Voting

Respecting the Troops By Voting Against the Defense Appropriation

Back when George W. Bush was president, any Democrat in Congress who voted against any defense appropriation bill was immediately accused of hating our troops and endangering their lives.

But times have changed apparently:

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House GOP Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-Ind.) are voting against the House/Senate fiscal year 2010 defense authorization bill — because it contains hate crimes provisions designed to protect gays and lesbians.

Boehner, speaking at his weekly press conference Thursday, said the inclusion of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act in the defense bill was "an abuse of power" by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that sought to punish offenders for what they thought — and not what they did.

He accused the speaker of pursuing her social agenda "on the backs" of the troops.

GOP Whip Eric Cantor is also a no, saying that the legislation constitutes classifying a new group of "thought crimes."

Not surprisingly, the Right has seized upon the idea that voting against this appropriations bill is a way to show support for the troops:

As FRC has said countless times, this provision would be devastating to free speech and religious freedom. Other laws that have passed under the guise of "hate crimes" have been the first step toward silencing pastors and Christians who speak out against homosexuality. Please join with us in asking Congress to respect our servicemen and women and vote no on "hate crimes" as part of the defense authorization bill!

Concerned Women for America makes a similar claim:

"The Defense Authorization bill should fund our national defense. Period. This 'hate crimes' provision grants special rights to certain political groups and could give cover to criminal behavior. This exploitation of a bill to fund our national defense shamelessly places homosexual groups' demands equal to or more important than our military," stated Wendy Wright, President of Concerned Women for America.

"'Hate crime' laws unduly expand the federal government. These crimes are already fully prosecuted by the states. 'Hate crime' laws allow prosecution for the same act twice, violating the Constitutional protection against Double Jeopardy. It creates a class of 'special' preferred victims, denying equal protection to other victims. It could cover every kind of sexual behavior, granting protected status even for pedophiles. And homosexual activists admit the whole effort is a scam to raise money and political power," Wright noted.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Crazy Is Too Crazy For the GOP?

For weeks now, we have been posting on the How To Take Back America Conference and the utter insanity that has long plagued the hosts of the conference, wondering why on earth Republican leaders like Mike Huckabee or Reps. Michele Bachmann, Steve King, Tom Price, Tom McClintock and Trent Franks are inexcusably lending credibility to this event and to its organizers.

To put this upcoming conference into perspective, let us put it this way: If you thought last week's Values Voter Summit  - where speakers called for public abortions, claimed that pornography turns you gay, proclaimed that gays and liberal Christians are enemies of God who deserve to be struck down, and announced that they had been chosen by God to stand for truth and suffer the consequences - was crazy ... well, you ain't seen nothing yet.

And so we have pulled together our years of monitoring of the people and organizations behind the upcoming How To Take Back America Conference and put it all together in our latest Right Wing Watch In Focus, entitled "Why Are GOP Officials Embracing Extremists at Upcoming ‘How to Take Back America’ Conference?"

Here is an excerpt of the report, from the section focusing on the event's co-chair, Janet Porter:

It is probably impossible to overstate the extremism and lunacy of Janet Porter, whose radio program and Faith2Action.org website gives her a platform for promoting the most unhinged of conspiracy theories.

Porter is Mike Huckabee’s biggest fan. She first fell in love when she organized the 2007 Values Voter Debate to which she had personally invited a gospel choir to sing “Why Should God Bless America?” and after which Porter (then Folger) declared that Huckabee had been revealed as the answer to Christians’ prayers for a presidential candidate who shared their views, proclaiming him to be the “David among Jesse’s sons.” During the presidential primaries, she started a front group to attack Huckabee’s arch nemesis Mitt Romney and wrote columns claiming that only Huckabee could prevent Hillary Clinton from throwing all Christians into prison and save her fantasy world from this “evil queen and her dragon of slaughter.”

She has since claimed that God has cursed America for voting for Obama, that anyone who voted for him is bound for hell , and that anyone who has ever voted for a pro-choice candidate is also living under a curse. She has actively pushed the Birther conspiracies and even alleged that Obama’s presidency was the culmination of a decade-long Communist conspiracy twenty years in the making. After the election, but before the inauguration, she called on God to prevent Obama from taking office, while warning that "AN EARTH-SHATTERING CALAMITY IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN" to this nation because we deserve God's judgment.

Among other fears she has recently been stoking: the Obama administration is creating internment camps for conservatives and building mass evacuation buses to take them there, while warning that the H1N1 flu vaccine is really a nefarious plot by the government to kill millions of Americans. She helped to create and inflate the Right’s false claims that a Department of Homeland Security report was equating conservatives and veterans with terrorists; as noted above, she’s now pushing comparisons between the Obama administration and the rise of Nazism.

Porter has written a book called “The Criminalization of Christianity” and claims that hate crimes legislation will lead to Christians being thrown in jail. More recently she’s joined the chorus of extremists falsely claiming that the bill would “give heightened protection to pedophiles.” As part of her campaign against hate crimes legislation, Porter has repeatedly invited on to her radio show Ted Pike, a rabid anti-Semite who claims hate crimes laws are part of a Jewish plot for world domination.

The report also examines the equally crazy views and activities of other event co-sponsors like Phyllis Schlafly, Joseph Farah, Mat Staver, and Rick Scarborough, all in an effort to get an answer to one rather simple question: just how radical does a right-wing activist have to become before they are shunned by “respectable” Republican leaders?

