Virginia

2012 Candidates Weekly Update 11/02/10

With the midterm elections taking place today, tomorrow is the unofficial beginning of the race for the 2012 GOP nomination.

Haley Barbour

Tea Party: Claims that Tea Party candidates will find a home in the GOP (AP, 11/2)

GOP: Says that Party will have to earn trust since voters are “not saying ‘Hey, we love you Republicans,’” (CBS, 11/1).

Newt Gingrich

2012: Tells WaPo that a 2012 bid is becoming “increasingly” practical (WaPo, 10/29).

Florida: Holds “Jobs Here Jobs Now” rally in Florida (Florida Times-Union, 10/29).

Mike Huckabee

Alaska: Making robo-calls on behalf of Joe Miller (AP, 11/1).

Iowa: Making robo-calls against the retention of three Iowa judges (Daily Caller, 10/29).

Mitt Romney

Health Care: Defends MA health care program, says national reform law is “unconstitutional” (GOP 12, 11/2).

Maine: Stumps for congressional candidate Dean Scontras, who is challenging Rep. Chellie Pingree (News 13, 11/1).

Iowa: Campaigns with GOP gubernatorial nominee Terry Branstad (Des Moines Register, 10/27).

Sarah Palin

2010: Find out how Palin-endorsed candidates perform on election day (WaPo, 11/2).

GOP: Says that the “good old boys club” is working against her (Politico, 11/2).

Colorado: Making robo-calls on behalf of Tom Tancredo (ABC, 11/1).

Media:  Floats Breitbart-linked conspiracy theory (Media Matters, 11/1).

West Virginia: Stumps with John Raese and praises “Mountain mamas” (LAT, 10/30).

Tim Pawlenty

Minnesota: Low favorability numbers may hurt GOP chances of retaining the governorship (City Pages, 11/1).

Palin: Defends Palin over Twitter over claims that she is unelectable (TPM, 11/1).

Mike Pence

GOP: Calls on his Party to focus on deficit reduction if in power (National Journal, 11/2).

2012: May leave GOP leadership to seek presidency or governorship (Indy Star, 10/31).

New Ralph Reed Ad Campaign Literally Declares "It's Us Vs Them"

Ever since he was anointed as "The Right Hand of God" fifteen years ago, Ralph Reed has enjoyed a reputation as the Religious Right's leading political operative. 

So influential is Reed, in fact, that even his work exploiting his Religious Right allies on behalf of disgraced criminal lobbyist Jack Abramoff's gambling clients could not sink his career, as he returned last year with a new group called the Faith and Freedom Coalition, which he touted as a more hip, more strident "21st Century version of the Christian Coalition on steroids, married with MoveOn.org, with a sprinkling of the NRA." And the rest of the right-wing movement eagerly embraced him once again.

But at heart, Reed is just another right-wing political hack, and a pretty blatant and unoriginal one at that.  And nothing better demonstrates that the FFC is spending half a million dollars to run a more absurdly over-the-top radio ad than you could even imagine: 

The Faith and Freedom Coalition will announce Tuesday evening that it is launching a $500,000 radio ad campaign to increase evangelical and conservative turnout next week.

The socially conservative group, led by Ralph Reed, will target 18 House and Senate races with the independent expenditure effort.

At the top of its list is the Nevada Senate contest, where Republican Sharron Angle is trying to unseat Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid. The group will also debut ads bolstering the Republican nominees in the tight Colorado and Washington Senate races.

Incumbent House Democrats being targeted by the group are Ciro Rodriguez (Texas), Paul Kanjorski (Pennsylvania), Jerry McNerney and Loretta Sanchez (California), Tom Perriello (Virginia), Sanford Bishop and Jim Marshall (Georgia), John Spratt (South Carolina), John Boccieri (Ohio), Allen Boyd and Ron Klein (Florida), John Salazar (Colorado), Leonard Boswell (Iowa) and Lincoln Davis (Tennessee).

Here is ad Reed is running against Harry Reid and its theme is literally "us vs. them" - you really need to listen to it in order to fully understand just how truly awful it is:

It's Us versus Them. Big government versus a big belief in faith and freedom. Sharron Angle versus Harry Reid.

Reid is a "them," like Obama, like Pelosi. He voted for their stimulus plan that only wasted our money, civilian trials for foreign terrorists, and government-run health care.

Angle is one of us. She says it is faith in God and the freedom to become all we want that made America great.

We must choose an "us." Someone who gets it, will protect our freedom, and defend our faith.

Please, vote faith, vote freedom, vote Angle.

It's Us versus Them.

The various other versions of the ad can be found here.

The Right truly has become a parody of itself.

Jackson: Christians Deserve Tax Cuts And Applause

Earlier this week, the Family Research Council hosted a webcast entitled "Taxman Cometh: Stopping the Obama Tax Hikes" that featured various members of Congress and right-wing activists (as was supposed to co-sponsored by Virginia Thomas and Liberty Central, until she dropped out).

During the broadcast, Harry Jackson made the case that raising taxes is really a moral issue and an attempt to limit the work that Christians can do through their charitable donations, for which they deserve to be applauded:

Perkins: Let's talk about the moral aspects of taxes. Why should Christians be concerned about the tax policy that America adopts?

Jackson: Well, I think that we're called to be stewards of our finances and we want to make sure that we do the right thing and I can ensure my stewardship of my resources if they're in my control.

Christians are more generous by every measure, if you study it out, than those who are not Christians. In other words, others look for the government to do good in our stead. We as Christians want to take control of our money and then honor Christ first hopefully with our tithes, offerings and then with targeted acts of kindness that we do all the time to help those at home and abroad.

Perkins: So you're not speaking from a standpoint of stinginess when conservatives are talking about we don't want to see additional tax increases because they give disproportionately of their income to do the work that the government attempts to do.

