Texas

Right Wing Leftovers

  • The American Life League is angry that Krispy Kreme is giving away free doughnuts on Inauguration Day because the company's press release says it is celebrating "the freedom of choice," which ALL says is a "tacit endorsement of abortion rights on demand."
  • Rep. Steve King says it is "bizarre" that Barack Obama will use his middle name when he is sworn in next week, which just serves as more evidence that King fully deserves his place among Steve Benen's "Most Offensive Member of Congress."
  • Because you can never have too many right-wingers on the radio, Mat Staver and Matt Barber will soon begin hosting "Liberty Live," which will air on 126 stations of American Family Radio's new AFR Talk network.
  • Oklahoma State Rep. Sally Kern has introduced a resolution calling on Congress to oppose the Freedom of Choice Act, saying it would be "an infringement on states’ rights. Abortion is not a right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution but states’ rights are guaranteed by the Tenth Amendment."
  • The Traditional Values Coalition warns that President Obama and his "czars" are poised to "impose Obamunism upon our nation" and specifically singles out Tom Daschle as "most likely push the abortion and homosexual agenda ... The abortionists and homosexuals who helped get Obama elected must be thrilled with all of these czars with power to impose abortion and homosexuality on our military and federal bureaucracies.” Elsewhere, they call us a "God-hating ... anti-Christian group that is still engaged in a relentless war against traditional values."
  • Dan Gilgoff reports that, according to Ted Haggard, "House Speaker Nancy Pelosi regularly sent words of comfort and support in the two year following his fall," but Pelosi's office tells David Brody that Haggard's claim is "simply not true."
  • Finally, Rick Scarborough is more than a little upset that Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison has the temerity to start plotting a run for Governor of Texas:
  • "As a Texas conservative I am appalled by this action and call upon Senator Hutchison to do the ethically and morally right thing by writing everyone who contributed to her national campaign and offering to refund their contribution. Conservatives in Texas and around the country contributed to Senator Hutchison's campaign to fight liberals in Washington; not conservatives in Texas.

    "Rick Perry has his detractors in Texas and I have been openly critical of some of his positions as Governor, but he is solidly pro-life and pro-family and Texas has prospered under his able leadership. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, who is pro-choice, is apparently willing to expose her own Party in Washington to a possible filibuster proof Democratic majority by vacating her seat as US Senator, while simultaneously dividing her Party in Texas with a costly and politically divisive bid to be Governor which is not warranted."

Mike Huckabee: Affably Anti-Gay

A.J. Jacobs has a interesting profile of Mike Huckabee in Esquire on how this funny and seemingly nice former presidential candidate is, at heart, a militantly anti-gay culture warrior. 

Jacobs reports that Huckabee is utterly charming and the "most likable politician I've ever met" ... until he joins Huckabee for a book-signing and fundraiser for the right-wing New Jersey Family Policy Council where the theme is "no compromise on gay marriage" and Huckabee proclaims that gays getting married will lead to polygamy and bestiality and likens homosexuality to alcoholism:

We say the Pledge of Allegiance. We eat our chicken and baby carrots. We listen to a series of speeches with phrases like "swamp of moral decay" and "assault on the sacred institution of marriage." One man says that given the choice between winning the White House and winning the three anti-gay-marriage propositions, he'd choose to lose the White House ...

Later, I tell Huckabee that I once reported on a group of gay evangelical Christians — admittedly, a tiny group. They argue that homosexuality is not a biblical sin. Yes, Leviticus bans men lying down with other men, but that ban refers to pagan sex rituals. Jesus would not have a problem with committed, loving same-sex relationships.

Huckabee is not impressed. "How convenient. How very convenient to just put the Bible into a chronological time zone," he answers. Huckabee says gay people can do what they want in their private lives. But gay marriage?

"The problem with changing the definition of marriage is that once you cross that line, then there's no stopping," he explains. He tells me that when he spoke recently in Japan, there was an American student there who objected to his views on gay marriage. "This was right in the middle of what was going on in west Texas, and I thought, Okay, how can we say that what those polygamists in west Texas are doing is wrong if we allow same-sex marriage? Who are you to tell them that that man can't have fifteen wives? [The student said] 'Well, it's not the same!' And I said, 'Okay, well, here's another one: bestiality. Now I know you're going to have a problem,' and he just went berserk on that. But there was recently an actual news story where a man wanted to marry his animal. . . . I think it was a sheep."

Huckabee says he doesn't know if homosexuality is inborn, but he believes you can control the behavior. He compares homosexuality to obesity or alcoholism: "Some people have a predisposition to alcoholism. Does that mean they're not responsible for getting drunk? No."

I give him the liberal line: Being gay is so integral to a person's identity that it's not a choice, that it's like being African-American.

"I'm especially offended by that," he answers immediately. "Because blackness is an inescapable quality. Black is not a behavior. There's no behavior to black. What you can say is that whatever disposition, it's a choice. A lot of people are celibate. When people enter the priesthood, they make a choice to subjugate certain behaviors and/or feelings. It's not that they don't have them; it's that they choose not to act on them."

He talks about how he saw a news clip from a Palm Springs rally of a woman holding a cross, being accosted by gay-rights protesters who grabbed the cross out of her hands. "I watch these guys, and they're all about love and tolerance until they lose."

In Huckabee's world, gay people are the oppressors and conservative Christians are the victims.

The piece is full of interesting tidbits, like the fact that Huckabee was apparently unaware that this country has never had a Jewish president and makes a point of noting that Sarah Palin's disastrous interviews with Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric were in no way "unfair," saying "Katie Couric was extraordinarily gentle, even helpful. [Palin] just . . . I don't know what happened. I can't explain it. It was not a good interview. I'm being charitable."

As they say, read the whole thing.

The Money Behind Those Restoration Projects

The Texas Freedom Network discovers the source of the funding behind the various right-wing "restoration" projects popping up around the country - primarily "God's Sugar Daddy" James Leininger and the American Family Association, who funneled their money through something called the Niemoller Foundation:

As it turns out, the executive director of the Texas Restoration Project — a man named David Lane — also helped organize similar pastor recruitment efforts elsewhere. We began to see “Renewal” and “Restoration” projects crop up in Colorado, Florida, Iowa and other states that were expected to become major battlegrounds in the 2008 presidential election.

