Republican National Convention

PFAW's Peter Montgomery Discusses the Trump-Pence Ticket and the RNC on Democracy Now!

Last week People For the American Way Senior Fellow Peter Montgomery was in Cleveland, Ohio, covering this year’s Republican National Convention for Right Wing Watch.

On Thursday, he joined Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! to discuss Donald Trump’s selection of Governor Mike Pence as his running mate, the Religious Right’s response to this choice, and Montgomery’s recent piece in Right Wing Watch entitled, “How Would Religious Right Respond to Pence as VP?” Montgomery told Goodman:

“I think he [Trump] probably chose Mike Pence because Mike Pence is close to both the Koch brothers’ political network and to the Religious Right. And those are two hugely important parts of the Republican infrastructure that have not been uniformly excited about Trump.”

While on the program, Montgomery also detailed some instances of hate speech and intolerance that he observed in Cleveland, including misogynistic rhetoric about Hillary Clinton, attacks on Black Lives Matter activists, and attacks on immigrants. “It’s really been a disturbing show,” Montgomery said.

You can watch the full interview here:

[https://publish.dvlabs.com/democracynow/360/dn2016-0721.mp4?start=4548&end=5065]

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Trump: "I alone can fix this."

Trump's campaign is trying desperately to con voters with fear.
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Alex Jones Diagnoses Hillary Clinton With Psychopathy

It is sad to see Dinesh D’Souza, once considered by many to be a “conservative intellectual,” continue to drift to the far-right fringe. In yet the latest example of this, D'Souza appeared yesterday on Alex Jones’ bizarre conspiracy theory program to discuss his new film on Hillary Clinton.

D’Souza, who claims that Clinton is trying to “steal America,” apparently forgot about the American principle of the right to be represented by an attorney, as he criticized Clinton for representing an alleged rapist in a 1975 trial while she was working as a lawyer in Arkansas.

Referring to an audio recording of Clinton discussing the trial, D’Souza misrepresented Clinton’s remarks and even said he heard “the voice of evil" in the tape.

“And for me, it’s knowing about how psychopaths and sociopaths are,” Jones added. “They have this real self, but everything else is like fake to manipulate. When she goes to California and speaks to Latino groups, she puts on this fake Latino voice. When she goes to Kentucky, she goes, ‘How you doin’ there, boy,’ like she’s, you know, Grandma Clampett getting some possum grits. I mean, it’s like I wouldn’t hang around with anybody that when they got around different groups, talked a different way. I mean, it is bizarre to show that that’s what psychopaths do – and I think she’s a psychopath, I think she’s a full-blown psychopath – is that they do feel this need to just put on these fake acts. It’s very creepy.”

“I think so,” D’Souza added. “And I think she might even have gotten some of this from Bill, because Bill is the master of it.”

D’Souza continued, “People have heard, ‘I did not have sex with that woman,’ but what they actually haven’t heard is you go back and play the old tapes where Bill and Hillary were both confronted with all this stuff and the kind of silky nonsense they put out there, at one point, I think it was Steve Kroft says to the Clintons, ‘Well, you know, I think Americans can kind of accept that you guys, whatever your problems, you’ve worked it out, you’ve made some kind of arrangement, and then Bill jumps in. He goes, ‘Arrangement? We don’t have an arrangement, we love each other. We have a marriage. It’s totally different.’”

Jones interjected: “Yeah, she’s not banging three chicks a day like me too.”

Later, Jones defended Roger Ailes against reports that Megyn Kelly said he had sexually harassed her, claiming that Kelly has “Jezebelian energy” and is secretly “an agent for the Clintons.”

“Well, that’s why Megyn Kelly – I don’t want to get off on a jag – I’ve watched her, I see her on that sinister power trip, it’s that Jezebelian energy, and, you know, Roger Ailes made her who she is,” Jones said. “To see her say, ‘He hugged me once too hard and I want him taken out,’ and I know, because I have the inside baseball, it is from the Clintons, there are talking points, people are being threatened, I’ve talked to the host. And it’s like wow, she really is an agent of the Clintons and all that stuff with Trump and it’s like seeing her join with evil, now, this is a thousand times worse with Hillary, obviously, but it’s just, it’s the creepiness. It’s the dishonor of it. It’s the sliminess that really tells you what we’re dealing with is a bunch of evil people.”

Although Jones said he lacks the energy to control other people, “these evil people” like the Clintons “enjoy… running other people’s lives, knowing what you’re doing, controlling you, ruining you, just because they’re quite frankly jealous of you, and they’re jealous of America, they’re jealous of free market, they’re jealous of open, free societies, compared to everything else, not saying we’re perfect. It’s like what you said in your first film, they want mount our head on the wall.”