Huckabee Wins Values Voter Straw Poll and He Couldn't Care Less

No surprise here:

Mike Huckabee won the Values Voter Summit Presidential Straw Poll. This is the second straw poll that was ever conducted at the Values Voter Summit and was only open to registered participants, who were in attendance. Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said, “We were surprised that the event’s turnout was more than double our expectations, clearly showing intensity among social conservatives. This was the first time potential conservative candidates could present their vision for change. We have over 1,800 registrants and over 175,000 unique online viewers.”

Below are the results of the poll:

1. Mike Huckabee (170 votes, 28.48%)
2. Mitt Romney (74 votes, 12.40%)
3. Tim Pawlenty (73 votes, 12.23%)
4. Sarah Palin (72 votes, 12.06%)
5. Mike Pence (71 votes, 11.89%)
6. Newt Gingrich (40 votes, 6.70%)
7. Bobby Jindal (28 votes, 4.69%)
8. Rick Santorum (15 votes, 2.51%)
9. Ron Paul (13 votes, 2.18%)
10. Undecided (31 votes, 5.19%)
11. Other (10 votes, 1.68%)

Huckabee actually won the last Values Voter Straw Poll as well among votes cast by those in attendance, but lost the overall straw poll because Romney supporters dominated the on-line voting.  This year, FRC did away with the on-line voting and, not surprisingly, the change worked to Huckabee's advantage.

Though I have to say that Huckabee doesn't seem particularly impressed with his own victory, given this rather muted statement he released:

Its always flattering to win one of these but its a long way from deciding to run and from the election. My heartfelt thanks for the affirmation of the people at the values voter summit.

Values Voter Summit Gets Underway

The year's Values Voter Summit is just getting underway and, thanks to the American Family Association, you can watch it on-line, while CSPAN is also webcasting it, as is FRC itself.

On a related note, the Washington Times reports that Gov. Rick Perry, whose name originally appeared on the Summit's Presidential Straw Poll, has asked that his name be removed and that, in an effort to prevent the accusations of ballot stuffing that plagued the 2007 straw poll, organizers have decided that only in-person voting will be allowed this year:

Mr. Perry, who will address the summit at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in person, asked that his name be removed from the ballot, Family Research Council spokesman J.P. Duffy confirmed.

...

Summiteers will get to witness an in-person rematch of the 2007 grudge match between fellow former Republican Govs. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and Mike Huckabee of Arkansas.

At the 2007 summit, Mr. Romney beat Mr. Huckabee by 1,595 to 1,565 in combined Internet and in-person votes, with some Huckabee partisans grumbling Mr. Romney used his immense personal wealth to generate Internet support. This year, only in-person voting will be permitted.

Harry Jackson: Gays Are Oppressing Blacks

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

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

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

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

McDonnell's Backtracking Angers The Right

Over the weekend, the Washington Post ran an article on the master's thesis written by Robert McDonnell when he was attending Pat Robertson's Regent University back in the last 1980s.  As he is now seeking to become the governor of Virginia by protraying himself as a moderate Republican, McDonnell is wishing this document had never surfaced:

His 1989 thesis -- "The Republican Party's Vision for the Family: The Compelling Issue of The Decade" -- was on the subject he wanted to explore at Regent: the link between Christianity and U.S. law. The document was written to fulfill the requirements of the two degrees he was seeking at Regent, a master of arts in public policy and a juris doctor in law.

The thesis wasn't so much a case against government as a blueprint to change what he saw as a liberal model into one that actively promoted conservative, faith-based principles through tax policy, the public schools, welfare reform and other avenues.

"Leaders must correct the conventional folklore about the separation of church and state," he wrote. "Historically, the religious liberty guarantees of the First Amendment were intended to prevent government encroachment upon the free church, not eliminate the impact of religion on society."

He argued for covenant marriage, a legally distinct type of marriage intended to make it more difficult to obtain a divorce. He advocated character education programs in public schools to teach "traditional Judeo-Christian values" and other principles that he thought many youths were not learning in their homes. He called for less government encroachment on parental authority, for example, redefining child abuse to "exclude parental spanking." He lamented the "purging of religious influence" from public schools. And he criticized federal tax credits for child care expenditures because they encouraged women to enter the workforce.

"Further expenditures would be used to subsidize a dynamic new trend of working women and feminists that is ultimately detrimental to the family by entrenching status-quo of nonparental primary nurture of children," he wrote.

He went on to say feminism is among the "real enemies of the traditional family."

Not surprisingly, McDonnell is now backing away from many of those statements, claiming that his views have changed:

Mr. McDonnell on Monday said he regretted any offensive language.

"Any of the language in there that in any way denigrates the basic dignity or worth of any human being, I very much regret that. It does not at all reflect my views today. I fully believe in equal justice under the law, I believe in civility, and I believe in promoting people based or merit," he said.

"My views on some of these things have changed. There were any number of things in the thesis that the language would be much, much different today. I've been honest with you today that several of those specific points I've repudiated, I feel differently about."

Of course, that effort is now carrying its own risks:

Victoria Cobb is president of The Family Foundation, which once gave McDonnell its "Legislator of the Year" award. Cobb urges McDonnell to be very cautious not to downplay his strong conservative record.

"If he is seen as someone who is flip-flopping on issues or backing away, no matter what the issues are, that is always viewed by the electorate as a negative," she contends. "People want a consistent leader on issues, and they want someone who they knew ten years ago agreed with something and still supports that position. And so, he needs to tread very carefully as he looks at his views."

Cobb says although she understands McDonnell's desire to reach out across the aisle and to other voting blocs, there is no need to distance himself from previous positions.