Documents filed by Niemoller with the IRS show that Leininger and the far-right American Family Association were continuing to funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars into the Niemoller Foundation in 2006 and 2007, when these national pastor recruitment efforts were moving into high gear. In 2006 more than $200,000 of the Niemoller money went to pay the salary of Lane for “fundraising.” Niemoller also spent nearly $400,000 on “Pastors’ Policy Briefings” in Florida (Jan. 15-16, 2006) and Colorado (June 5-6 and again Oct. 2-4 of that year). Niemoller reported $615,000 in contributions that year, much of it from Leininger and the AFA (which were the only two names listed as “substantial contributors” on the foundation’s IRS Form 990).

IRS documents show that Niemoller raised another nearly $240,000 in 2007, nearly all of it from Leininger. That money helped cover $56,000 for Lane’s salary and nearly $200,000 to pay for an Austin ”Pastors’ Policy Briefing” to celebrate Gov. Perry’s reinauguration in January of that year.

Decrying the "Coup" in Texas

For the last several days, the Texas Freedom Network had been chronicling the battle taking place in the Texas House of Representatives, as right-wing activists from around the state swung into action in order to try and save Rep. Tom Craddick's position as House Speaker - as TFN noted:

Craddick has alienated Democrats and a number of Republicans with his autocratic rule of the House and by forcing controversial votes on hot-button issues like private school vouchers. The religious right has strongly supported Craddick’s speakership, seeing him as an important tool in the far-right’s ongoing and deeply divisive culture war on mainstream values like strong public schools, religious freedom and civil liberties in Texas.

Eleven House Republicans have moved to support state Rep. Joe Straus, a Republican from San Antonio, as speaker after the new legislative session begins on Jan. 13.

TFN explained how people like David Barton and the Cathy Adams of the Texas Eagle Forum were hard at work rallying their grassroots activists to save Craddick's position, but it looks like it was all for naught:

Straus, a moderate Republican from San Antonio, swept into the speaker's race Friday night and by Sunday had enough pledges, the great bulk from Democrats, to assure his election as the next House leader. As his list of supporters continued to grow Monday, his chief Republican rivals dropped their campaigns, leaving him all but assured of election when the 150 House members vote on a speaker when they gather Jan. 13.

Conservative activists and legislators expressed anguish over losing Craddick, a partisan warrior, as speaker. Craddick, who ended his campaign for a fourth speaker's term, saw his base crumble when virtually all Democrats and a dozen key Republicans abandoned him. He was also hurt by the November elections, which left the GOP with a thin 76-74 majority.  

Needless to say, right-wingers in the state are not happy, with Rick Scarborough decrying it as a nothing short of a "coup":

“Values voters in Texas will be outraged to hear the news that a small band of Republicans and 64 Democrats in the Texas House of Representatives have conspired to name Representative Joe Straus of San Antonio, the most liberal returning Republican Representative in the House, as Speaker, replacing conservative Tom Craddick,“ said conservative activist, Dr. Rick Scarborough of Nacogdoches, Texas. “This is a deliberate and carefully calculated plan to undermine and halt progress on the issues we care about the most, ESPECIALLY the rights of the unborn child and traditional marriage” ... “This is nothing short of a coup and we will not take it laying down! We have worked hard for two decades in Texas to elect principled conservatives, but today it is clear we have far too many whose only guiding principle is power!” said Scarborough.

Fun With Judicial Numbers

Ed Whelan has a piece in the latest edition of The National Review that has been posted on the Ethics and Public Policy Center website in which he hails the “appointments of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito as two of [President Bush’s] best decisions” before launching into the by-now standard Republican complaint that Bush’s judicial nominees faced unprecedented obstruction at the hands of Democrats: 

President Bush's record on lower-court appointments is much more mixed. Let's begin with the numbers. Bush appointed 62 judges to the federal courts of appeals. That's even fewer than the 65 that President Clinton appointed, amidst bitter Democratic complaints and media buzz about a confirmation slowdown by Senate Republicans. Bush's total also includes three of Clinton's unsuccessful nominees whom Bush renominated -- two in 2001 in unrequited gestures of goodwill, and one in 2008 as part of a Sixth Circuit deal. The numbers for the federal district courts are even worse: 261 Bush appointees versus 305 Clinton appointees. The Bush numbers are all the more disappointing as Republicans controlled the Senate for more than half of the Bush presidency, whereas Clinton enjoyed Democratic control for only two of his eight years.

Back in October, I tried to debunk this sort of misleading comparison by noting that one cannot accurately compare confirmation rates by simply citing the total number of judges confirmed – rather, one must compare the overall percentage of nominees confirmed to get an accurate comparison; and by that measure, President Bush’s nominees fared better than did President Clinton’s.  But since this claims keeps popping up, I suppose I should re-post my last explanation … and considering that there do not appear to have not been any new nominations or confirmations since I first wrote it, the numbers are still accurate:

According to CRS, President Reagan put forth a total of 423 District and Circuit Court nominees and saw 375 of them confirmed; a confirmation rate of 88%. President Clinton, by contrast, put forth more nominees and had fewer confirmed:  372 of 488, for a confirmation rate of 76%. 

In comparison, according to the White House’s own figures cited in the Washington Post article above, “324 of 376 federal court nominees have been confirmed during Bush's tenure.”  That gives him a confirmation rate of 86%, well above President Clinton’s confirmation rate.  In fact, for Bush to lower his confirmation rate to match that of Clinton, he'd have to nominate another 50 or so judges before he leaves office in a few months.

Despite relying on the use of raw confirmation totals instead of the more accurate confirmation rates, Whelan deserves credit for using correct figures and overall having a solid understanding of the issue. Sadly, the same cannot be said for the Texas Eagle Forum which, as the Texas Freedom Network notes, has jumped into the fray regarding the selection of the next Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives by likening those who are not supporting their preferred right-wing choice to the senators who “stifled President Bush’s court appointments”: 

Remember how the “gang of 12″ US Senators stifled President Bush’s court appointments? This type of renegade politics is now being practiced by a “gang of 11″ TX State Representatives concerning the election of the next Speaker of the House.

Do you remember the “Gang of 12”?  I sure don’t … though I do remember the “Gang of 14.”  It seems to me that if you are trying to rile up your supporters by likening current events to one of the Right’s bitterest memories, the least you can do is be sure to get the name right.