 

Michael Savage: Hillary Clinton 'Looks Like Stalin's Housekeeper'

On his show yesterday, conservative radio host Michael Savage criticized the media’s coverage of Melania Trump’s plagiarized Republican National Convention speech and claimed that Trump threatens Hillary Clinton’s campaign because Clinton “looks like Stalin’s housekeeper” while Trump is “a movie star” who can “garner a good percentage of Hillary’s woman vote.” 

“Creatures that are smaller than marsupials, they have names like Anderson Cooper, Wolf Blinky Blitzer, they’re the small creatures underneath the leaf droppings of the jungle floor,” Savage said. “Instead of focusing today on all of the damage around the world done by the Obamas, instead they’re focusing on a speech given by the newest first lady to appear on the stage, as fresh as Jackie O on her first appearance.”

“You know, she’s so appealing that she’s liable to garner a good percentage of Hillary’s woman vote simply because she’s so appealing,” Savage said. “Now, regarding Melania’s speech, yes, there’s some overlap, but that’s of course not the issue.”

Savage repeated the bogus Trump campaign allegation that Clinton’s campaign was behind the plagiarism charges:

The issue is that she is so appealing that the Hillary Clinton camp went insane fearing that Melania has, in fact, captured the attention of the women of America who don’t like Hillary very much. Hillary is not attractive. Hillary is unattractive. This is a country that lives on movie stars. Melania’s a movie star, Hillary looks like a maid. She looks like Stalin’s housekeeper gussied up, that’s number one. And number two, of course, the reason the creatures underneath the leaf droppings of the jungle floor called the media are obscuring, doing this is to obscure all the problems that Hillary has created. Have you forgotten the email scandal? Have you forgotten Benghazi? Have you forgotten the Clinton Foundation cash scam? Somehow that didn’t make it to the geniuses who are worried about a few lines of overlap from a speech that Moo-chelle Obama gave a number of years ago, which she lifted from someone else.

"Stalin's housekeeper" is apparently a favorite misogynist insult of Savage's; he used the same description for Bernie Sanders' wife, Jane O'Meara Sanders.

Roger Stone Wants To End 'Petulant Child' John Kasich's Political Career, Boot Mike Lee From GOP Caucus

Donald Trump confidant Roger Stone joined conservative talk show host Steve Malzberg on his show Monday to discuss Republicans who have held back from supporting Trump, calling Ohio Gov. John Kasich “a petulant child” for his refusal to back the presumptive GOP nominee and expressing his desire to “end [Kasich’s] political career.”

“[John Kasich] is the governor here of Ohio, the host state [of the Republican National Convention],” Stone said. “He is not coming to the convention. He pledged to support the nominee, he signed a pledge on national television. He is not honoring that pledge, so he’s acting like a petulant child, he’s acting like a sore loser, and as far as I’m concerned, this exempts him from any future role in the leadership of the Republican Party. In all honesty, I hope he runs again so I can go out there in the post-Trump presidency and end his political career. In all honesty, I think he’s acting like a misfit, and the people around him, you know, they’re losers and they should bow to the will of the voters.”

Stone also criticized Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and claimed that Lee will face competition in a Republican primary despite the fact that there will be no primary since Lee has already clinched the Republican nomination.
 
“Look, I think Sen. Lee has guaranteed himself both a Republican primary in his own reelection, and I guarantee you, Steve, a conservative challenger in the fall if he wins that primary,” Stone said. “He’s part of the old establishment, he obviously likes the status quo, he likes the way things are in America. He thinks maybe jobs are plentiful, maybe he thinks that ISIS isn’t really a threat or maybe he thinks that the current state of our trade situation where we’re being taken to the cleaners by the Japanese, by the Mexicans, by the Canadians, by all of our trade partners, perhaps he thinks that’s great. This guy’s a disgrace to the United States Senate. In all honesty, under the rules of the party, he should be booted from the U.S. Senate caucus.”

Beyond the plagiarism: 9 more important stories from Day 1 of the convention

By now, it’s likely that you’ve seen the reports that last night’s featured speaker Melania Trump, in a move that would seem typical of her husband, PLAGIARIZED Michelle Obama, from the First Lady’s convention speech in 2008.

But while the media today remains distracted by Mrs. Trump’s ironic theft of a Michelle Obama passage about family and community values, it’s vitally important that we try to keep some attention on the truly shocking and frightening -- things that happened yesterday both on- and off-stage at the convention.

Here’s a quick recap of some of the other biggest stories from Day 1 of the GOP Convention.

Anti-Trump delegates attempted a brief but chaotic revolt on the floor of the convention hall -- seemingly more as a show than an actual attempt to seek a different nominee.

The protest, while offering a bit of early drama, was quickly scuttled by Trump loyalists, giving us the day’s first concrete demonstration of the GOP now being, definitively, the Party of Donald Trump -- but just the first example of many.

