Texas

Right Wing Leftovers

  • VA Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli says he will sue if Congress passes health care reform.
  • Pastor Don Hamer, founder of the right-wing "Better Courts Now" campaign, died of a heart attack yesterday.
  • Ralph Reed's Faith & Freedom Coalition of Georgia is partnering with the Tea Partiers at Americans for Prosperity for a "Defending the American Dream Summit" which will feature Neal Boortz, Herman Cain, Erick Erickson, Jonathan Krohn, and others.
  • Apparently, Alberto Gonzales and several other former Texas Supreme Court Justices are preparing to endorse Debra Lehrmann in her run-off election against Rick Green.
  • Were gay soldiers responsible for the massacre at Srebrenica?
  • Finally, Mike Huckabee tells the Boy Scouts that the keys to America success are the "Judeo-Christian values system" and the Ten Commandments.

Texas School Board Member Cynthia Dunbar Joins May Day Prayer Rally

Faith 2 Action's Janet Porter continues to move ahead with her organizing for the "May Day: a Cry to God for Our Nation in Distress" prayer rally at the Lincoln Memorial on May 1:

Porter called on Christians to take part in a 40-day fast prior to the event. She said participants will give up something important to them in the days leading up to May Day.

"We just want God to know we're serious about standing in the gap for America," she said. "We are calling the remnant to come and repent. It's a two-fold plan to not only pray but to proclaim what our founders believed – that we are one nation under God."

Vision America President Dr. Rick Scarborough added, "We need to let God know we're serious about turning back to Him and fasting from something – whether it's television, dessert or food – will provide the breakthrough we desperately need as a nation."

...

Pro-family leaders across denominational boundaries have joined together for the effort including: Dr. James Dobson, American Family Association President Tim Wildmon, Concerned Women for America President Wendy Wright, Liberty Counsel Chairman Mat Staver, NRB President Dr. Frank Wright, Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, Dutch Sheets, David Barton and many members of Congress.

Porter has explained that the event is designed to break the curse that our nation is under for having elected President Obama, and now she's picking up some interesting new supporters for her effort:

Porter said Cynthia Dunbar, a lawyer who serves on the Texas State Board of Education, will attend and ask God for forgiveness for how the nation has removed Him from American schools.

"She is going to come to May Day and repent for how we have taught our children lies, not only in revisionist history but also evolution, how we've kicked God out of school," Porter said. "She will repent on behalf of the education system, and she's also going to welcome God back in."

Dunbar played a central role in Texas' recent rewriting of its social studies requirements in order to make them better reflect the conservative worldview and, given her views, it is no surprise that she would team up with the likes of Porter:

In 2008, Cynthia Dunbar published a book called “One Nation Under God,” in which she stated more openly than most of her colleagues have done the argument that the founding of America was an overtly Christian undertaking and laid out what she and others hope to achieve in public schools. “The underlying authority for our constitutional form of government stems directly from biblical precedents,” she writes. “Hence, the only accurate method of ascertaining the intent of the Founding Fathers at the time of our government’s inception comes from a biblical worldview.”

Then she pushes forward: “We as a nation were intended by God to be a light set on a hill to serve as a beacon of hope and Christian charity to a lost and dying world.” But the true picture of America’s Christian founding has been whitewashed by “the liberal agenda” — in order for liberals to succeed “they must first rewrite our nation’s history” and obscure the Christian intentions of the founders. Therefore, she wrote, “this battle for our nation’s children and who will control their education and training is crucial to our success for reclaiming our nation.”

After the book came out, Dunbar was derided in blogs and newspapers for a section in which she writes of “the inappropriateness of a state-created, taxpayer-supported school system” and likens sending children to public school to “throwing them into the enemy’s flames, even as the children of Israel threw their children to Moloch.” (Her own children were either home-schooled or educated in private Christian schools.) When I asked, over dinner in a honky-tonk steakhouse down the road from the university, why someone who felt that way would choose to become an overseer of arguably the most influential public-education system in the country, she said that public schools are a battlefield for competing ideologies and that it’s important to combat the “religion” of secularism that holds sway in public education.

On a related note, Rev. Paul Blair of Reclaiming Oklahoma for Christ has put together this video urging people to attend the May Day event and "appeal in penitent prayer to the King of Kings for revival in our land":

Meet The New Texas Social Studies Requirements

The New York Times reports on the changes made to Texas' Social Studies curriculum that have been forced through by the right-wing members of dominate the state Board of Education:

The conservative members maintain that they are trying to correct what they see as a liberal bias among the teachers who proposed the curriculum. To that end, they made dozens of minor changes aimed at calling into question, among other things, concepts like the separation of church and state and the secular nature of the American Revolution.

“I reject the notion by the left of a constitutional separation of church and state,” said David Bradley, a conservative from Beaumont who works in real estate. “I have $1,000 for the charity of your choice if you can find it in the Constitution.”

They also included a plank to ensure that students learn about “the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s, including Phyllis Schalfly, the Contract With America, the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority and the National Rifle Association.”

Dr. McLeroy pushed through a change to the teaching of the civil rights movement to ensure that students study the violent philosophy of the Black Panthers in addition to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s nonviolent approach. He also made sure that textbooks would mention the votes in Congress on civil rights legislation, which Republicans supported.

“Republicans need a little credit for that,” he said. “I think it’s going to surprise some students.”

Mr. Bradley won approval for an amendment saying students should study “the unintended consequences” of the Great Society legislation, affirmative action and Title IX legislation. He also won approval for an amendment stressing that Germans and Italians were interned in the United States as well as the Japanese during World War II, to counter the idea that the internment of Japanese was motivated by racism.

