Kansas

Right Wing Leftovers

  • It looks like, after just one event, Rep. Eric Cantor's National Council for a New America has already flamed out.
  • Operation Rescue has launched a petition aimed at stopping LeRoy Carhart from opening a new facility in Kansas.
  • The Alliance Defense Fund has announced that September 27 will be its second "Pulpit Freedom Sunday" in which churches and pastors are urged to challenge tax rules barring them from endorsing political candidates [PDF].
  • A principal overseeing a high school in which church-state violations were reportedly rampant now faces possible jail time for violating a court order to cease such practices.
  • Finally, Ralph Reed declares that "values voters" will resuscitate the GOP:

    The bottom line is that voters primarily motivated by their values will not go away. They are a persistent bunch. They have now gained a place at the table, have been seasoned by the experience of building (and now losing) a governing majority, and they are going to speak to a broad range of issues, from the economy to climate change to health care. They will likely be at the center of any GOP revival of fortunes. No amount of name-calling or intimidation will make them go away.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • More trouble for Gov. Mark Sanford.
  • Dr. George Tiller's alleged murderer sure is getting some interesting visitors in jail.
  • The Orlando Sentinel: Kissimmee commissioner Art Otero is not letting go of his effort to add the words "In God We Trust" to the city logo and says he will take the initiative to a referendum if needed ... Otero had told the Orlando Sentinel he started the logo effort because he feared the country was moving toward "liberal postures such as homosexuality, gay marriage, abortion and the legalization of marijuana." He also referred to the Obama administration as "socialist."
  • The Christian Coalition calls Sonia Sotomayor the "most unpopular Supreme Court justice in history."
  • Roy Moore: “Our morality is declining because we don’t recognize a moral absolute anymore. There’s no truth. We need the recognition of God. We ought to recognize God is the sovereign source of law and liberty in government.”
  • Richard Land: "I don't want to seem overly dramatic here, but I'm telling you, based on everything I know, if we get Obama-care ... it will significantly lower the quality of life and length of life of your children and grandchildren."
  • Finally, have you ever wished that someone would finally put the Birther conspiracy to music?  Well, you are in luck:

Right Wing Leftovers

  • It doesn't look like Gov. Mark Sanford's efforts to save his marriage are working out as he had planned.
  • Sen. Mel Martinez announced that he is resigning his seat and will step down as soon as a replacement is named.
  • Alan Keyes wants to know why people like Don Wildmon, Gary Bauer, and others on the Right aren't defending the Birthers.
  • OneNewsNow: Operation Rescue is formally launching a campaign called "Keep it Closed" that targets Nebraska abortionist LeRoy Carhart. Carhart has stated that he will open a late-term abortion facility in Kansas or Nebraska in the aftermath of the shooting death of Wichita abortionist George Tiller. Operation Rescue, in conjunction with Rescue the Heartland and Nebraskans United for Life, hopes to prevent Carhart from opening the clinic.
  • Finally, for those who can't wait for September's "How To Take Back America Conference," there will be a pre-conference webcast with many of the hosts on August 18th.

The Next Phase In the Battle Over Operation Rescue

We have written several times in the past about the confusing in-fighting among anti-choice activist over the rights to the name "Operation Rescue."

After Randall Terry shut down the original Operation Rescue in the late 1980's in an effort to evade various restraining orders, debt, and monetary judgments against the organization, it was reborn as a smaller group headed by Flip Benham and called Operation Save America.

Eventually another member of the original OR created a group called Operation Rescue West that was headquartered in California, though it eventually moved itself to Wichita, Kansas to focus on protesting Dr. George Tiller and now goes by the name Operation Rescue and is headed by Troy Newman.

Benham has protested Newman's use of the name "Operation Rescue" and Terry has sued Newman over it, which in turn has set off feuding among activists as they chose sides in the fight while all three men (Terry, Benham, and Newman) battle over who truly owns the right to the name "Operation Rescue."

That was as much as we've been able to figure out about this fight, but it looks like there are some developments in the works, as in the last two days we have seen Terry allies suddenly lash out at Newman.

First, it was announced that Newman had been booted from Women Against the Killing and Exploitation of Unprotected Persons' [W.A.K.E.U.P] advisory board "because of his continued unethical and divisive behavior" pertaining to his on-going fight against Terry.

The following day, a former ally on Newman's named George Offerman announced that he was starting a new website to fight Newman's lies against Terry:

"In my 27 years in the movement, I have seen extensive infighting and accusations from one pro-lifer to another. It sickens me. There needs to be more unity in the pro-life movement, and the constant bickering and backbiting is actually causing problems with the intended goal of ending legalized child-killing. In that light, I intend to also focus on other attacks against pro-lifers by fellow pro-lifers.

"In the past, I was a large supporter of Troy Newman, and I encouraged many friends and family to give to Mr. Newman. This resulted in well over $10,000 in contributions to Mr. Newman's work.

"Nearly 2 years ago, Mr. Newman made allegations against Mr. Terry that I believed, and have since learned to be false. When I approached Mr. Newman to discuss these falsehoods, he became more and more belligerent over time.

"I then decided to launch this site to fight these false allegations made by people like Troy Newman against Randall Terry.

This seemed so sudden and out-of-the-blue that we didn't really know what to make of it, but now it looks like it was part of an effort by Terry to do preemptive spinning and damage control ahead of an anticipated article about the trademark fight from the Los Angeles Times:

Background: Mr. Randall Terry has been attacked repeatedly on line and in the press for some of his recent statements and actions, including activities and Notre Dame and his comments about the shooting of George Tiller. The Los Angeles Times is doing a story on Mr. Terry and his fiercest critics and adversaries in the pro-life movement.