Jackson: Absolutely not. What you are really doing by increasing this tax burden is hindering the possibility of generosity of the most generous segment of our culture. And I think because we've got a clash of worldviews, this is why people demonize those of us who are Bible-believers and are faithful stewards of God's resources instead of applauding.

Together Again: Ralph Reed and Pat Robertson Reminisce

Ralph Reed joined Pat Robertson today on "The 700 Club," ostensibly to discuss his new novel "The Confirmation" but spent most of the fifteen minute segment talking politics.

At first, Reed explained how the plot of his novel is loosely based on the Clarence Thomas confirmation fight, saying that it was that issue that made him realize that he was really engaged in a spiritual battle:

Robertson: The whole concept though was based, I guess, on Clarence Thomas' confirmation hearing.

Reed: Yeah, and you know Pat I was then at the Christian Coalition and you I worked very closely together on that confirmation. And I'll never forget while we were in the midst of that fight, I got a call one night from Bill Bright who was then still with us and was at Campus Crusade and he said "you know, I never do this but I was on my knees at five o'clock this morning praying for this man." And he goes "I generally don't get involved in legislative battles, but I want to write a personal letter to every member of the Senate and ask them to vote for Clarence Thomas."

And what that showed me Pat, and of course he was ultimately confirmed, it showed me that this is not just a temporal or a political or a legislative battle, that there's a spiritual realm.

So what I try to show in "The Confirmation" is yes they are negative attack ads and yes there are hit pieces in the newspaper, but God is on the throne ... that there is a genuine struggle between good and evil and that Godl'y men and women can get involved in the political process and they can advance and build his kingdom.

Next the discussion turned to the Tea Party movement, which Robertson said was a descendant of the Christian Coalition before turning to the issue of politicians who use the Religious Right for political benefit, which Robertson singling out President Bush:

Reed: I will predict this, on November 2 you are going to see the biggest turnout of evangelical Christians in a midterm election in modern American history, even bigger than in 1994. You know there is a survey Pat that showed that half of the Tea Party Movement were evangelicals.

Robertson: Sure, I think some of the carry over from the Christian Coalition, they morphed into this. What about this Tea Party? I'm a little bit ambivalent, they need some structure.

Reed: Well, I have to tell you I'm a big fan. I know a lot of the organizers personally. I work closely with the Tea Party Patriots and in fact two of those three national leaders I worked with in Georgia for many years. And I want to tell you Pat, they're believers by and large. They are people who are not looking for power, they're looking to give back, not to get anything from the system.

I predict that with them, as with the pro-family movement of which you were such a key pioneer, that there will come sophistication, maturation and structure over time. But it's kind of like at the beginning of the so-called Religious Right it was a few guys flying around in airplanes doing rallies. But now look how sophisticated it is. But that took thirty years.

Robertson: Well, I hope that they'll be included. In your book, it's very well presented, the evangelicals are sort of on the outside and viewed with disdain by some of the insiders. You wrote it very well.

Reed: You know a little about that.

Robertson: Yeah, I know where that disdain is. Out in the front they hug you and kiss you and behind the scenes they make fun of you.

Reed: Right. Or the other way around, they want to meet with you in private before the election but then don't want to be seen with you at the cameras.

Robertson: I had that with the late, great President Bush. I know exactly how it is. Let's not let anybody know you are coming in. Guard the room, so we don't have any cameras.

Finally, Reed marvelled at the impact Robertson has had, noting that it has taken generations, but now Regent University graduates like Gov. Bob McDonnell and Rep. Michele Bachmann are Republican leaders:

Reed: We're celebrating this year fifty years of your ministry and I was thinking about it as I was coming to do the show and you've got Scott Rigell who's a Regent University grad who's running for Congress right here in the Second District, one of the most high-profile races in the country.

Bob McDonnell, a Regent grad, is governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia. You've got people serving in positions of influence and effectiveness all over the country at very high levels.

Robertson: Michele Bachmann is one of ours too.

Reed: Is Michele Bachmann?

Robertson: Yeah, she's a Law School grad ...

Reed: Well, there you go. I rest my case.

And through the Faith and Freedom Coalition, which I really learned how to do that here at the Christian Coalition, the reality is that sometimes you don't see the full impact you are going to have on a country until a generation or two later.

Right Wing Round-Up

  • CBN's David Brody defends Christine O'Donnell because she is just like Antonin Scalia.
  • And, of course, Bryan Fischer is defending her as well.
  • This OneNewsNow article featuring Peter LaBarbera actually contains a link that carries this message: "Caution: The previous link goes to a pro-homosexual website."
  • Watch the Right freak out now that George Soros has donated a million dollars to Media Matters.
  • Tony Perkins is very upset that people didn't like his piece in the Washington Post.
  • Speaking of FRC, Virginia Thomas is supposed to join them tonight fora webcast called "The Taxman Cometh: Stopping the Obama Tax Hikes."
  • Finally, Mike Hucakbee has turned his hypocritical outrage over Jack Conway's ad into a robocall and radio ad for Rand Paul:

Right Wing Round-Up

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Frank Pavone of Priests for Life says the Religious Right will never accept any sort of truce on the issue of abortion.
  • Pam Tebow has endorsed Colorado's "personhood" amendment.
  • This is an exceptionally inane column, even for Linda Harvey.
  • Religious Right leaders are resoundingly unexcited about prospect of Speaker of the House John Boehner.
  • Quote of the day from Dave Welch, responding to Judge Virginia Phillips' DADT ruling: "The raw arrogance represented by this Virginia Phillips should result in impeachment. She has proven herself not only unfit for judgeship but is in fact a 'domestic enemy' of the very kind our military members take an oath to defend against."
  • The Catholic Church claims that Homer Simpson is a Catholic.  Please, everyone knows that the Simpsons are Presbylutherans.
  • Finally, nothing spices up a boring CSPAN panel like some conservative using it to vent about a failed past relationship with a co-panelist:

