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NOM Ponies Up Half A Million Dollars in New Jersey

When it comes to fighting marriage equality, seemingly no organization has deeper pockets than the National Organization for Marriage, which has announced that is now dumping a half-million dollars into its home state of New Jersey:

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) announces a new $500,000 voter outreach campaign in New Jersey highlighted by the release of a new radio ad, “Give Me a Break,” which will begin running on targeted New Jersey radio stations today and will continue for at least two weeks.

“NOM's voter outreach will include telephone calling, direct mailers, and online advertising to let voters know that Democrats are considering following Jon Corzine over a political cliff by pushing gay marriage in the lame duck," said Brian Brown, executive director of NOM.

The ad, "Give Me a Break," underscores that Gov. Jon Corzine had four years to push a gay marriage bill, and the losing governor should not waste legislators’ valuable time by pushing a gay marriage bill in the lame duck session when New Jersey voters expect elected officials to focus on far more urgent priorities, like jobs, the economy and the budget.

“In the next two weeks NOM will spend $300,000 in voter outreach on the theme of this ad, including radio ad buys, direct mail, and online advertising,” said Brian Brown. “We have reserved an additional $200,000 for advertising and direct mail outreach if the legislature continues to spend more and more of its time into December fooling around with a vote for gay marriage that New Jersey voters do not want.”

The latest installment in NOM's New Jersey campaign will bring the total NOM has spent in New Jersey in 2009 in automated calling, radio and television ads, and direct mail voter outreach to more than $1 million.

Right Wing Round-Up

Marco Rubio: The New Doug Hoffman

It looks like the Right, fresh off its "victory" in backing Doug Hoffman in New York, is now focusing its attention on the Florida Senate primary race between Gov. Charlie Crist and right-wing darling Marco Rubio.

Mike Huckabee endorsed Rubio months ago and he's already received support from the National Review. Now the Club for Growth is getting involved in the race:

The Club for Growth took a major step Thursday toward backing Marco Rubio in Florida’s GOP Senate primary, launching an ad against Gov. Charlie Crist.

The ad criticizes Crist for saying this week that he didn’t, in fact, support President Barack Obama’s stimulus plan.

“Since Charlie Crist helped pass Barack Obama’s spending program, nearly 200,000 Floridians have lost their jobs,” the ad states. “Unemployment is the highest in decades. Personal income’s down. And the deficit in Washington is three times larger.”

The ad is not yet on TV but is slated for an ad buy, a Club spokesman said.

And today, the Family Research Council Action PAC officially endorsed Rubio as well:

Today FRC Action PAC, the political action committee connected to Family Research Council Action, is endorsing Marco Rubio for the U.S. Senate representing Florida. Tony Perkins, President of FRC Action, made the following statement:

"Marco Rubio has been a true friend of the family and the culture of life as a state legislator in Florida. Senators who will fight to defend the family against the radical leadership in the Senate are crucial to the future of our country.

"Rep. Rubio has fought to protect mothers and their unborn children. He supported pro-life legislation that would require doctors to complete ultrasounds before performing abortions thus giving the mother an opportunity to assess the consequences of her actions. Rep. Rubio also understands the importance of adult stem cell research in treating patients. He also endorsed legislation to ensure that taxpayers aren't forced to fund embryonic stem cell research.

"Rep. Rubio knows how taxes and out-of-control government spending burden our families. We believe he will stand up to the White House and Senate leadership as they attempt to saddle our children and grandchildren with an overwhelming mountain of debt.

"Rep. Rubio's many years of advocacy on behalf of pro-family causes will serve him well in the Senate. FRC Action PAC believes that Marco Rubio will be a true advocate for the issues that best uphold and strengthen families. We are proud to support his candidacy," concluded Perkins.

Christian Coalition: The New Environmentalists

A few months ago we noted that the Christian Coalition, after firing its incoming president, Joel Hunter, for trying to get the group to expand its agenda to include things like climate change, had suddenly changed its tune and begun working with the National Wildlife Federation.

It seems as if this change is the real deal, because the two groups recently ran a joint ad in Politico calling on Senators to "work together to move forward with a clean energy plan for America":

America's economic growth, national security and the health of our environment are all intertwined with our country's energy policies - and we need a better plan.

We can better ensure our national security, strengthen our economy and protect our environment at the same time by developing American energy resources and investing in clean, renewable energy technologies that create American jobs.

In other words we need a comprehensive, all-American approach to our energy needs. A solution that allows for the development of American resources to lower our gas prices, but also recognizes we must work towards a much more diversified energy future.

* We believe that America is addicted to foreign oil. America currently sends over 700 billion dollars every year to foreign countries - in many cases, making countries that hate us very rich.

* We believe that an over-reliance on foreign sources of energy is harmful to our country's national security and puts our economy at risk.

* We need a comprehensive approach to deal with our country's energy needs and provide stable sources of energy to run our economy and provide for our families

* We need solutions that include proven American technology and resources, as well as the development of new "renewable" energy technologies. By building on current technologies, such as nuclear and natural gas, and developing new technologies, America can provide for its future energy independence and build its economy.

* We call for the launch of an American energy independence program focused on developing American energy resources, providing tax credits to spur development of new technology and alternative energy production, and offering incentives for energy efficiencies.

As conservatives, we stand up for our country's national security and the health of our economy. And, as Christians, we recognize the Biblical mandate to care for God's creation and protect our children's future.

You can see a PDF of the ad here.

Everybody's a Comedian

It seems that the Religious Right is taking time out from holding press conferences warning that healthcare reform will force women to abort their children in favor of a new tactic: humor.

