Wisconsin

Romney and Santorum Rally with Corrupt Lobbyist Ralph Reed in Wisconsin

Tomorrow morning in Waukesha, WI, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, among others (Gov. Scott Walker is listed as an invited speaker), will rally with corrupt former lobbyist Ralph Reed and the state chapter of his Faith & Freedom Coalition, which Reed created to rehabilitate his image in the wake of his deep involvement in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal. Here are the event details:
It is our distinct pleasure to invite you to the Wisconsin Faith & Freedom Presidential Kick-Off, sponsored by the Wisconsin Faith & Freedom Coalition, to be held at the Country Springs Hotel on Saturday, March 31st in Waukesha, WI.  Come hear from CONFIRMED speakers Governor Mitt Romney, Senator Rick Santorum, and Speaker Newt Gingrich.
 
When Romney and Santorum – the standard–bearers of the GOP – appear on stage tomorrow with Reed, they’ll be embracing a corrupt hustler who has survived scandal after scandal by delivering cash and foot soldiers to Republican leaders (and not for the first time).
 
It wasn’t long ago that Ralph Reed was damaged goods in Republican circles, and for good reason. Reed came to national prominence as the first executive director of Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition, beginning in 1989. However, by 1997 the groups finances were collapsing, the FEC had found that the group violated federal campaign finance laws in 1990, 1992, and 1994, and federal prosecutors were investigating allegations of financial misconduct made by the organization’s CFO. So Reed resigned and moved to Georgia to become a lobbyist.
 
In 1999, Abramoff hired Reed and ultimately paid him $1.3 million to generate opposition to legalizing video poker and a state-sponsored lottery in Alabama. The money came from the Choctaw Tribe, which runs a casino in nearby Mississippi. Reed used his extensive Religious Right contacts and engaged James Dobson and the Alabama Christian Coalition, which had a policy against being the “recipient of any funds direct or in-direct or any in-kind direct or indirect from gambling interests.” He funneled $850,000 to the group, but made sure to launder it through his longtime friend Grover Norquist’s organization, Americans for Tax Reform.
 
Before the wheels came off Jack Abramoff’s criminal lobbying enterprise, he described Reed to his business partner as “a bad version of us.” Abramoff, explaining the comment after being released from prison, said that Reed was “a tap dancer and constantly just asking for money.” And Abramoff knows more than a thing or two about Reed. He gave Reed his first job after college and, along with Norquist, formed what some called the “triumvirate” at the College Republican National Committee.
 
After the Abramoff scandal broke, Reed claimed that he had “no direct knowledge of [Abramoff’s lobbying firm’s] clients or their interests,” but the Senate Indian Affairs Committee determined that Abramoff told Reed as early as 1999 that he was taking casino money. In an interview last year with Alan Colmes, Abramoff called Reed’s denial ridiculous:
Abramoff: It's ridiculous. I mean, even the tribes that had other business, 99% of their revenue came from gaming. But a lot of those tribes had nothing but gaming.
Colmes: So, in other words, Ralph Reed was saying "hey, I'll work with you but I don't want to be paid with gambling money, I'm too clean for that." But are you saying that conversation never happened?
Abramoff: No. Never happened. Ralph didn't want it out that he was getting gambling money and, frankly, that was his choice and I think it was a big mistake.
Reed went on to become the chair of the Georgia Republican Party in 2001 and ran for lieutenant governor in 2006. However, the Abramoff scandal had broken by then, and Reed “suffered an embarrassing defeat” in the primary. The New York Times described Reed as a “close associate of Jack Abramoff” whose “candidacy was viewed as a test of the effects of the Washington lobbying scandal on core Republican voters.”
 
In 2009, Reed founded the Faith & Freedom Coalition to help resurrect his image and stature in the movement. Faith & Freedom, which Reed described as a “21st Century version of the Christian Coalition on steroids,” is really just a Tea Party-stained version of the original, and much smaller despite the steroids.
 
However, Reed is an operator in the truest sense, and knows how to “tap dance” and “constantly ask for money” with the best of them. He has apparently earned, and I do mean earned, his way back into the good graces of Republican leaders. It’s unclear, however, how long Reed can go without another scandal.

Rebecca Kleefisch Appears on Show Whose Host Compared Unions to Terrorists, Called for Ellen DeGeneres to Be Fired for Being Gay

Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch appeared Monday on the American Family Association (AFA) radio network with host Sandy Rios. AFA, which has been classified a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, recently added Rios to its lineup. 