Mr. Randall Terry states:

"I have been doing interviews with journalists for over 25 years. When an LA Times reporter contacts me and says, 'I want to do a story about the trademark dispute,' and then proceeds to repeat slanderous allegations -- with the possibility of printing false allegations -- I smell a big dead rat. The Washington Post recently did a feature story on me -- and while certainly not favorable, and at points a little demeaning -- the Post had the integrity to not stoop to printing false allegations against me made by my pro-life adversaries. Let's see what The Los Angeles times is made of."

Mr. George Offerman states:

"I've been in the mental health field since 1987, I've been a licensed clinical social worker since 1995, and worked with a myriad of pathologies including both Axis I and Axis II diagnoses. I was contacted by the journalist from the Los Angeles Times, ostensibly to talk about my knowledge of the parties involved in a trademark dispute. I attempted to discuss the possible pathologies involved with those falsely attacking Randall. I left the phone call with the concern that this would be a hatchet job on Randall. I will reserve judgment until the piece runs, but I want my friends in the pro-life movement to know with absolute certainty: if the article is untrue or inaccurate... you'll be hearing from me!"

The article in question has not yet been published, but when it is, we'll certainly have to read it just to see what all the fuss is about.

IHOP: The Call, 24/7

Lou Engle of The Call tends to only generate press when he hosts one of his massive prayer rallies, and even then, only the events that are timed to coincide with political events or elections ever receive any coverage, like the one he held last year in San Diego that was focused largely on the need to pass Proposition 8. 

As recent developments have made clear, Engle has been making a leap from mainly religious events into more overtly political activism, joining hands with the likes of Tony Perkins, Mike Huckabee, and James Dobson and appearing at rallies where he introduced and prayed over Newt Gingrich and unveiled his own political organization called "Call 2 Action."

In addition to his work with The Call, Engle is also a "a senior leader at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City with Mike Bickle," an organization which is the focus of this excellent profile by Donald Bradley of The Kansas City Star:

The article explains that IHOP's mission is to engage in constant prayer in effort to bring about and prepare the world for the return of Christ :

The digital signal from the International House of Prayer in south Kansas City, Mo., makes its way via Washington, D.C., to Jerusalem, where it streams live on God TV for broadcast all over the world.

This ... never ... stops.

Two in the morning, 8 at night, dusk and dawn. Holidays and ice storms. Time doesn't matter because these young worshippers are more concerned with the "End Times." The signs are here. The Messiah is near.

So they've come here for the last 10 years, by the hundreds - thousands - for what perhaps is Kansas City's biggest religious phenomenon in a century.

They've come to an old renovated strip mall on Red Bridge Road.

To answer the call of a leader named Mike Bickle, who says a purpose of their worship is to hasten the Second Coming.

...

Bickle says he's heard God's voice. And that he's been to heaven. Twice.

Inside the walls of his growing IHOP nation, the 53-year-old is revered as a great leader and something of a prophet.

Outside, Bickle and other IHOP officials acknowledge, they're seen by some as a cult.

Many of Bickle's messages can be read or heard on the IHOP Web site. In a recent post about a prophetic dream about war between Satan and Michael the archangel, Bickle wrote that he saw "large snakes, over 100 feet long and 50 feet thick, each having a huge head that looked like a dragon, and many of them were coming from the sky down to the earth."

His brand of Christianity relies heavily on the Book of Revelation and a sense of urgency that the Rapture is near.

When Jesus returns to make war against his enemies and marches into Jerusalem, Bickle preaches, "untold millions will die in the wake of his righteous, loving judgments."

Some of what is preached at IHOP is heard in other fundamentalist denominations. Israel is embraced for its role on the path to the End Times. Fasting is encouraged.

Other aspects seem well out of the mainstream.

IHOP has a "Children's Equipping Center," which, according to the Web site, seeks to mold a million children to lead the next generation, by empowering them "with DNA components that produce in them a holy passion."

Throw in the proportionally heavy infusion of young believers, things such as the "Fire in the Night" internship that meets from midnight to 6 a.m. and a "prenatal soaking room" for expectant mothers and the word "cult" occasionally can be heard in the neighborhood.

One owner of a nearby business, who did not want to be identified, said many people in the neighborhood worry that IHOP is a cult.

The entire piece is worth reading, just as this video explaining IHOP's mission is worth watching: 

Tiller's Killer Asserts He Was An Operation Rescue Donor and Supporter

Over the weekend, the New York Times ran a lengthy piece on the late George Tiller, who was gunned down by an anti-abortion zealot while attending church in May.  The piece focused on Tiller's resolution to continue provided badly-needed services to women in the face of relentless protests, lawsuits, threats of violence, and assassination attempts from anti-abortion activists, most notably Operation Rescue:

“His is the only abortion clinic we’ve never been able to close,” Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, said in an interview.

,,,

There seemed an endless supply of fresh accusations.

“Wichita shoppers unknowingly sprinkled with the burnt ash of fetal remains,” declared one news release, referring to the clinic’s crematorium.

“If I can’t document it, I don’t say it,” Mr. Newman of Operation Rescue said, moments before suggesting without any proof that Dr. Tiller had bought off the local district attorney, Nola T. Foulston, by giving her a baby for adoption. He referred a reporter to a Web site that vaguely asserted that Dr. Tiller “may have delivered the ultimate bribe to Nola Foulston.” A spokeswoman for Ms. Foulston declined to discuss the accusation.

Anti-abortion activists routinely portrayed Dr. Tiller’s campaign contributions as “blood money” that co-opted politicians. “He owned the attorney general’s office,” Mr. Newman said. “He owned the governor’s office. He owned the district attorney’s office.”