First up, the Family Research Council:

Concerned Women for America likewise recently unveiled three of its own "humorous" videos on what healthcare reform will mean for Americans. Behold:

Normally, this is where we'd tell those responsible for these ads not to quit their day jobs ... but unfortunately, in this case, producing things like this is their day job.

Are You Noticing A Pattern?

I think this column by Mark Creech, based largely on a speech that Gary Bauer delivered 15 years ago, gives a lot of insight into the mentality of the Religious Right:

Bauer said that most Americans fail to understand just how removed lawmakers typically are from the values of the people they represent. He said many believe that government can create a utopia on earth. They believe that morals are relative and not absolute. They argue for a radical individualism, yet also demand that a strong central government be in control of every area of life. Bauer said the people of this country believe very much in personal responsibility, truth, virtue, and faith, but the “elites” in government want something of a new world order which isn’t impeded by tradition or religious conviction.

Bauer said, “I know that all of us worry about the economy…We worry about having decent jobs and a living wage, and the chance to own a home and educate our children.” But economic worries, continued Bauer, are not the biggest problem. “I am not worried about America economically; I’m worried because something seems to have gone wrong with the heart and soul of our nation. And millions of our fellow Americans know that something has gone wrong, even if they don’t share our faith perspective. You can hear them talk about it at school-board meetings, at the grocery store in their neighborhoods; all of them know something has gone wrong. And our leaders…don’t have the answers. They don’t even know the right questions to ask.”

Bauer also noted that when Martin Luther King, Jr. made his famous speech on the Washington Mall, he argued that his dream was that this country would one day judge its citizens by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. But most unfortunately, the government, the media, and the liberal education establishment, are telling our nation’s children that character is irrelevant. Bauer said that this fraud perpetrated on the nation’s next generation is a violation of King’s dream, and that those who send this message to our young people, whether directly or indirectly, should be ashamed.

Bauer asked: “What happened in America between the time that we understood personal responsibility and a time when there are a thousand reasons to escape the consequences of our acts?” Then Bauer said, “What happened in America is that we forgot God. And having forgotten God, we have unleashed the hounds of hell in our streets, in our homes, and on our children. And until America realizes that, there is no turning back.”

Whether it’s state or federal government, the focus today is still erroneously on the economy. But as Bauer concluded in his speech, the real problem in this nation is not the economy. “A nation unable to distinguish between right and wrong,” said Bauer, won’t solve the budget deficit. “A nation of moral misfits eventually will become economic misfits. The economy and our moral fiber are linked together, and the politicians just don’t get it.”

Creech says that Bauer's speech is "relevant even today" ... and indeed it is, in that it demonstrates that whenever this nation has a Democratic president, the Religious Right's core message is that government is corrupt and incompetent, immorality is rampant, and America has abandoned God and is therefore on the road to ruin.

Harry Jackson: Gays Are Oppressing Blacks

We don't call Harry Jackson the "point man for the wedge strategy" for nothing:

The truth is that the gay community has “manipulated” the political process through extravagant campaign contributions and strategically infiltrating the city’s Democratic Party’s hierarchy over the last five years. DC council members have ironically participated in the suppression of the citizens’ right to vote in order to advance a privileged minority’s pet issue. This has been done in the name of “civil rights.”

If anybody knows what civil rights are, it would have been my father, who was threatened at gunpoint by a state trooper for his participation in voting registration efforts in the South. The officer who threatened him actually discharged his weapon in an attempt to make it clear that if my father spoke up again, he would be killed. My father could speak about civil rights because as a teenager he saw lifeless bodies hanging from lynching trees as part of the “strange fruit of the South” while taking shortcuts to deliver papers on several mornings. My father understood about civil rights as he heard the stories of an African-American man in his town who was brutally beaten, mutilated, set on fire, and dragged through the town square of the city.

But my father is not the only one who understood civil rights. The unwed black mother, living on public assistance, understands true discrimination. She understands that there are privileged people in our culture and institutional barriers that prohibit whole segments of our society from experiencing the American dream. In DC, gay activists enjoy better education, better jobs, better housing, greater access to the system, and now – legislative power. Something is wrong when the privileged feign that they are the persecuted, when the powerful posture themselves as victims. In this strategic period of American history, when many major issues are being decided, the least the city council could do would be to slow down and allow liberty to have her voice.

Another 75 Layoffs At Focus on the Family

To follow-up on a post from yesterday, the Colorado Springs Gazette reports that Focus on the Family is undergoing another round of layoffs:

Focus on the Family announced a reorganization Wednesday that will eliminate 75 jobs — an 8 percent reduction in a workforce that already has been cut twice since September 2008.

The Colorado Springs-based ministry is shutting down the creative division of its advertising department, accounting for 30 of the layoffs. The others are from various departments throughout the ministry, including Love Won Out, a program aimed at homosexuals that Focus is handing over to an organization in Florida.

In 2002, Focus’ employment reached a high of about 1,400. A year ago, it was down to about 1,155. The cuts announced Wednesday, coupled with two rounds of layoffs since 2008, bring the local workforce to 860.

“These are tough economic times,” Focus spokesman Gary Schneeberger said. “The challenges have made us take a hard look at what we do structurally and strategically so we can accomplish our mission more efficiently.”

Most workers affected will be paid through Sept. 18, though not all will be expected to report to work, Schneeberger said.

Even though Focus cut its budget from $160 million in fiscal 2008 to $138 million in fiscal 2009, it still suffered a $6 million shortfall. Schneeberger said the deficit largely was due to the loss of donations from small- to medium-sized businesses. Donations from families has remained steady, he said.

