Kansas

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. 

Right Wing Reactions to Tiller's Murder: From Subdued, to Crass, to Outrageous

The responses to the assassination of physician George Tiller by right-wing groups have run the gamut. 

The most common response has been to decry the murder and say that violence is never the answer, which has been the point made by the likes of the Family Research Council, American Life League, 40 days of Life, Vision America, and National Institute of Family and Life Advocates.

Focus on the Family likewise issued a statement decrying the killing, but did so in a way that seemed to suggest that the problem wasn’t Tiller’s death, but the fact that he hadn’t been convicted of murder first:

"Tiller recently faced serious charges related to the killing of babies in violation of the law, by the most grotesque procedures administered without anesthetics or compassion. We profoundly regretted the outcome of his legal case, believing the doctor had the blood of countless babies on his hands. Nevertheless, he was acquitted by the court and declared "not guilty" in the eyes of the law. That is our system, and we honor it.

And then there self-serving statements, such as this odd one from Alveda King, lamenting that Tiller was killed in church, saying "just as the womb should be a safe haven, so should church" and one from Operation Rescue stating that the suspect in Tiller's murder "has never been a member, contributor, or volunteer with Operation Rescue."

For its part. the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission vowed not to be intimidated in the wake of Tiller's murder:

"The Christian Anti-Defamation Commission will not allow pro-abortionists or their accomplices in the media to exploit the cowardly act of one misguided individual in order to defame millions of peaceful pro-lifers," said Dr. Gary Cass of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission. "Day and night millions of peaceful pro-lifers sacrificially serve women and their unborn babies. We will not tolerate any attempt to exploit this terrible event in order to further restrict pro-life activities or silence pro-life speech or reverse the gains pro-lifers have achieved in the law."

The nation's most notorious late term abortionist, George Tiller, of Wichita Kansas, was shot and killed while in Church on Sunday. Tiller admitted to having aborted tens of thousands of babies.

"Tiller's death at the hands of a lawless vigilante must be unequivocally condemned," said Cass. "But we cannot allow pro-abortion activists and politicians to use this tragedy to manipulate public opinion or our laws."

Still others are worried about how this will inpact their political agenda, especially as it pertains to opposing Sonia Sotomayor:

They also worried that there would now be an effort to stifle anti-abortion viewpoints during questioning of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. Her exact views on abortion aren't known, but conservatives fear she supports abortion rights.

Said the Rev. Patrick Mahoney, an anti-abortion activist: "No one should use this tragedy for political gain."

...

Mahoney said he had been conferring with other anti-abortion leaders about how to deal with any backlash to the Tiller killing that might undercut their cause at a time when they are trying to challenge Obama's support for abortion rights.

"I'd hope they wouldn't try to broad-brush the entire pro-life movement as some sort of extremist movement because of what happened in Wichita," Mahoney said. "That's really important — don't use this personal loss for a political gain."

And then finally, there are those like Randall Terry who essentially believe that Tiller deserved to be murdered, which is pretty much the point made by Pat McEwen of Operation Save America:

"He died the way he lived. His was a bloody death." Rev Rusty Thomas, Operation Save America(OSA). "Someone 'chose' to end George Tiller's life this morning, in his church."

"What was an abortionist doing 'in' church, any church...being allowed, welcomed, even venerated? This man killed babies for a living. He charged large sums of money to do it. Then he went to 'church,' made large contributions, and the 'church' (Reformation Lutheran Church) accepted it??" Pastor Mark Holick, Spirit One Christian Center, & OSA.

This is an apostate church, fully complicit in Mr. Tiller's murderous rampage against preborn children. It has provided cover and respectability for him. We have confronted both pastor and church with this trashing of the Gospel of Christ. I can still recall one board member saying, "We have members who believe both ways (pro-life or pro-choice)." Please!

"A man who stiffens his neck after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed -- without remedy." Proverbs 29:1. "George Tiller has been confronted innumerable times with the claims of Christ." Rev Flip Benham, Director of Operation Save America. "We were in Wichita in 1991, pleading for him to receive Christ and stop murdering children. In April 2001, I wrote him a personal letter with the book, Won By Love hoping to speak with him. Every day outside his abortion mill, gentle Christians pleaded with mothers to choose life and with George to choose Christ. We have been to his home, his church, and his work. He is now bowing before Jesus and confessing that He (Jesus) is right and that he (George Tiller) was wrong!"

