citizenship

If At First Your Don't Succeed, Do The Exact Same Thing

Last week, I marvelled at the fact that Gary Cass of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission seemingly had nothing better to do than to go through remarks delivered by President Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast and try to refute them line by line. 

In that post, I noted that the remarks Cass dedicated himself to attacking were actually delivered in 2009 ... so, of course, Cass has now gone through the remarks Obama delivered last week and done it all over again:

Now, for those of us here in Washington, let's acknowledge that democracy has always been messy. Let's not be overly nostalgic. Divisions are hardly new in this country. Arguments about the proper role of government, the relationship between liberty and equality, our obligations to our fellow citizens -- these things have been with us since our founding. And I'm profoundly mindful that a loyal opposition, a vigorous back and forth, a skepticism of power, all of that is what makes our democracy work.

The Founders gave us constitutional limits on the role of government and did not promise absolute equality in outcomes. Our obligations to our fellow citizens are based on our individual duties to God, and therefore not the governments concern.

And we've seen actually some improvement in some circumstances. We haven't seen any canings on the floor of the Senate any time recently. So we shouldn't over-romanticize the past. But there is a sense that something is different now; that something is broken; that those of us in Washington are not serving the people as well as we should. At times, it seems like we're unable to listen to one another; to have at once a serious and civil debate. And this erosion of civility in the public square sows division and distrust among our citizens. It poisons the well of public opinion. It leaves each side little room to negotiate with the other. It makes politics an all-or-nothing sport, where one side is either always right or always wrong when, in reality, neither side has a monopoly on truth. And then we lose sight of the children without food and the men without shelter and the families without health care.

This is progressive double speak. It is President Obama’s tactics of shutting out debate and compromise that has doomed his own agenda. He is unable to listen to anything that does not fit his socialist schemes. Ironically, Obama says no one has a monopoly on truth, but as a Unitarian he does not believe in truth. Just because people object to his radical socialist proposals he assumes they don’t care about the children or families and health care.

Empowered by faith, consistently, prayerfully, we need to find our way back to civility. That begins with stepping out of our comfort zones in an effort to bridge divisions. We see that in many conservative pastors who are helping lead the way to fix our broken immigration system. It's not what would be expected from them, and yet they recognize, in those immigrant families, the face of God.

So Obama is surprised to find that conservative pastors aren’t absolutely heartless. Well that’s refreshing. He laments the polarity between people and yet he is incredibly bigoted and biased. A conservative can do what liberals can’t. They can distinguish between helping someone truly in need and still uphold our laws. If someone breaks into my house just because he wants to live in a nicer home, am I obligated to let him stay? True refugees who flee from religious and political oppression have always been allowed refuge in the US. Why are we obligated to open our nation to people who just want a higher standard of living? If it is a true moral obligation then we owe it to the entire world’s population, not just those who have easy access to our borders. The fact is our immigration laws are compassionate and just, but Obama wants to grant amnesty so he can keep progressives in power.

We see that in the evangelical leaders who are rallying their congregations to protect our planet.

But evangelicals don’t see man as the problem with the planet and reject the socialistic environmentalists who simply want to use ecology as a means to destroy capitalism. Stewardship of and dominion over creation is God’s mandate.

We see it in the increasing recognition among progressives that government can't solve all of our problems, and that talking about values like responsible fatherhood and healthy marriage are integral to any anti-poverty agenda.

Finally a realistic view of government and a proper appreciation of God’s first institution.

Stretching out of our dogmas, our prescribed roles along the political spectrum, that can help us regain a sense of civility.

Civility also requires relearning how to disagree without being disagreeable; understanding, as President [Kennedy] said, that "civility is not a sign of weakness." Now, I am the first to confess I am not always right. Michelle will testify to that. But surely you can question my policies without questioning my faith, or, for that matter, my citizenship.

But apparently Obama can call into question the motives of conservatives who simply want to see a birth certificate and maybe some outward attendance at church.

Cass claims that this was necessary because President Obama "demonstrated a very confused theology" which needed to be clarified with Cass's "analysis of his remarks from a biblical perspective." 

And apparently attacking Obama's "socialist schemes" and "radical socialist proposals" along with health care and immigration reform while calling him a bigot and throwing in a little bit of Birtherism for good measure is what constitutes providing "biblical" analysis of his remarks.

Mike Huckabee's Friends And Associates

Because I think it is important to keep pointing out the sorts of Religious Right leaders that Mike Huckabee regularly associates himself with, I just wanted to post this clip from a recent episode of "Huckabee" that featured Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel taking about text books in Texas:

This weekend Mathew D. Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, will appear on Mike Huckabee’s show to discuss potentially dramatic changes to the framework of textbooks that are being discussed by the Texas State Board of Education (TSBOE). Huckabee and Staver will be revealing suggested changes, some of which are still under discussion. TSBOE will soon finalize the language that textbook publishers use to align their textbooks to current standards. As Texas is a leader in textbooks, most other states purchase the same educational materials. The show will begin at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday and 2:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. on Sunday, Eastern Time.