Rios gained notoriety early last month when an incredulous Bill O’Reilly suggested she was engaging in McCarthyism for calling on J.C. Penney to fire Ellen DeGeneres because she’s gay. Earlier she wrote that accepting Ellen would lead to “the complete eradication of the traditional family and the acceptance of any sexual choice anyone wants to make.” This month she lamented that “the Jewish vote in this country is so confused” and said that secular Jews have been some of “the worst enemies of the country.”
 
This kind of thing is nothing new for Rios, as Kleefisch had to know. Last year, debating the Obama administration contraceptives mandate, Rios equated birth control and abuse counseling with pedicures and manicures. She also compared unions and the Obama campaign to a terrorist group, writing that “Organizing for America, the SEIU, the NEA and many of America’s labor unions have … more in common with the violence and intimidation of Hamas than with protecting ‘workers.’”
 
Rios, introducing Kleefisch, spoke of her Chicago roots and fondness for Wisconsin. Then, wasting no time, she began attacking Wisconsin workers and students:
You probably saw it every night on your television. You saw union members holding out in the state capitol. You actually saw them trash the state capitol. It was just an amazing thing. Playing music, there’s nothing wrong with music. It was just strange behavior. They even got out from school to do this. […]
 
They were furious. As a matter of fact, they took some steps. They threatened State Senator Dan Kapanke with recall, they did recall him. They staged protests outside of his home. They issued death threats. They sent his wife disgusting letters in the mail. They spread nails and glass all over his driveway, and they managed to get him out of office.
Following that introduction, Kleefisch gave an update on the recall effort and echoed Rios on how mean and nasty the union supporters were. Both used the despicable actions of a few to tarnish a broad-based citizen movement:
Folks spent their entire winters collecting these signatures in hopes of recalling us, essentially trying to remake a decision that the majority of voters in Wisconsin just made in fall of 2010. And voters overwhelmingly elected the governor and me because we said we’d do a budget without raising taxes. And in 2008, the Great Recession hit Wisconsin hard. People are still being pinched by it, and that’s why there was this desperate need to do a budget without raising taxes.
 
Well, the result of that is what you’ve spent the last couple minutes describing. We all got death threats, and our capitol was trashed. People were intimidated right and left. It was scary times. Even my little kids were scared to go to the capitol. People would shout at them, and you know, it’s kinda creepy when you work in a situation like that.
Kleefisch mostly let Rios do the dirty work for her, like in this exchange:
Rios: I’ll try to be clearer now about what this means. Basically unions in all of the states have been able to, through their union leadership, have been able to raise their salaries, their pensions just on and on, and their benefits without any kind of restraint.
 
Kleefisch: Well, that’s what’s called collective bargaining. And so we’ve put some restrictions on collective bargaining.
Rios sounded the alarm that “union folk from Chicago are flooding” into Wisconsin, with the backing of the Obama administration, to throw the election. Kleefisch, however, expressed confidence in her prospects, saying “I think we’re gonna win. I think we’re gonna win because if you go to the ballot box, and you vote on the facts, then you vote for us every time. Because the facts are, it worked.”
 
As Kleefisch noted repeatedly during the interview, Wisconsin is very purple state. It’s unclear, then, why she thinks appearing on a right-wing show with a notorious host will help her prospects.
 
Listen to excerpts from the show:
 
 
Listen to the entire interview here (starting at 18 minutes).

 

Wisconsin Senator Who Introduced Anti-Single Parent Bill Says Women 'Trained' To Lie About Planned Pregnancies

Wisconsin state senator Glenn Grothman went on the Alan Colmes show on Friday to discuss a controversial new bill he authored that would require the state’s Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board to officially label single parenthood as “a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect.”

The bill was seen as a slap in the face to single parents in Wisconsin, who are raising 31 percent of children in the state.

Grothman told Colmes that the country’s out-of-wedlock birth rate is the “choice of the women,” who should be “educated that this is a mistake.” When Colmes countered with statistics about the high number of pregnancies that are unintended, Grothman said that many women are “trained” to lie and say that their planned pregnancies are actually unintended:


Grothman: There’s been a huge change over the last 30 years and a lot of that change has been the choice of the women. There’s a reason why in the 50s and the 60s you had less than ten percent of the births illegitimate, and now we’re over 40 percent. It’s not that there weren’t abusive men in the 40s or there was a problem with child support. It is the popular culture, led by the social service professions, who are saying…

Colmes: Well tell me what you would change.