Sen. Kennedy Doesn't Deserve a Catholic Funeral

So says Rev. Michael P. Orsi, a Research Fellow in Law and Religion at Ave Maria School of Law:

On Wednesday the Church further diminished her credibility when it was announced that a Mass of Christian Burial would be celebrated for Senator Edward M. Kennedy at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica. It was also announced that President Barack Obama would be the eulogist.

...

A Mass of Christian Burial is a privilege -- not a right. It is for those who have lived a Christian life. Senator Kennedy’s scandalous disregard of his Church’s teaching and the destruction of human life that may be attributed to his voting record make his funeral celebration quite dubious. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “Scandal is an attitude or behavior which leads another to evil… and that it takes on a particular gravity by reason of the authority of those who cause it”(n. 2284-85). For such a person the Code of Canon Law says, “Church funeral rites are to be denied to the following (unless they gave some sign of repentance before death): manifest sinners to whom a Church funeral could not be granted without public scandal to the faithful” (c. 1184.3). How many Catholics have been led astray by Senator Kennedy and other prominent pro-choice Catholics? And, finally, how many other Catholic politicians will be emboldened to emulate his behavior because the honor the Church is extending to him?

Some will argue that the Church, by its very nature, always gives the benefit of the doubt to the sinner. Yet, even such an act of charity calls for a pastoral solution so as not to mislead others and cause greater harm. In this case, a subdued funeral service should be offered for the repose of Senator Kennedy’s soul. It should be made clear that, as it is the purpose of every Catholic funeral, the Mass is being celebrated to beg God’s mercy for the deceased. But, then even this solution would be meaningless when the nation’s most pro-choice president ever is permitted to eulogize his ideological soul mate in the Church’s sanctuary.

Jim Inhofe: America's Hardest Working Senator

As David Weigel reported a few weeks ago, during one of Grover Norquist’s weekly breakfast meetings, some participants hit up the idea of launching a pledge for members of Congress to take vowing not to vote on healthcare reform legislation unless they’d read the entire bill.

A short time later, Let Freedom Ring announced its "Responsible Healthcare Reform Pledge" which has, to date, secured several dozen congressional commitments to do just that.

But one name that is not on the list is Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe, and for good reason:

At a town hall meeting Wednesday Sen. Jim Inhofe told Chickasha residents he does not need to read the 1,000 page health care reform bill, he will simply vote against it.

“I don’t have to read it, or know what’s in it. I’m going to oppose it anyways,” he said.

Back in June he similarly decided that he didn't even need to bother meeting with Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor because he wasn't going to vote for her anyway:

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) is dead set on voting against Sonia Sotomayor's nomination. In fact, he's so certain of his position that he refuses to even meet with her.

Sotomayor has been meeting privately with Senators over the last few weeks, but when it was Inhofe's turn, he declined.

Inhofe's spokesman explained that since the Senator has already decided to vote against the nomination, there's no reason to waste time on a sit-down discussion.

It sure must make the job of being a senator easier when you just decide in advance that you aren't going to support something and thereby can avoid the tedious task of actually understanding an issue so that you can cast an informed vote on it.

The Inane State of The Healthcare Debate - Part II

To follow-up on the post I wrote yesterday, here are a few more.

Why do we need healthcare reform when we already have free healthcare?

Bruce Engelman is pastor of Baptist Temple in Fort Worth, Texas, and is also a spokesperson for American Inspirational Ministries. Engelman, who often travels the country as part of his ministry work, says he has made an observation about available healthcare.

"Why do we need socialized medicine or healthcare when there is already free healthcare?" he wonders. "In Grand Rapids, Michigan, Mary Free Bed Hospital; in Pittsburgh, children's hospital; St. Jude's in Memphis, Tennessee; Shriners hospital in Kentucky, Cook County hospital in Chicago, Illinois."

The pastor believes the healthcare option is being pushed for two reasons. "Number one, to increase the voting bloc for the liberals -- of both parties, by the way -- of illegal immigration," Engleman says, "and the other reason is there's no question that the other side wants to advance a radical, and I emphasize radical, social agenda."

Engelman says those who are speaking out against the healthcare plan are heroes, much like the Founding Fathers of the nation.

Churches are the key to healthcare reform:

The head of a coalition of evangelical churches says healthcare reform should focus less on government and more on marshaling churches to meet community needs.

Bishop Harry Jackson, Jr., who chairs the High Impact Leadership Coalition, says large churches could work together to provide diagnostic screening and care for people with diseases like HIV-AIDS.

Jackson says the contrast between government and faith-based relief was striking when Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans four years ago. He says, "When the government failed, the church stepped up."

Instead of government healthcare, Jackson believes "there has to be a community-based answer that includes a faith community component."

The Religious Right Gets In On the Town Hall Fun

As anybody who has been paying any attention knows, right-wing groups have been busy urging activists to descend on Congressional "town hall" meetings during the August recess and voice their opposition to health care legislation, in some cases going so far as to encourage them to cause a commotion in an effort to disrupt them.

To date, most of these efforts have been carried out by anti-tax and fiscal conservative groups:

Conservative and business groups, some funded in part by insurers, are mobilizing members and supporters to participate in health-care forums that lawmakers are holding in their states and districts this month.

...

America’s Health Insurance Plans, the national association representing 1,300 health insurers, is out with “August Recess Talking Points” that assert a “government-run plan would dismantle employer-based coverage … [and] add significant liabilities to the federal budget.”

The group is also offering a sample “August Recess Activation Letter” http://tr.im/vIsV for CEOs to send to employees.

“All over the country, conversations on health care reform are taking place, from Town Halls to coffee shops,” the letter says. “Members of Congress and the Administration are planning and participating in several events during the month of August as Congress breaks for recess. You can help share the perspective of the health plan community during these conversations by signing up.”

