Mississippi

2012 Candidates Weekly Update 1/18/10

Michele Bachmann

GOP: Scheduled to address Montana GOP's Lincoln/Reagan Dinner on Feb 5 (Politico, 1/17).

Iowa: Conservatives in Iowa excited about Bachmann's appearance at Iowans for Tax Relief event this week (Minnesota Public Radio, 1/17).

Religious Right: Ultraconservative writer Joseph Farah praises potential Bachmann bid (WND, 1/11).

Haley Barbour

Immigration: Draconian Arizona-style law on immigrant rights to be considered by the Mississippi state legislature (Fox News, 1/17).

2012: Says he won't make a decision about a presidential run until the spring (WSJ, 1/14).

John Bolton

2012: Tells Russia Today that he could win the GOP nomination since he is in "the mainstream of the Republican Party" (GOP12, 1/17).

Foreign affairs: Knocks Obama Administration's handling of the political crisis in Lebanon (The Hill, 1/16).

Mike Huckabee

Alaska: Travelling to Alaska with a "Christian-based" cruise (HuffPo, 1/14).

Religious Right: Sarah Posner analyzes Huckabee's ties to Evangelical voters, "Christian nation mythology" (Religion Dispatches, 1/12).

Sarah Palin

Fox News: Tells Sean Hannity that Tucson shooting was "left-leaning," defends herself from criticism (Mediaite, 1/17).

Polling: Performs well among Republicans nationwide, but not in early primary states (Public Policy Polling, 1/14).

Arizona: Video response to Tucson shootings widely panned (Politico, 1/13; Salon, 1/12).

Tim Pawlenty

Economics: Opposes raising the debt ceiling despite prospect of default (HufPo, 1/16).

Religious Right: Tells Bryan Fischer of AFA that he supports reinstating Don't Ask Don't Tell (RWW, 1/13).

Palin: Says that her "bullseye" crosshairs map of congressional Democrats isn't "his style" (MinnPost, 1/12).

Mike Pence

2012: Former GOP Congressman launches a draft-Pence petition called the American President Committee (AP, 1/17).

Reproductive Rights: Planned Parenthood criticizes Pence's legislation to strip the group of federal funds (Muncie Star Press, 1/12).

Media: Introduces bill to block possible implementation of the Fairness Doctrine on talk radio (The Hill, 1/12).

Gun Violence: Denounces calls for gun control measures after Tuscon shootings (TPM, 1/12).

Rick Perry

2012: Begins polling voters outside of Texas (NRO, 1/17).

Immigration: Presses for new laws to curb immigrant rights (NYT, 1/15).

Mitt Romney

Foreign affairs: Meets with Israel's Prime Minister after visiting Afghanistan (Politico, 1/14).

Campaign: Hires new political director and pollster (RealClearPolitics, 1/13).

2012: Signs point to spring announcement as Romney steps down from the board of Marriott International (AP, 1/12).

Rick Santorum

South Carolina: Addressed the Aiken Republican Club 2011 kickoff meeting (The Augusta Chronicle, 1/17).

Religious Right: Keynoted major anti-choice rally in Columbia, South Carolina (The State, 1/16).

New Hampshire: Interviewed by Boston Herald at Granite Oath PAC house party (Boston Herald, 1/14).

John Thune

CPAC: Set to address Conservative Political Action Conference in February despite Religious Right boycott (Argus Leader, 1/13).

GOP: Keynote speaker for Missouri Republican Party's Lincoln Days fundraiser (News Leader, 1/11).

Personhood Movement Announces 50-State Strategy

The anti-choice movement to use state ballot initiatives to give fetuses and embryos legal rights has announced a nationwide petition drive to bring their radical measure to all fifty states. Opponents of reproductive rights hope to use “personhood amendments” to criminalize abortion, stem-cell research, and common forms of birth control by giving zygotes constitutional protections. While the amendment failed miserably at the polls in Colorado, Personhood USA hopes to bring personhood amendments to states such as Florida, Mississippi, Montana, and Wisconsin, among others.

Personhood activists have their hopes set on Mississippi, where the amendment will be voted on in November. Personhood Mississippi is led by Les Riley, a member of an extreme separatist organization called Christian Exodus, and Riley’s campaign has received the support of notable Republicans like Congressman Alan Nunnelee and Lt. Governor and gubernatorial candidate Phil Bryant, and groups such as the American Family Association and Liberty Counsel.

Now, Personhood USA has launched petition drives in every single state. According to the group, they already have gathered over 900,000 signatures:

"Now in every state in America, prolife volunteers are engaging their communities with the truth of personhood, and are working to change the laws as citizens or lobbying the lawmakers in their state to do their job and protect every person by love and by law, " stated Keith Mason, cofounder of Personhood USA. "We are thrilled to have met our goal to be in all 50 states in just two years, and we are so thankful to be closing in on 1 million signatures defending the personhood of the preborn child."



"Personhood USA functions as a support system, giving as little or as much help as needed, and we have truly been blessed by Jesus Christ as He is accomplishing so much through us in just the past two years. We can't wait to see what He does, in all 50 states, in 2011," added Cal Zastrow, cofounder of Personhood USA. "We will keep working hard for the rights of preborn children, knowing that this is the best chance we've ever had to end abortion in America."

Watch Les Riley explain to the AFA’s Director of Issue Analysis Bryan Fischer back in October about the Personhood movement’s plan to overturn abortion rights:

Leading Republicans Embrace Personhood Amendment and “Christian Exodus,” Separatist Advocate

Last week Right Wing Watch reported on the success of anti-choice activists to place a “Personhood Amendment” on Mississippi’s 2011 ballot to coincide with the gubernatorial election. The radical group Personhood USA hopes to use the so-called “Personhood Amendments” to criminalize abortion, common forms of birth control, stem cell research, and even in-vitro fertilization, by giving legal rights to fetuses and embryos.

Major anti-choice organizations including the National Right to Life Committee have generally shied away from “Personhood Amendments” due to the extreme nature of the measure and the fringe Personhood USA. Colorado voters rejected three different Amendments from Personhood Colorado by wide margins, with the 2010 measure failing with less than 30% of the vote.