Grothman: I think the first thing we do is that we should educate women that this is a mistake.

Colmes: You think women need to be educated, are they not smart enough on their own?

Grothman: They do have to be educated, because right now the culture encourages a single motherhood lifestyle.

Colmes: You think women choose to be single moms…

Grothman: Oh absolutely

Colmes: You think women want to have homes without fathers? You think women look to the opportunity to have to raise kids and not be able to get work because they have to stay home and take care of the kids. Women want to do this?

Grothman: I think a lot of women are adopting the single motherhood lifestyle because the government creates a situation in which it is almost preferred.

….

Colmes: According to data published in USA Today, at least four in ten pregnancies in every state are unwanted or mistimed. According to the analysis that was released last May, more than half of pregnancies in 29 states and the District of Columbia were unintended, 38 to 50 percent were unintended in the remaining states. This mitigates against the argument that women are purposefully wanting to have kids. Their unintended for the most part. They’re unintended pregnancies, which is the argument for health care services and birth control for women.

Grothman: I think you undersell these women.

Colmes: Undersell them?

Grothman: Undersell them. I think when you have an epidemic of this great proportion, people are not so dumb that it’s surprising when they get pregnant. I think people are trained to say that ‘this is a surprise to me,’ because there’s still enough of a stigma that they’re supposed to say this.

Religious Right Activists Blame Idolatry for Labor Protests in Wisconsin

Today on Truth that Transforms, John Rabe of Truth in Action Ministries and Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission agreed that idolatry and the worship of government is to blame for the recent protests and recall movement in Wisconsin over Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s push to eliminate the collective bargaining rights of public workers, calling it a “theological issue.” Rabe said that the Wisconsinites who have rallied against Walker’s move are people who have made government “a replacement for God” and even went on to claim that government employees shouldn’t look to government to provide for them.

Rabe: It does seem that there is a theological issue at stake here as well. When we are trained to look to government to supply our every need, it is very tempting for that government to become a replacement for God in our lives. You know, we tend to worship our idols and I think we’ve seen from the uprisings in places like Greece and frankly even in the United States in the Wisconsin state capitol last year, what happens when that god stops providing.

Land: That’s right, that’s exactly right.

Right Wing Round-Up

Understanding Where Michele Bachmann Gets Her Extreme Views

Ryan Lizza has a long profile in the new issue of The New Yorker in which he explains that "Bachmann's views have been shaped by institutions, tracts, and leaders not commonly known to secular Americans, or even to most Christians" and that "her campaign is going to be a conversation about a set of beliefs more extreme than those of any American politician of her stature."

As Lizza explains, one of the people who played a key role in shaping Bachmann's views was John Eidsmoe, her professor at Oral Roberts Univeristy: 

At Oral Roberts, Bachmann worked for a professor named John Eidsmoe, who got her interested in the burgeoning homeschool movement. She helped him build a database of state homeschooling statutes, assisting his crusade to reverse laws that prevented parents from homeschooling their children. After that, Bachmann worked as Eidsmoe’s research assistant on his book “Christianity and the Constitution,” published in 1987.

Eidsmoe explained to me how the Coburn School of Law, in the years that Bachmann was there, wove Christianity into the legal curriculum. “Say we’re talking in criminal law, and we get to the subject of the insanity defense,” he said. “Well, Biblically speaking, is there such a thing as insanity and is it a defense for a crime? We might look back to King David when he’s captured by the Philistines and he starts frothing at the mouth, playing crazy and so on.” When Biblical law conflicted with American law, Eidsmoe said, O.R.U. students were generally taught that “the first thing you should try to do is work through legal means and political means to get it changed.”

“Christianity and the Constitution” is ostensibly a scholarly work about the religious beliefs of the Founders, but it is really a brief for political activism. Eidsmoe writes that America “was and to a large extent still is a Christian nation,” and that “our culture should be permeated with a distinctively Christian flavoring.” When I asked him if he believed that Bachmann’s views were fully consistent with the prevailing ideology at O.R.U. and the themes of his book, he said, “Yes.” Later, he added, “I do not know of any way in which they are not.”

Eidsmoe has stirred controversy. In 2005, he spoke at the national convention of the Council of Conservative Citizens, a defiantly pro-white, and anti-black, organization. (Eidsmoe says that he deeply despises racism, but that he will speak “to anyone.”) In Alabama last year, he addressed an event commemorating Secession Day and told an interviewer that it was the state’s “constitutional right to secede,” and that “Jefferson Davis and John C. Calhoun understood the Constitution better than did Abraham Lincoln and Daniel Webster.” In April, 2010, he was disinvited from a Tea Party rally in Wausau, Wisconsin, because of these statements and appearances.

