothy Goeglein, the Bush Administration’s liason to the Religious Right, has landed a new gig as chief lobbyist for Focus on the Family Action:

Fort Wayne native Tim Goeglein has been named the top Washington lobbyist and spokesman for Focus on the Family Action, the lobbying arm of Focus on the Family.

Goeglein worked in the Bush White House as the administration’s chief liaison to conservative religious groups until he resigned a year ago after admitting he plagiarized numerous columns that appeared in The News-Sentinel.

The Colorado-based organization said Goeglein will be its “eyes and ears in Washington” as the group lobbies on issues such as blocking marriage of gay couples and banning abortion.

Goeglein is perhaps best remembered for having to resign from his White House position after it was discovered that he had regularly plagiarized material when he was writing for the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel:

A White House official who serves as President Bush's middleman with conservatives and Christian groups has resigned after admitting to plagiarism. Twenty columns he wrote for an Indiana newspaper were determined to have material copied from other sources without attribution.

Timothy Goeglein, who has worked for Bush since 2001, acknowledged that he lifted material from a Dartmouth College publication and presented it as his own work in a column about education for The News-Sentinel in Fort Wayne, Ind.

The White House said Goeglein has apologized for not upholding the standards expected by the president. A White House statement says the president was disappointed to learn of the matter and was saddened for Goeglein and his family. It said Bush has long appreciated his service and knows him to be a good person who is committed to his country.

Focus Works the Phones in Wyoming

Just last week we noted that Focus on the Family was getting involved in efforts to introduce a marriage amendment in Wyoming  … and if there was any doubt that the organization is serious about getting it on the ballot, this ought to dispel that notion:

Focus on the Family Action of Colorado Spring has launched a telephone lobbying campaign trying to influence a gay-marriage bill in Wyoming.

The evangelical group has been making telephone calls to voters in key Wyoming senate districts.

The group is trying to drum up support for Senate Joint Resolution 2. The measure would let Wyoming voters decide whether to amend the state constitution to specify that the state won't recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.

"Those phone calls are part of an effort to encourage and enable Wyomingites who care deeply about protecting marriage to contact their legislators," said Sonja Swiatkiewicz, director of issues response for Focus on the Family Action.

Swiatkiewicz said the calls began on Friday. She declined to disclose the cost of the effort or how many calls the group were being made.

The group's calls have been targeting voters in districts represented by some members of the Senate Education Committee. The resolution has been assigned to the committee but has yet to come up for a vote.

This follows directly on the heels of the more than a half-million dollars Focus dumped into the Proposition 8 fight in California which was then followed by an announcement that it would be laying off several hundred staff due to falling revenue.  

Apparently the lessons from that effort have been lost on the powers-that-be at Focus on the Family headquarters in Colorado.

Marriage Amendments Introduced in Wyoming and Indiana

Yesterday was a busy day for anti-marriage equality advocates, with constitutional amendments being introduced in two states. 

First in Indiana, where the Alliance Defense Fund, the Family Research Council, and the Indiana Family Institute joined state legislators in announcing their efforts to pass an amendment after a similar effort failed in 2007.  As FRC 's Tony Perkins explained:

Legislators in Indiana, one of the minority of states that has yet to pass a marriage protection amendment, renewed their effort today by introducing a new amendment to the state's constitution. I was on hand today in Indianapolis as lawmakers vowed to put the Hoosier state in the column with the 29 other states that have taken marriage out of the hands of activist judges. An amendment was narrowly defeated in the General Assembly in 2007. This afternoon, Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) joined me for a private pastors briefing in the Indiana Supreme Court Chambers. Mike has been a good friend and solid ally on this issue in the U.S. House, and with his help, Indiana churches stand to bring a victory for marriage to his home state.

After a House and Senate meet-and-greet with key Indiana lawmakers, I joined amendment sponsors State Reps. P. Eric Turner (R-Marion) and Dave Cheatham (D-North Vernon), Curt Smith of the Indiana Family Institute, our friends at the Alliance Defense Fund, and Pastor Ron Johnson Jr. for a press conference in the state Capitol on the importance of the constitutional amendment to the state.

And trying to make up for another effort that also failed two years ago, a similar group of legislators and Religious Right activists in Wyoming are gearing up to pass their own amendment, all while absurdly trying to insist that the effort is in no way motivated by any animus toward gays:

Sen. Curt Meier, R-LaGrange, one of the bill's sponsors, said Monday that the issue came to the forefront in the last election cycle, when voters in California voted to ban same-sex marriage. Meier said many Wyoming residents approached their lawmakers to find the status of the law in Wyoming.

Meier said the proposal to change Wyoming's constitution isn't motivated by any dislike of gays and lesbians.

"I really think what we're trying to do is protect the institution of marriage, and trying to make the family unit as strong as it can be for the future," he said.