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Christine O'Donnell did not have a very good showing in last night's debate and then lashed out at the GOP for abandoning her.
  • But Rob Schenck wants her to win because the Senate needs more regular guys and gals.
  • Justice Sam Alito says he won't be attending the next State of the Union address.
  • Richard Viguerie and Morton Blackwell will host an "election night victory party for 350 conservative and Tea Party activists on Tuesday, November 2, at the Leadership Institute in Arlington, Virginia."
  • Speaking of Viguerie, he and Brent Bozell came out in opposition to the death penalty.
  • Bill Keller says he is getting death threats.
  • Gary Bauer's Campaign for Working Families PAC says it will spend more than $1 million on ads targeting 10 Democrats.
  • Finally, Robert Knight will be joining Cliff Kincaid for America's Survival's "Unmasking the Progressives' National Conference."

2012 Candidates Weekly Update 10/12/10

Newt Gingrich

Extremism: Detractors condemn Gingrich’s increasingly heated rhetoric (Politico, 10/11).

Government: Calls Democrats “the party of food stamps” (AP, 10/7).

Health Care: Pushes repeal of reform law to business conference (The Bakersfield Californian, 10/9).

Mike Huckabee

2010: Solicits contributions for Alan Grayson’s opponent Dan Webster (Sunshine State News, 10/11).

Media: Coulter says Huckabee is the “only one true Christian liberal in the country” (Mediaite, 10/10).

Sarah Palin

Poll: Just 22% of Americans view Palin positively (CBS News, 10/6).

2010: Says midterm election represents a “Great Awakening” among voters (Politico, 10/11).

Media: Blasts the “lamestream media” and Tea Party critics at “Patriotic Gala” fundraiser (MSNBC, 10/11).

Foreign Affairs: Tells NewsMax that a nuclear Iran could “lead to an Armageddon” (News Max, 10/11).

Tim Pawlenty

Religious Right: Fundraises for Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition (Iowa Politics, 10/10).

Iowa: Visits three cities and hosts fundraiser with GOP gubernatorial nominee Terry Branstad (Radio Iowa, 10/11).

Health Care: Dubs reform law “one of the worst pieces of legislation in modern history” (Sioux City Journal, 10/9).

Ron Paul

Iowa: Speaking at University of Iowa and a GOP fundraiser later this month (Iowa Independent, 10/11).

Tea Party: Praises “Nullification” movement at Tea Party convention (Slate, 10/9).

Mike Pence

Religious Right: Tells Virginia Family Foundation that “the problems we have as a nation are not just political, but moral” (Richmond Times Dispatch, 10/10).

GOP: Headlines Reagan Day Dinner in Florida (Saint Peters Blog, 10/11).

Mitt Romney

Religious Right: Avoids comment on Mormon leader’s anti-gay speech (Salt Lake City Tribune, 10/7).

Health Care: MA Republicans don’t want Romney to denounce reform law he signed as governor (Boston Globe, 10/8).

Foreign Affairs: Knocks Obama for “apologizing for America” (The Bakersfield Californian, 10/9).

Rick Santorum

Iowa: Launches Iowa Keystone PAC to help state Republicans (Politico, 10/7).

Religious Right: Criticizes ACLU over reproductive rights (NewsMax, 10/9).

Right Wing Round-Up

2012 Candidates Weekly Update 9/28/10

Haley Barbour

2012: Political work profiled by TIME Magazine (TIME, 9/23).

New Hampshire: Stumps with GOP gubernatorial candidate (Nashua Telegraph, 9/28).

Mitch Daniels

2012: Fundraising circuit points to presidential bid (Indianapolis Star, 9/28).

Poll: About 75% of Americans haven’t heard of the Indiana Governor (Journal Gazette, 9/28).

Newt Gingrich

Democrats: Calls Democrats “the food stamp party” (Chicago Sun Times, 9/25).

GOP: How Gingrich transformed the Republican Party (Salon, 9/24).

2010: Approves new “Pledge to America” (Politico, 9/23).

Mike Huckabee

2010: Campaigned with Rand Paul over the weekend (BluegrassPolitics, 9/22).

Health Care: Walks back on previous position on coverage for pre-existing condition (The American Prospect, 9/23).

Business: Huckabee-endorsed Goldline company sued by SEC (ABC, 9/23).

Sarah Palin

2012: New poll shows her growing unpopularity among voters (ThePlumLine, 9/27).

2010: Launches “Take Back the 20” campaign against Democrats who supported Health Care Reform (The Hill, 9/27).

Media:  Claims media "piles on" her endorsed candidates (GOP 12, 9/27).

Religious Right: Article looks into Palin’s relationship with Dominionism (Religion Dispatches, 9/26).

Tim Pawlenty

Foreign Affairs: Calls Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “nutty” (City Pages, 9/24).

New Hampshire: Plans to fundraiser for GOP gubernatorial candidate John Stephen (Concord Monitor, 9/26).

Minnesota: Visits flooded areas of state (WCCO, 9/25).

Mitt Romney

2010: Endorses West Virginia Republicans (The Hill, 9/27).

Obama: Calls Presidency an “abject failure” to New Hampshire GOP (Salt Lake Tribune, 9/26).

Rick Santorum

Media: Santorum, Palin, Gingrich and Huckabee all on Fox payroll (Politico, 9/27).

John Thune

2012: Weekly Standard profiles South Dakota Senator John Thune (Weekly Standard, 10/4).

