Threats

More Changes Underway At The Judicial Confirmation Network

A few weeks ago the right-wing Judicial Confirmation Network, which was founded to help ensure the confirmation of President Bush's judicial nominees, announced that it was changing its name to the Judicial Crisis Network to better reflect the fact that, well, getting judges confirmed was no longer its primary mission now that President Obama was doing the nominating.

Now it appears as if JCN is undergoing even more changes, as longtime Chief Counsel and spokesperson Wendy Long has left and been replaced by Carrie Severino:

Today the Judicial Crisis Network (Formerly: The Judicial Confirmation Network/www.judicialnetwork.com) added Carrie Severino as the new Chief Counsel and Policy Director. Mrs. Severino will serve as JCN’s chief spokesperson as well as provide legal analysis and strategic guidance. Previously Mrs. Severino served as law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and most recently was an Olin/Searle Fellow and a Dean's Visiting Scholar at Georgetown Law Center.

“The addition of Carrie Severino allows JCN to build on our leadership role in the fight to confirm only highly qualified individuals that apply the law fairly to the U.S. Supreme Court and allows JCN to broaden our mission to confront the radical legal and legislative threats facing the country on the state and local level,” said Gary A. Marx, Executive Director, Judicial Crisis Network.

“Reining in the activist judges is an enormous job, but the American people are up to the task, and we at JCN will certainly do our part to defend the Constitution and the Founders’ vision of a fair and impartial judiciary.” said Mrs. Severino.

Mrs. Severino also served as law clerk to Judge David B. Sentelle of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. She is a graduate of Harvard Law School, cum laude, of Duke University, and holds a Master's degree in Linguistics from Michigan State University.

Additionally, JCN would like to recognize and thank Wendy Long for her five years of dedicated service as counsel. Wendy has decided to devote her time to her family and other causes, but JCN would not be where it is today without her hard work and sacrifice.

The Rebirth of the Judicial Confirmation Network

Last year, I wrote a series of posts noting that with the election of Barack Obama, the right-wing Judicial Confirmation Network, which was formed specifically to help President Bush's judicial nominees get confirmed, would probably have to change its name as well as its mission to "support the confirmation of highly qualified individuals to the Supreme Court of the United States [and] ensure that the confirmation process for all judicial nominees is fair and that every nominee sent to the full Senate receives an up or down vote."

Well, guess what?  The Judicial Confirmation Network is henceforth to be known as the Judicial Crisis Network, as JCN explains in this email it just sent out (and posted here):

Just over a year into the new Administration and it has become abundantly clear that defenders of liberty and justice in America have an enormous task at hand. In fact, we face a crisis potentially more threatening than even the current economic crisis.

Friends and supporters of the Judicial Confirmation Network – which led the fight to confirm only highly qualified individuals to the U.S. Supreme Court - have urged the organization to broaden its mission to confront the radical legal and legislative threats facing the country.

We have chosen to accept this new challenge. We hope you'll join us in this effort by considering a contribution of even $25, $50 or $75. It will go a long way towards our efforts to address the crisis facing our nation.

To reflect this new mission we have changed our name to the Judicial Crisis Network and adopted the following new mission statement:

The Judicial Crisis Network is dedicated to strengthening liberty and justice in America.

Our commitment is to the Constitution and the Founders’ vision of a nation of limited government; dedicated to the rule of law; with a fair and impartial judiciary. Every American deserves equal justice under law.

Our operational mission is to promote this vision at every level and branch of government – and to educate and organize citizens to participate in this mission.

We support efforts to ensure only highly qualified individuals who share this vision comprise our state and federal courts and staff executive branch offices that administer and enforce the law.

We support legislative and legal efforts which oppose attempts to undermine the rule of law; unconstitutionally expand the power of government; politicize the enforcement of the law; threaten American sovereignty; supplant American law with foreign or international law; or bias the legal system on behalf of politically favored groups or individuals.

I knew that screencap I took of their old homepage last year would some day come in handy:

The Legal Times' Tony Mauro adds more:

As part of its ramped-up presence, Marx said the group is moving its offices from Manassas, Va. to 2nd Street N.E., directly behind the Supreme Court and a few doors down from Jay Sekulow's American Center for Law and Justice. Announcement of staff changes and expansion will come soon, Marx said.

Religious Right Vows to Fight Effort to "Sexualize the Military"

In his State of the Union Address last night, President Obama pledged to "work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are" and Religious Right groups wasted no time in pledging to fight his "sexualize the military":

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins released the following statement in response to President Obama's first State of the Union Address:

"At a time of enormous economic challenge, two on-going wars in which Americans are fighting and increased terrorist threats to Americans at home, President Obama seems untethered from that reality as he called on Congress to force the military to allow open homosexuality. As a veteran of the Marine Corps, the timing of the President's call in the midst of two wars shows that he is willing to jeopardize our nation's security to advance the agenda of the radical homosexual lobby.

"The military is a warrior culture for a reason: Our service members wear the uniform to fight and win wars, not serve as liberal social policy guinea pigs. The sexual environment the President is seeking to impose upon the young men and women who serve this country is the antithesis of the successful warfighting culture and as such should be rejected.

While Rob Schenck doesn't seem to realize that gays are already serving in the military

Come ‘on, let’s be grown ups. There’s a reason the military doesn’t have men and women showering together. Please don’t dismiss this one as a childish vestige of a now distant Victorian past. The fact is you don’t want people around you in a shower that are erotically stimulated by your naked body. Now, I may be betraying my naïve ignorance here about how gay people get excited, but none of my gay acquaintances have ever said it works terribly different for them then it does for straights. The site of an attractive nude body probably does for gays what it does for straights. (Unless, of course, you are gifted with a disinterest in sex, period. That’s another matter.) For most of us, testosterone, estrogen and libido are forward moving forces that need at least a modicum of external controls, including segregated showering and dressing spaces.

I’ve purposely left until last the most incendiary element of this State of the Union attack on personal, moral, social and religious sensibilities—its affect on our relations with the Muslim world. When I participated in my first face-to-face formal dialogue between Christian and Muslim leaders in an Islamic country, I was asked at the start, “Do you accept homosexuality?” Homosexuality is a deal-breaker for the vast majority of Muslims. I know, we don’t want to kowtow to oppressive religions, no matter how many adherents they have, but, again, if we’re looking to solve problems, this is not the way to do it.