The article notes that Operation Rescue and Newman eventually changed tactics and began relying on an "obscure Kansas statute allowing residents to petition for grand jury investigations" and then gathered thousands of signatures to convene two grand juries against him. Both times the juries refused to indict him.

Eventually, Tiller was charged with 19 misdemeanor violations of state's late-term abortion law and was acquitted after the jury deliberated for a mere thirty minutes:

It was an enormous victory, but Dr. Tiller’s supporters feared a backlash. Anti-abortion activists who had attended court sessions were disgusted. Mr. Newman remembered one new face among the regulars in court — Scott Roeder, who told other protesters that the trial was a “sham” and had argued in years past that homicide was justifiable to stop abortions.

Roeder is the man charged with murdering Tiller, which brings us to this article in the Kansas City Star in which Roeder disputes Newman's repeated assertions that he was never a member or supporter of Operation Rescue, insisting that he was, in fact, both:

The Kansas City Star interviewed Roeder three times in recent weeks, including once at the Sedgwick County Jail.

In a phone interview Friday, Roeder said he was upset at the president of Operation Rescue, Troy Newman, who had condemned the killing and said his organization had nothing to do with Roeder.

“He said that I never was a member and I never contributed any money,” Roeder said. “Well, my gosh, I’ve got probably a thousand dollars worth of receipts, at least, from the money I’ve donated to him.”

Roeder said he wrote Newman a letter from jail.

“I told him, ‘You better get your story straight because my lawyer said it’d be good for me to show that I was supporting a pro-life organization.’”

For his part, Newman continues to insist that they have no record of Roeder making donations to his organization in their database.

Right Wing Round-Up

  • Think Progress: Former President Jimmy Carter, who in 2000 officially severed ties with the Southern Baptist Convention after the SBC declared its opposition to female pastors and reiterated its calls “for wives to be submissive to their husbands,” condemned the mistreatment of women by religious leaders, writing that “the words of God do not justify cruelty to women.”
  • RH Reality Check's Lindsay Beyerstein asks if George Tiller's assassin should be charged as a domestic terrorist.
  • Good As You takes a look at the latest from the Maine Family Policy Council and reminds us: "This group is not some separate entity from the larger marriage fight. They are connected with Focus on the Family/Family Research Council. In fact, it was just this past February that FRC head Tony Perkins spoke at the groups' banquet. So it's not like this is a fringe story that's detached form Maine's "people's veto." THIS is the fight. THESE are the people. THIS is how they think of us: As innately immoral beings who are linked by unsavoriness."
  • Joe My God points to The Lost Ogle catching the Baptist Messenger photoshopping Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry’s signature on to Rep. Sally Kern's “Proclamation for Morality" and placing the text of proclamation onto Executive Department letterhead while forging the signature of Secretary of State M. Susan Savage next to the state seal of Oklahoma in order to make it appear legitimate.
  • Finally, Steve Benen asks just what House Minority Whip Eric Cantor's proposed "Judeo-Christian" foreign policy would look like.

"We Can Never Build Oklahoma’s Republican Party as Long as Sally [Kern] is the Face of our Party"

Apparently, not all Republicans in Oklahoma are pleased with the spectacle that Rep. Sally Kern has been making of herself over the last year, at least according to an email that Brenda Jones, an active Republican in the state and owner of Jones PR, which describes itself as "Oklahoma's most senior-level team of experts accredited in national public relations," sent to Gary Jones, the Chairman and Executive Director of the Oklahoma Republican Party.

The email found its way into the hands of the Oklahoma Journal Record, which has posted it on line:

The Republican Party needs to do something about this.

About a year ago when you and I talked about the future direction of the Party, I stated that the Party needs to stay focused on economic growth, jobs, jobs, jobs, stay true to our anti-tax and pro-business platform. No Party, no group, no any person can ever win new members and sustain its base when the public image is single focused on legislating morality. Especially in these difficult times when people are losing jobs and retirement funds are vanishing, economic growth and a vision for a prosperous future is what will attract young people. This judgmental rhetoric on morality is exactly what repels people away from the Republican Party; and frankly, contracts our core principles for less government and liberty.

A year ago after Sally Kerns [sic] received national coverage on her “terrorist” comment, Oklahoma immediately lost 2 companies who were a week or two away from announcing they were moving to Oklahoma and bringing high-paying engineering and technology jobs.

I was horrified at the Republican National Convention when I personally witnessed her seeking CNN, FOX News and other national media cameras on the convention floor because I knew she would embarrass not only Oklahoma but the entire Republican Party with her inflammatory decisive rhetoric.

My great aunt and uncle built Olivet Baptist Church as members since the late 1930s. Now they are 90 years old and were forced to leave Olivet a couple years ago because they were made to feel that they were going to hell because they are registered Democrats, although they are strong conservatives who voted for Ronald Reagan and both Bushes. She and her husband are politicizing God’s pulpit. It is starting to look scary and a bit like that crazy church in Kansas. They are up to something, and it’s not good.

Gary, we can never build Oklahoma’s Republican Party as long as Sally is the face of our Party. Everyone keeps touting “Ronald Reagan.” As someone who worked for him very closely for 9 years and in The White House West Wing, he rebuilt and grew our Party by attracting Independents and Democrats by standing strong on economic issues and national security. Of course, he strongly opposed abortion and supported many family value issues, but he advocated for these issues from the heart and not a bully pulpit. For example, he strongly opposed the gay agenda. But from concern and compassion about the gay community’s health, he started a Presidential Commission on AIDS to bring healthcare and other leaders to the table to discuss how to stop the spread of AIDS and HIV for the common good of the country. President Reagan understood that his duty was to protect ALL Americans, although he may disagree with their life choices, which is their liberty that does not need government intrusion.