One of the more high profile offsite events of the day was the “America First Unity Rally,” hosted by unhinged radio conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, a hate radio talker who has been embraced by Trump, and Trump adviser and legendary political dirty trickster Roger Stone. PFAW’s Right Wing Watch was on the ground to cover the event, which definitely did not shy away from inflammatory speakers or topics.

During one of the many media discussions with Republican leaders from the convention hall, Rep. Steve King of Iowa -- one of the GOP’s loudest xenophobic voices -- defended the politics of racial resentment that is driving much of Trump’s movement by insisting that white people have contributed more to civilization than “any other subgroup of people.”

Then it was time for the evening program of speakers…

Grieving family members of people who lost their lives in Benghazi and to crimes involving undocumented immigrants were trotted out as sympathetic and relatable figures to rally viewers against the people the GOP says are responsible for all of those tragedies: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and all 11 million undocumented immigrants living and working in the US.

Scott Baio and Antonio Sabato, Jr. were among the first “celebrities” to take the stage and speak on behalf of their friend Donald Trump. They both gave subsequent interviews in which the former defended his posting of a meme referring to Hillary Clinton as a “cunt” and the latter said he "absolutely" believes President Obama is a Muslim.

An anti-government extremist sheriff gave a taunting speech in which he called Black Lives Matter “anarchy” and celebrated the latest acquittal of one of the Baltimore police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray as a victory over “malicious prosecution.”

Republicans like Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani gave characteristically bombastic speeches.

Then, Donald Trump took the stage -- to Queen’s We Are the Champions, a song that the band’s guitarist Brian May was outraged to hear Trump was using on the campaign trail before he specifically asked Trump not to use it months ago. It’s perhaps worth mentioning that Queen’s singer, Freddie Mercury, was a gay man who died of AIDS, and Donald Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, once advocated that money for HIV/AIDS care be reallocated to groups conducting gay conversion therapy (something that is also, incidentally, promoted in this year’s official Republican Party Platform).

During one of the evening’s earlier speeches, Donald Trump had called into Fox News to bash his former primary rival Gov. John Kasich and claim credit for the idea of holding the Republican Convention in Ohio -- a demonstrable outright lie.

It’s going to be an interesting week.

Continue to check PFAW’s Right Wing Watch at rightwingwatch.org for ongoing convention coverage.


 

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Mike Huckabee Pushed for Parole of Rapist Who Then Killed Two Women

Do you remember the time when then-Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee went above and beyond to push for a convicted rapist to be paroled – over the objections of victims and the community – who then murdered two women? It began in 1996, when Huckabee began his push for the convicted rapist to be released, and ran through 2001, when the parolee was arrested for murdering two women. By most accounts, Huckabee took “extraordinary steps” to exert his influence.

I wrote earlier that Huckabee has a long, sordid and frankly astonishing history involving the crime of rape, and the Wayne Dumond saga is certainly at or near the top. It’s incredible to think that any politician, particularly a member of the tough-on-crime GOP, could survive it, let alone come to be seen by many as the conscience of the party. Remember this when you watch him address the cheering RNC crowd tonight.
 
Despite Dumond’s previous run-ins with the law – he was charged with bludgeoning a man to death but the charge was dropped, he was questioned on suspicion of rape and assault, and he pled guilty to assault in a separate case – and the testimony of two women who said they had been raped by him, Huckabee pushed ahead. He even considered outright clemency but pulled back in the face of public opposition. He instead worked behind the scenes to pressure the parole board to release Dumond.
 
I’ve pulled key headlines and excerpts from five years’ of coverage by the AP and organized them here in chronological order. I’m not sure how anyone could read through the clips and not come away questioning Huckabee’s judgment and character:
 
Governor: Free castrated rapist; Says man has been punished enough, AP, 9/21/96
After a review of Wayne Dumond's case, which included DNA evidence not available at trial, Huckabee said he could not justify Dumond's imprisonment.
 
His castration "more than has given whatever punishment is necessary, particularly for a crime that is very questionable he committed," the governor said.
 
Dumond, 45, was sentenced to life in prison plus 20 years for kidnapping a 17-year-old girl from her home in 1984 and raping her.
 