Texas Monthly Examines Anti-Choice Activist's "Conversion"

Abby Johnson has become quite the right-wing celebrity in recent months, ever since she left her position at Planned Parenthood and became an anti-choice activist. Since then, she's become a highly sought-after speaker, appeared on Mike Huckabee's television program and CBN, and will even be joining the likes of Lou Engle, Tony Perkins, Richard Land, Harry Jackson and others when the protest a Planned Parenthood facility in Houston later this month.

Well, a new article by Nate Blakeslee in Texas Monthly raises some doubts about Johnson's supposed "conversion":

Johnson’s departure from Planned Parenthood turned out to be a more complex story than it first appeared. At a court hearing for an injunction sought by Planned Parenthood to prevent Johnson from divulging confidential information to her new allies, two of Johnson’s former co-workers testified that she told them in the days before she resigned that she was afraid she was about to be fired. At one time, Johnson, who was named the regional Planned Parenthood affiliate’s employee of the year in 2008, seemed to have a promising future with the organization. By mid-2009, however, her relationship with her employer had begun to deteriorate. Salon reported that on October 2, Johnson was summoned to Houston to meet with her supervisors to discuss problems with her job performance. She was placed on what Planned Parenthood calls a “performance improvement plan.” It was just three days later, on Monday, that Johnson made her tearful appearance at the Coalition for Life. The following day she faxed Planned Parenthood a resignation letter, which mentioned nothing about a crisis of conscience.

...

Other questions about Johnson’s credibility arose during our interview. She told me, for example, that there had never been any threats of violence against the Bryan clinic; however, Johnson herself received a series of threatening letters in 2007. “God will punish you for killing the innocent or we will,” read one. “You are not taking us seriously. You were at the clinic alone. Not very smart,” read another. In fact, the threats were taken so seriously that security cameras were installed at Johnson’s house, as she later acknowledged. Johnson also claimed that while most services at Planned Parenthood were provided by a nonprofit corporation, abortions were done by a for-profit corporation. Both she and Carney seemed to sincerely believe this was true, though all services at Planned Parenthood are, in fact, provided by a pair of separate nonprofit corporations.

As confounding as these inconsistencies are, there may be a much larger problem with Johnson’s story. Johnson has told the story of her journey from pro-choice activist to pro-life celebrity many times in many venues, and the crux of the tale is always the same: her moving description of what she saw on the ultrasound that September day in the Bryan clinic’s operating room ... Johnson’s account is so plausible and rich in detail that even Planned Parenthood seems not to have investigated whether this event ever took place. At my request, the staff at the Bryan clinic examined patient records from September 26, the day Johnson claims to have had her conversion experience, and spoke with the physician who performed abortions on that date. According to Planned Parenthood, there is no record of an ultrasound-guided abortion performed on September 26. The physician on duty told the organization that he did not use an ultrasound that day, nor did Johnson assist on any abortion procedure. “Planned Parenthood can assure you that no abortion patients underwent an ultrasound-guided abortion on September 26,” said a spokesperson. It’s difficult to imagine that Johnson simply got the date wrong; September 12 was the only other day that month that the clinic performed surgical abortions.

Could clinic staff and the physician be mistaken? The Texas Department of State Health Services requires abortion providers to fill out a form documenting basic information about each procedure performed at a clinic. This document is known as the Induced Abortion Report Form. The Bryan clinic reported performing fifteen surgical abortions on September 26. Johnson has consistently said that the patient in question was thirteen weeks pregnant, which is plausible, since thirteen weeks is right at the cusp of when physicians will consider using an ultrasound to assist with the procedure. Yet none of the patients listed on the report for that day were thirteen weeks pregnant; in fact, none were beyond ten weeks.

For her part, Johnson and her newfound allies are standing behind her story.

The Monthly article is excellent and I highly recommend reading the entire piece.

2009: The Religious Right In a Nutshell

Earlier this year, I wrote a series of posts based upon a widespread right-wing lie alleging that the economic stimulus legislation signed into law by President Obama contained an "anti-Christian" provision that would "usher in a new era of religious censorship" and target Christians for discrimination.  We eventually produced our very first Right Wing Watch In Focus examining the Right's use of this lie in order to generate opposition to President Obama and his agenda.

In short, for weeks, the Right relentlessly claimed that the provision was unconstitutional and discriminatory until finally Sen. Jim DeMint took it up on the Senate floor and forced a vote on an amendment stripping the provision from the legislation - a vote which he lost. And then the Right used that vote to try and generate more outrage while pleading for donations. 

The group that got this whole thing started was the American Center for Law and Justice, which proclaimed at the time that "unless this provision is removed from the final stimulus package, we'll be in federal court challenging this discriminatory measure."

Well, the provision was not removed and the legislation passed and was signed more than ten months ago ... and yet the ACLJ never filed suit, nor has any other Religious Right group so much as mentioned it since its passage.

In essence, this entire charade perfectly encapsulates the method of operation for the Religious Right in 2009 and presumably for years to come:  generate a phony controversy, raise money off that phony controversy, scream and yell about the fact that nobody is taking this phony controversy seriously, make bold threats and declarations regarding this phony controversy, and then move on to generating new phony controversies and starting the entire process all over again.

Right Wing Round-Up

Dobsons and Daly Join The FRC "Prayercast"

Earlier this week, we noted that tonight The Family Research Council would be holding a special anti-healthcare reform "prayercast" this evening featuring several Republican members of Congress, including Rep. Michele Bachmann and Sen. Jim DeMint, as well as Religious Right activists like Lou Engle and Harry Jackson.

Today, FRC announced that the event had picked up several new Focus on the Family participants, including James and Shirley Dobson, as well as FOF President Jim Daly:

Tonight, Wednesday, December 16, 2009 at 8:30 pm ET, Family Research Council Action, The Call to Conscience and Focus on the Family Action will host a special one hour webcast that will mobilize thousands of Christians and churches to join in corporate prayer over the health care overhaul bill. Family Research Council Action President Tony Perkins will be joined by Congressional leaders, prominent pastors, and policy experts to discuss and pray over significant concerns within the bill that will have far reaching consequences for the Christian community and our society.