AHIP’s director of strategic communications, Robert Zirkelbach, says the group discourages confrontations “We encourage people to be positive and constructive.”

FreedomWorks, chaired by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, is e-mailing 380,000 supporters this week with a link to an “August Recess Action Kit.”

“Turn Up the Heat in August: Help Defeat ObamaCare,” the group says on its website. “While Senators and Representatives are home for their August recess they need to hear from you, regardless of party. … Find a town hall meeting near you. If your representative or senator isn’t holding one - ask them why.”

Americans for Prosperity is going a step further and recommending in-person visits to lawmakers’ district and state offices. The groups says on its website that it “has always encouraged members to visit the district offices and attend town hall meetings of their senators and representatives, especially during this August break when issues like health care and cap-and-trade are at the peak of debate.”

But it looks like Religious Right groups are getting into the act as well, encouraging their own activists to attend these events and get in on the action:

Focus on the Family Action has been sending e-mail alerts to subscribers that encourage them to attend town-hall meetings and demand that abortion funding be explicitly excluded from any reform bill, according to Ashley Horne, federal policy analyst for the Colorado Springs-based group.

recent Washington Update from the Family Research Council likewise urged activists to attend their local meetings and provided a list of various town hall events across the country:

Americans are talking. The leadership just refuses to listen. Until it does, House and Senate Democrats can expect a long, uncomfortable August where the temperatures outside are nothing compared to the heat they're feeling inside their District offices. FRC has posted a schedule of townhall meetings across the country and sample questions you can ask. Please make a point of going to the forums near you and share--in a respectable manner--your thoughts with your congressman. While you're at it, why not bring your video camera?

For it's part, the Traditional Values Coalition is urging its activsts to participate as well:

The U.S. House of Representatives is on their summer break and the Senate starts on August 7th. They will be in their home districts through Labor Day.

Sign up today to learn where your elected officials are holding their Town Hall meetings! They need to hear from you and hundreds of other concerned Americans.

President Obama has been trying to rush through his government-run health care reform bill. It took him six months to pick a dog for the White House, but he wanted Congress to pass a health care bill in only a few weeks!

His plan to nationalize health care has been slowed down by citizen activism, but he still plans on pushing for passage of his government-run health care plan this fall. Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) has admitted that Obama's health care plan is designed to socialize our medical system!

Attend Your Congressional Member's Town Hall MeetingGo to Town Hall meetings and challenge your legislators on these issues:

1. Government-Run Health Care and the 53 New Federal Bureaucracies it creates.

2. Employment Non-Discrimination Act (will force religious employers like Bible publishers, day cares, camps, etc., to hire gay, bisexual, and transgendered persons)

3. Pledging to read Legislation before voting on it!

Important Civics Lesson!

Bring a van load of friends, children and grandchildren to these Town Hall meetings. Most students have not returned to school, yet. Let them learn a valuable civics lesson about how our system of government works!

Once you sign up for our Town Hall alert, you’ll be sent the dates of your elected officials’ Town Hall meetings. We want your feedback on how they responded! Sign up today!

As is the American Family Association:

Gary Bauer sent out a special alert yesterday concerning how the liberal politicians and liberal media outlets are seeking to silence those who are speaking out against out of control spending and the take over of vital industries. The liberals are upset that common citizens like you are exercising their right to free speech, and are using it to let the liberals know they have had enough and are going to let their voice be heard.

I urge you to get involved, stand up and speak out. Make the phone calls, send the e-mails, make the phone calls. Don't let the liberal left silence you! The future of our country and our children and grandchildren is at stake. The ugly name calling shows that your voices are being heard. Please keep it up!

The Consequences For Failing Manny Miranda? Nothing

With Sonia Sotomayor's nomination having been voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on a vote of 13-6, she is scheduled to get a floor vote next week where it is expected that she will be easily confirmed.

Resigned to the inevitable, right-wing are doing all they can to spin this as a victory that will pay huge dividends in future elections:

"Republicans can reap significant political benefits by voting against her confirmation and making her an issue in key races next year," conservative activist Ralph Reed told his supporters in a memo.

Voters will remember that "it is a gun vote, and this was not a judge vote. It was a racial quota vote. She is for quotas," added Grover Norquist, a leading conservative activist, in an interview.

...

Norquist said conservatives can paint Sotomayor as a dangerous liberal just like President Barack Obama.

"She tarnishes him a little bit," said Norquist, who is president of Americans for Tax Reform and a member of the NRA board of directors.

In the Washington Independent, David Weigel provides more insight into this effort:

“The Republican senators did much better than I expected,” said Manny Miranda, the chairman of the Third Branch Conference, a judicial conservative umbrella group that opposed Sotomayor’s nomination largely behind the scenes.

In early June, Miranda had been bearish on the Republican conference, doubtful that it would put up a fight. He called Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell “limp-wristed” and organized 145 conservative activists to campaign for a filibuster of Sotomayor, which they’re not going to get. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), in announcing his opposition to the nominee, admitted that her confirmation was probably inevitable. Yet they feel like the debate over Sotomayor was as much as a conservative success as it could have possibly been, and they see a chance to give the nominee the lowest level of support from the opposition party since the bruising 1991 fight over Clarence Thomas.

“When we started, I didn’t expect more than 16 ‘no’ votes,” said Miranda. “Now I think we may go as high as 29 votes. We’ve achieved quite a lot.”

...