A newly formed group called WyWatch Family Institute is lobbying for passage of the proposed amendment. The group's Web site describes it as a "group of Judeo-Christian families who have a goal to preserve traditional family values in the great state of Wyoming."

The group is getting advice from Focus on the Family Action, and the Alliance Defense Fund, said Becky Vandeberghe, chairwoman and lobbyist with the Wyoming group. Focus on the Family is a Colorado Springs, Colo.-based evangelical group founded by evangelist James Dobson, while the Alliance Defense Fund is an Arizona-based conservative Christian legal group.

"We're trying to protect the children, because when you have a same-sex marriage, you're denying that child either a mother or a father," Vandeberghe said. "And the family unit is very, very precious to us, and we want to make sure that every child has that."

Asked whether her group is motivated by any religious conviction that homosexuality is wrong or immoral, Vandeberghe said, "It plays a small part in it. But a large part is just wanting to protect traditional marriage."

Protecting Themselves From Nonexistent Threats

It's been more than a month since Marin Cogan explained in The New Republic that fears over the re-introduction of the Fairness Doctrine were nothing more than "Republican paranoia" because Democrats had no intention of actually trying to implement it. 

Just yesterday, Rep. Steny Hoyer told CNS News much the same thing:

The House Democratic leadership, which controls the legislative schedule, currently has no plans to bring the Broadcaster Freedom Act – which would permanently ban the Fairness Doctrine – up for a vote, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told CNSNews.com at the Capitol on Wednesday ... “That has not been discussed, and I do not contemplate it, but I have not discussed it with the committees,” Hoyer told CNSNews.com on Tuesday when asked if the Democratic leadership would schedule a vote on the ban this year. “There is a lot of discussion from the other side on the Fairness Doctrine but less discussion on our side. That has not been a major item.”

But, as the old saying goes, just because you are paranoid doesn't mean you shouldn't introduce pre-emptive legislation to block this non-existent threat - and that is exactly what several Republicans did yesterday:

Republicans introduced a bill Wednesday that would bar Congress, President-elect Barack Obama and federal media regulators from bringing back the Fairness Doctrine, which they said would all but eliminate the talk-radio industry.

...

"Freedom of speech is under attack in this country," said Sen. Jim DeMint, South Carolina Republican and co-sponsor of the Broadcaster Freedom Act. "I am just committing today to use every rule, every tactic that we have at our disposal to keep the Fairness Doctrine from moving in Congress or to overrule it if it is implemented by the FCC."

...

"Bringing back the Fairness Doctrine today would amount to government control over political views expressed on the airwaves," said Rep. Mike Pence, Indiana Republican and a former broadcaster.

Joining Mr. Pence and Mr. DeMint were Sen. James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma and Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon.

The Washington Times reports that "the group did not cite any immediate effort to revive the doctrine, but argued for the legislation as a preventive measure." So at least they are protected against this non-existent threat should it ever be re-introduced ... which it won't, as a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid explained:

"We have enough real problems facing this country that we don't need to invent ones that don't exist," Reid spokesman Jim Manley said. "This is not even close to being on our radar screen."

The Right’s New Plan to De-Fund Planned Parenthood

The Wall Street Journal reports that right-wing anti-choice advocates are changing the direction of their efforts to de-fund Planned Parenthood away from pressuring state and local governments to gut the organization’s funding because of its mission in favor of pressuring them to stop funding to organization because it is too rich and doesn’t need the money:

Abortion opponents are pressing state and local governments to stop sending taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood, arguing that the nonprofit group has plenty of cash and shouldn't be granted scarce public funds at a time of economic crisis … [T]he new lobbying effort, backed by conservative Christian groups such as the Family Research Council, focuses more on economic than moral concerns. The campaign paints Planned Parenthood as a wealthy organization that doesn't need taxpayer help. Planned Parenthood reported record revenue and a $115 million budget surplus last year, and it is building a network of elegant health centers to attract middle-class clients.

The Family Research Council is developing a kit to help grass-roots activists dig through financial reports so they can make detailed presentations to elected officials about the assets and revenue of local Planned Parenthood chapters. The council has sent letters to 1,200 state legislators describing Planned Parenthood's strong financial position and urging "a second look" at public funding.

With a Democratic president soon to take office, "we're very limited as to what we can do" on a federal level, said Thomas McClusky, vice president for government affairs at the Family Research Council. "But on the local level, there are a lot of victories to be had." The group has been courting elected officials who they think would be receptive in states including Indiana, Ohio, Virginia and Kentucky.

Right Lives Out SCOTUS Fantasy on Film

With the opening of the new Supreme Court term today, the newspapers are full of articles explaining that the future of the Court will depend on the outcome of the election, especially on the issue such as reproductive choice:

Every four years, defenders of abortion rights proclaim that the fate of Roe vs. Wade hangs on the outcome of the presidential election.