Right Wing Leftovers

  • FRC rejoices over the defeat of the effort to repeal Don't ask Don't Tell.
  • Over the weekend, Sharron Angle spoke at Utah’s Freedom Conference, an event co-sponsored by the John Birch Society.
  • Tim Scott tells CBN's David Brody that there is no racism in the Tea Party movement.
  • Gov. Bob McDonnell, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli will all speak at Virginia's first annual Tea Party Convention next month.
  • You can now add Rep. Paul Ryan to the list of conservatives saying there might be a need to call a "truce" in the culture wars.
  • Jerry Falwell, Jr. supports efforts by VA Gov. Bob McDonnell's plan to privatize the state's liquor monopoly.
  • Finally, I find it hilarious that FRC is outraged that Republicans would speak to the Log Cabin Republicans just days after FRC gave a prime speaking slot to notorious bigot Bryan Fischer.

Value Voter Recap: We're All Tea Partiers Now (Including God)

The so-called Values Voter Summit, organized by the Family Research Council and sponsored by a number of right-wing groups, brought more than 2,000 activists (their count) to Washington D.C. for two solid days of speeches, workshops, networking, and a chance to spend time with others who passionately hate President Obama and the Democratic congressional leadership. Addressing the crowd were a number of GOP presidential hopefuls, including Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, and Rep. Mike Pence (who eked out a narrow victory over Huckabee in the straw poll). Not surprisingly, conference speakers echoed the themes heard at the smaller Faith and Freedom conference convened by Ralph Reed just one week earlier.

Here were the top themes emerging from these Religious Right political conferences.
 
1) We’re All Tea Partiers Now (Including God)
 
The Faith and Freedom conference and Values Voter Summit signaled the Religious Right’s full embrace of (or effort to co-opt) the Tea Party movement and its activists’ anti-Washington energies. Rep. Michele Bachmann, a superstar in both the Religious Right and Tea Party movements, railed at Tea Party critics: “If you are scared of the Tea Party movement, you are afraid of Thomas Jefferson, who penned our mission statement [the Declaration of Independence].”
 
The events were also designed to attack the notion that the Tea Party movement is, or should be, focused only on economic issues and not on moral ones. This is more than the ongoing effort to solidify a working electoral partnership among fiscal, social, and national security conservatives. This is an ideological campaign against the very idea that one can legitimately be a fiscal conservative without embracing the Religious Right’s “family values” agenda on issues such as legal abortion and marriage equality. At the Values Voter Summit, there was little patience for libertarians who consider themselves economically conservative but socially liberal. Sen. Jim DeMint, greeted as a folk-hero for his success at backing Tea Party challengers to establishment GOP candidates, took on the idea directly, saying “you can’t be a true fiscal conservative if you do not understand the value of a culture that is based on values.” 
 
Others echoed the theme. A Heritage Foundation video declared that faith is necessary for liberty. Rep Mike Pence, the dark-horse winner of the summit’s straw poll, said America’s darkest moments have come when economic arguments trumped moral principles. Newt Gingrich declared that activists have to go back to making the moral case for free enterprise, not the economic case. David Limbaugh decried “economic justice,” which he called a leftist euphemism for “confiscation.” 
 
At a Values Voter Summit panel on the Tea Party movement, two activists described their work as being inspired in part by instructions they received from God in the early morning hours, like Glenn Beck; one insisted that her activism was not just about taxes but about getting America to turn back to God.
 
2) Nothing is more important than the 2010 and 2012 elections.
 
Nearly every speaker said that the 2010 election is the most important in our lifetime. Speakers insisted that President Obama, his administration, and Democratic congressional leaders are not only wrong, they are evil and are out to destroy the American experiment in limited government and individual liberty.  It is simply not possible to overstate the level of anger and hostility directed toward Obama (described as an America-hating narcissistic Marxist), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. 
 
Activists were told they must fast, pray, and work hard to defeat Democrats this November. The Family Research Council urged people to visit the website of Pray and A.C.T, a campaign led by Jim Garlow, who has been a rising star on the Religious Right since leading religious organizing on behalf of California’s anti-gay Prop 8. Ralph Reed is promising to share with local activists a massive new database of faith-based and fiscally conservative voters that he is building. 
 
Activists were also told that they must plan to keep sacrificing their time, energy and money for the next two years to make sure that Obama is defeated in 2012. Former Sen. Rick Santorum told activists not to expect dramatic improvements even if they win big in November: things won’t really change for the better as long as the White House is in Obama’s hands. Activists were warned that these two elections may be the last chance to stop the nation’s slide toward socialism and the end of America as we know it.
 
Right-wing speakers are optimistic about the possibility of delivering both the House and Senate into Republican hands and electing a conservative Republican president in 2012. FRC’s PAC held a fundraiser Friday night for Christine O’Donnell, the new Tea Party-backed GOP Senate candidate from Delaware, and other like-minded candidates.   Ralph Reed said that voter registration and focused turnout campaigns being waged by his and other right-wing groups would turn this from a good election cycle for Republicans into a historically sweeping one. And there’s particular excitement that Florida GOP Senate candidate Marco Rubio could be the face of the GOP’s future: right-wing strategists see him as Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama rolled into one appealing, Latino-vote-getting package.
 
3) Repealing Health Care Reform the Top Legislative Priority
 
According to several Values Voter Summit speakers, health care reform legislation signed into law by President Obama wasn’t really about health care at all. It was about extending the power of the federal government into tyrannical realms. Repealing “Obamacare” before it fully goes into effect is the top legislative priority of movement leaders. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell was one of several speakers who called the legislation unconstitutional, saying that if the legislation was allowed to stand, it would effectively spell the end of any limits on federal power. 
 
4) Muslims Replace Immigrants as a Top Target
 
While previous conferences have portrayed unchecked illegal immigration as the most dire threat to America, this year’s speakers picked up on the right-wing generated furor over a proposed Islamic center in lower Manhattan – the inaccurately dubbed “Ground Zero Mosque” – to make repeated bitter denunciations of Islam. Immigration was not completely ignored: Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, in a list of complaints, denounced the White House for being an administration “whose idea of a rogue state is Arizona,” and the Heritage Foundation sponsored a workshop on “The Real Cost of Illegal Immigration.” But the real energy was in attacking Islam, which was a primary focus of remarks by Bill Bennett and Gary Bauer.
 