“The NRA’s decision to score the vote is a huge statement,” said Curt Levey, director of the Committee for Justice. “They were hesitant to get involved. Even if Sotomayor is eventually confirmed, the fact that the NRA came to realize the importance of Supreme Court nominations in protecting gun rights is a very big deal. The grassroots have been activated.”

Sotomayor is widely expected to be confirmed next week and you'll notice that all of Miranda's strident demands that Republicans lead a filibuster against her seem to have disappeared, as have his repeated assertions that any vote on her nomination before the August recess would be glaring failure of Republican leadership:

The mark of failed Republican leadership -- already strong-armed by Democrats on hearing scheduling -- will certainly be allowing a confirmation vote before the August recess that denies time to senators and to the American people. Republican leaders will fail too if their only goal is to mirror the 22-22 Democrat vote for Judge Roberts and simply deliver 20 Republicans for and 20 against.

Miranda and company had one demand of Senate Republicans: Under no circumstances allow a vote on Sotomayor's nomination before the August recess. Yet that is exactly what is going to happen and, instead of blasting them for their failure, Miranda is praising them for a job well done because their token opposition will be slightly bigger than he initially imagined.

Why is the Right suddenly so forgiving?  Maybe because they knew all along that their efforts weren't going to stop Sotomayor and they were just trying to pick a fight and look important, which is essentially what Curt Levey admitted to Weigel:

“The goal isn’t to defeat Sotomayor,” explained Levey. “It’s to send enough of a warning shot that future nominees won’t be as hostile to the Constitution.”

The Committee for Justice, for example, developed five ads formatted for television and newspapers, one of which compared Sotomayor’s work for the Puerto Rican Defense Fund to President Obama’s friendship with reformed Weather Underground member Bill Ayers. It got plenty of attention; people clicked through to the committee’s site, and some donated. But TV viewers won’t see that particular attack on their screens. “I don’t think the ad was effective,” Levey admitted. “We’ll run some ads in the final week, but I don’t think we’ll run that ad.”

 

Ralph Reed's Key To Success: Be More Strident

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Right Seeks An Extra Month To Mount Anti-Sotomayor Campaign

The Senate Judiciary Committee has an Executive Business Meeting for tomorrow at which Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court will be on the schedule.  It is widely expected that Committee Republicans will seek a one-week delay on the vote, pushing it back until July 28th.

President Obama has made it clear that he wants to see a confirmation vote in the Senate before it leaves for its August recess, which is scheduled to begin on August 10th.

That would leave the Senate with a little more than a week to bring her nomination to the floor for a vote and it is assumed that efforts to get her confirmed before the recess will be successful ... and that is, predictably, angering right-wing groups who hope to use the August recess to try and build a campaign to oppose her nomination:

Republicans had their own political pressures as well. With seven GOP men on the Judiciary Committee, they did not want to appear overly aggressive with Sotomayor, who would become just the third female justice. And given that they lack enough votes to sustain a filibuster, even if they wanted to, attempting to delay the seating of a nominee who will almost certainly be confirmed would likely cost them support from Latinos, a fast-growing constituency that is already voting heavily Democratic. As a result, they're backing down on earlier demands to delay a final vote until September.

"In any case, conservatives will not be happy if the GOP rolls over with regard to Obama's politically motivated goal of getting Sotomayor confirmed before the August recess," said Curt Levey, head of the conservative group Committee for Justice.

While some conservatives say that GOP senators effectively laid out inconsistencies in her testimony, activists want the slow-news month of August - when Congress is on recess – to build a campaign opposing her nomination.

Charmaine Yoest, head of the anti-abortion group Americans United for Life who testified against Sotomayor, said that an extra month would be helpful to her cause.

"The more time we have to educate people, the more we would continue to emphasize to people that a vote for her is a vote for abortion on demand without any restrictions whatsoever," Yoest said.

Presumably, as the August deadline approaches, we'll be hearing a lot more from Manuel Miranda and his Third Branch Coalition, which has made delaying Sotomayor's confirmation vote until September a test of loyalty  for GOP senators and been consistently urging the use of a filibuster in order to achieve the desired delay.

Whether or not Republicans in the Senate bow to the Right's demands remains to be seen.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • I, for one, am growing increasingly weary of Randall Terry's need for attention.
  • Gov. Mark Sanford's spokesperson has apparently had enough of trying to defend his boss.
  • Gov. Rick Perry is now "asking the federal government for a loan to cover the very expenses the rejected stimulus money would have paid for."
  • Gary Bauer explains why Democrats don't like Sarah Palin: they hate Trig.
  • Ralph Reed offers his brilliant insights on how "Republicans can reap significant political benefits by voting against [Sonia Sotomayor's] confirmation and making her an issue in key races next year."
  • The Liberty Counsel comments on the hate crimes legislation, warning that Democrats "will not be able to continue their efforts to undermine moral values, socialize the economy, and trash American pride and heritage. The people will not remain silent forever."
  • Finally, a newspaper in Indiana is coming under fire from the Religious Right for posting an engagement of a gay couple planning to wed in Iowa and offers a very clear response:
  • Same-sex marriage is legal in Iowa, where the couple lives and plans to marry. Since one of the young men is originally from Elkhart and his family still lives here, we did the same thing we’d do for any other local family with a child getting married — we published the couple’s engagement announcement.

Unity Through Redundancy

Is it just me or does it seem like every other week there is a new Religious Right organization launched in order to save America from its descent into godlessly immoral socialism?

In March we saw that birth of The Faith and Freedom Institute, founded to "lead America back to the knowledge of God in order to save the nation from the judgment of God."