Bachmann has not, however, distanced herself, and she has long described her work for Eidsmoe as an important part of her résumé. This spring, she told a church audience in Iowa, “I went down to Oral Roberts University, and one of the professors that had a great influence on me was an Iowan named John Eidsmoe. He’s from Iowa, and he’s a wonderful man. He has theology degrees, he has law degrees, he’s absolutely brilliant. He taught me about so many aspects of our godly heritage.”

When Bachmann spoke at the Rediscover God In America conference in Iowa earlier this year, she prasied Eidsmoe for the influence he had on her:

She also pointedly praised David Barton, calling him "a gift to our nation":

So the next time Bachmann says something absurd and you wonder "where does she get these extreme ideas?" ... well, now you know.

Right Wing Round-Up

  • Brady Swenson @ RH Reality Check: Man Arrested, Charged with Intent to Murder Abortion Providers in Wisconsin.
  • Good As You: Openly gay Bayard Rustin used to put words in MLK's mouth. Now Harry Jackson thinks it's his turn.
  • Towleroad: FOX News Chair Roger Ailes Installed Bombproof Glass in His Office for Fear of Attacks by Gay Activists.
  • Ryan J. Reilly @ TPM: James O'Keefe's Group Gets Non-Profit Status, Took In Only $2,367 In 2010.
  • Joe.My.God: Oh Noes! The Revenge Of GOProud!
  • Simon Maloy @ County Fair: Glenn Beck's timeline of American history.
  • Steve Benen: What happens when a criminal becomes governor.

Right Wing Round-Up

Random Book Blogging: The Biblical Guide to Light Bulbs and Playground Equipment

Lately I have been working my way through Wayne Grudem's textbook-like tome "Politics According to the Bible: A Comprehensive Resource for Understanding Modern Political Issues in Light of Scripture" because I have seen it mentioned by several of the organizations and people we monitor and it's been blurbed by the likes of Chuck Colson and Timothy Goeglein.

In it, Grudem lays out the proper Biblical position on everything from abortion and taxes to tariffs and farm subsidies ... but I haven't gotten to those issues yet as I am still working my way through the introductory chapters where Grudem lays out how the government is stealing precious seconds of his liberty and making the nation's children fat and cowardly:

Every incremental increase in governmental regulation of life is also an incremental removal of some measure of human liberty. When small losses of liberty occur again and again and again over a period of years, people can become essentially slaves to the government without ever realizing its happening.

Here are some examples: If my local government would prohibit grocery stores from providing plastic bags, as San Francisco did in 2007, it would force me to use paper bags. This deprives me of my liberty to choose which kind of bag I want. But I cannot carry nearly as many paper bags as plastic bags from the car to the house, because the paper bags break and tear more easily. Therefore every trip to the grocery store will now require some additional trips between the car and the house, an incremental loss of human liberty for every citizen. The paper bags also take up more storage room an don't work as well for certain other tasks, so there is another small loss of liberty. Perhaps some people thing this is insignificant, and perhaps others think there is an environmental benefit that comes from avoiding plastic bags, and that is worth the price of depriving the citizens of a small amount of liberty in this way. I do not. But my point is simply to note that my freedom to use my time as I wish has been eroded a bit, and no one seems to notice that this has happened.

Almost all of the really fun playground equipment that I loved as a boy growing up in Jim Falls, Wisconsin, has disappeared from playgrounds across America. there are much fewer merry-go-rounds or teeter-totters or high slides or high swings. Because of the threat of bankrupting lawsuits (and the lack of laws that place commonsense limitations on liability and damages for injuries), everything is padded and "safe," and children are growing fat and timid and lazy, and they have lost the excitement of that great adventure of testing your courage and strength and balance and endurance against the playground equipment and against every else playing on it. Because of our nation's failure to have some commonsense legal reforms, our children have lost much of their freedom (and health!) and nobody seems to notice or care.

...

Recently the US government required that all incandescent light bulbs (that fully light instantly) have to be discontinued by 2014. We have started to switch to cheaper energy-efficient bulbs, but when I walk into the closet or the kitchen pantry and turn on the light, it now takes several seconds until the room is fully lighted. So I wait, and another tiny bit of my liberty has been eroded - liberty to choose the kind of light bulb I prefer for each room, and liberty to use those few seconds of time as I wish. 

