Pennsylvania

Gingrich Knows The Right Will Never Hold Him Accountable For His Hypocrisy

Esquire has a long profile of Newt Gingrich in which his ex-wife Marianne says he won't run for President because he is more interested in making money, as Justin Elliott explains:

Despite the recent hype, Marianne does not believe Newt is really serious about running for president. Why not? He's too busy making lots and lots of money ... So how is Newt making all this money? With a network of non-profit and for-profit groups that are financed by industry and are devoted above all to promoting Gingrich himself. It turns out this very much resembles the setup that got Gingrich fined $300,000 by the House ethics committee in the 1990s.

The article is long and quite interesting and you really should read the whole thing, but I am just going to highlight this section in which Marianne discusses their divorce, which she says did not come as a particular surprise since Gingrich had also carried on an affair with her while still married to his first wife and even "went to the hospital to present her with divorce terms while she was recovering from uterine cancer."

Then he did the same thing to her:

But Marianne was having problems of her own. After going to the doctor for a mysterious tingling in her hand, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

Early in May, she went out to Ohio for her mother's birthday. A day and a half went by and Newt didn't return her calls, which was strange. They always talked every day, often ten times a day, so she was frantic by the time he called to say he needed to talk to her.

"About what?"

He wanted to talk in person, he said.

"I said, 'No, we need to talk now.' "

He went quiet.

"There's somebody else, isn't there?"

She kind of guessed it, of course. Women usually do. But did she know the woman was in her apartment, eating off her plates, sleeping in her bed?

She called a minister they both trusted. He came over to the house the next day and worked with them the whole weekend, but Gingrich just kept saying she was a Jaguar and all he wanted was a Chevrolet. " 'I can't handle a Jaguar right now.' He said that many times. 'All I want is a Chevrolet.' "

He asked her to just tolerate the affair, an offer she refused.

He'd just returned from Erie, Pennsylvania, where he'd given a speech full of high sentiments about compassion and family values.

The next night, they sat talking out on their back patio in Georgia. She said, "How do you give that speech and do what you're doing?"

"It doesn't matter what I do," he answered. "People need to hear what I have to say. There's no one else who can say what I can say. It doesn't matter what I live."

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Sarah Palin will headline the Pennsylvania Family Institute's annual fundraiser later this month.
  • Mat Staver and David Barton are holding a series [PDF] of "Florida Awake!" events across this state next month.
  • Rep. Steve King does not approve of efforts by liberals to cite the Bible in support of their political agenda.
  • Newt Gingrich is winning accolades from professional Muslim bashers.
  • MassResistance is excited about Peter LaBarbera's upcoming anti-gay conference.
  • On the final day of campaigning, MI Gov. candidate Pete Hoekstra held "tele-town halls with evangelical author and radio talk show host Dr. James Dobson and U.S. Rep. Michelle Bachmann."

Ralph Reed Back in the Right's Good Graces

I think it is safe to assume that Ralph Reed's underhanded work exploiting his Religious Right allies for the benefit of Jack Abramoff's clients' gambling interests has been completely forgiven by various leaders of the very movement he sought to exploit.  

In recent weeks, Reed has used his Faith and Freedom Coalition to host meetings that included the likes of Richard Land and Rep. Marsha Blackburn and rub shoulders with Rep. Michele Bachmann, as he travels the country presenting his plans to gain control of House, Senate, and state legislatures though his new, more strident "Christian Coalition on steroids".

And this effort appears to be chugging along, as he was just in Texas, Pennsylvania, and Missouri where he picked up the support of Phyllis Schlafly, Rick Santorum, and Sen. Jim Talent: 

Note To WSJ: Alito Had a Record on Abortion Too

Today the Wall Street Journal ran the groundbreaking scoop that possible Supreme Court nominee Diane Wood has a record when it comes to the issue of abortion. Apparently, the WSJ finds this most remarkable and almost unheard of:  

Recent Supreme Court nominees have come before the Senate with such slim records on abortion that their views were anybody's guess.

Not so with Diane Wood, a Chicago federal appellate judge who is on the White House's short list of candidates for the latest high-court vacancy.

The WSJ claims that recent nominees have had "records virtually devoid of substantive statements on the matter" ... apparently having completely forgotten about, say, the substantive statements made by Samuel Alito on the matter: 

In a memo disclosed Wednesday that he wrote in 1985 as an assistant to the solicitor general, Alito recommended that the administration submit a brief to the Supreme Court, asking it to uphold a Pennsylvania law that imposed a variety of abortion restrictions and "make clear that we disagree with Roe v. Wade."