In 1985, while Dumond awaited trial, two men in stocking masks broke into his home, tied him up and castrated him with fishing line. His children found him unconscious when they got home from school. The intruders were never caught.
Rape Victim Appeals to Governor Not To Free Castrated Convict, AP, 9/24/96
"I'm scared for my safety and I'm scared for every woman that walks the street. He's a repeat offender and I think he will do it again," she said.
Second Woman Asks Governor to Keep Castrated Rapist in Prison, AP, 9/28/96
Gov. Mike Huckabee, who plans to release a convicted rapist who was castrated by vigilantes, received a letter from second woman who says she was raped by the man.
Supporters of Rape Victim Rally Against Commutation, AP, 10/1/96
Supporters of a rape victim rallied at the state Capitol today in opposition to the governor's plan to release the convicted rapist, who was castrated by vigilantes.
Board approves parole for castrated rapist, governor agrees, AP, 1/16/97
"The governor believes that this does satisfy the request of people on both sides in this case and accomplishes his wish to ensure that Mr. Dumond gets out of prison," said Huckabee spokesman Rex Nelson.
Victim asks board to keep attacker behind bars, AP, 4/8/99
The woman who says she was kidnapped and raped by Wayne Dumond has asked a prison screening committee to keep her attacker behind bars. […]
 
In January 1998, Dumond withdrew a request to be paroled. A week earlier, officials in Florida said they did not want to deal with Dumond's notoriety. In 1997, Texas officials said they did not want to supervise Dumond.
Board will recommend Huckabee deny Dumond's request, AP, 4/16/99
In September 1996, Huckabee riled many, including the victim and her family, when he said he was considering freeing Dumond through an act of executive clemency. Ms. Stevens came forth publicly in opposition.
Board to set Dumond Free, AP, 9/20/99
Wayne Dumond, the convicted rapist who has served 14 years in prison since he was castrated at his Forrest City home while awaiting trial in 1985, could be released in a matter of weeks, the state parole board announced Monday. […]
 
Gov. Mike Huckabee announced in September 1996 that he intended to free Dumond. Citing "serious questions" about Dumond's guilt, the governor said Dumond had suffered enough and served enough time.
 
The governor's announcement evoked protests from the victim's family and Ms. Steven publicly urged Huckabee to reconsider. The governor did not make a final decision until January 1997, denying Dumond clemency after the parole board first granted parole.
 
Dumond had previous brushes with the law. In Oklahoma in 1972, he was charged in the death of man who was bludgeoned with a claw hammer. The charge was dropped.
 
Just over a year later, after he had moved to Washington, Dumond pleaded guilty to second-degree assault in an attack on a woman in a shopping mall parking lot. […]
 
In 1976, after moving to DeWitt, he was questioned in the rape of a woman who told police that a man broke into her home and assaulted her at knifepoint as she lay in bed with her 3-year-old child.
Parole of convicted rapist stirs hard feelings in hometown, AP, 9/26/99
"He's not going to do anything. You got to remember the boy was castrated," says Dumond's younger brother Bobby Dumond. "I don't understand why everyone is making a big deal about it."
DuMond released from prison, AP, 10/22/99
Wayne DuMond, the state's most notorious sex offender, was released from state prison today.
Ex-Arkansas prisoner picked up on suspicion of murder, AP, 6/25/01
Castrated rapist Wayne Dumond was arrested in Missouri on a parole violation after being linked to a murder, less than two years after his release from an Arkansas prison.
Kansas City police suspect Arkansas rapist in Sept. 2000 murder of woman, 6/26/01
A castrated rapist on parole from an Arkansas prison became a suspect in a Kansas City-area murder after genetic evidence linked him to the dead woman.
Lawyer: Police suspect castrated rapist in second homicide, AP, 6/28/01
A castrated rapist being held Thursday on a parole violation and suspicion of murder is apparently also being looked at for a second homicide in the Kansas City area, a lawyer for the rapist said.
Huckabee says he's not having it both ways on DuMond, AP, 6/29/01
Gov. Mike Huckabee said Friday he is not trying to have it both ways by reminding people that he denied clemency for a paroled castrated rapist now charged with murder, and playing down that he once strongly advocated Wayne DuMond's release from prison.
Governor attempts to shed political baggage, AP, 6/30/01
Convicted rapist Wayne DuMond walked out of an Arkansas prison on Oct. 22, 1999, freed with the support, if not directly by the hand, of a governor who insisted Arkansas' most notorious sex offender had suffered enough. […]
 
"The action of the board accomplishes what I sought to do in considering an earlier request for commutation," Huckabee said then.
Former parole board member says Huckabee pushed for DuMond parole, AP, 7/3/01
A former state parole board member said Monday that Gov. Mike Huckabee pressured the board to approve the release of a convicted rapist now charged in the murder of a Missouri woman.
Board members differ on governor's role in freeing DuMond, AP, 7/3/01
With public and private words of support for Wayne DuMond, Gov. Mike Huckabee put pressure on the state parole board to set the convicted rapist free, two former board members said Tuesday.
Governor 'not trying to escape' support for rapist, AP, 7/11/01
For the first time publicly since Wayne DuMond's arrest in a Missouri murder, Gov. Mike Huckabee acknowledged Wednesday that he supported the convicted rapist's release from an Arkansas prison.