Activists in Mississippi, however, have made great headway in receiving support from the Religious Right and the GOP. Leading Religious Right groups and Republican politicians, including the American Family Association (AFA), Liberty Counsel, and Congressman-Elect Alan Nunnelee, have backed Personhood Mississippi’s efforts. Mississippi’s Republican Lt. Governor and gubernatorial candidate Phil Bryant has embraced the Personhood Initiative as well. Bryant, when announcing his bid for governor on the AFA’s radio program, claimed that “one of my goals in public life is to end abortion in Mississippi, so we’re going to work really hard on that.” A vocal and ardent supporter of the “Personhood Amendment,” Bryant called the initiative “another way of trying to stop abortion in Mississippi and simply allow once and for all the opportunity for the people to say we want to do that and we feel so strongly about it that we want to add it to our Constitution.”

Today, Personhood Mississippi (the state affiliate of Personhood USA) will be hosting a rally in Jackson to celebrate the measure’s inclusion on the 2011 ballot, and Bryant is scheduled to speak at the event.

But who is behind Personhood Mississippi and the Personhood Amendment’s sponsor?

The head of Personhood Mississippi is right wing activist Les Riley, a featured blogger of the group Christian Exodus, which has “goal of forming an independent Christian nation that will survive after the decline and fall of the financially and morally bankrupt American empire.”

Christian Exodus had attempted to move thousands of supporters to South Carolina in order to “form a biblically inspired government and secede from the United States,” and also has close ties to the separatist and Neo-Confederate League of the South. Christian Exodus also is encouraging adherents to move to Panama and Idaho in order to build theocratic settlements.

Lt. Governor Bryant said he wanted to “personally thank Les Riley” for his work, and Les Riley told AFA Radio that Mississippi’s Personhood Amendment is “the biggest news in the pro-life movement in twenty years” because it will not only eradicate reproductive rights in Mississippi but also set up a challenge to Roe v. Wade in the Supreme Court.

As the “Personhood Amendment” movement finds more allies and greater support in the Religious Right and Republican Party, its extremist leaders and radical beliefs have not changed.

American Family Association Promotes Extreme “Personhood Amendment” in Mississippi

After efforts to amend the Colorado constitution to give constitutional rights to embryos and fetuses badly failed in November, advocates of so-called “Personhood Amendments” are now hoping that Mississippi voters will back a similar amendment in 2011. The Colorado proposal, called Amendment 62, “would have banned abortion, many forms of birth control and embryonic stem cell research in the state.” Mississippi activists were able to put a similar measure on the ballot in 2011 to coincide with the gubernatorial election.

Back in 2008, the American Life League began pushing “Personhood Amendments” to become an integral part of the anti-choice movement; however, many Religious Right groups traditionally resisted “Personhood Amendments” because of their radical nature and tremendous unpopularity. Anti-choice groups in Colorado such as National Right to Life, Americans United for Life, Colorado Citizens for Life, and the Colorado Eagle Forum refused to support the “Personhood Amendment.”

Personhood USA, the leading organization behind such measures, likened President Obama to the “Angel of Death,” and activists in Colorado compared pro-choice laws with Nazism.

Now, “Personhood Amendment” proponents will try their luck in Mississippi, which already has strict anti-choice laws, and they are receiving significant publicity and support from a leading Religious Right group: the American Family Association, which is based in Mississippi.

Matt Friedeman of the AFA’s American Family Radio said that if the proposal succeeds in 2011, he hopes it would lead the way to the criminalization of abortion across the country:

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So what we’re hoping for here is that one of these initiatives will be taken all the way to the Supreme Court and they’ll have to decide at that point what to do with it. And hopefully at that juncture we have a pro-life majority, and you never know from year to year to year what’s gonna happen there, but we hope we have a pro-life majority and we hope the day comes when Roe v. Wade is wiped off the books and we can go back to the states. Maybe even, if God would allow, to get a pro-life amendment for the whole country.

Not to be outdone, AFA Director of Issue Analysis Bryan Fischer said that Mississippi’s “Personhood Amendment” will advance his objective of “aligning” the country’s laws with “the word of God:”

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One of the things we look for from our political leaders is we want to see them work to align the public policy of our country with the standards of the word of God, that’s what we want, we want an alignment. We’re not talking about a theocracy where the clergy rules this country; we’re talking about statesmen, both men and women, who are committed as a matter of moral conviction to align the public policy of the United States with the word of God.

As “Personhood Amendment” advocates hope to find a more favorable electorate in Mississippi in 2011, will more Religious Right groups join the AFA in embracing their radical proposals?

2012 Candidates Weekly Update 12/28/10

Haley Barbour

Mississippi: Uses private jet for political and entertainment outings, state spent over $500,000 for his air travel (Politico, 12/27).

Race: Controversy over Barbour’s Citizens Council “whitewash” continues (Christian Science Monitor, 12/22).

John Bolton

Government: Says government should not cut defense spending to shrink the deficit (TPM, 12/27).

Social issues: Denounces non-binding treaty on the rights of indigenous people (Fox News, 12/25).

Mitch Daniels

Social issues: Stands by his support for a “truce” on social issues (Politico, 12/27).

Education: Details private school voucher plan (Courier Journal, 12/24).

Mike Huckabee

GOP: Think Progress investigation ties Huckabee to “a firm notorious for defrauding families facing foreclosure with false promises and predatory fees” (Think Progress, 12/27).

Health Care: Huckabee and Palin’s own 2009 speech challenge Palin’s criticism of Michelle Obama’s anti-obesity efforts (The Hill, 12/27).

Sarah Palin

Language: Claims “Refudiate” was a typo, but she used the term in an earlier interview on Fox News (NY Daily News, 12/27).

Environment: Says conservationists are hypocrites for using pencils and paper (HuffPo, 12/27).

Foreign policy: Former Bush spokeswoman Dana Perino says Palin’s reality show and policy role give her an “authenticity” problem (The Right Scoop, 12/26).

2012: Peggy Noonan predicts that Palin won’t run for President but will have immense clout in the primary (GOP12, 12/26).

Tim Pawlenty

2012: Upcoming book tour could serve as “a test of his appeal” to Republican voters nationwide (Gannett, 12/24).

Religious Right: Sidesteps judicial nomination process and appoints Religious Right activist and deputy chief of staff’s wife to district court (RWW, 12/23).

Mike Pence

Religious Right: Leaders of Religious Right groups believe Pence can unite social conservatives with fiscal hawks (WSJ, 12/27).