Alito argued that stepping into the case, Thornburgh v. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, would be a more effective strategy for President Reagan than a "frontal assault" on the landmark case and would not "even tacitly concede Roe's legitimacy." Disagreeing with the administration's position, the court struck down the law the following year.

...

Alito was 35 years old and a civil-service lawyer when he wrote the abortion memo in May 1985. It was just six months before he sent a letter to then-Attorney General Ed Meese as part of his successful application for a higher-ranking political appointment, saying that he was "particularly proud" of his contribution to cases in which the administration argued "that racial and ethnic quotas should not be allowed and that the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion."

...

In the memo, Alito wrote: "What can be made of this opportunity to advance the goals of bringing about the eventual overruling of Roe v. Wade and, in the meantime, of mitigating its effects?" He then urged the Justice Department to argue that provisions in the Pennsylvania law "are eminently reasonable and legitimate and would be upheld without a moment's hesitation in other contexts."

He referred to a doctor who performs the procedure as an "abortionist" and railed against a different court decision that had struck down an ordinance that he said was "designed to preclude the mindless dumping of aborted fetuses into garbage piles." He called the decision "almost incredible."

A Slightly Less Intolerant Rick Santorum?

CBS News profiles former Senator Rick Santorum as he mulls over the idea of making a run for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012 despite the fact that, just four years ago he was voted out of office in Pennsylvania by 18%.

Interestingly, it looks like Santorum might be trying to downplay his rabidly anti-gay history, even going so far as to try and distance himself from his infamous "man on dog" comment:

In an interview, Santorum said he was hurt by the reaction to his comments and insisted he had been mischaracterized. His interviewer, he said, had engaged in a "hatchet job" that clouded the fact that he was simply making a legal argument that "if the court created a right that sexual activity was all based on consent, then consent can be consent to do anything." Santorum said his focus was not on gay sexual activity specifically, and went on to stress his work to fight AIDS worldwide.

(In an e-mailed statement, Associated Press Media Relations Manager Jack Stokes said, "Our story was accurate then, and it has withstood the passage of time." You can see a transcript of the interview here.)

That isn't to say Santorum, a strong opponent of same-sex marriage, has exactly changed course. But he does seem to want to avoid controversy. Asked about his position on homosexuality, Santorum said, "I have no problem from a public policy point of view with homosexuality."

Asked about his personal feelings on the subject, Santorum said, carefully, "I have personal feelings on a lot of things." He added that people have a right to do what they want in the privacy of their own home. "There are things that people do that I think are good, there are things that are bad, that really doesn't matter much," he stated.

But while Santorum might be trying to sound a bit less intolerant when it comes to gays, the same cannot be said for his views regarding evolution:

At the same time, Santorum has resisted leftward drift when it comes to the controversial social issues that once made him such a prominent target. Asked about his position on evolution, Santorum requested a definition of the term more than once; he then suggested that the question actually concerned "Darwinism."

"Look, I believe that we were created by God," Santorum said. "That we have a soul. Now, if you can square that with evolution, fine. I don't know. I'm not an expert in evolution. What I can say is that I believe that we are created in the image and likeness of God, that we have a soul, and that we are not just a mistake. A mutation. I think we are something that God put on this earth, and have a divine spark, as Abraham Lincoln said."

"My feeling is the bottom line is I think it's important for society to understand that we are not just animals," he added. "…if we are just animals, and we're no different than any other animal out there, then the world is a very different place. And our expectations of others are very different. And I don't think it's true. And I don't think it's healthy."

Right Wing Leftovers

  • The National Journal says Gov. Tim Pawlenty's religion may be one of his "greatest assets" as he contemplates a 2012 run for president, an issue that "has been largely overlooked by both the national media and the Pawlenty camp itself."
  • Newt Gingrich and Jim Garlow team up to defend the Christian Legal Society's right to bar gays and nonbelievers from its membership in an Washington Post op-ed.
  • Truth Wins Out's Wayne Besen provides an inside look at the Freedom Federation's " Awakening" conference, while Liberty Counsel's Matt Barber provides a different take on events.
  • Despite the fact that Sarah Palin has earned millions of dollars since quitting as Governor, her SarahPAC seems to be spending a lot of money making sure she travels in style.
  • You know what Pennsylvania needs? Birth certificates for stillborn babies.