FRC Action President Tony Perkins made the following comments:

"Life and death hinges on the Senate health care bill. We face significant threats to the God-given right to human life through government funding of abortions, our health from rationing, our family finances from higher taxes, and our general freedoms posed by the government plan to take over health care.

"There have been a number of critical hours in American history. Our nation has struggled mightily and, under God, always risen to the challenges before us. Tonight, we will face this moral crisis by taking action and obeying the Biblical mandate to pray for our nation and its leaders."

Who:
Tony Perkins, President, Family Research Council Action
Lou Engle, Founder and President, The Call to Conscience
Jim Daly, President, Focus on the Family Action
Dr. James Dobson, Founder, Focus on the Family Action
Shirley Dobson, National Day of Prayer Task Force Chairman
Hon. Sam Brownback, United States Senator, Kansas
Hon. Jim DeMint, United States Senator, South Carolina
Hon. Randy Forbes, United States House of Representatives, Virginia
Hon. Michele Bachmann, United States House of Representatives, Minnesota
Bishop Harry Jackson, President, High Impact Leadership Coalition
Pastor Jim Garlow, Skyline Church, San Diego, Calif.
Reverend Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Leadership Conference

Bachmann and DeMint Joining Engle and Perkins For Health Care "Prayercast"

On Wednesday December 16, Reps. Michele Bachmann and Randy Forbes and Sens. Jim DeMint and Sam Brownback will be joining forces with the likes of Lou Engle, Tony Perkins, Jim Garlow, and Harry Jackson for a "prayercast" organized by the Family Research Council during which they will seek God's intervention to prevent the passage of healthcare reform: 

Did you know that deep within the Senate health care bill is a tax penalty for couples that are married? Or that in Nancy Pelosi's version of health care "reform" that not only is tort reform not included - but trial lawyers are rewarded even more? To learn more facts about this attempted government takeover of health care, tune your browsers this Wednesday night to FRCAction.org.

On December 16, FRC Action and The Call to Conscience will host a live video webcast entitled "An FRC Action PrayerCast: Government Takeover of Healthcare". Beginning at 8:30 p.m. (EST), this PrayerCast will feature a powerful line-up of speakers, including:

  • Tony Perkins, President, Family Research Council Action
  • Lou Engle, Founder and President, The Call to Conscience
  • Hon. Sam Brownback, United States Senator, Kansas
  • Hon. Randy Forbes, United States Congressman, Virginia
  • Hon. Jim DeMint, United States Senator, South Carolina
  • Hon. Michele Bachmann, United States Congresswoman, Minnesota
  • Bishop Harry Jackson, President, High Impact Leadership Coalition
  • Pastor Jim Garlow, Skyline Church, San Diego, Calif.

During the webcast, you will hear the latest on the threats to the God-given right to human life through government funding of abortions, our health from rationing, our family finances from higher taxes, and our general freedom posed by the government plan to take over healthcare.

We will enter into a time of prayer for the nation, and our leaders. Your engagement and urgent prayer is more critical than ever as Congress will very soon vote on a final health care bill. Register today!

Obama Death Threats, Available in a Variety of Shapes, Sizes, and Colors on Zazzle.com

12/14/09 UPDATE: We did it! Following our report on Friday, bloggers and activists spread the word about products on Zazzle.com that threatened President Obama and his supporters. Zazzle heard from many of us and got the message. As of today, the products are no longer available. Chalk one up for the good guys!


Let’s say that you’re a run-of-the-mill teabagger looking to set yourself apart from the mob. Nazi/Hitler signs tend to go over well, but that’s so not original. You could strap an assault rifle to your back – like this guy did outside an Obama speech – but that’s so not subtle.

Do not fret. Thanks to Zazzle.com, you can find just the right product to push you over the edge from workaday winger to racist extremist.

Want to encourage, or joke about, President Obama’s death? Check out this line of “Bullet holes anti Obama Bumper Stickers:”

Don’t forget to pick up a t-shirt for that special woman in your life:

Maybe you’re a little paranoid about the Secret Service and would rather joke about killing the president’s supporters rather than Obama himself, no problem:

Or maybe you’d prefer to have your dog joke about killing the president instead. What’s the Secret Service gonna do, arrest Fido?

If you’d prefer to be a little more oblique about threatening Obama, while no less offensive, these are for you:

The above designs are all the handiwork of a single user of Zazzle named NOBAMAMAN (thanks go to the Active Art blog for discovering them). Bad taste isn’t against the law, but many of these designs are clearly beyond the pale – especially in an environment of heightened threats against the president.

Last month Zazzle banned a line of products which called on people to pray for Obama’s death. The company said the so-called Psalm 109 products “may be interpreted in such a way as to suggest physical harm to the President of the United States.” In light of this, we should be sure to call Zazzle’s attention to some of the above products.

Sarah Palin Is The "New Negro"

A few weeks ago in his column for WorldNetDaily, Ken Hutcherson penned this line:

I think Christians are the new Negro – but that's an issue for a follow-up column.

Well, that follow-up column is here:

Many reading this may not understand where I came up with this concept of calling Christians "the new Negro."

The reason is because there are undeniable similarities. Jim Crow laws were passed to keep me from having my constitutional rights and my rights under the Declaration of Independence of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Even though the Constitution gave me those freedoms, man was smart enough to be able to keep me from living those freedoms by saying I was "separate but equal."

Today, my constitutional right of freedom of religion is being eroded again by laws such as the Hate Crimes Bill and repeated attacks by the politically correct crowd. Threats that came along as a result of an African American wanting to get out from under Jim Crow laws were formidable and scary and designed to keep African Americans quiet. The same thing is happening to Christians today.

...

Sarah Palin is another example.

The politically correct crowd has a very difficult time dealing with Sarah because of who she is. Mrs. Palin is a pro-life, pro-gun, pro-traditional marriage, pro-hunting, white, conservative, Christian male who happened to have been born a woman! The politically correct crowd knows exactly what to do with a white male with those attributes, but a woman?