Some of the suggestions that have come forward at various times include:

* Removing references to Daniel Boone, General George Patton, Nathan Hale, Columbus Day, and Christmas.
* Including the cultural impact of hip hop music, ACLU lawyer Clarence Darrow, and the Hindu holiday of Diwali.
* Replacing the term "American" with "Global Citizen"– stating that students need to be shaped "for responsible citizenship in a global society" without any mention of citizenship in American society.
* Replacing expansionism and free enterprise with imperialism and capitalism.

...

Mathew Staver commented: “To have a bright future we must know our past. Those who want to reshape America begin by rewriting our past. We repeat the mistakes of the past when we are ignorant of them. America has a rich past founded on Judeo-Christian values. To forget them, or worse, to distort them, will doom our future. That is why the textbook controversy in Texas affects every American.”

Staver has long been close to Huckabee, having served on his Faith and Family Values Coalition during his presidential campaign. 

Recently, Staver made news when it was announced that Liberty University would be withdrawing from CPAC due to the fact that a gay conservative group was allowed to sign on as a co-sponsor, which made sense considering that at last year's CPAC, Staver declared that marriage equality would inevitably lead to an entire generation of violent criminals. 

Staver and Liberty U will also be hosting a 2-day anti-gay summit later this week, while Staver and Liberty University also represented Lisa Miller, the who kidnapped her daughter and disappeared rather than abide by court ordered custody arrangements.

Maybe It's Because Some Tea Party Activsts Are Birthers?

The Media Research Center's Scott Whitlock, writing on NewsBusters, accuses MSNBC of unfairly linking Tea Party activists with Birthers:

On Thursday, MSNBC continued its quest to link conservatives with the birther movement- people who don't believe Barack Obama is constitutionally eligible to serve as President. Previewing an unrelated segment on this weekend's tea party convention, Norah O'Donnell played a clip of Obama criticizing those who raise the issue. She then compared, "President Obama sends a message to those who question his citizenship, this as the tea party movement gets ready for its first big convention."

At no point did O'Donnell explain or justify the connection, other than her apparent assumption that tea partiers equal birthers. The MSNBC host interviewed author Rick Scarborough, one of the speakers at the convention in Nashville. During the piece, this MSNBC graphic appeared in large font at the bottom of the screen: "Obama: Okay to Question My Policy, Not My Citizenship."

Again, this was not the topic of the segment and there was no attempt made to explain what it had to do with a tea party convention.

Gee, maybe MSNBC was linking Tea Party activists to Birthers because Rick Scarborough is speaking at the National Tea Party Convention and he just so happens to be a full-on Birther.

Just a thought.

Staver Seeks To Moderate the Right's Stance on Immigration Reform

Last week I wrote a post based on Dan Gilgoff's article about efforts by Mat Staver and Samuel Rodriguez to moderate the Religious Right's position on immigration reform, noting that both were members of the Freedom Federation, which contains groups like the Eagle Forum who have been vehemently opposed to such reform in the past.

Now, Gilgoff has followed-up on this topic and appears as if Staver truly intends to try and get the Freedom Federation and its members to change their position on this issue:

"There was this rhetoric in the last immigration debate that was, frankly, harsh," says Mathew Staver, dean of the law school at Liberty University, founded by the late Jerry Falwell. "We need to understand that we are still a nation of immigrants, and we need to bring people out of the shadows and make them legal."

Staver, who is leading the effort to bring conservative evangelicals and other religious conservatives on board for comprehensive immigration reform, says he's motivated by biblical principles regarding the treatment of foreigners and by a desire to build bridges between the "pro-family" movement and growing ethnic constituencies. But the campaign may wind up dividing religious conservatives, some of whom helped lead the charge against George W. Bush's failed attempt at comprehensive immigration reform in 2007.

...

Now, Staver is trying to build support among Freedom Federation members for comprehensive immigration reform. Part of his goal is to bring Hispanics into the conservative Christian political fold. "The future of the conservative movement is at stake in the debate about immigration reform," says the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, who has been helping Staver lobby conservative evangelical leaders on immigration.

At a recent coalition meeting in Washington, Staver had former GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee discuss his immigration views, which have been criticized as soft by many conservatives, with dozens of representatives from religious conservative groups. "Huckabee was attacked in the presidential race because he didn't want to remove educational benefits for the children of illegal immigrants," Staver says. "But that's a biblical concept—you don't punish the child for what his parents did."

And it looks like Staver has his work cut out for him, as the Eagle Forum says it's not budging while other members are still making up their minds:

"Many of our members oppose comprehensive amnesty because of their faith," says Colleeen Holmes, executive director of Eagle Forum, the conservative group founded by Phyllis Schlafly. "But this is really about conservatism versus liberalism, and conservatism says you need rule of law." The Eagle Forum opposes a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants ... Some Freedom Federation members, however—like Eagle Forum—remain strongly opposed to comprehensive immigration reform. Others, like Family Research Council Action, are still determining their position.

Considering that many members of the Freedom Federation have openly opposed efforts at immigration reform in the past, Staver's effort to push this issue could end up causing a rift in the movement that, ironically, the Freedom Federation was created in order to heal.

Will Immigration Reform Fracture The Freedom Federation?