GOP: Columnist believes Pence can successfully run for the nomination by “reuniting the Reagan Coalition” (Forbes, 12/23).

Mitt Romney

Health Care: Struggles to balance his criticism of coverage mandate with his support for a mandate in Massachusetts (HuffPo, 12/27).

2012: Holiday card asks, “Guess which grandchild heard that Papa might run again?” (Politico, 12/22).

John Thune

Government: Flounders in attempt to oppose earmarks while requesting more than $100 million (AP, 12/28).

Minnesota: Headlining MN GOP’s Lincoln/Reagan Dinner (Star Tribune, 12/22).

2012 Candidates Weekly Update 12/21/10

Haley Barbour

Civil Rights: In Weekly Standard profile, Barbour lauds racist, pro-segregation Council of Conservative Citizens, doesn’t remember Jim Crow era as “that bad” (TPM, The Hill; 12/20).

Mississippi: Tries to shape his legacy as governor (Clarion Ledger, 12/19).

CPAC: Set to address Conservative Political Action Committee conference in February (ACU, 12/16).

Mike Huckabee

Fox News: As a guest, Rep. Anthony Weiner asks Huckabee, “How Much Do You Make Over There At Fox?” (Mediaite, 12/18).

Health Care: Backs 9/11 First Responders care bill blocked by GOP (HuffPo, 12/17).

Religious Right: Signs letter defending SPLC-designated anti-gay hate groups (RWW, 12/15).

Sarah Palin

Obama: Palin continues to knock Michelle Obama in her Reality TV show (LA Times, 12/20).

Poll: New ABC-WaPo poll shows that a majority of Americans would refuse to back Palin for President (The Fix, 12/17).

Foreign Policy: Pens National Review column against START Treaty (NRO, 12/17).

Tim Pawlenty

Labor: Claims about public sector workers receives “pants on fire” rating by PolitiFact (PolitiFact, 12/16).

Health Care: Compares health care reform law to “drug dealing” (Minnesota Independent, 12/15).

Religious Right: Signs letter defending SPLC-designated anti-gay hate groups (RWW, 12/15).

Mike Pence

2012: Will decide in January whether to run for President or Governor of Indiana (Politico, 12/20).

Religious Right: Uses unemployment as a reason to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood; signs letter defending SPLC-designated anti-gay hate groups (RWW, 12/20; 12/15).

Mitt Romney

Health Care: Romney “trying to have it both ways” on health insurance mandate (Boston Globe, 12/19).

GOP: Conservatives debate whether Romney has firm ideas or just panders to base (The Atlantic, 12/17).

Rick Santorum

Iowa: Meets with far-right American Principles Project, touts his socially conservative views (Caffeinated Thoughts, 12/18).

Taxes: Opposes tax compromise, says Republicans didn’t “keep their pledge” (CNN, 12/16).

Religious Right: Signs letter defending SPLC-designated anti-gay hate groups (RWW, 12/15).

John Thune

Congress: Accuses Democrats of “flouting” midterm election by passing major bills during lame duck session (AP, 12/20).

New Hampshire: Says he is considering presidential run during interview on NH radio station (WMUR, 12/17).

Taxes: Criticizes Republican opponents of the tax compromise as “politically expedient” (HuffPo, 12/15).

Meet Alan Nunnelee: Mississippi’s Newest Member of Congress is on a “Crusade to Save America”

Following Tuesday's election, RWW will bring you our list of the "The Ten Scariest Republicans Heading to Congress." Our third candidate profile is Mississippi state senator and self-described “crusader” Alan Nunnelee.

Mississippi Democrat Travis Childers was a prime target for the GOP the moment he took office after a special election in May, 2008 in a seat that Republicans had held for 14 years. One of the most conservative Democrats in the House, Childers opposed health care reform and abortion rights, supported gun rights, and voted with his party less often than almost any other House member.

But despite his conservative bona fides, Childers couldn’t hold onto his seat against the challenge of far-right State Senator Alan Nunnelee. Nunnelee describes himself as on a “crusade to save America.” Although Childers voted against almost all of the Democrats’ major pieces of legislation, Nunnelee criticized him for not being conservative enough. In a speech before his primary victory, Nunnelee declared that Democratic policies are “more dangerous” than Pearl Harbor or 9/11: “What I see in Washington over the last 16 months is a more dangerous attack because it’s an attack on our freedom that’s coming from the inside.”

In an interview with a local Tea Party group, Nunnelee questioned whether the Obama Administration has a national security policy, saying “the administration has been so preoccupied with their domestic agenda that they have ignored our national defense.”

In a speech before the Byhalia Chamber of Commerce in August, Nunnelee dipped his toes in conspiracy theory, announcing that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was planning to investigate American citizens who oppose the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque”: “Just yesterday, the Speaker of the House said that those people that were opposed to building a mosque at the site of Ground Zero need to be investigated. So if you had a conversation at work, if you picked up your cell phone and called your brother in law, if you sent an email to your children, and you expressed concern about that, you need to watch out, because the Speaker of the House thinks you should be investigated.”

A state senator since 1994, Nunnelee has been a leader in far-right initiatives including hard-line anti-choice laws, opposition to gay rights, reducing environmental oversight, and making it more difficult to obtain Medicaid.

Nunnelee was at the forefront of Mississippi’s efforts to all but eliminate abortion services in the state. He was instrumental in the effort to pass Mississippi’s ban on late term abortion and led the effort to create a law directly challenging Roe v. Wade, which he called “the worst kind of law.” Nunnelee’s law set up tough parental consent requirements and provided that, in the event that Roe v. Wade was overturned, doctors performing abortions could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison. Nunnelee also wrote an “informed consent” law requiring women to look at a picture book of fetal development before agreeing to an abortion procedure. He worked with anti-choice groups to write a law requiring abortion clinics in Mississippi to meet “ambulatory surgical facility” standards, intended to put abortion clinics out of business by requiring them to follow onerous and precise standards including having hallways over six feet wide and “an attractive setting.” This year, Nunnelee sponsored a bill requiring Mississippi to “opt-out” of using federal health care funds for abortion—although the state already has such a ban and the federal health care bill involves no such funding. He called it the “"Federal Abortion-Mandate Opt-Out Act."

There is now only one abortion clinic in Mississippi.