This is very damaging to Oklahomans, Oklahoma Republican growth, and the Republican Party at the national level. 

It's odd that Jones seems to rely so heavily on the memory of Ronald Reagan in criticizing Kern as the sort of thing that is keeping the state party from moving forward considering that one of Reagan's most famous axioms came to be known as the "Eleventh Commandment: Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican."

Right Wing Round-Up

  • Media Matters catches Rush Limbaugh declaring that Sotomayor's "wise latina" remarks are "much worse" than George Allen's "macaca" comment.
  • Is Kansas Secretary of State candidate Kris Kobach a birther?
  • Get to know Audra Shay, the new Chairman of the Young Republicans.
  • Pat Buchanan suggests that Todd Palin ought to drown Levi Johnston.
  • Jed Lewison points out the Gov. Mark Sanford might lose his top-secret security status due to the fact that relationships with foreigners must be revealed. Needless to say, he did not reveal his.
  • On a related note, Rachel Maddow continues her reporting on the secretive house on C Street.
  • Finally, Pam Spaulding notes that The Southern Christian Leadership Conference is seeking to remove the president of its Los Angeles chapter due to his support for marriage equality.

Terry's Anti-Sotomayor Tour Generating Far More Press Than Support

So, Randall Terry is out on his "Stop Sonia 'Angel of Death' Sotomayor Tour" and generating bits of press coverage here and there.

He got some in Nebraska when he held a press conference outside of Sen. Ben Nelson's office and some more when he did the same outside of Sen. Sam Brownback's office in Kansas.  He's also generating some press ahead of his scheduled appearance outside of Sen. Bob Casey's office later today:

Terry said Sotomayor should not be confirmed because of her pro-choice views.

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey should “keep his commitment to the babies,” he said Wednesday, adding Scranton Diocese Bishop Joseph Martino should withhold Holy Communion from Casey if he votes to confirm President Obama’s choice.

...

Reached on his mobile phone at a Wichita airport, Terry said he is looking forward to his visit to Pennsylvania.

“We have a two-fold mission there,” Terry said. “One, we want to urge Sen. Casey to uphold his commitment to the babies. If he wants to overturn Roe vs. Wade – as he has said in the past -- then he can’t vote to confirm Sotomayor.

“Second, we intend to call on Bishop Martino to withhold Holy Communion from Sen. Casey if he votes to confirm Sotomayor. Bishop Martino has been a leader in the anti-abortion cause.”

...

“Whether they have the votes to sustain a filibuster or not, they need to fight to stop her, for the sake of the babies who will die under her judicial reign,” Terry said.

Of course, press attention is primarily what Terry is seeking through this extended stunt, which makes sense considering that the events themselves are generating absolutely no support:

Terry’s 45-minute protest not far from Sen. Sam Brownback’s office drew one columnist, one TV cameraman, a family of three and a woman who arrived as he packed up for his next stop, Topeka. He’s on a 12-city tour, calling for a Senate filibuster against Sotomayor. Brownback’s staff didn’t even let him into their office.

Wow, four whole people?  That's quite a turn out.  If he keeps up that blistering pace, he's liable to have addressed at least 50 non-media attendees by the time his nationwide tour wraps up.

With Tiller Dead, Operation Rescue Turns Its Attention to Carhart

When Dr. George Tiller was gunned-down while attending church in May, Operation Rescue's Troy Newman was quick to issue a statement decrying the assassination and insisting that Tiller's murderer "has never been a member, contributor, or volunteer with Operation Rescue."

In the days that followed, Newman made it clear that OR, which had been targeting Tiller for years, was not going to give up its anti-choice activism, saying "Operation Rescue will not stand by and act as if this organization's Pro-Life message has been silenced by [this] egregious act" and proclaiming that the organization "will continue to advocate for the sanctity of human life, born and unborn."

Tiller was one of only three physicians in the country who performed the types of procedures that made him the focus of the anti-choice activist's protestations and harassment.  One of the others is LeRoy Carhart, the man at the center of the 2000 Supreme Court case Stenberg v. Carhart in which the court held that "Nebraska's statute criminalizing the performance of 'partial birth abortion[s]' violates the Federal Constitution."

So with Tiller now dead at the hands of an assassin, it looks as if Operation Rescue is now focusing its efforts entirely on Carhart:

A coalition of four pro-life groups have sent a letter to Nebraska Attorney General Jon Buning asking him to open a "comprehensive" investigation into late-term abortionist LeRoy Carhart and his Bellevue abortion clinic.

Signing the letter were Troy Newman of Operation Rescue headquartered in Wichita, Kansas, Rev. Pat Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition in Washington, DC, Larry Donlan of Rescue the Heartland in Omaha, Nebraska, and Ann Bowen of Nebraskans United for Life, also of Omaha.

The group expressed concerns about the legality of certain aspects of Carhart's abortion business as well as concerns about the condition of Carhart's run-down abortion clinic that was damaged by an accidental fire earlier this year.

Carhart has indicated that he wants to begin doing risky third trimester abortions at his Bellevue clinic.

"There is concern that this decision will create an unacceptable safety risk to women," the group stated in their letter dated July 6, 2009.

"The safety of the public is our paramount concern, thus we are requesting the most comprehensive investigation of Carhart and his Nebraska abortion business as soon as possible from the Attorney General's office, and that your investigation not be limited solely to the concerns listed in this letter. Women's lives and future health literally depend on it."

Troy Newman moved OR's "offices to Wichita, Kansas in 2002, where he began an intensive campaign to close George Tiller’s abortion mill."