Dan Gilgoff reports that efforts are underway to get religious conservatives on board efforts to reform the nation's immigration laws:

Many of the same faith-based groups attacking Obama and the Democrats over healthcare reform's abortion provisions, including the National Association of Evangelicals, the Southern Baptist Convention, and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, are poised to become major players in the president's coming push for comprehensive immigration reform, which would include a path to citizenship for many illegal immigrants. "There is a strong biblical teaching about showing hospitality to the stranger and the alien," says [Galen Carey, chief lobbyist for the National Association of Evangelicals.]

...

The shift follows an intensive effort by Latino evangelical leaders to lobby their white evangelical counterparts. "My stump speech is that this is not amnesty and that this is a biblical issue," says the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. "If you are a devout follower of Christ, you have to support immigration reform." In the years since the last national debate on immigration reform, Rodriguez has met with white evangelical opinion makers like NAE President Leith Anderson and former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. "This is the same constituency Glenn Beck is appealing to," says Rodriguez.

White evangelical leaders have also been influenced by their increasingly Latino congregations. Though nearly 70 percent of Hispanics in the United States are Roman Catholic, Hispanic evangelicals and Pentecostals are among the nation's fastest-growing religious groups. And politically speaking, conservative evangelical activists see Hispanics, who are generally conservative on issues like abortion and gay marriage, as potential allies. "The only thing that can turn them against us is if they are made to feel unwelcome in social conservative circles," says Richard Land, the Southern Baptist Convention's public policy chief.

In an attempt to get Christian-right groups to back comprehensive immigration reform, Rodriguez is working with the dean of the Liberty University's Law School, founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell, on an immigration summit for conservatives. "The conservative wing of the Republican Party has to understand that it's impossible to win a national election without Hispanics," says Rodriguez. "And it's impossible to win Hispanics without immigration reform."

Frankly, I don't see that any of these developments will do much to influence the overall right-wing opposition to immigration reform, or move the Religious Right at all.

Richard Land has long been something of an outlier on this issue and the recent National Association of Evangelicals' unanimous resolution backing comprehensive immigration reform is already being attacked by Religious Right groups like the Institute on Religion and Democracy, which blasted the NAE for "adopting political stances in God's name and without consideration for their own churches' members."

The one interesting thing is Rodriguez's plans to host an immigration summit with Mat Staver, dean of the Liberty Law School, as both are members of the Freedom Federation, the new right-wing supergroup.

As we pointed out last month, Rodriguez recently began pushing to ensure that healthcare reform contained coverage for those in the country illegally, which is a position that would not go over well with several other members of the Freedom Federation.

If Staver and Rodriguez do start pushing for immigration reform, one would expect that such an effort would ultimately create a lot of tension within the Freedom Federation coalition itself, which could end up undermining the coalition's very reason for existing, considering that it was created specifically in order to unify the Religious Right.

Right Wing Round-Up

Vision America Goes Full-On Birther

We already knew that Vision America's Rick Scarborough, who recently spoke at the How To Take Back America Conference, was a Birther.  But we were not aware of the fact that the organization was also actively involved in the various lawsuits, but it looks like that is the case since they just used their email list to send out this fundraising pitch from Gary Kreep and the United States Justice Foundation:

You can read the full text of Kreep's email after the jump:

Right uses 'ACORN' as mantra in bid to restrict voting

Right-wing groups have long made unsubstantiated claims about voter fraud the supposed rationale for pushing legislation that would erect new barriers to the ballot box. A How to Take Back America workshop on “Voter Fraud, the Census, and ACORN” made it clear that right-wing politicians will try to use ACORN’s recent troubles to build momentum for restrictive voting laws.

Kris Kobach, a lawyer and failed congressional candidate who has made a name for himself on the Right as an anti-illegal immigration crusader, announced this summer that he is running to be Secretary of State in Kansas. His theme is combating voter fraud, a solution in search of a problem in Kansas. Kobach, like other speakers, implied that Al Franken’s Senate seat was somehow illegitimate, referring to Franken’s “pseudo-election.”

The workshop was largely a tirade against ACORN and the “hard left,” which is supposedly engaged in a massive effort to steal elections. No one, said Kobach, is disenfranchised based on the color of their skin these days. He slammed the Obama Justice Department for signaling to states that they’re “on their own” when it comes to fighting voter fraud.

Kobach’s five-step prescription for states, which he hopes he can implement in Kansas as a model, includes ramping up prosecutions for voter fraud, enacting photo-ID laws, taking more aggressive steps to “clean up” voter rolls (otherwise known as purging), requiring proof of citizenship for voter registration, and standardizing provisional ballot and recount procedures, which he said “the left” was abusing.

The other workshop speaker was Ed Martin, who is preparing to mount a challenge for the congressional seat now held by Rep. Russ Carnahan. Martin bragged about taking on ACORN as chair of the St. Louis City Board of Elections and argued that voter fraud next year could be financed by federal stimulus money. One solution he offered was to get “tea party” activists to sign up as poll workers.

In spite of the worskhop’s name, little was said about the census in the session or at the conference generally – even by census-bashing Michele Bachmann – possibly because people were feeling a little chastened about the recent murder of a census employee and the creepy anti-government overtones to that crime. Helen Blackwell, the workshop’s moderator, did quip that its title referenced “three of my very favorite atrocities.” And Kobach made reference to the “pernicious” move by the administration to bring oversight of the census into the White House and the Census Bureau’s have included ACORN among its partner organizations.