Handing the RNC Over to Rod Parsley and Friends

As we noted a few weeks ago, former Ohio Secretary of State and current Family Research Council fellow Ken Blackwell is seeking the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee.  In recent days, he's secured several "high-profile endorsements from the Club for Growth, Gun Owners of America and prominent conservatives like Steve Forbes" and now it looks like he is taking the next step in his attempt to consolidate his standing as a front-runner by announcing that he's found a like-minded running mate:

Texas Republican Party Chairman Tina Benkiser has teamed up with Ohio´s Ken Blackwell in the contest to lead the Republican National Committee over the next two years.

The Washington Times has learned Mrs. Benkiser has decided to forgo a run for RNC national chairman and instead to run for co-chairman, a traditionally less powerful position that historically, with one exception, has been held by a woman.

“If I ran for chairman, I decided after looking over the field, it might contribute to dividing the conservative vote and allowing a moderate to win,” she told The Times in a phone interview Tuesday.

In the draft of a letter to be sent to other voting members of the national committee, she writes that she “decided to run for the co-chair position because a chairman candidate has emerged who has everything it takes to help us restore our party and return to our winning ways. Ken Blackwell has the courage and experience to both lead and inspire us to achieve great things as a party.”

Mrs. Benkiser, a practicing attorney in Houston, is an evangelical Christian who, like Mr. Blackwell, opposes same-sex marriage and legalized abortion but, also like him, emphasizes “pro-growth” economic polices of low-taxes, small government and reduced regulations on business where possible.

Like Mr. Blackwell, she maintains the GOP doesn't need to be less conservative to win future elections but needs to have its elected officials at all levels of government adhere to the principles of spending restraint, low taxes and respect for family values and personal honesty for which the GOP claims to stand.

“Our national party grew and was entrusted with leadership when it stayed true to its conservative principles,” she says in her letter to other members. “Focusing on fiscal responsibility, a strong national defense and traditional family values brought unprecedented growth to the party not that long ago. America was and still is a center-right country.”

As we noted before, Blackwell came to national prominence back in 2006 when he hooked up [PDF] with Rod Parsley and his Reformation Ohio movement:

With Blackwell’s gubernatorial campaign in full swing, the “Patriot Pastor” events have featured Johnson and Parsley highlighting Blackwell and extolling the candidate’s virtues. At a rally on the state Capitol steps, Parsley boomed over a Jumbotron screen, “Let the Reformation begin! Shout it like you’re going to carry the blood-stained banner of the cross of Christ the length and breadth of the Buckeye State!” Parsley then introduced Blackwell as “a man of great conviction, consistently standing for family, life, marriage, and faith throughout his public service.” At other events, Johnson followed Blackwell’s speech to pastors by presenting the man he called a “leader of leaders” with a “courageous leadership award” in the form of a large, gilded-eagle trophy—a ritual he repeated a number of times before different audiences of pastors.

Considering that it was just a few months ago that John McCain was forced to publicly repudiate the endorsements he had received from Parlsey and John Hagee, it seems rather odd that the next head of the RNC could be someone like Blackwell, who has had a long and very public alliance with Parsley:

Whereas McCain barely knew the men and courted them purely for political purposes, Blackwell was deeply involved in Parsley's Patriot Pastors movement and regularly participated in their events during his run for Governor in 2006, so much so that the IRS was asked to investigate those churches involved for potential violations

Parsley and Johnson hosted Blackwell as the featured guest speaker at numerous events, in which the candidate was honored with some award or endorsed explicitly from the stage. Parsley even flew Blackwell to one “Patriot Pastor” function on a church-owned plane. This campaign was only part of a broader agenda to promote Blackwell at bigger and bigger rallies featuring famous religious-right leaders, leading up to the primary election and beyond, and indeed including radio spots featuring Blackwell. The radio spots and the rallies with James Dobson never materialized, but far from being a “baseless allegation,” this plan was posted publicly on Johnson’s “Ohio Restoration Project” web site in 2005.

We understand that many in the Republican Party feel that their recent electoral losses stem from a failure to adequately adhere to the Religious Right's agenda.  If turning the RNC into a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Religious Right is what they think is in the best interest of the party, then they couldn't find a better chairman than Ken Blackwell.

The Far Right’s Newest Boogeyman: Environmentalism

Back in July, we wrote about the then-upcoming 9th Annual Freedom21 National Conference where a bevy of second, third, and fourth string right-wing activists were gathering to blow the top off the nefarious plot behind the idea of sustainable development.

Now, the SPLC has published an account of the gathering … and it was apparently every bit as unhinged as one would expect:

"Environment is not about saving nature," the founder of Freedom Advocates, Michael Shaw, sternly warned an audience of antigovernment "Patriots" and far-right conspiracy theorists during a mid-July conference. "It's about a revolutionary coup in America. [Environmentalism] is to establish global governance and abandon the principles of Natural Law." Sustainable development policies, Shaw argued, will require "a police state" and ultimately "turn America into a globally governed homeland where humans are treated as biological resources."

Shaw's fearful call to arms against environmentalism was sucked in whole hog during the Ninth Annual Freedom 21 conference held in a Dallas-area Crowne Plaza hotel. Co-hosted by the Texas Eagle Forum, a hard-line Christian Right organization, and the anti-"New World Order" American Policy Center (APC), the three-day convergence included such right-wing heavyweights as the error-prone conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi, gay- and feminist-hating Phyllis Schlafly, and the far-right Constitution Party's presidential candidate, Chuck Baldwin.

One former popular Freedom 21er was disinvited. Bob Barr, a former conservative Republican congressman from Georgia, was asked not to return by the head of APC, Tom DeWeese, because Barr had talked to Al Gore about global warming. "This is not some nice little debate," DeWeese said he told someone in Barr's office. "This is war."

The SPLC recounts that while Phyllis Schlafly was content to deliver her anti-judges stump speech, the other speakers were committed to exposing how instituting sustainable development policies was the ultimate goal of those shadowy one-world government figures who are behind the (non-existent) efforts to create a so-called North American Union so that they can institute a new worldwide false religion based on “earth worship”:

Michael Coffman, executive director of the United Nations-hating Sovereignty International, took on something called Agenda 21, which was drawn up in 1992 for the UN Commission on Sustainable Development. Agenda 21 is a comprehensive blueprint of action to be taken globally, nationally and locally by organizations of the UN, governments, and major groups in every area in which humans impact on the environment (21 refers to the 21st century). In Coffman's eyes, Agenda 21 is a menace.