No doubt the media will paint every Christian, who loves life and lives out that belief in the streets of his city, as a wild-eyed, lunatic, fanatic bent on shooting abortionists. They will attempt to silence the voice of many by using the violence of one. This ploy is the devil's "straw man."

Beware! The one who murdered George Tiller became exactly what George Tiller was -- a murderer.

 

George Tiller Assassinated, Randall Terry Blames The Victim

As head of the Women's Health Care Services clinic in Wichita, Kansas, George Tiller has long been the most prominent target of anti-abortion activists in this country due to the fact that he was one of the few physicians in the country willing to perform "late-term" abortions. 

His clinic was regularly targeted by anti-abortion activists and, recently, his "ties" to Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius became a right-wing talking point in opposing her nomination to become Secretary of Health and Human Services.

This morning, Tiller was assassinated while attending church:

Late-term abortion doctor George Tiller, a prominent advocate for abortion rights wounded by a protester more than a decade ago, was shot and killed Sunday at a church in Wichita where he was serving as an usher and his wife was in the choir, his attorney said.

Tiller was shot during morning services at Reformation Lutheran Church, attorney Dan Monnat said. Police said a manhunt was under way for the shooter, who fled in a car registered to a Kansas City suburb nearly 200 miles away.

As one would expect, those who had long targeted and demonized Tiller were quick to issue statements - with Randall Terry essentially blaming Tiller for his own murder:

Randall Terry, founder of Operation Rescue states, "George Tiller was a mass-murderer. We grieve for him that he did not have time to properly prepare his soul to face God. I am more concerned that the Obama Administration will use Tiller's killing to intimidate pro-lifers into surrendering our most effective rhetoric and actions. Abortion is still murder. And we still must call abortion by its proper name; murder.

"Those men and women who slaughter the unborn are murderers according to the Law of God. We must continue to expose them in our communities and peacefully protest them at their offices and homes, and yes, even their churches."

Frank Pavone of Priests for Life also offered his own statement in which he sought to deflect blame from anti-abortion militants by saying that, for all we know, he might have been murdered by a "political enemy" or someone traumatized by abortion

"I am saddened to hear of the killing of George Tiller this morning. At this point, we do not know the motives of this act, or who is behind it, whether an angry post-abortive man or woman, or a misguided activist, or an enemy within the abortion industry, or a political enemy frustrated with the way Tiller has escaped prosecution. We should not jump to conclusions or rush to judgment.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Jerry Falwell Jr. and Liberty University are now demanding that the College Democrats apologize to them.
  • Richard Cizik, who lost his job with the National Association of Evangelicals, continues his environmental efforts.
  • Two national Rabbinic groups have issued a religious ban on "voting for any politician or office holder who supports any aspect of the homosexual political agenda."
  • Rob Schenck announces that, beginning next week, his organization will begin daily prayer vigils for every leading politician in this country, singling them out by name for prayer, and will do so for the entire year.
  • Quin Hillyer completely loses it over Sonia Sotomayor, while the NRA says that it is staying out of it ... for now. Meanwhile, the LA Times reports that the Right is hoping to do to Sotomayor what it did to Dawn Johnsen, and Kansas Senator Pat Roberts announces that he will vote against her nomination.

Porter Apologizes for America In Order to Save It

Remember a few weeks ago when the Right was outraged that President Obama had gone abroad and supposedly apologized for America?

How dare he, said Rush Limbaugh:

So Barack Obama goes on his world tour, apologizes for America. Everybody says, "Wow, it's great to have such a humble guy leading the country." Humble? It takes profound arrogance to go around the world, apologize for your country, to say that your country is lacking, but only now is your country worth anything, because you happen to be president. That's not humility. That's profound conceit and arrogance, which is part and parcel of Barack Obama.

For the Right, the idea that the United States would ever apologize for anything was ludicrous and downright offensive ...which makes this open letter Janet Porter has penned to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu all the more confusing:

You are not alone. Christians in America stand with you and your right to exist.

Know, also, that there are 60 million Americans who did not abandon our core values or our allies for the empty rhetoric of "hope" and "change." We are the ones who did not support the Hamas-endorsed, Muslim-bowing White House occupant, who, until he was "corrected" on national television, said how proud he was of his "Muslim faith" ... We apologize for the undue pressure that has been put upon you to jeopardize your vital interests to carve up yet more land for promises of peace from people who want to obliterate you. We also acknowledge that this pressure did not begin with the current administration.

