Emails

Is Michael Steele Trying to Get Fired?

It is probably safe to assume that Michael Steele's days as Chairman of the Republican National Committee are numbered now that this new interview from GQ is making the rounds in which he says that he believes that gay people can’t choose to be straight, that women have a right to reproductive choice, and that states should make their own decisions regarding these issues:

Let’s talk about gay marriage. What’s your position?

Well, my position is, hey, look, I have been, um, supportive of a lot of my friends who are gay in some of the core things that they believe are important to them. You know, the ability to be able to share in the information of your partner, to have the ability to—particularly in times of crisis—to manage their affairs and to help them through that as others—you know, as family members or others—would be able to do. I just draw the line at the gay marriage. And that’s not antigay, no. Heck no! It’s just that, you know, from my faith tradition and upbringing, I believe that marriage—that institution, the sanctity of it—is reserved for a man and a woman. That’s just my view. And I’m not gonna jump up and down and beat people upside the head about it, and tell gays that they’re wrong for wanting to aspire to that, and all of that craziness. That’s why I believe that the states should have an opportunity to address that issue.

...

Do you think homosexuality is a choice?

Oh, no. I don’t think I’ve ever really subscribed to that view, that you can turn it on and off like a water tap. Um, you know, I think that there’s a whole lot that goes into the makeup of an individual that, uh, you just can’t simply say, oh, like, “Tomorrow morning I’m gonna stop being gay.” It’s like saying, “Tomorrow morning I’m gonna stop being black.”

So your feeling would be that people are born one way or another.

I mean, I think that’s the prevailing view at this point, and I know that there’s some out there who think that you can absolutely make that choice. And maybe some people have. I don’t know, I can’t say. Until we can give a definitive answer one way or the other, I think we should respect that.

...

How much of your pro-life stance, for you, is informed not just by your Catholic faith but by the fact that you were adopted?

Oh, a lot. Absolutely. I see the power of life in that—I mean, and the power of choice! The thing to keep in mind about it… Uh, you know, I think as a country we get off on these misguided conversations that throw around terms that really misrepresent truth.

Explain that.

The choice issue cuts two ways. You can choose life, or you can choose abortion. You know, my mother chose life. So, you know, I think the power of the argument of choice boils down to stating a case for one or the other.

Are you saying you think women have the right to choose abortion?

Yeah. I mean, again, I think that’s an individual choice.

You do?

Yeah. Absolutely.

Okay, but if you overturn Roe v. Wade, how do women have the choice you just said they should have?

The states should make that choice. That’s what the choice is. The individual choice rests in the states. Let them decide.

Do pro-choicers have a place in the Republican Party?

Absolutely!

The interesting thing about this is that his statements are not really all that different from the positions he defended in the interview he gave to CNS News back in December. Though not as open about these things as he was in GQ, it was clear in the CNS interview that Steele did not ascribe to the GOP's hard-line stances on gays and choice but would support them because they were in the Republican Party Platform.  As I wrote at the time in response to Ken Blackwell's explanation of why he backed Steele:

Steele's embrace of these principles is anything but "authentic" - it is entirely opportunistic. Of all the candidates running for RNC Chairman, Steele is the one most likely "abandon the values and priorities" Blackwell cites because, as Steele freely admits, he doesn't actually agree with them.

Steele's views were well-known before his election as Chairman for the RNC, but given all the criticism he's come under recently, it seems quite likely that this latest dust-up will be enough to topple him from the position he's held for less than two months.

In fact, Ben Smith reports that Steele is already backtracking but it looks like it is too little too late as right-wing activists have already begun piling on:

"I think it is very troubling for a public figure, of either party, particularly one who presents himself as pro-life, to describe the abortion issue as being a matter of 'individual choice,'" That is language straight out of Planned Parenthood's messaging playbook," said Charmaine Yoest, the president and CEO of Americans United for Life Action, who said she hadn't heard from the RNC. "There are millions of pro-life Americans, Republican and Democrat, who are looking for leadership on the life issue and they will find Mr. Steele's comments disturbing and demoralizing."

Another anti-abortion activist and sharp critic of President Barack Obama on the subject, Jill Stanek, was even blunter.

"Michael Steele has just unmistakably proclaimed himself to be pro-choice," she said in an email. "You thought he was 'embattled' last week over his Limbaugh comment? Ha. He has now stepped both feet into it."

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins emails, "I expressed my concerns to the chairman earlier this week about previous statements that were very similar in nature. He assured me as chairman his views did not matter and that he would be upholding and promoting the Party platform, which is very clear on these issues. It is very difficult to reconcile the GQ interview with the chairman's pledge."

This is a Richard Cizik territory, and we all know how that turned out.

