Right Wing Paranoia Knows No Bounds

On September 9th, President Obama delivered his healthcare address to a joint session of Congress. Not surprisingly, security around the Capitol was pretty tight ... but to Janice Shaw Crouse of Concerned Women for America, this sizable security presence wasn't there to protect the President or members of Congress; it was really an effort by "the Left" to intimidate conservatives:

Everything was on hand in preparation for an assault. But by whom?

Were they mobilizing for an attack by jihadists bent on acts of terrorism? No, the State Department has decreed that the bad old days of the Bush Administration’s preoccupation with the Axis of Evil and the War on Terror are over.

Then it came to me.

They are there to ensure that those evil right-wing terrorists who have been running amuck at TEA Parties and town halls all over the country don’t get the idea that they can weaken the grip of Pelosi and company by mounting a disruptive demonstration prior to, during, or after Obama’s health care reform address to Congress. Can’t allow those wicked conservatives to take a page out of Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals! Can’t allow those wicked conservatives to behave like ACORN or the Black Panthers! It just wouldn’t do.


If the left — with its majorities in both the House and the Senate — has everything nailed down as solidly as “I’ve-got-the-votes” Pelosi claims, why all the frustration, anger, fear, and hysteria that we’re seeing? That much is not merely theatre. Those emotions are real and very hard to hide. You can see them in the eyes and body language and hear them in the tone of voice.

No. What we are seeing is something very real. And it certainly isn’t pretty.

Right Wing Round-Up

  • Box Turtle Bulletin: The American Psychological Association, meeting at their annual conference in Toronto, adopted a resolution today calling on mental health professionals to stop telling clients that they can change their sexual orientation through therapy or other treatments. And in a direct challenge to NARTH and Exodus International, the resolution further calls on patients, guardians, families and other clients to avoid conversion therapy programs which portray homosexuality as a mental illness or developmental disorder.
  • Steve Benen says it's impossible to deal with the Right because, no matter what you say or how your phrase it, "it's hard to anticipate just how paranoid some people will choose to be" and how they will distort it.
  • Kevin Drum says "every movement has its loons" but while Democrats never validate the ones on the left, Republicans make their right-wing ones the centerpiece of their movement.
  • There is just something funny about the Right trying to stoke anger and shut down Democratic town hall events while the RNC is refusing to take calls from "a bunch of angry liberals" about it.
  • And there is something even funnier about Frank Luntz complaining that Democrats would use "poll driven language" to "mislead the American people" on health care reform.
  • Salon's handy-dandy guide to refuting the Birthers.

Bob MacGuffie Defends His Mob Memo

Last night Alan Colmes brought Bob MacGuffie, the man responsible for the "Rocking The Town Hall" memo that urges right-wing activists to overwhelm and disrupt Congressional town hall meetings by shouting down the speakers and generally causing a commotion.

Needless to say, MacGuffie didn't see it that way, insisting that outbursts are "not terribly disruptive" and that those that have occurred have been the result of genuine and spontaneous anger at the Democrats' effort to transform America into a socialist nightmare.  

In essence, MacGuffie said, these sorts of tactics are necessary because Democrats "have gotten away with their phony town halls for too long" where they have been allowed to spew their "lies, deceit, and misrepresentation."

MacGuffie insisted that his goal is merely to get people to ask Representatives questions and hold them accountable, but when Colmes pointed out that urging people shout out and disrupt the event does not generally lead to a fruitful exchange of views, MacGuffie's response was that "well, hey, passions run deep."

The interview then took an interesting turn when MacGuffie insisted that these outbursts were aimed at fighting "government intrusion in our lives," at which point Colmes asked why he wasn't urging right-wing activists to descend on Republican town hall events when the Bush administration was greatly expanding the scope of government power with things the Patriot Act and warrantless searches. 

MacGuffie responded that he doesn't carry any water for Bush and as Colmes continued to press him as to why, if he is, as he claims, opposed to those who want to increase the power of the state, he wasn't urging protests of Bush or the Republicans when they were doing exactly that, MacGuffie's only retort was that "George Bush was awful."

And that was about the only thing MacGuffie said during the entire 15 minute interview that we can all agree on: 

A Good Rule of Thumb

Personally, if I had to write a disclaimer saying "it most certainly is not my intention to blame the epidemic of mass murders on the gay rights movement," I'd think long and hard before publishing whatever preceded or followed that statement.

But I'm not Morality in Media President Bob Peters, who notes that, on April 4, the New York Times "ran adjacent front-page articles on the Iowa Supreme Court decision legalizing 'gay marriage' and the gunman who murdered 13 people in New York" and uses that to argue that "the sexual revolution is inversely proportional to the decline in morality; and it is the decline of morality ... that is the underlying cause of our modern day epidemic of mass murders":

"The underlying problem is that increasingly we live in a 'post-Christian' society, where Judeo-Christian faith and values have less and less influence. Among other things, Judaism and Christianity taught that murder was wrong and that included murder motivated by anger, hatred and revenge. Both religions also taught that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves and to forgive others.

"For many citizens, what has replaced Judeo-Christian faith and values is the secular value system that is reflected in films, rap/music lyrics, and videogames and on TV and now the Internet, where the taking of human life for just about any reason is commonplace and is often portrayed in an appealing manner and in realistic detail. Murder motivated by hatred and revenge is also justified.