Will The Freedom Federation Support Health Care For Illegal Immigrants?

This call for healthcare reform to provide coverage to those who may be in the country illegally is quite interesting:

America's largest Hispanic Christian Organization, The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC), The Hispanic National Association of Evangelicals, expressed disappointment and warned of continued polarization as a result of the recent incorporation of anti-immigrant rhetoric within the current Health Care debate.

"The Hispanic National Association of Evangelicals believes our nation needs Health Care Reform that reconciles affordability and accessibility with the protection of life, conscience, personal and religious liberties. We encourage all members of Congress to debate this issue with integrity, humility, and respect. Health Care reform is a matter of Social Justice driven by a moral imperative that is undeniable. The fact that millions of Americans lack health care coverage is unacceptable", declared Dr. Gilbert Velez, NHCLC Chairman and President of the Hispanic Mega Church Association.

Hispanic Evangelicals are reacting to rhetoric recently incorporated by both parties declaring that a proof of citizenship requirement will be included in Heath Care Reform proposals prohibiting undocumented families access to coverage.

"Correspondingly, we find it to be both morally and politically disadvantageous not to include coverage for all those currently residing in our nation. To require immigrants to prove citizenship in order to purchase Health Care coverage stands as a defacto endorsement of racial profiling and continues to exacerbate the anti-immigrant sentiment currently embedded within the immigration reform debate", explained Rev. Nick Garza, Conference Chief Operating Officer.

"To exclude the opportunity for working families to purchase coverage will place over 12 million homes in a precarious situation. This is deportation via attrition or better yet, some may label the scheme as Xenophobic Health Care Reform. We call upon all the White House, Congress and faith advocates to respectfully address this matter from the platform of Leviticus 19 as we are admonished to treat the strangers among us as one of our own", added Garza.

The reason it is so interesting is that the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference also happens to be a member of the new right-wing supergroup The Freedom Federation, which has recently begun speaking out on the issue of healthcare reform.

To date, the Federation has not publicly taken a position on the issue of coverage for illegal immigrants, but given that this idea is a fundamental non-starter for most conservative and right-wing groups, it'll be interesting to see how the coalition tries to finesse this issue ... especially considering that the Eagle Forum is likewise a member:

Eagle Forum, a conservative public policy organization founded by Phyllis Schlafly, encourages town hall meeting attendees to be more vocal about the deliberately-placed loopholes in both the House and Senate health care bills which will allow illegal immigrants to apply for and receive health insurance coverage. ... Eagle Forum continues to encourage American citizens to attend their district and state town hall meetings and to urge their elected officials to oppose any attempts at a stealth health care amnesty for illegal immigrants.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Will this become the new Religious Right cause célèbre?  We'll have to wait and see.
  • The full text of the frantic Operation Rescue fund-raising letter warning that they are about to go out of business.
  • Douglas Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee wants to know when "will media expose duplicitous tone of the president?"
  • Laurie Higgins of the Illinois Family Institute warns that bullying and harassment prevention programs are "one of the central ways to get pro-homosexual information and resources into public schools."
  • Pastor Phil Magnan of Biblical Family Advocates: "I have come to realize that the reason why the homosexual and the abortion movements remain strong; is that the church of Jesus Christ has lost most of its true saltiness, its desire to suffer loss for Christ and its reverence for the Word. We have lost that weeping, passionate cry of the soul to abide in Christ daily and reach out to those headed for hell. We have instead embraced a weak, lazy view of our faith and our Lord."

Right Wing Round-Up

Rep. Trent Franks Considering Birther Lawsuit?

Is Rep. Trent Franks really considering filing a lawsuit to demand that President Obama release his birth certificate?  According to the Mohave Daily News, the answer is yes:

The other main issue dealt with numerous speakers questioning Obama's birth certificate and why there wasn't an investigation into whether he is a naturalized citizen. One woman said a newspaper announcement of his birth in Hawaii was not sufficient. Another asked how he could have a passport without a birth certificate.

Franks said there was not enough evidence that Obama is not an American citizen. He did say there was a lot of conflicting evidence of Obama's citizenship and that he was considering filing a lawsuit, the only congressman to do so. Franks asked why the president did not simply produce a birth certificate.

David Weigel has more.

And on a related note, there is just something hilarious about Joseph Farah complaining that Ann Coulter's attack on the Birthers is "much less informed than is her usual standard": 

Coulter committed what many see as the unpardonable sin of attacking "birthers" – those "nuts" and "fruitloops" like me who actually want to see Barack Obama release his birth certificate and other documents he is so clearly hiding from the American public – documents crucial to knowing who our president really is and whether he is constitutionally eligible to hold office.

The attacks from friends, which I consider Ann to be, always hurt much more than attacks from adversaries. My skin is thick. It has to be in this business. Coulter's comments were scathing, and she painted with a broad brush. I was grateful she didn't make it personal in her comments on TV and in her WND column – the place where more people read Coulter than anywhere else. Nevertheless, I noted that her statements on this subject were much less informed than is her usual standard.