As it turns out, Porter's apology for the United States is really more about protecting this nation from God's wrath because, as she explains, whenever there is "U.S. pressure to divide Israel," we get hit by a natural disaster:

  • Hurricane Andrew (Aug. 23, 1992), when the Madrid Peace Conference moved to Washington, D.C., to pressure Israel to divide their land.

  • The 6.9 Northridge Earthquake in Southern California (Jan. 16, 1994), when Clinton met with Syria's president to discuss Israel giving up the Golan Heights where half of their fresh drinking water is found.

  • Hurricane George (Sept. 28, 1998) when Secretary of State Albright pressured Israel to give up parts of Judah and Samaria.

  • Texas Flood (Oct. 15-22, 1998) following a meeting with you, Mr. Prime Minister, and President Clinton with Yasser Arafat over Israel giving up 13 percent of the West Bank. On Oct. 21 of that year, a quarter of Texas was declared by Clinton a major disaster area.

  • A "super tornado" across Oklahoma and Kansas (May 3, 1999) with 316 mph winds – the highest winds ever recorded – the day Yasser Arafat was scheduled to declare a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as the capital.

  • Hurricanes Gustav, Hanna and Ike (Aug. 25-Sept. 13, 2008) following Secretary Condoleezza Rice's pressure to sign a treaty for a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

A 4.7 earthquake hit L.A. Sunday night when you, Mr. Prime Minister, arrived in the U.S. to meet with President Obama who is pushing to divide your land even further. Many are looking to the weather reports for what may follow.

Consequences. Elections have consequences. Abandoning our (and God's) best friend Israel has consequences. Dividing land has consequences. Consequences we don't want.

So if the US gets hit by a natural disaster some time soon, it will be all President Obama's fault.  But if we don't, it'll be because Porter managed to save us by apologizing.

Harry Jackson: Carpetbagger?

We’ve been very confused lately about Bishop Harry Jackson’s sudden interest in the inner workings of the District of Columbia’s city council and how he came to be a leader in the fight against its efforts to recognize same-sex marriages performed legally in other states, especially since we had always operated under the impression that he was actually a resident of Maryland.

After all, Maryland is where his church and his High Impact Leadership Coalition are both located and where a lot of his political activism has taken place:

On March 9, Jackson addressed the 30th Annual Maryland March for Life, which was protesting against pro-choice legislation and the nomination of Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Jackson’s biggest political project was on behalf of Michael Steele’s run for the U.S. Senate from Maryland, where Jackson lives.   Jackson organized gatherings around the state where Steele could meet African American pastors.  According to a news report, “the High Impact Leadership Coalition had joined with the Maryland Catholic Conference, Maryland Right to Life and the Association of Maryland Families to spend about $70,000 for [pro-Steele] ads -- mostly on the radio in Baltimore and Prince George’s County until the Nov. 7 general election.”

Before the election, Jackson asserted boldly that “The Maryland race for the U.S. Senate will once and for all answer the question: Can a black man really be a successful Republican?”  He gushed that “Steele’s credentials, credibility, and charisma speak of greatness” and predicted that the Senate could be a stepping stone to the vice presidency.

So imagine our surprise when, a few weeks ago during the rally he hosted on Freedom Plaza in DC at which he declared that they would “launch the Armageddon of the marriage battle in this country” he suddenly started identifying himself as a resident of the District of Columbia: 

Jackson says that although his church is located in Maryland, he lives in the District and expects a large portion of those at the rally to be D.C. residents. 

Perhaps he had moved, we thought, attempting to give him the benefit of the doubt.  But now it seems as if we were being too generous, judging by this op-ed he wrote that showed up in the Washington Post over the weekend in which he declared that “today the District of Columbia is less democratic, less free and less just because it sanctions same-sex marriage reciprocity.”  

The interesting thing about his op-ed is that it identifies Jackson as being from Beltsville, Maryland:

Needless to say, one cannot both live in Maryland and the District of Columbia since they are, you know, two different places:

So where does Jackson live exactly?  Did he recently move to DC, or does he live in Maryland and is trying to create the impression that he lives in DC to make his local anti-marriage activism seem more genuine?  If it is the latter, it wouldn’t be the first time he’s sought to create a misleading impression about his work, as we pointed out last year regarding his repeated references to himself as a “registered Democrat.”

Brownback's No-Win Situation

We've written several posts over the last few month about how Sen. Sam Brownback's standing among the Religious Right has fallen due to his support of Katheleen Sebelius' nomination to be Secretary of Health and Human Services, leading many right-wing activists to distance themselves from him.