 

 

Todd Akin's Best Friend Mike Huckabee Takes RNC Stage Tonight

I’m not sure what the RNC schedulers were thinking, but Mike Huckabee is set to “legitimate rape” back on the map tonight – a mere two speeches ahead of Paul Ryan. To be sure, the former Arkansas governor and Fox News personality will be on his best behavior, but Huckabee is inextricably linked with Todd “legitimate rape” Akin. And as we’ll explore, Huckabee’s own record is even more extreme and disturbing than Akin’s. 

Huckabee, who prominently endorsed Akin in his recent primary, quickly emerged as his top defender in the wake of Akin’s controversial remarks. He publicly chastised Republican leaders for ditching Akin and sent out a fundraising appeal to his list. Akin even made the announcement that he was staying in the race on Huckabee’s radio show.
 
In the course of defending Akin, Huckabee made it known that some “extraordinary things” have resulted from rape:
And so I know it happens, and yet even from those horrible, horrible tragedies of rape, which are inexcusable and indefensible, life has come and sometimes, you know, those people are able to do extraordinary things.
This was no mistake. Huckabee starred in a documentary called “The Gift of Life,” which prominently features Rebecca Kiessling, author of “Conceived in Rape: A Story of Hope.” In the book and film, Kiessling shares her “personal story of having been conceived in rape and nearly aborted at two back-alley abortionists.” Kiessling, not by chance, came on Huckabee’s show immediately following Akin’s announcement.
 
Huckabee has been here before. In 1998, Arkansas State Senator Fay Boozman, who like Akin was running for Senate, argued that “hormones generated by fear usually prevented rape victims from getting pregnant.” Boozman lost badly, but he was rescued when “Huckabee, a friend and political ally for many years, put Boozman in charge of the Arkansas Department of Health.”
 
Then in 2004, he praised Leon Holmes, the former head of Arkansas Right to Life whom Huckabee later hired to represent the state, after his nomination to a federal judgeship became embroiled in controversy. Holmes had written years earlier that abortion in the case of rape “is a red herring because conceptions from rape occur with the same frequency as snow in Miami.” Huckabee jumped into the fray and vouched for the right-wing nominee, saying that he “will not let politics be a part his decisions but will judge according to the law.”
 
Remarkably though, this isn’t the worst of it. Mike Huckabee has a long, sordid and frankly astonishing history involving the crime of rape. I will highlight the worst of the worst later today.

 

RNC: Two Darlings of the Religious Right Take the Stage Tonight

Along with the parade of Republican officials and Tea Party favorites like Gov. Scott Walker and Ted Cruz, two darlings of the Religious Right will be speaking tonight during the Republican National Convention:

Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia chaired the 2012 RNC platform committee, which a committee member described as “the most conservative platform in modern history.” McDonnell, known to many as Governor Ultrasound for his support of the “vaginal probe” law, is the most prominent graduate of Pat Robertson’s foray into higher education – Christian Broadcasting Network University, now called Regent.

As a student there, McDonnell authored a 93-page thesis – “The Republican Party's Vision for the Family” – which served as a blueprint for a Religious Right version of America. In it, he characterized “working women and feminists as 'detrimental' to the family” and argued that the government “should favor married couples over 'cohabitators, homosexuals or fornicators.” McDonnell disavowed his thesis when he ran for governor, but the Washington Post noted that as a legislator he “pursued at least 10 of the policy goals he laid out” in his thesis. Not surprisingly, Pat Robertson donated to McDonnell’s gubernatorial campaign and hosted him on the 700 Club, referring to him as his “dear friend.” 

Rick Santorum, the former senator from Pennsylvania, ran away with the hearts of Religious Right leaders during the GOP presidential primary. They rallied together to propel his campaign and then keep it afloat, and when he finally dropped out, they had one consistent piece of advice for Romney – be more like Santorum. Santorum, although Catholic, resonated with right-wing evangelicals like no other candidate. He spoke consistently and candidly about his faith and his extreme views on social issues, particularly his fervent opposition to reproductive rights and equality for gays and lesbians. However, the comments that won him favor among Religious Right audiences often got him in hot water with the broader electorate.
 
Santorum spoke to the Religious Right’s view that America, and its culture and people, are going down the tubes. He warned of “dire consequences” if the country strays from God’s “principles” and vowed to prosecute obscenity while decrying the Obama administration, which he said favors “pornographers over children and families.” He promised that he would reinstate Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, forcing gays and lesbians in the military back into the shadows, and urged public schools to challenge the theory of evolution. He argued that Americans should not “defy nature” by allowing gays and lesbians to marry and accused Planned Parenthood of targeting African-Americans for abortions as part of a racist, eugenic plot. Instead of Planned Parenthood, he expressed nostalgia for the days of illegal, back alley abortions.
 
The remark that summed up Santorum’s outlook was recorded in 2008 but only surfaced during the primary. Speaking at Ave Maria University in Florida, Santorum said that Satan was systematically destroying the country. He also managed to start an international row during the primary with his claim that 10% of deaths in the Netherlands are from euthanasia (which, he argued, is what Obamacare would lead us to).