Other changes seem aimed at tamping down criticism of the right. Conservatives passed one amendment, for instance, requiring that the history of McCarthyism include “how the later release of the Venona papers confirmed suspicions of communist infiltration in U.S. government.” The Venona papers were transcripts of some 3,000 communications between the Soviet Union and its agents in the United States.

In economics, the revisions add Milton Friedman and Friedrich von Hayek, two champions of free-market economic theory, among the usual list of economists to be studied, like Adam Smith, Karl Marx and John Maynard Keynes. They also replaced the word “capitalism” throughout their texts with the “free-enterprise system.”

“Let’s face it, capitalism does have a negative connotation,” said one conservative member, Teri Leo. “You know, ‘capitalist pig!’ ”

In the field of sociology, another conservative member, Barbara Cargill, won passage of an amendment requiring the teaching of “the importance of personal responsibility for life choices” in a section on teen suicide, dating violence, sexuality, drug use and eating disorders.

“The topic of sociology tends to blame society for everything,” Ms. Cargill said.

Even the course on World History did not escape the board’s scalpel.

Cynthia Dunbar, a lawyer from Richmond who is a strict constitutionalist and thinks the nation was founded on Christian beliefs, managed to cut Thomas Jefferson from a list of figures whose writings inspired revolutions in the late 18th century and 19th century, replacing him with St. Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin and William Blackstone. (Jefferson is not well liked among the conservatives on the board because he coined the term “separation between church and state.”)

“The Enlightenment was not the only philosophy on which these revolutions were based,” Ms. Dunbar said.

Mavis B. Knight, a Democrat from Dallas, introduced an amendment requiring that students study the reasons “the founding fathers protected religious freedom in America by barring the government from promoting or disfavoring any particular religion above all others.”

It was defeated on a party-line vote.

Texas Drops Thomas Jefferson

The right-wing members of the Texas School Board have made no secret of the fact that their mission in drafting the new social studies curriculum standards for state public school has been to highlight the supposedly Christian foundation of our nation and the deeply Christian views of the Founding Fathers.

Apparently, the views and writing of the man who drafted the Declaration of Independence do not adequately serve that purpose, which is why both Thomas Jefferson and the Enlightment have now been dropped, as the Texas Freedom Network, which is liveblogging the debate, reports:

9:30 – Board member Cynthia Dunbar wants to change a standard having students study the impact of Enlightenment ideas on political revolutions from 1750 to the present. She wants to drop the reference to Enlightenment ideas (replacing with “the writings of”) and to Thomas Jefferson. She adds Thomas Aquinas and others. Jefferson’s ideas, she argues, were based on other political philosophers listed in the standards. We don’t buy her argument at all. Board member Bob Craig of Lubbock points out that the curriculum writers clearly wanted to students to study Enlightenment ideas and Jefferson. Could Dunbar’s problem be that Jefferson was a Deist? The board approves the amendment, taking Thomas Jefferson OUT of the world history standards.

9:40 – We’re just picking ourselves up off the floor. The board’s far-right faction has spent months now proclaiming the importance of emphasizing America’s exceptionalism in social studies classrooms. But today they voted to remove one of the greatest of America’s Founders, Thomas Jefferson, from a standard about the influence of great political philosophers on political revolutions from 1750 to today.

9:45 – Here’s the amendment Dunbar changed: “explain the impact of Enlightenment ideas from John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Voltaire, Charles de Montesquieu, Jean Jacques Rousseau, and Thomas Jefferson on political revolutions from 1750 to the present.” Here’s Dunbar’s replacement standard, which passed: “explain the impact of the writings of John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Voltaire, Charles de Montesquieu, Jean Jacques Rousseau, Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin and Sir William Blackstone.” Not only does Dunbar’s amendment completely change the thrust of the standard. It also appalling drops one of the most influential political philosophers in American history — Thomas Jefferson.

Rick Green Says His Controversial History is "No Big Deal"

I've already written a few posts about Rick Green, the Chuck-Norris-approved-Alan-Keyes-supported- WallBuilders'-pseudo-historian-TEA-Party-Religious-Right-activist who is in a run-off election next month for a seat on the Texas Supreme Court despite the fact that he has exactly zero judicial experience.

But I just came across this Texas Tribune piece that recounts some other aspects of Green's rather colorful past and thought it was worth highlighting it:

Green left the Legislature in 2002 after being narrowly defeated by Patrick Rose, D-Dripping Springs. Rose’s win came after Green’s extracurricular activity lobbying the Texas Department of Health on behalf of ephedra-maker Metabolife International prompted a criminal investigaton from the Travis County district attorney's office and his appearance in an early morning infomercial hawking FocusFactor, a dietary supplement plugged as a memory aid, from his Capitol office, attracted censure from colleagues and the media. (A Federal Trade Commission complaint about "unsubstantiated advertising claims" in the FocusFactor infomercial was settled by the company that marketed the product for $1 million in 2004).

While in the Legislature, Green also drew criticism for successfully pushing the Texas Parole Board to release a man who owed $400,000 to a company his father owned and, according to The Dallas Morning News, pressured lobbyists to donate to his Torch of Freedom Foundation, which sponsors the Patriot Academy, a program for young adults “to learn about America’s system of government from a Biblical worldview” — essentially a summer boot camp for politically minded conservative teens and 20-somethings.