"This secular value system is also reflected in the 'sexual revolution,' which is the driving force behind the push for 'gay marriage;' and the Iowa Supreme Court decision is another indication that despite all the damage this revolution has caused to children, adults, family life and society (think abortion, divorce, pornography, rape, sexual abuse of children, sexually transmitted diseases, trafficking in women and children, unwed teen mothers and more), it continues to advance relentlessly.

"It most certainly is not my intention to blame the epidemic of mass murders on the gay rights movement! It is my intention to point out that the success of the sexual revolution is inversely proportional to the decline in morality; and it is the decline of morality (and the faith that so often under girds it) that is the underlying cause of our modern day epidemic of mass murders.

Santorum Tells Specter He's On His Own

Back in 2004, when Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter was running for re-election, he faced a stiff primary challenge from Pat Toomey.  To his rescue came President Bush and his home-state Senate colleague Rick Santorum and managed to eke out a win which, in turn, made right-wing Republicans ... with Santorum:

Mr. Santorum campaigned on behalf of his colleague, despite pleas from notable conservative groups. And fueling their anger is the considerable help that the White House and the national Republican leadership gave Mr. Specter, even though during his 24 years in the Senate he often voted with Democrats against Republican-sponsored legislation backed by Republican presidents, including President Bush.

Even in Mr. Santorum's home state, anger abounds over what some fellow conservatives regard as his apostasy.

"Santorum and his staff are really going to have to work hard to heal the wounds they caused," said Bob Sevcik, a member of the state party central committee and self-described Reaganite.

Two years later, Santorum lost his own re-election bid and has since re-made himself into a tireless critic of the insufficiently conservative members of the Republican party, something that has now come into full view in his latest column, where he tells Sen. Specter, whom is facing yet another primary challenge from Toomey and is currently trailing badly in the polls, that his goose is cooked and that Santorum can't wait to watch as he goes down:

Pennsylvania's political Houdini has escaped similar predicaments in the past by burnishing his conservative credentials in the run-up to the primary - hence the announcement on card check this week. So, too, his potentially crucial vote against Solicitor General Ellen Kagan, which conservatives are touting as a death knell for her chances of being named to the Supreme Court.


The argument that Specter has the best chances in a general election will become more persuasive next year, when the GOP faithful face the harsh reality that they are more than a million registered voters behind the Democrats. However, thanks to the prospect of facing Specter, whoever wins the primary will not face an A-list Democratic opponent.

In 2004, President Bush and a Senate colleague from Western Pennsylvania made the difference for Specter. Those dogs don't hunt anymore. This year, his help may come from Peg Luksic, Larry Murphy, and anyone else who helps split up the vote next spring - anyone other than Pat Toomey, that is.

It will be fun to watch. And watch I will.

Teaching Brownback a Lesson

It has been a rough couple of weeks for Sen. Sam Brownback.

Since he announced that he was supporting Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' nomination to be Secretary of Health and Human Services, he has watched the Family Research Council pull out of the Values Action Team meetings he oversees and his reputation as a pro-life champion has taken a beating.

And now, to make matters worse, his home has been reportedly burglarized:

Burglars made off with thousands of dollars worth of property stolen from the Topeka home of U.S. Senator Sam Brownback last week ... The Senator's wife Mary Brownback returned home around 1:30 p.m. Thursday to find the items missing. Officials say a computer, a television, a video game, a check book and 100-pieces of jewelry were taken.

At least there is some good news on the horizon for Brownback, coming in the form of this admission by one of his biggest critics that pro-life activists have a very short memory and probably won't hold his current heresy against him when he runs for governor next year:

A pro-life activist predicts that if Senator Brownback (R-Kansas) runs for governor in his state, he will still receive the support of the pro-life movement despite his controversial decision to support the nomination of pro-abortion Democratic Governor Kathleen Sebelius for Health and Human Services secretary.


Mark Crutcher, the president of Life Dynamics, Incorporated, says pro-life Republicans know they can "pull a stunt" like Brownback did because pro-life activists often have short memories.

"Right now there's probably a lot of anger in Kansas, I would assume, and a lot of people are sickened by Brownback's sell-out," Crutcher shares. "But let's say that he runs for governor and he continues to tell people, 'Oh, I'm pro-life. I did that for some other reason' -- or whatever excuse he uses for his sell-out."

According to Crutcher, that explanation may just work on the voters. "The thing that bothers me [about] the history of the pro-life movement is that once the initial anger and fervor of the moment goes away...if he runs against some pro-abort Democrat, we'll...rally behind this guy."

Last week, Crutcher was blasting Brownback for his willingness to "throw the unborn under the bus for some political advantage" and saying that the pro-life movement has been "stabbed in the back by people like Sam Brownback so many times" that it should have learned its lesson by now.

But apparently the only lesson to be learned from this entire ordeal is that Republican politicians can stab pro-life activists in the back whenever it suits their needs and fully expect to maintain their political support.

The Problem With Rick Warren

Barack Obama's team has released talking points in an attempt to quell the outrage that followed the announcement that Rick Warren would be delivering the invocation at his inauguration, defending the decision by saying that while Obama disagrees with Warren's anti-gay views, the two "agree on many issues vital to the pursuit of social justice, including poverty relief and moving toward a sustainable planet" and, as such, the president-elect is committed to hosting "the most open, accessible, and inclusive Inauguration in American history."