On the issue of marriage, Nunnelee brags of having pushed Mississippi’s anti-marriage equality constitutional amendment, and of working to prevent gay couples in the state from adopting children, saying: “I am proud to have pushed the statutory language prohibiting same sex couples from adopting as well as the Constitutional Amendment prohibiting same sex marriage in Mississippi.” He also voted to allow an option for covenant marriage, a marriage agreement under which it is very difficult to get a divorce.

Moreover, Nunnelee was behind the successful push to make the DMV print “Choose Life” license plates, with the proceeds going to benefit anti-choice groups, and also boasts that he “led the efforts to place our national motto, In God we Trust, on the classroom wall of every school classroom in the state.”

Nunnelee also boasts of his roll in a 2004 plan that cut 65,000 Mississippians from the state’s Medicaid rolls. His suggestion for those who lost coverage was to call drug companies to find out about free or reduced price prescriptions. The Mississippi Human Services Coalition  gave him a 0 percent ranking for his abysmal voting record.

He has consistently voted for Voter ID laws, which often work to prevent low-income people from voting. He has said he supports Arizona’s draconian anti-immigrant law, saying, “unless the federal government is willing to enforce existing laws, states must protect themselves as Arizona has.” In a GOP candidates’ debate, he stated, “I would be absolutely opposed to granting any kind of amnesty to any man or woman who is in this country illegally,” and also supports ending the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of birthright citizenship.

Finally, after he was elected, Nunnelee went on the radio with notorious bigot Bryan Fischer to discuss the GOP’s policies in the new Congress, repeatedly agreeing that health care reform should be repealed at all costs, even if it takes a government shut-down:

 

 

 

Bob Vander Plaats Makes His Nonsensical Case for Removing Iowa's Justices

Last night, the Iowa Independent and Simpson College hosted a forum to discuss the right-wing effort to remove three state Supreme Court justices because of the court's ruling in favor of same-sex marriage earlier this year.

Iowa for Freedom chairman Bob Vander Plaats was among the participants and dominated much of the conversation until, as the Iowa Independent reports, issues came up that he didn't want to address:

At two times during the debate, Vander Plaats seemed to be at a loss of words and side-stepped questions from his fellow panelists. When the issue of Iowa for Freedom’s funding came up, he refused to answer McCormick’s question of where his organization’s funds come from. The Mississippi-based American Family Association contributes the overwhelming majority of funding for Iowa for Freedom, and New Jersey-based National Organization for Marriage has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay for TV ads attacking the judges.

The second moment was when the panelists discussed the equal protection clause in both the Iowa and U.S. constitutions. For much of the debate, Vander Plaats dismissed the clause, using examples of property or gun rights to object to the theory. However, McCormick brought up Brown v. Board of Education as a paramount case that the clause was used. Contrary to Vander Plaats position that courts should not use the clause, he said the use of the equal protection clause is appropriate for civil rights cases including Varnum. Allbee added the social criticism of the Brown case sounds eerily similar to that which is used against the Varnum ruling.

But one issue that Vander Plaats was more than willing to address was the "slippery slope" that the court's ruling would lead to incest and the end of private property:

In their own opinion they discriminated against people who want to be polygamous. They discriminate against people who want to be bisexual - one man, one woman. They discriminate, in their own opinion, against someone who wants to marry their own child.

Now we'd say there's laws on the books that say you can't do that - well, there's laws on the books that said you can't marry same-sex couples; they didn't care about that either. So why stop there? You're putting discrimination in your own opinion.

Where I sense a slippery slope is this, and my father in law would agree with me. My father in law owns way more land than I do and I believe in the right to private property. But under the equal protection provision, why can't I have some of his land?

I have friends who home-school their children, who send their kids to private school - I send my kids to public school. Why wouldn't I argue that's a violation of equal protection - they all should send them to public school.

If a court can make that ruling for you, it'll determine your private property. I mean if they'll do this for marriage, they won't even blink an eye for private property, or Second Amendment, or any other issue at stake. This is why this is such a critical, critical election and why we have people all over the state agreeing with us, not because of the marriage issue, but because if you allow a court to be activist in nature, your freedoms are gone.

2012 Candidates Weekly Update 10/19/10

Haley Barbour

Washington: Ranked #1 of GQ’s “DC Power List” (GQ, 10/18).

Mississippi: NYT columnist looks into his record of pardons as Governor (NYT, 10/15).

GOP: Raises $31 million for Republican Governors Association (WaPo, 10/14).

Mitch Daniels

Economy: Hit by conservatives for floating idea of value added tax (Newsweek, 10/18).

2012: Praised by President of US Chamber of Commerce (Courier & Press, 10/13).

Newt Gingrich

2010: Predicts takeover of House and Senate by GOP (KTAR, 10/18).

Fundraising: His 527, which has no cap on donations, raised over $4 million (Politico, 10/16).

Mike Huckabee

Media: Brings Ohio GOP gubernatorial nominee on TV show, says he is “not the least bit objective” (Media Matters, 10/18).

Crime: Seattle Times looks into Huckabee’s pardon of Maurice Clemmons (Seattle Times, 10/17).

Religious Right: Tells “Freedom, Faith and Family” conference that God guided Founding Fathers, condemns abortion (Winston-Salem Journal, 10/16).

2010: Predicts a “tsunami of change” while campaigning for Indiana Republicans (Indiana News Center, 10/13).

Mitt Romney

2010: Campaigns for Wisconsin’s Scott Walker and Minnesota’s Tom Emmer (GOP12, 10/18).

Fundraising: Collects $1.7 million for leadership PAC over summer (Politico, 10/14).

Iowa: May not focus as much attention on Iowa Caucuses in 2012 as he did in 2008 (Des Moines Register, 10/14).

Sarah Palin

Tea Party: Launches Tea Party Express Bus Tour in Reno, NV (Christian Science Monitor, 10/18).

2010: Set to rally in Florida with Michael Steele and Marco Rubio after appearing with Steele in California (Politico, 10/18).

Religious Right: Speaks to Liberty and Freedom Foundation about patriotism, God, and Pat Tillman; knocks First Lady Michelle Obama (Opposing Views, 10/17).

George Pataki

Health Care: Wants 1 million people to sign his petition to repeal reform law (Jackson Citizen Patriot, 10/14; The Hill, 10/14).