Wiley Drake Hails Rep. Murtha's Death

When Dr. George Tiller was murdered in church, Wiley Drake declared it an answer to his prayers ... and he is now saying that same thing about the passing of Rep. John Murtha

Southern Baptist Pastor Wiley Drake of Buena Park sent out an email Monday night, saying that perhaps his prayers had been answered with the death of Rep. John Murtha yesterday.

“Maybe God took him out,” Drake wrote. “Maybe God Answered our IMPRECATORY prayer that we prayed every 30 days.”

The Pennsylvania congressman, a decorated former Marine who fiercely opposed the Iraq war, died at the age of 77 after complications from gallbladder surgery.

I asked Drake if his statements weren’t distasteful, particularly coming immediately after Murtha’s death. He said that as a Christian, he didn’t buy into the sentiment of not speaking ill of the dead.

“It’s not distasteful to pray the word of God and include somebody’s name,” he said. “I didn’t celebrate his death. I said maybe it was God’s answer to our imprecatory prayer.”

Drake regularly asks his “prayer warriors” to participate in prayer targeting “unrighteous” politicians. He typically uses Psalms 109, including these passages including in his Monday email: “Let his days be few; and let another take his office.” And, “Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.”

...

Drake said he and his prayer warriors had been praying for Murtha’s death for four or five months. Among other things, Drake said Murtha’s use of profanity and his use of God’s name in vain. Beside praying for the death of specific politicians, he said they pray for “politicians in general who are taking unrighteous stands.”

You may recall that last year Drake said he was also praying for President Obama's death, but then backed off until Obama can be tried and imprisoned for treason.

Quote Of The Day

John Fea, a history professor at Messiah College in Pennsylvania, weighs in on the "expert advice" offered by people like David Barton and Peter Marshall in their effort to shape Texas' social studies curriculum - from the Austin American-Statesman:

"I'm an evangelical Christian, and I think David Barton and Peter Marshall are completely out to lunch. They are not experts on social studies and history. Neither of them are trained in history. They are preachers who use the past and history as a means of promoting a political agenda in the present."

Following Defeat, Religious Right Mobilizes For A Filibuster

Earlier today I had a post pulling together right-wing reaction to the defeat of Sen. Ben Nelson's anti-choice amendment to the healthcare reform legislation and it seems as if they are not about to take the defeat lying down, and so they are mobilizing to get Senators to filibuster the bill

"[T]his is a long way from over," the National Right to Life Committee said in a statement, noting that the bill again must pass the House, where there are a bloc of pro-life Democrats.

Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said he found Tuesday's Senate vote both "discouraging and encouraging."

"It's discouraging that the Senate as a whole could not comprehend the need to respect the will of 70 percent of the American people that public funds should not pay for or subsidize the killing of our nation's unborn citizens," Land told Baptist Press. "It was encouraging in that the motion to table got 54 votes, well short of the 60 needed to stop a filibuster. As long as there are sufficient pro-life senators such as Sen. Nelson who are willing to filibuster any health legislation that does not contain these restrictions on abortion, it will be difficult to break the filibuster and pass the entire bill.

"In that case," Land added, "then pro-choice supporters will have to decide between their pro-choice convictions and their desire for a vastly increased government role in health care."

Other groups, including the Family Research Council, Democrats for Life, Concerned Women for America and Americans United for Life, also said they would support a filibuster.

"We now have no choice but to work vigorously to defeat this bill," Americans United for Life said.

...

Pro-life groups are trying to pressure those and other Democratic senators to support a filibuster if pro-life language isn't added. The Family Research Council says it is calling every household in Arkansas, South Dakota and Louisiana -- all conservative states with Democratic senators -- to conduct a survey on such topics as abortion funding, rationing, higher taxes and the public option. It is also calling pro-life households in Pennsylvania and Virginia. Participants who answer a particular way will be given information on contacting their senators, an FRC release stated. Democratic Sens. Blanche Lincoln (Ark.), Tim Johnson (S.D.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Jim Webb (Va.) and Mark Warner (Va.) all sided with pro-choicers in voting to table the Nelson amendment.

"We're doing everything in our power to make sure that the constituents of those senators know that those senators are voting to expand abortion in this country," Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said.

CWA To "Weclome" Spain's Prime Minister to White House

Concerned Women for America announces that they will be protesting outside the White House next week during a visit from Spain's Prime Minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero:

Spain's Socialist Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero will meet with President Obama at the White House on Tuesday, October 13. Zapatero will be met by Americans in solidarity with Spain's citizens against his attempt to increase abortions.

Zapatero recently proposed a bill to liberalize Spain's abortion law. The bill would allow 16-year-olds to get abortions without parental consent, increase abortion without restrictions to 14 weeks, and change abortion from a crime to a social "right."