This year, they may be right.

Through most of the 1990s and until recently, the Supreme Court had a solid 6-3 majority in favor of upholding the right of a woman to choose abortion. But the margin has shrunk to one, now that Justice Sandra Day O'Connor is retired and has been replaced by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.

And Justice John Paul Stevens, a leader of the narrow majority for abortion rights, is 88.

"Clearly, Roe is on the line this time," said Indiana University law professor Dawn Johnsen, a former lawyer for NARAL Pro-Choice America. "It is quite clear they have four votes against it. If the next president appoints one more, the odds are it will be overruled."

But for Religious Right activists who just can’t wait to see how it all turns out, there is a new movie opening through which they can live out their fantasies as they watch students at Patrick Henry College (and co-starring its founder, Michael Farris) convince the Supreme Court to finally overturn Roe … or at least win a moot court competition or something:

It is the first Monday in October and a future U.S. Supreme Court tackles the reversal of Roe vs. Wade in a dramatic new pro-life movie, COME WHAT MAY (CWM). The controversial film has received rave reviews from preview audiences nationwide, drawing large crowds in Oregon where 800 moviegoers filled the Grants Pass Performing Arts Center to capacity. Six distributors are vying for CWM, including the company currently distributing the new Christian blockbuster, FIREPROOF.

"What's remarkable is that COME WHAT MAY, a 2008 Redemptive Storyteller Award winner, was largely produced by over 40 homeschooled students mentored by only a handful of professionals," according to Mac Nichols, a tax attorney who plays one of the movie's U.S. Supreme Court Justices.

Advent Film Group (AFG) produced the micro-budget movie in association with Patrick Henry College (PHC), a true-to-life powerhouse in collegiate debate and moot court competition. The movie's legal argument is solid, claims George Escobar, founder of AFG. Dr. Michael Farris, PHC founder and chancellor, wrote the film's legal framework. Farris, a constitutional attorney, has successfully argued before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Right on Voter ID: Those People 'Should Not Be Voting Anyway'

The Supreme Court’s decision upholding Indiana’s partisan voter-ID law, like other recent cases with conservative outcomes, received generous praise from the Right. “This victory continues conservatives’ good run of Supreme Court decisions dating back to last term,” wrote Human Events columnist Sean Trende, who called the case evidence that John Roberts’s appointment as Chief Justice “mark[ed] a sea change” in pulling the court “rightward.”

Paul Weyrich praised the Court and called objections to the law—which closes access to the ballot box for many otherwise eligible voters, primarily minorities and the elderly, in pursuit of the phantom threat of voter fraud—“overblown and sensational,” adding, “We do not compel people to vote.” (As Weyrich said in 1980, “I don't want everybody to vote. … [O]ur leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”)

And Gary Bauer boldly asserted that “all citizens have photo I.D.s, and the only people who don’t are illegal aliens, who are, by definition, not allowed to vote. The only ones disenfranchised by the photo I.D. requirement are those who should not be voting anyway.”

Of course, by the time Bauer sent that remarkable claim out to his e-mail list, the AP was already reporting on some of these people he said “should not be voting”:

About 12 Indiana nuns were turned away Tuesday from a polling place by a fellow sister because they didn't have state or federal identification bearing a photograph. …

The nuns, all in their 80s or 90s, didn't get one but came to the precinct anyway.

"One came down this morning, and she was 98, and she said, 'I don't want to go do that,'" Sister McGuire said. Some showed up with outdated passports. None of them drives.

They weren't given provisional ballots because it would be impossible to get them to a motor vehicle branch and back within the 10 days allotted by the law, Sister McGuire said. "You have to remember that some of these ladies don't walk well. They're in wheelchairs or on walkers or electric carts."

The Nazi Thing

Zirkle and the Nazi PartyTony Zirkle’s 15 minutes of swastika-draped fame were widely reported last month, when the Indiana congressional candidate spoke at an American Nazi Party celebration of Adolf Hitler’s birthday. Zirkle, whose campaign warns of a link between Jews and pornography, offered the comical explanation that, despite the oversize Hitler portrait and Nazi flags directly behind him, the swastika armbands of the men on either side of him, and the words “Seig Heil” on the cake, “he didn't believe the event he attended included people necessarily of the Nazi mindset, pointing out the name isn't Nazi, but Nationalist Socialist Workers Party.” The candidate was duly reviled by his opponent in the Republican primary race, as well as by everybody else, as an isolated racist crackpot.

However, the report on the matter by the right-wing WorldNetDaily—a product of the anti-Bill Clinton Arkansas Project that now hosts columnists such as Ann Coulter, Pat Buchanan, and Chuck Norris—offered an unusual twist. After reviewing the story and printing a number of random comments from other websites (a common journalistic technique at WND), the article tried to put it in a kind of context: "Other congressional candidates have raised eyebrows with their speeches, too," it stated. But its only example was a quote from Rep. Keith Ellison comparing the time after September 11, 2001, when the Bush Administration asserted new executive privileges, to the time after the burning of the Reichstag, when Hitler consolidated his powers.