"An anti-human document, which takes aim at Western culture, and the Judeo-Christian and Islamic religions," is how Coffman referred to it. Coffman also alleged that Agenda 21 would lead to a kind of communist reallocation of property rights and redistribution of assets. Using a big word, Coffman labeled the proposed changes "usufructual," which he said means the government would own everything. Michael Chapman of Ed Watch, a group that opposes public education, reiterated Coffman's allegations that Agenda 21's real aim is to redistribute wealth. Coffman added that economic development is not being restricted in order to protect the environment, but rather to give power to the government.

"The new world theology is pantheism," Coffman said, "Nature is God."

The John Birch Society (JBS), a group that once insisted that President Eisenhower was a Communist Party member but now focuses on immigrant-bashing, agrees with Coffman. JBS was on hand to warn that environmentalists are really out to get your children. The JBS handed out cards featuring a strange depiction of a group of children holding hands under a large, glowing, balloon-like mockup of the earth that warned of "The New False Religion, Worshipping the Earth." "Advocates of a UN world government have drafted an Earth Charter, which they compare to the Ten Commandments and keep in an 'Ark of Hope,'" warns the JBS without any apparent reference to reality. "Will you let the United Nations or any other group undermine the faith of your family?" The JBS is so concerned with this that is has created a new website, www.getusout.org/earthworship, to battle "Earth Worship."

It should be noted that Rep. Michelle Bachmann was initially listed as scheduled to appear, but the SPLC article makes no mention of her being in attendance, nor does the official conference webpage.

President Bush Is a Bad Christian

Earlier this week, President Bush sat down for an interview with ABC’s Cynthia McFadden during which he was asked about his views regarding the Bible and evolution:

MCFADDEN: Is it literally true, the Bible?

BUSH: You know. Probably not ... No, I'm not a literalist, but I think you can learn a lot from it, but I do think that the New Testament, for example is ... has got ... You know, the important lesson is "God sent a son."

MCFADDEN: So, you can read the Bible...

BUSH: That God in the flesh, that mankind can understand there is a God who is full of grace and that nothing you can do to earn his love. His love is a gift and that in order to draw closer to God and in order to express your appreciation for that love is why you change your behavior.

MCFADDEN: So, you can read the Bible and not take it literally. I mean you can -- it's not inconsistent to love the Bible and believe in evolution, say.

BUSH: Yeah, I mean, I do. I mean, evolution is an interesting subject. I happen to believe that evolution doesn't fully explain the mystery of life and ...

MCFADDEN: But do you believe in it?

BUSH: That God created the world, I do, yeah.

MCFADDEN: But what about ...

BUSH: Well, I think you can have both. I think evolution can -- you're getting me way out of my lane here. I'm just a simple president. But it's, I think that God created the Earth, created the world; I think the creation of the world is so mysterious it requires something as large as an almighty, and I don't think it's incompatible with the scientific proof that there is evolution.

For Rob Schenck of Faith and Action, this just serves as final proof of what he has known all along – that President Bush is not a very good Christian:

To begin with, for me the President’s comments are not stunning. Early into his first term, I saw that Christians, particularly Evangelicals like me, had jumped to some conclusions about what Mr. Bush believed and how he lives his faith. I had E-mail corresponded with one of his pastors back in Texas, and through it learned that the Bushes lived out a fairly common Methodist, middle-of-the-road Protestant, but never-the-less meaningful Christianity.

The Bushes have never been the Sunday-morning-Wednesday-night, Gospel-tract-leaving, Praise-the-Lord-saying, Christian-radio-listening, Bible-bookstore-shopping, born-again-believers that a lot of Christians assumed them to be.

I also saw a gradual erosion of the President’s faith over the time he was in office. My first alarm bells went off when he and the First Lady decided not to continue attending the Lincoln Park United Methodist Church, near our ministry center. Lincoln Park UMC is a predominantly African-American congregation pastored by the very evangelical Reverend Dr. Harold D. Lewis. Pastor Lewis has been with us for a number of ministry events, including our delegation to the White House that presented a Ten Commandments sculpture for display there. Dr. Lewis has also been associated with our good friend of many years and fellow pro-life activist, Dr. Johnny Hunter, of the Life Education and Resource Center, America’s largest and fastest growing African-American pro-life and pro-family organization.

Instead of Lincoln Park UMC, President and Mrs. Bush chose the so-called “Presidents’ Church,” St. John’s Episcopal, just a block from the White House. While the congregation there has a venerable history as one of the oldest continuous churches in Washington, and one that has well-served presidents of the past, it has lately become a theologically moderate to left-leaning liberal church, and, is, of course, affiliated with the Washington Diocese of the Episcopal Church USA. It’s been known to sport a rainbow flag outside. I do know there was quite a debate within the parish on the question of same-sex “marriage.” I don’t know how it was resolved.

I did admonish the President about his choice of churches, respectfully calling his attention to the potentially deleterious effect that certain types of spiritual company can have on the state of one’s soul. He defensively dismissed it, saying it was a Secret Service decision. Odd, because the Secret Service is obligated to protect the president wherever he may decide to go, even to places like Iraq. I would think St. John’s would be an easier exercise.

All this to say that we must continue to pray for President Bush–and anyone who occupies this high office; the Bible commands it and our natural impulse should be to do it. Some have suggested Christians are to blame for the President’s eroded spiritual condition because we didn’t adequately pray for him. Well, I’m just Reformed enough in my theology to think that the President’s spiritual state lies securely in the hands of God, not in ours.

Two More Culture Warriors Seek RNC Chair

Over the weekend, Family Research Council fellow Ken Blackwell announced that he was seeking to become the next chairman of the Republican National Committee:

Ken Blackwell, a former U.N. ambassador and former Ohio secretary of state, has become the second black man to plunge into the heated contest for Republican National Committee chairman, The Washington Times has learned.

Mr. Blackwell, 60, joins former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, the other black Republican seeking to be the next national chairman when the 168-member Republican National Committee meets Jan. 28-31 in Washington.

Mr. Blackwell has worked with economic, national security and religious conservatives in his party.

"I am a full-portfolio conservative," Mr. Blackwell, 60, said in a phone interview Saturday from his home in Cincinnati. He noted that he is a board member of of the National Taxpayers Union, the Club for Growth and the National Rifle Association and holds fellowships at the Family Research Council and the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

In a letter to RNC members announcing his candidacy, Mr. Blackwell notes that he "vocally opposed tax increases offered" by his state's Republican governor and "helped to successfully lead the fight to amend the Ohio Constitution to ban government recognition of same-sex marriages."