Spanish pro-life groups will hold a march in Madrid on October 17 to protest Zapatero's efforts to radicalize Spain's abortion laws. Doctors in Spain who face being forced to perform abortions or thrown in jail will join the march.

Concerned Women for America (CWA) and other pro-life activists will gather at the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue at 10:00 a.m. on October 13 during Zapatero's visit.

"Spain's pro-lifers and doctors can be encouraged that Americans stand with them against Zapatero's attempt to increase abortions. Pictures of Americans supporting life and opposing Zapatero during his White House visit will be sent to Spain to build momentum for Spain's march for life," said CWA President Wendy Wright.

The Right Piles On

I have been diligently following the developments in the shooting death of anti-abortion activist James Pouillon in Michigan since the news broke this morning and based on the little information and few details that are available, it is impossible to know why Pouilon was killed.

Reports indicated that Pouilon was gunned down from a moving car early this morning.  A witness got the car's license plate and police arrested someone an hour later.  At that point, the suspect reportedly informed the police that he had committed another murder earlier in the morning and police were soon informed that the body of Mike Fouss, the owner of a local gravel pit, had been discovered, shot multiple times in his office:

Fuoss knew the suspected shooter, according to Shiawassee County Sheriff George Braidwood. Braidwood said it appeared he was shot at close range.

Subsequent reports indicate that the suspect in custody had some sort of personal connection to Fuoss:

Fuoss’ brother-in-law, Glen Merkel, told the Free Press that Fuoss was found shot dead in his office around 7:30 a.m. by an employee. He said Fuoss was seen alive perhaps 20 minutes earlier when another truck driver for his company came to pick up a load of gravel.

Merkel said the suspect in the shootings is the son of a former Fuoss Gravel employee, but said he did not know any reason for Fuoss’ slaying.

In short, at this point, it’s far, far too soon to say what the motive in either of these crimes actually was.

But none of that seems to matter to right-wing groups and individuals like Randall Terry, all of whom are releasing statements and holding press conferences demanding political action.

From Concerned Women for America:

Wendy Wright, President of Concerned Women for America (CWA), stated, "We are shocked at this senseless violence against a peaceful man. Jim Pouillon sincerely lived out his belief that babies have the right to be born. He dedicated his life to convincing others to reject the violence of abortion. It is a tragedy upon tragedy that a peaceful man who tried to end violence was himself violently killed.

"We hope Attorney General Holder will as vigorously denounce the murder of Jim Pouillon, who tried to save babies from violence, as he did the murder of George Tiller, the late-term abortionist."

CWA President Wendy Wright will speak at a press conference today, September 11, along with pro-life leaders Troy Newman, Patrick Mahoney and Rob Schenck. The press conference will be held at 2:30 outside the Department of Justice (950 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Washington, D.C.).

From the Pro-Life Action League:

"We are shocked to learn of the killing of pro-life activist Jim Pouillon, a man who day after day stood as a witness to the violence of abortion. Now he himself is a victim of violence," said Joseph M. Scheidler, national director of the Chicago-based Pro-Life Action League, "Just last month at a clinic on the north side of Chicago a man shouted to one of our counselors, 'I'll get my gun and shoot you through the head.' On a number of occasions, our 'Face the Truth Tour' was threatened with deadly weapons."

"When the late term abortionist, Dr. George Tiller, was murdered, the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney's Office launched a federal investigation into federal crimes in connection with the murder, and the Civil Rights Division convened a meeting of the National Task Force on Violence Against Reproductive Health Care Providers," commented Scheidler. "Now the Pro-Life Action League is calling on those government agencies to investigate this murder and established a task force to protect pro-life advocates."

Let me say this again: at this point, nobody knows why Pouillon was killed.  He may have been targeted for his activism, or it may have just been random, but nobody knows.  Perhaps it would behoove these right wing groups to hold off until some facts are actually known about this case before they start issuing statements and making all sorts of demands.

And maybe media outlets like the New York Times ought to hold off on running articles carrying headlines like "Man Killed Over Anti-Abortion Stance" until that has actually been established:

Reports: Anti-Abortion Activist Shot In Michigan

Early reports are coming in that a "well-known anti-abortion activist" was shot and killed in Michigan this morning, and that another man was shot a few miles away.  The police say the two shooting are related and that a suspect is in custody but aren't releasing any more information:

A well-known anti-abortion activist was shot multiple times and killed Friday morning in front of a Michigan high school and another man was shot and killed just miles away in what police are investigating as related incidents.