The latest job cuts are part of a series of moves by Focus to reorganize its operations in response to a drop in donations during the recession. Focus eliminated 46 positions a year ago and 202 in November. The organization also axed the print editions of four of its eight magazines.

More Layoffs Looming At Focus On the Family?

That is what local media outlets are reporting.

KKTV:

Amid a serious budget shortfall, Focus on the Family has announced plans to restructure. That will include a reduction of staff.

This news comes less than a month after Focus president and CEO Jim Daly wrote in a letter to 800,000 donors that projected income for the year is 6-million dollars short of expectations.

The organization’s fiscal year budget is $138 million.

It remains to be seen how many staff members will be let go during the restructuring. But more details are expected later today.

News Channel 13:

More changes could be on the way for Springs-based Focus on the Family.

An anonymous source tells NEWSCHANNEL 13 that employees will be told of the upcoming layoffs during a staff meeting to be held around 4:00 p.m. The ministry would not confirm if any jobs will be cut Wednesday -- only that they will be making some major changes.

Chuck Norris Endorses Roy Moore

It didn't work for Mike Huckabee, but maybe Roy Moore will have better luck:

Chuck Norris, internationally known martial arts expert, actor, and media personality has endorsed Judge Roy Moore for Governor of Alabama. Norris believes Judge Moore is the strongest, best qualified candidate in the race for Alabama's gubernatorial leader, the person who can best lead the state forward in the difficult times ahead.

Judge Moore and Chuck Norris have much in common in addition to their strong conservative beliefs, including their martial arts skills and their service in our nation's armed forces. Mr. Norris has won numerous martial arts tournaments around the world. As described in Judge Moore's book, So Help Me God. Jude Moore fought professionally as a kick-boxer in both the U.S. and Australia, and is known for his strong leadership as a judge and as an Army company commander in Vietnam.

Judge Moore's campaign is based on his defense of our individual rights, his plan for creating new jobs through the proven economic principles of Supply Side economics ("Reaganomics") which brought our nation and state out of a severe recession in the 1980's-by cutting taxes and reducing the size of government. He also has a strong plan to eliminate waste and corruption in state government. Judge Moore is well known for keeping his promises.

Moore, for those who may not remember, was tossed off the Alabama Supreme Court back in 2003 for defying a federal judge's order to move a Ten Commandments monument from the state Supreme Court building.

The Limitless Insanity of Janet Porter

Janet Porter's most recent WorldNetDaily column almost defies belief, even by the exceedingly low standards that we have for anything she says. 

Just about every crackpot right-wing conspiracy theory has been tossed into Porter's delusional stew, starting with her declaration that the "Cash for Clunkers" program was really an effort by the government to gain control of "your computer [so it would be] free to intercept, monitor, record, copy, audit, inspect and disclose everything you have to law enforcement – even to 'foreign officials' who will apparently have the new authority to monitor you."

She then dusts off the bogus claim that the Department of Homeland Security called conservatives "the most dangerous domestic terrorism threat in the United States" before claiming that White House Deputy Chief of staff Jim Messina is advising people to beat up those who oppose the administration, which then leads into claims that the White House has set up a network of government informants.

Amazing as it is, this is pretty standard right-wing nuttery. But Porter, never one to stop even when she's reached the outermost edge, proceeds to go right off the deep end:

Given all that's already happened, perhaps this next concern isn't quite so unbelievable.

Swine flu, H1N1, or a crisis they don't want to go to waste?

Last week's Pittsburg [sic] Tribune reported: "The Defense Department is talking about establishing regional military teams to aid civilian authorities should there actually be a major outbreak. There's even talk of troop deployment."

Now the United States Army, National Guard and even Monster.com are posting job listings for guards for a civilian internment camp.

They are looking for people who can provide "custody," "control" and "counseling" of "civilians." Here's what's posted:

As an Internment/Resettlement Specialist for the Army National Guard, you will ensure the smooth running of military confinement/correctional facility or detention/internment facility, similar to those duties conducted by civilian Corrections Officers. This will require you to know proper procedures and military law; and have the ability to think quickly in high-stress situations. Specific duties may include assisting with supervision and management operations; providing facility security; providing custody, control, supervision, and escort; and counseling individual prisoners in rehabilitative programs.

Internment/confinement/correction camps for American civilians? Maybe there's something to all those rumors of FEMA concentration camps. After all, those internment/resettlement specialists are going to have to report to work somewhere. If you're going to round up American citizens, you're going to need a place to put them.

First things first, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review did in fact write the paragraph Porter quotes ... as part of an editorial decrying the fact that "alarmists have taken to banging the orchestral drums heralding the re-emergence of H1N1 swine flu in deafening fashion" and urging them to "chill."

But instead of chilling, Porter the alarmist took this entirely non-controversial proposal as a sign that the Obama administration was about to set up internment camps and then pointed to a run-of-the-mill National Guard job listing as proof.

Well, you know what? The National Guard has a whole page of job listings on its website that lists dozens of jobs ranging from Cannon Crewmember and Infantryman to Special Forces Weapons Sergeant and M1 Armor Crewman.

So apparently not only is the administration planning on rounding-up and imprisoning conservatives, they are also preparing for an all-out military assault on them.

And I don't even want to know what horrors await this nation once the Guard fills its quota of tuba, trombone, bassoon, piccolo, and cornet players it is also seeking.

By the way, have I mentioned that Porter served as the co-chair of Mike Huckabee's Faith and Family Values Coalition and is co-hosting a right-wing conference next month at which Huckabee will be the keynote speaker.  Just think it is important to keep pointing that out.