After he left the House, Green made headlines again when witnesses reported they saw him deck Rose, allegedly over a campaign mailer where Rose had superimposed Green’s face over that of his then Republican challenger, Jim Neuhaus. Green recounts the incident in a self-published book: "It was the first real punch I had thrown since I was a kid, but it sent him to the ground." The Hays County sheriff’s office issued an all-points bulletin for Green’s arrest after the altercation, and he ultimately paid a fine and served six months probation on misdemeanor assault charges. In exchange for the fine and probation, Green received deferred adjudication, which means his record is now clear.

Green points out that “every single solitary time those things were brought up, they were dismissed” and says the allegations of wrongdoing in his past are “no big deal” to voters.

Can you believe that a man with this kind of record, and who brags about having once punched one of his political opponents, is now in a position to possibly win a seat on a state Supreme Court?  

This is crazy, even by Texas standards.

Janet Porter Prays For Control Over The Media

Yesterday we posted a video of Bishop Harry Jackson speaking at the Generals International's "Convergence 2010: A Cry to Awaken A Nation" conference in Dallas, Texas, noting the growing merger between traditional Religious Right activists and self-proclaimed "prophets" like those who run Generals International.

Faith 2 Action's Janet Porter also spoke at the conference and spent nearly an hour more or less recounting the stunts she had carried out via her organization, from urging people to send baby rattles and roses to Congress to signify their opposition to abortion to her more recent effort to inundate the Capitol with "pink slips."

The focus of her speech was on how to use the media to spread the word of God and at the end, she delivered this prayer asking God to deliver control of the media to them, to "take power and influence in the media of this country and of this globe from the unrighteous and give it to righteous people" and to "make CBS the Christian Broadcasting System" so that God's people can finally take dominion over this nation:

Harry Jackson: "The Modern Day Martin Luther King"

In recent months, we've noticed that many of the political activists in the leadership of the Religious Right have started merging their movement with the self-proclaimed "prophetic" voices like Lou Engle.

Over the weekend, this trend continued as Harry Jackson spoke at Generals International's "Convergence 2010: A Cry to Awaken A Nation" conference in Dallas, Texas.  Generals International is run by Cindy Jacob who describes her specialty as "prophetic intercession" and claims to be highly sought after by those seeking "prophetic advice."

It was Jacob was introduced Jackson by calling him "the modern day Martin Luther King," which was a comparison Jackson also played up during his lengthy speech, comparing the opposition to his efforts to stop marriage equality in Washington, DC to the opposition faced by King before proclaiming that, twenty years from now, some of the movements "great apostles and prophets are going to be people who came out of the gay lifestyle," starting with the lesbians and then by "radical homosexuals" who have been "smitten down on their road to Damascus" and raised up by God.  Finally, Jackson led the gathering in prayer, setting free those held captive by "demonic authority" and speaking in tongues:

Does Anyone Remember Tom DeLay's Plan to Build a Conservative MoveOn.org?

Seeing this clip of Tom DeLay claiming that those who are unemployed want to be unemployed and saying that unemployment benefits just "[keep] people from going and finding jobs" got me thinking, just what is Tom DeLay's job?

The last I recall hearing anything about his was back in 2007 when it was big news that he and Ken Blackwell were launching something called Coalition for a Conservative Majority, which was going to become the right-wing version of MoveOn.org:

Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay has formed a new grass-roots organization that he says will help conservatives better convey their message to voters and take back control of Congress.

The Coalition for a Conservative Majority (CCM) — co-founded by Mr. DeLay, Texas Republican, and former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell — will establish "chapters" in all 50 states, which will be used to lobby lawmakers, coordinate political messages and influence members of the press.

"Right now, liberals are better organized, funded and active than I have ever witnessed," Mr. DeLay said. "Our goal is to work with the talented leaders of the conservative movement to complement their efforts, using an army of activists to push for the policies and leadership conservatives are begging for."

So I decided to take a look at the CCM's website to see what it have been up to since its launch over two years ago:

That's right, DeLay's conservative version of MoveOn consists entirely of a website that contains nothing but links to three local CCM chapters of Phoenix, Colorado Springs, and Denver.

So what is it that Tom DeLay has been doing, exactly? 

Oh wait, I remember:

This Is What It Looks Like When Right-Wing Activists Run For Public Office

As I noted yesterday, Rick Green is poised for a run-off election next month for a seat on the Texas Supreme Court ... he is also a Chuck Norris approved, Tea Party Religious Right activist.

So what does it look like when someone like that decides to run for a seat on the state Supreme Court?  It looks a lot like this presentation where, unable to tout his judicial experience since he has none, Green instead assured the audience that his hard-core right-wing views would always drive his decision-making process on the bench and all they have to do is look at his long record of right-wing activism to know that there is no need to fear that he'll ever "become a David Souter": 

Something that makes me different from all the candidates in this race, and that is unlike most judicial candidates, you don't have to wonder about my philosophy. You don't have to guess what my convictions are or where I stand. You don't have to worry about voting for me and regretting it because I become a David Souter, the ultra-liberal on the United States Supreme Court, appointed by George Bush because everybody though he would be conservative.

It's not enough to say "I'm a conservative," you gotta look at the record. And with me, you can do that. You can look at my voting record when I was a state legislator; when I was a state rep I was considered the fourth most conservative in the legislature. I received the Eagle Forum's "Faith and Family Award." The Chamber of Commerce gave me the "Fighter for Free Enterprise Award." I was co-author of the Parental Notification Bill, I was always a 100% pro-lifer, I had property rights awards, Second Amendment awards.

... [Green talks about this endorsement he received from Charlton Heston] ...