5) Pursuit of Happiness With an Asterisk: Gays Need Not Apply
 
Not surprisingly, all the talk about individual liberty being at the core of our national identity did not extend to the freedom of gay and lesbian Americans to pursue happiness by marrying the person they love. Several speakers exhorted attendees to help mobilize conservative voters in Iowa to turn out for upcoming retention elections and vote against Iowa Supreme Court justices who ruled that denying gay couples the freedom to marriage violated the state’s constitution. The American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, who insisted that there is no confusion about what is right in the sight of God and what is evil in the sight of God, said that politicians who support, defend, and promote “counterfeits” to marriage (which include not only marriage equality but also civil unions and domestic partnerships) are doing something evil and deserve condemnation. Fischer repeated Religious Right claims that LGBT equality and religious liberty are incompatible: “we are going to have to choose between the homosexual agenda and religious liberty because we simply cannot have both.”
 
The federal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law which forbids gay members of the Armed Forces for serving openly and honestly, was also high on speakers’ minds. Sen. James Inhofe urged people to call their senators in advance of a scheduled vote on a defense authorization bill that would include language to overturn Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell as well as language that would, in his words, turn military hospitals into abortion clinics. 

PFAW’s Letter to NPR

Yesterday, Kyle pointed out Bryan Fischer’s appearance on Morning Edition, where he was billed simply as a representative of the American Family Association. If a respected media outlet like NPR is going to give a platform to someone like Fischer, it needs to make clear the long record of hate speech he brings with him. PFAW President Michael B. Keegan reached out to Alicia Shepard, the NPR Ombudsman with this note:

Dear Ms. Shepard:

I was surprised yesterday to hear the voice of Bryan Fischer, Director of Issue Analysis at the American Family Association, on Morning Edition. I wonder if the show's producers knew of Mr. Fischer's record of extremism and hate speech against Muslim Americans and gays and lesbians.

People For the American Way's RightWingWatch.org blog tracks Fischer in his roll as a blogger and radio host for the AFA, where he makes no attempt to disguise his extremism. Just in the past year, Fischer has:

Yesterday, in response to People For's call that GOP leaders distance themselves from Mr. Fischer, he repeated his comparison of gay men to domestic terrorists. On Tuesday, Mr. Fischer defended his call for deporting Muslim Americans, saying "we are doing them a favor by repatriating them to their homeland where an entire nation shares their values."

Of course, Mr. Fischer has the right to air his opinions, no matter how hurtful. However, he should not be given air time by a nonpartisan news organization without some disclosure of his record of hate speech.

I also hope that Mr. Fischer is not, as Morning Edition implied, representative of the Tea Party movement as a whole.

This weekend, he will be appearing this weekend alongside leaders of the Republican Party, including Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint, and 2012 presidential hopefuls Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, and Mike Pence. We have alerted these public figures to Mr. Fischer's record and urged them to denounce Fischer's remarks lest they lend credibility to his extremism.

Similarly, I urge NPR to resist lending credibility to an extremist like Fischer by providing him with a national platform without alerting audiences to his record of vocal bigotry.

Thank you for your time,

Michael B. Keegan

President, People For the American Way

 We’ll keep you posted on the response.

PFAW Sends Letters to GOP Leaders Urging them to Denounce Fischer, Skip Values Voter Summit

People For's President, Michael Keegan, sent the following letter today to Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, Indiana Rep. Mike Pence, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, and Delaware Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell, all of whom are scheduled to appear this weekend at the Values Voter Summit, alongside the virulantly anti-Muslim and anti-gay Bryan Fischer.

Dear ________:

I am writing to express my concern about your appearance this weekend at the upcoming Values Voter Summit. Among the participants this weekend will be Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association. We urge you to publically denounce Fischer’s record of hate speech and extremism, and reconsider appearing beside him this weekend.

People For’s RightWingWatch.org blog has tracked Fischer’s career over the past several years. His long and prolific record of hate speech and extremism includes the following recent statements. Just in the past year, Fischer has:

I am attaching the names of over 6,500 concerned citizens who have signed the following letter regarding your participation in the summit:

Values Voter Summit Participants:

Reasonable people can, and do, have reasonable differences of opinion. Bryan Fischer, of the American Family Association, is not a reasonable person.

By sharing a stage with Fischer at this year's Values Voter Summit, public figures acknowledge the credibility of his shameless anti-Muslim and anti-gay propaganda. Any candidate thinking seriously of running for president in 2012 should think twice about standing alongside a man who has called for the deportation of all Muslims in America; insulted Muslim servicemembers; claimed that brave Americans died in vain because Iraq was not converted to Christianity; and called gay people deviants, felons, pedophiles and terrorists. Bryan Fischer is no mainstream conservative. And neither is any person who shares a platform with him while refusing to denounce his hate-filled propaganda.

We urge you to denounce Fischer's extremism and separate yourself from his comments.

For more background on Fischer’s extreme rhetoric, please click here.

Fischer’s appearance with conservative leaders such as yourself lends his extreme hate speech credibility. We urge you to publicly denounce Fischer’s record and to think twice about sharing the stage with him.

Sincerely,

Michael B. Keegan
President, People For the American Way

The Black Robe Regiment: Glenn Beck's Redundant New Group

One thing I find fascinating about the Religious Right is how seemingly every major new organization or effort that it launches is literally the same as every other organization or effort it has ever launched.

Just today I noted how yet another group was calling for 40 days of prayer heading into the mid-term elections, as if all the other calls to 40 days of prayer and fasting were not enough.