Right Wing Round-Up

Today's best reporting on the Right from around the web:

  • Box Turtle Bulletin has a complete transcript of Utah Sen. Chris Buttar's interview, which we mentioned here. Relatedly, Andrew Sullivan points out that in addition to being a homophobe, Buttars is also the former Executive Director of the controversial Utah Boys Ranch.
  • Steve Benen reports that Republicans in Congress have suddenly discovered the importance of the White House preserving its emails.
  • Pharyngula has a post on the University of Vermont's Nicholas Gotelli and his great response to an invitation he received to debate David Klinghoffer from the Discovery Institute.
  • The Washington Blade reports that anti-gay forces are hard at work trying to regain their national influence, stemming from their fear that Congress will advance gay rights legislation.
  • Finally, Kathryn Joyce, author of "Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement," has a piece on Babble explaining just what the movement is all about:
  • [T]he most important thing to understand about the Quiverfull movement [is that] in order for a woman to be Quiverfull, she must embrace a life of absolute submission and obedience to God, her husband, and the cause of Christian revival — winning the culture wars — by having more children than the "other side." At the heart of this call is Quiverfull's insistence that women's individual rights and desires are of secondary importance to the larger cause.

How Large is Vision America?

Last year we noted that Vision America claimed to have sent out ten million emails in one day in support of Mike Huckabee during the GOP primary, which seemed hard to believe considering that a powerhouse organization like MoveOn only claims 3.2 million members.

But they are sticking with their story - according to a recent "Rick Scarborough Report," the organization claims to have more than 1 million subscribers:

As the end of the year approaches, I want to extend my heartfelt gratitude to everyone who receives this Report and prays for our efforts. Because we now have over 1,000,000 subscribers, I am certain some will forward this email to friends who do not typically read our reports so let me rehearse who I am and what I do, and most importantly, why.

How could that possibly be true?  Even by fringe right-wing group standards, Vision America is among the smallest and fringiest.  I follow VA as closely as I follow influential groups like Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council and yet if you were to ask me what they actually do, I'd be hard-pressed to tell you. They rarely issue press releases or hold events and almost never generate any press coverage, even by their own admission.

Could this tiny organization, which always seems to be in desperate need of money, really have more than a million subscribers?  That just seems beyond belief - I just can't imagine that there are a million people in this country who would sign up to receive Scarborough's rambling emails, which are full of hyperbole and nonsense: 

I believe that America is facing the gravest challenge since the Second World War, and one that will forever change the course of this great nation if Christians do not experience a renewed commitment to freedom and understanding of the role of God in government.

...

I am not hopeless, but I do believe that Christians and other god-fearing Americans must be willing to confront what Barrack Hussein Obama has made clear will be the most radical pro-abortion and pro-homosexual big government administration ever. We still have friends in Congress, but we must mobilize millions of Americans to stand with them and let them know we are here to pray and to act!

...

And now we are hearing of plans to take the financial crisis this country is facing and using it as the gateway to nationalizing enormous chunks of the American economy, moving us down the road to European style socialism. One of the foundational principles of the Declaration of Independence was the inalienable right to pursue happiness. With nationalized healthcare, no health care professional will ever be included in that right again, and you will see an erosion of the greatest healthcare system the world has ever known.

Who knows?  Maybe there really are a million people out there just waiting for Vision America to mobilize them to action.  I doubt it, but if that is the case, one has to wonder just why the organization has seemingly been unable to accomplish anything at all. 

Porter Gets Even Fringier

Just when you thought Janet "Vote for Obama and Go to Hell" Porter couldn't get any crazier, it turns out that she can and is, by throwing in with right-wing crackpot Philip Berg and his crusade to expose to America that Barack Obama is not eligible to be President of the United States:

There are critical issues that need to be resolved before the Electoral College makes the election official in mid-December. Faith2Action has placed a full page ad in next Monday's issue of The Washington Times National Weekly, a publication that is read by many of our nation's leaders, to address them.

The ad asks these three questions: (1) "Was Barack Obama born in Kenya?"; (2) "Is he really a citizen of Indonesia?"; and (3) "Does the Constitution still matter?" These questions point to various cases that have been filed before the U.S. Supreme Court and other Federal courts. The ad also lays out several alarming facts which question whether the Constitutional requirements for becoming President are satisfied by Senator Barack Obama.

"Attorney Philip Berg, multiple legal cases, and a growing number of American citizens are demanding answers to these critical questions," states Janet (Folger) Porter, the founder and president of Faith2Action. "The Constitution and our nation's future are too important to not fully investigate this."

"It's our hope that the American people will rise up and call for Congressional hearings and immediate court action to avoid a Constitutional crisis," added Porter. "If we are willing to ignore the Constitutional requirements for the highest office of the land, what else are we willing to forgo? That part about free speech? Freedom of the press? Freedom of religion?"

If you check out Berg's webpage Obama Crimes you can read the Writ of Certiorari [PDF] he's filed with the US Supreme Court in which the defendant is listed thusly:

BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA, a/k/a
BARACK HUSSEIN DUNHAM a/k/a/
BARACK HUSSEIN SOETORO a/k/a
BARRY OBAMA a/k/a
BARRY DUNHAM a/k/a
BARRY SOETORO

Just how professional is Berg's operation, you ask?  Well, they are asking supporters to contact the Supreme Court Justices directly and ask them to hear the case:

As citizens, you can individually write letters to each of the Court Justices addressing your concerns with respect to Mr. Obama's fulfillment of the requirements to serve as the President of the United States laid out in Article II, Section I of The United States Constitution.