Scott Walker’s Latest Pro-Voucher Gambit Exposes Dishonesty Of The Voucher Movement

Private school voucher advocates and their allies in the so-called “education reform” movement readily talk about the need for rigorous, constant testing along with the application of free market principles to education: reward high-performing schools and teachers and punish bad ones.

Over the last decade, Milwaukee has been a laboratory for private school vouchers, and the results have been poor: numerous studies have shown that vouchers failed to make any difference in student performance. Just like in Washington, DC and Cleveland, private school vouchers in Milwaukee failed to produce the gains their supporters promised as students, with students in the Milwaukee voucher program actually performing worse than comparable public school students.

But now Republican Gov. Scott Walker wants to expand the ineffective voucher program while cutting funds to public schools. And so much for the emphasis on testing -- voucher students will now be exempted from the tests that revealed the program’s failure.

The Wausau Daily Herald reports:

Milwaukee’s voucher school program would be expanded under a Republican-backed bill expected to pass the state Assembly on Tuesday.



State Superintendent Tony Evers has questioned expanding the voucher program at the same time Walker is proposing cutting public school aid by more than $800 million over the next two years.



Walker is also proposing eliminating in his budget that voucher students take the same statewide achievement tests that public school students must take.

This year, results were released for the first time comparing public school and voucher students. They showed voucher students lagging behind their peers in public schools.

That’s right, even though voucher students are “lagging behind their peers in public schools,” voucher programs are being rewarded with expansion while public schools are punished with cuts. With little care for accountability and testing, this move by Walker and the Wisconsin GOP demonstrates how the push for private school vouchers is really about the Right’s ideological war against public education.

The pro-voucher American Federation for Children is even launching an ad campaign to defend Wisconsin Republicans facing recall votes, and recently hosted an event where they honored Walker for his voucher advocacy. AFC was founded and funded by Betsy Devos, a Religious Right activist and wife of Dick Devos, the son of the founder of Amway and an unsuccessful Republican candidate for governor of Michigan. Today, AFC is one of the most aggressive pro-voucher groups, and aims to fully privatize public education.

Through their advocacy for private school vouchers, the Devos family merged their anti-union and anti-public school beliefs with their mission to chip away at the separation of church and state. The Devos family is a key benefactor of Religious Right groups across the country, financing major social conservative organizations like Focus on the Family and the Council for National Policy, and provided almost the entire funding for Maggie Gallagher’s Institute for Marriage and Public Policy.

With Scott Walker admitting that the private school voucher movement’s emphasis on testing, results and accountability is hogwash, it is abundantly clear what the real goal is: privatizing public education.

Creationists Warn That Teaching Evolution Leads To "Homosexual Indoctrination"

The Creation Studies Institute is warning members that, like the Nazis, gay-rights activists are using public schools to indoctrinate students. While many Religious Right groups have alleged that safe-school and anti-bullying programs lead to “homosexual indoctrination,” the Creationist Studies Institute claims that the “gay agenda” has taken over schools because schools have “fully embraced Darwinian Evolution.”

“Indeed, the rampant teaching of evolution in our schools that is effectively undermining belief in God and absolute moral standards is not only creating an atmosphere of ‘tolerance’ for homosexuality, but for just about anything,” writes Tom DeRosa, the organization’s founder and executive director, who adds: “Of course, in a purely evolutionary world, homosexuals would naturally be bred out of existence.” DeRosa goes on to compare homosexuality with polygamy and pedophilia, and asks members to purchase Focus on the Family’s Secure Daughters, Confident Sons booklet:

Those who hold godless ideologies have long understood that the best way to transform societies and change the way people traditionally think is by indoctrinating children from the earliest stages of education. In the last century, this methodology was effectively employed by those who held the atheistic ideologies of Nazism in Germany and Communism in countries such as the Soviet Union, where the state assumed total control of the educational system—even to the extent of turning children against parents. Of course, both of these worldviews fully embraced Darwinian evolution as a way to justify their actions and nullify the beliefs of their largely Christian populations. While U.S. federal government does not have that kind of authority in our school system (not yet, anyway), is it any wonder that those who lack a biblical worldview in our country, including those with a gay agenda, have seized upon our primary schools as the main vehicle of transforming our nation more to their liking?