The Phyllis Schlafly School of Politics

USA Today's Cathy Lynn Grossman takes a look at Sarah Palin's "death panel" nonsense to make an astute point:

What interests me here is the tactical gimmick of arguing-by-extremes. Palin reflects the teachings of the master -- Phyllis Schlafly, founder of the Eagle Forum and a conservative-right tactician extraordinaire.

Grossman is absolutely right about Schlafly's practice of making every political argument a fight between traditional conservative values and some insane nightmare scenario that she just dreamed up and it reinforces a point I made about her not very long ago.

To prove her case, Grossman dusted off and reposted a profile she wrote about Schlafly back in 1987 which, though dated, excellently explains Schlafly's tactics and offers a good insight into the standard right-wing practice of sowing confusion about already complex topics by spreading falsehoods designed solely to generate opposition by scaring the bejesus out of people:

U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop has called for a public education campaign throughout society -- including the public schools at the earliest grades -- to prevent the spread of AIDS. In a 36-page report, Koop recommends information and behavioral change because there are not yet any medical or legal measures that will halt AIDS.

Schlafly scorns this. She claims Koop is advocating "safe sodomy" for elementary schoolers and she's circulating that message among conservatives.

"There's a lot of accurate information in his report, but when you get down to the bottom line, he does not call for any public health measures to protect the uninfected from the infected. He seems to lay the burden on the public schools to teach children how to engage in sex with condoms," she says in a recent interview at the Washington office of Eagle Forum, the umbrella group for her various activities.

"This must be what he means when he says he wants to teach them the risk behavior by which you get AIDS. Sodomy is a risk behavior by which you get AIDS. And we just simply don't think that grade school children need to be taught what homosexuals do."

In Schlafly's terms, "Teaching children to use condoms is about like teaching children who take drugs to use needles."

She can't actually point out a passage in Koop's report, however, that says anything exciting or explicit. She finally says the condoms-and-kids association is one she has made based on Koop's support for school-based health clinics which, among numerous other medical services, might offer family planning information.

Schlafly takes associations very seriously. In an anti-Koop letter she circulates, she and Paul Weyrich, another conservative spokesman, make a particular point of noting that the U.S. surgeon general once traveled to California at the invitation of "liberal Democratic officials who have strong connections to the homosexual community."

That all citizens might feel free to invite the surgeon general to speak on national issues is clearly not what Schlafly means. She means to warn: This man is tainted by his associations.

...

Convictions give a body energy. At 63, the only gray in her life is in her hair. Schlafly adores absolutes. It's an efficient way to reason in debates.

A serious debate requires an opponent of equal intellectual weight and moral force. Schlafly says she can't think of any honorable spokesman for the opposition -- someone of knowledge and integrity with whom she can respectfully disagree -- on any issue.

People who think differently than she does are either lying, laughing or not truly confronting the issues, she says.

In the ERA heyday of the late 1970s, "I got to where I preferred the debates because there wasn't any argument on the other side."

She vilified those who disagreed with her as emotional, anti-family slobs, if not pro-lesbian radicals. Her biographer recounts how Schlafly described the 90,000 pro-ERA marchers who converged for a 1978 demonstration in Washington as "a combination of federal employees and radicals and lesbians."

In 40 years of devotion to American social politics, her ideas have changed no more than her techniques. Be it an admirable steadfastness or a commitment to ignorance, she seems impervious to experience and new information. A lifetime of activism, marriage and motherhood all confirm what she expected in life as if she had been born to her philosophy.

The article goes on to chronicle how Schlafly led a fight against the effort by Congress to require companies to provide up to 18 weeks of parental leave after a couple has a baby, claiming it would be a "windfall for yuppies" who would exploit it to take vacation and how she persuaded several members of a pro-life committee planning a dinner honoring C. Everett Koop to withdraw their sponsorship because Koop had said in a television interview that pregnant women with AIDS "could" have an abortion.

It also covers her claims that "many [of Koop's] statements about AIDS are a cover-up for the homosexual community" which was coupled with her demand for AIDS testing of those holding public service or health care jobs and the banning of teachers with the virus.

The article is a case study in not only how Schlafly operates, but how the entire right-wing movement operates from that very same playbook ... even today. 

Ralph Reed: TEA Party Activist

Ralph Reed has made it clear over the last several weeks that his new organization, the Faith and Freedom Coalition, is "not your daddy's Christian Coalition" by which he means that this new effort will be young, hipper, more tech-savvy, and also more strident.

He's also made clear that much of its focus will be on economic issues, while still maintaining the traditional Religious Right positions on social issues.

And to kick things off on the economic front, Reed spoke at a TEA Party rally last week in Georgia:

"Barack Obama rushed through a stimulus package - $787 billion," [Reed] said, "almost 85 percent of which is pork and waste and bureaucracy."

He said the president's explanation of why "we had to have it right then ... was that if we didn't have it, unemployment would go over 8 percent."

But the jobless rate now is "heading toward 10 percent," Reed said.

He said Obama vowed that the plan would create 4 million jobs. Instead, Reed added, 2.6 million have been lost.

"He was only off by 6.6 million," Reed said.

Drawing cheers for himself and jeers for Obama, Reed also lambasted the president's budget, energy policy and health care proposals.

Reed praised the Tea Party movement, which drew nearly 1,500 people to a similar event at the plaza on April 15, the federal income tax filing deadline.

"These tea parties ... across the country are scaring the White House to death," he said. "... We are putting on our work boots and we're going to take our country back to the principles on which it was founded."

From a quick look at the photos from the rally accompanying the article, it doesn't look like Reed's audience was particularly young, hip, or tech-savvy ... but hey, he's got to start somewhere.