Blackwell first made a name for himself back in 2006 when he linked up with the “Patriot Pastors” [PDF] in Ohio run by Rod Parsley and Russell Johnson:  

It was during the Issue 1 campaign that Parsley and Johnson began a fruitful collaboration with the amendment’s chief proponent, Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell. Blackwell’s close association with Parsley and Johnson has continued since the passage of the anti-gay constitutional amendment, ranging from public rallies and “Patriot Pastors” policy briefings to flying on a church-owned plane.

With Blackwell’s gubernatorial campaign in full swing, the “Patriot Pastor” events have featured Johnson and Parsley highlighting Blackwell and extolling the candidate’s virtues. At a rally on the state Capitol steps, Parsley boomed over a Jumbotron screen, “Let the Reformation begin! Shout it like you’re going to carry the blood-stained banner of the cross of Christ the length and breadth of the Buckeye State!” Parsley then introduced Blackwell as “a man of great conviction, consistently standing for family, life, marriage, and faith throughout his public service.” At other events, Johnson followed Blackwell’s speech to pastors by presenting the man he called a “leader of leaders” with a “courageous leadership award” in the form of a large, gilded-eagle trophy—a ritual he repeated a number of times before different audiences of pastors.

And today, Mike Huckabee’s campaign manager Chip Saltsman has announced his own bid for the RNC chairmanship and Huckabee is already doing what he can to generate support for his close ally:  

I am proud to endorse Chip Saltsman for RNC Chair.  Chip has proven to be a dynamic leader within the Republican Party over the years.  His youth and experience are combinations that are vital to leading the Party into the 21st Century.  Over the last two years I have seen Chip in action and have observed and admired his talents as a tactician and strategist.  Chip Saltsman's management of my Presidential campaign showed Chip's skills to operate in a very frugal manner, something that will greatly benefit the RNC.

As the Party searches for the leadership skills necessary to lead the Republican Party forward I believe that they will find that Chip Saltsman is the right person for the position of RNC Chair.  Chip's technological skills will be an important part of his accomplishments with the RNC. The national party needs to function so as to empower and assist local and state party organizations and become a more ground-up, grassroots army.  Chip Saltsman will bring energy and a willingness to listen and open doors to new ideas.  I urge you to visit Chip's website at www.chipsaltsman.com and learn more about this uniquely talented man.

Jindal Secretive in Texas, Hosting Vitter in DC

The Times-Picayune reports that Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is heading to Texas for some "private events" that will raise a little money for his re-election bid:

As Gov. Bobby Jindal continues to draw attention as a rising star and possible national candidate for Republicans in 2012 or 2016, he insists that he has the job he wants right here in Louisiana. But that doesn't mean he won't leave the state to raise a little cash for his campaign account.

His next such trip starts today, with plans for a fundraiser tonight in San Antonio and Friday afternoon in Houston.

The fundraisers were described in his official schedule only as "private events" for Jindal's re-election campaign. Melissa Sellers, Jindal's communications director, declined to share more information about where the events would be, who is hosting and how much is being sought from potential donors.

Since he won't say who he'll be hobnobbing with, I feel it is worth pointing out that the last few times Republican presidential hopefuls ended up traveling to Texas to raise some cash and support, we ended up seeing Mike Hucakbee hanging out with a guy who believed that "all disease and disability is caused by the sin of Adam and Eve" and John McCain ended up winning the endorsement of John Hagee, whom he then had to publicly humiliate before the end-times enthusiast could do any more damage to his campaign.

But while Jindal doesn't want to say who he'll be schmoozing with in Texas, he is apparently less than reluctant to be seen with the likes of David Vitter:

Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter has lined up a hefty list of Louisiana’s current and former members of Congress to help him with a fundraiser next week.

Headlining the Washington, D.C., fundraiser is Gov. Bobby Jindal. Listed as co-chairs of the event — called “Mardi Gras in December” — are all the Republican members of Louisiana’s congressional delegation and six former GOP congressmen from Louisiana.

...

The list of support for Vitter’s 2010 re-election bid could help Vitter toss aside speculation that the senator may have trouble maintaining support from GOP leaders after his involvement in an escort service scandal.

So Jindal will gladly be seen with a "family values" congressman caught frequenting prostitutes but won't say who he'll be meeting with in Texas? Does that seem odd to anyone else?

Gingrich and Barton Want You to Rediscover God in America

Michelle Goldberg has a post up on The Plank about Newt Gingrich’s current foray into the right-wing culture war:

As I was walking out the door yesterday evening, the phone rang. On the line was a woman from something called the National Committee for Faith and Family, contacting people, she said, on behalf of Newt Gingrich. She asked me to hold for a message from the great man, I dutifully agreed, and was treated to a recording of Gingrich hawking a full-length documentary called Rediscovering God in America. Then the woman came back on, saying, "Do you think we need to stop the momentum of anti-God liberals and Obama?" She wanted a donation of $35 to distribute the movie, which claims that the United States was founded on religious principals, and that separation of church and state is a myth fostered by devious subversives.

"There is no attack on American culture more destructive and more historically dishonest than the relentless effort to drive God out of America's public square," Gingrich says in a trailer for the documentary on his website. Among the program's talking heads is David Barton, a former math teacher and Texas fundamentalist who has fashioned a career as a prominent revisionist historian, reinterpreting the American past along theocratic lines. Barton started out on the fringe--in the early '90s, he was a speaker at white supremacist Christian Identity conferences--but in the modern GOP, he's hardly an extremist. Indeed, in 2004, the RNC hired Barton to give get-out-the-vote speeches to groups of clergy nationwide. What's surprising is not that Gingrich would associate with Barton, whose work he's been praising for years. What's surprising is that, at a time of serious collapse on the right, Gingrich is hitching his bid for renewed relevance to the most exhausted culture war tropes.

Of course, Gingrich and Barton have been selling their “Rediscovering God in America“ shtick for over a year now, with Barton showing up to promote it during last year’s Gingrich-centric “Solutions Day” events and has been appearing around the county at various “Rediscovering God in America” events ever since.

FRC Tells GOP: It's Us or Them

for the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee.One of the prevailing themes of the Republican Party at the moment is rampant finger-pointing in which just about every faction of the party is blaming every other faction of the party for the fact that they keep losing elections. 