Today, Dave Weigel has a good piece in The Washington Independent noting how, despite seemingly no help from anyone in the Senate, the Religious Right has managed to make the vote on Sebelius' nomination into a "controversy" all on its own:

The battle against Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D-Kans.), President Obama’s nominee to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, has gone better than many pro-life activists had hoped. Yes, it’s true that Sebelius is expected to be confirmed after an eight-hour debate and cloture vote are held in the Senate today. It’s also true that activists have not managed to dislodge the support of Sebelius’s home state senators, Sam Brownback and Pat Roberts, both Republicans — an embarrassing setback that has prevented the Sebelius nomination from becoming quite the abortion rights showdown that they had hoped for. But they can count some small victories.

“Going into this, there didn’t seem to be any opposition,” said Wendy Wright, the president of Conservative Women for America. “I was at her hearing, and that morning, I was reading news reports about how she was going to ’sail through’ the Senate. Now I’m reading reports about the ‘controversy’ around Kathleen Sebelius. You can attribute that to what the grassroots have done here.”

The vote on her nomination is scheduled for today and she is expected to be confirmed and conservative and Religious Right leaders are basically saying it is all Brownback's fault:

Before that vote, the anti-Sebelius coalition will hold a press conference on the Hill making the case against her. Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) will make public a letter of opposition to the nomination that, as of press time, eight other conservatives had signed. Still, opponents of the governor have been frustrated by the early and consistent support for Sebelius from Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kans.), a social conservative who is retiring in 2010 to run for governor of Kansas.

“This nomination should be more unpopular than it is,” grumbled one GOP Senate aide. “Brownback’s hesitation and his months of holding off on substantive criticism of Sebelius has basically frozen the ability of pro-life senators to fight as hard as they would like to. It’s tough. It’s very difficult for the pro-life leader in the Senate to mobilize his allies when he’s moving in the other direction.”

Although recently Brownback has been hinting that he might be rethinking his support for Sebelius' nomination, his explanation for supporting the nomination has been that installing her at HHS will get her out of the state and away from a possible run for Brownback's open Senate seat in 2010 and that whomever heads HHS will be pro-choice, so it may as well be someone from Kansas.

Needless to say, right-wing activists aren't buying his excuses, with one local activist saying its like justifying support of Hitler: 

“We’ll be extremely disappointed if Sen. Brownback doesn’t change his mind,” said Tom McClusky, vice president of government affairs for FRC. “That will play a role in any of our future work with him.”

...

It’s all a bit much for Kansas activists to stomach. “Those guys in Washington don’t think like we do in Kansas,” said David Gittrich, the long-serving state development director of Kansans for Life. “It might be smart politically to get the governor out of Kansas, but it’s really hard for me to wish her on the nation. I’d rather have Hillary Clinton running health care than Kathleen Sebelius.”

According to Gittrich, when Brownback turns his sights on the governor’s race he’ll gave to “reestablish his credentials as a pro-lifer” and explain his vote. “All the pro-life votes in the world don’t make up for supporting Kathleen Sebelius,” said Gittrich. “This is like saying, ‘I’m against the Holocaust and Nazi Germany but I’d like Hitler to be in charge of the health care center.’”

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Is Sen. Sam Brownback rethinking his support for HHS nominee Kathleen Sebelius?
  • Carrie Prejean continues to be hailed as right-wing hero/martyr thanks to her stated opposition to marriage equality during the Miss USA pageant.
  • Alan Keyes boldly takes on Oprah.
  • Lou Engel will be the honored guest at the upcoming Women’s Clinic of Kansas City (MO) fundraiser next week.
  • The churches that participated in the Alliance Defense Fund's "Pulpit Initiative" are still waiting to hear what the IRS response will be, with the ADF saying if the IRS does not take action, pastors will learn the regulation can be safely ignored.
  • Finally, is there a more ridiculous member of Congress than Michelle Bachmann?  Seriously.

The Practical Sen. Brownback

Republican Kansas Senator Sam Brownback has received a lot of flack for his support of fellow Kansan Kathleen Sebelius's nomination to be the next Secretary of Health and Human Services - it even caused the Family Research Council to pull out of "Values Action Team" that Brownback leads.