And presumably things will pick-up later this month when Sean Hannity joins Reed for his organization's "Freedom Rally":

Ralph Reed's Key To Success: Be More Strident

Just yesterday I wrote a post explaining that, thanks to the recent announcement that he was heading a new Religious Right organization known as the Faith and Freedom Coalition, Ralph Reed appeared to be "succeeding in resurrecting his reputation and re-establishing himself as a bona fide leader of the Religious Right."

And, despite the fact that this new effort currently consists entirely of Reed, one adviser, one actual employee, and a bare-bones website, I think it is safe to say that the "Ralph Reed Redemption Tour" is officially underway now that he is getting long profiles written up by the Associated Press:

Ralph Reed was once a powerful force in Republican politics, able to marshal millions of religious conservatives to the polls while leading the Christian Coalition.

Then his political career took a tumble in 2006 when he was clobbered by a lesser-known opponent in the Republican primary for Georgia lieutenant governor, leading some to conclude Reed's days as an influential GOP figure were over.

But Reed is searching for a dose of redemption. He's launched a new venture that supporters hope will bolster a Republican Party struggling to find its footing after the 2008 election and a recent string of embarrassing scandals.

"I don't view it as a comeback," Reed said in a recent interview. "I view it as something I've always done — trying to be part of the solution and trying to build at the grass roots (level)."

The startup, known as the Faith and Freedom Coalition, is little more than a Web site, but Reed hopes to turn it into a strident new force that uses social media to capture a broader, younger and more diverse audience.

Perhaps most telling, the man who helped cement religious conservatives into a solid GOP voting bloc said he won't focus his group on social issues, but rather the economic crisis.

"This is not the Christian Coalition redux," Reed said. "It's a much broader attempt. Our primary focus is jobs, the economy, taxes, creating economic opportunity. That's the number one issue in the country right now."

Other than a lukewarm statement from Roberta Combs, current president of the Christian Coalition, saying "there is always room for more people who want to start organizations," the article doesn't really contain any particularly new or revealing information, with the exception of this key quote:

Reed said his organization is looking to be more inclusive by reaching out to Jews, Hispanics, blacks and any other group receptive to a fiscal conservative message.

"It's going to look different from the vehicles we have now. It's going to be younger, it's going to be more strident," he said. "It's going to be principled but less ideologically reflexive. And it's going to have a broader issues agenda."

How exciting. A “broader” and "more strident" version of the Christian Coalition? I can't wait to see how that turns out.

"We Can Never Build Oklahoma’s Republican Party as Long as Sally [Kern] is the Face of our Party"

Apparently, not all Republicans in Oklahoma are pleased with the spectacle that Rep. Sally Kern has been making of herself over the last year, at least according to an email that Brenda Jones, an active Republican in the state and owner of Jones PR, which describes itself as "Oklahoma's most senior-level team of experts accredited in national public relations," sent to Gary Jones, the Chairman and Executive Director of the Oklahoma Republican Party.

The email found its way into the hands of the Oklahoma Journal Record, which has posted it on line:

The Republican Party needs to do something about this.

About a year ago when you and I talked about the future direction of the Party, I stated that the Party needs to stay focused on economic growth, jobs, jobs, jobs, stay true to our anti-tax and pro-business platform. No Party, no group, no any person can ever win new members and sustain its base when the public image is single focused on legislating morality. Especially in these difficult times when people are losing jobs and retirement funds are vanishing, economic growth and a vision for a prosperous future is what will attract young people. This judgmental rhetoric on morality is exactly what repels people away from the Republican Party; and frankly, contracts our core principles for less government and liberty.

A year ago after Sally Kerns [sic] received national coverage on her “terrorist” comment, Oklahoma immediately lost 2 companies who were a week or two away from announcing they were moving to Oklahoma and bringing high-paying engineering and technology jobs.

I was horrified at the Republican National Convention when I personally witnessed her seeking CNN, FOX News and other national media cameras on the convention floor because I knew she would embarrass not only Oklahoma but the entire Republican Party with her inflammatory decisive rhetoric.

My great aunt and uncle built Olivet Baptist Church as members since the late 1930s. Now they are 90 years old and were forced to leave Olivet a couple years ago because they were made to feel that they were going to hell because they are registered Democrats, although they are strong conservatives who voted for Ronald Reagan and both Bushes. She and her husband are politicizing God’s pulpit. It is starting to look scary and a bit like that crazy church in Kansas. They are up to something, and it’s not good.

Gary, we can never build Oklahoma’s Republican Party as long as Sally is the face of our Party. Everyone keeps touting “Ronald Reagan.” As someone who worked for him very closely for 9 years and in The White House West Wing, he rebuilt and grew our Party by attracting Independents and Democrats by standing strong on economic issues and national security. Of course, he strongly opposed abortion and supported many family value issues, but he advocated for these issues from the heart and not a bully pulpit. For example, he strongly opposed the gay agenda. But from concern and compassion about the gay community’s health, he started a Presidential Commission on AIDS to bring healthcare and other leaders to the table to discuss how to stop the spread of AIDS and HIV for the common good of the country. President Reagan understood that his duty was to protect ALL Americans, although he may disagree with their life choices, which is their liberty that does not need government intrusion.

This is very damaging to Oklahomans, Oklahoma Republican growth, and the Republican Party at the national level. 

It's odd that Jones seems to rely so heavily on the memory of Ronald Reagan in criticizing Kern as the sort of thing that is keeping the state party from moving forward considering that one of Reagan's most famous axioms came to be known as the "Eleventh Commandment: Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican."

The Religious Right's Last Hope: Hipness

Despite the fact that it has only been a few weeks since Ralph Reed announced the formation of his new Faith and Freedom Coalition and that the effort appears to consist entirely of a bare-bones website, he is getting lots of attention and is seemingly succeeding in resurrecting his reputation and re-establishing himself as a bona fide leader of the Religious Right.