But the real hurt came when some WND readers began forwarding me Coulter's personal responses to their questions. They included what I consider to be scathing personal indictments of me and the company I direct ... Then came the vicious personal attack: "not one known conservative public figure or publication believes this – except WND, which I believe is pushing it to get website hits, bc no sane person could believe it – but the MSM keeps interviewing the nuts to make all conservatives look crazy and to distract from the serious problems with obama."

It really grieves me that Ann Coulter dismisses the one real investigative news agency's work and relies on warmed-over pabulum from the American Spectator and an unknown blog. There's a reason the American Spectator is named as such. It is a spectator when it comes to news. It is simply untrue that the Spectator found the birth announcements during the campaign. The first known source of the newspaper birth announcements was a pro-Hillary Clinton blogger in the summer of 2008.

Coulter's problem seems to be her contempt for real reporting – unless it is conducted by a pedigreed "conservative" source. Unfortunately for Coulter, as a lifelong journalist involved in investigative reporting for 30 years, I can tell you there is no such animal as a pedigreed "conservative" news outlet that does real investigative reporting. Apparently WND is just too "independent" for Coulter's trust.

Right Wing Round-Up

  • Jim Burroway is not buying Exodus' spin on the APA’s resolution against sexual orientation change efforts and Good As You isn't buying claims form other ex-gay advocates that the APA ignored research that shows sexual orientation is changeable through therapy.
  • Autumn Sandeen justifiably wonders how she became Peter LaBarbera's poster child for "Obama Tranny-Care."
  • David Weigel: A new poll from the Pew Research Center finds that 28 percent of Americans believe that there’s been “too little” coverage of “allegations that President Obama was not born in the United States” — including a plurality, 39 percent, of self-identified Republicans.
  • If you are rich and stupid, then Jerome Corsi's RED ALERT is for you!
  • Dick Morris and G. Gordon Liddy continue to demonstrate that they are despicable human beings.
  • I highly doubt that we'll be seeing the Religious Right trumpet this new poll considering that it dramatically undermines their new favorite claims that the majority of Americans have suddenly become anti-choice.

Birthers Gone Wild

I suppose I am obligated to post the video of Orly Taitz's appearance on MSNBC yesterday, so here it is:

I don't feel this clip provided any new information to the issue - other than providing further evidence that Taitz is insane despite her insistence that she is not, in fact, crazy. 

In fact, the insistence by the Birthers that they are not crazy seems to be a their new defense, as that was exactly the point that Wiley Drake made last week:

Obama's supporters "want to brand anyone who questions him as a nut, and they're not. Alan Keyes is not a nut. I'm not," Drake said.

Which brings me to this good piece by David Weigel reporting that Taitz's antics and recklessness is causing a rift in the Birther movement among those who see her as undermining their efforts and which contains this interesting nugget: 

The “Kenyan birth certificate” has made skeptics out of people like Leahy and Kreep. Two of Taitz’s original plaintiffs, Wiley Drake and Markham Robinson, both associates of Alan Keyes during his presidential campaign, were removed from her latest filing after seeking new representation.

Has Taitz really become too crazy for the likes of Wiley Drake, a man who admits to praying to God to kill President Obama? That is quite an accomplishment.

On a semi-related note, I think it is also worth pointing out that Chuck Norris now seems to be throwing in with the Birthers as well, doing so by claiming that while he doesn't have any reason to doubt Obama's claims to citizenship, his refusal to release the document the Birthers are demanding is raising questions:

Isn't categorically satisfying constitutional requirements for a president, or answering the First Amendment grievances of hundreds of thousands of Americans, or ending a national debate or healing a country's divisions enough "direct and tangible interest"?

Mr. President, as more and more people realize that you are refusing to release your original birth certificate, further questions will fuel the fires of debate or at least hinder the embers from ever being snuffed out. Questions like, "Does it really contain the Hawaiian physician's name?" Or "Does it disclose something other than his birth place that he wishes others not to see?"

...

So again I ask, why don't you simply request, release and give permission to make public your original birth certificate?

Let's not forget that Norris was among Mike Huckabee's biggest and most visible supporters. That, coupled with the fact that Huckabee is scheduled to headline a right-wing conference next month being hosted by three bona fide Birthers leads me to wonder just what Huckabee's views are on this issue, considering that several of the people he has chosen to associate and surround himself with are deeply enmeshed in the Birther conspiracy movement.

Obama's America: "A Cross Between Stalinist USSR and Nazi Germany"

By now, everyone realizes that Orly Taitz is the "Queen of the Birthers" and, more importantly, a verifiable nutcase.  Everyone that is except for people like Lou Dobbs, Janet Porter, and all of the others who have latched onto her conspiracy theories.

And while Taitz has been saying crazy things since she launched this crusade, the recent attention she has been receiving seems to have emboldened her to really let loose, leading to profiles like this one by Max Blumenthal in which she proclaims that President Obama is worse than Stalin, ought to be in prison, and rapidly turning America into Nazi Germany: 

Almost as soon as Orly Taitz answered her cellphone, before I could even ask a single question, the leader of the movement determined to disprove President Obama’s American citizenship breathlessly told me the president was “connected” to 39 bogus Social Security numbers, including one for a deceased person born in 1890. “If Obama is not stopped, we will be in Nazi Germany!” Taitz, who has a thick Russian accent, shrieked. “Forgery is a criminal matter and he committed it. Obama should be in the Big House, not the White House!”