To date, Brownback hasn't offered much in the way of explanation for his stance, much to the dismay of anti-choice activists who once viewed him as a solid ally. Other than saying that getting Sebelius confirmed to HHS will get her out of the Kansas and thus away from a possible run for Brownback's open Senate seat in 2010, Brownback has been rather quiet about the whole thing ... though today he admitted to the Topeka Capital-Journal that his stance has hurt his reputation among anti-choice activists:

Sen. Sam Brownback is aware anti-abortion forces in Kansas remain baffled by his unwillingness to be the catalyst for a campaign against Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ nomination to lead the federal agency guiding abortion policy.

Brownback, a prominent national voice against abortion, said pragmatism guided his decision not to sound an alarm upon nomination of the abortion-rights Democrat as secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“People have been pretty upset,” the GOP senator said. “I’ve been saying to them there’s a practicality to this.”

He said any HHS nominee put forward by President Barack Obama would be someone who believes abortion should remain a legal option for women.

“If you’re going to have a pro-choice person in that position, it’s better to have a Kansan,” Brownback said.

That is essentially Brownback's entire explanation: since whomever becomes HHS head is going to be pro-choice, it may as well be someone from Kansas.  Why that matters or how it is supposed to justify his stance on her nomination, he doesn't say.

I have to say that this has to rank among the single lamest explanations I have ever seen - it is almost as if he knows that he can't square his support of Sebelius with his well-establish anti-choice views and has just decided that he's not even going to try.

Kathleen Sebelius: "Queen of the Abortion Clinic Cockroaches"

We've written several posts in recent years about the various incarnations of Operation Rescue over who rightfully owns the name, but one of the themes of these battles has been that the organization run by Troy Newman has been fighting with OR founder Randall Terry, claiming that Terry is fleecing donors and giving the organization a bad name.

I think it is safe to say that the days of blaming Terry for giving OR a bad name are officially over, as Newman is fully capable of doing that on his own:

Roachy, the national spokes-roach for abortion clinic cockroaches has released the first of a video series entitled "Mr. Roachy Goes To Washington." In this first installment, Roachy explains why abortion clinic cockroaches are being called to march on Washington, DC in support of Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' nomination as Secretary of Health and Human Services.

"As abortion clinics, our natural habitat, continue to close at an alarming rate nationwide, our only hope for survival is our heroine, Kathleen Sebelius, who has worked so hard to keep our favorite filth-infested abortion clinics open in Kansas. We know that, if confirmed, she will redouble her efforts nationwide," said Roachy. "Now is the time for abortion clinic cockroaches to unite! Join me as I march on Washington to save Sebelius' nomination, which will be taken up by the Senate after the spring break."

Religious Right Tries to Stop Sebelius

A gaggle of Religious Right groups have come out in opposition of Kathleen Sebelius’s nomination as the Secretary of Health and Human Services, releasing a letter [PDF] to Senators asking them to vote against her nomination when it comes up for a vote.

The list of signatories is a who’s who of top-level and lesser known right-wing leaders, including 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.

Among the reasons cited in opposing her nomination is this:

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.

Of course, the “state attorney general who was originally prosecuting the abortion doctor” was Phill Kline, who was bounced out of office because of his anti-abortion zealotry and eventually landed a gig teaching at Liberty University. On top of that, Klein was a Republican and Sebelius was a Democrat, so the idea that she would seek a candidate to challenge him is what is traditionally known as “politics.”

As for her supposed ties to George Tiller and her “interference” in the cases against him, it’s worth pointing out that just last week it took an jury a mere forty-five minutes to acquit him of all the charges.

That, coupled with the fact that both of Sebelius’s home state Senators have already endorsed her, means that the Right’s effort to derail her nomination is, at this point, little more than mere grandstanding.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Bob McDonnell, former attorney general for Virginia and Republican candidate for Virginia governor, made a special appearance at Liberty University’s Monday convocation.
  • Speaking of Liberty, it looks like standout freshman basketball player Seth Curry is leaving the school to seek a higher level of competition.
  • It seems that some in the GOP would prefer it if Dick Cheney went back into hiding and stopped harming the party's efforts to move on from his catastrophic time in office.
  • Pat Mahoney, Operation Rescue president Troy Newman, TheCall founder Lou Engle, members of the Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust, and others have descended on Wichita, Kansas for a prayer vigil outside the trial of George Tiller.
  • Richard Land: Friend of Coal.
  • Chuck Norris is set to receive an award from former president George H.W. Bush.
  • Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. signed three abortion-related bills on Friday and the Alliance Defense Fund offered to help defend them in court, only to see the offer immediately rejected the state's Attorney General.
  • Newt Gingrich and David Barton really are becoming close allies, judging by the fact that Gingrich even showed up on Barton's radio program yesterday.