Any bets on how long it is before we see OR announce that it is relocating its offices to Bellevue, Nebraska?

Terry Launches 12 City "Defeat Sotomayor" Tour

The Associated Press published an article today reporting that, with just a week to go before the start of Sonia Sotomayor's Supreme Court confirmation hearing, "Republicans are floundering" and conservatives are getting miffed that their efforts to undermine her nomination have not be gaining traction:

Conservative advocates [are] not happy.

“Too many Republicans and conservatives planned to lose instead of planning to win” the debate over Sotomayor, said Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch. His group has mounted strong opposition to the federal appeals court judge.

About half the Senate’s Republicans are willing to raise serious questions about Sotomayor and there’s “a sizable minority who — partly because she’s Hispanic — just want this to go away,” said Curt Levey of the Committee for Justice.

Conservative groups have sought to convince Senate Republicans that they can benefit politically by strongly opposing Sotomayor. But many of their leaders complain the message isn’t getting through.

Randall Terry, for one, isn't going to let this slow him down and so he is taking his "Defeat Sotomayor" effort on the road for a twelve city tour which is scheduled to culminate in Washington DC just as the hearings are getting under way (the photo below comes from this accompanying flyer [PDF and graphic content] proclaiming "To refuse to filibuster is to bow in abject obedience to the Angel of Death"):

"We must stop permitting this hypocrisy, cowardice, and treachery in our midst. Pro-life voters are calling on pro-life Senators to filibuster Sotomayor.

"A Senator cannot say, 'I want to overturn Roe,' and then vote to confirm a Supreme Court Judge that will uphold Roe. A vote to confirm Sotomayor is a vote to uphold Roe.

"Many senators use pro-life rhetoric to seduce us; they get our money, our volunteer labor, and our votes. But once an election is over, they discard us like an embarrassing mistress. They say that they want to overturn Roe, but they do little or nothing to protect the innocent. Whether they are 'pro-life' Republicans like John McCain (AZ) and Sam Brownback (KS), or pro-life Democrats like Ben Nelson (NE) or Robert Casey (PA), we have been lied to again and again.

"Whether they 'have the votes' to sustain a filibuster or not, they need to fight to stop her, for the sake of the babies who will die under her judicial reign.

Filibuster Sotomayor Tour

Mon. July 6 --

Omaha, NE
7:00 PM Filibuster Rally
The Regency Lodge
909 South 107th Avenue
Omaha, NE 68114

Tues. July 7 --

Omaha, NE
10:00 AM Press Conference, Calling on Senator Nelson to Filibuster Sotomayor
Office of Senator Ben Nelson
7602 Pacific St.
Suite 205
Omaha, NE 68114

Lincoln, NE
12:00 noon Press Conference, Calling on Senator Nelson to Filibuster Sotomayor
Office of Senator Ben Nelson
440 North 8th Street
Suite 120
Lincoln, NE 68508

St. Joseph, MO
3:30 PM Press Conference Calling on Senator Christopher Bond (R) & Senator Claire McCaskill (D) to Filibuster Sotomayor, and calling on MO Bishops to enter the fight against Sotomayor.
City Hall
1100 Frederick Ave.
St. Joseph, MO 64501

Kansas City, KS
7:00 PM Filibuster Rally
location TBD

Wed. July 8 --

Kansas City, KS
9:30 AM Press Conference, Calling on Senator Brownback to lead the Filibuster against Sotomayor.
Office of Senator Sam Brownback
11111 West 95th, Suite 245
Overland Park, KS 66214

Topeka, KS
11:30 AM Press Conference, Calling on Senator Brownback to lead the Filibuster against Sotomayor.
Office of Senator Sam Brownback
612 South Kansas Avenue
Topeka, KS 66603

Wichita, KS
2:45 PM Press Conference, Calling on Senator Brownback to lead the Filibuster against Sotomayor.
Office of George Tiller
5107 East Kellogg
Wichita, KS 67218

Thurs. July 9 --

Philadelphia, PA
12:00 PM Press Conference, Pleading with Cardinal Rigali to withhold communion from Senator Casey if Casey votes for Sotomayor.
Chancery of Cardinal Justin Rigali
222 North 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103

Allentown, PA
3:00 Press Conference, Pleading with Bishop John Barres to withhold communion from Senator Casey if Casey votes for Sotomayor.
Diocese of Allentown Administrative Office
4029 W. Tilghman St.
Allentown, PA 18105-1538

Wilkes-Barre, PA
7:00 PM Filibuster Rally
The Beer Deli Restaurant
175 Welles Street
Forty Fort, PA 18704
(570) 288-8141

Fri. July 10 --

Scranton, PA
10 AM Press Conference, thanking Bishop Martino for his brave stand, and pleading with him to withhold communion from Senator Casey if Casey votes for Sotomayor.
Office of Bishop Joseph F. Martino
300 Wyoming Avenue
Scranton, PA 18503

Harrisburg, PA
12:00 Noon Press Conference, Calling on Senator Casey to Filibuster Sotomayor - to put loyalty to God and the babies' lives ahead of party loyalty.
Office of Senator Robert Casey, Jr
22 S. Third Street, Suite 6A
Harrisburg, PA 17101

Baltimore, MD
2:30 PM Press Conference, Calling on Archbishop O'Brien to withhold communion from Senator Barbara Mikulski because of her support of child-killing.
Basilica of the Assumption
408 N Charles St
Baltimore, MD‎ 21201