While Ellison took heat for using the metaphor, there is, to put it mildly, a pretty obvious distinction between making a rhetorical comparison of your opponents' tactics to historical events in Nazi Germany, and actually forging an alliance with present-day Nazis based on apparently shared values. So why did WND choose this as its only attempt at context?

Ellison, of course, was the first Muslim member of Congress, and after his election in 2006, the Right launched an effort to portray his presence in Washington as a dire threat to the nation. WorldNetDaily offered obsessive coverage through dozens of flimsy, paranoid articles with titles such as “Doubts grow over Muslim lawmaker's loyalty” and “Muslim congressman called 'security' issue.”

Since WND is so desperate for an example of an anti-Semitic political figure, it’s fortunate that Ted Pike provided a timely reminder. Pike, head of the National Prayer Network, has been a frequent source of quotes for WND whenever the site covered proposed federal hate-crimes protections, most recently in December.

Pike is best-known, however, for pushing out anti-Semitic propaganda along with his father, a radio talker in the 1980s. As People For the American Way reported in a press release from 1989, Pike was warning that there was “a tendency toward Jewish domination of society,” that “Jewish international bankers” were behind the Bolshevik Revolution, and that the state of Israel was “the first stage in Satan’s plan to take this world from Christ and give it to the Antichrist.” Twenty years ago, Pike was warning that the Jewish motivation behind hate-crimes legislation was to silence churches; today, he warns of the “homosexual agenda.”

We were reminded of Pike—and his place as a privileged WorldNetDaily commentator—after he sent out an e-mail alert two weeks ago complaining that the Southern Poverty Law Center had cited the National Prayer Network as a hate group:

Jewish activist groups want to increasingly broaden the terms "hate" and "anti-Semitism" to include evangelicals. …

Jewish activists thus display a truly hateful intent—to harm Christians and deprive them of freedom. Such activists work to warp public and government perceptions of Christian conservatives—demonizing us as potential sources of “homophobic,” anti-Semitic bigotry and possible violence. SPLC alleges a 48 percent increase of threat from the "radical right" since 2000. Jewish attack groups such as the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, American Civil Liberties Union, and People for the American Way, smear “homophobic” evangelicals as being part of this “threat.”

After defaming Christians as "haters," Jewish supremacists want to actually outlaw Christian political activity and evangelism. The ADL created hate crime laws that will particularly outlaw reproof of sodomy and evangelism of non-Christians, especially Jews.

(Photo: The Times of Northwest Indiana.)

Anonymous Operative Alleges Need for Voter ID

A congressional staffer has taken to the pages of the right-wing Human Events to assert that voter fraud is a “Stunning Reality” in the U.S., and that therefore, the Supreme Court should uphold an Indiana voter-ID law. Published under the “pen name” of “Wright Talley,” this “long-time congressional employee” claims that voter fraud is “very real,” citing “numerous cases” that have been “reported by the media.”

Your right to vote will be at stake when the Supreme Court decides this case next year. It is now endangered unless there are adequate safeguards against voter fraud such as Indiana’s voter ID law.

“Talley” isn’t the first to make an anonymous pitch for voter ID laws.  Remember Hans von Spakovsky? He’s the controversial Bush nominee to the FEC who secretly published an article advocating a voter ID law in Georgia while serving as a senior appointee in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. Spakovsky later approved the law over the objections of career civil rights attorneys.

“Talley” offers as proof of fraud the result of “a casual look at news reports over the last 10 years.” This “casual look” provides him with a few examples of allegations of fraud, but a closer look—without too much effort—shows that most of those allegations simply didn’t pan out.

For example, “Talley” cites “a probe by U.S. Attorney Steve Biskupic and Milwaukee County District Attorney E. Michael McCann that found clear evidence of fraud in the election, including more than 200 felons who voted illegally and another 100-plus people who voted under bad addresses or false names or who voted twice.” Biskupic made national news recently as one of the U.S. attorneys controversially targeted for dismissal by the Justice Department, “after complaints from Rove that he was not doing enough about voter fraud.”

In fact, Biskupic aggressively pursued allegations of voter fraud; he just didn’t find any evidence of it. While Biskupic originally alleged hundreds of instances of fraud, what “Talley” fails to mention is that he only prosecuted 14. Only five people were convicted. Scraping the barrel, Biskupic managed to put a grandmother in prison who voted while on probation.

Ms. Prude said she believed that she was permitted to vote because she was not in jail or on parole, she testified in court. Told by her probation officer that she could not vote, she said she immediately called City Hall to rescind her vote, a step she was told was not necessary.