That was followed by Newt Gingrich's Renewing American Leadership effort, which has ties to David Barton and Don Wildmon, and is designed to bring together economic conservatives and social conservatives for the common good.

Those were followed by the creation of the American Principles Project, led by Robert P. George, the Princeton professor who is also Chairman of the Board of the National Organization for Marriage, which proclaimed itself the vehicle through which "millions of American voices raised in unison in defense of political liberty and economic freedom, the sanctity of human life and the integrity of marriage and the family, and the sovereignty and security of our nation" would be turned into political action.

These efforts continued in June, with Lou Engle's Call to Action, which aims to "redefine voting" for the next generation as a "prophetic act" and train them that they don't vote Democrat or Republican but vote "moral absolute truths," creating a mass army of young, motivated Christian voters who will pledge never to vote for a candidate who is not anti-choice, thereby creating a "spiritual revolution [and] training a generation to seize technology and turn the tide."

That was then followed by The Faith and Freedom Coalition, through which Ralph Reed aims to reclaim the Religious Right's former glory by starting launching an organization "committed to educating, equipping, and mobilizing people of faith and like-minded individuals to be effective citizens. Together we will influence public policy and enact legislation that strengthens families, promotes time-honored values, protects the dignity of life and marriage, lowers the tax burden on small business and families, and requires government to tighten its belt and live within its means."

Just a week after Reed's effort was made public, a coalition of Religious Right groups announced the formation of The Freedom Federation, an effort to re-brand the movement and over its "image problem"  while remaining "committed to defending and extending core values expressed in the Declaration of American Values, the organization's founding document. These include the right to life, the institution of marriage, parental rights, religious liberty, an environment free of pornography and indecency, the right to property, freedom from excessive taxation, and national sovereignty."

With six news Religious Right groups formed in the last several months, all with very similar missions, you'd think there wouldn't really be much room left for any more new groups to form ... but you'd be wrong:

Bishop E.W. Jackson Sr., former spokesperson and a top leader for the Christian Coalition, has launched a new organization -- S.T.A.N.D. [Staying True to America's National Destiny] -- to unify Christians and other conservatives around social and economic issues. However, Bishop Jackson is taking a different approach. "We are mainly interested in impacting the culture," says the Bishop. "Political victories can be reversed, but cultural change is lasting."

Their first major initiative is to make January "AMERICAN HISTORY MONTH". Says Bishop Jackson, "One of the reasons we lack unity in America is that the Judeo-Christian heritage and values which our Founding Fathers bequeathed us are under attack. Our heritage is lied about, suppressed and ignored in the push toward secularism and relativism. It is being done in Universities, public schools and even by President Obama."

STAND's American History Month will celebrate the nobility of American history and our Founders and rebut the lie that America is born of racism, exploitation and capitalistic greed. American History Month will highlight the heroic sacrifice, bold initiative, pioneering spirit, selfless cooperation and faith in God that made America possible. STAND believes that this President is denigrating America's contribution to the world, denying the role of Christianity in our country, and falsely claiming that Islam is a major contributor to America's success. "What history books is the President reading?" asks Jackson.

STAND considers Obama to be symptomatic of the ideological and anti-Christian bias in the teaching of American history. Bishop Jackson asks, "How many people know that one of our war cries during the Revolutionary War was 'No King but Jesus'? Precious few, and apparently not the President."

STAND is also opposing Obama's healthcare reform, which it calls "a veiled government takeover of healthcare." Bishop Jackson argues, "If the government takes over healthcare, everything will be rationed except abortion. The conscience objection will be eliminated, and abortion will increase like a plague upon the land." STAND wants to end abortion in America. It is also against Cap & Trade as "an insane burden" on an already crippled economy. Its members are contacting their Senators to make their sentiments known on these issues.

Interestingly, the need to unite the Right has been the one constant theme of every new group that has emerged and, for several of them, it is their central mission and reason for existing.

But the fact that different people keep launching entirely separate groups - all with the same purpose - suggests that their individual efforts to bring unity to the movement do not seem to be working particularly well.

Who Is Vouching For Military Chaplains?

I have to admit that, outside of tales involving Gordon Klingenschmitt, I am pretty much ignorant of what goes on in the military's chaplaincy service.

Fortunately, there is the Military Religious Freedom Foundation which focuses on these sorts of topics and via whom we found out about this recent Kathryn Joyce piece in Newsweek exposing the efforts of Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches and its founder Jim Ammerman:

According to the group's president, Mikey Weinstein, a cadre of 40 U.S. chaplains took part in a 2003 project to distribute 2.4 million Arabic-language Bibles in Iraq. This would be a serious violation of U.S. military Central Command's General Order Number One forbidding active-duty troops from trying to convert people to any religion. A Defense Department spokeswoman, in an e-mail to NEWSWEEK, denies any knowledge of this project.

The Bible initiative was handled by former Army chaplain Jim Ammerman, the 83-year-old founder of the Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches (CFGC), an organization in charge of endorsing 270 chaplains and chaplain candidates for the armed services. Ammerman worked with an evangelical group based in Arkansas, the International Missions Network Center, to distribute the Bibles through the efforts of his 40 active-duty chaplains in Iraq. A 2003 newsletter for the group said of the effort, "The goal is to establish a wedge for the kingdom of God in the Middle East, directly affecting the Islamic world."

...