Economy: Criticizes Obama Administration’s green-jobs initiatives (Wall Street Journal, 10/14).

Tim Pawlenty

GOP: Holds rally with Mitt Romney in Minnesota (Star Tribune, 10/18).

Government: Criticizes federal government spending but requests money from Washington for flood aid (Up Take, 10/18).

Fundraising: Leadership PAC raised over half a million dollars over the Summer (AP, 10/14).

Rick Santorum

Abortion: Set to address Tennessee Right to Life’s annual dinner (Knoxville News, 10/17).

Religious Right: Spoke Friday to Cornerstone Action fundraiser (CPR Action, 10/15).

Ralph Reed "Proud" Of His Work For Jack Abramoff: "It Was Outstanding & It Advanced Sound Public Policy"

Last night I watched "Casino Jack and the United States of Money," a documentary all about the shady dealings of Jack Abramoff and his cronies.  One of those cronies was Ralph Reed, who just so happened to be on Alan Colmes' radio program last night pitching his new novel "The Confirmation."

First, Colmes asked Reed about his infamous "I do guerrilla warfare ... You don't know it's over until you're in a body bag" quote, which Reed claimed was simply a poor choice of words for his method of taking on the boring, ground-level grunt work like knocking on doors and turning out voters - it is not sexy or flashy, but it wins elections.

Colmes then turned to Reed's work with Jack Abramoff exploiting his clout within the Religious Right to protect Abramoff's client's gambling interests, which Reed defended on the grounds that he made it clear that he would not accept any money that was derived from gambling and never was. 

Of course, as I explained several years ago when I wrote a report of Reed and his ties to Abramoff, this explanation is entirely self-serving and frankly rather pointless, as Reed was fully aware of why Abramoff was working on there and where the funding for the effort was coming from, which is why it had to be routed through Grover Norquist in order to hide its origin:

In 1999, Abramoff subcontracted Reed’s firm to generate opposition to attempts to legalize a state-sponsored lottery and video poker in Alabama, an effort that was bankrolled by the Choctaw Tribe in order to eliminate competition to its own casino in neighboring Mississippi. Reed promised that Century Strategies was “opening the bomb bays and holding nothing back” and his firm ultimately received $1.3 million from the Choctaws for this effort, which included engaging the Alabama chapter of the Christian Coalition, as well as influential right-wing figures such as James Dobson, to work to defeat the proposals.

The strategy had one small problem: the Alabama Christian Coalition had an explicit policy that it “will not be the recipient of any funds direct or in-direct or any in-kind direct or indirect from gambling interests.” (Emphasis in original.) Knowing this, Reed and Abramoff worked to hide the source of the $850,000 paid to the Christian Coalition for its anti-gambling efforts by funneling money from the Choctaws through Americans for Tax Reform, a Washington, DC anti-tax organization headed by their old College Republican friend Grover Norquist. When asked why the tribe’s money had to be funneled through conduits such as ATR, a Choctaw representative stated it was because Reed did not want it known that casino money was funding his operation: “It was our understanding that the structure was recommended by Jack Abramoff to accommodate Mr. Reed’s political concerns.”

Nonetheless, Reed repeatedly assured the Christian Coalition that the funding for its work was not coming from gambling interests. This was technically true as the Choctaws were paying for it out of their non-gambling revenue, though their objective was obviously to protect their own gambling interests and revenue. According to emails obtained during a Senate investigation into Abramoff’s activities and reported in the media, Reed was well aware of who was paying for this anti-gambling effort. When the information began to surface in the press and the Christian Coalition learned of the source of the $850,000 it had received, it demanded an explanation from Reed who apologized in a letter saying he should have “explained that the contributions came from the Choctaws,” thus admitting that he had been fully aware of the source of the funding. But by the time Reed offered his “after-the-fact apology,” the gambling initiative had been defeated and the Christian Coalition had been duped.

When word of Reed’s work for Abramoff first broke, Reed claimed that he had “no direct knowledge of [Abramoff’s lobbying firm’s] clients or their interests.” But according to the report recently released by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee on Abramoff’s bilking of the tribes, Reed was informed by Abramoff as early as 1999 that the money that was funding his anti-gambling operations was coming from the casino-owning Choctaw tribe.

The report published an email Abramoff sent to Reed instructing him to “page me with a page of no more than 90 words ... informing me of your completion of the budget and giving me a total budget figure with category breakdowns. Once I get this, I will call Nell [Rodgers] at Choctaw and get it approved.” A subsequent email to Reed asked him to send “invoices as soon as possible so I can get Choctaw to get us checks asap.”

Thus, Reed was clearly aware that the funding for his anti-gambling work was coming from the Choctaw and that he was indirectly working to protect the tribe’s multi-million dollar gambling interests. Despite the repeated references to the Choctaw in Abramoff’s emails, Reed continued to publicly insist that he did not know the source of the funding.

Reed told Colmes that he would not accept this sort of work today, which is not surprising given that it was this very work which caused him to lose his race to be the GOP nominee Lt. Governor of Georgia, but insists that he did nothing wrong and that the work he did for Abramoff "was outstanding, I'm proud of it, and it advanced sound public policy":

Religious Right Continues To Warn That They Will Not Be Ignored

We've noted over the last several days that the Religious Right is growing increasingly worried that GOP leaders are intentionally ignoring social issues as they lay out their agenda.  This fear was reinforced earlier this week when Haley Barbour, head of the Republican Governor's Association, said that the GOP wasn't going to use up valuable time and resources talking about issues like abortion and gay marriage because those are not things that voters care about.

Needless to say, that is not sitting well with the groups who care about abortion and gay marriage, with LifeNews responding that "if Barbour begins telling pro-life voters they need to take a back seat and that the issue of abortion won't determine how they vote, his potential campaign may be dead before it begins."

Likewise, Tony Perkins and the Family Research Council took Barbour to task in their most recent Washington Update:

On Wednesday Mississippi Governor Hailey Barber, who is also the chairman of the Republican Governors' Association, spoke to reporters here in Washington and cautioned Republican candidates against bringing social issues into their campaign. He said that if candidates go beyond economic issues, they "are using up valuable time and resources that can be used to talk to people about what they care about." My experience in the political arena is that politicians want to avoid issues that they are not very comfortable with. However, just because issues are not important to a candidate does not make them unimportant to voters.

