Tony Perkins Takes a Victory Lap over Republican Party Platform Changes

Family Research Council president Tony Perkins continued to brag about his role in shaping the Republican Party platform, as he along with Religious Right activists like David Barton and James Bopp heavily influenced the document dubbed the “most conservative platform in modern history.” While speaking to Janet Mefferd yesterday, Perkins said he “inserted the language as it pertains to marriage and some other key issues” and was happy to report that “we have one of the most conservative platforms that the Republican Party’s ever had.” Perkins also noted that Mitt Romney’s representatives worked closely with him on drafting the platform’s new language.

I was very concerned with the distancing from the moral and the social issues, that the platform might take or veer or careen to the left and so I ran as a delegate from my home state of Louisiana and I ended up being selected as a delegate and selected for the platform committee. I worked on the platform last week in fact inserted the language as it pertains to marriage and some other key issues and we have one of the most conservative platforms that the Republican Party’s ever had so I’m very encouraged by that. I worked closely with the Romney folks that were representing his campaign, were pleasant to work with, there was not a lot of arm-twisting that went on, so from that standpoint I’m encouraged.

Perkins also talked to Mefferd about the Southern Poverty Law Center, the group which along with President Obama he has implicated in the recent shooting at his group’s headquarters. According to Perkins, SPLC is now all about “making money” through “shady activities.” He denounced the SPLC for its anti-bullying program called “Teaching Tolerance,” which he maintained is “pushing a very left-leaning agenda, including the homosexual agenda.”

They’re not concerned about poverty; they’re concerned about making money. There’s a lot of shady activities surrounding the Southern Poverty Law Center but what’s given them leverage, especially in the last three and a half years, has been their connection to the Obama administration’s Department of Justice and Department of Education. They have a program called ‘Teaching Tolerance’ that they do in elementary schools and middle schools across the country and it’s really nothing more than a venue for their left-wing propaganda. So I encourage parents to begin looking at what their children are bringing home because it may actually look on the surface as if it’s you know harmless stuff but when you begin to dig into it you see them pushing a very left-leaning agenda, including the homosexual agenda, it’s prominent in all of their material and parents need to be made aware of that.

Pat Robertson: 'Out of Your Mind' to Support Same-Sex Marriage

The 700 Club today highlighted the anti-gay views of the Coalition of African-American Pastors (CAAP) and its founder William Owens, who praised the Republican Party for opposing gay rights in its platform and “ensuring that at least one party is willing to stand up for the common sense, biblical understand of marriage.” Owens’s son, William Owens Jr., told CBN that same-sex marriage will “hurt the heart of God.” While CBN’s Lee Webb described CAAP as a “major coalition,” the group receives all of its funding from allied conservative organizations like the American Principles Project and the Family Research Council, and CAAP’s long record of anti-Obama activism hasn’t paid dividends as President Obama currently leads Mitt Romney among black voters 94-0.

Host Pat Robertson, who in July called the Democratic Party’s likely endorsement of same-sex marriage a “death wish,” said that Obama risked alienating voters over the issue, “to think that the Democratic Party would put in their platform support of gay marriage you just say: what are they thinking about, what are they thinking about?” “Now you see this in the platform and you think: are you out of your mind?” Robertson asked, “Well maybe not, we’ll see.”

Watch:

Barton: Cops Should Have Refused to Arrest Arizona Pastor for Illegally Building a Church

Yesterday on "WallBuilders Live," David Barton and Rick Green discussed the case of Arizona pastor Michael Salman who has recently become a Religious Right cause célèbre because he is  supposedly being persecuted simply because he wanted to hold Bible study meetings at his home. 

In reality, Salman had been attempting to illegally build a church in his back yard and had been holding multiple-weekly church services on his property until he was found guilty of dozens of code violations and sentenced to sixty days in jail.

Barton took up the case today and voiced his outrage, calling on voters in Phoenix to work to remove political leaders in that city for allowing something like this to happen. Barton went on to falsely claim that Salman's home was raided by a SWAT team sent to arrest him and said that law enforcement officers must refuse to participate in things like this because they have an obligation to uphold the Constitution:

And the one we have today, the one we're going to talk about today is a great example is a bunch of political leaders in a city who need to be seriously removed. The fact that they would even think about enforcing this particular ordinance against anybody means that we've got a bad set of leaders there that need to be gone.

...

There needs to be some changes in Phoenix and people really do need to let city hall hear it over this. And I'm really concerned about cops who are willing to go in as a SWAT team to arrest a pastor who's had Bible study. The cops should have said "no, we're not doing that. I mean, we take an oath to uphold the Constitution too; there's the right of assembly, the right of speech, the right of religion. We're not going to go arrest this guy with AR-15s and a SWAT team." At some point, citizens are going to have to say we're not going to be part of this and that should have happened at this point.

Gingrich Demands Conservatives 'Raise a Whole Range of Questions about Barack Obama,' Such as his College Application

While talking with David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network at the Republican National Convention, Newt Gingrich demanded that President Obama release his college application, senior paper, and other records. “What I said to the conservative movement is we know so little about this President that it’s perfectly reasonable for conservative activists to ask lots of questions: where’s his senior paper at Columbia? Where’s his application to go to Columbia? All sorts of stuff that we don’t know.” Gingrich claimed, “In some ways we know less about this president than almost any president in modern times.” While Gingrich said Mitt Romney “should get involved in that kind of stuff, it’s perfectly legitimate for conservatives as citizens to raise a whole range of questions about Barack Obama.”