In America, the adoption of evolution in our schools has paved the way for the introduction of the gay agenda. Those pushing it understand that nothing will more thoroughly and quickly undermine the traditional biblical foundations of our country than the normalization of homosexuality among our nation’s school children, regardless of their parents’ beliefs. Currently, under the banner of “tolerance” or “equal rights,” states like Massachusetts, New York, California, Wisconsin and Minnesota are actively implementing a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) curriculum in their public schools. But those behind the effort to legitimize LGBT lifestyles won’t be content until this kind of curricula is taught in all of our nation’s schools. So what is being taught, you might ask, that should concern those of us in the creationist community?



From the patriarchal days of Sodom and Gomorrah to the Law of Moses to the New Testament, God’s Word consistently declares that homosexuality is sin and warns of the condemnation it brings to the individuals who practice it and to societies that promote it. Indeed, the rampant teaching of evolution in our schools that is effectively undermining belief in God and absolute moral standards is not only creating an atmosphere of “tolerance” for homosexuality, but for just about anything. As the truism goes, “Without God, everything is permissible.” So, in reality, there’s nothing to prevent the same rationale being used today to justify homosexuality and homosexual marriage from being used tomorrow to sanction polygamy or pedophilia or… As one very honest evolutionist wrote a while back (a piece that quickly disappeared from public view), if evolution is true, then rape is a very valid and/or efficient way for a man to spread his genes. After all, why not? It’s the survival of the fittest. Of course, in a purely evolutionary world, homosexuals would naturally be bred out of existence, as well. But you won’t hear that from pro-evolution advocates.

2012 Candidates Weekly Update 4/19/11

Michele Bachmann

Book: Considering a proposal to write her memoirs (AP, 4/18).

South Carolina: Rally in South Carolina a bust (CBS News, 4/18). 

Birther: Continues to float birther conspiracy on Fox News (The Atlantic, 4/18). 

Budget: Falsely claims that the top 1% pay 40% of taxes (PolitiFact, 4/13). 

Haley Barbour

South Carolina: Wins Charleston County GOP straw poll (The State Column, 4/18). 

New Hampshire: Takes two-day swing in New Hampshire (Boston Globe, 4/15). 

Mike Huckabee

South Carolina: Meets with supporters from the 2008 campaign (RCP, 4/18). 

Iowa: Volunteers from 2008 bid work to build new campaign (The Ticket, 4/15). 

Jon Huntsman

South Carolina: Organizes campaign in the Palmetto State (CNN, 4/18).

Obama: Conservative website features laudatory letters from Huntsman to Obama (Daily Caller, 4/15).

Roy Moore

2012: Forms presidential exploratory committee (AP, 4/18). 

Religious Right: Travels around Iowa with staffer from the far-right The Family Leader (Des Moines Register, 4/18). 

Sarah Palin

PAC: Launches new website for leadership pac (The Caucus, 4/18). 

Tea Party: Addresses small rally for Koch front group in Wisconsin (TPM, 4/16). 

Ron Paul

South Carolina: Tops the field in the Lexington County straw poll (CNN, 4/16). 

2012: Opens fundraising account for potential presidential bid (Politico, 4/14). 

Tim Pawlenty

Tea Party: Keynotes tea party rally in Boston, slams health care reform (Boston Globe, 4/16). 

Budget: Criticizes compromise budget deal (The Fix, 4/13). 

Mitt Romney

Florida: Leads in early poll of Sunshine State Republicans (Taunton Daily Gazette, 4/17). 

Fundraising: Benefits from network of state leadership PACs (Boston Globe, 4/15). 

Donald Trump

GOP: Presidential campaign gains increasing interest among Republican activists (AP, 4/19). 

Tea Party: Addresses Tea Party rally with Florida Congressman Allen West (The State Column, 4/17). 

Poll: Leads other likely candidates in poll of Republicans nationwide (WSJ, 4/15). 

Rick Santorum

Campaign: Rejects pro-union line of Langston Hughes he used as a campaign motto (The Guardian, 4/18). 

Equality: Supports reinstating Don't Ask Don't Tell policy (Think Progress, 4/18). 

Religious Right: Plans to join The Family Leader's Iowa presidential lecture tour (RWW, 4/18).

New Hampshire: Plays in mini golf tournament in Granite State tour (Foster's Daily Democrat, 4/17).

FRC Super PAC To Bolster Right-Wing Wisconsin Justice

As part of the Religious Right’s burgeoning anti-union campaign, The Family Research Council’s Super PAC is entering the fight in Wisconsin in the contested Supreme Court race. FRC president Tony Perkins showed his support for the state’s embattled governor Scott Walker, tweeting, “Pro-family voters should celebrate WI victory b/c public & private sector union bosses have marched lock-step w/liberal social agenda.” Walker’s chief ally on the state Supreme Court, David Prosser, is now facing a serious challenge in the judicial election on April 5th. Justice Prosser, a former Republican state assemblyman, is a leading conservative on the court and called the left-leaning chief justice a “total bitch” and told her, “I will destroy you.”