I've repeatedly said that economic issues are currently at the forefront of the minds of most voters, but the electorate, especially social conservatives, have the ability to consider a candidate's view on more than one or two issues. Most self-identified, pro-life Americans, the number of which have been increasing over the last 30 years, will decide their vote not on where a candidate stands on a flat tax or a value added tax, but on where a candidate stands on the value of human life.

...

A nation's economy will never have greater stability than its core economic unit--the family, and the stability of the family is determined by more than money. Family matters and if the Republicans want to succeed where they failed last time, they had better remember that fact.

And Robert George, who has been raising his own alarms that conservative leaders are distancing themselves from social issues, echoes Perkins' argument that defending the family is the key to economic stability, which is the standard Religious Right response whenever this tension between economic and social conservatives flares up:

If our society goes down the tubes—and may God protect us from any such eventuality—but if we go down the tubes, if our cause is lost, it will not be in the end because of bad economic decisions (though bad economic decision cause tremendous harm and suffering). It will be because we let misguided but determined people undermine the institution of marriage and destroy the innocence of our children.

Now some will counsel that economic conservatives have no horse in this race. They will say that issues such as marriage and the sanctity of human life are moral, culture, and religious questions about which business people, and people concerned with economic freedom, need not concern themselves. That’s bad thinking! The reality is that the ideological movements today that seek to redefine marriage and abolish its normativity for romantic relations and the rearing of children, are the very same movements that seek to undermine the market system and replace it with statist control of vast areas of economic life.

Conservatives may be unified in opposing President Obama and the Democrats, but that doesn't mean that they actually have a unified agenda or even a coherent coalition, so we can expect this gulf between the economic and social conservatives to continue to widen as we approach the coming elections and their aftermath.

Barbour: Religious Right is "Using Up Valuable Time and Resources" On Issues Voters Don't Care About

Earlier this year, Gov. Mitch Daniels came in for all sorts of criticism from the Religious Right for suggesting that truce might be needed in the culture wars so that the nation can focus on addressing economic and security issues.

If there is one thing the Religious Right hates, it is being told that their issues should be placed on a back burner or that they don't motivate voter turn out.  In fact, just yesterday we noted that the Religious Right was warning House Republicans not to ignore social issues as they lay out their issues and agenda, warning that it would be an "electorally costly mistake for the future for the GOP to write off" the anti-choice, anti-gay social conservatives who make up much of the grassroots base.

So I am guessing that this is not going to sit well with them:

Republican Governor's Association Chair Haley Barbour cautioned Republican candidates on Wednesday against bringing social issues into the campaign, arguing that any discussion beyond the economy would prove distracting and problematic to their election hopes.

In a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor, the Mississippi Republican was asked for his take on remarks made earlier in the year by Mitch Daniels, the Indiana Governor, who had urged social and fiscal conservatives to reach an informal truce for the purposes of 2010.

"I think what Mitch said is very similar to what I have responded to today," Barbour replied. "The voters have on their mind the economy, jobs, spending, debt and taxes and good campaigns are about the issues that are on the peoples minds.

"I'll put my bonafides up against anybody as a social conservative," he added, noting that as governor, Mississippi was voted the safest state in the country for an unborn child. "But that ain't going to change anybody's vote this year because people are concerned about job, the economy, growth and taxes... you are using up valuable time and resources that can be used to talk to people about what they care about."

You know, Mitch Daniels thought that it was his bonafides as a social conservative that gave him the standing and credibility to be able call for a truce in the culture wars, but that didn't stop him for getting raked over the coal ... so if Barbour thinks that the Religious Right is going to simply accept it when he tells them that they "are using up valuable time and resources" talking about issues nobody cares about, I think he is going to be in for a bit of a surprise.

Right Wing Round-Up

  • PFAW: People For the American Way, Public Citizen Launch Constitutional Amendment Pledge Campaign to Undo Citizens United.
  • Steve Benen: Meet Shirley Sherrod.
  • Jonathan Chait: The Journolist Conspiracy Continues.
  • Evan McMorris-Santoro: Mosque Ado About Fear-Mongering: Right Wing Takes On Muslim Worship Anywhere And Everywhere.
  • John Aravosis: I just took DOD's confidential DADT survey of the troops - three times!
  • Think Progress: Washington Times Runs Another Picture Of Kagan In A Turban To Claim She Will Impose Shariah Law On America.
  • Andy Kroll: Sharron Angle's Racist Tea Partier Problem.
  • Media Matters: The right wing's convenient Mark Williams amnesia.
  • Jim Burroway: Mississippi School District Settles With Lesbian Student Over Canceled Prom.
  • Jillian Rayfield: Good As Goldline: Congress And CA Law Enforcement Probing Glenn Beck's Favorite Gold Seller.
  • Justin Elliot: Vitter opponent sleeping with stepson's wife.

Putting the "Prophet" in Prophetic Intercessor

I've been writing a lot lately about the self-proclaimed "prophets" and "apostles" like Cindy Jacobs and Lou Engle and their increasing role within the "mainstream" Religious Right movement, so I wanted to just take an opportunity to point out something that I think is important in understanding this:  when they call themselves "prophets," they means that literally and believe themselves to have the same power and authority as the prophets of the Bible.

Case in point is this recent prophesy from Chuck Pierce, following up his recent discussion with Jacobs about the BP oil spill being due to President Obama's treatment of Israel, claiming that God has promised to stop the oil spill "supernaturally" and deliver the Gulf states from "occult spirits" with a wave of revival and prosperity that will wash over America ... note particularly that the sections in italics are reported to literally be the Word of God as it was spoken to Pierce: 

There is something peculiar in the seas that has yet to be uncovered in this situation. There will be a greater explosion to heal this explosion. There has to be something that creates a ripple and a move in the water deeper than anything we have ever seen. Some way or another the move in the water in the Gulf has to cause that which is defiled in that whole area to come out some way. We have to get into a move deeper than we know.

God says, "I am capable of moving in the waters deeper than you've seen Me move. But you're going to have to be willing to ride the wave when it comes." There is a move of God coming that is so deep, the waters are going to move so deep, it is going to create such an action that we will have to ride the waves in this coming year. I am announcing this. This is an announcement. We will have to learn to ride some unusual waves for the year ahead!