I think Sarah Posner gets right to the heart of what is wrong about this decision and this explanation:

Warren represents the absolute worst of the Democrats' religious outreach, a right-winger masquerading as a do-gooder anointed as the arbiter of what it means to be faithful. Obama's religious outreach was intended, supposedly, to make religious voters more comfortable with him and feel included in the Democratic Party. But that outreach now has come at the expense of other people's comfort and inclusion, at an event meant to mark a turning point away from divisive politics.

Presumably, the purpose of Obama's evangelical outreach was to try and make evangelicals comfortable with progressive Democratic positions by demonstrating that such views can be rooted in faith, not attempting to make evangelicals comfortable with the party by abandoning those positions for the sake of appeasing a key part of the electorate. 

Yet, by tapping Warren for this high-profile role in his inauguration, this is exactly what Obama is threatening to do.  After all, Warren has made it explicitly clear that, for all his work on poverty and HIV, it is the social issues like choice and marriage that are non-negotiable and define his worldview, proclaiming that it is "wishful thinking" on the part of Democrats if they think that evangelicals "are going to drop the other issues ... they're not leaving [their] pro-life" or anti-gay views behind them. 

We take Obama at his word when he says that he and Warren disagree on these and other issues and that he remains committed to equality for all.  But, as Steve Benen points out, by legitimizing Warren in this manner, it threatens to undermine Obama's own efforts to promote that agenda:

When Obama advances a progressive agenda on social issues, as he's certain to do, Warren will continue to speak out on the other side -- only now, he'll do so with the added authority that comes with being the president's hand-chosen pastor for the inauguration's invocation. Warren's status will soar, and his criticism of Obama's policies -- or Democrats' in general -- will resonate that much louder.

Sharing the stage with a man who fundamentally disagrees with him on the most contentious issues of the day and who has vowed to fight any effort to ensure that women have a right to make their own choices regarding their reproductive health and gays and lesbians are accorded full and equal rights runs the risk of hamstringing Obama's efforts to promote that agenda.

Some are arguing that the choice of Warren is little more than symbolism and that it shouldn't be taken that seriously - but this sort of symbolism matters and, with this choice, Obama is signaling that those who hold militantly anti-gay, anti-choice views are going to be welcome in his White House.

 Ezra Klein sums the problem up nicely:  

The tolerance Obama is asking for, in other words, is not from Warren. It's from the LGBT community, and women. He is asking them to be tolerant of Warren's intolerance. It's a cruel play, framed to marginalize the legitimate anger of those who Warren harms and discriminates against ... Pro-choice women and gays were a significant part of Obama's coalition, and they're being forced to accept that the candidate they worked for will use the election they won to elevate a powerful religious leader who works often and publicly against their interests.

Fill in the Blank: Gays Are Like ____

It seems that one of the emerging ideas among anti-gay activists is to try and explain the gay menace in terms that their supporters can easily understand by equating those seeking equal treatment under the law to terrorist who kill innocent civilians.  

Last month, Pat Boone declared that “homosexual activists” were just like the jihidists who carried out the attacks of September 11th, only more dangerous:

The jihadists in these organized, hugely funded attacks on our morality and virtue are not Middle Eastern – they're homegrown Americans who actually believe they're promoting a better America by destroying the foundations on which this nation was built!

And just in case that analogy wasn’t clear enough, he returned this week to equate the protests over the passage of Proposition 8 to the recent terrorist attack in Mumbai that killed nearly 200 people:

Have you not seen the awful similarity between what happened in Mumbai and what's happening right now in our cities?

Oh, I know the homosexual "rights" demonstrations haven't reached the same level of violence, but I'm referring to the anger, the vehemence, the total disregard for law and order and the supposed rights of their fellow citizens. I'm referring to the intolerance, the hate seething in the words, faces and actions of those who didn't get their way in a democratic election, and who proclaim loudly that they will get their way, no matter what the electorate wants!

Hate is hate, no matter where it erupts. And hate, unbridled, will eventually and inevitably boil into violence.

Then, just for good measure, founder and chairman of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty Seamus Hasson got in on the act while discussing his organization’s recent full-page newspaper ad, telling KPFA’s “The Morning Show” host Aimee Allison that protestors are no different than Al Qaeda:  

Well, whether it’s an organized movement like Al Qaeda or whether it’s the Al Qaeda-like, um, inspired acts of terrorism elsewhere, people are right to be concerned about, um, radical Islamist violence.

Musgrave Finally Surfaces

Colorado Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, who lost her re-election bid nearly a month ago, has yet to call her opponent or even officially concede the race and has, since Election Day, steadfastly refused to talk to the media. But it looks like someone was able to convince her to channel her bitterness and anger into helping mobilize voters to support Sen. Saxby Chambliss in his run-off election in Georgia yesterday:

In her first public comments on her re-election loss - made in a mass phone call to Georgia voters - Rep. Marilyn Musgrave blamed her defeat on "leftist special interests" that "smothered the truth with vicious attacks and lies."

Musgrave's remarks came in a so-called "robo-call" that went out to 275,000 Georgia voters Monday and Tuesday on behalf of Sen. Saxby Chambliss, a Republican who was forced into a runoff with Democratic challenger Jim Martin. The election was Tuesday and Chambliss won.

"Hello, I'm Marilyn Musgrave. Until last month I was the congresswoman from Colorado," Musgrave said in the call, which was paid for by the Susan B. Anthony List Candidate Fund, a political committee that supports anti-abortion candidates.

"Leftist special interests from around the country poured money into my district to defeat me. They overwhelmed us with money. And they smothered the truth with vicious attacks and lies.