United States Supreme Court
1 First Street NE
Washington DC 20543

The Supreme Court Justices are as follows:

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts
Supreme Court Justice John Stevens
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia
Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy
Supreme Court Justice David Souter
Supreme Court Justice Thomas Clarence
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Ginsburg
Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer
Supreme Court Justice Samual Alito

I don't know about you, but I suspect that asking supporters to write letters to Justices "Thomas Clarence" and "Samual" Alito is probably going to end up doing more harm than good to their ridiculous little effort.

David Barton Tries to Rescue Musgrave

Last week we noted that the Right was none-too-pleased that the National Republican Campaign Committee had pulled its advertising from the re-election campaigns of both Rep. Michelle Bachmann (MN) and Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (CO) and that the Family Research Council had threatened that they would shut down their own efforts to raise money for NRCC if they didn’t change course.  

Well, it looks like some Religious Right leaders aren’t waiting around for the NRCC to change its mind and have decided to raise money for them themselves, which is why David Barton is sending out emails begging donors to support Musgrave because they can’t afford to lose “her voice for our values in Congress”

I want to bring a special need to your attention. We are 10 days out from one of the most critical elections in our nation's history. While great attention has been focused on the Presidential race, numerous pro-family Congressmen are also currently running who desperately need your help!

One of these pro-family champions is Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave. She is an asset to the pro-family movementand has been instrumental in helping secure many pro-faith and pro-family victories, including being the original sponsor of the Federal Marriage AmendmentBut she needs your help today!!!

She is in a tight race against a pro-choice, pro-homosexual liberal and is under vicious attack from the secular left. She is the top target of the pro-homosexual movement because of her firm stance on protecting traditional marriage at the federal level.

In the past two elections, Tim Gill, a homosexual activist billionaire, has personally funneled several million dollars through numerous organizations to defeat Marilyn. He recently stated that one of his greatest frustrations in life has been his inability to remove her from office, so in this election he has pulled out all stops and is pouring even more into the race against her. The homosexual movement has made it their goal to take out the most visible leader in the pro-marriage movement. Current polling shows that they are very close in their goal of removing her.

She needs your help today, whether it's $5-$10 or whether it's the maximum of $2300 per person; you can make a difference! Marilyn has stood strong for all of us, and now we need to stand strong for her! We don't want to lose her voice for our values in Congress. 

Also, if you have some time available and can travel to her campaign office in Greeley, CO, or to the Victory Centers in Greeley and Ft. Collins, please volunteer to make phone calls or block walk and encourage people to early vote. By Election Day, over 85% of the district will have already voted - so she needs your help TODAY!

...

I have known Marilyn for years and have worked closely with her on a number of faith and family issues in Congress. I personally and heartily endorse her candidacy and ask you to consider making a contribution to her campaign -- either with time or money. (Each individual may contribute up to $2,300, but contributions of any size will be very helpful.) Any contribution you make will definitely be investing money in the future of a healthy America.

Please help make a difference in this race, for she is running for all of us!

God bless!

David Barton

The Quintessential Piece of Right-Wing Propaganda

I am not exactly sure which right-wing groups are behind the new "Values Voters USA" website but I assume that the American Family Association is involved, since I learned about it through one of their emails, perhaps along with Liberty Counsel, Wallbuilders, and the Family Research Council which are all listed on the site's "resources" page.

We'll find out sooner or later who put this all together, but for now I just want to call attention to the video they have produced which is a pretty remarkable piece of right-wing propaganda. 

Basically, everything you need to know about the Religious Right can be found right here in this video: their use of wedge issues; their reliance on fearmongering and victimization; their insistence that America is, has, and always must remain a Judeo-Christian country; their exploitation of religion for political purposes; all summed up in one four-minute video:

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.

Hate You Can Believe In: ACORN Deluged with Threatening and Racist Voicemails and Emails

It’s bad enough that the employees of ACORN have had to endure days of baseless and outlandish attacks by John McCain and the RNC. But after McCain outrageously claimed before a national audience on Wednesday night that ACORN was “maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy,” the group came under attack, literally. In the following days, ACORN’s Boston and Seattle offices were vandalized and at least one employee received a death threat.

And for nearly two weeks, ACORN offices across the nation have been subjected to an onslaught of racist and threatening voicemails and emails. We have secured copies of some of the most disturbing and offensive messages and have reproduced them below in order to show the very real consequences of the Right Wing’s overheated and misplaced “voter fraud” rhetoric.

Warning: the emails and voicemails below are highly explicit and have only been edited to remove personally identifying information. Please also note that, where relevant, the proper authorities have been notified.