Sun. July 12 --

2:30 P.M. Rally
Supreme Court
Washington DC

Mon. July 13 --

At Sotomayor hearings.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Judicial Watch has released a "Special Report on Judge Sotomayor's Connection to the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund."
  • Rick Warren will reportedly be attending Islamic Society of North America's annual convention in Washington, D.C. over the Fourth of July weekend.
  • Carrie Prejean is seeking a book deal.
  • Gary Bauer says that Sarah Palin's feud with David Letterman "proves conservatives can fight pop culture and win."
  • Operation Rescue and other Wichita-based anti-abortion groups say they have received death threats in response to last month's killing of George Tiller.
  • The Family Research Council defends Bill O'Reilly's attacks on Tiller, saying "Something has been lost in the canonization of George Tiller--and that 'something' is the truth ... If Bill O'Reilly was fanning anything, it was the facts. We applaud him for drawing attention to a grisly procedure that even the most hardened pro-choice Democrats in Congress oppose.
  • Finally, the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission explains that Tiller's murder was wrong because, even though "Tiller certainly was guilty of murder before God ... lawfully established civil authorities are the rightful ministers of God’s wrath. They have been granted a monopoly by God on the use of the sword, namely capital punishment and physical coercion. "

Bill Donohue Attempts to Distance the Hate Crimes Bill from...Hate Crimes

It is no surprise that Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, is displeased with the Hate Crimes bill that is making its way through Congress. It's also no surprise that he labeled Eric Holder a "master of demagoguery" after the Attorney General supported the bill and cited the recent murders of Dr. George Tiller and Stephen Johns, the fallen Holocaust Museum security guard, to show the hatred that still exists in our society.

What's troubling is Donohue's attempt to sever the connection between the actions of Scott Roeder and James von Brunn and the radical, hateful beliefs that they held. He claims that Roeder wasn't propelled by an extreme anti-abortionist viewpoint and that von Brunn didn't storm the Holocaust Museum due to anti-Semitic views. Rather their actions were solely prompted by possible mental illnesses:

Roeder was never involved in any pro-life organization, and von Brunn is an old man who was as much anti-Christian as he was anti-Semitic. In other words, it is nothing if not demagogic for Holder to exploit these two recent tragedies—committed by madmen, not political activists.

Obviously, the facts directly counter Donahue's claim. Roeder had been in contact with Operation Rescue prior to Dr. Tiller's death and was arrested in 1996 for having the ingredients to make a bomb in the trunk of his car. He was a regular member of anti-abortion rallies in Kansas and a member of the Freeman, a radical anti-government group.

Von Brunn is an anti-Semitic white supremacist whose views were known by federal authorities. The day of the Holocaust Museum shooting, police found a note in his car which undeniably portrays von Brunn's ideals and motive:

"You want my weapons; this is how you'll get them," von Brunn wrote in a note he had signed, according to the arrest affidavit.

"The Holocaust is a lie," the note read. "Obama was created by Jews. Obama does what his Jew owners tell him to do. Jews captured America's money. Jews control the mass media."

Roeder is an anti-abortion fanatic who killed Dr. Tiller for a political purpose. Von Brunn is an anti-Semitic white supremacist who chose the Holocaust Museum for a reason. Therefore, it is baseless for Donahue to label Holder a "demagogue" for simply explaining the need for hate crimes legislation by logically citing two very timely examples of political hate crimes.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • The group of right-wingers who gathered to protest David Letterman yesterday were outnumbered by members of the media, but still managed to get lots of attention for saying things like Letterman "rapes children with his mouth."
  • Senator John Ensign has admitted that he had an extramarital affair with a member of his campaign staff and stepped down from his position as chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee.
  • Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is asking organizers of the "Jindal for President Draft Council" to disband the organization.
  • The Family Research Council is predictably unhappy with President Obama's decision to extend benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees, calling it a violation of the Defense of Marriage Act.
  • A former Regent University law school assistant dean who was convicted of sex acts with underage girls has been ordered to serve 16 years in prison.
  • Changes really are afoot at Focus on the Family: Men no longer have to wear ties and women no longer have to wear skirts or dresses.
  • The Christian Defense Coalition and others are organizing a prayer vigil at George Tiller's now-closed clinic. The vigil is not for Tiller, but rather to pray "that no abortions would ever be performed in the city again."
  • Finally, John Lofton wants it made clear that even though Tiller's work was entirely legal, it was actually illegal:
  • [K]illing by abortion of innocent human beings, in their earliest stage of development, was mass murder. Murder can never be "legal" because God's Law prohibits it. Thus, none of Tiller's abortions were "legal."

    To those who say Tiller's mass murders were "legal" because abortion has been made "legal" by various "laws" and/or court rulings, this assertion is also false. Man-made "laws" that contradict God's Law are not law.

Note to Jackson: Obtaining Public Records is Not "Hacking"

For the last week, Lou Chibbaro Jr. of the Washington Blade has been trying to figure out if Bishop Harry Jackson, who has been leading the fight against marriage equality in Washington, DC, actually lives in the District.

Using public records, Chibbaro discovered that Jackson registered to vote in DC on April 22 and then followed that up by reporting that the address Jackson used in registering is actually a one-bedroom condo owned by another man and that, as far as residents of the building as well as neighbors of Jackson's Maryland home know, he's not actually residing at the DC address. 

Not surprisingly, instead of clarifying questions regarding his residency, Jackson has decided to play the victim by going on Bill O'Reilly to declare that his opponents have "hacked" into his records and are endangering his family, as the Washington City Paper reports:

“Well, Bill,” he started, “they hacked into my records, found out when I registered to vote in the District of Columbia. They printed in two newspapers my home address and the addresses of houses I own in the Maryland region, outside D.C. And there have been e-mails that have gone forth saying they want to destroy my church. Kind of amazing, isn’t it?”