First you had moderates blaming the Religious Right while the Right was blaming the Republican leadership for being insufficiently committed to the right-wing agenda and others were blaming the anti-immigration "nativists."

Now comes the Family Research Council complaining that Rep. Pete Sessions, incoming Chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, dared to meet with the Log Cabin Republicans and warning that any moves toward treating them like a legitimate element of the party will only undermine the GOP's efforts to reach out to Black and Hispanic voters and will ultimately doom the Republicans to being in the minority for the foreseeable future:

According to a press release from the pro-gay "marriage" group, Log Cabin Republicans, one of the first stops for the newly elected Chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), Congressman Pete Sessions (R-Texas), was the fundraising dinner for the homosexual organization. The release states that Representative Sessions said that the GOP cannot win elections and reach out to voters if it continues to oppose the issues that Log Cabin stands for, presumably including same-sex "marriage." My team sought clarification from Sessions' office and was told he did speak to the Log Cabin group, but that a copy of his remarks was not available. If the Log Cabin portrayal is true, it is disturbing on a number of accounts. One, Sessions' new position as the head of the NRCC is to train and recruit new candidates for the Republican Party. If this is his idea of "campaign advice" then the Republicans better prepare for a longer term in the minority then they faced prior to 1994. Secondly, if the GOP is serious about reaching out to new voters, especially African-Americans and Hispanics, then it should look closely at the exit polls on issues important to families. Both minority groups strongly support traditional family values that embrace life and protect marriage, two things the Republican Party once stood for also. Under these circumstances, pro-family voters should reserve judgment about giving their financial support to either political party.

FRC might soon actually have a lot more say in these sorts of matters now that Ken Blackwell, one of its own Senior Fellows, is contemplating his own run for the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee.

How Many Rick Scarboroughs Are There in Nacogdoches?

This info come from the Vision America website:

Harvest Point Church in Nacogdoches, Texas, where Vision America is headquartered, extended an invitation to Dr. [Rick] Scarborough to be their Senior Pastor. Dr. Scarborough agreed to accept the position on the condition that the Church allow him to continue his work as President of Vision America and Vision America Action. The church family agreed to hire Dr. Scarborough a full-time church administrator and three more full and part time ministers to assist with pastoral duties.

This info comes from The Daily Sentinel, a newpaper in Nacogdoches, Texas:

A woman and a child were visibly injured Monday in an afternoon wreck on state Hwy. 7 East.

Rescue workers used the jaws of life to remove the victims, whose identities were not immediately known, from the mangled shell of a blue Honda CR-V.

According to other drivers involved in the accident, Ivan Pierce of Nacogdoches was driving east in a Timpson ISD maintenance truck when he slowed for a vehicle preparing to turn. The truck behind Pierce, driven by Rick Scarborough of Nacogdoches was unable to avoid colliding with Pierce, pushing the vehicle into oncoming traffic, where it collided head-on with the westbound Honda.

The DPS officer investigating the accident was not immediately available to confirm details of the wreck.

The two occupants of the Honda were placed on stretchers and taken to the hospital. Pierce, who suffered cuts and bruising on his face, declined medical treatment, as did Scarborough, who appeared uninjured.

I wonder if it's the same Rick Scarborough. 

Inside the Council for National Policy

Sarah Posner sends a dispatch from inside the most recent Council for National Policy gathering, the secretive right-wing umbrella group that vowed to bolt the GOP if Rudy Giuliani was the nominee and whose members wept tears of joy when John McCain tapped Sarah Palin as his running mate:

While the CNP was trying to look to the future last week, it seemed hopelessly enamored of its aging leaders. When I arrived to meet Warren Smith, the conservative evangelical activist and journalist who had invited me to chat, we ambled past anti-evolutionist Ken Ham, who was holding court to a small but rapt audience in the hallway; eyed Left Behind author and CNP co-founder Tim LaHaye, who was shuffling in and out of the "CNP Networking Room;" caught a glimpse of Rick Santorum, who since being booted out of his Senate seat has led the charge against "radical Islam" from his perch at the conservative Ethics and Public Policy Center; and spotted the religious right's anti-feminism doyenne Phyllis Schlafly, 84, who had earlier that day delivered a speech to the CNP Youth Council on how to "find your place in the conservative movement."

Although the CNP's meetings are closed to the press, Smith filled me in on some details: Conservative direct-mail entrepreneur Richard Viguerie, a patriarch of the modern conservative movement, rallied the troops by pointing to prior comebacks, from Reagan to Gingrich to Bush. Viguerie, Smith told me, "is saying that we need to fight for conservative ideas and conservative values and not worry about who embraces them." Smith added that the group talked "about changing the culture, entertainment, media, TV" -- a longtime goal of the religious right's dominionism that it seeks to achieve by taking over social, cultural, and government institutions, much like religious-right figures are now plotting their new takeover of the Republican National Committee.

"What I'm hearing is that there is no loyalty to the Republican Party," said Smith, meaning no loyalty to the party as constituted but loyalty to one purged of insufficiently conservative members. "What Richard Viguerie talks about is not a third party but a third wave. Basically there needs to be a flowering of grass-roots conservative activism and local groups, local PACs. He's basically saying you've got a Republican county commissioner in Buzzard's Breath, Texas, and he's not a conservative? Run a conservative against him."

[A]ctivist and radio host Janet Porter, an early Huckabee backer in the 2008 campaign, told me she favored either Palin or Huckabee in 2012. Porter is straight out of the wing of the movement that is all frothing ideology, and no stone-cold strategy. That explains her ongoing fixation with the long-debunked lie that Barack Obama does not have a U.S. birth certificate, and her attempt to stop the electoral college from voting next month in the formality that will officially make him president.

Porter insists that Obama has not produced a U.S. birth certificate (he has) and that he was actually born in Kenya (he was born in Hawaii). She claims to be awaiting the results of the lawsuits filed by attorney Philip J. Berg, whose effort to halt the presidential election because of the alleged question of Obama's U.S. citizenship was rebuffed by the United States Supreme Court.

When I asked Porter about the mood around the CNP meeting, she said, "My mood is more upbeat than those who don't actually know these cases are being filed and that there's actually still a chance to maintain the freedom that we have. We're not going away. Win or lose, whether this goes through, whether it amounts to anything, we just believe that [for] something this important we need the answers. And we're going to fight for freedom, and we're going to use whatever freedom we have until it's taken away with the efforts of hate crimes, ENDA, fairness doctrine, wiping out all the pro-life legislation. Everything's on the line."

