I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised when Republicans started complaining that President Obama’s second inaugural address was too “partisan” and lacked “outreach” across the aisle. But who was left out? What did they find “partisan”? The acknowledgement of climate science? The idea that women should receive equal pay for equal work? The nod to civil rights struggles of our past and present? The hope that no American will have to wait in hours-long lines to vote? The defense of the existence of a social safety net? The determination to offer support to the victims of a historic storm and to find real answers to the epidemic of mass shootings? In the not-too-distant past, none of these would have raised eyebrows except on the very, very far right. But I guess that’s the point: what was once the radical fringe is now in control of the Grand Old Party.
In many ways, Monday’s inauguration ceremony was a Tea Party Republican’s nightmare-come-true. The openly gay poet. The Spanish sprinkled into the benediction. The one-two-three punch of “Seneca Falls to Selma to Stonewall.” It was the embodiment of all that the far right has tried to wall itself off from as the country begins to include more and more of the real America in its democracy.
What would have pleased this faction, short of winning the presidential election? I imagine they would have preferred a paean to the America of their imaginations — where the founders were flawless and prescient about the right to bear assault weapons and the Constitution was delivered, amendments included, directly from God; where there are no gay people or only silent ones, where the world is not getting warmer; where there have been no struggles in the process of forging a more perfect union. This, of course, would have been its very own kind of political statement — and one that was just rejected by the majority of American voters.
If embracing America as it is rather than as a shimmery vision of what it never was constitutes partisanship, and if it turns off people who cling to that dishonest vision, let’s have more of it.
By: Michael B. Keegan, The Huffington Post, January 24, 2013
Believe that, as President, Mitt Romney would revert to his days as a “Massachusetts Moderate?” Think again.
Every bit of evidence indicates that if he were President, the Far Right would lead Romney around by a ring in his nose.
Just last week, we saw it clearly on display. It didn’t take but two weeks for the Far Right to force the Romney campaign to sever its ties with openly gay Richard Grinnell, who it had hired as its foreign policy spokesman. The campaign itself argued that it had begged Grinnell to stay. But right wing talk show host Brian Fischer of the American Family Association, who had led the drive to force Grinnell’s resignation, declared it a major victory.
On his radio show, Fischer bragged that Romney had learned his lesson and would never again hire a gay or lesbian in a major campaign role. And you certainly didn’t see Romney contesting that assessment.
Instead we’ve seen Romney lined up shoulder to shoulder on TV with Tea Party icon Michele Bachmann, and Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell — a potential Romney VP pick and a champion of “trans-vaginal ultrasounds.”
The reason why there is not a chance that Romney will ever reinvent himself once again as a “moderate” is that he wasn’t really a “moderate” in the first place. He’s always practiced one version or the other of ultra right wing, “let Wall Street run wild” Romney economics. And he’s never given one thought to firing workers, cutting pensions, loading companies with debt and bleeding them dry of millions of dollars.
But you can’t really say that he is a committed believer in any economic principle or political value. Mitt Romney is committed to one thing and one thing alone — his own success. He has shown he has no core values whatsoever.
That’s why it wasn’t hard at all for Romney to shed his “moderate” past positions on issues like abortion rights, contraception, gay rights and immigration and to become what he himself calls a “severe conservative.”
Why will he remain a “severe conservative” if he is elected President? Because people who have no core values have no backbone. You won’t find Mitt Romney taking a stand against the dyed-in-the-wool ideologues that dominate the Republican caucus in Congress.
Those Republican ideologues may be way out of the mainstream, but they definitely have core values. Some of them were so committed to those values that they were willing to take our country to the brink of bankruptcy last year due to their unwillingness to give an inch of compromise.
The plain fact is that people with no core values never stand up to people who have core values. The fact is that Mitt Romney has the backbone of a jelly fish and that is precisely why the first time the ultra right wing pulls his chain and demands that he heel, he will fall right into line.
Even if he decided he wanted to challenge the right wing agenda propounded by the committed minions of the Tea Party, in a confrontation he would fold in an instant. When you have no core values, it’s always much easier to go along with the demands of passionate, committed true-believers than it is to stand your ground.
And the Far Right knows this is true. Last week, right wing icon Grover Norquist was very clear. He said he was not looking for presidential leadership from Romney. He believes that the leadership of the Republican Party will continue to come from right wing Republicans in Congress. All he asked of a president, he added, was enough digits on his hand to hold a pen to sign the bills embodying Congress’ right wing agenda.