There are some occult spirits along that Gulf that the Lord is ready to move. I speak to Texas. I speak to Louisiana. I speak to Mississippi. I speak to Alabama. I speak to Florida. The Lord says, "Get ready. You are being delivered from an occult operation by MY supernatural power that is coming in some very unusual ways! I AM going to cleanse that area of divination. It is going to come through the power of MY display. I'm going to do this supernaturally. You've tried to do it with your brain and I'm going to do it supernaturally. You've tried to move one way in your thinking process.

"Watch Me go deep and push it out. I am going to start a move, and watch Me do unusual things in that Gulf Coast. I am going to go deep. I'm going to create swells. I'm going to bring in waves. I'm going to dispel things. Things are going to be thrown on land for you to wrap up and get out of the place. This is a beginning and this next year get ready to ride the waves for I will be moving people around. I will be changing locations. You get ready to ride the wave for I am going to push out that spiritual force that has held you captive and defiled the move of My Spirit. You are going to be released in a whole new way to hear Me and to move with Me and to prosper in a way you've not prospered."

This is a warning from the Lord. He says, "I can turn the Gulf upside down like I turn ponds upside down and bring the bottom to the top! I am getting ready to bring the bottom to the top. Be creative. Know that I can give you understanding on businesses. Know that I can tell you what to do. Things will be coming from the top to the bottom. Get ready because you haven't seen anything like you're about to see. BOTTOMS UP!"

Thank You, Lord, that there will be a new glory coming from the seas onto the land of America.

As Evan Hurst noted yesterday on his piece on Lou Engle, Engle likewise considers himself not a teacher but a prophet; the difference being that he has not come to "teach" us God's Word, but to "tell" us God's Word, so that God's Word and the words of the "prophets" are one and the same.

Praying Away The BP Oil Spill

I guess that it if the BP oil spill in the Gulf is due to God's anger over President Obama's treatment of Israel, then it only stands to reason that the best way to end the crisis is prayer.

And that is exactly the solution that four Southern Republican governors appear to be banking on:

Four Gulf Coast governors are calling on residents to set aside Sunday as a Day of Prayer to pray for a solution to the oil spill and for citizens impacted by the disaster.

Alabama's Bob Riley, Louisiana's Bobby Jindal, Mississippi's Haley Barbour and Texas' Rick Perry all issued proclamations calling on prayer for the spill, which entered its 66th day Thursday.

"Throughout our history, Alabamians have humbly turned to God to ask for His blessings and to hold us steady during times of struggle. This is certainly one of those times," Riley said in a statement.

Riley's proclamation reads in part, "Citizens of Alabama are urged to pray for the well-being of our fellow citizens and our State, to pray for all those in other states who are hurt by this disaster, to pray for those who are working to respond to this crisis, and to pray that a solution that stops the oil leak is completed soon."

Perry's proclamation says it "seems right and fitting that the people of Texas should join with their fellow Gulf Coast residents" and others across the country and around the world "to thank God, seek his wisdom for ourselves and our leaders, and ask him for his merciful intervention and healing in this time of crisis."

Barbour's notes that the spill threatens the "livelihoods of our fellow citizens, the environmental beauty of our coast, and our quality of life." Jindals's says "Louisianians all across the world are united in hope for an end to this catastrophic event and pray for" the coast's recovery.

Jindal, in fact, participated in a prayer vigil earlier this week where, according to the Louisiana Famly Forum (Tony Perkins old haunt,) "intercessors" laid hands upon him:

Pastors Dino Rizzo, Apostle Lloyd Benson, Bishop Ricky Sinclair, Bishop Raymond Johnson, and Pastor Dennis Blackwell led in prayers for the bereaved families, for our government officials, for the environment, for the people and businesses of the Gulf Coast, and for solutions to this economic and environmental crisis.

And they were not alone, as Southern Baptist Convention is calling on churches and Christians "to pray for the end of this catastrophe and for the homes, lives, cultures, and livelihoods of those in the Gulf Coast region" while John Stemberger of the Florida Family Policy Council "is working on a coordinated effort, and is asking believers and churches across America to unite in prayer for the Gulf this Sunday" and even Wallbuilders is "urging everyone across the nation to join with these states, asking for God's hand to be on all the decision-makers and lawmakers, that He would give them discernment and guidance, and that a solution would be forthcoming."

Interestingly, Wallbuilders' David Barton "drafted the prayer day proclamations for the governors to adapt."

Rep. Randy Forbes Seeks To Create A National "Prayer Caucus" Network

Earlier this week we noted that Rep. Randy Forbes had been a guest on James Dobson's new radio program where he unveiled his plan to create a series of state-level "prayer caucuses" that would monitor legislation, court rulings, and elected officials and mobilize activists to fight them.

The latest issue of World Magazine profiles Forbes and his Congressional Prayer Caucus and reports that he has already created one state-level caucus in Mississippi, with others in Virginia and Florida coming soon: 

Forbes says anti-faith groups have raised vast sums of money to pick fights with religious organizations. "For decades now people of faith have said, 'We are just working our own ministries, and we are going to wait and play defense when they come after us.' Our strategy is different. We think we need to push back."

To do so Forbes set up the nonprofit Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation to raise both awareness and money. The foundation's website, which asks churches and individuals to sign up to pray for the nation on a "digital prayer wall," also offers $5,000 annual memberships to a club called the "300"—a reference to Gideon's army in Judges.

The money funds Forbes' signature strategy: franchising out the Congressional Prayer Caucus concept to state legislatures.

Mississippi became the first state to partner with the caucus. Mississippi's GOP Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant spearheaded the effort after Forbes visited his office in February. At that meeting Forbes enticed Bryant by telling him Mississippi could help spread the movement around the country. "I immediately accepted the challenge because Mississippi is one of the most religious states in the nation," Bryant told me.

On April 22, a bipartisan group of more than three dozen Mississippi lawmakers crowded onto steps inside the state Capitol for a press conference on prayer. To make it official the state legislature even put it to a vote, unanimously passing in both the House and Senate a resolution that formed the state caucus. Next year a Senate Republican will lead the weekly prayer group while a House Democrat will take over in 2012.

Legislatures in Virginia and Florida are at work on similar partnerships.

It is through these state groups that Forbes hopes to change the debate over religion in public life. Many of the nation's legislatures already have prayer groups, but Forbes wants to bring them together into a nationwide network that tracks threats against religion. The D.C. caucus would serve as the clearinghouse where policy makers formulate and coordinate strategies.