"We are seeing the same pattern in Georgia. Pro-abortion radicals and liberal activists won't stop until they have a chokehold on our government. You can stop them with your vote. It's too late to change the results in Colorado, but on Tuesday you can cast your vote for Saxby Chambliss.”

Musgrave hadn’t spoken publicly since shortly after vote totals started coming in the evening of Nov. 4. The three-term Republican incumbent was crushed by Democratic challenger Betsy Markey, 56 percent to 44 percent.

The incumbent never conceded defeat or called Markey to congratulate her. Musgrave hasn’t given an interview since the election.

The robo-call was made on behalf of “Team Sarah,” which was created by the Susan B. Anthony List to build “a coalition of women dedicated to advancing the values that Sarah Palin represents in the political process” … Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, said she contacted Musgrave on Monday about recording a robo-call for the Georgia race and Musgrave agreed.

“She truly is one of the best people I know, and a lot of money can go a long way toward painting a completely different picture, you know, kind of painting a straw woman, so to speak,” Dannenfelser said in a phone interview.

Dannenfelser said Musgrave recorded the call for Chambliss because “she wanted to do something instructive and help somebody else.”

You can hear her robo-call here.

Viva La Resistance!

If anyone thought that right-wing anti-choice groups were going to spend any time licking the wound inflicted by the last election in which they saw several states reject their efforts to restrict the right to chose, think again:

"The election forces the pro-life movement to go back to what we do best — local grass-roots organizing," said the Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition. "We will not go silently into the night."

The overall outcome "brings about feelings of great disappointment, of anger," said the Rev. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life. "But that disappointment and anger are forms of energy. ...I believe a lot of people on the sidelines for last eight years will now get engaged."

Pavone predicted that activists would stage more mass demonstrations and abortion-clinic vigils. He also said the election results shed light on the movement's weak points, and would prompt new efforts to register anti-abortion voters and mobilize clergy to be more outspoken in future campaigns … "We will do everything to be sure [the Freedom of Choice Act] fails — the damage it would do to the pro-life movement would be immeasurable," said Mahoney. "On the scale of 1 to 10, that's No. 11 of what our job is."

"Any time you have a loss like that, you have an opportunity to reassess and come back stronger," said Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life. "If they want to see this as a big loss that will set us back, that's OK. Our people are very energized, and ready for Round Two."

This sentiment seems to be sweeping the Religious Right, with Students for Life of America pledging to be unstintingly vigilant and Deacon Keith Fournier vowing to be a part of a “massive resistance” that will not only fight reproductive choice but will end the “culture war” through mass conversion:

We seem to be at war within when we need to join together as one strong voice for life. The real source of the hatred of life is the Devil Himself. The challenge which those whom the late Servant of God John Paul II called “the people of life” face at this crucial time in the history of the West is nothing new. We have been here before in our 2000 year history. The Christian Church goes into Cultures of death and transforms them from within. We can – and we must – do it again in the Third Millennium. Ours is not really a call to a “Culture War” but rather a call to the Conversion of Culture through the conversion of minds, hearts, and lifestyles which will then lead to a transformation of the social structures of governance and way we live our lives together.

In fact, it looks as if the Right is almost welcoming the new Obama administration, sensing it will provide an opportunity for them to mobilize and energize their base as part of new “resistance movement”:

Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America, said, "I knew, moments after the election results came in, that I was now part of the resistance movement." As part of its "movement," CWA has launched a nationwide telemarketing advertising campaign. In the ad, Wright says, "We face a president and Congress more hostile to unborn children, to marriage, to religious freedom, to free speech, to protecting our country than has ever existed in our history." According to Wright, the ad generated an immediate response of calls from religious conservatives asking "what they could do" to help, NPR reports.

Religious conservative leaders also have been scrutinizing Obama's speeches from the campaign trail for messages they can use to rally their base, NPR reports. In particular, they have publicized a speech Obama made last year to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America in which he said, "The first thing I'd do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act." The act -- which would need congressional approval before Obama could sign it -- would eliminate most federal and state restrictions on abortion. Gary Bauer, president of American Values, said of the speech, "I found myself thinking, 'My goodness, I can't believe he's going to make it this easy for us to rally our troops to get off the mat and get back to work.'"

And Clenard Childress, founder of BlackGenocide.Org, goes so far as to declare that the election of Barack Obama was the best thing to ever happen to the anti-choice movement:

With the election of Barack Obama, we now have a face to put on the abortion plague and a link to the leader of the abortion industry, Planned Parenthood. Despite our efforts, in reality, the time to make this connection was clouded by the notoriety of the first black president and a failing economy. The result is: people still don't know who Barack Obama is and many are now looking deeper into the president elect's life and associations. The truth is: knowing his defeat would only minimize this exposure to America, God has now set it up for a global impact of astronomical proportions.

Black Ministers Who Supported Obama Are "Leading Their Congregations to Hell"

I wrote a post about Jesse Lee Peterson of the Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny (BOND) last month, noting that he has managed to carve out a rather unique niche for himself as a black right-wing activist who defends racists while accusing other black leaders of being sell outs and race-baiters. 