Since Taitz’s “birther” campaign began, in the summer of 2008, during the late stages of the Democratic primaries, the dentist, lawyer, and mother of three has begun winning friends in high places. Taitz told me excitedly that since she opened her Facebook account, she has had to hire a staff of five to process the thousands of friend requests she receives each week.

Among those requesting her online friendship, Taitz said, are House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA), Rep. Mary Bono (R-CA), and Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele. She has even received a request, she said, from someone saying they are Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “I personally checked [the request] and determined that it came from his office,” Taitz said.

Among Taitz’s “biggest supporters,” she said, is CNN anchor Lou Dobbs. “I did Lou’s radio show for half an hour and he was very understanding,” she told me. “He became a supporter and since then he became a supporter of the whole [Obama eligibility] issue.” Indeed, during the July 15 broadcast of Dobbs’ radio show, he praised Taitz’s work, suggested Obama might be “undocumented,” and demanded the president “show the documents” to prove he was born in the United States.

When I spoke to Taitz, she had just finished taping an interview with The Colbert Report. By her own count, she has been interviewed by no fewer than 170 news outlets around the world. While she’s grateful for the exposure, the scrutiny of the media seems to have her in a persistent state of heightened exasperation.

“This is Nazi Germany! These are brownshirts in action!” Taitz exclaimed when asked about recent segments by Rachel Maddow, Keith Olbermann, and Jon Stewart mocking her campaign and questioning her credibility. “Anybody who does not take Obama’s word at face value will be harassed by brownshirts like Rachel Maddow.”

Taitz’s apparent view of present-day American life through the lens of World War II Europe may be due in part to her upbringing in the Soviet republic of Moldova and then in Israel, where she lived until she immigrated to the U.S. in 1987. Now a resident of Buena Park, California, Taitz said she feared Obama would transform her adopted country into a totalitarian state as soon as he stepped onto the national stage. Reading online discussions about Obama’s supposed plan to create a “civilian national security force” aroused Taitz’s early alarm.

“I realized that Obama was another Stalin—it’s a cross between Stalinist USSR and Nazi Germany,” she said.

Interestingly, while Tatiz is reportedly hiring staff, other Birthers are closing up shop because they can't get any financial support, as Alan Keyes, himself a Birther, laments today in WorldNetDaily:

I read with sadness but no surprise WND's article about the demise of The Obama File [run by Parker Shannon], "an extensive depot of information questioning Barack Obama's eligibility to hold the office of president."

...

The juxtaposition of prayerful good wishes and indolent support highlights one of the saddest realities of our time ... many of those who work today to defeat the overthrow of our God-given liberty are perishing from the material indifference of those who benefit from and approve of their work.

This partly reflects a successful strategy being implemented by the forces working to achieve the overthrow of liberty. Faced with facts and reasoning they cannot refute, they resort to ad hominem attacks. Chief among these is the accusation that greed motivates the people who try to share facts and arguments the manipulative media systematically ignore. (Ironically greed is, of course, among the chief motives of those who staff the corporate media outlets.) Meanwhile, the people being accused, people like Parker Shannon, me and others I hear from practically every day, inexorably slide toward bankruptcy.

Did you notice how Keyes managed to include himself among those defenders of liberty who find themselves sliding toward bankruptcy?

Hmmm, it looks like all the money he was bringing in through his complicated ties to the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps must have dried up.

Right Wing Round-Up

  • Our latest Right Wing Watch In Focus is now on-line: "Right Wing Attacks on Sotomayor Gain Little Traction."
  • Alvin McEwen explains why people should care about Paul Cameron's shoddy research and his influence on the Religious Right.
  • Good As You points out that Maggie Gallagher seems to have a history of inaccuracy.
  • Glen Beck gets more ridiculous by the day.
  • The Texas Freedom Network reports that FOX News aired a piece on the growing controversy over revising social studies curriculum standards in Texas and, of course, got it wrong.
  • Finally, in today's Birther news: G. Gordon Liddy says that not only was President Obama not born in America, he's actually an "illegal alien" while Alex Koppleman thoroughly debunks the central premise of Liddy's argument. Elsewhere, David Weigel reports that John McCain's presidential campaign looked into the allegations and dismissed them as baseless, while Lou Dobbs continues to discuss the issue despite the fact that CNN President Jon Klein has been telling Dobbs' staff to knock it off and now the Southern Poverty Law Center is calling on CNN to remove him from that air.

LEADING GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE TO ATTEND BIRTHER CONFERENCE!

The Washington Post released a poll today that it says shows that "as Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin prepares for the next stage of her political career, a majority of Americans hold an unfavorable view of her, and there is broad public doubt about her leadership skills and understanding of complex issues."

Alex Koppelman disputes that assessment but what I find most interesting is the poll result that shows that Mike Huckabee leading the way among potential 2012 GOP nominees:

27. (ASKED OF REPUBLICANS AND GOP-LEANING INDEPENDENTS) If the 2012 Republican presidential primary or caucus in your state were being held today, and the candidates were (READ LIST) for whom would you vote?