Today, Reed was interviewed by Newsmax where he gave his thoughts on Sonia Sotomayor, the Obama administration, and the 2012 GOP presidential primary, as well as explaining just what role his new Faith and Freedom Coalition will play in it all:

"It is a coalition of grassroots citizens, conservatives — both fiscal and social conservatives — people of faith, and others who are concerned about the direction of our country," Reed said.

"Look at what's happening in Washington today, with the overreach on healthcare, rationing healthcare, dramatically raising taxes, crushing small business, the cap-and-tax energy plan, the failed stimulus package, liberal judicial nominees, a weakening of our defense, sending signals in my view of timidity in prosecuting the war on terrorism.

"The Faith and Freedom Coalition is designed not only to oppose the Obama agenda in Washington, but to offer conservative constructive alternatives.

"We need to get this economy moving again. We need to create jobs. We believe the way to do that is lower taxes, limited government, fiscal discipline, stronger families, and the growth of small business."

Reed said one priority of the Faith and Freedom Coalition is to bring younger people into the conservative ranks. The organization intends to have a strong presence on college campuses, and to employ Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites that young people use to communicate.

"We need to be hipper, more technology savvy," he said. "This is where the culture is going and we need to be there if we're going to compete."

He also said the coalition plans to have chapters in every key county in the country, in all 50 states, and virtual chapters on line.

Newsmax also has the nine minute audio of the interview posted as well, which I am not embedding here because it annoyingly starts automatically playing as soon as it loads.

Though Reed continues to insist that "this isn't your daddy's Christian Coalition," I have to say that the more I hear about it, the more it sounds exactly like the Christian Coalition, only with the addition of social networking.

So I am going to make a bold prediction: spreading the age-old Religious Right agenda on Twitter and Facebook is not going to make it any "hipper."

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.

Ralph Reed: The Religious Right's Steve Jobs

When it was first reported last month that Ralph Reed was forming a new organization called The Faith and Freedom Coalition, Reed wanted it made clear that "this is not your daddy's Christian Coalition."

He vowed that this effort would be "more brown, more black, more female, and younger" and all-around hipper with a greater focus on using "third wave" technology to mobilize activists.

In shot, Reed sees himself as the Steve Jobs of the Religious Right, called in to turn around the movement that floundered after he left:

The party needs what he delivered in the 1990s, but with a 21st century update.

“Even though I’ve been doing other things, this is kind of like Steve Jobs returning to Apple,” Reed said.

When Jobs left the company he founded, Apple foundered. After he returned, Apple grew into an iconic firm that has captured the public’s attention in ways that all other tech firms wish to emulate.

“You have to reinvent it,” Reed said. “It’s the political analogue to the iPod and the iPhone. It would be cool. It would be transformative. It would transform our politics and bring younger people to our ranks. All of those are critical imperatives.”

...

[T]he Faith and Freedom Coalition was not, he said, his idea. After John McCain was beaten in 2008, Reed said, he started getting phone calls from close friends, “saying we really haven’t had anything that in an effective, focused way was energizing and turning out to the polls in large numbers conservatives and people of faith since you left" ... Still, Reed said, he wasn’t terribly interested.

“That was not on my list of things to do,” he said. “I’d been there, done that, got the T-shirt.”

But the more he thought about it, the more he agreed that “something needed to be done.”

Where the old Christian Coalition’s greatest asset was arguably the millions of voter guides handed out in churches across the country, the new Coalition will use the Internet as its information dissemination tool.

Attracting younger voters and activists, Reed knows, takes a robust Web-based campaign that uses the new gadgets and social networks that dominate young people’s lives.

But it also takes a hook, a rallying cry, a reason for being. In the 1990s, the Christian Coalition had that and more in the persona and presidency of Bill Clinton.

While Obama has not offered the same wedge that Clinton did —- no sex scandals, for example —- Reed is confident the lightning rod is there.

“This is the most far-reaching and extremist agenda being advanced across multiple fronts in a smaller amount of time than I’ve seen in my career,” Reed said.

From the very moment this effort was announced, it was Reed's name that made it news ... but now Reed is insisting that it is really not about him at all: 

Still, Reed said, this is not about him. And it’s not a comeback or a return to prominence.

“I don’t think it signifies anything for me,” Reed said. “I’ve become an elder statesman at 48, but I’m still doing what I was doing at 20.”

Reed said he’s less interested in being “the face of the movement,” and more in finding and training the next generation of conservative leaders, volunteers and activists.

Of course, if Reed is trying to stay out of the limelight, it might be helpful is he wasn't granting interviews in which he compares himself to Steve Jobs and declares that he is the only one capable of rebuilding the movement.

But it makes sense that Reed would not want to be "the face of the movement" given that he is inextricably linked [PDF] to imprisoned lobbyist Jack Abramoff.  

It's going to take some deft maneuvering for the man who exploited the Religious Right movement he helped to create for the benefit of Abramoff's client's gambling interests to now resurrect that very movement.

Pro-Life Educators and Students (PLEAS) Announces Protest of the National Education Association, Blames Recession on Abortion

The Pro-Life Educators and Students (PLEAS) have announced the first major anti-abortion demonstration since the killing of Dr. George Tiller. While the demonstration is nothing out of the ordinary, PLEAS isn't focusing its effort on a traditional target of anti-choice groups. Instead, they'll be protesting... the National Education Association. In a press release, Bob Pawson, a coordinator for PLEAS, announced that the group is organizing a July 2nd "prayer & picket" that will involve many different pro-life groups.