Voicemail #1:  

“Hi, I was just calling to let you all know that Barack Obama needs to get hung. He's a fucking nigger, and he's a piece of shit. You guys are fraudulent, and you need to go to hell. All the niggers on oak trees. They're gonna get all hung honeys, they're gonna get assassinated, they're gonna get killed.”

Email #1: This email was received by the Cleveland office. The subject line was the name of a senior staffer who had recently appeared on TV to defend the group.

According to McClatchy, the email was traced back to a Facebook account featuring a McCain-Palin sign.

Email #2:

Voicemail #2:

"You liberal idiots. Dumb shits. Welfare bums. You guys just fucking come to our country, consume every natural resource there is, and make a lot of babies. That's all you guys do. And then suck up the welfare and expect everyone else to pay for your hospital bills for your kids. I just say let your kids die. That's the best move. Just let your children die. Forget about paying for hospital bills for them. I'm not gonna do it. You guys are lowlifes. And I hope you all die."

Hate You Can Believe In: ACORN Deluged with Threatening and Racist Voicemails and Emails

It’s bad enough that the employees of ACORN have had to endure days of baseless and outlandish attacks by John McCain and the RNC. But after McCain outrageously claimed before a national audience on Wednesday night that ACORN was “maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy,” the group came under attack, literally. In the following days, ACORN’s Boston and Seattle offices were vandalized and at least one employee received a death threat.

And for nearly two weeks, ACORN offices across the nation have been subjected to an onslaught of racist and threatening voicemails and emails. We have secured copies of some of the most disturbing and offensive messages and have reproduced them below in order to show the very real consequences of the Right Wing’s overheated and misplaced “voter fraud” rhetoric.

Warning: the emails and voicemails below are highly explicit and have only been edited to remove personally identifying information. Please also note that, where relevant, the proper authorities have been notified.

Voicemail #1:  

“Hi, I was just calling to let you all know that Barack Obama needs to get hung. He's a fucking nigger, and he's a piece of shit. You guys are fraudulent, and you need to go to hell. All the niggers on oak trees. They're gonna get all hung honeys, they're gonna get assassinated, they're gonna get killed.”

Email #1: This email was received by the Cleveland office. The subject line was the name of a senior staffer who had recently appeared on TV to defend the group.

According to McClatchy, the email was traced back to a Facebook account featuring a McCain-Palin sign.

Email #2:

Voicemail #2:

"You liberal idiots. Dumb shits. Welfare bums. You guys just fucking come to our country, consume every natural resource there is, and make a lot of babies. That's all you guys do. And then suck up the welfare and expect everyone else to pay for your hospital bills for your kids. I just say let your kids die. That's the best move. Just let your children die. Forget about paying for hospital bills for them. I'm not gonna do it. You guys are lowlifes. And I hope you all die."

We’ve Been Remiss

It seems that while I’ve been busy not paying attention to the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, they’ve released parts 2 and 3 of their “Why Obama Is Not A Christian” video series. I was inclined to ignore these new videos until I saw that the CADC was relying on us to help them get the word out:

The controversy continues to swirl around our campaign. RightWingWatch.com, a radical liberal organization, has taken note of CADC and our campaign. They have even posted our video on their site. Many of their supporters have weighed in with a barrage of heated e-mails. We are rejoicing that so many unbelievers are watching the videos. Pray that the life changing truth of Christ's gospel will touch their hearts.

Unfortunately for them, angry emails generally don’t contain donations, which they obviously need:

In order to keep Barack Obama from defaming and redefining the Christian faith we need to raise $10,000.00 this week. Help us keep this vital campaign alive so that millions of Christians will not be deceived by Obama's phony claim that he is a "devout Christian." Your gift will make it possible to get us these videos out!

I sure hope that they raise the money they need because, if they go out of business, I’ll have one less D-list fringe group to mock.

McCain Avoiding Brody File

CBN's David Brody wrote a post today explaining to his readers why it is that he seems to keep interviewing Barack Obama but not John McCain. Turns out it is because McCain is trying to avoid him:
First of all, The Brody File has made numerous (dozens) of requests for a one on one interview with John McCain. Those requests have been turned down due to various reasons. Usually I am told it is a scheduling issue. I have been trying for six months. The Brody File has bent over backwards to try and get John McCain to discuss issues of faith, social policy and other matters. I am told that an interview will eventually be forthcoming. I believe it will happen and that is encouraging. ... Here’s why: There is no doubt that the McCain camp realizes that religious conservatives are crucial to winning in November. The McCain staff is working hard to get out the vote. But the thinking inside the McCain camp also centers on how they need to appeal to Independents and moderates who may get turned off to some degree with excess talk about faith and social issues. There may be a reluctance to appear in part for this reason. After all, Brody File interviews end up on The 700 Club. But what’s important to remember about our audience (and I get reminded everyday in the emails I receive) is that we are read and viewed by voters from all faiths. It’s a wide spectrum with various political views. So when you see Barack Obama sitting down with me and appearing on CBN, don’t think for a minute that we aren’t affording the same opportunity to John McCain. We are.
It seems that McCain doesn't want to ruin what is left of his reputation as a "maverick" by sitting down with Brody because he works for Pat Robertson, whom McCain labeled an "agent of intolerance" back in 2000. Of course, that didn't stop him from cozying up to Jerry Falwell, so this strategy doesn't really make a lot of sense.