Michigan State Police have taken a suspect into custody but have not released the name of the victim, the Flint Journal reported. The school was placed on immediate lockdown, though no students were injured or involved in the shooting, Ossowo Hish School officials told the paper.

School officials say the shooting took place outside of school grounds around 7:30 a.m., when most students were already inside the building for classes. The school, located 20 miles west of Flint, is now allowing students to leave with a parental escort, WLNS News reported.

The suspect was picked up at his home at about 8:15 a.m. and is now being investigated in connection with a second killing that occurred a few miles away from the school, WNEM News reported.

Anti-abortion have already scheduled a press conference before anything is even known about the situation:

The Washington DC based Christian Defense Coalition will hold a news conference today, Friday, September 11, at 2:30 PM, in front of the US Department of Justice, on Pennsylvania Avenue.
News Conference Details---

When: Friday, September 11, at 2:30 PM
Where: In front of the U.S. Department of Justice, 950 Pennsylvania, Washington, DC
Who: Christian Defense Coalition director Rev. Patrick Mahoney, and other pro-life leaders
Why: To Comment on Murder of a pro-life activist in Michigan this morning

"Pro-life leaders have received numerous death threats. We call upon the Obama Administration and the Department of Justice to put the manpower and attention they have given in the past to the murder of abortion providers toward solving this case. If breaking news reports are accurate, this was a long time friend of mine." -- Rev. Patrick Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition

Priests for Life says it was a man named James Pouillon:

Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, issued the following statement today upon learning of the shooting of longtime pro-life activist James Pouillon in front of a high school in Owosso, Michigan.

"We do not know the motive yet. But this is a time to console one another, and to renew our determination to organize peaceful protests. It is no time for fear. And I am waiting to hear the abortion advocates condemn this killing."

UPDATE: The Flint Journal confirms his identity:

An anti-abortion activist gunned down Friday morning in front of Owosso High School has been identified as James Lawrence Pouillon, 63, of Owosso.

Pouillon was a longtime abortion protester, known for his highly vocal and visible public demonstrations around the community and even outside the state.

Longtime friend and fellow activist Judy Climer, president of Flint Right to Life, described Pouillon as "just a nice, elderly gentleman who was disabled, used an oxygen tank and wore leg braces."

Climer said Pouillon had a regular weekly schedule of visits to abortion clinics in Flint and Saginaw, where he would park across the street and pray when abortions were allegedly being conducted.

"I knew him very well. He told me one time God put in his heart a passion for the little babies that have the right to be born and they were being denied that right," said Climer, who said Pouillon often stopped at her office for coffee breaks as he drove from one location to another to demonstrate.

"He even told me once he'd be willing to die for that belief. That's what I hear him saying right now."

Climer said Pouillon called her last week and told her he planned to be in Flint later today, parked across the street from the Feminine Health Care Center, 2032 S. Saginaw Street.

"He always comes. He would even go up to Saginaw at 7:30 a.m. and pray, then come here to Flint at noon," said Climer. "This was a passion he's had for 20 years, to just pray that abortion would come to an end and that women would see the truth that abortion is murder."

...

Pouillon was arrested in 1994 for disorderly conduct, in a case where he allegedly harassed parents as they took their children to day care at First Congregational Church in Owosso.

In a 2003 Flint Journal report of the case, Pouillon said that he targeted the church because it had hosted a 25th anniversary celebration for the local Planned Parenthood office.

At the time, Pouillon said he urged parents escorting children, "Don't take your kids to that church. They kill babies in there. They support abortion."

The 1994 police report indicated Pouillon was screaming at pre-school children and their mothers but Pouillon said he and a church member were shouting only because they stood hundreds of feet apart.

The state Supreme Court ordered the state Court of Appeals to rule on the case, which overturned Pouillon's conviction in 2003.

In another case, the U.S. Court of Appeals reversed a ruling that ordered the city of Owosso to reimburse Pouillon for legal costs from another 1994 incident in which Pouillon was cleared of charges of resisting a police officer. In that incident, Pouillon was jailed after failing to heed a police demand that he stop demonstrating on an outdoor landing near City Hall.

"They Won't Pay for My Surgery, But We're Forced to Pay for Abortions"

Last night, in conjunction with its healthcare webcast, the Family Research Council  announced the release of this new ad in which a couple complains that the man cannot get the life-saving surgery he needs while taxpayer dollars are being used for abortion:

Tonight, during a live webcast joined by more than 49,000 viewers, Family Research Council Action President Tony Perkins unveiled a new TV ad which will initially run in five key states including Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Alaska, Louisiana, and Nebraska. The hard hitting ad lays out two key threats should President Obama's plan become reality - rationing and taxpayer funded abortions. Patients, particularly the elderly, will face denial of vital treatments while at the same time be forced to pay for abortions.