The NEA is hardly an outspoken reproductive rights group, rather an organization dedicated to advancing and improving the public school system. They devoted a mere three sentences of their 462-page handbook to "Family Planning":

The National Education Association supports family planning, including the right to reproductive freedom. The Association urges the government to give high priority to making available all methods of family planning to women and men unable to take advantage of private facilities. The Association also urges the implementation of community-operated, school-based family planning clinics that will provide intensive counseling by trained personnel.

Even stranger than PLEAS' choice to target the NEA are remarks made by Pawson in the press release. Pawson unveils the catalyst behind the economic recession: federal abortion policy. Oh, it's also why we don't have a cure for AIDS:

Abortion is the primary factor causing America's economic recession, said Pawson. America is suffering the consequences for killing fifty-million people who are supposed to be among us today as teachers, producers, consumers, taxpayers, leaders, inventors, and problem-solvers. It's no surprise that a nation which slaughters nearly twenty percent of its future customers, investors, and entrepreneurs also kills its own economy. Wrong moral choices have negative consequences. Evil acts generate their own punishment.
Abortion has led to the destruction of fifty-million students and simultaneously eliminated hundreds of thousands of teaching careers and education-related jobs. Surely, some of those dead students were the ones God sent to cure AIDS, end world-hunger, and create clean-energy technologies, said Pawson

Putting aside his "economic argument", Pawson should strongly consider protesting a group that devotes more than three sentences of their 462-page charter to reproductive rights.

SCOTUS Round-Up

Several related articles today, all pretty much saying the same thing:  even though right-wing groups are doubtful that they’ll actually be able to defeat President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, they are raising lots of money to try and do so anyway and, in doing so, hope to make it an issue in the 2010 elections.

The New York Times:

While conservatives say they know they have little chance of defeating Mr. Obama’s choice because Democrats control the Senate, they say they hope to mount a fight that could help refill depleted coffers and galvanize a movement demoralized by Republican electoral defeats.

“It’s an immense opportunity to build the conservative movement and identify the troops out there,” said Richard A. Viguerie, a conservative fund-raiser. “It’s a massive teaching moment for America. We’ve got the packages written. We’re waiting right now to put a name in.”

Gary Marx, executive director of the conservative Judicial Confirmation Network, said donors, whom he declined to identify, had committed to contributing millions of dollars for television, radio and Internet advertisements that might reunite conservatives in a confirmation battle.

Conservatives face big obstacles, though, in rousing supporters or spurring Republican lawmakers to mount an all-out fight.

The movement is much diminished from four years ago under President George W. Bush, when Supreme Court vacancies last arose and conservatives marshaled their forces to champion his nominees. (Judge Richard Posner, a prominent Reagan appointee, wrote recently that the conservative movement suffers from “intellectual deterioration.”) Republicans have lost control of the White House and Congress, have no clear party leader and have received low approval ratings.

And some leading groups are having budget woes. Focus on the Family, a Colorado-based evangelical group led by the semi-retired James C. Dobson, rallied social conservatives in support of Mr. Bush’s judicial nominees, but it recently cut more than 200 jobs.

The conservative movement is sharing its resources as it prepares for the nomination. The Judicial Action Group, founded in 2006 and based in Alabama, has organized a research network — dubbed the Supreme Court Review Committee — of about 15 “pro-family ministries” and conservative legal groups, said Phillip Jauregui, president of the group.

 

Manuel Miranda, who has led conference calls for conservative groups about judges, said the focus on such issues would present “a great opportunity to really prepare the great debate with a view toward Senate elections in 2010 and the presidency.”

“It isn’t just about the nominee,” he said. “It’s about the fact that the American people gave control of presidency to a Democrat who will appoint a certain type of judge and the Senate that will most likely rubber stamp that choice.”

Bruce Hausknecht, judicial analyst for Focus on the Family’s political arm, said he believed that despite conservatives’ recent political troubles in other arenas, the public still prefers their judicial philosophy.

“This is an issue that if Americans focus on it, it will bring out their conservative side,” he said. “And that could help the political fortunes of conservatives in the future.”

The Washington Times:

Republicans are going on offense to tarnish potential Supreme Court justice hopefuls, attempting to spark an early fight over President Obama's first nomination to the high court.

Wendy Long and Gary Marx of the Judicial Confirmation Network penned a memo for activists on the issue last week, predicting, "The first Obama nominee to the Supreme Court will be hailed by Democrats, liberal interest groups and many in the media as a 'moderate.' No matter how liberal, activist, or extreme she may be."

They said they have crafted a video to "expose the liberal activist records of those who have been named as front-runners to fill Justice [David H.] Souter's seat."

Scott Wheeler, executive director for the National Republican Trust PAC, sent a letter to Republican senators, warning that activists "will hold them accountable" for the nomination process, so they should "keep steadfast and stay true to your Republican conservative values and beliefs."

Mr. Wheeler also went after Mr. Obama's empathy standards, saying that because they "have nothing to do with interpreting the law or the rule of law ... It is up to you and your fellow Republican colleagues to stop such a nomination."

The Washington Independent:

Conservatives, on the other hand, have a number of catch phrases they want to apply to Supreme Court nominees. “We will continue to be using the metaphor of the neutral umpire,” said Marx, echoing the language used by now-Chief Justice John Roberts in his 2005 confirmation hearing. Marx listed two other qualifications a justice should possess: “judicial restraint” and “not legislating from the bench.”

He also pulled out a Biblical reference to make his point. King Solomon, he said, did not need “empathy” or “compassion” to resolve the famous baby case. “Was that compassionate?” he asked rhetorically. “No, it was wisdom.”