Watch how Romney behaves when he delivers the commencement speech at far right Liberty University on May 12. Liberty University was founded by the late Moral Majority leader Jerry Falwell. Now it’s run by his son, Jerry Falwell Jr.
After the 9/11 attacks, Falwell Sr. said that “abortionists,” “feminists,” and “the gays and the lesbians” helped cause the 9/11 attacks. According to CNN:
On the broadcast of the Christian television program ‘The 700 Club,’ Falwell made the following statement: ‘I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say ‘you helped this happen.’
Until recently, Liberty University banned inter-racial marriages between its students. Today it requires parental permission.
As recently as 2010, Liberty University Law School withdrew as a co-sponsor of the Conservative Political Action Conference in protest after the conference allowed the homosexual group GOProud to co-sponsor the event.
When Romney speaks at Liberty University will he speak out against that kind of intolerance? Or, true to form, will he instead worship at the altar of ultra-right wing ideology and say just what the leadership of Liberty University wants to hear? I might be wrong, but I’ll bet that not one critical word escapes his lips.
Romney’s unwillingness to challenge the far right does not pertain solely to the social conservative right. It also goes for economic right wingers like Grover Norquist, who want to return America to the bad old days of more Bush-like tax cuts for the wealthy, and the deregulation of Wall Street that did such damage to the middle class and led to the Great Recession that cost 8 million jobs.
And it also goes for the Neo-Con foreign policy right. Seventy percent of the 40 individuals identified by the Romney campaign as its foreign policy advisers served in the Bush administration and were responsible for the catastrophic Neo-Con foreign policy.
No, in exchange for the Republican nomination, Romney has sold his soul to the extreme right. He has willingly walked into the right wing inner sanctum, and even if he wanted to, he doesn’t have the backbone to escape.
By: Robert Creamer, The Huffington Post, May 6, 2012
As far-right groups go, the Heartland Institute hasn’t quite reached household-name status yet, but it’s working on it. The group’s strange new billboards, at a minimum, will probably help push the group’s notoriety.
The Heartland Institute is “a tax-exempt organization which promotes conspiracy theories about climate scientists, distorts climate science, and attacks regulation of air and water pollution.” Despite support from corporate allies, the group has become so extreme that high-profile supporters, including GM and AT&T, no longer want anything to do with the outfit.
Instead of moderating its views and aiming for the mainstream, the Heartland Institute is buying billboards along highways in Chicago. Joe Romm reported today:
The Heartland Institute has launched one of the most offensive billboard campaigns in U.S. history. The Chicago-based anti-science think tank is comparing all those who accept climate science — and the journalists who report on it accurately — to Charles Manson, the Unabomber, and Osama Bin Laden.
The Guardian described this as “possibly one of the most ill-judged poster campaigns in the history of ill-judged poster campaigns.”
Of course, the Heartland Institute doesn’t quite see it that way. In its defense of the group’s propaganda, the Heartland Institute says it’s eager to convince people that “believing in global warming” is not “sophisticated,” and to do so, it’s noting that “murderers and madmen” agree with those who accept climate science.
Perhaps the group can use some of its remaining funds to buy a textbook on Logical Fallacies 101?
Andrew Sullivan added, “In some ways, this is an almost perfect illustration of what has happened to the ‘right.’ A refusal to acknowledge scientific reality; and a brutalist style of public propaganda that focuses entirely on guilt by the most extreme association.”
By” Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, May 4, 2012
Now that Mitt Romney has ground out a victory against the weakest GOP field in a generation and the most extreme in history, he’s now turning his attention to the general election. To use a particularly vivid metaphor, he’s shaking his Etch-a-Sketch as hard as he can, trying to erase his far-right pandering in the primaries. But despite his head fakes towards moderation, no one should doubt that a President Mitt Romney would enact a dangerously extreme agenda for our country, and nothing makes that clearer than the person he selected as his constitutional and judicial advisor: Robert Bork.
Yes, that Robert Bork.
In a primary dominated by sideshows appealing to the fringe element, important issues like the Supreme Court were rarely discussed in detail, but Romney’s announcement that Bork would be his judicial advisor is the clearest possible signal of how far to the right Romney has moved since his days as a “moderate” Republican in Massachusetts and of his willingness to embrace all the fringiest opinions of all his primary opponents.