My skepticism showed, I suspect. "I think this might be a little more newsworthy than you think," she insisted and handed me a flyer about her effort that read: "Not extreme. Not fringe. Just Constitutional."

The Georgia Renewal Project

I wrote a post last year noting that the Right-Wing had a lot of different groups under which they pressed the agenda.  On top of their own organizations, a lot of right-wing leaders are also involved in umbrella organizations like the Arlington Group and the Council for National Policy.  There are also various state-level organziations like the "Patriot Pastors" movement and the "Restoration Projects" that are active in places like Texas and Ohio. 

And then there are things like the Iowa Renewal Project, where Mike Huckabee hobnobbed with various right-wing leaders as he rallied to win the Iowa primary.   Apparently there is also one in Georiga as well, which is slated to host Gov. Sonny Perdue, Daivd Barton, Mat Staver and other for a luncheon next week:

Georgia Renewal Project

Cordially invites you to participate in its Pastors' Policy Briefing Luncheon

Rediscovering God in America

With Special Guests

The Honorable Sonny Perdue
Governor of Georgia

and

Historian David Barton
WallBuilders

Who will be accompanied by

The Honorable Bob McEwen
Dr. Mat Staver
and other guest speakers

To be held at the Renaissance Waverly Hotel
2450 Galleria Pkwy, Atlanta, GA 30339
on Tuesday, November 25, 2008.

11:30 AM - 2:30 PM
Registration begins at 11:00 AM.

There will be a reception prior to the luncheon beginning at 11:00 AM.

The luncheon is complimentary and will be provided by the Georgia Renewal Project.

CWA's Beverly LaHaye also seems to be involved, as she is issuing her own invitations to the event.

I have to admit that, as someone who follows this stuff for a living, even I am routinely confused by sheer number of different organizations that have different names, yet all seem to contain the same handful of Religious Right leaders. 

Huckabee, Still Bitter About Hagee, Lashes Out At the Right

During his presidential campaign, one of Mike Huckabee’s signature traits was his willingness to publicly complain and whine about some supposed conspiracy among the nation’s Religious Right powerbrokers to refuse to support his candidacy.  And even though the campaign is over and Huckabee now has a lucrative new career on television and radio, it looks like he still hasn’t gotten over it, according to Time’s Michael Scherer who has gotten an early look at his new book:    

Many conservative Christian leaders, who never backed Huckabee despite their holding very similar stances on social issues, are spared neither the rod nor the lash. Huckabee writes of Gary Bauer, the conservative Christian leader and former presidential candidate, as having an "ever-changing reason to deny me his support." Of one private meeting with Bauer, Huckabee says, "it was like playing Whac-a-Mole at the arcade — whatever issue I addressed, another one surfaced as a 'problem' that made my candidacy unacceptable." He accuses Bauer of putting the issue of national security before bedrock social issues like the sanctity of life and traditional marriage.

Huckabee describes other elders of the social conservative movement, many of whom meet in private as part of an organization called the Arlington Group, as "more enamored with the process, the political strategies, and the party hierarchy than with the simple principles that had originally motivated the Founders." Later Huckabee writes, "I lamented that so many people of faith had moved from being prophetic voices — like Naaman, confronting King David in his sin and saying, 'Though art the man!'— to being voices of patronage, and saying to those in power, 'You da' man!' "

He calls out Pat Robertson, the Virginia-based televangelist, and Dr. Bob Jones III, chancellor of Bob Jones University in South Carolina, for endorsing Rudy Giuliani and Romney, respectively. He also has words for the Texas-based Rev. John Hagee, who endorsed the more moderate John McCain in the primaries, as someone who was drawn to the eventual Republican nominee because of the lure of power. Huckabee speaks to Hagee by phone before the McCain endorsement, while the former Arkansas governor is preparing for a spot on Saturday Night Live. "I asked if he had prayed about this and believed this was what the Lord wanted him to do," Huckabee writes of his conversation with Hagee. "I didn't get a straight answer." Months later, McCain rejected Hagee's endorsement because of controversial remarks the pastor had made about biblical interpretations.

So Huckabee is calling Hagee a sell-out for backing McCain instead of him, even knowing that McCain was eventually forced to disassociate himself from him because of Hagee’s outrageous views?  Doesn’t it seem odd that instead of thinking that maybe he dodged a bullet by not getting Hagee’s support, Huckabee is still mad about it?

Of course, Hagee’s support for Huckabee probably wouldn’t have been especially noteworthy since his ultra-right-wing views were no different than those esposed by his other supporters like on Don Wildmon, Janet Porter, Rick Scarborough, and Tim and Beverly LaHaye.

But considering that Huckabee is mulling over a future presidential run, it seems a little counterproductive to start badmouthing the very people from whom he’ll need support the next time around, especially since their lack of support this time was what helped to doom his campaign.

RGA Snubs the Future of the Party

If Sarah Palin is slated to become the future of the Republican Party, someone apparently forgot to make that known to the Republican Governors Association which just announced its new leadership ... and one name was conspicuously absent:

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford was voted RGA chairman, taking over the top job from Texas Gov. Rick Perry who will now serve as finance chairman. Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is vice-chairman, while Florida Gov. Charlie Crist will serve as chair for the annual RGA gala, and Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue will head up the recruitment effort.

Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle, Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas, and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty will also sit on the RGA’s executive committee.

“Republican Governors are natural leaders who will find solutions to our nation’s challenges and bring back the Party,” Sanford said in a statement.

Not on the list? Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who also attended the Miami meeting.

Via Think Progress

Right Plots to Launch Culture War From The Inside Out

Just yesterday I was writing that the GOP's right-wing base was planning on launching an all-out culture war in an effort to rebuild their party in the wake of an Obama victory. 

And today the LA Times reports that social conservatives are already maneuvering to take control of various elements of the party, especially the Republican National Committee:

The social conservatives and moderates who together boosted the Republican Party to dominance have begun a tense battle over the future of the GOP, with social conservatives already moving to seize control of the party's machinery and some vowing to limit John McCain's influence, even if he wins the presidency.

In skirmishes around the country in recent months, evangelicals and others who believe Republicans have been too timid in fighting abortion, gay marriage and illegal immigration have won election to the party's national committee, in preparation for a fight over the direction and leadership of the party.