And so I guess it comes as no surprise that he is weighing in on Barack Obama’s historic election by proclaiming that black preachers who supported Barack Obama have not been called by God, have no relationship with God, and are consequently leading their congregations straight to hell: 

"Ninety-six percent of black voters supported Barack Obama and the majority of these voters were influenced by black preachers to put race ahead of their country and their faith," said Rev. Peterson. "How can ministers who are supposed to lead their flock to Jesus Christ instead lead them to a socialist like Obama? The truth is that most black ministers don't have a real relationship with God and they are leading their congregations to hell. These blind leaders helped elect their black 'Messiah'. This 'Messiah' happens to be the most left-wing member of the U.S. Senate," said Rev. Peterson.

Rev. Peterson added: "For the past eighteen years I've said that most black preachers are not called by God, but instead are called by their mammas. If there was ever a time that this was the case, that time is now. In order for black Americans to turn around, they must drop their anger, and find the truth within themselves, not from corrupt, racist preachers or from a false black Messiah."

McCain-Palin Pit Bulls Turn Feral

There's a long history in American politics of exploiting divisions and fanning bigotry to win elections. In recent decades those strategies were honed by Lee Atwater and Karl Rove. Now the torch has passed to Steve Schmidt, and he’s done just about everything possible to fan the flames.

Schmidt’s tactics and the right-wing echo chamber have convinced millions of Americans that the nation is about to elect someone who hates America and “pals around with terrorists.” Just take a look at this video of supporters outside a Palin rally:

In recent weeks, the right wing has grown even more frenzied as McCain and his allies pushed the ACORN voter fraud hoax. Not only is Obama a Manchurian candidate, the thinking goes, but his evildoer comrades at ACORN are trying to steal the election. It’s little wonder that some people are going berserk.

McCain, Palin, Schmidt, Limbaugh, Hannity and the rest of them have created something very powerful, but very ugly, and it’s grown too big for them to control. Here is just some of what happens when you train your pit bulls to fear and hate and attack, and then they get loose:

Obama lawn sign replaced by rebel flag

Obama sign burned on black family's front lawn

Anti-Obama Fury Spills Over Into Down-Ticket Contests: "Bomb Obama"

Death threat, vandalism hit ACORN after McCain comments

ACORN Deluged with Threatening and Racist Voicemails and Emails

Obama Called a Socialist and 'Un-American'

McCain supporters heckle early voters

Dead bear covered with Obama signs found at school

People For the American Way is tracking such incidents around the nation. If something happens in your community that people should know about, please get in touch.

Psychoanalyzing the Nation

Kevin Burke, co-founder of something called Rachel’s Vineyard - a “post-abortion healing ministry” run by the right-wing group Priests for Life - offers his explanation of why people might not like Sarah Palin.  It turns out that they are all traumatized by the “collective grief, pain and guilt” they feel over their pro-choice views:

The very personal and often uncharitable criticism of Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin and her family evident in recent media coverage, and the lack of support from many feminist and child advocacy groups, may have a relationship to the collective grief, pain and guilt from personal involvement in the abortion of an unborn child.

When an issue strikes at a deeply repressed sensitive wound in a person, often the initial reaction is anger.

Seeing the Palin family, in a very visible public forum, with an uncompromising and public pro life philosophy arouses deeply repressed feelings in post abortive parents, as well as media members, counselors, health care professionals, politicians and others who promote abortion rights, especially the abortion of children with challenges such as Down syndrome.

These powerful repressed feelings of grief, guilt and shame can be deflected from the source of the wound (i.e., abortion) and projected onto an often uncharitable focus upon the trigger of these painful emotions…the Palin family.

And all this time I thought it was because she was a one-term unknown whose sole qualification for John McCain’s ticket was her appeal to the GOP’s right-wing base.

The McCain Meltdown

It is hard to overstate the shockwave that John McCain sent through the GOP’s right-wing base with his comments earlier this week that he would not rule out the possibility of naming a pro-choice running mate (though not a pro-gay one, of course).

Right-wing leaders were quick to denounce the statement, with Tony Perkins telling the Washington Times yesterday that “if he picks a pro-choice running mate, I don't see how he can win this race."  And today, Phyllis Schlafly weighed in, calling it a “mistake,” and others obviously share that assessment:

"If Tom Ridge is on the ticket, I will not be voting Republican," Home School Legal Defense Association President Mike Farris said told The Washington Times. He thought for a moment, then added: "I won't be voting Democratic either."

The widely influential founder and chairman of the American Family Association Chairman, Donald P. Wildmon, said a Ridge pick would be a "disaster for Republicans."

Concerned Women for America Chairman Beverly LaHaye said "many will walk" away from the Republican ticket if it includes a pro-choice vice president.

Elsewhere, state-based right-wing leaders, many of whom have had personal meetings with McCain, are likewise making their displeasure known

“It absolutely floored me,” said Phil Burress, head of the Ohio-based Citizens for Community Values. “It would doom him in Ohio.”

Burress emailed about a dozen “pro-family leaders” he knows outside Ohio and forwarded it to three McCain aides tasked with Christian conservative outreach.

“That choice will end his bid for the presidency and spell defeat for other Republican candidates,” Burress wrote in the message.

He and other Ohio conservatives met privately with McCain in June, and while the nominee didn’t promise them an anti-abortion rights running mate, his staff said they could “almost guarantee” that would be the case, Burress recalled.

Now, Burress said, “he’s not even sure [Christian conservatives] would vote for him let alone work for him if he picked a pro-abortion running mate.”

James Muffett, head of Michigan’s Citizens for Traditional Values, met with McCain along with a handful of other Michigan-based social conservatives Wednesday night.