Teaching Brownback a Lesson

It has been a rough couple of weeks for Sen. Sam Brownback.

Since he announced that he was supporting Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' nomination to be Secretary of Health and Human Services, he has watched the Family Research Council pull out of the Values Action Team meetings he oversees and his reputation as a pro-life champion has taken a beating.

And now, to make matters worse, his home has been reportedly burglarized:

Burglars made off with thousands of dollars worth of property stolen from the Topeka home of U.S. Senator Sam Brownback last week ... The Senator's wife Mary Brownback returned home around 1:30 p.m. Thursday to find the items missing. Officials say a computer, a television, a video game, a check book and 100-pieces of jewelry were taken.

At least there is some good news on the horizon for Brownback, coming in the form of this admission by one of his biggest critics that pro-life activists have a very short memory and probably won't hold his current heresy against him when he runs for governor next year:

A pro-life activist predicts that if Senator Brownback (R-Kansas) runs for governor in his state, he will still receive the support of the pro-life movement despite his controversial decision to support the nomination of pro-abortion Democratic Governor Kathleen Sebelius for Health and Human Services secretary.

...

Mark Crutcher, the president of Life Dynamics, Incorporated, says pro-life Republicans know they can "pull a stunt" like Brownback did because pro-life activists often have short memories.

"Right now there's probably a lot of anger in Kansas, I would assume, and a lot of people are sickened by Brownback's sell-out," Crutcher shares. "But let's say that he runs for governor and he continues to tell people, 'Oh, I'm pro-life. I did that for some other reason' -- or whatever excuse he uses for his sell-out."

According to Crutcher, that explanation may just work on the voters. "The thing that bothers me [about] the history of the pro-life movement is that once the initial anger and fervor of the moment goes away...if he runs against some pro-abort Democrat, we'll...rally behind this guy."

Last week, Crutcher was blasting Brownback for his willingness to "throw the unborn under the bus for some political advantage" and saying that the pro-life movement has been "stabbed in the back by people like Sam Brownback so many times" that it should have learned its lesson by now.

But apparently the only lesson to be learned from this entire ordeal is that Republican politicians can stab pro-life activists in the back whenever it suits their needs and fully expect to maintain their political support.

FRC Takes "Leave of Absence" From Values Action Team

Yesterday we highlighted a paragraph from a World Magazine article noting that the Family Research Council had pulled out of Sen. Sam Brownback's "Values Action Team" due to his support of Kathleen Sebelius' nomination to be Secretary Health and Human Services.  

Today, CBN's David Brody got FRC to go on the record about the decision and Tom McClusky explained that it was more of a "temporary leave of absence" that will be re-evaluated once this nomination is over rather than an outright withdrawal, saying that it was done not just to send a message to Sen. Brownback, but to all Republicans senators about how important this is to the Religious Right and their grassroots activists:

The Brody File has learned that the Family Research Council is taking a “temporarily leave of absence” from the socially conservative “Values Action Team” meetings on Capitol Hill because of Senator Sam Brownback’s support of pro-choice HHS Secretary-Designate Kathleen Sebelius. FRC says they may rejoin the meetings AFTER the Sebelius nomination is finished.

Senator Brownback chairs those “VAT” meetings every week on Capitol Hill and he is one of the biggest pro-life defenders in the Senate. However, he issued a statement this past week in support of Kathleen Sebelius. Pro-Life groups believe her record on abortion is extreme and have been very disappointed that he has not come out against her.

A source inside the meeting tells the Brody File that FRC explain to Brownback its’ intentions to no longer attend the meetings. At that point, Senator Brownback actually offered to step down from leading the VAT meetings though nobody in the room asked him to do so. In addition, this source says when Brownback was asked by a meeting participant how he would vote on Sebelius, the Senator remained uncommitted.

The Brody File interviewed Tom McClusky, Senior Vice-President of FRC Action about FRC’s decision to leave the VAT meetings:

“It was a very tough decision except the Family Research Council thought that while we try to fight against this Sebelius nomination and to bring her record to light that it would be better if we took a temporary leave of absence from the values action team...

“We will re-evaluate after the Sebelius nomination if we should go forward with the values Action Team. It’s just that right now we feel somewhat compromised in trying to use that as a vehicle to get our message across.”