Similarly, it seems like every few weeks, some new Religious Right group is formed that does exactly the same thing all of the other Religious Right groups are doing.

And now we have Glenn Beck announcing the formation of his Black Robe Regiment:

Apparently, the idea began with Beck's favorite historian, David Barton. When Beck told Barton he wanted to "get religious leaders together," Barton suggested forming a Black Robe Regiment -- named after what Barton had said was a group of preachers who supported the American Revolution from their pulpits. Beck decided that was "exactly" what he was looking for because it was a movement supposedly like his that was "not about politics."

Beck then described the first meeting he held with "the largest evangelical leaders in the country" some of whom had been involved in the Christian Coalition. ... Beck elaborated on his call to "mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes," calling on his listeners to "tithe 10 percent" and encouraging them to "sacrifice our fortunes so our children don't have to pay for our lifestyle." Beck implored his listeners: "You must tithe because these people [the Black Robe Regiment] are going to be in trouble. They're going to come under attack."

So Beck's brilliant idea is to bring together a bunch of Religious Right leaders in an effort to motivate pastors to play a bigger role in politics and the culture?

Has Beck never heard of the Patriot Pastors?

Fellow pastor Russell Johnson lacks [Rod] Parsley's charisma, but he has mastered the art of organizing. His group, the Ohio Restoration Project (ORP), recruited nearly 1,800 churches with "Patriot Pastors" and deputized them to draft new "values voters."

The ministers signed 410,000 Ohio homes onto Johnson's mailing list, and the ORP can tap 100,000 prayer warriors through e-mail in a moment's notice. This is more than just a group of voters ready to punch some ballots. According to ORP outreach materials, it is a "mighty army" ready to do battle.

While Johnson reaches white evangelicals and fundamentalists, Parsley appeals to both African Americans and Pentecostals. Together, the two men have forged a political machine that aims to remake Ohio politics—and the nation.

Or what about the US Pastor Council?

The mission of the Houston Area Pastor Council and sister councils in USPC is to empower pastors and their congregations across racial and denominational lines to impact the culture and community through concerted prayer, to equip our congregations for effective citizenship and to provide a unified voice on spiritual, cultural, social and moral issues from a Biblical perspective. The AMERICA Plan was developed as a Purpose Statement of how pastors and churches can and must enage in godly citizenship.

HAPC has become a respected voice on front line cultural and political issues from a non-partisan perspective, holding elected officials of both major parties and non-partisan offices to a Biblical standard. The Pastors' Declaration of Godly Citizenship was developed to clarify the core values of this coalition.

HAPC has conducted numerous luncheons, workshops, rallies, elected official summits, Pastors' Day At the Capitol and many other activities bringing pastors together, proving top quality Biblical, historical, legal and public policy information as well as standing in the gap for our nation.

Or what about the Pulpit Initiative:

Historically, churches have emphatically, and with great passion, spoken Scriptural truth from the pulpit about government and culture. Historians have stated that America owes its independence in great degree to the moral force of the pulpit. Pastors have proclaimed Scriptural truth throughout history on great moral issues such as slavery, women’s suffrage, child labor and prostitution. Pastors have also spoken from the pulpit with great frequency for and against various candidates for government office ... It is time for the intimidation and threats to end. Churches and pastors have a constitutional right to speak freely and truthfully from the pulpit – even on candidates and voting – without fearing loss of their tax exemption.

Or the Watchmen on the Wall:

Watchmen on the Wall" is a powerful conference in the nation's capital especially designed for pastors and ministers, based on Isa. 62:6: "I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem. They shall never hold their peace day or night. You who make mention of the Lord, do not keep silent..." FRC launched the Briefing in May 2004 to:

* Remind spiritual leaders of our nation's Judeo-Christian heritage.
* Inform them about the moral issues being debated in the public square.
* Ignite their passion to become watchmen who will sound the alarm.
* Inspire them to encourage their churches to engage the culture.

Our hope is that you will return home encouraged and educated about the issues of the day that affect faith and family and that you will be inspired to share with your congregations what they may do to take a more active role as salt and light in your community and government.

Or what about the Patriotic Pastors, or Pastors for Family Values, or even the Patriot Pastors’ T.E.A. Party?

And those are the groups I can think of just off the top of my head. 

Obviously, none of the previous efforts have accomplished their goals - if they had, there would be no need to keep launching new groups with the exact same mission over and over again. 

But apparently Beck believes that Beck thinks that he (with the help of the very Religious Right leaders behind all these other efforts) has finally found the key:  getting pastors more engaged in the political process. 

Gee, why has nobody ever thought of that before?  

Americans for Prosperity funnels big money, activist anger into attacks on House Democrats

Americans for Prosperity, the “grassroots” Tea Party organization funded by anti-government billionaires, is one of several right-wing groups that glommed on to Glenn Beck’s decision to bring the Tea Party crowd to Washington, D.C. With help from the Koch family, AFP has grown rapidly. In the words of Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, AFP has grown in a few years from “an idea in a New York apartment” into a network with 32 chapter and more than a million activists. AFP’s Tim Phillips told the 2500 activists (their number) at the “Defending the American Dream Summit” on Friday that “we’re going to take back Washington for two days and we’re going to take back our country over the next few years.” 

During the plenary session and in workshops, AFP speakers insisted that the organization was nonpartisan and will not endorse candidates, disclaimers that seemed like a micro-thin veneer of legalese over plans to pour millions of dollars into attacks on Democratic House candidates between now and November. In fact, the group’s November is Coming! campaign is targeting 40-50 House races where they can “make a difference.” Here’s part of the message it asks voters to sign:
 
Dear Policymakers, Elected Officials, and Candidates: You know that November is coming and voters care about the issues. Left-wing policies continue to drive Obama’s agenda for even bigger government. We want you to oppose big government programs or any other freedom-killing policies or we will remember in November.
 