The ad urges viewers to tell Congress to oppose the government takeover of health care. The ad also urges opposition to a health care plan that will deny care to 'our greatest generation' and deny life to 'our future generation.'

FRC Action President Tony Perkins had this to say:

"In a world of health care rationing, the elderly, the handicapped and the frail are the most likely to lose their lives because care was delayed or denied. Under the government-run plans in England and Canada, the countries' sick and elderly aren't getting the care they need. As a result, their system isn't improving lives but prematurely taking them. Here in the United States, President Obama's rationing would mean that you and I could be denied basic care while our tax dollars are used to underwrite a mother choosing to end the life of her unborn child.

"On the other key life-and-death decisions there is an active commitment on the part of Senate Democratic Leadership to allow the rationing of health care. This is what the White House and Congress mean when they say they will cut costs. It means cutting off your access to health care services by creating the legal authority to do so, while stopping any provision becoming law that would prevent rationing.

"FRC Action will continue to work to mobilize a coalition in opposition to the health care plan in its current form which will force taxpayers to fund abortions, violate the conscience rights of medical workers, and impose a massive tax and debt burden on American families."

Earlier in the day, Tony Perkins joined Reps. Joe Pitts, Mike Pence, Chris Smith, Jeff Fortenberry, Trent Franks, Doug Lamborn, as well as Harry Jackson, Wendy Wright, and Doug Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee for a press conference "to discuss how President Obama's health care takeover plan contains hidden abortion mandates."

We were on hand as well and have put together this highlights reel featuring Franks calling abortion the greatest genocide in human history and asserting that this nation's abortion policies came out of slavery, a point that was echoed by Harry Jackson, while Tony Perkins decried healthcare reform as a "bailout" of Planned Parenthood and Wendy Wright asserted that women would be forced by government bureaucrats into having abortions:

Right Wing Round-Up

  • Greg Sargent says that "it looks like Sarah Palin is one heck of a prolific fundraiser — for the left, that is."
  • On a quasi-related note, Nate Silver takes a look at Palin's PAC fund-raising figures and notes that while she is lagging behind other Republican candidates, she has a large percentage of small grassroots donors.
  • Good As You reports that the National Organization for Marriage has opened its Washington D.C. office.
  • Pam Spaulding posts the open letter sent to President Obama by Harry Jackson, Niger Innis, and others.
  • David Corn wonders if Richard Viguerie has been watching the same Sotomayor hearings as everyone else.
  • Joe Sudbay examines the campaign finance report in the Maine marriage campaign and reports that right-wing groups have already dumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into the effort.

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

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

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

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

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

...

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

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

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

...

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

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

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

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

Just The Sort of Conservatives The Right Had In Mind

For the last several weeks, Jeremy at Good As You has been keeping a running list of the right-wing groups and figures who have equated homosexuality with pedophilia in opposing marriage equality or hate crimes legislation.

To that list, he can now add William Smith. Who's William Smith, you ask. We'll let David Ingram at the Legal Times blog explain it:

The new chief Republican counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee wrote a blog post last month in which he linked same-sex marriage to pedophilia, according to a Web site that has since been taken down.

William Smith’s post responded to a recent speech by Steve Schmidt, a Republican campaign consultant who advised Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign. Speaking in Washington to the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay rights group, Schmidt had urged Republicans to support same-sex marriage.

“I wonder if next week Schmidt will take his close minded stump speech to a NAMBLA meeting. For those unfamiliar with NAMBLA, the acronym is for North American Man Boy Love Association,” Smith responded on wsmith.org in a post dated April 20.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) announced Smith as chief counsel May 13, after Sessions replaced Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee. Sessions named three other lawyers to top positions as part of a sweep of Specter’s former committee staff.

Smith’s Web site is no longer visible, though Google has kept a “cached,” or archived, version of the site. It was visible earlier this month. The mailing address, e-mail address, and phone number on the Web site’s domain name registration match the address and phone number on Smith’s Alabama bar registration.

...

Smith’s post continued:

Schmidt would quickly tell you that he is not advocating that we support 60 year old men in their desire to rape 8 year old boys, but he would not classify his opposition as narrow minded. No! This is a principled position; there is some logic behind it, Schmidt would say.