Gingrich’s statements appear to leave the door open for questions about the validity of his birth certificate, which Romney doesn’t seem to have a problem doing, along with conspiracies that Obama received poor grades and was a foreign student.

As FactCheck.org notes, “It would be illegal under federal law (the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974) for Occidental, Columbia or Harvard Law School to give any former student’s records to reporters or members of the public without that person’s specific, written permission. Obama hasn’t released them, but neither have other presidential candidates released their college records.” Furthermore, his former professor likely lost the only copy of his senior paper, which was about negotiations over nuclear disarmament.

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.

Right Wing Round-Up - 8/27/12

Right Wing Leftovers - 8/27/12

  • Maggie Gallagher wants to know why the shooter who targeted FRC hasn't been charged with a hate crime.
  • Mike Huckabee continues his defense of Todd Akin.
  • Rick Scarborough warns that "it is clear that God is speaking right now to America, and unless there’s a genuine repentance and a great move toward repentance and reunion with God, a cataclysmic judgment is going to fall on this country.”
  • Samuel Rodriguez writes that "the Republican Party has been presented with an historic opportunity to craft a conservative and compassionate immigration policy according to their values and ethics" and must not squander it.
  • Finally, Kelly Boggs is not happy about the upcoming show "The New Normal" and says it "is just another effort to use the vehicle of humor to further the notion of homosexuality as natural and normal."

Romney Surrogate Briefly a No-Show at Tea Party Rally in Tampa, Awkwardness Ensues

Mitt Romney’s relationship with the Tea Party, despite his embrace of their positions on a range of issues, is famously awkward. Yesterday’s Unity Rally 2012 was no exception.

Following a rousing speech by Niger Innis, the emcee gave an uncharacteristically restrained introduction of Rep. Jason Chaffetz to speak on behalf of Romney:
Our next speaker is here on behalf of a guy you may have heard of. His name is Mitt Romney. He’s here to ask for your vote for this particular man for, uh, I believe it’s president of the United States. 
Chaffetz, however, was nowhere to be seen. After walking around on the stage and pretending to hand over the mic, the emcee said, “I hope Governor Romney shows up better in the polls than this guy does here. No offense.”
 
Here are the two most awkward minutes of the evening, which just might be a metaphor for Romney's awkward courtship of the Tea Party:
 

 

One Million Moms to Target 'The New Normal' for Promoting 'Moral Decay in Public Airwaves'

Today on Focal Point, American Family Association spokesman hosted Monica Cole of One Million Moms, the AFA’s women’s subgroup, to talk about why listeners should be upset about the NBC comedy The New Normal. The New Normal, which involves a gay couple who hire a surrogate mother, is not the first Ryan Murphy show the AFA went after, as Fischer and Cole last year declared war on Glee. Fischer maintained that the show shows “how subversive Hollywood is when it comes to undermining our values” and Cole said the show “continues to attack Christian values, conservative values, the traditional family,” mourning that “the moral decay in public airwaves is continuing.”

Watch:

Focus on the Family Kicks off the RNC with 'Prayer Rally for America's Future'

After successfully crafting the Republican Party’s platform to be the “most conservative platform in modern history,” Religious Right activists were out in full force at Focus on the Family’s and the Florida Family Policy Council’s “Prayer Rally for America’s Future” in Tampa’s River Church, led by faith healer Rodney Howard Browne. Along with disgraced pseudo-historian David Barton, who argued that abortion is banned under the constitutional amendment guaranteeing jury trials, and the FFPC’s John Stemberger, who concluded the rally by attacking minority faiths, conservative leaders such as Rep. Michele Bachmann, Vision America’s Rick Scarborough, Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver and pastors Jim Garlow, Pam Olsen and Harry Jackson spoke at the prayer rally.

Watch highlights here:

Bachmann told participants that “at this moment in our End Time we are quite literally looking at a hurricane here at Florida, we are looking at political hurricane in our own country, we are looking at a spiritual hurricane in our land,” telling them to “show up and suit up and stand up” and “pour it out for Him.” Scarborough mourned the prominence of Lady Gaga, “the Big Bang Theory,” Jerry Seinfeld, and “Brokeback Mountain,” while Jim Garlow warned that Satan is pushing gay rights in order to “destroy the image of God” and curtail freedom.

Staver said that courts have begun to “deconstruct the foundation of law,” leading to tyranny, legal abortion and same-sex marriage, and Olsen prayed for the Supreme Court to repent: “Lord we cry out for the US Supreme Court, God that these justices will realize that there is a judge higher than they are and God that they will bow before You. We a crying out for a president that will appoint pro-life justices that will stand for truth and this nation will turn back to You, touch the Supreme Court now.” Towards the end of the rally, Jackson asked for participants to pray that Maryland will overturn the new marriage equality law and to “let the fire of Your Holy Spirit to fall upon Mitt Romney.”

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