She is the perfect picture of the politically correct woman – strong, beautiful, able to both buy and fry the bacon, take care of the family, run an entire state and still take care of her baby. But because of who she is, and because she does not subscribe to politically correct thinking, she has been attacked for no other reason than her Judeo-Christian values, just as African Americans were attacked for no other reason than their skin color.

...

The only difference between Christians and African Americans is that Christians put up with this intolerance while standing behind the false disguise of humility and love. We are obsessed with showing the world our love when our primary job is to tell them the truth. The Bible does not say, "Sensitivity shall set you free." It says, "The truth shall set you free." Are we not the truth-tellers?

When are we as believers, like the African Americans that came before us, going to say, enough is enough? No more "separate but equal!" Our battle cry is "We are the salt of the earth, onward Christian soldiers and to God be the glory! For in unity we will stand and we will not be stopped!

Those Delicate Republicans

Ever since Barak Obama was elected to the White House and Democrats took control of Congress, we have heard nothing from Republicans and right-wing activists but a stream of rhetoric about how they are all a bunch of Nazi-socialist-Marxist-communist-baby-killing-America-hating-anti-God radicals bent on turning this nation into a totalitarian dictatorship. 

Today, Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid likened the current Republican attempt to stop healthcare reform to past efforts to stymie progress, and the Republicans are absolutely outraged:

Reid started by mimicking Republicans whom he claims have said: "'Slow down, stop everything, let's start over."

"You think you've heard these same excuses before? You're right," he continued. "In this country there were those who dug in their heels and said, 'Slow down, it's too early. Let's wait. Things aren't bad enough' -- about slavery. When women wanted to vote [they said] 'Slow down, there will be a better day to do that -- the day isn't quite right...'"

He finished with: "When this body was on the verge of guaranteeing equal civil rights to everyone regardless of the color of their skin, some senators resorted to the same filibuster threats that we hear today."

Reaction was swift. Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, who is black, questioned Reid's state of mind -- and demanded an apology.

“Harry Reid is under immense pressure to pass this 2,000 page experiment on our nation’s health – an experiment that creates a new $1 trillion dollar federal entitlement program by cutting $500 billion from Medicare, all at a time when our country is in miserable debt and facing an extreme job crisis. The pressure has apparently led Senator Reid not only to make offensive and absurd statements, but also to lose his ability to reason... Having made this disgraceful statement on the floor of the United States Senate, Mr. Reid should immediately apologize on the Senate floor to his colleagues, to his constituents, and to the American people. If he is going to stand by these statements, the Democrats must immediately reconsider his fitness to lead them.”

Senate Republicans were also furious, reported POLITICO's Meredith Shiner, who went to their Q-and-A Monday.

"They are so desperate that it is unbelievable. And for Senator Reid to go out this morning and make such an outlandish statement like he made, just is another indication of the desperation that the Democrats are showing and the pressure that they're feeling," said Sen. Saxby Chambliss (GA).

Said Sen. Tom Coburn (Okla.). "I think it's beneath the dignity of the majority leader, for one. I think it's beneath the dignity of the Senate...to make any kind of outlandish claim similar to what was made on the Senate floor this morning, and I personally am insulted by the Majority Leader."

Remember when Michael Steele likened President Obama to Stalin and Kim Jong-Il? And he's demanding an apology?  Are you kidding me? 

Creationists boost Islamic Fundamentalists in Turkey

Fundamentalist Christians are not generally big boosters of Islamic fundamentalism. But it appears that American creationists hate Darwin and the science of evolution even more, and are aggressively helping Islamic fundamentalists undermine both science and the secular governmental traditions in Turkey. According to an article in the Washington Post, the teaching of evolution is under attack by Islamic fundamentalists armed with materials created by American creationists. The article opens with an anecdote that, with one exception, will be all too familiar to U.S. science educators:

Sema Ergezen teaches biology to Turkish students interested in teaching science themselves, and she has long struggled with her students' ignorance of, and sometimes hostility to, the notion of evolution.

But she was taken aback when several of her Marmara University students recently accused her of being an atheist, or worse, for teaching anything but the doctrine that God created the Earth and everything on it.

"They said I was a liar if I called myself a Muslim because I also accepted evolution," she said.

Anti-evolution forces are blossoming, according to the article, thanks to American backers of creationism and intelligent design:

Translated and adapted for a Muslim society, the purported proofs that Darwinism and evolution were wrong came directly from American proponents of Christian creationism and its less overtly religious offshoot, intelligent design.

Ergezen's experience has become increasingly common. While creationism and intelligent design appear to be in some retreat in the United States, they have blossomed within Muslim Turkey. With direct and indirect help from American foes of evolution, similarly-minded Turks have aggressively made the case that Charles Darwin's theory is scientifically wrong and is the underlying source of most of the world's conflicts because it excludes God from human affairs.

"Darwin is the worst Fascist there has ever been, and the worst racist history has ever witnessed," writes Harun Yahya, the most assertive and best-known critic of evolution in Turkey, and long a favorite of more conservative American creationists.

The article notes that Turkey, with it secular government traditions, has been more open to scientific understandings of evolution than other Muslim countries, but that's changing with the help of American institutions like Seattle's Discovery Institute and The Institute for Creation Research in Dallas.

To many Turkish scientists and educators, this is a worrisome development. The founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, was an advocate of science, education and, some say, even evolution. Turkish science has been especially strong in the Muslim world. If Turks close their minds to evolutionary thinking, advocates say, it won't be long before religion and politics shut off other scientific pursuits.

To John Morris, president of the Institute for Creation Research in Dallas, however, the news could hardly be more encouraging.

"Why I'm so interested in seeing creationism succeed in Turkey is that evolution is an evil concept that has done such damage to society," said Morris, a Christian who has led several searches for Noah's Ark in eastern Turkey. Members of his group have addressed Turkish conferences numerous times.