The FRC’s Faith Family Freedom Fund now plans to air radio ads on thirty-four stations defending Prosser and criticizing his main rival, JoAnne Kloppenburg, along with “liberal special interests.” FRC says that the hyper-partisan Prosser is a vote to “keep politics out of the Supreme Court”:

"Union bosses want to use the Wisconsin Supreme Court to advance their liberal agenda and also recall any elected official who stands in their way. Faith Family Freedom Fund will advocate for these duly elected officials and work to protect the courts from judicial activism," said Connie Mackey, chairwoman of the Faith Family Freedom Fund.

The ad script follows:

"What is happening in this Supreme Court election is outrageous. Liberal special interests want to turn this election into a referendum on the governor. But what's really at stake is what kind of Justice should be on the Wisconsin or any Supreme Court?

"Joanne Kloppenburg does not have the experience. Liberals see her as their best hope to advance their political agenda and strike down laws passed by a legislature and governor elected by the people. Justice David Prosser has the experience that Wisconsin needs in these turbulent times. His experience and qualifications aren't matched by his opponent.

"He believes in judicial restraint and deserves another term on the Supreme Court. A vote for Prosser is a vote to keep politics out of the Supreme Court. Send a message on Election Day - April 5th. Vote for Judicial Restraint. Vote for Justice David Prosser."

Joe Miller Gets New Job Running Conservative PAC

Failed Alaska Senate candidate Joe Miller, who lost to incumbent Lisa Murkowsi even though she wasn’t even on the ballot, has been named the chair of a right-wing political action committee. Western Representation PAC announced today that Miller is coming on as the group’s new chairman, and Miller is also set to appear at a fundraiser for the Committee to Defeat Barack Obama. The Western Representation PAC backed far-right candidates like Miller and Sharron Angle, along with other unsuccessful candidates for Congress.

Currently, Miller’s group is leading a campaign called “Break the Unions” and is running radio advertisements in Wisconsin slamming a “vicious minority…organized by corrupt labor unions and by President Obama’s Organizing for America.” According to Miller’s PAC, the unions are “nothing more than a political arm of a dangerous liberal agenda.”

Miller’s PAC says that its endorsed “candidates must support civil liberty and uphold the Constitution,” which in Miller’s case does not apply to the First Amendment’s protection for the freedom of the press or the or the Fourth Amendment’s ban on arrests without warrants.

Pro-Voucher Group Working Against Recall of Union-Busting Wisconsin Republicans

An organization that backs private school vouchers is campaigning against the recall of the eight Republican Wisconsin senators who backed Governor Scott Walker’s anti-union legislation. The so-called American Federation for Children (AFC) is an ardent supporter of the voucher scheme in Milwaukee, the unsuccessful voucher program which Walker and his GOP allies want to export to other parts of the state as part of bolstering the Republicans’ attacks on public schools and teachers.

Listen to their robocall defending GOP Senator Sheila Harsdorf:

At the same time that Walker and the Republicans proposed a massive $834 million cut to public schools, endangering the state’s esteemed public education system, they seek to spend more taxpayer money on a wasteful voucher program that has been unable to improve the education of Milwaukee students. A comprehensive study in 2009 found “no overall statistically significant difference between [voucher school] and [public school] student achievement growth in either math or reading one year after they were carefully matched to each other,” and that fourth graders in the voucher program were actually performing worse than comparable public school students.

While the private school voucher scheme did nothing to improve education, it did funnel taxpayer dollars to religious schools: of the 120 schools receiving vouchers examined in the study, 95 were religious and 7 operate within a religious tradition.

Renowned education scholar Diane Ravitch, once a proponent of the so-called “school choice” movement, told OnMilwaukee.com that the voucher program “has not worked”:

Milwaukee is indeed the nation's laboratory for assessing the value of school choice. The advocates of school choice predicted that academic performance in choice schools would not only soar, but that the competitive pressure would cause achievement in the regular district schools to improve. None of this has happened. The latest studies show that students in voucher schools and in charter schools do not perform any differently from those in the regular public schools.