“Talley” also cites Washington’s narrow 2004 election. Republican candidate for governor Dino Rossi filed a lawsuit alleging thousands of fraudulent votes were cast; the court ended up taking away four of his own votes. In the end there was one conviction for double voting.

Between 2002, when the Bush Administration made tackling voter fraud a top priority, and 2005, there were 24 convictions of individuals casting votes while ineligible, out of hundreds of millions of votes cast, making it more likely a voter will be struck by lightning than commit fraud.

Religious Right Rally against Marriage Equality in Florida

Just days after the Religious Right’s B-team gathered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida to question Republican candidates for president (including the ones who didn’t show up), a number of more prominent right-wing figures are convening in Tampa for the Family Impact Summit, sponsored by the Focus on the Family-affiliated Florida Family Policy Council, the Tampa-based Community Issues Council, the Family Research Council, and the Salem radio network.

Advertised topics range from “Christian Citizenship” to “Homosexual Agenda,” but the focus will no doubt be on the 2008 election, and in particular, the effort by Florida’s Right to put a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage on the ballot—even though gays are already prohibited from marrying by statute.

Below is some background on the featured speakers, from Tony Perkins and Richard Land to Katherine Harris and Ken Blackwell.

Tony Perkins

Tony Perkins is president of the Family Research Council, considered the leading religious-right think tank in Washington, DC. Before coming to FRC, Perkins was a state legislator in Louisiana, and as a campaign manager for a Republican candidate, he reportedly bought David Duke’s e-mail list.

Under Perkins’s leadership, FRC, along with Focus on the Family, put together several “simulcasts” of political rallies held in churches, including three “Justice Sunday” events in 2005-2006—“Stopping the Filibuster Against People of Faith,” ”God Save the United States and this Honorable Court,” and “Proclaim Liberty Throughout the Land”—featuring religious-right luminaries such as James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, and Phyllis Schlafly, along with politicians like Rick Santorum and then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, arguing that opposition to Bush’s extreme judicial nominees constituted an assault on their faith or Christianity itself. A fourth event just before the 2006 elections, “Liberty Sunday,” promoted the idea that gays and their “agenda” were out to destroy religious freedom.

That fall, FRC also organized a “Values Voter Summit,” in which Dobson and other activists exhorted their constituency to turn out for the GOP; the conference showcased a number of future presidential candidates, including Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, and Sam Brownback. A second Values Voter Summit is planned for next month.

Also appearing from FRC at the Family Impact Summit are David Prentice and Peter Sprigg.

Richard Land

Since 1998, Richard Land has served as president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, which is “dedicated to addressing social and moral concerns and their implications on public policy issues from City Hall to Congress.”   

Land has been an active and influential right-wing leader for many years and in 2005, was named one of “The Twenty-five Most Influential Evangelicals in America” by Time Magazine, joining the likes of James Dobson, Chuck Colson, David Barton, Rick Santorum, and Ted Haggard.

Land also hosts three separate nationally syndicated radio programs and has written several books including, most recently “The Divided States of America? What Liberals and Conservatives are Missing in the God-and-Country Shouting Match!,” which Land claims seeks a middle ground between the right and the left on the role of religion in the public square.  In reality, the middle ground Land stakes out consists mainly of standard right-wing positions on political and social issues that are made to appear moderate in comparison to ultra-radical positions put forth by far-right fringe elements.  

In recent months, Land has been positioning himself to play a much more high-profile role in the presidential campaign than he has in the past, repeatedly asserting that he and other Evangelicals will not support Rudy Giuliani or Newt Gingrich, should he run,  while regularly bolstering the campaign of Fred Thompson, who Land calls a “Southern-fried Reagan.”

Harry Jackson

Jackson, pastor of a Maryland megachurch, has become a frequent spokesman for right-wing causes in recent years. In 2004, he played a prominent role in urging blacks to vote for George Bush, and in 2005, he started the High Impact Leadership Coalition and unveiled his “Black Contract with America on Moral Values”—an agenda topped with fighting gay marriage—at an event co-sponsored by the far-right Traditional Values Coalition. Jackson spoke at “Justice Sunday,” a religious-right rally in favor of Bush’s judicial nominees, as well as “Justice Sunday II, where he promised to “bring the rule and reign of the Cross to America.” He is a member of the Arlington Group.

Since then, Jackson has continued to urge blacks to vote for right-wing causes and candidates. “[Martin Luther] King would most likely be a social conservative,” he wrote in one typical column. His most recent efforts have focused on opposing hate crimes protections for gays, falsely claiming that a proposed bill would “muzzle our pulpits.”

In an article in Charisma magazine, Jackson wrote that the “wisdom behind” the “gay agenda” is “clearly satanic,” and he called for an aggressive “counterattack.” He asserted to The New York Times that “Historically when societies have gone off kilter, there has been rampant same-sex marriage.”