The Discovery Institute of Seattle, which researches and promotes intelligent design as an alternative to creationism and evolution, also sent speakers to Turkey after being invited by the Istanbul municipal government in 2007. President Bruce Chapman said the institute helped bring Turkish evolution critic Mustafa Akyol to a 2005 Kansas school board hearing on teaching critiques of evolution.

The Post quotes Aykut Kence, an American-trained scientist with a doctorate in evolutionary biology, who has been targeted by local creationists circulating leaflets with pictures of him and Mao, equating the teaching of evolution with communism. Where have we heard that before?

After a decade in the trenches, Kence said he believes aggressive creationism "is part of a larger plan to convert people to a more conservative Islam."

The Islamic-oriented government, elected in 2002 and reelected in 2007, has telegraphed its views on evolution by adding doses of creationism to a required public school course on "Religion and Morals," proponents of evolution say. This year, the editor of one of the nation's prominent science journals, Science and Technology, was fired by government officials over her magazine's plans to put Darwin on its cover.

Major Religious Right conferences like the Values Voter Summit have devoted many hours in recent years to talking about the threats posed by radical Islam. Will they now add the Discovery Institute and the Institute for Creation Science to their list of those aiding and abetting the nation's enemies? Or is their hatred for Darwin and secularism so strong that they're willing help those pushing for a more theocratic Islamic government in Turkey?

After Three Months, Rifqa Bary Back In Ohio

Rifqa Bary returned to Ohio today, three months after fleeing to Florida claiming that she feared for her life at the hands of her Muslim parents—an allegation that the Florida investigation determined was unsubstantiated. She will be staying in a foster home for the time being and the judge has restricted Bary's internet and phone access, presumably to keep her away from Facebook, where she first met many of the individuals involved in this saga, and people like Lou Engle.

From the Associated Press:

Rifqa Bary returned to circumstances far different than those she left: Instead of her home in New Albany, one of central Ohio's most well-off communities, she'll be in a foster home under state custody.

Bary, 17, will also have her phone and Internet use supervised by the Franklin County Children Service Agency, under a judge's order issued earlier Tuesday.

The children's services agency had blamed Bary's use of Facebook for her troubles, saying she went to Orlando, Fla., after talking to the Rev. Blake Lorenz, pastor of Global Revolution Church, in an online prayer group.

Bary disappeared July 19 and police used phone and computer records to track her to Lorenz.

"What we want to restrict is the other people, the other organizations, the other forces, that have interjected themselves into this case inappropriately, and has caused the additional problems that we've seen," said Jim Zorn, a children's services attorney, who had asked for tougher supervision that would have restricted Bary from using the Internet and her cell phone.

Bary's father has denied the girl's claims and a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation found no credible threats to the girl.

The girl's parents supported the restrictions, saying through their attorney they were concerned about her interacting with adults over the Internet.

 

The Big Con: How Matt Barber Swindled Me Out of $30

Yesterday, I wrote a post taking issue with right-wing outlets that were claiming that people were giving Matt Barber's new book, "The Right Hook: From The Ring To The Culture War," negative reviews without have read it, claiming that the book isn't even going to be released until next week.

As I noted, I already received a copy that I ordered from Amazon last week.  But now that I've started to read it, I made an interesting discovery: namely, that anybody who has read his columns doesn't need to actually read the book before they review it ... because they have literally already read it, since the book consists entirely of his republished columns! 

Nowhere on the publisher's website or the Amazon page is there any sort of disclaimer that this "book" is really just a collection of Barber's past columns.  Had that been made clear, I certainly would have saved myself the $32.00 I spent on this bound edition of his inane columns.

So, to save prevent anyone else who was thinking of buying this "book" from getting conned and ripped-off, here is the entire Barber book in links:

Lawsuit: Stop Praying For My Death!

Earlier this year, Gordon Klingenschmitt issued a call for imprecatory prayer against Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State and Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, praying:

God, do not remain silent, for wicked men surround me and tell lies about me. We bless them, but they curse us. Therefore, find them guilty, not me. Let their days be few, and replace them with godly people. Plunder their fields and seize their assets. Cut off their descendants. And remember their sins. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Now, Weinstein is suing Klingenschmitt, alleging that the effort resulted in harassment and death threats:

A former military lawyer who served in the Reagan White House and worked for Ross Perot is suing a Dallas-based religious organization in a case that could test the limits of free speech and prayer.

Mikey Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, said he wants Gordon Klingenschmitt, a former U.S. Navy chaplain, to "stop asking Jesus to plunder my fields ... seize my assets, kill me and my family then wipe away our descendants for 10 generations."

The suit also asks the court to stop the defendants – Klingenschmitt and Jim Ammerman, the founder of the Dallas-based Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches – from "encouraging, soliciting, directing, abetting or attempting to induce others to engage in similar conduct."

Weinstein, 54, said his family has received death threats, had a swastika emblazoned on their home in New Mexico, animal carcasses left on their doorstep and feces thrown at the house.

Klingenschmitt insists that he is not to blame because even though he wants God to kill Weinstein, he has "never incited anybody" to hurt him:

"I never prayed for anyone's death," he said. "I never prayed for anyone's violence. All I did was quote the Scriptures." His prayers are available on his Web site and for radio broadcast.

...

Klingenschmitt called the lawsuit a publicity stunt and Weinstein a "paranoid megalomaniac who has a history of anti-Christian persecution."

He "would never pray evil upon my enemies," he said, "but the justice of God is not evil."

Does he want Mikey Weinstein to die? "I pray the Psalm that his days are few," he replied.

Conference Recap: Far Right Leaders Vow to 'Take Back America' from 'Evil' Obama and Democrats

The How To Take Back America conference held in St. Louis September 25 and 26 drew some 600 activists and, according to organizers, 100,000 online viewers. The gathering was an expanded version of the annual conference held by Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum, co-hosted this year by radio personality and far-right activist Janet Folger Porter and promoted by other right-wing bloggers and radio shows.

Conference leaders and participants were both fearful and optimistic: fearful that if the Obama administration gets its way, freedom in America will give way to servitude to a tyrannical socialist government; and optimistic that Americans are angry enough to resist that tyranny and will sweep Democrats out of power in House elections in 2010.