To select a running mate who supports abortion rights would be “wrong-headed, short-sighted, fracture the Republican Party and not allow us to capitalize on the Democratic Party’s fracture right now,” Muffett argued.

“If he does that, it makes our job 100 times harder. It would dampen enthusiasm at a time when evangelicals are looking for ways to gin up enthusiasm.”

McCain, Muffett said, got that message in their meeting.

“Some people in the movement say it would be the kiss of death. He heard that in the room last night.”

Predictably, Gary Bauer - one of McCain’s earliest right-wing supporters who seems to only show up when the candidate does something to anger Bauer’s right-wing allies - appeared on the scene to assure them that there was nothing to worry about:

Gary Bauer, founder of the Campaign for Working Families, said he isn't worried.

"I’m confident that at the end of the day, the running mate will be pro-life," he told Family News in Focus.

McCain has a solid pro-life voting record on abortion issues and has promised to appoint "strict constructionists" to the Supreme Court.

Religious Right Organizes Mega-Rallies to Fight Judges, Gays, 'Power of Darkness'

Organizers of “The Call,” a kind of youth-oriented spin-off of the Promise Keepers on the National Mall in 2000, said the D.C. location wasn’t about influencing politics but about “fasting and prayer for the benefit of the nation.” But as “The Call” continued over the years as an itinerant stadium show, that apolitical evangelism attitude apparently wore off. Founder Lou Engle described his goals for an August 16 rally on the National Mall to OneNewsNow:

There is good reason to make a plea for heaven's intervention, he says. "Just to see what's taking place in California: redefinition of marriage -- [and] the next thing is transgender marriage," Engle laments. "This is part of what's going on, let alone with DC and the elections coming up."

He includes an election-related issue that surfaces now and then -- judicial appointments. "I believe it's a defining moment of who the next judges are," says Engle. "Those judges are going to help shape the future of America unless something happens. We desperately need heaven right now."

Engle told the Christian Post that he’s not making any endorsements, but he made clear what the presidential election boils down to:

We don’t purposely hold gatherings before elections, but this one I felt was so critical because the ideologies that are being promoted through different candidates have the implications just like in 2000.

The implications are huge for the issues of abortion, issue of marriage, or the kind of judges that don’t keep opening the door to the legality of every kind supposed freedom – which is really no freedom. It is really licensing to break away from the foundational moral principle upon which society will really flourish.  …

We will not be praying for any candidate or against any candidate. But our declaration is that abortion is not a political issue, it is a moral issue and we are praying that God will raise up candidates that will hold high values on the life of the unborn. And so we will cry out, “Give us judges, give us a candidate, give us a president who will stand for life.” And obviously some of the statements that these candidates have made really are…we are really in a defining moment.

While Engle is unlikely to come close to the 400,000 people organizers claimed attended the 2000 rally, he will have the help of Mike Huckabee, as Sarah Posner reported. Posner also noted that Engle is taking his act on the road with a 40-day fast in California culminating in another stadium rally days before the election. Engle told the Christian Post that this will be about “the salvation, for the deliverance, and healing of the homosexuals”:

We are not coming pointing the finger with anger at the homosexuals, but we do believe that what is taking place here with these bills is fueled by another realm. It is a spiritual realm of power of darkness.

Spiritual power of darkness seeking to release ideologies that destroy lives, families, nations, [sic] and on that day, Nov. 1, we are going to pray and resist with the power of the cross – God hold back these power that’s seeking to be released. We are standing and saying God have mercy, hold these things back so that the definition of marriage can be sustained in this nation for our children and our children sake.

New Friends Bring New Troubles for McCain

Now that a large group of Religious Right activists have come forward in support of John McCain, the candidate might be tempted to sit back and relax. But as McCain learned from his experience with televangelists John Hagee and Rod Parsley, it’s not easy to be both a beloved “maverick” and a right-wing champion.

McCain was happy to campaign with Hagee and Parsley, until the media started to pick up their extreme views—thus risking McCain’s “moderate” image among many independent voters.

So what happens if and when people start hearing about McCain’s new friends? If Hagee and Parsley are too much for McCain, voters may begin to wonder, what about these right-wing activists, some of whom are even further out there?

Does McCain endorse David Barton’s partisan pseudo-history of America as a “Christian nation”? Does McCain share Phil Burress’s view that Ohio’s anti-gay marriage amendment should have invalidated the state’s domestic violence law? What are McCain’s thoughts on Tim LaHaye’s warning that “Brilliant Jewish minds have all too frequently been devoted to philosophies that have proved harmful to mankind”? Does McCain believe, like Phyllis Schlafly, that women cannot be raped by their husbands, that the U.S. government is secretly plotting to merge with Mexico and Canada, or that Mexican immigrants are “invading” the U.S. and spreading disease? (For that matter, does this mean Schlafly has successfully “worked over” McCain?)

McCain will be tempted to ditch them, as he did Parsley and Hagee, but that only managed to anger the Religious Right. Mat Staver, who organized the recent pro-McCain meeting, complained of McCain’s abandonment of the televangelists he’d courted, “He threw them under the bus.” Right-wing strategist Mark DeMoss called it a “slap in the face to evangelicals who are already somewhat suspect of Senator McCain.” But keeping his Religious Right friends along may be a slap in the face to his poll numbers.

AFA Wants Us To Know We Are Going To Hell

Normally, people love it when other people link to their websites because it means they get more attention, more traffic, and their message reaches more people,. But the American Family Association has apparently decided that it doesn’t want the kind of attention our Right Wing Watch blog has been sending their way..