“It isn’t,” O’Reilly replied. “I’m not amazed by it.” He then brought up his own recent troubles, where he’s come under fire for his years of vitriol toward Kansas abortion doctor George Tiller, leading some to suggest culpability in his brutal murder. Hypocrisy, he said: “You don’t hear a word about people like you, and they’re printing your name in the paper!”

Jackson continued: “You know, Bill, people are looking for privacy, and they say their rights need to be protected. And on the other side, unlike the civil rights movement…[which] operated with a Christian spirit, this minority is going to rise up and impose their will on the majority. And they don’t care that I’ve got young adult daughters and a wife. They don’t care what happens to my family. They just want it their way, and they’ll intimidate you or me into submission if they can.”

“How are you handling all this, as a man of God?” O’Reilly asked. “Are you forgiving them? Are you angry with them?”

Replied Jackson: “Well, I am praying for them and forgiving them. Bill, this is very much a spiritual battle in my view, and I look at Martin Luther King Jr. as the ultimate model in terms of his public resistance to oppression, and I think that this is going to deepen our faith roots if you will. But very sincerely, I cannot answer back, obviously, with the same kind craziness that they’re operating with. But I’m glad that you’ve had me on tonight so that we can expose the fact that folks are saying one thing then doing something totally hypocritical on the other side.”

Cue Bill O’Reilly, tough guy: “I know you can’t do anything, but I can. And if anybody bothers you or your family, and if you believe that anybody’s putting you in danger or doing anything against you church, I want you to call me immediately. And we will deal with those people, because we are going to defend people like you.”

Then O’Reilly gave Jackson “the last word”: “Thing that I’m so concerned about is that this kind of thing has a chilling effect on people standing up for their rights. Once people see what’s happened to me, they say, ‘Shoot, I’m not going to get involved. I’m not going to say my piece.’”

“That’s why they do it to me! That’s why they do it to you!” O’Reilly interjected. “And it’s not the American way. It’s un-American.”

As for the claims that his records had been "hacked," the City Paper points out that such records are public:

Obtaining the address and date of registration for a District voter by no means requires any “hacking.” Any person is free to visit the offices of the Board of Elections and Ethics (441 4th St. NW, 2nd floor, south wing), walk into the waiting area, log in to a public computer terminal, and look up that information for any voter in town. In fact, call 202-727-2525, ask real nice, and they might even look it up for you. And land records? Those are public, too.

If Jackson is so outraged about people trying to figure out if he actually lives in DC, why doesn't he just explain how and why he came to register to vote in the District at an address of a one-bedroom condo owned by another man that is unable to be rented out? 

It's a relatively simple question, so why doesn't he just answer it?

The Religious Right: Always The Victim

It was just over a week ago that Dr. George Tiller was murdered and today his family announced that the clinic he operated in Kansas would be shutting down permanently:

The Wichita clinic of slain abortion provider George Tiller will be "permanently closed," his family said Tuesday.

Operations at Women's Health Care Services Inc. had been suspended since Tiller's death May 31. In a statement released by his attorneys, Tiller's family said it will close, effective immediately.

...

Randall Terry, who founded the original Operation Rescue group, responded to news that Tiller's clinic would remain closed with, "Good riddance." He said history would remember Tiller's clinic as it remembers Auschwitz and other Nazi concentration camps.

"What set him apart is that he killed late-term babies," Terry said. "If his replacement was going to continue to kill late-term children, the protests would continue, the investigations would continue, the indictments would continue."

In the days that followed, right-wing anti-choice activists were lamenting that Tiller's murder would undermine their cause, warning that "pro-abortion activists and politicians to use this tragedy to manipulate public opinion or our laws," and saying that Tiller was murdered because anti-choice activists feel "helpless" and under attack.

But what has been most remarkable about this is the way that the Right has tried to use Tiller's murder to claim that they are being victimized

Operation Rescue will not stand by and act as if this organization's Pro-Life message has been silenced by Mr. Roeder's egregious act and insidious statements. Operation Rescue will continue to advocate for the sanctity of human life, born and unborn.

While Operation Rescue recognizes the Obama Administration's endeavor of protection of abortion providers we caution that this protection should not be used as a ruse to conduct a witch-hunt against the Pro-Life movement. Neither persecution nor adulteration of the rule of law can be tolerated pursuant to this sad event.

Concerned Women for America's Wendy Wright made a similar complaint

Late Friday afternoon, the DOJ made it clear that it believes other individuals or groups may have been involved in Tiller's shooting on Sunday, May 31. The agency's press release stated it will "work tirelessly to determine the full involvement of any and all actors in this horrible crime, and to ensure that anyone who played a role in the offense is prosecuted to the full extent of federal law." (See earlier story)

Is it a legitimate investigation -- or a political payoff from the Obama administration to the pro-abortion movement? Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America, believes politics could be a motive. But she suspects there may be more behind the announced investigation than meets the eye.

"This may be more of a nefarious effort than it appears on its face," she exclaims, "that in fact, the Department of Justice may be trying to smear pro-lifers, as if we all belong in the same camp, as if we all advocate violence, when it's [actually] just the opposite."

You really have to marvel at the Right's ability to take the cold-blooded murder of the man they routinely demonized as the incarnation of the absolute wickedness of abortion and turn it into a pity party for themselves.

Right Wing Round-Up

  • Crooks and Liars reports that former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline sent out a fund-raiser that invokes physician George Tiller and Planned Parenthood in seeking contributions for a campaign against abortion rights.
  • Brian Beutler points out that the National Review's cover caricature of Sonia Sotomayor make her appear "inexplicably Asian."
  • Alex Koppelman says gay marriage foes running out of arguments.
  • Good As You, which has been doggedly following Cornerstone Policy Research's claims that it sampled every household in New Hampshire for its poll showing that 64% of residents oppose gay marriage, points out that its sample size was about 400,000 households less than it claimed.
  • Steve Benen calls Sen. James Inhofe a "walking, talking disgrace."
  • Finally, the Minnesota Independent catches Norm Coleman saying the key for Republican success is to be able to compete “in the ethernet."