Don Wildmon

Wildmon is the Founder and Chairman of the American Family Association, which exists primarily to decry whatever it deems “immoral” in American culture and lead boycotts against companies that in any way support causes, organizations, or programs it deems offensive, particularly anything that does not portray gays and lesbians in a negative light. 

Over the years, AFA has targeted everything from the National Endowment for the Arts, Howard Stern, and the television show “Ellen” to major corporations such as Ford , Burger King, and Clorox.  AFA has also been particularly focused on Disney, declaring that the company’s “attack on America’s families has become so blatant, so intentional, so obvious” as to warrant a multi-year boycott.

Recently, AFA has been busy warning that proposed hate-crimes legislation is designed to lay the “groundwork for persecution of Christians,” attacked presidential candidate Mitt Romney over his time on the board of Marriott Corporation because the company offers adult movies in its hotels, and warned that the US Senate was “angering a just God” and bringing “judgment upon our country” by allowing a Hindu chaplain to deliver an opening prayer. 

Gary Bauer

Gary Bauer is a long-time right-wing activist and leader.  After serving President Ronald Reagan's administration for eight years in various capacities, Bauer went on to become President of the Family Research Council, which was founded, in part, by James Dobson of Focus on the Family, where Bauer also served as Senior Vice President. 

Bauer stepped down from FRC in 1999 when he launched an unsuccessful campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.  After dropping out of the race, Bauer made a surprising endorsement of Sen. John McCain at a time when many of the other right-wing leaders had lined up behind George W. Bush.  

Bauer’s standing took a beating when he defended McCain’s attack on Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson as “agents of intolerance” and he was ostracized by many for quite a while after McCain lost.  But Bauer pressed ahead, creating his own non-profit, American Values, and gradually reestablished himself in right-wing circles.  

Since then, Bauer has been active in various right-wing campaigns, most notably joining with likes of Tony Perkins and James Dobson in defending and pressing for the confirmation of John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court.  

William Owens

Owens, a graduate of Oral Roberts University and a Memphis pastor, founded the Coalition of African American Pastors to combat equal marriage rights for gay couples. Owens reportedly told the “Rally for Traditional Marriage” held in Mississippi in 2004 that “homosexual activists of today have hijacked the civil rights cause,” adding: “We're going to fight until we win,” he said. “We're going to have crusades and rallies like this until we win. We're going to let our political leaders know ‘if you don't stand for God, we won't stand for you.’” Owens lent the CAAP name to the Religious Right’s judges campaign, signing on to the “National Coalition to End Judicial Filibusters” and holding a press conference in support of Samuel Alito’s Supreme Court nomination.

In 2004, Owens formed an alliance with the Arlington Group, a coalition of powerful religious-right leaders that was widely credited with being the driving force behind the effort to put anti-gay marriage amendments on the ballot in 11 states in that year’s election. Owens is now on the group’s executive committee, alongside James Dobson, Gary Bauer, Bill Bennett, Tony Perkins, Paul Weyrich, Rod Parsley and others.

Alan Chambers

"Ex-gay" Alan Chambers is president of Exodus International and executive director of Exodus North America, which claim gay men and lesbians can be “cured" and "change" their sexual orientation to heterosexual. Exodus' board includes long-time anti-gay activist Phil Burress of Ohio's Citizens for Community Values, his wife Vickie Burress – founder of the American Family Association of Indiana – and Mike Haley, who replaced discredited "ex-gay" John Paulk at Focus on the Family as chief spokesperson on homosexuality and gender issues. Exodus also co-sponsors a series of "ex-gay" conferences across the country with Focus on the Family. One recent Love Won Out event was particularly mired in controversy when it was revealed that one of its presenting organizations had published a racist column that appeared to justify slavery. During a 2006 CPAC conference panel, Chambers insisted "lifelong homosexual relationships are not possible" and the battle for marriage equality was solely being promoted by the liberal media.

Other representatives of the “ex-gay” activist community scheduled for the conference include Scott Davis and Mike Ensley of Exodus and Nancy Heche, whose book “The Truth Comes Out” describes “how to respond lovingly, yet appropriately, to homosexual family members and friends,” such as her husband, who held secret “homosexual affairs,” and her daughter, whose open relationship with Ellen DeGeneres Heche called “Like a betrayal of an unspoken vow: We will never have anything to do with homosexuals.”

Robert Knight

Robert Knight is something of a journeyman within the right-wing movement.  After starting out as a journalist and editor for various newspapers, Knight has held a series of jobs with various right-wing organizations including Senior Director of Cultural Studies at the Family Research Council, a fellow at the Heritage Foundation, and director of the Culture & Family Institute at Concerned Women for America.

Currently, he is the head of the Media Research Center’s Culture and Media Institute at the Media Research Center and a columnist for Townhall.com.