Sure, Rick Santorum promised to attack legalized birth control, Ron Paul says the Civil Rights Act “destroyed” privacy, and Newt Gingrich thinks child labor laws are “truly stupid.” But none of them can hold a candle to the extremism of Robert Bork, the patron saint of far-right ideologues. And Bork’s choice in this infamous field? Mitt Romney.
When Bork was nominated to the Supreme Court in 1987, his nomination was rejected as too extreme by a bipartisan majority in a 58-42 vote. Since then he’s only moved further out of the mainstream.
Robert Bork insists that art and literature aren’t protected by the First Amendment. He defended the constitutionality of poll taxes and literacy tests for voters, and he called the Civil Rights Act “unsurpassed ugliness.” He’s defended state laws that made gay sex a criminal offense. As a judge he routinely ruled in favor of big business over individual Americans.
Perhaps most disturbing are Bork’s reactionary views on how the law treats women. Robert Bork doesn’t just think abortion should be criminalized, he thinks states should be free to outlaw birth control. He’s argued that the Equal Protection Clause doesn’t apply to women. And what seems almost too unbelievable to be real, he even ruled that a company is free to tell female employees to be sterilized or lose their jobs.
In any sane election, Robert Bork would be the hidden crazy uncle or at least denounced as a political liability, but then again this hasn’t been a sane election. Instead, Mitt Romney has bragged about nabbing the endorsement and held Bork up as a model for the judges he’d appoint to the bench, including the Supreme Court. He’s said he wishes Bork were on the court today. Any questions regarding the types of judges Romney would nominate?
With Election Day on the horizon, it’s all but inevitable that Mitt Romney will start reshaping his rhetoric for the general election. But regardless of his carefully calibrated statements or his poll-tested promises, no one should forget that by choosing Robert Bork as a key advisor, Mitt Romney has made crystal clear his frighteningly extreme agenda for America.
By: Michael B. Keegan, President, People For The American Way, The Huffington Post, April 23, 2012
Texas Gov. Rick Perry formally launched his presidential campaign last weekend, apparently hoping to upstage those competitors who were slugging it out in the Iowa Straw Poll. The event was won by Michele Bachmann, whose core supporters come from the same Religious Right-Tea Party crowd expected to be Perry’s base. He may have just made it official, but in fact Perry has already been running hard. A week before his announcement, he solidified the devotion of Religious Right leaders and activists with a defiantly sectarian prayer rally sponsored by some of the country’s most extreme promoters of religious and anti-gay bigotry. His financial backers began hitting up donors a while ago.
Perry is hoping to take advantage of a relative lack of enthusiasm for the current Republican field and its erstwhile front-runners. His potential to upset the field is reflected in the fact that he was polling in the double-digits before even entering the race, drawing far more support than candidates like Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum who have seemingly been running for years. Ed Kilgore at The New Republic wrote recently that Perry has become “the unity candidate of the GOP” because he “seems to perfectly embody the Republican zeitgeist of the moment, appealing equally to the GOP’s Tea Party, Christian Right, and establishment factions while exemplifying the militant anti-Obama attitude that holds it all together.” Perry does indeed draw support from both establishment and far-right Republicans: last year, prizes offered by his election campaign included lunch with GOP strategist Karl Rove and a spiritual tour of the U.S. Capitol with right-wing pseudo-historian David Barton.
The Religious Right
Perry’s love affair with even the most extreme elements of the Religious Right is a long-term relationship that started years before the recent prayer rally. Over the years, Perry has persistently backed the efforts of Religious Right activists on the Texas school board to use the textbook selection process to impose right-wing religious and political ideology on science and history textbooks. He has shown little respect for the separation of church and state and has worked to further restrict access to abortion in the state.
His re-election campaigns have relied heavily on church-based organizing and networks of far-right evangelical pastors mobilized by the likes of self-described “Christocrat” Rick Scarborough. According to the Texas Freedom Network, Between May 2005 and October 2008 the Texas Restoration Project held eight pastors’ policy briefings. Part of Perry’s invitation to the October 2008 event said:
While Congress occupies its time trying to legislate defeat in Iraq, we hope you will attend a Pastors Policy Briefing that will equip you to walk point in the war of values and ideas.
Rediscovering God in America — Austin is intended to remind us that excuses are not the proper strategy when facing evil and confronting enemies. Instead, we must rally godly people and seek God’s provision for the resources, the courage, and the strength necessary to win and, ultimately, glorify Him.