Mike Huckabee 26%
Mitt Romney 21%
Sarah Palin 19%
Newt Gingrich 10%
Tim Pawlenty 4%
Jeb Bush 3%
Haley Barbour 1%
Bobby Jindal (vol.) 2%
Charlie Crist (vol.) *
Other/None of these/Would not vote/No opinion 14%

Obviously, polls conducted more than three years before the next presidential election are not particularly reliable or meaningful, but that hasn't stopped Huck's Army from proclaiming that it "shows strong support for Gov. Huckabee if he decides to build on his second place finish in the 2008 Republican Primary."

But taking this poll for what it is worth, allow me to semi-misleadingly exploit it in order to declare "LEADING GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE TO ATTEND BIRTHER CONFERENCE!" to just try and hammer home the fact that Huckabee is headlining the How To Take Back America Conference which is being hosted by at least three bona fide Birthers: Janet Porter, Joseph Farah, and Rick Scarborough.

As I have said before:

Just about every insane right-wing conspiracy theory currently in circulation has been embraced by one or more of the organizers of this event, all of whom have actively worked to spread the fear that Obama and the Democrats are out to destroy Christianity and turn America into a socialist hellhole.

And Mike Huckabee, instead of trying to distance himself from the lunacy of his former supporters, openly and willingly continues to associate with them.

And now this man is currently leading the field of future GOP presidential nominees.

If that doesn't terrify you, I don't know what will.

Right Wing Round-Up

  • Media Matters: Meet The Birthers
  • David Weigel: Maj. Stefan F. Cook, the reservist whose clever scheme to back out of his voluntary deployment by suing for proof of President Obama’s citizenship ended with him getting fired from his defense industry job, is suing again. He wants his old job back.
  • Joe.My.God: The Alliance Defense Fund claims to have guided Romania's parliament to a ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions.
  • Alvin McEwen debunks the relentless stream of lies continually being spread by Paul Cameron.
  • The Minnesota Independent reports that The National Republican Congressional Committee has added Rep. Michele Bachmann to its list of most vulnerable incumbents.
  • As Talking Points Memo says, you know times are tough when members of Congress are refusing to say whether they live at the House on C Street.

An Exercise In Futility: Battling the Birthers

David Weigel has boldly waded into the right-wing world of Birther conspiracy theories in an attempt to explain how something that started out on the far-flung reaches of the movement has slowly picked up steam and started working its way into the mainstream of conservative commentary:

Six months into Obama’s presidency, after scores of embarrassing legal defeats, and even after tussles between the attorneys who’ve turned frivolous lawsuits about the president’s citizenship into full-time jobs, the cottage industry of conspiracy theories about the president’s birth shows no signs of disappearing. The theories have found a home in talk radio and on conservative web sites such as Free Republic and WorldNetDaily. Conspiracy theorists are increasingly sending letters to their local papers, embarrassing members of Congress at town hall meetings, and hounding Hill staffers about challenges to the president’s citizenship.

As expected, since this piece went up this morning Weigel has been "getting the usual truckloads of mail attacking" it and is doing what he can to set the record straight, but admitting that it's nearly impossible because "these people will say anything, no matter how implausible."

A good example of this showed up today in WorldNetDaily which has been, as Weigel noted, among the websites most obsessed with this issue.  It actually started yesterday when WND discovered a "letter purportedly sent by Obama to Honolulu's Kapi'olani Medical Center for Women and Children in which the commander in chief outright declares his birth at the facility."

WND quickly concluded that the letter was not legitimate, as "the image online is not a picture of an actual paper letter, but is merely a computer-created likeness of a letter" and was really just "a pieced-together likeness of a letter using HTML code." And then the hospital removed the letter from its website, which of course, that set off a new round of conspiracy theorizing, with Birthers demanding to know where this purported letter came from and where the original copy was while WND started threatening "the hospital that the FBI and United States Secret Service said the matter could potentially lead to criminal prosecution were the letter determined to be fraudulent."

So today Keala Peters, director of marketing and communications for Hawaii Pacific Health, which runs the hospital tried to set the record straight, providing photos of the original letter from Obama and explaining the facts behind it:

Peters says Kapi'olani actually has a reproduction of the "original letter" on display at the hospital.

"The original is something that we treasure, and we know that it came from Mr. Obama," she said, explaining only that the paper document was personally presented to them by U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii, who read its contents – straying at times from the actual text – at the hospital's Centennial Dinner Jan. 24, the same day the letter in question is dated.

...

Regarding the precise whereabouts of the "original" Kapi'olani birth letter from Obama, Peters opted not to comment, saying "it's not anything we want to be damaged."

 

WND asked her why the hospital simply didn't post a scanned image of the paper letter on its site to begin with instead of the HTML version.

"We did that because we didn't want people to take it from the Web and use it for purposes other than for what it was intended," she responded. "I'm sorry it created suspicion on your part, but it was not our intention."

...

When asked why Kapi'olani suddenly yanked the letter off its website after displaying it online for close to half a year, Peters acknowledged removing it "not because it doesn't exist, but because it was becoming a distraction."

"The inquiries about it became a distraction in running our hospital," she said.