I've also been with David Barton and WallBuilders for about ten years now, teaching on the Constitution, the original intent of the Founding Fathers, going back to the formula that made us successful and teaching that to folks, and author of books on the subject as well.

I'm also the founder of Patriot Academy, for ten years we've been training 16-25 year-olds in the Founding Father's philosophy so they have not only the right knowledge, but the skills to be effective at the process.

I want you to know that, as a former legislator, I respect the proper roles of the different branches. I will be the one sitting around the conference room table reminding my fellow Justices that it's the folks we elected to serve under that big pink dome, they're the ones supposed to make the law, our job is only to apply it

...

The bottom line is, you elect me to the Texas Supreme Court, you can count on me to fight for justice, to uphold the rule of law, but never to legislate from the bench.

Will Texas Place a Second-Rate Pseudo-Historian and Tea Party Activist on Its Supreme Court?

Yesterday we mentioned that Rick Green had made it into a run-off election for a spot on the Texas Supreme Court, which was rather remarkable considering that he had exactly zero judicial experience and, since being voted out of state legislative office back in 2002, had been serving as David Barton's right-hand man at WallBuilders.

Now if you know anything about Barton's work and his presentations, then this video of Green will seem very familiar as he is basically Barton's back-up; a second-stringer delivering WallBuilders' presentations about America's purely Christian heritage when Barton is unavailable:

But rest assured that Green has an identity of his own, as well ... he's also a Tea Party activist who rails against "socialists" like Barney Frank and Chris Dodd and announces that they are "firing the first shots of a second American Revolution right here in Texas":

And just in case it isn't clear just how right-wing Rick Green really is, allow me to post this video of Alan Keyes endorsing him back in 2002:

Now that might not seem particularly relevant, except for the fact that it was Green who posted this ad on his YouTube page on February 11, 2010 ... so obviously, the endorsement of a completely unhinged Birther like Keyes is something that Green thinks is the sort of thing that it helps to highlight.

In one month, it is entirely possible this man could win a Republican run-off election and be all but assured of a seat on the Texas Supreme Court.

No Surprise Here: Texas Republicans Want To See Public Acknowledgements of God

In addition to voting for candidates, those who participated in the Texas Republican primary earlier this week were also asked to vote on five questions that had been approved by the State Republican Executive Committee. As the Republican Party of Texas explained it, these were "critical issues" and the resolutions, though non-binding, were "the party's way of guaging [sic] support for issues, and for informing voters and elected officials where the party's grassroots stand on the issues."

In addition to questions about taxes and government growth was this one: 

Ballot Proposition #4: Public Acknowledgement of God 

The use of the word “God”, prayers, and the Ten Commandments should be allowed at public gatherings and public educational institutions, as well as be permitted on government buildings and property.

Guess what the result was?

Ballot Prop #4: Public Acknowledgement of God

YES - 95.14% (1,375,899)
NO -  4.85% (70,144)

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Don Wildmon is officially stepping down from his role at the American Family Association due to on-going health problems.
  • Politico got its hands on a rather remarkable RNC fundraising presentation, and the RNC is already furiously backing away from it, calling its images and language "unacceptable" and saying "it will not be used by the Republican National Committee – in any capacity – in the future."
  • Shirley Dobson has been dismissed from the lawsuit against the National Day of Prayer.
  • Rick Perry has been the Governor of Texas for more than a decade, so why is he playing off his primary win last night as some sort of shot at the establishment?
  • Rick Warren and the Jonas Brothers, together at last.
  • Wow, FRC is really producing groundbreaking research.
  • Finally, the quote of the day from Rev. Rob Schenck reacting to marriage equality officially coming to Washington DC today: "Let me remind everyone that there’s nothing new about what happened today at the Superior Court of the District of Columbia Marriage Bureau. In fact, it’s very old. Thousands of years ago, the world at the base of Mount Sinai looked very much like Indiana Avenue, NW, the street outside the Marriage Bureau office. Actually, it was far worse. On the Day of Pentecost, when the Christian Church was born at Jerusalem, Greco-Roman athletes competed in the nude and engaged in homosexual acts to titillate insatiably wild crowds. Worse, Roman men of stature kept wives to sire children by, but young boys as sexual play toys. Temple prostitutes were used and abused as an act of worship. It was into this kind of moral abandon that the Jews first taught God’s moral code and Christians later were called to evangelize. Both remain our challenge today. It was this kind of sin-sick, miserably wretched, often shockingly coarse and even frightening world that 'God so loved,' and to which He 'gave His only begotten son' ... If there’s anything to be disappointed about today here in the Nation’s Capital, it’s that we thought human progress had come so far, but, in fact, it has regressed."

Amarillo's Army of God

Back in January, we made a passing mention of a group that was urging a boycott of Houston, Texas due to the election of its openly lesbian Mayor Annise Parker.

The group behind the boycott is called Repent Amarillo, a militant right-wing group that has been actively targeting those in considers to be engaged in sin for months, beginning with a small group of local swingers, as The Texas Observer reports:

A little over a year ago, Amarillo’s swingers geared up for their New Year’s Eve party at Route 66 Party and Event Rental, a downtown business owned by a prominent couple, Mac and Monica Mead. Few in this conservative, church-heavy city knew about the weekend parties, and the swingers liked it that way. “Everybody in the lifestyle has to be very, very discreet,” says Mac, a leather-skinned truck driver with a shaved head, piercing blue eyes and an earring.

The Meads enforced strict rules at the members-only club: no drugs, no single men, no audio-visual equipment. Most couples, even ones who had been in “the lifestyle” for years, are on a first-name basis only. The location of the club is (or was) “to be kept strictly private.” So imagine the swingers’ surprise when they arrived at their New Year’s Eve bash to find two dozen protesters, local media in tow, holding signs and singing songs. This was a most unwelcome coming-out party.