 

6 Right-Wing Zealots and the Crazy Ideas Behind the Most Outrageous Republican Platform Ever

Note: this story is cross-posted at AlterNet.

The official 2012 Republican Party platform is a far-right fever dream, a compilation of pouting, posturing, and policies to meet just about every demand from the overlapping Religious Right, Tea Party, corporate, and neo-conservative wings of the GOP.  If moderates have any influence in today’s Republican Party, you wouldn’t know it by reading the platform.  Efforts by a few delegates to insert language favoring civil unions, comprehensive sex education, and voting rights for the District of Columbia, for example, were all shot down.  Making the rounds of right-wing pre-convention events on Sunday, Rep. Michele Bachmann gushed about the platform’s right-wing tilt, telling fired-up Tea Partiers that “the Tea Party has been all over that platform.”

Given the Republican Party’s hard lurch to the right, which intensified after the election of Barack Obama, the “most conservative ever” platform is not terribly surprising. But it still didn’t just happen on its own.  Here are some of the people we can thank on the domestic policy front.
 
1. Bob McDonnell.   As platform committee chair, McDonnell made it clear he was not in the mood for any amendments to the draft language calling for a “Human Life Amendment” to the U.S. Constitution and legal recognition that the “unborn” are covered by the Fourteenth Amendment – “personhood” by another name.  McDonnell is in many ways the ideal right-wing governor: he ran as a fiscal conservative and governs like the Religious Right activist he has been since he laid out his own political platform in the guise of a master’s thesis at Pat Robertson’s Regent University. 
 
His thesis argued that feminists and working women were detrimental to the family, and that public policy should favor married couples over “cohabitators, homosexuals, or fornicators.”  When running for governor, McDonnell disavowed his thesis, but as a state legislator he pushed hard to turn those positions into policy.  As the Washington Post noted, “During his 14 years in the General Assembly, McDonnell pursued at least 10 of the policy goals he laid out in that research paper, including abortion restrictions, covenant marriage, school vouchers and tax policies to favor his view of the traditional family. In 2001, he voted against a resolution in support of ending wage discrimination between men and women.”  As governor, McDonnell signed the kind of mandatory ultrasound law that is praised in this year’s platform.  When his name was floated as a potential V.P. pick, Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood decried his “deeply troubling record on women’s health.”
 
2 Tony Perkins.  Perkins heads the Family Research Council, whose Values Voter Summit is the Religious Right’s most important annual conference, at which movement activists rub shoulders with Republican officials and candidates.  Perkins bragged in an email to his supporters how much influence he and his friend David Barton (see below) had on the platform.  Perkins was an active member of the platform committee, proposing language to oppose school-based health clinics that provide referrals for contraception or abortion, and arguing for the strongest possible anti-marriage equality language.  Perkins also introduced an amendment to the platform calling on the District of Columbia government to loosen its gun laws, which Perkins says still do not comply with recent Supreme Court rulings.
 
The media tends to treat Perkins, a telegenic former state legislator, as a reasonable voice of the Religious Right, but his record and his group’s positions prove otherwise.  Perkins has been aggressively exploiting the recent shooting at FRC headquarters to divert attention from the group’s extremism by claiming that the Southern Poverty Law Center was irresponsible in calling FRC a hate group.  Unfortunately for Perkins, the group’s record of promoting hatred toward LGBT people is well documented.  Perkins has even complained that the press and President Obama were being too hard on Uganda’s infamous “kill the gays” bill, which he described as an attempt to “uphold moral conduct.” It’s worth remembering that Perkins ran a 1996 campaign for Louisiana Senate candidate Woody Jenkins that paid $82,600 to David Duke for the Klan leader’s mailing list; the campaign was fined by the FEC for trying to cover it up.
 
3. David Barton.  Texas Republican activist and disgraced Christian-nation “historian” Barton has had a tough year, but Tampa has been good to him.  He was perhaps the most vocal member of the platform committee, and was a featured speaker at Sunday’s pre-convention “prayer rally.” During the platform committee’s final deliberations, Barton couldn’t seem to hear his own voice often enough.  He was the know-it-all nitpicker, piping up with various language changes, such as deleting a reference to the family as the “school of democracy” because families are not democracies.  He thought it was too passive to call Obamacare an “erosion of” the Constitution and thought it should be changed to an “attack on” the founding document.  He called for stronger anti-public education language and asserted that large school districts employ one administrator for every teacher.  He backed anti-abortion language, tossing out the claim that 127 medical studies over five decades say that abortion hurts women.  Progressives have been documenting Barton’s lies for years, but more recently conservative evangelical scholars have also been hammering  his claims about American history.  The critical chorus got so loud that Christian publishing powerhouse Thomas Nelson pulled Barton’s most recent book – which, ironically, purports to correct “lies” about Thomas Jefferson – from the shelves.  Of course, Barton has had plenty of practice at this sort of thing, from producing bogusdocumentaries designed to turn African Americans against the Democratic Party to pushing his religious and political ideology into Texas textbooks. Barton’s right-wing friends like Glenn Beck have rallied around him. And nothing seems to tarnish Barton with the GOP allies for whom he has proven politically useful over the years. 
 