The other day we noticed that all of our links back to the AFA’s OneNewsNow website no longer take readers to the link in question, but instead redirect them to the Good Person Test (go ahead and click the OneNewsNow link above or any of these other links to see what we mean.)

So instead of being taken to a specific OneNewsNow article, our readers are directed to a website that challenges them to take a quiz to determine if they are indeed a “good person.”  Not surprisingly, the answer is “no” and that they are in fact going to hell.  

Answer a question about honesty and you are told you are a liar; answer a question about lust and you are told you are an adulterer; answer a question about anger and you are told you are a murderer:


And don’t think of trying to fool the test either, because if you claim to have never stolen, been angry, dishonest, lustful, or taken the Lord’s name in vain, it calls you a liar:


The end result of the quiz is that no matter how you answer the questions, you are told that you do, in fact, deserve to go straight to hell:


We’ve noticed that this special redirecting service is something AFA seems to have reserved for Right Wing Watch, because, for example, Street Prophets excerpted one of our posts the other day that included a link to a OneNewsNow article that, from their blog, takes readers to the article quoting Gary Bauer whereas those clicking through from our post get redirected.

So until AFA removes this clever little redirect, we’ll just have to stop linking to them because there is no way we’ll ever be able to figure out some sort of work-around.

Right Wing Joins Conversation About Race

A few voices on the Right have expressed partial praise for Barack Obama’s speech on race, but by and large, right-wing commentators have stuck to the script, picking over the parts where Obama mentioned the country’s racial wounds, excoriating him for failing to disavow affirmative action or liberal economic policies, and generally promoting the idea that Obama is some kind of Manchurian candidate who secretly hates both America and white people.

But if Obama hoped to start a national conversation about race, he succeeded, in a way. Many right-wing commentators have proved willing to redirect their attacks on Obama to a discussion of their views on African Americans in general. Cal Thomas opined that “black people should be listening to” Bill Cosby, not Rev. Wright. Ann Coulter announced that she had had enough of blacks talking about racism:

But the "post-racial candidate" thinks we need to talk yet more about race. How much more? I had had my fill by around 1974. How long must we all marinate in the angry resentment of black people? …

We treat blacks like children, constantly talking about their temper tantrums right in front of them with airy phrases about black anger. I will not pat blacks on the head and say, "Isn't that cute?" As a post-racial American, I do not believe "the legacy of slavery" gives black people the right to be permanently ill-mannered.

Unfortunately, the online videos of Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s church appear to be the first exposure some on the Right have had to blacks or the African American church. Human Events reporter Ericka Anderson admitted as much: “Those of us outside the black community lack any deep knowledge of black churches. The only black minister we are very familiar with was Martin Luther King, Jr.” Anderson added, “He never damned America.”

George Neumayr, editor of the Catholic World Report, was apparently scandalized by what he described as the “feverish” church-goers in the videos “hopping up and down like hyperactive children” as they follow their “buffoonish[],” “sashaying” pastor.

Perhaps we should leave the final word to Pat Buchanan, who has made a career out of claiming that “white America” is under constant threat from other ethnicities. Before Obama’s speech, Buchanan pined for the “Negroes” of the 1950s:

That Wright is a revered preacher in black America also tells us that, far from coming together, we Americans are further apart than we were in the 1950s, when Negroes could be described as Christian, conservative and patriotic. Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammad did not speak for black America then. Roy Wilkins, Whitney Young and Dr. Martin Luther King did. But Jeremiah Wright makes Stokely Carmichael and Rap Brown sound like the Mills Brothers.

After the speech, Buchanan was more blunt, writing that “Wright ought to go down on his knees and thank God he is an American.”

What is wrong with Barack's prognosis and Barack's cure?

Only this. It is the same old con, the same old shakedown that black hustlers have been running since the Kerner Commission blamed the riots in Harlem, Watts, Newark, Detroit and a hundred other cities on, as Nixon put it, "everybody but the rioters themselves."

Was "white racism" really responsible for those black men looting auto dealerships and liquor stories, and burning down their own communities, as Otto Kerner said -- that liberal icon until the feds put him away for bribery.

Barack says we need to have a conversation about race in America.

Fair enough. But this time, it has to be a two-way conversation. White America needs to be heard from, not just lectured to.

This time, the Silent Majority needs to have its convictions, grievances and demands heard.

Using Christianity for Political Gains

There is nothing that seems to anger the Religious Right quite like discussions of faith within the political sphere that do not coincide with their own right-wing agenda.  For example, Ryan Anderson of First Things attacked Catholics United for taking “its favored policy and baptize it in the name of the church” regarding the debate over SCHIP while Religious Right leaders were up-in-arms and accusing Democrats of “[hijacking] the language of faith in order to hide the truth about their real agenda” and confuse Values Voters.  Barack Obama’s Christian faith, in particular, has come in for intense denunciation, being labeled “woefully deficient” while his church membership “suggests a lack of judgment.”   

And now American Life League president Judie Brown has decided to add her voice to the chorus of those who think religion is solely the property of the Right:  

"It is one thing to profess to be a believing Christian, and another to, by your actions, either confirm that you are indeed a believing Christian, or that you are using your so-called Christianity for the purpose of political gain," says Brown.

Brown says that in many cases -- such as Obama's and Clinton's -- she sees politicians "using their professed Christianity for political ends, without even recognizing what it means to be a Christian, and I find that rather sad."