Some protesters, mostly young men in their teens and earrely 20s, wore black hoodies and military fatigues. The men, Amarillo would soon learn, were foot soldiers of Repent Amarillo, a new, militant evangelical group that advertises itself as “the Special Forces of spiritual warfare.” Their leader, David Grisham, a security guard at nuclear-bomb facility Pantex who moonlights as a pastor, explained the action. “We’re here to shine the light on this darkness,” Grisham told the be. “I don’t think Amarillo knew about this place. This is adultery. This is wrong. There’s no telling how many venereal diseases get spread, how many abortions.” The goal, Grisham says, was not just to save the swingers’ souls, but to shut the club down.

...

Perhaps the most insidious tactic Repent uses is trying to destroy the reputation of the swingers. In Amarillo, people can be ostracized over a whiff of impropriety. On one tape, Grisham directs followers to get the license-plate numbers in the Route 66 parking lot. “A new couple can be here three or four hours,” says Mac. “Whenever they leave, the Repent Amarillo group will call them by first and last name, know where they live, know where they work, just within a very few hours.”

Randall Sammons says he was fired from his job of 13 years in August after his boss learned Sammons was a swinger from another employee, a Repent member. He believes he’s now as good as blacklisted in Amarillo. “I’m screwed at finding a job,” Sammons says. Russell Grisham, David’s 20-year-old son who has a conviction on his record for hacking the computer system at his high school, has posted the names, photos and workplaces of swingers on the Internet, including one man whose wife works for a school district. (“Family-wise, it will kill both of us,” the man says.) In at least two instances, Repent members called swingers’ employers.

Thanks to Repent's constant harrassment, the swingers club is now up for sale ... and so Repent Amarillo is branching out:

What’s next for Repent? They’ve posted a “Warfare Map” on the group’s Web site. The map includes establishments like gay bars, strip clubs and porn shops, but also the Wildcat Bluff Nature Center. Repent believes the 600-acre prairie park’s Walmart-funded “Earth Circle,” used for lectures, is a Mecca for witches and pagans. Also on the list are the 806 coffeehouse (a hangout for artists and counterculture types), the Islamic Center of Amarillo (“Allah is a false god”), and “compromised churches” like Polk Street Methodist (gay-friendly).

And to demonstrate just how militant the organization is, consider the fact that they literally consider themselves to be soldiers in an "Army of God":

I am a soldier in the army of my God. The Lord Jesus Christ is my Commanding Officer. The Holy Bible is my code of conduct. Faith, Prayer, and the Word are my weapons of warfare. I have been taught by the Holy Spirit, trained by experience, tried by adversity, and tested by fire. I am a volunteer in this army, and I am enlisted for eternity. I will either retire in this army at the Rapture or I will die in this army. But I will not get out, sell out, be talked out or pushed out. I am faithful, reliable, capable and dependable. If my God needs me, I am there. If He needs me in the Sunday School, to teach the children, work with the youth, help adults or just sit and learn, He can use me because I am there! I am a soldier. I am not a baby. I do not need to be pampered, petted, primed up, pumped up, picked up, or pepped up. I am a soldier. No one has to call me, remind me, write me, visit me, entice me or lure me. I am a soldier. I am not a wimp. I am in place, saluting my King, obeying His orders, praising His name and building His kingdom! No one has to send me flowers, gifts, food, cards or candy or give me handouts. I do not need to be cuddled, cradled, cared for or catered to. I am committed. I cannot have my feelings hurt bad enough to turn me around. I cannot be discouraged enough to turn me aside. I cannot lose enough to cause me to quit. When Jesus called me into this army, I had nothing. If I end up with nothing I will still come out ahead. I will win. My God has and will continue to supply all my needs. I am more than a conqueror. I will always triumph. I can do all things through Christ. The devil cannot defeat me. People cannot disillusion me. Weather cannot weary me. Sickness cannot stop me. Battles cannot beat me. Money cannot buy me. Governments cannot silence me, and hell cannot handle me. I am a soldier. Even death cannot destroy me. For when my Commanding officer calls me from His battlefield, He will promote me to captain and then allow me to rule with Him. I am a soldier in this army, and I'm marching claiming victory. I will not give up. I will not turn around. I am a soldier, marching Heavenbound. Here I stand! Will you stand with me?

You can see Repent Amarillo's "spiritual warfare map" here.

Good News and Bad News In Texas

The results from yesterday's primary elections in Texas were a mixed bag - first, the good news is that ultra-right-wing Board of Education member Don "I consider myself a Christian fundamentalist" McLeroy has reportedly lost his race:

Mount Pleasant Republican Thomas Ratliff narrowly beat State Board of Education member and prominent social conservative Don McLeroy in the GOP primary Tuesday, while long-time board member Geraldine Miller of Dallas was upset by Dallas high school educator George Clayton. Ratliff (right) and McLeroy were expected to have a close race, but Miller was favored in her contest because of a big edge in campaign funds and her long-time incumbency. She has served on the board since 1984 and never had a close election race before.