Among the "endorsing agencies" is CFGC, which represents a conglomeration of independent Pentecostal churches outside established denominations. The group was accepted as a chaplain-endorsing agency by the Department of Defense in 1984, two years after it first applied. Since 1984, MRFF charges, Ammerman's agency has violated numerous codes that govern chaplaincies, including a constant denigration of other religions, particularly Islam, Judaism, mainline Protestantism and Catholicism, but also non-Pentecostal evangelical churches. In a 2008 sermon, Ammerman described a CFGC chaplain at Fort Riley, Kans., who demanded the 42 chaplains below him "speak up for Jesus" or leave his outfit. In a video for an organization called the Prophesy Club, CFGC chaplain Maj. James Linzey called mainstream Protestant churches "demonic, dastardly creatures from the pit of hell," that should be "[stomped] out." But the primary target of CFGC's ire is Islam. A 2001 CFGC newsletter asserted that the real enemy of the U.S. wasn't Osama bin Laden, but Allah, whom the newsletter called "Lucifer." A 2006 issue argued that all Muslim-Americans should be treated with suspicion, as they "obviously can't be good Americans." In a 2008 sermon, Ammerman called Islam "a killer religion" and Muslims "the devil."

...

Ammerman and chaplain Linzey have espoused conspiracy theories about "Satanic forces" at work in the U.S. government facilitating a military takeover by foreign troops; Ammerman even appears in a video favored by militia groups titled The Imminent Military Takeover of the USA. In 2008, Ammerman implied that four presidential candidates should be "arrested, quickly tried and hanged" for not voting to designate English America's official language, and speculated that Barack Obama would be assassinated as a secret Muslim.

Bruce Wilson has a related piece up on Huffington Post featuring various video clips of Ammerman, Linzey, and the Prophecy Club, including this one from 1997 where Ammerman claims that the US economy is controlled by Jews and says that Bill Clinton and Jane Fonda should have been executed:

Jim Ammerman from Bruce Wilson on Vimeo.

 UPDATE: Newsweek has issued the following correcting regarding the excerpted article above:

In an earlier version of this story, NEWSWEEK should have identified Pastor James Linzey as retired from active duty when he spoke to the Prophesy Club. We also should not have characterized him as having said that mainstream Protestant churches are "demonic, dastardly creatures from the pit of hell," that should be "[stomped] out." The pastor was referring to demonic forces he says are within the mainstream Protestant Church, and not the Church itself. NEWSWEEK regrets the errors.

From The Folks Who Brought Us "Rediscovering God In America"

The Family Foundation of Virginia seems to take great pride in being mentioned on this blog so allow me to indulge them again.

The last time we mentioned them was a few weeks ago when they unveiled their "Rediscovering God in America" conference where Lou Engle lay his hands upon Newt Gingrich and beseeched God to extend his "influence for righteousness in this nation, lay your supernatural hand of God upon him and deliver him from the evil schemes of the enemy."

Now FFV has announced the formation of something it calls “Winning Matters,” a campaign that "will register to vote people who believe in Biblical and traditional values" to get active in Virginia's upcoming off-year elections:

1. Identifying more Virginians who share our values;

2. Turning concerned citizens into values voting Virginians by registering them to vote.

3. Educating newly and previously registered voters on the differences between candidates on matters of life, marriage, parental authority, religious liberty and constitutional government.

4. Motivating and mobilizing these informed voters to make a wise choice and to vote on election day.

This voter identification and mobilization plan is the largest in our history — potentially larger than the 2006 Marriage Amendment campaign. In the weeks to come, we will tell you more about this project and how you can, and must, be a part of the work we are doing with (and for) pro-family Virginians for the future of our Commonwealth.

On a related note, the affiliated Pastors For Family Values is launching its own "Winning Matters" speakers series featuring the likes of Rick Scarborough, Mat Staver, Jonathan Falwell and, somewhat surprisingly, Bishop Harry Jackson:

Pastors For Family Values Winning Matters 2009 Pastors Events

» Roanoke: June 26, Golden Corral, 8-10:00 a.m.

Speakers: Pastor Rick Scarborough, Ph.D., of Vision America; and Mat Staver, Dean, Liberty University School of Law

* * * * *

» Harrisonburg: July 7, Shoney’s, 8-9:30 a.m.

Speakers: Local pastors reporting on the recent Watchman on the Wall Conference; and Mickey Mixon, Area Coordinator Winning Matters 2009 Campaign

* * * * *

» Fredericksburg: August 4, Fredericksburg Expo and Convention Center (tentative), 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.

Speakers: Jonathan Falwell, Pastor, Thomas Road Baptist Church; and Bishop Harry Jackson, Pastor, Hope Christian Church, Washington, D.C.

* * * * *

» Richmond: July 23, Wyndham Hotel, 7:30-9:30 a.m.

Speaker: Bishop Harry Jackson

* * * * *

» Norfolk: August 20, Spring Hill Suites by Marriott, 7:30-9:30 a.m.

Speaker: Pastor Rick Scarborough

I guess Jackson really is on his way to becoming a bona fide right-wing star now that he has graduated to headlining right-wing events along with figures like Scarborough and Staver.

Right Wing Round-Up

  • Truth Wins Out reports that the authors of a book on the health of gay men have accused Focus on the Family of distorting their research, making this the tenth time in two years that researchers have claimed that Focus on the Family misrepresented their work.
  • TPM offers more information about anti-immigration zealot/accused murder Shawna Forde's history while Blue Texan reports that Forde shared the stage with Jim Gilchrist at a 2007 event at which several GOP presidential candidates or their representatives appeared.
  • Cristina Page notes that if Troy Newman of Operation Rescue can be judged by his Facebook friends, he's got ties to some violent anti-choice activists.
  • Sarah Posner points out that Rep. John McHugh, who was nominated to be secretary of the Army, has a voting record from his time in the House that "shows a disrespect for church-state separation generally, as well as a disregard for the ongoing infringement of service members' constitutional rights from aggressive proselytization in the armed forces."
  • Spencer Ackerman catches Rep. Pete Hoekstra comparing House Republicans to Iranian protesters.
  • Think Progress catches Rep. Michelle Bachmann vowing to break the law by refusing to answer questions on the US Census.
  • Finally, Media Matters posted this video of Pat Robertson declaring that countries that embrace homosexuality go "down into ruin" and end up "in the garbage heap of history":

Lou Engle's New Political Movement

In recent months, Lou Engle, founder of The Call, has been becoming increasingly political. 