His hostility toward gays is well-known, as evidenced by his response to the news that Mary Cheney, the lesbian daughter of the Vice President, was expecting a child with her partner: 

"I think it's tragic that a child has been conceived with the express purpose of denying it a father," Knight said.

"Fatherhood is important and always will be, so if Mary and her partner indicate that that is a trivial matter, they're shortchanging this child from the start."

"Mary and Heather can believe what they want," Knight said, "but what they're seeking is to force others to bless their nonmarital relationship as marriage" and to "create a culture that is based on sexual anarchy instead of marriage and family values."

John Stemberger

Stemberger, a personal injury attorney and former political director for the Florida GOP, is the president and general counsel of the Florida Family Policy Counsel/Florida Family Action, a state affiliate of James Dobson’s Focus on the Family.

Stemberger is leading the petition drive to put on next year’s ballot a constitutional amendment to ban equal marriage rights for same-sex couples, which is already banned by statute. While a 2006 effort fell short, as of September 5, Florida4Marriage.org claimed to have gathered 594,000 of the 611,000 signatures they need to submit by February 1, making it likely that the amendment will be on the ballot in 2008.

Ken Blackwell

Blackwell is most famous as the controversial Ohio secretary of state during the 2004 election, overseeing voting laws while moonlighting as state co-chair for Bush/Cheney. But he has a long history of far-right activism on economic and civil rights issues, and in 2004 Blackwell forged an alliance with the Religious Right as he campaigned for an anti-gay ballot measure. By 2006, when Blackwell ran for governor, this alliance had grown into a church-based political machine, with megachurch pastors Rod Parsley and Russell Johnson taking Blackwell to rallies of “Patriot Pastors,” who signed on to a vision of a Christianity under attack by dark forces, in need of “restoration” through electoral politics. “This is a battle between the forces of righteousness and the hordes of hell,” declared Johnson.

Blackwell’s gubernatorial bid failed, but he continues his career as a right-wing activist with affiliations with the Family Research Council and the Club for Growth, as well as a column on Townhall.com.

Katherine Harris

Harris is well known for her controversial role in Florida’s 2000 presidential election debacle, when she served as both secretary of state, overseeing a “purge” of voter rolls as well as the recount itself, and as a state co-chair for Bush/Cheney. She was elected to the U.S. House in 2002 and 2004, and spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference in both 2002 and 2003.

In 2006 Harris made a quixotic Senate run, during which she heavily courted the Religious Right. In an interview with the Florida Baptist Witness, she implied that her opponent, Sen. Bill Nelson, was not a Christian, saying, “[I]f you’re not electing Christians then in essence you are going to legislate sin. They can legislate sin. They can say that abortion is alright. They can vote to sustain gay marriage. And that will take western civilization, indeed other nations because people look to our country as one nation as under God and whenever we legislate sin and we say abortion is permissible and we say gay unions are permissible, then average citizens who are not Christians, because they don’t know better, we are leading them astray and it’s wrong.” She also advised people to disbelieve “that lie we have been told, the separation of church and state.”

Tom Minnery

Minnery is vice president for public policy at Focus on the Family and a frequent spokesman for the group. He is the author of “Why You Can’t Stay Silent: A Biblical Mandate to Shape Our Culture,” arguing that society should be “changed from the top down morally.” Focus on the Family, with a combined budget of over $160 million, promotes far-right positions on social issues to millions of Americans through radio, print, and the web, and Focus founder James Dobson is probably the single most influential figure on the Religious Right.

“There are more than enough Christians to defeat the Left," Minnery said at a rally in South Dakota. "There are a lot of pastors who didn't want to be seen as an 'activist,' but this issue of marriage has left them with little choice but to get involved."

Former Operation Rescue Lieutenant and Phil Kline Assistant to 'Exorcise' Clinic

Anti-abortion activist Bryan Brown is leasing now-vacant Indiana building.

Major Employers Worry Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment Will Hurt Recruitment

Eli Lilly concerned Indiana would be seen as intolerant; Focus calls this a “smoke screen.”

Focus Accuses Critics of Anti-Gay Indiana Family Institute of 'Christophobia'

“It really is a form of fascism."

Romney Positioning Himself on the Right

It is no secret that many on the right have been wary of Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s presidential aspirations and remains unconvinced by his recent claims that he is a champion of their cause.  It is also no surprise that, because of this, Romney has been doing all that he can to win them over.  

Since appearing alongside the likes of Tony Perkins, Bishop Wellington Boone, James Dobson, Don Wildmon, and others at the Family Research Council’s “Liberty Sunday,” Romney has steadily been working to establish his right-wing bona-fides.

For example, he recently signed the “Taxpayer’s Protection Pledge” put out by Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, as did Sen. Sam Brownback.  In addition, Romney has begun stacking his exploratory committee with right-wing activists such as Gary Marx of the Judicial Confirmation Network and Jay Sekulow of Pat Robertson’s American Center for Law and Justice.  