Apparently, it is going to come down to a decision about whether the RNC will be chaired by a more moderate figure aligned with Florida Governor Charlie Crist, someone like Michael Steele, or someone like South Carolina GOP Chairman Katon Dawson who believes that "moderating our party is what caused us to lose power" in the 2006 elections.

According to the Times, the Right has already won a number of seats on the national committee and is intent on putting someone in power that will make their culture war agenda into the foundation of the party's future:

It was frustration with the Bush-led Republican National Committee that prompted a number of conservatives this year to try to upend the system. Conservatives won seats representing California, Iowa, Alaska, Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina and Michigan. One new member is a popular black preacher from Detroit, Keith Butler, who presides over a mega-church.

"There is a new blood in the party that is interested in communicating the message of the party -- the conservative message," said Kim Lehman, executive director of the antiabortion group Iowa Right to Life, who in July defeated a state legislator for one of the state's seats on the national committee.

David Barton: America’s Greatest Historian

I mentioned the return of the Texas Restoration Project a few months ago and then promptly forgot about it. Fortunately, the folks at Talk 2 Action have a better memory than I do and actually attended the event and provide an inside report.  

Back when he was running in the GOP primary, Mike Hucakbee praised right-wing pseudo-historian David Barton as perhaps "the greatest living historian on the spiritual nature of America's early days."  But it seems that, since dropping out, his opinion of Barton has only increased because he is now calling him the "single best historian in America today": 

According to candidate Mike Huckabee, history revisionist David Barton is the best historian our country has to offer the nation. Barton's best seller, The Myth of Separation of Church and State, violates the basic tenets of the Baptist faith Huckabee was ordained into and is still a member. This view by Huckabee about Barton was uttered at the Texas Restoration Project meeting in Austin, Texas, October 9-10th. Helping to host and speak at the event were Barton, Huckabee and Governor Perry - the state GOP official. On a first-to-call basis, the pastors of the state's churches, as well as their wives, were invited to come and stay free of charge in a $250/night Hilton Hotel room. Over 1,000 showed up, and it was announced that several hundred more wanted to attend, but could not because there was no room for them. Perry sits atop a state platform that wants to pull the nation out of the U.N., abolish the U.S. Department of Education, appeal minimum wage and do away with Social Security. Not to mention the platform affirms giving state money to religious schools and wants to dispel the myth of separation of church and state.

Huckabee and good buddy David Barton were up next, and between sessions provided photo opts for admiring pastors. Huckabee said this was a spiritual, not a political meeting, and he preached to the crowd. In spite of the get out the vote drive and lamenting of the false concept of separation of church and state, the mixture of pulpit and ballot continued … Huckabee introduced his friend David Barton as a man God raised up for the moment. Mike knew of no other man in the country having such a great impact on the land.

Next, Barton did his Christian-nation thing and stated the Bible had something to say about minimum wage and estate taxes. Evidently, that meant the text was against them both. A common religious right position in voter guides is that minimum wage is immoral. Barton told several stories of heroic Revolutionary War pastors who left the pulpit and led the men of the church into killing English troops. He lamented that this is what is needed today to restore the nation: That is, motivated and active pastors who lead out. Barton then said that separation of church and state, which he stated - is not in the Constitution - and only applies to the state interference in the church - a common religious right position.

Voter guides from Barton's organization were placed at the tables where we sat. There was a sign-up sheet to list name, email and church information. Morning speakers reminded us that the glory of God has been lost in the nation, and the Bible and prayer have been expelled from schools. The key question was what the church would do about these things. Barton proceeded to defend his position that the two key issues of the election centered around abortion and gay rights. He said the Bible taught that these were the key priority issues and poverty, environment, justice, civil rights and the prospect of an unjust war all sat as minor ethical issues compared to the other two. He explained that in the past few elections, laws have been enacted by Christians to limit abortions. That was - he admitted - until the 2006 elections. He conceded pro-life forces lost ground. His conclusion was that a get out the vote effort in 2008 could reverse this. David stated that what a person believed about abortion defined how one would vote regarding all other legislative issues. Barton reminded the group that judicial appointments will define our culture. He then explained to the pastors that for the past 50 years government has told pastors what to say in the pulpit. The Texan then complained that the government did a terribly inefficient job of helping the poor. It would better for the churches to hand out this money and do drug and prison rehab. He restated, "The church has got to be involved in the election." 

We weren’t there so obviously we don’t know exactly what Barton’s presentation was like, but if you want to get a sense of how Barton typically uses his biased history of America to promote the Religious Right’s political and electoral agenda, you can watch him do so here.

More De-Evolution in Texas

Last month we noted the oddly creative creationism views being put forth by Don McLeroy, Chairman of the Texas State Board of Education. Now it looks like McLeroy will be getting some company on the Board:

Social conservatives on the State Board of Education have appointed three evolution critics to a six-member committee that will review proposed curriculum standards for science courses in Texas schools.

Two of the appointees are authors of a book that questions many of the tenets of Charles Darwin's theory of how humans and other life forms evolved. One of them, Stephen Meyer, is also vice president of the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based group that promotes an explanation of the origin of life similar to creationism. The other author is Ralph Seelke, a biology professor at the University of Wisconsin-Superior.

Also on the panel is Baylor University chemistry professor Charles Garner, who, like the other two, signed the Discovery Institute's "Dissent from Darwinism" statement that sharply questions key aspects of the theory of evolution.

The Texas Freedom Network's President Kathy Miller notes that the Texas Board of Education is now staffed with out-of-state ideologues, but the right-wing Free Market Foundation notes that it is necessary to keep the Board "balanced"

Jonathan Saenz of the conservative Free Market Foundation said the panel is "balanced" because two of the other three members, UT-Austin biology Professor David Hillis and Texas Tech Professor Gerald Skoog, have joined a group of science educators wanting to eliminate a current requirement that weaknesses of the theory of evolution be taught.

"If the theory of evolution is so strong and without weaknesses, why are the evolutionists so afraid to let students have a discussion about it?" he asked.

"Close-minded efforts to ban students from [hearing both sides] is dangerous and a clear detriment to students."

The Free Market Foundation is sister organization to the Liberty Legal Institute, the organization that was recently active up in Alaska trying to quash the "Troopergate" probe.  Both are run by Kelly Shackelford whom was recently on James Dobson's radio program crowing about how Sarah Palin was the answer to the right-wing movements prayers and explaining his efforts as part of the GOP's platform committee in drafting “the strongest pro-life platform ever in the history of the [Republican] party."

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