Ratliff waged a strong campaign and outspent McLeroy for the board seat, which represents Collin County and much of Northeast Texas, but McLeroy also ran a strong race as he tried to capitalize on recent victories by the social conservative bloc on the 15-member education board. Among the successes were changes in curriculum standards for science, history and English. Ratliff accused McLeroy and his allies of ignoring the advice of teachers and education groups in their decisions - and of politicizing the curriculum requirements such as on teaching of evolution in science classes. Ratliff, a legislative consultant and lobbyist, carried 50.5 percent of the vote

McLeroy had been bounced as chairman of the board last summer after Senate Democrats blocked his nomination, raising many of the same arguments as Ratliff, the son of former Lt. Gov. Bill Ratliff. His primary loss means one less seat for the social conservative bloc, which now holds seven seats.

Now for the bad news, which is the Rick Green appears to have secured enough support that he will be in a run-off election for a seat on the Texas Supreme Court:

As of early Wednesday morning, Rick Green has barely broken from the crowd of six GOP candidates vying for the open spot on the High Court, and a runoff is guaranteed ... The former legislator is Green, who represented the Dripping Springs area in the Texas House from 1999 to 2003 and has no judicial experience. The libertarian-style campaign of Green has earned the endorsements of Chuck "Walker, Texas Ranger" Norris and conservative lawmakers including state Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, and state Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center. Green is also cozy with the Aledo-based organization WallBuilders, a group that wants to close the gap between church and state, and advocates for other causes that preserve America's "moral, religious and constitutional heritage."

That's right, Green is currently David Barton's right-hand man at WallBuilders, where he serves as a speaker and as Barton's co-host of their daily "Wallbuilders Live" radio program. 

Despite the fact that Green has no judicial experience, he's been endorsed by a who's who of right-wingers, including Barton, Mat Staver, Kelly Shackelford, and even Steve Hotze, the vehemently anti-gay activist behind the attacks on Houston Mayor Annise Parker.  On top of that, Green also has a rather checkered history in public office:

While in the House from 1998 to 2002, Green drew fire for using his Capitol office as the backdrop for a health supplement infomercial. He also came under scrutiny for successfully arguing before the parole board for early release of a man convicted of defrauding investors (who just happened to have loaned $400,000 to Green's father's company); allegedly pressuring the state health department on behalf of ephedrine maker Metabolife International, one of his law firm's clients; and squeezing lobbyists to pony up at a fundraiser for a private foundation he started. He made Texas Monthly's list of the 10 worst legislators.

Green, who always denied any wrongdoing, cast himself as a fighter for traditional values. He still does, calling himself "a true Reagan conservative and strict constructionist."

...

Green, R-Dripping Springs, was defeated in 2002 by Democrat Patrick Rose.

Their spirited and at times almost physical battle for the swing district seat in the Texas Hill Country was chronicled in "Last Man Standing: Politics, Texas Style," a documentary by filmmaker Paul Stekler. And the hard feelings didn't end there: In November 2006, Green was accused of assaulting Rose on election day at a polling place.

Green will most likely be facing off against Rebecca Simmons on April 13.

What Does Abortion Have to Do With The Race For Texas School Board?

As you undoubtedly know by now, controlling the textbooks and curriculum in Texas has long been a  focus of the Religious Right, which is why they bring in "experts" like David Barton to help shape them and why elections for seats on the Board of Education can get pretty crazy.

How crazy?  Well, as the Texas Freedom Network reports, so crazy that anti-abortion groups are robocalling voters urging them to support specific candidates in the Republican primary today: 

We have a report that Joe Pojman of the far-right Texas Alliance for Life is robocalling voters in the District 10 Texas State Board of Education race today. Pojman is letting voters know that Brian Russell, one of the candidates in tomorrow’s Republican primary for the board seat, is “pro-life.”

What in blazes does the State Board of Education have to do with abortion politics? Nothing — except for religious-right pressure groups and activists, for whom the “culture wars” are all-consuming. Telling voters about Russell’s opposition to abortion is Pojman’s way of letting religious-right voters know who should get their vote in the race for the state board seat currently held by the departing Cynthia Dunbar, R-Richmond. (Dunbar recruited Russell, an Austin attorney who homeschools his children, to run for the seat.)

We don’t know what Russell’s Republican opponents, Marsha Farney and Rebecca Osborne, think about abortion. But now you know the priorities of Russell and his supporters on the far-right: they have every intention of continuing to drag our children’s schools into senseless and divisive “culture war” battles even on issues that have nothing to do with public education.

A TFN reader recorded the robocall and posted the audio:

Hello, this is Dr. Joe Pojman with the Texas Alliance for Life PAC urging you to get out and vote for Brian Russell for the State Board of Education in the Republican primary election

Tomorrow, Tuesday, March 2 is Election Day.

Brian Russell is staunchly pro-life and is the only candidate to score 100% on the Texas Alliance for Life candidates survey.

Your vote is critical. Please support Brian Russell for the State Board of Education.

For more information, visit texasallianceforlife.org

Scarborough Grills Candidates and Hopefuls Behind Closed Doors: "We're Trying to Mix Church and State God's Way"

I have to say that this does not seem promising at all:

Renowned social conservative and self-proclaimed "Christocrat," the Rev. Rick Scarborough of the Harvest Point Church in Nacogdoches led 15 pastors from multiple denominations in a candidate forum on Tuesday.

Behind closed doors of the fellowship hall of the First Christian Church, the church leaders interviewed dozens of elected state officials and dozens more local candidates, all seeking to be elected or re-elected to office this year.

"This is the first time we've ever gotten involved in the primaries, so because of the wide range of candidates from supreme court justices to the lone candidate for county surveyor, we had to divide them up into three groups and issue them our questions," Scarborough said. "We first compiled the questionnaire that we had them fill out for us that covered a range of things, including the Mandate to Save America'"

Scarborough and other culturally conservative leaders from around the nation helped draft the Mandate to Save America, which is a 10-point list of ideals that they believe elected leaders should commit to in order to "break the bonds of tyranny and give birth to a new nation of freedom, justice and hope."