"Reformers" in Milwaukee have been pursuing strategies that we now know are ineffective. The more time and resources devoted to ineffective strategies, the less attention there is to finding useful improvements. Choice got the support of foundations and business leaders, but it has not worked.

Even the state schools superintendent Tom Evers agreed that “choice schools have proven to be no more effective and in some cases less effective than Milwaukee Public Schools.”

But organizations like the AFC ignore and dismiss the clear findings that the Milwaukee voucher program is a wrongheaded and ill-designed effort to improve education, and instead want to expand the program to more school districts and tear down the public education system. Now, they want to make sure that Republican legislators keep their jobs and continue to support vouchers and bust unions representing public school teachers.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • A judge has blocked the Wisconsin law designed to strip unions of their collective bargaining rights.
  • I am guessing that the polls showing that more than half of Americans support marriage equality will not get a lot of attention from the Religious Right.
  • Guess what?  Phyllis Schlafly doesn't know what she is talking about.
  • Just so know you know, Herman Cain is the butter that rises to the top.
  • Finally, quote of the day from Rep. Randy Forbes: “The most important thing that we want to establish is not whether or not you are a Christian, but we have to stop the tide that suggests that America has lost its right to trust in God. I don't believe it has lost that right. I think it still has it. We just want to make sure that we are there to protect it and defend it.”

Our Country Deserves Better PAC Launches “The Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama”

The right-wing California political action committee which runs the Tea Party Express and is closely tied to Move America Forward is launching yet another group: the Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama. Both the Tea Party Express and Move America Forward are managed by Sal Russo of Our Country Deserves Better PAC, and the New York Times found that the majority of the Tea Party Express’s funds were “paid to Mr. Russo’s political consulting firm or to one controlled by his wife.”

Seeing that running a political front group is a profitable enterprise, Our Country Deserves Better PAC is kicking off The Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama with the “Political Event of the Year,” a fundraiser featuring failed Alaska senate candidate Joe Miller, notorious Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, and Joe Wurzelbacher, better known as Joe the Plumber. Another unsuccessful tea party senate candidate, Sharron Angle, who recently announced her campaign for an open House seat, is also scheduled to attend. Apparently, the fundraiser is celebrating two of 2010’s most radical candidates who went down to embarrassing defeats.

The Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama is now on the air in Wisconsin with an ad bashing “union thugs” and “Obama’s union goons,” sending a “thank you” to Governor Scott Walker and Republican state legislators for passing union-busting legislation.

Rios: Progressives Acting Like Terrorists for Supporting Wisconsin Workers

Sandy Rios, the president of the Culture Campaign and a former head of Concerned Women for America, is repulsed that progressives are protesting Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s union-busting legislation. Since the group Organizing for America, a Democratic National Committee division that is closely tied to Obama’s presidential campaign, supports the peaceful Wisconsin protest movement, Rios claims that it is responsible for death threats made against Walker and his Republican allies. She goes on to compare Obama and organized labor to Hamas and Hezbollah for opposing Walker’s bill that strips workers of their bargaining rights:

Hamas and Hezbollah are famous for gaining power through providing practical help and humanitarian aid to citizens who are later called upon to further their deeper, more dangerous agenda.

Teachers...laborers...and sympathetic farmers beware. Organizing for America, the SEIU, the NEA and many of America's labor unions have more on their mind than accomplishing your concerns...and more in common with the violence and intimidation of Hamas than with protecting "workers."

You will rue the day you fancied you were being mistreated by losing your ability to quibble over benefits. For we will all live in the midst of ruin if they prevail.

Right Wing Round-Up

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Heritage Action, Family Research Council and Club for Growth have jointly announced "their opposition to any additional short-term continuing resolutions."
  • Glenn Beck's The Blaze, of all places, exposes the dishonesty behind James O'Keef's NPR sting video.
  • Could we really be so lucky as to see a Michele Bachmann presidential campaign?
  • Gary Bauer says that "If, God forbid, one of the conservative legislators is harmed in any way by a protestor, the blame will rest squarely with the unions and indirectly with President Obama for failing to condemn the climate of hate that the left has been encouraging for weeks."
  • Just let me say to John R. Guardiano that if it were Religious Right anti-choice activists protesting in Wisconsin, the entire right-wing echo chamber would be lauding them as heroes and true American patriots.
  • Finally, the quote of the day from Bryan Fischer: "If you want to trace the recognition of gay marriage in the U.S. to its source, Mitt Romney is it, the man who kick-started the push to legalize sexually abnormal relationships at the state level. The man would be a disaster in the White House on social issues."
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