What's Norm Coleman Up To?

I have to say that, in the six years that Norm Coleman was in the Senate, I don't ever recall him showing up at right-wing events and hob-nobbing with grassroots activists.

But times have changed, apparently:

Norm Coleman will be joined by Phyllis Schlafly, Rush Limbaugh's brother, and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's son - a Roman Catholic priest - at a gathering this week in St. Louis for a conference on conservative principles.

Coleman will be the keynote speaker for the Conservative Heartland Leadership Conference, which began Wednesday and concludes Thursday at the Millennium Hotel in St. Louis.

...

Coleman is scheduled to speak Thursday at a luncheon with an introduction by political commentator and author David Limbaugh, brother of talk radio host Rush Limbaugh.

Underwriting the event is the conservative American Issues Project, a nonprofit group that has aired political ads, including one linking candidate Barack Obama to 1960s radical William Ayers.

...

The Rev. Paul Scalia, a Catholic priest of the Arlington, Va., diocese and the Supreme Court justice's son, will host a prayer breakfast featuring Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America; Joe Ortweth of Missouri Family Council; and Don Hinkle of the Missouri Baptist Convention.

Former U.S. Sen. Jim Talent will speak on national security.

Kris Kobach, a candidate for Kansas secretary of state who has helped draft laws sanctioning illegal immigration, will discuss judicial selection in Kansas. Kobach is an attorney and University of Missouri law professor.

For the record, Grover Norquist is also attending.

O'Reilly Was Not Alone In Targeting Tiller

Bill O'Reilly is deservedly getting lots of attention for his years-long vicious crusade against George Tiller:

But it should be pointed out that O'Reilly had a lot of company in this effort to demonize Tiller, as Religious Right groups had been targeting Tiller for years and regularly holding him up as the epitome of the "evil" that is reproductive choice.

For instance, just last month, more than two dozen right-wing groups and activists sent a letter to Senators opposing the nomination of Kathleen Sebelius to be Secretary of Health and Human Services, citing among their primary concerns her "ties" to Tiller:

Governor Sebelius has long close and personal ties to notorious abortionist George Tiller, known for performing late-term abortions in Kansas, include donations from Mr. Tiller of hundreds of thousands of dollars to PACs and organizations controlled by the Kansas Governor. She has also repeatedly interfered in cases brought against Mr. Tiller, including recruiting a candidate to replace the state attorney general who was originally prosecuting the abortion doctor.

Signatories of the letter included the likes of Tom McClusky of Family Research Council Action, Don Wildmon of the American Family Association, Jim Backlin of the Christian Coalition, Phil Burress of Citizens for Community Values, Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America, Brian Burch of Fidelis, Tom Minnery of Focus on the Family, and Andrea Lafferty of the Traditional Values Coalition.

The fact of the matter is that, for years, right-wing groups sought to make Tiller the face of the abortion fight and a quick search of several of the leading organization's websites demonstrates just how often they citied Tiller in their own anti-abortion efforts.

For instance, Tiller's name was mentioned dozens if not hundreds of times on the websites of organization's like Focus on the Family, Faith 2 Action, Vision America, American Family Association, Christian Coalition, American Center for Law and Justice, the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, the Traditional Values Coalition, and the Alliance Defense Fund where he was often referred to with terms like "accused serial abortionist," the most notorious abortionist in America," "George (the Killer) Tiller," and "Tiller the Killer."

There are at least 78 mentions of the name "George Tiller" on the Family Research Council website, often in connection with statements like this from March of this year:

The trial of notorious Kansas abortionist, George Tiller, is now underway. During his career as an abortionist, Tiller has performed over 80,000 abortions, among them thousands of viable, third-trimester babies. Women travel to Kansas from all over the world to obtain late abortions they cannot get elsewhere. Tiller's body count is greater by far than all the American troops killed in Vietnam ... This man should be in jail. Whatever the outcome of the trial now underway, the fact is that jail is the only appropriate place for 'doctors' who kill children" ... May George Tiller finally be brought to some semblance of justice!

But perhaps no organization outside of the single-issue groups like Operation Rescue made Tiller a bigger target than did Concerned Women for America, which has more than 200 mentions of him on its website, including this column by Janice Crouse from just a few weeks ago:

The bloodshed of the thousands of late-term abortions that Dr. George R. Tiller of Wichita, Kansas, performs each year vastly eclipses the death toll from the struggle over the slavery contest in Kansas in the years immediately prior to the Civil War. The slaughter in Tiller's abortion clinic - by his own account he has performed over 60,000 abortions, with a "special interest" and focus on "late-term" abortions - should justly revive the label of "Bleeding Kansas."

It is hard to know what is in the mind of someone like George Tiller, the abortionist who for years has routinely killed the babies of women in the last stages of their pregnancies - seven, even eight months along ... Tiller takes upon himself the role of God and condemns to death any innocent child whose mother chooses to label it as "unwanted." Then he executes them.

As I've been reading the coverage of Tiller's murder over the last two days, I've been asking myself "why do I even know his name?"  

I don't know the name of even one other women's health provider in this country, yet I was well-aware of George Tiller ... and that is because, for years, the Right had demonized Tiller and his perfectly legal practice, turning him into the poster boy for the abortion debate writ large, and routinely holding him up as the incarnation of the absolute wickedness of abortion. 

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