In 2009, he participated in a closed-door session with Texas pastors sponsored by the U.S. Pastor Council, and hosted a state prayer breakfast that featured Gary Bauer as the keynote speaker. And last year, he was visited by a group of pastors associated with the dominionist New Apostolic Reformation, who told him that God had chosen him for bigger things; they were among the leaders of last weekend’s “Response.”
The Response itself was called by Perry but sponsored and paid for by the American Family Association, which has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for its pattern or spreading false and denigrating information about gay people, and which promotes some of the ugliest bigotry spewed on the nation’s airwaves. Among the extremist co-sponsors and speakers at The Response were dominionist Mike Bickle, who has said that Oprah is a harbinger of the anti-Christ, and pseudo-historian David Barton, who claims that Jesus opposed progressive taxes, the minimum wage, and collective bargaining by unions.
The Tea Party Right
Perry also seamlessly blends the Tea Party’s anti-Washington fervor with the Religious Right’s Christian-nation vision. Last year, at an event sponsored by the Texas Eagle Forum, Perry said the November 2010 elections were “a struggle for the heart and soul of our nation.” Said Perry, “That’s the question: Who do you worship? Do you believe in the primacy of unrestrained federal government? Or do you worship the God of the universe, placing our trust in him?”
If it seems remarkable and contradictory that Perry would seek the presidency so soon after speculating on the benefits of seceding from the union “if Washington continues to thumb its nose at the American people,” it is no less contradictory than Perry promoting his anti-Washington book, “Fed Up: Our Fight to Save America from Washington,” while repeatedly requesting federal emergency assistance to fight wildfires that have raged in Texas this year.
The Economic Right
Perry is almost certain to make jobs — and his claims that Texas’ low-tax, low-regulation, low-wage environment would be good for what ails America — a centerpiece of his campaign. In fact he has been publicly praying about regulations that he says stifle business and jobs. That vision will almost certainly make Perry popular among the corporate funders that are increasingly funneling money into Republican campaigns in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision that corporations have the same rights as citizens to influence elections.
Perry’s economic policies may be good for corporate profits, but they aren’t much of an economic model for the rest of us. Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wroteearlier this year:
Texas is where the modern conservative theory of budgeting — the belief that you should never raise taxes under any circumstances, that you can always balance the budget by cutting wasteful spending — has been implemented most completely. If the theory can’t make it there, it can’t make it anywhere.
Debt owed by the state of Texas has doubled during Perry’s tenure as governor; the state’s per-capita debt is worse than California’s. And this year, Texas lawmakers wrestled with a budget shortfall that Associated Press called “one of the worst in the nation.” Perry’s budget relied heavily on federal stimulus funds to plug a massive 2010 budget deficit. The budget finally passed this year cut some $4 billion out of state support for public education and is expected to result in tens of thousands of teacher layoffs.
Meanwhile, Texas ranks at or near the bottom of many indicators of individual and community health. It is worst in the country in the percentage of children with health insurance and pregnant women receiving early prenatal care. It has the highest percentage of workers earning at or below the minimum wage. It has the lowest percentage of adults with a high school diploma. It is worst for known carcinogens released into the air and among the worst for toxic pollution overall.
The Right Online
Perry has sometimes adopted the Sarah Palin approach to media. According to the conservative Daily Caller, Perry declined to meet with newspaper editorial boards during his primary race against Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, but “went out of his way to make himself available to conservative bloggers.” The Caller‘s Matt Lewis predicts that “a large percentage of conservative bloggers for sites like RedState.com” will “jump on the Perry bandwagon.”
Perry the Prevaricator
Perry statements have received no fewer than seven “pants on fire” ratings from Politifact Texas; he earned those awards for repeated false statements about his policies and his political opponents. Of 67 Perry statements reviewed by Politifact, 14 were declared false in addition to the seven “pants on fire” lies — while another 10 were rated “mostly false.” Only 17 were considered true (10) or mostly true (7), with 19 called “half true.”
Perry and the Republican Party
If Rick Perry does indeed become the Republican “unity candidate,” that will be further evidence that the GOP has become the party of, by, and for the far right — a party that has abandoned any credible claim to representing the economic interests or constitutional values embraced by most Americans.
By: Michael B. Keegan; President, People For the American Way, Published in Huff Post Politics, August 17, 2011