The mandate calls for the nation to oppose same-sex marriages, give parents control over their child's education and demands the right to publicly acknowledge the existence of God.

After the candidates turned in their various questionnaires, they were then presented with several more questions from the pastor groups.

"We had them answer eight questions personally on issues ranging from taxes, a couple of social issues, and we discussed their feelings about allowing Intelligent Design to be taught alongside evolution in public schools," Scarborough said. "This is a way for us to ascertain their positions on not only specific issues, but more importantly character issues. We encourage people to vote their values."

...

"We believe Christians have a real responsibility, and we pastors especially, to find out where the candidates stand and what they believe, and then give those answers to the people," he said. "We want them to vote not as Republicans or Democrats, but as we like to say, followers of Jesus Christ. We're trying to mix church and state God's way."

Scarborough will reportedly make the findings public before primary election day next week and has plans, though this newly created Nacogdoches County Pastors Roundtable, to host a debate in September and is also launching an effort to "register a record number of Christians in Nacogdoches County to vote in the November elections."

Right Wing Leftovers

  • James Dobson has endorsed Gov. Rick Perry.
  • Speaking of Perry, he's gone full-on Tenther in his latest ad.
  • Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell says he can't rule out the prospect of accepting a Vice Presidential slot if offered.
  • RNC Chair is just burning through money.
  • Concerned Women for America is accused of being insufficiently pro-life.
  • Prosecutors are worried they will be unable to find jurors who don't have an opinion about murdered anti-abortion activist James Pouillon as they make their case against Harlan Drake because Pouillon's protests and antics had made him notoriously unpopular.
  • Apparently, Ken Blackwell got a book deal.  The title of his tome? "THE BLUEPRINT: Barack Obama’s Secret Plan for an Imperial Presidency and a Permanent Liberal Government."
  • Finally, Quote of the Day from Gary Cass: "Thankfully, many principled Christian organizations pulled out of CPAC and they should be commended for standing up for truth. We cannot allow anti-Christian groups like GOProud to infiltrate and corrupt the conservative movement."

CPAC: Paul Wins Straw Poll While Huckabee Dismisses Event As Meaningless and Corrupt

While watching CPAC last week, I was wondering to myself why Mike Huckabee wasn't participating?  Did organizers decide to snub him by not inviting him or did he snub the convention by refusing to attend? After all, Huckabee had been given a speaking slot in the main auditorium each of the last three years.

But this year Huckabee skipped the event and blasted it as pointless, corrupt, and too libertarian:

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee blasted the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Saturday as outdated, nearly corrupt and unrepresentative of the conservative movement.

Huckabee, a 2008 Republican presidential contender and potential 2012 candidate who had spoken at the conference for years, said the reason he blew it off this year was that the meeting has become dominated by libertarian activists.

“CPAC has becoming increasingly more libertarian and less Republican over the last years, one of the reasons I didn’t go this year,” Huckabee said in an interview with Fox News, where he is a paid analyst and has his own show.

He was responding to a question about whether he was upset by his single-digit showing in the conference’s straw poll, which was won by libertarian-leaning Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas).

But it wasn’t the only criticism the Arkansan leveled at CPAC.

Huckabee said the rise of the tea party movement had “taken all of the oxygen out of the room,” rendering the venerable conference far less relevant than it had been in previous years.

“Where CPAC was historically the event, the tea parties are having their own events all over the country and a lot more truly grassroots people are getting involved because of the tea parties,” said the former governor.

And, goaded by Fox Host Geraldo Rivera, Huckabee went even further.

“Because of the way that it solicits sponsors, it’s almost becomes a pay-for-play,” he said. “It’s kind of like, who will pay money to be able to be a sponsor and get time in the program. That’s one of the things that has hurt its credibility in the last couple of years.”

I have to say that I agree with Huckabee's assessment that something has happen to CPAC when Ron Paul is winning its straw poll

For the last three years, the poll has been won by Mitt Romeny with Paul hovering around 10% ... and this year Paul beat Romney by almost ten points.  In recent years, Paul has largely been treated as a sideshow by the conservative establishment which viewed him as far outside the mainstream of the movement but tolerated him because he had a relatively small but extremely dedicated base of support that somewhat overlapped with the movement in general.

The fact that Paul could pull in 10% of the vote at CPAC in previous years was generally a source of embarrassment to organizers. This year, Paul won (and organizers were utterly mortified.)

If that doesn't signal that the conservative movement has completely lost it bearings, I don't know what does.

Scarborough Unveils Yet Another Right Wing Coalition and Declaration

Devin Burghart of the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights attended the National Tea Party Convention and notes that Rick Scarborough used his address at the event to unveil a new coalition called "Mandate to Save America":

A workshop by Dr. Rick Scarborough indicated a shift taking place at the convention, transforming the focus from bailouts and deficits to the culture war. Scarborough is a former Southern Baptist pastor from Pearland, Texas, and a he heads up a corporate constellation including Vision America, Vision America Action and the Judeo-Christian Council for Constitutional Restoration. He has been fixture on the Christian Right for several years (Jerry Falwell published his first book).

After showing an eight minute video cataloguing his many television appearances, the jovial Scarborough told a packed room of around 215 people that the gap between “fiscal and social conservatives has got to cease.” In addition to attacking the Obama administration for its commitment to ending Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and supporting the inclusion of gays and lesbians into federal hate crimes protections, Scarborough warned that we "now have a government of thieves" and that we are moving towards a “collectivist” society. We have a Godly duty to defend “American exceptionalism,” he said.