Rather sad, indeed.

Minutemen Brand Thrives in Local Vigilante Groups

While the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps and the Minuteman Project, national anti-immigrant groups formed around “border vigils” in 2005, have been struggling with financial mismanagement and internal strife, the “Minuteman” brand has been a steady presence in many localities, with franchises – affiliated or not – independently focusing nativist anger on the immigrant and Hispanic population in cities and small towns.

Emblematic of such groups is the San Diego Minutemen: We noted their over-the-top protests against a Catholic church last month, and last year pointed to a web site by the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation that provides video of Minutemen aggressively harassing day-laborers and others.

The Southern Poverty Law Center’s magazine has an in-depth profile of the group, describing how it’s under investigation for allegedly ransacking a long-term campsite used by migrant workers.

Then, this Jan. 27, the men and women who remained in the McGonigle shantytown returned from a day's work to find their homes and meager possessions sliced to ribbons. Pants had their seats cut out. Shirts had been cut in half. Sleeping bags were sliced open. Tarp roofs, always scant protection against the chilly winter rains, drooped from their supporting frames in tatters.

Roberto Peña, a migrant who lived in the canyon, told police that he came back to his shack early that afternoon and spotted a group of four men and women using knives to cut up migrant property while a tall, blonde woman videotaped them. The men, he told police, chased him with knives. Peña ducked into the bushes. He lay there, according to a police affidavit, "watching the group destroy his property [when] he heard them saying, 'Fuck Mexicans'."

Minuteman leaders denied involvement, but the video they shot of themselves has been posted to the Internet by Voice of San Diego (via SPLC’s new blog):

While the national Minuteman organizations nominally reject this chapter, it’s clear that the San Diego Minutemen – called by its enthusiastic founder “the strongest Minuteman group in the nation” – is a major player in the anti-immigrant vigilante movement, and like dozens of other local start-ups, a way in which the Minuteman brand remains a force beyond the control its weakened founders.

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Anger Posts Archive

Brian Tashman, Friday 01/14/2011, 2:01pm
It’s never too late (or too early?) to fight the “War on Christmas,” even in January. Five Republican members of the Rhode Island State House have introduced a resolution to protect the name of the Christmas tree by preventing the state from using terms such as “‘holiday tree’ or other non-traditional terms.” The First Amendment Center first reported on the efforts of the five legislators to make sure that Rhode Island’s state employees don’t refer to Christmas trees by any other name. The resolution declares: RESOLVED, That it is the... MORE
Brian Tashman, Friday 01/14/2011, 2:01pm
It’s never too late (or too early?) to fight the “War on Christmas,” even in January. Five Republican members of the Rhode Island State House have introduced a resolution to protect the name of the Christmas tree by preventing the state from using terms such as “‘holiday tree’ or other non-traditional terms.” The First Amendment Center first reported on the efforts of the five legislators to make sure that Rhode Island’s state employees don’t refer to Christmas trees by any other name. The resolution declares: RESOLVED, That it is the... MORE
Brian Tashman, Tuesday 01/11/2011, 12:30pm
After calling for politicians and political commentators to tone down violent and hateful political rhetoric, Sheriff Clarence Dupnik is now experiencing himself the force of right-wing hostility and rancor. Dupnik never suggested that the deeply disturbed shooter was directly influenced by political debate, but called into question the use of vicious rhetoric and violent imagery that has become all too commonplace in political discourse today. “The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country,” Dupnik said, “is getting to be outrageous.... MORE
Brian Tashman, Monday 01/10/2011, 1:21pm
Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik’s impassioned plea for greater civility and tolerance in politics following the shooting in Arizona has spurred a backlash among far-right politicians and commentators whose campaigns and careers are centered on divisive and indignant rhetoric. Dupnik, who singled out no political party or ideology, condemned the extreme language that could provoke an unhinged individual into violence: “When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government. The anger, the hatred,... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 12/20/2010, 6:47pm
Bryan Fischer continues to rail against the DADT vote. Matt Barber continues to rail against the SPLC. NOM wants questions about marriage asked at the RNC debate. Cliff Kincaid is set to become the director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism, presumably so he can write long investigations about how gays plan to infect everyone with HIV-tainted blood. I genuinely hope that Michele Bachmann decides to run for the Senate because I find it unlikely that the state the elected Paul Wellstone would ever elect someone like her. Finally, the quote of... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 12/09/2010, 6:05pm
For the last few weeks, Religious Right groups have been pressuring CPAC organizers to drop the gay conservative group GOProud for the list of event co-sponsors and threatening to boycott next year's conference if GOP was allowed to participate. The pressure prompted the American Conservative Union, which organizes CPAC, to put the issue before board members for a vote ... and CPAC has decided to allow both GOProud and the John Birch Society to participate: Several socially conservative organizations have threatened to boycott one of the largest gatherings of conservative... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 12/06/2010, 12:34pm
Last week, Peter LaBarbera interviewed Barbara Anderson of the Minnesota Family Council and Andy Birkey of the Minnesota Independent reports that the discussion eventually turned to the topic of the Southern Poverty Law Center having designated LaBarbera's Americans for Truth About Homosexuality as anti-gay hate group, which Anderson called "a badge of honor," prompting LaBarbera to assert that if you didn't find your group on the list, "you are not doing enough": The Minnesota Family Council’s Barb Anderson sat down with Peter LaBarbera of Americans for the Truth... MORE