So Kapi'olani didn't post the original letter because they didn't want people (Birthers?) misusing it which caused the hospital to become inundated with demands from Birthers demanding proof of its authenticity, which then lead the hospital to pull it from its website, which in turn just set off even more fevered round of Birther conspiracy theorizing.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • The American Center for Law and Justice has managed to pressure the Connecticut Department of Children and Families into taking down part of its web site describing a program to train care givers on the needs of gay young people.
  • Michael Steele knows what it takes to win more African American converts to the GOP: collard greens, fried chicken, and potato salad.
  • The Washington Post profiles Randall Terry.  The article is pretty informative and entertaining so you should be sure to read it.
  • For the record, I would just like to note that Janet Porter's Faith 2 Action website has an entire section dedicated to the issue of Barack Obama's birth certificate and citizenship.
  • MassResistance continues to allege that Google is "blocking" its blog.
  • The Right keeps trotting out its standard hate crimes lies in order to oppose anti-bullying legislation.
  • It is worth noting that Alveda King is asserting that her uncle, Martin Luther King Jr., was not a Republican, in contrast to various right-wing claims that he was:
  • “Martin Luther King Jr. was not a Republican or Democrat,” said Alveda King, who was previously elected to the Georgia House as a Democrat, but later appointed to state and federal commissions by Republicans. “But everybody uses Martin Luther King Jr.’s name for their own benefit.”
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citizenship Posts Archive

Brian Tashman, Tuesday 02/01/2011, 9:27am
Michele Bachmann SOTU: “Tea Party State of the Union Response” is widely panned, mocked on SNL (HuffPo, 1/31). Budget: Veterans groups blast Bachmann’s proposal to slash veterans benefits (UPI, 1/28). Congress: Invites Religious Right notable and anti-Islam activist to teach class on Constitution (RWW, 1/26). Haley Barbour Civil Rights: Congressman says Barbour's civil rights work in Mississippi more symbolic than substantive (Clarion Ledger, 1/30). South Carolina: Privately meets with top South Carolina GOP activists (CNN, 1/25). John Bolton Foreign Affairs: In CNSNews... MORE
Brian Tashman, Tuesday 01/11/2011, 4:48pm
Opponents of birthright citizenship have mobilized in Congress and in fourteen state legislatures to pass legislation that would reinterpret the 14th Amendment to deny birthright citizenship. At a forum of state legislators who support scrapping birthright citizenship, Republican State Rep. Daniel B. Verdi of South Carolina compared illegal immigration to “the malady of slavery” and Republican State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe said such legislation would help “bring an end to the illegal alien invasion.” Eagle Forum’s Phyllis Schlafly praised their efforts in a column... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 01/05/2011, 6:16pm
PFAW: Reading Between the Lines: The Tea Party’s Real Constitutional Philosophy.   Sarah Posner @ Religion Dispatches: CPAC Conservatives Shun “Crazy Bigot” Gaffney.   Chris Rodda @ Talk To Action: What Do Lewd Navy Videos and the National Day of Prayer Have in Common?   Good As You: The courage to stand against Nazis, Gulags, and -- gay equality?!   Steve Benen: Targeting Birthright Citizenship.   Sam Stein @ Huffington Post: Obama Renominates More Than 40 Judicial Candidates.... MORE
Brian Tashman, Tuesday 12/21/2010, 11:32am
The House Republican Leadership recently announced that incoming Pennsylvania Congressman Tom Marino and Arkansas Congressman Tim Griffin have been assigned seats on Rep. Lamar Smith’s Judiciary Committee. Marino and Griffin, who were profiled in Right Wing Watch’s The Ten Scariest Republicans Heading to Congress, are peculiar picks for a committee which has “jurisdiction over matters relating to the administration of justice in federal courts, administrative bodies, and law enforcement agencies” since both Republicans were dogged by corruption and ethics scandals... MORE
Brian Tashman, Monday 12/20/2010, 3:57pm
Conservative writer Brad O’Leary, who was last seen predicting that the government will try to shutdown Religious Right groups using hate crime laws, appeared on Phyllis Schlafly’s radio show to discuss his book America’s War on Christianity. Schlafly: What inspired you to write this book, Brad? O’Leary: The President. When he was in a Muslim country and made a public statement saying that America is not a Christian nation. I thought it was a ludicrous, un-inspirational statement to pander to the Muslim, Middle East. And, so I started putting together all the... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 12/07/2010, 3:24pm
Rep. Lamar Smith says that the GOP should go ahead and press it's anti-immigration agenda because Hispanics support the Republican agenda and don't really care about the issue of immigration: "The idea that we need to listen to our liberal Democratic friends who say you have to be for amnesty if you want to get Hispanic votes, we've disproved that this year -- and I hope we've laid that to rest," he adds. With the understanding that "Hispanics have the same values that almost every other American has," he thinks the GOP can attract Hispanic voters by treating... MORE
Brian Tashman, Friday 12/03/2010, 11:18am
As the House is set to vote on the DREAM Act, right wing commentators and politicians are going into overdrive to disparage and vilify the bill. The DREAM Act provides a pathway to legal status to students and military servicemembers to the children of illegal immigrants who were not born in the country. Individuals considered for citizenship under the latest proposal cannot be older than 29; must have lived in the US for at least five consecutive years, have a clean record, and “would limit individuals from being able to sponsor family members for U.S. citizenship, among other... MORE