On a related note, Dan Gilgoff reports on the explanation the Brownback camp is giving for its support of Sebelius, claiming to be doing so in order to get her out of the state and away from a possible run for Brownback's open Senate seat in 2010 ... but FRC isn't buying that either:

[S]ources tell me that Brownback's people have been making the case to antiabortion groups—especially those in Kansas—that there's a strong political rationale for installing the Kansas governor in Washington. The move gets her out of Kansas, Brownback's argument goes, heading off her expected run for the Senate in 2010. Which means the Sunflower State Senate seat that Brownback's vacating for a gubernatorial run is likely to stay in Republican hands, since the Kansas Democratic Party doesn't have another candidate who is half as popular as Sebelius. And that's good for the antiabortion cause, according to the reasoning.

"It was much more important that the Senate seat remain red than it was that Brownback directly oppose Sebelius at HHS," says one person familiar with the situation who would only speak anonymously, "given that Obama is going to be driving the HHS agenda regardless of who's in charge."

A second source, Family Research Council Action lobbyist Tom McClusky, told me today that he's now heard Brownback's argument for backing Sebelius from a half-dozen Republican senators. But that doesn't mean antiabortion groups support the plan. "It's wrong on two counts," McClusky tells me. "They're putting politics before policy. And secondly, the Republicans are trying to predict an election two years out, which is impossible."

Brownback Accused of Stabbing Pro-Life Movement in the Back

Over the last few days we noted that Sen. Sam Brownback has been pilloried by various anti-choice activists for his decision to support the nomination of Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to be the next Secretary of the Health and Human Services, which culminated with the Family Research Council announcing that it was withdrawing from his "Values Action Team" over his stance.

And frankly, it doesn't look like the outrage is going to dissipate any time soon as more and more activists continue to pile on and ratchet up their rhetoric:

Mark Crutcher, president of Life Dynamics, Incorporated, says Brownback -- a self-professed pro-life Catholic -- "abandoned" the unborn by backing Sebelius.

"I think it's typical of what we've seen over the years when somebody's commitment to the unborn is political rather than a core value with them," says the pro-life leader. "It's like the difference between a politician and a statesman."

Crutcher says Brownback's desire to become the next governor of Kansas may be driving his support of Sebelius. "All of Brownback's flowery words in the past don't really mean much," he says. "When push comes to shove, he'll throw the unborn under the bus for some political advantage -- and that's what's happened here."

In addition, Crutcher says the pro-life movement has been "stabbed in the back by people like Sam Brownback so many times" that the movement should have learned the lesson that the measure of a pro-life lawmaker is not what he tells you he believes, but rather what he will do to protect the life of the unborn.

On a related note, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, who last year said that Sebelius should stop receiving Communion until she publicly repudiated her stance on abortion and made a "worthy sacramental confession," has weighed in on her nomination, calling it "particularly troubling." 

He also sat down with Our Sunday Visitor for a discussion about the nomination, saying that he "personally [finds] it offensive that [Obama] would choose a pro-legalized-abortion Catholic to head this office" and faulted Catholics who are supporting her, saying that "they certainly can’t support her because she’s faithful in living the teaching of the Church on the life issues."

Asked by the Kansas City Star if that position meant that Neumann would now be telling Sen. Brownback that he too should not be taking communion, a spokesperson said it was unlikely:

A spokesman for the Kansas City, Ks. archdiocese said Thursday that Archbishop Joseph Naumann is unlikely to suggest to Sen. Sam Brownback that he not take the sacrament of communion, as he has for Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.

"I don't think he's (the Archbishop) going to have a position on him (Brownback)," said Carroll Macke, spokesman for the archdiocese.

...

Asked if the Archbishop's views on Brownback constituted a double standard, Macke said: "I don't know."

That is about the only good news Brownback has gotten on the Sebelius-front since he announced his support for her confirmation ... and when not getting barred from receiving communion is the best thing to happen to you, you know times are tough.

Brownback and GOP Losing Pro-Life Cred Over Sebelius

In yesterday’s round-up we mentioned that American Life League President Judie Brown had declared that, due to Sen. Sam Brownback's support of Kathleen Sebelius' nomination to become Secretary of Health and Human Services, he had lost the right to ever be called “pro-life” again.

And Brown is not alone in calling out Brownback from apparently squandering his pro-life credentials by backing Sebelius – Jill Stanek piles on as well, blasting him for being apparently unconcerned about what sort of “damage this abortion lover” will do to the country:  

That some pro-lifers don't understand the harm done is also disturbing … Brownback thinks he needs to move to the middle if he's going to get the keys to the governor's mansion in 2010.