4. Kris Kobach.  Kris Kobach wants to be your president one day; until now, he has gotten as far as Kansas Secretary of State.  He may be best known as the brains behind Arizona’s “show me your papers” law, and he successfully pushed for anti-immigrant language in the platform, including a call for the federal government to deny funds to universities that allow illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition – a plank that puts Kobach and the platform at odds with Kansas law.  Immigration is not Kobach’s only issue. He is an energizing force behind the Republican Party’s massive push for voter suppression laws around the country, and he led the effort to get language inserted into the platform calling on states to pass laws requiring proof of citizenship for voter registration.  He also pushed language aimed at the supposed threat to the Constitution and laws of the US from “Sharia law”; getting this language into the platform puts the GOP in position of endorsing a ludicrous far-right conspiracy theory.  Kobach hopes that will give activists a tool for pressuring more states to pass their own anti-Sharia laws.  In the platform committee, he backed Perkins’ efforts to maintain the strongest language against marriage equality.  Even an amendment to the marriage section saying that everyone should be treated “equally under the law” as long as they are not hurting anyone else, was shot down by Kobach.  Kobach also claims he won support for a provision to oppose any effort to limit how many bullets can go into a gun’s magazine.
 
5. James Bopp.  James Bopp is a Republican lawyer and delegate from Indiana whose client list is a Who’s Who of right-wing organizations, including National Right to Life and the National Organization for Marriage, which he has represented in its efforts to keep political donors secret.  As legal advisor to Citizens United, Bopp has led legal attacks on campaign finance laws and played a huge role in bringing us the world of unlimited right-wing cash flooding our elections.  Bopp chaired this year’s platform subcommittee on “restoring constitutional government,” which helps explain its strong anti-campaign finance reform language. 
 
Bopp is also an annoyingly petty partisan, having introduced a resolution in the Republican National Committee in 2009 urging the Democratic Party to change its name to the “Democrat Socialist Party.”  In this year’s platform committee, Bopp successfully pushed for the removal of language suggesting that residents of the District of Columbia might deserve some representation in Congress short of statehood.  His sneering comments, and his gloating fist-pump when the committee approved his resolution, have not won him any friends among DC residents – not that he cares.  He also spoke out against a young delegate’s proposal that the party recognize civil unions, which Bopp denounced as “counterfeit marriage.”  In spite of all these efforts, Bopp has been at the forefront of Romney campaign platform spin, arguing in the media that the platform language on abortion is not really a “no-exceptions” ban, in spite of its call for a Human Life Amendment and laws giving Fourteenth Amendment protections to the “unborn.” 
 
6. Dick Armey.  Former Republican insider Dick Armey now runs FreedomWorks, the Koch-backed, corporate-funded, Murdoch-promoted Tea Party astroturfing group – or, in their words, a “grassroots service center.” Armey has been a major force behind this year’s victories of Tea Party Senate challengers like Ted Cruz in Texas and Richard Mourdock in Indiana, both of whom knocked off “establishment” candidates – FreedomWorks also backed Rand Paul in Kentucky and Mike Lee in Utah in 2010.  As Alternet’s Adele Stan has reported, FreedomWorks’s goal is to build a cadre of far-right senators to create a “power center around Jim DeMint,” the Senate’s reigning Tea Party-Religious Right hero. 
 
To put Armey’s stamp on the platform, FreedomWorks created a “Freedom Platform” project, which enlisted Tea Party leaders to come up with proposed platform planks and encouraged activists to vote for them online. Then FreedomWorks pushed the party to include these planks in the official platform:
      Repeal Obamacare; Pursue Patient-Centered Care
      Stop the Tax Hikes
      Reverse Obama’s Spending Increases
      Scrap the Code; Replace It with a Flat Tax
      Pass a Balanced Budget Amendment
      Reject Cap and Trade
      Rein in the EPA
      Unleash America’s Vast Energy Potential
      Eliminate the Department of Education
      Reduce the Bloated Federal Workforce
      Curtail Excessive Federal Regulation
      Audit the Fed
 
An Ohio Tea Party Group, The Ohio Liberty Coalition, celebrated that 10 of 12 made it to the draft – everything but the flat tax and eliminating the Department of Education.  But FreedomWorks gave itself a more generous score, arguing for an 11.5 out of 12.  FreedomWorks vice president Dean Clancy said that the platform’s call for a “flatter” tax “opens the door to a Flat Tax” and said that they considered the education section of the platform a “partial victory” because it includes “a very strong endorsement of school choice, including vouchers.”
 