Is Schmidt then going to take his close minded stump speech to the Bestiality Club? Again, his answer would be no, although there are a group of people who embrace this lifestyle.

Schmidt and other gay lifestyle proponents would say that my opposition is based on the slippery slope approach. I say that it is based on principle and that it is no more close minded than their position for gay unions. The difference between me and Schmidt is that I’m not a maverick. I’m guided by something called Christian principles. And I don’t need people in California, New York and Washington to tell me what the principles should be.

Not long ago, we noted that Religious Right groups were overjoyed that Sessions had been chosen to serve as ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee because, as Jay Sekulow put it, "he will bring in some conservative staff."

Presumably, Smith was just the sort of conservative they had in mind.

Can the Right Complain Its Way To Relevance?

Over the last few weeks, we've been chronicling the Religious Right's growing resentment toward the Republican establishment as it seeks a path back to electoral success that appears to be trying to push social conservatives aside.

The Family Research Council has been particularly vocal in its criticism of the Republican Party ... and it continues to hammer away today in response to the news that the National Republican Senatorial Committee endorsed Florida Gov. Charlie Crist's Senate bid and might even be looking about for someone to challenge Pat Toomey's Senate bid in Pennsylvania:

Considering his unpredictability on key party issues, the departure of Sen. Arlen Specter should have come as a relief to the Senate GOP. But now, less than a month later, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) seems to be hunting for the moderate's replacement. Yesterday, the Committee finally found the centrist it was seeking, throwing its support behind Gov. Charlie Crist's (R-Fla.) Senate candidacy minutes after it was announced.

While he continues to be popular among Floridians, Crist is known for bucking the conservative platform--even going so far as to hit the road with President Obama in support of his controversial stimulus package. Despite promises to the contrary, the National Republican Senatorial Committee jumped into the Florida primary and picked moderate Crist over other qualified candidates who have proven their conservative mettle through support for the core issues of life, marriage, faith, and family. There are even rumblings that the NRSC is looking for a candidate to challenge conservative Pat Toomey in his bid to take defector Specter's seat.

Unfortunately, this is vintage GOP Establishment. For years, the Republican Party gravitated toward moderates over fidelity to the GOP's core principles. It's a longstanding pattern that I've seen up close. The Republican leadership in Washington appears to be on a path that will turn what could have been two or three terms in the minority into a lengthy sojourn in the political wilderness.

The sad thing about this is the assertion that the GOP does this sort of thing to the Right all the time ... and yet the Right remains doggedly committed to the Republican Party nontheless. 

Maybe it is time for the Right to start considering the possibility that this "longstanding pattern" exists in large part due to the fact that the "GOP Establishment" knows full well that, while the Right complains about it a lot, they never seem to actually do anything about it.

The GOP may very well spend two or three more terms wandering around in the political wilderness ... and the Religious Right will still be following right along, complaining the whole time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It's Like Rain On Your Wedding Day

In one of our posts from yesterday on the right-wing reactions to the marriage equality vote in Vermont, it was noted that the National Organization for Marriage was set to “launch a new national ad campaign that highlights how same-sex marriage undermines the core civil rights of those who believe in the simple truth that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.”

And today they have done just that, releasing this new ad:

There’s a storm gathering.  The clouds are dark and the winds are strong. And I am afraid. Some who advocate for same-sex marriage have taken the issue far beyond same-sex couples.  They want to bring the issue into my life. My freedom will be taken away.

I’m a California doctor who must choose between my faith and my job.

I’m part of a New Jersey church group punished by the government because we can’t support same-sex marriage.

I am a Massachusetts parent helplessly watching public schools teach my son that gay marriage is okay.

But some who advocate for same-sex marriage have not been content with same-sex couples living as they wish.  Those advocates want to change the way I live.

I will have no choice.

The storm is coming.

But we have hope.  A rainbow coalition of people of every creed and color are coming together in love to protect marriage.  Visit NationforMarriage.org. Join Us.

Ben Smith has more:

The National Organization for Marriage, a prominent backer of the successful campaign against same-sex marriage in California, is launching a $1.5 million ad campaign this morning aimed at forestalling same-sex marriage support in other key states.

The campaign, whose 60-second television ad is above, seeks to energize the opponents of gay marriage by making the case that it will impinge directly on their own lives. The ads will air in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and Iowa.

"The biggest argument – and the biggest lie – put forward by those who want to redefine marriage is that it's not going to have any affect on you. 'Why should you care? It’s not going o have any affect on your marriage," said NOM executive director Brian Brown. "In state after state we’ve seen same-sex marriage directly conflict with people’s religious beliefs."