Joining conference participants and echoing the themes were presidential candidate Mike Huckabee and several Republican Members of Congress, including Michele Bachmann (MN), Trent Franks (AZ), Steve King (IA), and Tom McClintock (CA).

Among the themes of the conference:

  • a continued merging of messaging and organizing among the Religious Right and “teabagger” right
  • the fervent belief that America is at a tipping point between freedom and fascist power: President Obama and his congressional allies are on the verge of delivering America into Socialism, Communism, and/or Nazi-style tyranny, and that government is therefore to be feared and resisted
  • optimism that the tea bag movement and anti-health-reform town halls are a sign that Americans are prepared to resist that tyranny
  • extreme opposition to Democratic health care reform efforts, with some support for the congressional Republican alternative and some demands for a no-compromise approach that would involve ending all government involvement in health care, including Medicare
  • recent attacks on ACORN are just part of a larger effort to target progressive community organizing groups and their religious supporters and “defund the left”
  • hostility not only to same-sex marriage but also to any legal protections for LGBT Americans and same-sex couples
  • a new push to use “abortion as black genocide” as a wedge between African Americans and pro-choice progressives built around a new “documentary” portraying abortion as 21st century genocide
  • American exceptionalism – the belief that America’s founding was divinely inspired and the nation has been uniquely blessed by God – is alive and well, though America is now living under a curse for having elected Barack Obama
  • activists don’t need a majority to take back America; if their minority or “remnant” is committed enough God will use them
  • the apparent passing (or grabbing) of the torch from Phyllis Schlafly to Janet Folger Porter

The most widely read book among these activists may not be Mark Levin’s Liberty and Tyranny or Glenn Beck’s Common Sense but Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals, which was invoked repeatedly by speakers and participants.

A Coalescing of Right-Wing Themes

The wide range of issues covered by workshops indicated the ongoing merging of Religious Right and far-right anti-government rhetoric that has been a hallmark of anti-Obama organizing. In this, you could say that Phyllis Schlafly has been ahead of her time: for decades she has combined Religious Right opposition to abortion, feminism, reproductive choice, and gay rights with concerns about a far-ranging list of threats to the American way of life, including federal judges, international treaties, the United Nations, and supposed secret plans to merge the U.S. with Mexico and Canada in a North American Union.  

Former and probably future presidential candidate Mike Huckabee won a cheering standing ovation from this crowd when he adopted its anti-UN stance, demanding that the organization leave the U.S. and not get one more dime in American funding. Huckabee complained about giving a platform to “murderous thugs” and said, “Enough! It’s time to get a jackhammer and to simply chip that part of New York City and let it float into the East River never to be seen again.” Huckabee managed to combine a couple of the far right’s favorite targets by declaring that the UN “has become the international equivalent of ACORN and it’s time to say enough.” (This from the man who said minutes earlier that the conservative movement was at its best when it was built on a strong intellectual grounding.)

Ferocious hostility toward the Obama administration is a unifying force in bringing together social and religious conservatives, a trend also evident at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C. the week before. At How To Take Back America, for example, a session on health care reform focused less on the threat of publicly funded abortion and more on the “fascist” government “takeover” of the economy as a “power grab” by the president. The proposed “cap and trade” energy legislation was described as an effort to tax and control every American’s energy usage. 

President Obama: ‘He’s just evil.’

The depth of hostility toward President Obama -- described by a representative of the American Family Association as “a scary, scary individual” -- cannot be overstated. Rep. Trent Franks called Obama “an enemy of humanity” who “has no place in any station of government.” Another speaker, anti-gay activist Matt Barber, strung together as many insults as he could in describing the president as “a secular humanist, a radical socialist moral relativist.” 

Obama’s push for health care reform is not about health care, said Rep. Tom Price, it’s about power. A representative from Oregon Right to Life said “it’s not about health care, it’s about subjugation and control…He is a statist. He believes in control by government and its dear leaders, fascism by any other name.”  During a session on how feminism is destroying society, a questioner asked if President Obama’s push for women to go back to college was a precursor to women being forced into hard labor like they were in Russia. 

In fact many speakers and participants suggested parallels between the Obama administration’s actions and the rise to power of the Nazis. (One favored technique is to list a set of policy actions that sound like Democratic proposals and then spring the surprise that they were all actions taken by Hitler.) 

Similar hostility was directed toward Democratic congressional leaders. Speaker after speaker accused the president and his allies of pursuing a Marxist agenda, and one dubbed Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid the “new axis of evil.”

Several people suggested that armed resistance to tyrannical government may be needed. A speaker who drew parallels between America today and her experiences growing up under Nazis and Communists urged activists to buy more guns and ammunition; someone suggested that “the Second Amendment” would be the answer to threats by state governments to impose forced vaccination and quarantines during a flu pandemic.

Stopping Health Care Reform

Blocking Democratic health care reform proposals (Rep. Price called House Democrats’ HR 3200 a “monstrosity”) was among the hottest topics at the conference. As noted above, rhetoric focused on the issue less as a policy disagreement and more as a last-ditch battle against a power-hungry president to preserve freedom in America. One speaker said dramatically that if this “diabolical change” were not defeated, government of the people, by the people, and for the people would perish from the face of the earth.

Among the most extreme anti-Obama and anti-government speakers were three doctors who led a workshop session on “How to Stop Socialism in Health Care,” which moderator Andy Schlafly called “the most important issue we’re facing.” 

Lawrence Huntoon, representing the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (which bills itself as a conservative alternative to the AMA), argued that any governmental “interference” in the practice of health care is unconstitutional, and that the Obama administration is really only interested in power. “Just like the fraud and deception of socialism itself,” he said, proposals for reform have more to do with government gaining control over the lives of individuals than of health care. 

The second speaker, Dr. Frank Rosenbloom of Oregon Right to Life, lashed out at President Obama’s policies and at suggestions that opposition to his administration reflected racism. Obama, he said, is a supporter of Planned Parenthood and therefore responsible for genocide against black children. “Liberals are the true racists in this society,” he proclaimed. But he was just warming up.  Rosenbloom compared Obama to Adolf Hitler, saying “fascism is happening here and now.” Recalling President Obama’s statement that if his daughter mistakenly became pregnant, he would not want her to be punished with a baby, Rosenbloom said that is the sort of “moral sewage that is running our country.”