Honorable mention: Mitt Romney.  This is his year, his party, and his platform.  The entire Republican primary was essentially an exercise in Romney moving to the right to try to overcome resistance to his nomination from activists who distrusted his ideological authenticity.   The last thing the Romney campaign wanted was a fight with the base, like the one that happened in San Diego in 1996, when Ralph Reed and the Christian Coalition delighted in publicly humiliating nominee Robert Dole over   his suggestion that the GOP might temper its anti-abortion stance.  Romney signaled his intention to avoid a similar conflict when he named Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell to chair the platform committee. 
 
Keeping Everybody Happy
 
The new GOP platform reflects Romney’s desire to placate every aspect of the party’s base.  It also demonstrates both the continuingpower of the Religious Right within the GOP, as well as ongoing efforts to erase any distinctions between social conservatives and anti-government zealots, as demonstrated by Ralph Reed welcoming Grover Norquist to his Faith and Freedom coalition leadership luncheon on Sunday.

Obama Wants to 'Destroy' America with 'Poverty, Tyranny and Mass Murder': Tea Party Leader at Pre-RNC Rally

Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips, speaking at yesterday’s Unity Rally 2012 in Tampa ahead of the Republican National Convention, claimed that President Obama and Congressional Democrats are out to destroy the country. Phillips told the crowd that Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are socialists who support a system that causes “poverty, tyranny and occasionally mass murder:”

This nation has done more good for more people than any other nation in the world. And this is the nation that Barack Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi want to diminish and destroy.

Today, freedom and liberty stand in opposition to socialism. You know, the primary products of the system that Barack Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi love so well are poverty, tyranny and occasionally mass murder.
 
These are the fruits of socialism, and to the socialists we have simply one word, "no!"
 
Friends, we are not going to go quietly into that dark night of socialist tyranny.
 

 

Right Wing Finally Unites Behind Romney With Anti-Obama Hate-Fest in Tampa

[Right Wing Watch’s Peter Montgomery is covering the RNC for Alternet with Adele M. Stan]

It was to have been the day before the commencement of the Republican National Convention, but the hand of divine providence swept in, batting a storm called Isaac toward the site where the G.O.P. is to gather, delaying the convening for at least a day. But that didn't stop leaders of the Republican right wing from hosting no fewer than four events meant to rally the faithful to turn out the vote for presidential candidate Mitt Romney, whose name was barely mentioned from any of the four podiums.
 
In fact, there was one name that was mentioned far more than all others: that of President Barack Obama.
 
Two of the events were called by Ralph Reed, chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, an organization dedicated to turning out the vote among both religious and secular members of the Republican right -- a melding of the religious right with the broader Tea Party movement. 
 
Reed kicked off the day with a $50-a-plate V.I.P. luncheon that brought together such secular players as the renowned and powerful anti-tax lobbyist Grover Norquist with religious luminaries like Pastor Jim Garlow, one of the activists who helped quash same-sex marriage in California via the Proposition 8 ballot measure.
 
The other two events -- a prayer rally and a "Unity Rally" -- featured former G.O.P. presidential candidate Michele Bachmann as a headliner, and took place in a non-denominational evangelical megachurch on the outskirts of town. The prayer rally at River Church enjoyed sponsorship from the Florida Family Policy Council and Citizenlink (both affiliates of the Family Research Council) and Salem Communications , a religious right radio network.
 
Bachmann made a return engagement in the evening for a "Unity Rally" at which she and her former presidential primary opponent, Herman Cain, were the big draws. Tea Party Nation, together with the Western Representation PAC and Cain's new venture, Job Creators Solutions , co-sponsored the event.

While each event had its own distinct character, there was unity aplenty in the overarching theme: Defeat Barack Obama, not simply because his policies stand in opposition to right-wing ideology, but because, speakers said, he is a very dangerous man.

At an exhibit table inside River Church, a painting in an elaborate frame featured an image of an angry-looking Obama with a copy of the Constitution in flames in the foreground. The signs held by attendees inside the church for the evening rally were largely home-made, and several people waved large flags, both the U.S. flag, and the yellow Gadsden flag that has become the trademark of the Tea Party movement.

But downtown, inside the ornate, Art Nouveau-style Tampa Theater in which Reed held his rally, activists had a more uniform look, with preprinted signs that read: Pro-Family, Pro-Faith, Pro-Freedom, while in the grottos that flanked the stage, statues of scantily-clad goddesses looked on.

Here are some highlights from a Sunday spent among the foot soldiers of the right, and those who seek to lead them to the polls on November 6th.

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