But here is where Brownback in particular made a common pro-life politician's mistake, which too many pro-lifers accept: Casting dreams for what he could do for us tomorrow, Brownback didn't do the right thing today.

I don't care what pro-life politicians promise they will do for me tomorrow. Tomorrow never comes. I only care what they do for me today. In fact, they're only where they are today because they cast dreams in a previous campaign to do something for me today.

Now to the damage this abortion lover could do as HHS secretary.

Operation Rescue is likewise livid:

"It is unimaginable that a Catholic pro-lifer such as Sen. Brownback would support Sebelius' nomination to a post where she can advance her extremist abortion agenda on the national level. There is so much documentation of her ardent support of indicted late-term abortionist George Tiller that is hard to believe that the Senator from Kansas is simply ignorant of her record. We pray that Mr. Martin's information is in error," said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman.

"We at Operation Rescue are urging our supporters to contact Sen. Brownback's office and ask for confirmation on this story," said Newman. "Our own calls to his office have been met with equivocation. We believe that the people have a right to know the truth on where the Senator stands."

[An interesting side-note: Human Life International rips into Catholic United for backing Sebelius, asking if “the word 'integrity' means to these self-proclaimed 'faithful Catholics’” but says not a word about Brownback, who is also Catholic.]

But the Family Research Council is not so much concerned with Brownback’s failure to oppose her as it is with the entire Republican Party’s failure to stand up for the pro-life agenda by sinking her nomination:

The biggest example of this divide between conservatives and the GOP may be found in President Obama's pick for Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). With the exception so far of Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), the nomination of Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D-Kans.)--arguably the most pro-abortion governor in the nation -- has been met by the Republican leadership with a collective yawn. Here is a woman who aligns herself against 80% of the country in suggesting that the government knows better than parents in children's health decisions, and yet the GOP can't muster the will to fight her nomination. As governor, she hosted a private reception for a notorious partial-birth abortionist, vetoed bills that would have made abortion clinics cleaner for women, and blocked court reforms that would have helped to prevent third-term abortions. Like President Obama, she even opposed protection for infants who are born alive during an abortion.

If Republicans won't take a stand now, when will they? Once Sebelius is confirmed, she will control the largest government agency in America with more power and resources to advance a radical social agenda that will drive a deeper wedge between parents and their children. Grassroots conservatives understand what's at stake here. Why doesn't the Republican leadership?

Sebelius: The Right Opposes While Brownback Endorses

To say that the Religious Right has been opposed to the prospect of Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius might be named as Secretary of Health and Human Services since her name was first floated a few weeks back would be something of an understatement.

Back in early February, Concerned Women for America, Operation Rescue, and the Christian Defense Coalition are already on record opposing the nomination and now that the announcement is official, they are ramping up their opposition and being joined by groups like the Family Research Council, Liberty Counsel, the Susan B. Anthony list, the Catholic League and Americans United for Life and others.

As Ezra Klein explained, their opposition is rooted in Sebelius' purported "ties" to George Tiller:

George Tiller is, in the words of the Christian Broadcasting Network's David Brody, a "late-term abortionist." Closing his clinic has been a main goal of of the Operation Rescue folks. In 1993, in fact, Tiller was shot twice by an anti-abortion activist who'd decided picketing was inefficient.

So what does this have to do with Sebelius? She's met him.

Worse than that: She's had him over for dinner. As the Concerned Women for America wrote, Sebelius "held a private party in the governor's mansion for notorious abortionist George Tiller." That, of course, is the sort of detail that can matter amidst nomination fights. Maybe Sebelius could be blocked.

But this fell apart rather quickly: Tiller and his staff won the evening in a fundraising auction. Nothing personal, but their invitation was, well, nothing personal.

Nonetheless, it is obvious that the Right is going to attempt to make a spectacle out of Sebelius’s nomination, but that doesn't look like it will be easy considering that both of Kansas's Republican Senators, including the ardently anti-choice Sam Brownback, are supporting her:

U.S. Senator Pat Roberts and U.S. Senator Sam Brownback today congratulated Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius on her nomination by President Obama to head the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

“Congratulations to Governor Sebelius on being nominated to be the Secretary of Health and Human Services,” the Senators said. “It’s an honor for the State of Kansas to have an elected official appointed to the president’s cabinet. We are hopeful Governor Sebelius will be a voice for Kansas and rural America at the Department. We look forward to working with her on issues important to the state including a National Cancer Institute Designation at the University of Kansas Cancer Center.”

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