Rosenbloom, who said Obama is “not stupid,” but “just evil,” rejected Rep. Price’s plug for HR 3400, a Republican alternative bill, demanding that government get out of health care completely. He called for an end to Medicare and Medicaid, saying that people could be provided for through tax subsidies for buying insurance. 

A third speaker,Dr. Allen Unruh, said “we either live in freedom or in servitude, there is no middle ground.”  Unruh said Obama health care plans would result in dismantling the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 9th, 10th, and 13th amendments and said it would turn all doctors into “slaves of the state” and result in "slavery reenacted by our first black president."

Abortion: No Compromise, New Wedges

While anti-Obama and anti-government fervor felt like the energizing force of the conference, the intensity of opposition to legalized abortion was also undiminished. 

Arizona Rep. Trent Franks, citing Obama’s pro-choice policies, called him an “enemy of humanity:”

Obama’s first act as president of any consequence, in the middle of a financial meltdown, was to send taxpayers’ money oversees to pay for the killing of unborn children in other countries…there’s almost nothing that you should be surprised at after that….we shouldn’t be shocked that he does all these other insane things….A president that has lost his way that badly, that has no ability to see the image of God in these little fellow human beings, if he can’t do that right, then he has no place in any station of government and we need to realize that he is an enemy of humanity.

Huckabee also called for “no compromise” on the issue:

That’s why the position that I believe that we must uncompromisingly hold toward the sanctity of human life is an absolute and cannot be negotiated and cannot be given away. And I will never support anyone for public office who does not believe that we should protect every single human life. It’s better to lose elections than to lose our culture and to lose civilization.

Huckabee added that he didn’t believe an uncompromising anti-choice stance would lead to lost elections, saying he was encouraged that younger women are more anti-choice than their mothers and grandmothers.

Anti-choice activists are mounting a renewed effort to use abortion as a wedge issue, portraying legaliized abortion as “black genocide” and promoting Maafa 21, a new “documentary” meant to help stir anti-abortion sentiment in African American churches. Janet Porter told of attending a showing of the movie in Arizona, after which a speaker urged people to confess if they had voted for pro-choice candidates like President Obama. An African American woman, Porter says, rose and prayed, “Forgive me Lord, for putting race over you.”

Along the same lines, Rep. Franks touted his “Susan B. Anthony – Frederick Douglass Pre-Natal Non Discrimination Act,” which would ban abortions carried out on the basis of race or sex. He bragged that the bill would put members of the Congressional Black Caucus and other liberals in a box, because they don’t want to support discrimination, but that if they do vote for the bill, they will be acknowledging that “there’s a person involved.” 

Freedom with an Asterisk

An overriding theme of conference speakers was that the nation is poised on losing its freedom. Rep. Tom Price said that in Washington “we see a crowd in charge that is not too fond of freedom.” 

Of course, freedom to these conference-goers does not extend to LGBT Americans who want to live their lives free from discrimination or serve the nation in the armed forces. Several workshops focused on the dire threat to children and communities posed by the prospect (and reality) of gay couples getting married. And for this crowd, stopping marriage equality is not enough: they are out to prevent civil unions and domestic partnerships as well. They believe the Employment Anti-Discrimination Act is a grave threat to religious liberty. They believe that allowing gays to serve openly in the military would threaten national security. And please don’t get them started on transgender people.

Gay rights advocates, like Obama, were described by Liberty Counsel’s Matt Barber as bullies who get their way with propaganda and “goose-stepping” intimidation of those who oppose equality.

Attacking Progressives

Conference participants were downright gleeful about the troubles facing ACORN, which they claim has been routinely engaged in voter fraud. They were warned, however, that congressional action to deny funding to ACORN is only a first step in attacking funding for organizations affiliated with ACORN and more broadly, groups doing community organizing in poor communities like the Industrial Areas Foundation.

A group of participants from Wisconsin, for example, distributed materials attacking the state’s Catholic bishops for supporting social justice-oriented religious coalitions like Common Ground, which they argue has a “Radical Left Agenda” -- which in their mind includes things like government support for day care. 

In her address, Rep. Michele Bachman said liberalism is repulsive to the American people and called for a renewed effort to “defund the left,” something she criticized Republicans for failing to do when they were in power. “Defunding the left is going to be so easy and it’s going to solve so many of our problems,” she said.

Franks touted his “pre-natal discrimination” bill as a way to “completely defund Planned Parenthood,” which is high on the Right’s agenda.

Taking Back Congress in 2010

Many speakers shared Phyllis Schlafly’s optimism that the anti-Obama, anti-government anger evident in the health care town halls, the tea bag parties, and the conference itself is spreading like wildfire and will make it possible for the Republicans to reclaim the House of Representatives in 2010 and bring a screeching halt to the Obama administration’s plans to drive America into socialist subservience.

Porter announced plans for a rally at the Lincoln Memorial on May 1, 2010, and she’s already got several members of Congress, including Reps. Franks and King signed up. Porter claimed that the event was not about impressing the media or Washington elite, but about touching the heart of God with a show of national repentance for having elected such wicked leaders. She said attendees would be able to give God a sign of their readiness to turn from their wicked ways by putting money into barrels that would be given to the opponents of targeted Democratic congressional leaders.

Passing the Torch

The entire conference had the feel of a generational passing of the leadership torch from Phyllis Schlafly to Janet Folger Porter. Photographic tributes to Schlafly’s life were capped with a long “surprise” recounting of her career by Porter during the final evening program. Porter presented Schlafly with the “American Hero of the Century” Award. For her part, Schlafly praised Porter repeatedly throughout the weekend, saying, “there aren’t extravagances enough to praise Janet for the role she’s played in taking back America and rebuilding the conservative movement.”

Although they don’t agree about everything (Porter argued that Mike Huckabee was God’s chosen candidate in 2008, while Schlafly disparaged his conservative credentials), Porter is in many ways a perfect successor to Schlafly. She shares many of her characteristics, including a no-compromise approach to politics, a strategy of promoting the most extreme and fantastical claims about opponents’ aims and goals, seemingly limitless energy for the fight, and a talent for self-promotion.