Despite their success in determining which terms have come to dominate the debate, conservatives acknowledge that their purpose may not be so much to block the confirmation of a justice as to score political and perhaps fundraising points for future elections.

Marx says that the confirmation debate will have “three huge implications”: it will educate the American people about the issues, help them understand Obama’s true political philosophy and set the stage for the 2010 U.S. Senate campaigns.

According to [Brian Darling of the Heritage Foundtion], the effects of this battle could extend to 2012 as well. “Whoever this nominee’s going to be,” he said, “if the court moves forward on gay marriage or restricts the Second Amendment or goes forward with another change that’s unpopular among the American public… that’s something that will affect the president’s reelection bid.”

Still, the game is likely to change considerably when Obama announces his nominee. “To be honest, I think this is all noise,” Darling conceded. “It will become completely irrelevant when the nominee is put forth.”

Finally, the Right sees signs of hope for its chances of stopping Obama’s SCOTUS nominee in their obstruction of Dawn Johnsen’s confirmation: 

Curt Levey, executive director of the Committee for Justice, says the stalled Johnsen nomination should send President Obama the message that he does not have a free hand to appoint someone "extreme" to the Supreme Court, even when there are 59 or 60 Democrats in the Senate.
 
"Dawn Johnsen was an executive branch appointee to the Department of Justice. They get more deference, not less, from the Senate than judicial nominees," he notes. "So, if he were to appoint somebody anywhere near as extreme as Dawn Johnsen to the Supreme Court, the nominee would very likely not be confirmed by the Senate."
 
A bold but unlikely pick for Obama, according to Levey, would be black Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears, who is a friend of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and is more moderate than the other potential High Court picks whose names have been floated. 
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Brian Tashman, Monday 02/28/2011, 2:03pm
Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) today sat down with Kaiser Health News to discuss her proposal to repeal and replace the health care reform law. However, Ellmers was unable to name a single policy alternative to the reform law. The Tea Party-favorite recently defended her decision to take a taxpayer-subsidized health care plan because she said that her $174,000 annual salary is too little to live on in Washington DC, and also opposes mandatory coverage for maternity care and pre-existing conditions. Ellmers, who chairs the House Subcommittee on Health and Technology, was unable to muster a single... MORE
Brian Tashman, Monday 02/28/2011, 2:03pm
Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) today sat down with Kaiser Health News to discuss her proposal to repeal and replace the health care reform law. However, Ellmers was unable to name a single policy alternative to the reform law. The Tea Party-favorite recently defended her decision to take a taxpayer-subsidized health care plan because she said that her $174,000 annual salary is too little to live on in Washington DC, and also opposes mandatory coverage for maternity care and pre-existing conditions. Ellmers, who chairs the House Subcommittee on Health and Technology, was unable to muster a single... MORE
Brian Tashman, Tuesday 02/22/2011, 10:25am
Michele Bachmann South Carolina: Slams Obama's foreign policy and says striking workers should be fired in address to GOP activists (Spartanburg Herald Journal, 2/20). Health: Criticizes Michele Obama for encouraging breast feeding (WaPo, 2/19). Veterans: Faces resistance to her plan to dramatically cut funding to veterans (The Daily Beast, 2/18). Haley Barbour Iowa: Tells state's governor that he will campaign in Iowa if he decides to run (Des Moines Register, 2/21). Huckabee: Wins praise on race-issues and political strategy from Mike Huckabee (CNN, 2/21). Race: Silent on proposed car tag... MORE
Brian Tashman, Tuesday 02/22/2011, 10:25am
Michele Bachmann South Carolina: Slams Obama's foreign policy and says striking workers should be fired in address to GOP activists (Spartanburg Herald Journal, 2/20). Health: Criticizes Michele Obama for encouraging breast feeding (WaPo, 2/19). Veterans: Faces resistance to her plan to dramatically cut funding to veterans (The Daily Beast, 2/18). Haley Barbour Iowa: Tells state's governor that he will campaign in Iowa if he decides to run (Des Moines Register, 2/21). Huckabee: Wins praise on race-issues and political strategy from Mike Huckabee (CNN, 2/21). Race: Silent on proposed car tag... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 02/16/2011, 5:21pm
Oklahoma state Rep. Sally Kern wants to make it clear that her new legislation protecting the rights of science teachers to "teach all science instead of just the Darwin model" is in no way an attempt to introduce creationism or Intelligent Design into the classroom. It is, in fact, just an attempt to let teachers teach "pure science" about "all of evolution" ... and apparently Kern just wants the teaching of "all of evolution" to include the religious theories about how evolution is utterly false:  "It stays 100 miles away from creationism... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 02/16/2011, 5:21pm
Oklahoma state Rep. Sally Kern wants to make it clear that her new legislation protecting the rights of science teachers to "teach all science instead of just the Darwin model" is in no way an attempt to introduce creationism or Intelligent Design into the classroom. It is, in fact, just an attempt to let teachers teach "pure science" about "all of evolution" ... and apparently Kern just wants the teaching of "all of evolution" to include the religious theories about how evolution is utterly false:  "It stays 100 miles away from creationism... MORE
Brian Tashman, Tuesday 01/04/2011, 12:22pm
Appearing on Eagle Forum’s Phyllis Schlafly radio show, conservative commentator Thomas Sowell promoted his new book Dismantling America on the evils of the Obama Administration. Sowell, who previously compared Obama to Adolph Hitler over his treatment of BP after the Gulf oil spill and said that “people who are busy gushing over the Obama cult today might do well to stop and think about what it would mean for their granddaughters to live under sharia law,” joined Schlafly in bashing Obama and his purported antipathy towards America. He pointed to Dinesh D’Souza... MORE