"Here is the new world, if you send 100 lobbyists against us, we send two and a half million emails raising this issue," said Forbes. "Do you really want to fight that battle?"

Dobson Gets Back In The Game

James Dobson officially left Focus on the Family in February and started his new radio program, "Family Talk With Dr. James Dobson" in March ... and it took him just about a month to use his new program to do what he does best

On today’s program, Dr. Dobson sits down with Virginia Congressman Randy Forbes for a revealing interview about how forces in American society are sometimes surreptitiously removing all references to Christianity. Congressman Forbes describes the formation of the Congressional Prayer Caucus and the successes this group has had on the cultural battlefront.

The Christian Post reports that Dobson reiterated his standard concern that Christians are under constant attack while Forbes used the program as opportunity to call for the creation of state-level prayer caucuses that will monitoring legislation, court rulings, and elected officials:

Before Forbes was featured on Friday's broadcast, Dobson noted to listeners that the newly launched Family Talk is not being turned into a ministry that has "a political or public policy bent." But he stressed the significance of still addressing such issues and was unapologetic about doing so with passion.

"That's who we are and might as well state that up front," said Dobson, who started Family Talk with his son after leaving the prominent Focus on the Family ministry in February.

"This is the one reason that I didn't want to retire when I left Focus on the Family," the 74-year-old conservative evangelical leader stated. "The country is in a great deal of trouble and I just felt like we needed to do something about it."

Like many like-minded Christians, Dobson feels there is a growing attack against Christianity and efforts to eliminate all references to the Christian faith.

Expressing the same level of concern, Forbes said "anti-faith" groups around the country are amassing huge sums of money and focusing their resources on one particular situation or lawsuit so that they can get a precedent ... A number of states have begun to form prayer caucuses, including Mississippi and Virginia. Part of the purpose of prayer caucuses is to monitor legislation, agency rulings and court opinions that deny religious freedoms and access to the marketplace of ideas for people of faith, he said.

Forbes hopes to see prayer caucuses in every state "because it would be the first time that we have been able to integrate all of these policymakers across the country so that they can know what's going on and we can have policies that effectively deal with some of these attacks before it's too late."

Dobson also used the opportunity to post a commentary on the Family Talk website, blasting various legislative efforts - including efforts to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell - and vowing to place Family Talk on the "front lines" in fighting them: 

Time and space limitations permit me only to mention another regrettable piece of legislation that passed in the House of Representatives on May 27, 2010. It would eliminate the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy for all branches of the military. The four senior officers of the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines, have said “Don’t do this.” It threatens to affect morale, recruitment, retention, and the effectiveness of those who are risking their lives to protect this great nation. Yet, the attitude by liberals in Congress appears to be, “This is our window of opportunity,” and they are plunging ahead at breakneck speed. President Obama has promised to sign the legislation. Why does that surprise us?

On these issues and many others, Family Talk will be on the front lines of the battle to preserve the family. It is difficult now for us to engage fully because of the limitations of a 501(c)(3) organization. Nevertheless, we will do everything permitted by the IRS. We hope soon to have more freedom to defend families and help preserve the Judeo-Christian system of values. Your assistance in making Family Talk a strong and effective ministry will pay dividends in days to come. That is our passionate commitment.

Right Wing Round-Up

  • Lauri Lebo: Don McLeroy to Receive Eagle Forum Patriot Award.
  • Joe.My.God: Iowa Pastors Demand Candidates Support Marriage Equality Repeal.
  • Justin Elliot: Greer Charged With Fraud, Grand Theft Over 'Shell' Fundraising Company.
  • Rachel Tabachnick: Hagee vs. Hagee - In His Own Words.
  • Think Progress: Mississippi GOP congressional candidate: Democratic policies are ‘more dangerous’ than 9/11 or Pearl Harbor.
  • Candace Chellew-Hodge: Haggard’s New Church Gay Friendly?

AFA Takes Credit For Video Chain Bankruptcy

I have often wondered if the American Family Association had ever really accomplished anything with its myriad of boycotts  Often, it seems, AFA generates a lot of coverage by announcing some new boycott and then either claims victory for vague reasons or else just quietly drops it altogether.

But last week, Movie Gallery, the second-largest video-rental chain in North America, announced that it was going out of business ... and now the AFA is taking credit

American Family Association has worked for years to close down Movie Gallery shops, pointing out to consumers and law-enforcement authorities the company's practice of distributing hardcore pornography out of stores' "back rooms." Randy Sharp is director of special projects for AFA.

"We're now seeing that Movie Gallery, which is in its second bankruptcy in the last five years, is continuing to close more and more stores," he notes. "At one time, Movie Gallery had over 2,000 video stores. They're now down to just a few hundred."

Several years ago, AFA launched a boycott of the stores and continued it with success in several states. In Mississippi alone 80 percent of the stores were shuttered. The AFA spokesman says that came about because the pro-family group raised awareness to communities in that state, citizens became involved, and the law was enforced.

Of course, the real reason Movie Gallery is going out of business is because is has been unable to compete with the new services movie delivery services like Netflix, Redbox and the Internet.  Blockbuster is likewse struggling to stay afloat as well ... I wonder if the AFA is responsible for that as well.

Interestingly, as far as I have been able to tell, AFA's boycott of Movie Gallery started back sometime before 2001.  So it basically took AFA a decade to see success ... a decade during which technological advancements just so happen to have made Movie Gallery's business model obsolete

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Peter LaBarbera continues his crusade against Jim Daly and Focus on the Family.
  • Ted Nugent loves Sarah Palin.
  • And Sarah Palin loves Glenn Beck.
  • Will you help restore Stephen Baldwin?
  • You know what book I won't be reading? "The Wildmons of Mississippi: A Story of Christian Dissent."
  • At least one newspaper is dropping Star Parker's syndicated column now that she is running for Congress.  Will others follow suit?
  • Mat Staver explains that Charlie Crist's moderation destroyed his political career.
  • Finally, the quote of the day from Rep. Mike Pence on the need for the GOP to diversify its base:  "In my judgment there may be no higher priority for Republicans in the 21st century then to return to that Abraham Lincoln, Jack Kemp vision that at the very center of everything we are as Republicans is the principle of equality of opportunity."
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