Brown cited the decision of Catholic Charities in Massachusetts to stop handling adoptions after a law banned discriminating against gays and lesbians hoping to adopt children.

Backers of same-sex marriage "are saying that it’s right for the law to treat us as evil discriminators," he said.

The ad above, another 30-second spot, feature people claiming same-sex marriage has specifically harmed them, and that with a "storm gathering," they're "afraid."

"Our goal is to get two million activists by the election of 2010 who support marriage, and especially to fight against the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act," Brown said.

GOP Contemplating Filibusters of Johnsen and Hamilton

Anyone who paid even a minimal amount of attention to the battle over judicial nominations during the George W. Bush’s presidency knows that Senate Republicans were unified in their opposition to the Democrats’ use of the filibuster against a handful of his nominees, going so far as to threaten the “nuclear option” to do away with their ability to block his controversial nominees.

But those days are long gone, as the GOP made clear to President Obama when it pre-emptively threatened to filibuster all of his nominees before he had even made any. And true to form, it looks like they are contemplating using one right off the bat against his very first nominee, David Hamilton:

Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the Judiciary Committee’s ranking Republican, has complained that the Democrats are moving too quickly to consider Mr. Hamilton, a federal trial judge in Indiana since 1994. The committee has set for Wednesday the confirmation hearing on Judge Hamilton, who was nominated only in mid-March.

While that possibility is still a bit down the road, a filibuster of Obama’s nominee head the Office of Legal Counsel at the Justice Department, Dawn Johnsen, looks like it might be coming soon:

Republicans senators and aides, granted anonymity to discuss their strategy, said they might consider a filibuster in an effort to block Ms. Johnsen’s confirmation. They will first gauge whether they can attract some support from conservative Democrats, they said, in order to help defeat any motion that would cut off debate.

Roll Call also reports that Republicans are considering filibustering Johnsen and that doing so would be a good way for Sen. Arlen Specter, who is likely facing a tough primary challenge from ultra-conservative Pat Toomey, to demonstrate his conservative bona fides:

Although Senate Judiciary ranking member Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) declined to comment on a possible filibuster until he meets with Johnsen again before leaving for recess at the end of the week, Republicans confirmed that the filibuster option has been discussed by members of the GOP Conference and that opposition to the nomination is mounting … Republicans said Johnsen’s record on a number of key issues has done something that has become increasingly rare in their fractured Conference — uniting social conservatives and security hard-liners.

“She’s got one of those résumés that unites the social conservatives and the war-on-terror conservatives,” a GOP leadership aide said. Johnsen has been a vocal critic of how the Bush administration conducted the war on terror and her views have rubbed hawkish conservatives in the GOP the wrong way.

Should Republicans ultimately decide to filibuster Johnsen’s nomination, it could be a boon to Specter’s re-election efforts. Specter is looking at a tough primary challenge from former Rep. Pat Toomey, who came within 17,000 votes of defeating him in the 2004 GOP primary. A recent poll showed Toomey with a double-digit lead over Specter in a hypothetical Republican primary, but with many voters still undecided and the primary more than one year away.

Specter also faces a dwindling base across the state as hundreds of thousands of moderate Republicans have changed their registrations to Democratic since 2004 in the Keystone State. Specter is at a disadvantage in the closed GOP primary without those moderate Republicans and will likely have to mount a voter registration drive to switch some of those Democrats back before 2010.

But a filibuster of Johnsen could help Specter significantly bolster his conservative credentials with the voters back home. One Republican said a filibuster “could be very good for him,” particularly because opposition to Johnsen’s nomination runs the spectrum of conservative constituencies.

That would be quite a change for Specter, who was no fan of the filibuster when Democrats used it against Bush judicial nominees like Miguel Estrada, according to his remarks on the Senate floor on April 2, 2003:

When you strip this argument down, it boils down to an effort by the other side of the aisle to rewrite the advice and consent clause of the Constitution. For more than 200 years, the President has had discretion in the nomination of Federal judges. And unless there is some reason not to confirm them, they then are confirmed … This is simply an effort, when 41 Members from the other side of the aisle decide to oppose cloture, to continue this filibuster … I do believe there is going to have to be some dramatic action taken so that Americans understand the travesty going on in the Senate Chamber today.

So the filibuster of a nominee to a life-time seat on the federal judiciary was a “travesty” to Specter, but a filibuster of an executive branch nominee to a political position might be perfectly acceptable to him?

Syndicate content