Scarborough used much of his speech to launch a new campaign, called the Mandate to Save America, a project of the S.T.O.P. Obama Tyranny National Coalition.

The pamphlet he distributed read, “We, the undersigned, and millions of other American patriots, including many who comprise the growing TEA Party movement, are no less determined than patriots of the past, who fought for our freedom. We will make any sacrifice, endure any hardship, and confront any foe to keep the flame of freedom burning bright; so help us God.”

The list of signers reads like a who’s who of the Christian Right: Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Tim Wildmon of the American Family Association, Gary Bauer of American Values, Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America, and many more. The ten campaign demands marked an overt attempt to fuse Tea Party desires with the broader agenda of the Christian Right into a more potent form of Christian nationalism.

Scarborough worked up the crowd in the room, and got a standing ovation when he demanded, “enough is enough!” When he finished, an older woman in the front row stood up and stated, “What we need is revival and revolt!” which also brought enthusiastic cheers from the audience.

And sure enough, Mandate to Save America has a website carrying this declaration:

So far the list of signers includes Gary Bauer, Tom DeLay, Janet Porter, Tony Perkins, Phyllis Schlafly, Mat Staver, Tim Wildmon, Wendy Wright, Richard Viguerie, and several others.

Meet The Right-Wingers Drafting Your Textbooks

The New York Times Magazine has a long article on the battle over textbooks in Texas and the related question of just how religious were the Founding Fathers and how much of a role they intended religion to play in our government. 

The article is quite long, but I just wanted to highlight a few sections about the views and agendas of Texas Board of Education members Don McLeroy and Cynthia Dunbar:

I met Don McLeroy last November in a dental office — that is to say, his dental office — in a professional complex in the Brazos Valley city of Bryan, not far from the sprawling campus of Texas A&M University. The buzz of his hygienist at work sounded through the thin wall separating his office from the rest of the suite. McLeroy makes no bones about the fact that his professional qualifications have nothing to do with education. “I’m a dentist, not a historian,” he said. “But I’m fascinated by history, so I’ve read a lot.”

...

McLeroy is a robust, cheerful and inexorable man, whose personality is perhaps typified by the framed letter T on the wall of his office, which he earned as a “yell leader” (Texas A&M nomenclature for cheerleader) in his undergraduate days in the late 1960s. “I consider myself a Christian fundamentalist,” he announced almost as soon as we sat down. He also identifies himself as a young-earth creationist who believes that the earth was created in six days, as the book of Genesis has it, less than 10,000 years ago. He went on to explain how his Christian perspective both governs his work on the state board and guides him in the current effort to adjust American-history textbooks to highlight the role of Christianity. “Textbooks are mostly the product of the liberal establishment, and they’re written with the idea that our religion and our liberty are in conflict,” he said. “But Christianity has had a deep impact on our system. The men who wrote the Constitution were Christians who knew the Bible. Our idea of individual rights comes from the Bible. The Western development of the free-market system owes a lot to biblical principles.”

For McLeroy, separation of church and state is a myth perpetrated by secular liberals. “There are two basic facts about man,” he said. “He was created in the image of God, and he is fallen. You can’t appreciate the founding of our country without realizing that the founders understood that. For our kids to not know our history, that could kill a society. That’s why to me this is a huge thing.”

...

In 2008, Cynthia Dunbar published a book called “One Nation Under God,” in which she stated more openly than most of her colleagues have done the argument that the founding of America was an overtly Christian undertaking and laid out what she and others hope to achieve in public schools. “The underlying authority for our constitutional form of government stems directly from biblical precedents,” she writes. “Hence, the only accurate method of ascertaining the intent of the Founding Fathers at the time of our government’s inception comes from a biblical worldview.”

Then she pushes forward: “We as a nation were intended by God to be a light set on a hill to serve as a beacon of hope and Christian charity to a lost and dying world.” But the true picture of America’s Christian founding has been whitewashed by “the liberal agenda” — in order for liberals to succeed “they must first rewrite our nation’s history” and obscure the Christian intentions of the founders. Therefore, she wrote, “this battle for our nation’s children and who will control their education and training is crucial to our success for reclaiming our nation.”

After the book came out, Dunbar was derided in blogs and newspapers for a section in which she writes of “the inappropriateness of a state-created, taxpayer-supported school system” and likens sending children to public school to “throwing them into the enemy’s flames, even as the children of Israel threw their children to Moloch.” (Her own children were either home-schooled or educated in private Christian schools.) When I asked, over dinner in a honky-tonk steakhouse down the road from the university, why someone who felt that way would choose to become an overseer of arguably the most influential public-education system in the country, she said that public schools are a battlefield for competing ideologies and that it’s important to combat the “religion” of secularism that holds sway in public education.

Ask Christian activists what they really want — what the goal is behind the effort to bring Christianity into American history — and they say they merely want “the truth.” “The main thing I’m looking for as a state board member is to make sure we have good standards,” Don McLeroy said. But the actual ambition is vast. Americans tell pollsters they support separation of church and state, but then again 65 percent of respondents to a 2007 survey by the First Amendment Center agreed with the statement that “the nation’s founders intended the United States to be a Christian nation,” and 55 percent said they believed the Constitution actually established the country as a Christian nation. The Christian activists are aware of such statistics and want to build on them, as Dunbar made clear. She told me she looks to John Jay’s statement that it is the duty of the people “of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers” and has herself called for a preference for selecting Christians for positions of leadership.

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