One Press Release Per Year Enough for Fox News

Back when the issue of judicial confirmations was heating up in the Senate, at the center of the Republican efforts to confirm controversial nominees was Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Justice.   As a member of the “Four Horsemen” along with C. Boyden Gray, Edwin Meese III, and Leonard Leo, Sekulow was a inside player in the battle over the “nuclear option” and the confirmations of John Roberts and Samuel Alito. 

Along the way, Sekulow created a new group called The Judicial Confirmation Network that was designed to give the appearance of grassroots support for the efforts:

It was a subtle bit of targeting that dovetailed with another project under way in an office just above the radio studio. That's where Gary A. Marx, head of the grass-roots arm of Mr. Sekulow's campaign, was meeting with a Maine activist ginning up telephone calls, letters and editorials aimed at pushing Ms. Collins into the antifilibuster camp.

In the 2004 campaign, Mr. Marx, 29, was the Bush-Cheney national conservative coalition director who helped organize church-sponsored voter drives in Ohio. In January, Mr. Sekulow invited Mr. Marx to set up the Judicial Confirmation Network in his offices so they could combine forces.

Mr. Sekulow uses his Senate contacts to track the status of the debate and identify wavering lawmakers. While he targets them on the radio or through his regular emails, Mr. Marx follows up with state-based groups that can be important to a senator's political career.

The JCN quickly made a name for itself, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on the efforts only to become little more than a shell once the battles were over.  Little was heard from its two employees, Gary Marx and Wendy Long, until both showed up on Mitt Romney’s National Faith and Values Steering Committee and, in the meantime, the JCN essentially went dark, having not even issued a press release since July of 2007.   Until today, that is, when Long resurfaced to attack Barack Obama for his answer during a question at Rick Warren’s faith forum about which Supreme Court judges he would not have nominated:

All this speaks volumes about the kind of judges Obama would appoint, and the way he would fill several potential vacancies at the Supreme Court that could arise during the next President's term in office. Obama wants Justices who will do his bidding, who will implement the preferred policies of the liberal establishment - not Justices like Thomas, Scalia, Roberts and Alito, who understand that the role of a judge is not to legislate from the bench.

But that was apparently enough to get her quoted at length in an article on FoxNews.com:

“Apparently, Obama can do no better than to recycle discredited statements of Harry Reid when it comes to Justice Thomas. Like other liberal elites, Obama cannot stand it when a black man strays from the ideological plantation and refuses to implement liberal policies through the courts. But Obama will never point out any intellectual deficiencies in Justice Thomas’s work, because he can’t. Justice Thomas’s opinions consistently reveal faithfulness to the Constitution, judicial modesty and deference to the will of the people in our representative democracy. That is opposed to everything that Obama and the liberals are trying to do in grabbing power from the people and giving it to the courts,” she said.

Eagerly Awaiting April 15th

Everyone is looking forward to April 15th this year not only because it is traditionally the day that taxes are due, but also because there are going to be some big Right Wing announcements made that day.

First off, Alan Keyes is scheduled to make a “major announcement

Alan has chosen April 15 to make a major announcement about his intentions, and his reasons for them, in this year’s U.S. presidential race — a highly irregular, undemocratic, media-controlled electoral process that appears aimed at giving voters little or no say about who ultimately governs them.

Alan’s announcement will take place in a press conference that will be streamed live at AlanKeyes.com from the Best Western hotel in Hazleton, PA, Tuesday evening, April 15.  The exact time is still pending.

It has already been reported that Keyes intends to leave the Republican Party; so that, coupled with the announcement on Keyes’ website that he “will be among those considered for the presidential nomination of the Constitution Party” Convention on April 23-26, it is not too hard to figure out what he intends to announce, especially since he is seeking donations in order to “keep his presidential candidacy on track for a possible third-party bid!"

KeyesGOP.jpg

Unfortunately for Keyes, it looks like he might be overshadowed by Mike Huckabee, who likewise has an announcement to make that day about what he plans to do with his future that is even more enticing and mysterious.  If you go to his new website, MikeHuckabee.com, all you see is this:

HuckWeb.jpg

Will Keyes really leave the GOP? Will Huckabee be unveiling an organization that will "focus on activating people around the nation to take a stand" or will he be seeking to establish himself as a challenger to the current Religious Right leaders? Or perhaps both? The suspense is driving us mad!

Declaring Victory

If an anti-gay campaign falls in the forest, and no one hears it, does it make a sound?

For two years, the American Family Association has operated a boycott of Ford Motor Company for its gay-friendly employment practices and its advertising in gay magazines. And AFA has not been shy about taking credit for the automaker’s financial woes.