Joining Marx and Sekulow will be James Bopp, a right-wing powerhouse whose list of clients, according to his biography, reads like a who’s who of the Right:

[T]he National Right to Life Committee, Focus on the Family, Susan B. Anthony List, All Children Matter, Catholic Answers, Christian Broadcasting Network, Gerard Health Foundation, Priests for Life, Traditional Values Coalition, Salem Radio, Vision America, the Christian Coalition, and the Republican parties of Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Texas, and Vermont. He has argued numerous campaign finance cases in defense of pro-life, pro-family, conservative and Republican party groups, including four cases in the U.S. Supreme Court. He also serves as General Counsel for the James Madison Center for Free Speech and is a member of the Republican National Committee.

Romney is clearly competing with Sen. Brownback and the newly announced campaign from Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee for the support of the GOP’s most right-wing activists.  And since Brownback and Huckabee are considered long-shots, at best, Romney is quietly positioning himself to be the Right’s candidate-of-choice when the GOP primary field begins to narrow, giving him a distinct advantage over the other front-runners, Sen. John McCain and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.  

Right Offers Minority Leader Pence as Their Map to Lost GOP

“[T]he American people didn’t quit the Contract with America, we did,” proclaimed Rep. Mike Pence (R-Indiana) of the Republicans’ loss of the House. As rumored in September, Pence has announced his intent to run for minority leader in the next Congress. His “new vision” is, in fact, the old vision: to “rededicate [the party] to the ideals and standards that minted our majority in 1994.”

Pence speaking at the Values Voter SummitAlready, Pence has garnered the endorsement of Human Events, which certainly sounds a lot like the magazine’s attempt to make him majority leader last winter, when they named him “Man of the Year” after his rise to prominence for his dramatic plan to address the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina by cutting funding to safety-net programs and a grab bag right-wing bugbears.

Other right-wing leaders seeking to regroup and ensure they don’t get left behind as the GOP assesses its political options are also rushing to bolster Pence’s early claim. Pat Toomey, whose Club for Growth worked hard to unseat supposedly moderate Republicans in primaries this year, was nonplussed about the prospect of his PAC helping to topple the Republican’s hold on Congress, and he looked forward to the Club playing an “enormous role” in “rebuild[ing]” the GOP. Today, he says: “I think that Mike Pence would be a great leader for House Republicans.”

David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union, insisted that yesterday’s vote was not a rejection of the “ideological vision[]” of the modern GOP, presumably represented by right-wing groups like his, but merely an expression of dissatisfaction in “Republicans' performance in taking us there.” Keene also expressed early support for Pence.

Other groups have yet to weigh in, perhaps preoccupied as they scramble for their own spin on yesterday’s results – see, for example, “Integrity Voters Reveal Values Gap,” from the Family Research Council. But Pence did receive a standing ovation at FRC’s “Values Voter Summit.”

Little-Known Group Spends $1 Million on Offensive Ads to Lure Blacks to Vote Republican

A group called America’s PAC has raised almost $1 million to run highly inflammatory radio ads targeting African American voters, urging them to vote Republican in November, according to the New York Sun.

One ad, called “Don’t Go There,” features an exchange between two men. The first man says the second man has no reason to vote Republican because he is unemployed, an adulterer, and won’t serve in the military, and finally he comes to abortion:

Michael: And if you make a little mistake with one of your ho’s, you’ll want to dispose of that problem toot sweet, no questions asked, right?

Dennis: Naw, that’s too cold. I don’t snuff my own seed

Michael: Huh. Really? (pause) Well, maybe you do have a reason to vote Republican!

Another ad on abortion accuses the “Democrat Party” of “decimating our people” by supporting abortion laws. Over the sound of a thunderstorm and a crying baby, a woman says, “Democrats say they want our votes. Why don’t they want our lives?

In another ad, “Hazardous Dukes,” the “Michael” character says David Duke visited Syria to support terrorists in Iraq. The speaker continues,

Now, I can understand why a Ku Klux Klan cracker like David Duke makes nice with the terrorists. They fight voting rights in Iraq, just like he does back home. But what I want to know is why so many of the Democrat politicians I helped elect are on the same side of the Iraq war as David Duke.

Duke, the founder of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, was a Republican state representative in Louisiana and ran for governor as a Republican.

Other ads blame Democrats for Hurricane Katrina and voting irregularities in Florida in 2000, call Social Security “the most discriminatory government program we have,” invoke Martin Luther King, and assert that “it’s only the Republicans who support our troops.” Unlike other right-wing efforts to reach out to African Americans by focusing on just abortion and gay marriage, the PAC’s ads range across the panoply of Republican issues, from regulation and “school choice” to Iraq and NSA wiretapping. You can listen to 24 of these radio spots on America’s PAC’s web site.

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