November is Coming includes a publicity-seeking bus tour, and AFP is recruiting activists to engage in door to door “voter education” efforts and make phone calls from home into targeted districts using a sophisticated computer phonebanking system. The calls and visits aren’t about telling people to vote for, AFP says, it’s just doing people the service of letting them know how their representatives voted on issues like health care, cap and trade legislation, and stimulus spending. You can see some of the ads on AFP's You Tube channel.
 
AFP group used Colorado as a test case for the November is Coming model, and has held organizing meetings in 20 cities since June. Among its targets in Colorado: Reps. Betsy Markey, Ed Perlmutter, and John Salazar. Campaign organizers showed ads attacking candidates for being in league with Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi, and said they are currently running a $330,000 ad buy attacking Markey.
 
Political consultant Dick Morris predicted that the GOP would take control over both Houses after the November elections and promised big attacks on public employee unions and a showdown over government spending. He told the crowd that there would be another government shutdown, like in 1995 and 1996, but this time he’d be on their side, and this time they’d win.
 
 

Reed Unveils More Speakers at Faith And Freedom Conference

Earlier this month I wrote about Ralph Reed's upcoming Faith and Freedom Conference and Strategy Briefing to be held in Washington, D.C., September 9-11 which Reed is calling the "the political equivalent of NFL minicamp."

Today, Reed sent out an email urging activists to register and provided the first look at the line-up of scheduled speakers he has landed:   

  • Gary Bauer, President, American Values
  • Ken Blackwell, Senior Fellow of Family Empowerment, Family Research Council
  • Glen Bolger, Political strategist and pollster
  • Jim Bopp, Legal Counsel, Faith & Freedom Coalition
  • Brent Bozell, President, Media Research Center
  • Herman Cain, Conservative radio talk show host
  • Tucker Carlson, Political correspondent
  • Teresa Collett, Congressional candidate (R-MN 4th district)
  • Kellyanne Conway, President and CEO, Women Trend
  • S.E. Cupp, Author, “Losing Our Religion”
  • Majorie Dannenfelser, President , Susan B. Anthony List
  • Brian Donahue, Founder, CRAFT Media/Digital
  • Erick Erickson, Founder, RedState.com
  • Mindy Finn, E- Media strategist
  • J. Randy Forbes, Congressmen (R-VA-4th district)
  • John Fund, Political journalist and conservative columnist
  • Dr. Jim Garlow, Coauthor, “Cracking Da Vinci's Code”
  • Tim Goeglein, Vice President, Focus on the Family
  • Ed Goeas, Political strategist and pollster
  • Deal Hudson, Director, Morley Institute for Church and Culture
  • Richard Land, President, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
  • Anna Little, Congressional candidate (R-NJ-6th district)
  • Dana Loesch, Conservative radio talk show host
  • Jenny Beth Martin, Tea Party Leader
  • Jack St. Martin, Partner, Orange Hat Group
  • Jason Mattera, Political Blogger and Author of “Obama  Zombies”
  • Thaddeus McCotter, Congressman  (R-MI-11th district)
  • Bob McDonnell, Governor of Virginia
  • Mark Meckler, Tea Party Leader
  • Grover Norquist, President, Americans for Tax Reform
  • Star Parker, Congressional candidate (R-CA-37th district)
  • Tony Perkins, President, the Family Research Council
  • Tom Price, Congressmen (R-GA-6th district)
  • Karl Rove, Sr. Advisor, White House
  • Patrick Ruffini, E-Media Strategist
  • Chip Saltsman, Former Campaign Manager, Mike Huckabee for President
  • Rick Santorum, Former U.S. Senator
  • Tim Scott, Congressional candidate (R-SC-1st district)
  • Orit Sklar, Executive Director, Fulton County Republican Party
  • Mark Smith, President, Ohio Christian University
  • Matt Smith, Priest
  • Bill Stephens, President, Florida Faith & Freedom Coalition
  • Jim Talent, Former U.S. Senators
  • Hans von Spakovsky, Senior Legal Fellow , Heritage Foundation
  • Jackie Walorski, Congressional candidate (R-IN-2nd district)
  • Lynn Westmoreland, United States Congressman (R-GA-3rd district)

Interestingly, the names Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, and Mike Huckabe are not on this list despite the fact that Reed has been using them in his promos for weeks now: 

Gingrich, McDonnell, Rove Sign on For Ralph Reed's Political "Minicamp"

Why is it that when Ralph Reed is involved, nothing can ever just be what it is? 

For instance, his new Faith and Freedom Coalition is not just a new Religious Right group, but rather the "Christian Coalition on Steroids."

And Reed is not just another Religious Right operative, but the Religious Right's Steve Jobs.

And Reed's works is not just standard voter mobilization, but rather guerilla warfare and saturation bombing.

And so, of course, his upcoming Faith and Freedom Coalition Summit is not just a political conference, but "the political equivalent of NFL minicamp":

The Faith & Freedom Coalition will hold its first national Conference and Strategy Briefing with top grassroots leaders, pastors, and activists in Washington, DC, on September 9-11. The Faith & Freedom Coalition, founded by Ralph Reed, will inform and train its state and chapter leaders, activists, and supporters in preparation for the 2010 elections.

To date confirmed speakers include former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former White House senior advisor and Fox News contributor Karl Rove, Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia, former RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie, Congressmen Randy Forbes, Tom Price, and Lynn Westmoreland, among many others.

Hundreds of grassroots activists will gather for training, workshops and breakout sessions on voter registration, Get-Out-the-Vote tactics, and how to utilize Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites to build a volunteer network. Among scheduled panels: "Mama Grizzly" candidates who are making 2010 the "Year of the Conservative Woman," and leading Tea Party organizers, including Jenny Beth Martin with Tea Party Patriots.