“For the 13th month out of the last 15, the boycott of Ford Motor Company by AFA and other pro-family groups has helped cause Ford to lose sales,” the group bragged last June. “Ford continues to financially support homosexual groups despite the massive sales drop and a loss of millions for the company’s stockholders,” it warned in July. In January, AFA founder Don Wildmon asserted that a “significant amount” of Ford’s decline in sales was “a direct result of the boycott.”

Nevertheless, industry analysts have seen Ford’s continuing financial woes as the result of factors such as gas prices, market changes, workforce aging, and management—and not as a direct result of “its commitment to the homosexual agenda,” as AFA put it. Instead, reports focused on Ford’s “Way Forward” plan (released before AFA’s boycott), which announced large downsizing and projected profitability in 2009. The right-wing Media Research Center issued a report accusing “the media” of being “strangely silent” about the boycott.

Yesterday, AFA announced that it was declaring victory and ending the boycott, asserting that, based on AFA’s own “monitoring,” Ford had met its conditions on donations to gay and lesbian non-profits and gay-oriented advertising. “Flinch! Ford finally bends,” trumpeted the right-wing World Net Daily. Ford, on the other hand, denied that it had made any changes in policy:

Ford said in a statement that its principles haven't changed, but that it has reduced overall advertising and charitable spending in recent years because of losses in North America. Ford lost $2.7 billion in 2007.

"We are committed to treating everyone fairly and with respect, including our dealers, customers and employees," the company said. "Ford will continue to market its products widely to attract as many customers as possible and make charitable contributions to strengthen communities to the extent business conditions allow."

If AFA is to be believed, we can expect Ford Motor Company to make a dramatic recovery in the coming months. Then again, it could be that AFA simply gave up, as Daniel Blatt predicted just a month ago:

Let the AFA attribute the decline of Ford to its drawing attention to the company’s pro-gay policies. But other corporations have adopted similar policies and not suffered like the American automaker. The AFA may claim that it hasn’t targeted them, but I would wager that if it had, it wouldn’t have made much of a difference. Americans are more concerned about a product’s quality than they are about the domestic partnership policies of the corporations than produce it.

Realizing this, expect the AFA to drop its boycott against Ford as it did the campaign against Disney. It will probably claim that it made a point, but it really won’t have made much of a difference.

Does Vision America Dwarf MoveOn?

According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Rick Scarborough of Vision America claims to have "sent out on Friday 10 million e-mails to the 20-plus states voting, praising Huckabee and noting questions about McCain's conservatism." 10 million emails? MoveOn only claims 3.2 million members.

Battle of the Boycotts

To say that the American Family Association has had something of a tense relationship with retail giant Wal-Mart would be an understatement.  In the past, the AFA has targeted the chain for everything from using the phrase “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” to sponsoring Diversity Week at Boise State University.  

Last year, when Wal-Mart partnered with the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, the AFA went ballistic and vowed that “1,000,000 families … will not shop at Wal-Mart or Sam's Club on the Friday or Saturday following Thanksgiving” because of Wal-Mart’s apparent role in furthering the homosexual agenda:   

A quick search for books sold by Wal-Mart found the following related to the promotion of homosexual marriage:

    * What God Has Joined Together: The Christian Case for Gay Marriage

    * Gay Marriage: Why It Is Good for Gay, Good for Straights, and Good for America

    * Legalizing Gay Marriage

    * Why You Should Give a -amn about Gay Marriage

    * Civil Wars: A Battle for Gay Marriage

    * Gay Marriage and Democracy: Equality for All

    * Defending Same-Sex Marriage

    * Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality, and Gay People's Right to Marry

    * Gay Marriage, Real Life: Ten Stories of Love and Family

A quick search of Wal-Mart's website turned up the following number of items for sale:

Gay - 1148

Lesbian - 468

Transgender - 40

Bisexual - 38

Gay Marriage – 26

The AFA eventually backed off its boycott threat once Wal-Mart pledged that it would “not make corporate contributions to support or oppose highly controversial issues unless they directly relate to our ability to serve our customers."

That seemed to placate the AFA, and now that the Human Rights Campaign is urging people not to shop at Wal-Mart because of the store’s refusal to offer domestic partner benefits to its gay and lesbian employees, AFA has come rushing to Wal-Mart’s defense:

Homosexuals have challenged traditional marriage supporters to do battle. We will now see if traditional marriage supporters accept the challenge.

Make every effort to shop at Wal-Mart this Christmas season. The gays want Wal-Mart sales to go down so they can claim victory.

Forward this to your friends and family and urge them to buy at Wal-Mart. Announce this in your Sunday School class, at church, etc. Ask your pastor to announce in church newsletters and bulletins that the homosexuals are challenging those who support traditional marriage. Tell them about the homosexual's efforts to force Wal-Mart to offer "marriage" benefits and Target's support for "marriage" benefits.

The only thing consistent about the AFA’s shift from boycott to “buycott” seems to be their militant opposition to equality for gays and lesbians.  