When Engle was organizing a Call event on the National Mall last year, he repeatedly insisted that the event was not about politics but simply a call to "fasting and prayer for the benefit of the nation." Of course, the fact that it was held just months before the election and featured political operatives and figures like Tony Perkins, Harry Jackson, and Mike Huckabee rather undercut that assertion.

When he organized another Call event in California explicitly to fight for the passage of Proposition 8  where he was joined by James Dobson, it became clear that it was only a matter of time before Engle officially announced that he was starting a full-fledged political organization that would seek to turn the tens of thousands who attend his Call events into a bona fide political force. 

And that is just what he did at the recent Rediscovering God in America conference that we mentioned earlier. In this clip, Engle declares that he is no longer willing to be "silenced" by the limits of The Call's 501c3 status and so he started a 501c4 group known as The Call to Action and that this conference was its first official act.

The goal of Engle's Call to Action is to "redefine voting" for the next generation as a "prophetic act" and train them that they don't vote Democrat or Republican but vote "moral absolute truths," creating a mass army of young, motivated Christian voters who will pledge never to vote for a candidate who is not anti-choice, thereby creating a "spiritual revolution [and] training a generation to seize technology and turn the tide": 

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Voting Posts Archive

Kyle Mantyla, Friday 12/17/2010, 3:22pm
The other day we noted that members of the Freedom Federation had sent another letter to members of the Senate urging them to delay any vote on repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell until next year (when Republicans would have enough votes to kill any such effort). Today, The Daily Caller printed a memo written by Freedom Federation founder Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel that was distributed to his Religious Right allies laying out the ten senators they intended to target:  Senators need to know that they will be held accountable for how they vote on this issue. Within the next 48 hours be... MORE
Brian Tashman, Thursday 12/16/2010, 4:39pm
Politico’s Ben Smith discussed today the unforeseen possibility that right wing activist Herman Cain could be a surprise Republican candidate for president, after he bested all other Republicans in an online straw poll conducted by the conservative blog RedState. Cain, an African American businessman and radio talk show host, even topped Sarah Palin, who came in second, to be the favorite of the right wing blogosphere. Erick Erickson of RedState writes, “I like Herman Cain and, though truth be told I never thought he’d make it past Mike Pence, I am delightfully surprised... MORE
Brian Tashman, Wednesday 12/15/2010, 7:15pm
While debating the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), of “terror-baby” fame, claimed that the policy’s repeal may doom the military and the nation as a whole. Gohmert blasted the recent Pentagon study, which showed that an overwhelming number of military service members do not oppose repealing DADT, and said that the military could potentially lose “many thousands, or tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands” if the policy is repealed. Gohmert uses no scientific evidence of his own to back up his claim that “hundreds... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 12/13/2010, 11:17am
Jesse Lee Peterson of the Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny has carved out a unique niche for himself as the far-right's arbiter of who/what is racist and who/what is not racist in today's political environment. Thus, we see him declaring that "Barack Obama hates white people – especially white men" and claiming that he was elected by "by black racists and white guilty people" while defending the racist rants of people like Michael Richards and Duane Chapman. Given Peterson's rather limited role, I was a little confused when he announced that he was... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 12/09/2010, 6:56pm
Right Wing Watch In Focus: Glenn Beck: Irresponsible And Indifferent To The Violent Consequences of His Dangerous Rhetoric. Amanda Terkel @ Huffington Post: Media Matters Hires Angelo Carusone, Leader Of 'Stop Beck' Movement, To Ramp Up Campaign Against Fox News. Stephanie Mencimer @ Mother Jones: Judge Freezes Assets of Former Beck Gold Advertiser. Alvin McEwen: Paul Cameron wants gays to go through 'public shaming' . . . amongst other things. Scott Keyes @ Think Progress: Ken Cuccinelli Proposes State Be Exempted Voting Rights Act Because Virginia Has... MORE
Brian Tashman, Thursday 12/09/2010, 3:09pm
As GOP delay-tactics in the US Senate continue to cause and aggravate judicial emergencies in the nation’s courtrooms, right wing activists demand that Senate Republicans persist in preventing members from voting to confirm Obama’s judicial nominees, even those who won significant bipartisan support. Even former Republican judges have condemned Republican games in the Senate as the number of judicial vacancies and emergencies rapidly grow. But right wing activists are calling on the Senate GOP to stand firm and further weaken the judicial system. In the effort to paint... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 12/09/2010, 2:58pm
Pastor Robert Jeffress is getting lots of softball press coverage for his new Grinch Alert effort which seeks to highlight "businesses and organizations that shut-out expressions of Christmas in their interactions with the public via marketing, advertising and public relations." But what nobody seems to be bothering to point out is that Jeffress is also a vehemently anti-gay, anti-Muslim, and anti-Mormon Religious Right activist.   Last night Alan Colmes had Jeffress on his program to discuss his endeavor and asked him about his claims that "Muslim men having sex with 4-... MORE