"This is not just a conference or a retreat," said Ralph Reed. "This is the political equivalent of NFL minicamp. We will train and equip our activists on how to block and tackle in the churches and precincts as we prepare for the most important election of our lifetimes."

Even WND is Debunking the Right's "Original Jurisdiction" Nonsense

Yesterday I noted that Bryan Fischer and others had stumbled upon a novel justification for why they didn't have to recognize court decisions they didn't like by claiming that the Supreme Court has "original jurisdiction" in "all cases...in which a State shall be Party." 

As such, any ruling involving a state that was not decided by the Supreme Court first "has no legal weight" and does not carry "the slightest constitutional authority."

As I pointed out, that means that any rulings in Virginia's lawsuit against health-care reform are likewise illegitimate, as are all the rulings in countless other cases making their way through the federal court system.

But you don't have to take my word for it, as even WorldNetDaily recognizes this simple fact

[C]onstitutional expert Herb Titus, who is affiliated with the William J. Olson law firm, said the full text of the constitutional provision needs to be noted, because it does not provide the Supreme Court with "exclusive" original jurisdiction.

He noted the constitutional text:

"In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make."

It is that provision that allows Congress to make exceptions and regulations that provides the authority for Bolton's court to hear the case, he noted.

"Could you imagine every case that involves a state as a party being before the Supreme Court. The court would be so loaded with those kinds of cases …" he said.

Another top constitutional expert, John Eidsmoe, of the Foundation for Moral Law, agreed.

"Congress can make exceptions out of that area," he told WND. "What the courts have said in areas where the court has original jurisdiction, Congress by its power to create exceptions, can add [responsibility or authority]."

You know that your arguments are doomed when even WorldNetDaily agrees that they are utter nonsense.

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Virginia Posts Archive

Brian Tashman, Thursday 05/05/2011, 9:54am
Pamela Geller’s rabid anti-Muslim activism helped her win friends in the conservative movement and the Republican Party, and she even had her own panel at CPAC earlier this year. But Geller has now been focusing her efforts on a different issue: Birtherism. Geller accused President Obama of doctoring his birth certificate and took to the Birther website WorldNetDaily to claim that Obama is ineligible to be president because his parents had a sham marriage. Virginia School of Law professor G. Edward White plainly points out that the term “natural born citizen” is “... MORE
Brian Tashman, Friday 04/22/2011, 2:56pm
As Kyle just posted, new developments in the kidnapping of Isabella Miller point to the possible complicity of Mat Staver’s Liberty Counsel, whose lawyer Rena Lindevaldsen is representing Lisa Miller. According to the FBI affidavit, Miller is living in a house owned by the father of Staver’s administrative assistant. Matt Barber, Liberty Counsel’s Director of Cultural Affairs, has consistently attacked Miller’s former partner Janet Jenkins and the courts. Staver, Lindevaldesn and Barber are all also professors at Liberty University School of Law. Earlier this... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 04/21/2011, 4:41pm
Justin Elliott @ Salon: The Muslim-baiting tracker. Joe.My.God: GOP Contract Bars King & Spalding Staffers From Supporting Same-Sex Marriage. Towleroad: Virginia Social Services Panel Votes 7-2 to Reject Changes That Would Allow Adoptions by Gay Couples. Alan Colmes: The Koch Brothers Tell Their Employees How To Vote. Rachel Tabachnick @ Talk 2 Action: Voucher Advocate Betsy DeVos, Right-Wing Think Tanks Behind Koch-Style Attack on PA Public Schools. Zack Ford @ Wonk Room: Tennessee ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill Advances, Sponsor Says Teachers... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 04/14/2011, 4:29pm
PFAW: Anatomy of a Koch-a-Thon: Sham Budget Hearings Brought to You by the Koch Brothers. Good As You: Marinelli to Newsweek/Daily Beast: Brian Brown has threatened legal action. Andy Kopsa @ Washington Independent: Rep. Trent Franks prepares secretive hearing on Defense of Marriage Act. Igor Volsky @ Wonk Room: NOM Won’t Back Notion That Homosexuality Is Health Risk, Claim No Concern Over Defecting Strategist. Joe.My.God: Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli To Block Gay Adoption Regulation. Alan Colmes: Factcheck.Org Trumps Trump. Jillian Rayfield @ TPM... MORE
Brian Tashman, Wednesday 04/13/2011, 2:09pm
As seen in the new Right Wing Watch: In Focus “Big Bullies: How the Religious Right is Trying to Make Schools Safe for Bullies and Dangerous for Gay Kids,” Religious Right groups are consistently trying to tarnish anti-bullying initiatives as “homosexual indoctrination” and “special rights,” among other absurd claims. A Religious Right group led by Virginia politician Eugene Delgaudio, the Public Advocate, now launched the “Protect Our Children’s Innocence” petition to protest the Student Nondiscrimination Act, which it labels the “... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 04/12/2011, 10:22am
Apparently, April 6 was Virginia Call to Prayer Day ... but we totally missed it. But fortunately the Virginia Christian Alliance put together a three minute video featuring various members of Congress promoting the event and posted it on YouTube, allowing us to post this edited version here: You can watch the original here, featuring Michele Bachmann, Randy Forbes, Mike Pence, Trent Franks and many others: MORE
Brian Tashman, Thursday 04/07/2011, 10:57am
Bishop E.W. Jackson, the head of STAND for America (Staying True to America’s National Destiny), is filing paperwork to run for Virginia’s open seat in the US Senate and will face former Senator George Allen and numerous tea party activists in the contested Republican primary. Jackson has likened Democrats to slaveholders and called them the “coalition of the godless,” and has said his mission in politics is to convince African Americans to leave the Democratic Party and join the tea party. As an ally of far-right activists like Rick Scarborough and Janet Porter, it is... MORE