No Christmas for Fido

In their never-ending crusade to save Christmas by apparently demanding that every retailer in America to use the word “Christmas” in its holiday (sorry, Christmas) promotions, the American Family Association is now targeting PetSmart for denying Christmas to the nation’s pets:
At PetSmart, Christmas doesn't exist Send an e-mail to PetSmart and ask why they refuse to include Christmas in their promotion, choosing to only use holiday. At PetSmart, Christmas doesn't exist. It is not to be found anywhere on their Web Site. AFA checked out the local PetSmart store and there was no Christmas there, either. A search on PetSmart's home page found 252 references to "holiday." It also found 43 references to "Christmas." But, alas, this is very misleading. When you click on "Christmas" you are directed to a page containing the same gifts you get when you search for holiday. Of all the items that pop up when you search for Christmas, not a single one mentions Christmas or is identified as being a Christmas gift. At PetSmart, everything is "holiday."
Of course, since Christmas is a holiday, it kind of makes sense that all of the Christmas gifts would also be holiday gifts as well. But apparently PetSmart has already gotten the message:

PetSmart%20II.jpg

Thompson Sets Off a Dobson-Land War

Several months ago we noted that Richard Land was trying to position himself as a key player within the Religious Right hierarchy and had been publicly challenging James Dobson on a variety of fronts, including immigration, global warming and, most importantly, the candidacy of Fred Thompson.

From the get-go, Land has been a vocal advocate of Thompson, issuing fawning praise of him at every opportunity – so it must have come as a rude surprise when, last week, Dobson weighed in and declared Thompson unacceptable:

In a private e-mail obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press, Dobson accuses the former Tennessee senator and actor of being weak on the campaign trail and wrong on issues dear to social conservatives.

"Isn't Thompson the candidate who is opposed to a Constitutional amendment to protect marriage, believes there should be 50 different definitions of marriage in the U.S., favors McCain-Feingold, won't talk at all about what he believes, and can't speak his way out of a paper bag on the campaign trail?" Dobson wrote. "He has no passion, no zeal and no apparent 'want to.' And yet he is apparently the Great Hope that burns in the breasts of many conservative Christians? Well, not for me, my brothers. Not for me!"

Obviously, this didn’t sit well with Land, so it is not surprising that he has decided to strike back, reaching out to CBN’s David Brody to defend Thompson and blast Dobson:

“I’ve received phone calls and emails from Southern Baptists about Senator Thompson. They are all furious at Doctor Dobson. They just feel that first of all there was a mischaracterizing of his positions. Do I wish that he supported the marriage protection amendment? Of course I do.  To say that he is for 50 different views of marriage in 50 different states is a gross mischaracterization of his position. Secondly, do I wish that he attended church every Sunday? As a Baptist pastor, of course I do. But does that make him a person of unbelief? That’s harsh and unwarranted.”

Land defends Thompson’s opposition to a marriage amendment by claiming that Thompson is simply so principled that he will not jettison his staunch “federalist” convictions for political gain, before winding it up by proclaiming that Thompson is “one of us”: 

“Fred Thompson grew up in a very modest means in a small town in America just like Ronald Reagan grew up in very modest means in a small town in Illinois. You acquire not only an understanding of but a respect for everyday folk when you come from the background that you don’t get otherwise and people sense it. That this is a guy who respects me, a guy who understands that we are the backbone of this country, we are the salt of the Earth and he not only understands us, he’s one of us. He’s a successful one of us but he’s one of us and they trust a guy like that. They give a guy like that a larger margin of error. Nobody gets everything right but its core values. My assessment is that this guy is a whole much like Reagan including his Teflon quality. The press has been beating up with him for these types of gaffes and he continues to climb in the polls.”

It is exceedingly rare that anyone on the Right dares to criticize Dobson, much less do so publicly.  In fact, the last people to do so ended up getting booted out of the movement.  

This sort of high-profile fight cannot be helping the Right as it struggles to figure out how to maintain its influence going into the 2008 election.  But at least it ought to make the upcoming Values Voter Summit all the more interesting, since both Land and Dobson are going to be there.  

God, Threats, Taxes, and Pat Robertson

Remember about a month ago when it was reported that Pat Robertson had threatened to kill Phillip Busch, the man who is suing him over his “Age-Defying Shake”? Well, Robertson now denies threatening him, though he does admit that he warned Busch that God was going to punish him

The evangelist's remarks were made off the record, before a court reporter and videographer began recording the proceedings. But a transcript of the deposition includes a discussion about what he said.

Busch, acting as his own attorney, asked to speak with U.S. Magistrate Judge James Bradberry "concerning Mr. Robertson's comments when he came in here, his off-the-record comments to me, which I perceive to be a threat against my life."

Robertson: "It's not a federal crime to invoke God's power, and that's all I was doing.... There was no threat against your life, and I certainly didn't mention your family.... You are delusional."

Busch: "What, exactly, did you say?"

Robertson: "I said he's gonna take your strength away..."