Porter has a documented record of promoting even the wildest right-wing conspiracy theories, including “birtherism” and claims that the Obama administration is planning to round up conservatives into internment camps and exterminate millions of Americans through a flu vaccine plot. None of that apparently can diminish her shine in the eyes of the public officials hoping to gain or keep her favor. Both Rep. Franks and Mike Huckabee credited Porter for getting them to the conference. Huckabee went a little further, saying there are two Janets he answers to, his wife and Porter. Porter co-chaired the Faith and Values committee of Huckabee’s presidential campaign. So if Porter does indeed become the new leader of Schlafly’s loyal followers, that’s good news for Huckabee’s future political ambitions.

Right Wing Round-Up

  • Be sure to check out all of David Weigel's coverage of the How To Take Back America Conference.
  • Think Progress: Asked If His Thesis Advocated A ‘Radical Agenda,’ Bob McDonnell Replies 'No.'
  • Orly Taitz is now claiming that the judge's threats to sanction her if she keeps filing frivolous motions and lawsuits amounts to "a quasi-criminal prosecution" of her.
  • I'd like to say that this surprises me, but it doesn't.
  • Finally, if you are planning on running for governor, it helps if you have actually voted regularly in the past.

Highlights From the Religious Right's Anti-Islam Counter Offensive

Last night we posted audio of Rifqa Bary's surprise appearance on the National Day of Prayer Task Force's effort to mobilize its Christian warriors to counter the "dark spiritual content" of the scheduled Muslim prayer rally in Washington, DC, which, as we've seen over the last several days, and continue to see, seems to be causing the Religious Right to completely freak out:

Robert Knight is a senior fellow at the American Civil Rights Union and a senior writer for Coral Ridge Ministries. He says having 50,000 Muslims on Capitol Hill paints a very potent picture for Muslims around the world.

"It's adding up to a picture that the United States may not want to paint because there are a lot of Muslims who will be inspired, perhaps, to get more militant if they think the United States is falling into Muslim hands, basically," he points out.

According to Knight, many Muslims believe they have a sympathetic ear in President Barack Obama. "Obama held no National Day of Prayer events at the White House this year, but gave a very positive eloquent speech about Ramadan," he recalls. "And he also has said some very interesting things overseas about the emergence of Islam."

Organizers say it was President Obama's inauguration speech in January and his speech broadcast from Egypt in June that inspired them to hold Friday's event, scheduled to begin at 1:00 p.m. Eastern.

At least one pro-family organization has expressed deep concern about the individuals who have organized the gathering and who are scheduled to speak. In an Action Alert to its constituents, the American Family Association has described those individuals as "men who harbor both anti-Semitic and fundamentally anti-American views." And like Knight, AFA notes President Obama's refusal to participate in the National Day of Prayer in May -- in contrast to his hosting of a White House dinner celebrating what Obama called "the Holy Month of Ramadan."

Meanwhile, Christians alarmed at today's scheduled gathering of tens of thousands of Muslims outside the U.S. Capitol have prayed together in a national conference call. Shirley Dobson, who heads the National Day of Prayer Task Force, said she and other Christians "are so troubled at what we see going on in our nation -- we're watching the foundations crumble."

Associated Press says Christian leaders in last night's conference call were unconvinced the gathering will be a time for Muslims to pray together, read the Quran, and celebrate America's religious freedom -- as its organizers insist. Family Research Council president Tony Perkins wondered if the Muslims would be "praying for the well-being of our nation."

Perkins called the Muslim gathering "a wake-up call for the church" and a warning that if Christians do not "fill the void that's in this nation with the truth, it will be filled with something else."

We've put together this clip featuring some of the highlights from the call itself, featuring Dobson saying the effort was designed to "put a shield of prayer around the United States of American and our world, while just praying for God's intervention." She was followed by Perkins, who insisted that it was not a question of whether Muslims had a right to gather to pray but rather "the focus of their prayers, are they praying for the well-being of our nation," saying that the Islamic community has been silent when acts of terrorism have been committed against America and has been equally silent on the "threats" facing Rifqa Bary and, as such, "we have reason to be suspicious about the motives this community has for the well-being of this country. Perkins then introduced his "good friend" Lou Engle, who proceeded to warn that Americans did not "understand the spiritual implications of what is taking place" with this Muslim rally, saying they were "taking the spiritual power of 40 days Ramadan and then channeling it like an arrow right into the White House."  Eventually, others began to pray as well, asking God for a "great turning in education, a great turning in the political arena, [and to] turn the media in America over to your son" at which point Engle took over again asking God to help them win "the challenge in the spirit realm" and defeat "every demonic ideology [and] every spirit of darkness":

Blaming Rifqa Bary’s Parents For the Right Wing Holy War

Sometimes you just have to marvel at the utter cluelessness of some of the right-wing activists who have gotten involved in the Rifqa Bary saga.

Yesterday, we noted that Bary's parents had filed a complaint against Blake and Beverly Lorenz, the Florida couple who harbored her after she ran-away from Ohio.

Today, Tom Trento, the director of the Florida Security Council, weighed in to assert that Bary's parents were filing reckless and unfounded complaints and accuse them of trying to turn the battle over Rifqa into a fight between Islam and Christianity:

Tom Trento is director of the Florida Security Council, which has supported the girl's efforts to remain in Florida. He explains the tactic being employed by the attorney for the teen's parents.

"They hired this new Jihadi lawyer, who's trying to present this as a battle between Islam and Christianity, when it's simply a legal issue over abuse, over threats of life, all of that," says Trento.

Now, keep in mind that Trento's Family Security Council created this Rifqa Bary website as part of Trento's proclaimed "worldwide mission to alert the public about the growing threat of radical Islamic terrorism."

And on that website is this introductory video featuring Trento explaining that the website is designed to "help you understand the critical elements of this watershed issue, about the battle between Islam and Christianity," saying that "at its core, [this is] a battle between American constitutional jurisprudence and Islamic sharia law":

And it's Bary's parents that are trying to turn this into "a battle between Islam and Christianity"?

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