Busch: "He's gonna take my strength away?"

Robertson: "... that you are so proud of."

While this is clearly the most sensational aspect of the on-going lawsuit, it is the least of Robertson’s worries at the moment.

For Fired Attorneys, Loyalty Was a One-Way Street

Amid the ever-widening scandal surrounding the purge of several U.S. attorneys, now involving everything from subpoenas to bipartisan calls for Attorney General Gonzales’s resignation, one interesting bit of information has so-far gone unnoticed:  the fact that several of the fired attorneys had previously been involved in supporting White House and Justice Department efforts to secure passage and renewal of the Patriot Act.  

As Legal Times reported back in August 2004:

The Justice Department launched an unprecedented nationwide campaign in 2003 to boost support for the USA Patriot Act and beat back opponents. Recently obtained internal DOJ documents reveal just how organized and aggressive that push has been.

"Your role is educational only. You must not encourage citizens or public officials to make congressional contacts or to attempt to influence any vote concerning the USA Patriot Act," one DOJ memo states.

To avoid ethical pitfalls, Main Justice instructed the 93 Senate-confirmed U.S. attorneys, who are exempt from the Anti-Lobbying Act, to contact Congress members personally, not through staff.

Apparently, not every Attorney was eager to participate: 

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Emails Posts Archive

Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 12/01/2010, 1:33pm
A few weeks back, we noted that Religious Right activists in Texas were lining-up against Texas House Speaker Joe Straus and that the campaign had started to take on religious overtones as activists openly sought to replace Straus, who is Jewish, with a true "Christian conservative." David Barton has been deeply involved in this effort and he even produced a six minute video outlining the reasons that Straus needs to be removed.  Starting at the 2:20 mark, Barton claims that the campaign against Straus is in no way rooted in antisemitism: Also not surprisingly, liberals... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 11/17/2010, 2:12pm
Back in 2009, a battle erupted in the Texas House of Representatives as Republicans fought over which member would serve as Speaker of the House.  The Religious Right lined up behind Tom Craddick, but everyone else supported Joe Straus who ended up winning, leading Rick Scarborough to decry it as a "coup." And now a similar battle is unfolding yet again, as the same coalition of right-wing activists have mounted an effort to replace Straus with someone more inclined to do their bidding: A group of conservative groups is trying to capitalize on that frustration, issuing a... MORE
Brian Tashman, Wednesday 11/10/2010, 12:13pm
Following last Tuesday's election, RWW will bring you our list of the "The Ten Scariest Republicans Heading to Congress." Our fifth candidate profile is on Tim Griffin of Arkansas: Running in an open Democratic district, Tim Griffin defeated progressive champion Joyce Elliott to win the election to represent Arkansas’s 2nd Congressional District. Tim Griffin worked in the two Bush presidential campaigns and McCain’s 2008 campaign as the Republicans’ chief opposition researcher. In 2000, he said with regards to his opposition research department: “We think... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 10/06/2010, 11:21am
You have to admire Vision America's Rick Scarborough for finally giving up the pretense of being "nonpartisan" and openly admitting that he votes Republican 90% of the time. Scarborough claims to be a "Christocrat," but since he freely admits that he votes Republican as a "matter of principle," it's pretty obvious that when he tells people to vote a followers of Jesus Christ, he is really saying "vote Republican." As such, it comes as no surprise that he is sending out emails seeking to get other pastors likewise commited to voting Republican... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 09/30/2010, 10:40am
Via Al Mohler we get this fascinating study by Mark A. Smith of the University of Washington in "Political Science Quarterly" entitled "Religion, Divorce, and the Missing Culture War in America" [PDF]. In it, Smith examines why Religious Right groups who spend all of their time talking about family values and the sanctity of marriage seem to give only lip-service, at best, to fighting divorce, despite the fact that it is repeatedly mentioned in the Bible. The Right may mentione it, generally when bemoaning the deteriorating culture, but they invest little to no effort in... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 09/22/2010, 2:25pm
Last night I watched "Casino Jack and the United States of Money," a documentary all about the shady dealings of Jack Abramoff and his cronies.  One of those cronies was Ralph Reed, who just so happened to be on Alan Colmes' radio program last night pitching his new novel "The Confirmation." First, Colmes asked Reed about his infamous "I do guerrilla warfare ... You don't know it's over until you're in a body bag" quote, which Reed claimed was simply a poor choice of words for his method of taking on the boring, ground-level grunt work like knocking on... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 09/07/2010, 1:40pm
On Saturday, Terry Jones, senior pastor from the Dove World Outreach Center in Florida is planning on burning copies of the Quran to mark the anniversary of 9/11, despite the fact that Gen. David Petraeus says his actions could "endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort [in Afghanistan]." The AFA's Bryan Fischer says Jones' plan is a step too far: Pastor Terry Jones intends to burn copies of the Qur'an at his church on 9/11. It's not something I would do were I still in the pastorate, and not something I recommend. Really?  What exactly is Fischer's... MORE