Thursday, April 28, 2005

Tony Perkins: Dances with Bigots

You are going to see a rarity here: a moderate Republican linking to an article in the left-leaning Nation magazine. Why am I doing this? Because there is an interesting story by Max Blumenthal about one of the leaders of last Sunday's Justice Sunday, an event where many leaders from the Religious Right gathered to denounce those mean Democrats for discriminating again judicial nominees who were "people of faith."

What's so interesting is that one of those involved, Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, has ties to the Council of Conservative Citizens, considered a white supremacist group. Here's what Bluementhal says:

Four years ago, Perkins addressed the Louisiana chapter of the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), America's premier white supremacist organization, the successor to the White Citizens Councils, which battled integration in the South. In 1996 Perkins paid former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke $82,000 for his mailing list. At the time, Perkins was the campaign manager for a right-wing Republican candidate for the US Senate in Louisiana. The Federal Election Commission fined the campaign Perkins ran $3,000 for attempting to hide the money paid to Duke.

Why anyone would want David Duke's mailing list is beyond me. And for some odd reason, several conservative lawmakers have been seem making speeches to this group, among them former Congressman Bob Barr of Georgia and Senator Trent "Foot in Mouth" Lott of Mississippi.

I had to see for myself what this Council of Conservative Citizens was all about so I checked out their website. It's amazing we still have people like this running around. Here's a bit from their statement of principles:

We believe the United States is a European country and that Americans are part of the European people.

We believe that the United States derives from and is an integral part of European civilization and the European people and that the American people and government should remain European in their composition and character.

We therefore oppose the massive immigration of non-European and non-Western peoples into the United States that threatens to transform our nation into a non-European majority in our lifetime.

We believe that illegal immigration must be stopped, if necessary by military force and placing troops on our national borders; that illegal aliens must be returned to their own countries; and that legal immigration must be severely restricted or halted through appropriate changes in our laws and policies.

We also oppose all efforts to mix the races of mankind, to promote non-white races over the European-American people through so-called "affirmative action" and similar measures, to destroy or denigrate the European-American heritage, including the heritage of the Southern people, and to force the integration of the races.

Okay. I guess I won't bring up my uncle and aunt who are a mixed race marriage and their offspring.

The links page (for some reason, most of links are broken) has the web addresses of political parties in other parts of the world including two far right parties, the British National Party and the National Front Party of France. Both have been accused of racist beliefs.

Perkins has led the fight on the judges issue as well as same sex marriage all in the name of "values." I guess he forgot that tolerance and respect of other races is a value as well.

Special thanks to Eva Young for the tip.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Weekly Darfur Update: The Power of One

I will let this post from Coalition for Darfur speak for itself:

The Man Nobody Knows
On February 24, 2004, an op-ed entitled "The Unnoticed Genocide" appeared in the pages of the Washington Post warning that without humanitarian intervention in Darfur "tens of thousands of civilians [would] die in the weeks and months ahead in what will be continuing genocidal destruction."

Written by Eric Reeves, a literature professor from Smith College, this op-ed was the catalyst that compelled many of us to start learning more about crisis in Darfur which, in turn, led directly to the creation of the Coalition for Darfur.

For over two years, Eric Reeves has been the driving force behind efforts to call attention to the genocide in Darfur by writing weekly updates and providing on-going analysis of the situation on the ground. As early as 2003, Reeves was calling the situation in Darfur a genocide, nine months before former Secretary of State Colin Powell made a similar declaration. In January of 2005, Reeves lashed out against "shamefully irresponsible" journalists who "contented themselves with a shockingly distorting mortality figure for Darfur's ongoing genocide." Reeves' analysis led to a series of news articles highlighting the limitations of the widely cited figure of 70,000 deaths and culminated in a recent Coalition for International Justice survey that concluded that death toll was nearly 400,000; an figure nearly identical to the one Reeves had calculated on his own.

Perhaps most presciently, on March 21st, Reeves warned that "Khartoum has ambitious plans for accelerating the obstruction of humanitarian access by means of orchestrated violence and insecurity, including the use of targeted violence against humanitarian aid workers." The following day it was reported that Marian Spivey-Estrada, a USAID worker in Sudan, had been shot in the face during an ambush while "traveling in a clearly marked humanitarian vehicle." The lack of security for aid workers has led some agencies to declare certain areas "No Go" zones or withdraw all together, leaving the internally displaced residents of Darfur without access to food, water or medical care.

And as the Boston Globe reported on Sunday, he has done it all while fighting his own battle with leukemia.

Were it not for Eric Reeves, it is quite possible that the genocide in Darfur would have gone largely unnoticed. We at the Coalition for Darfur offer him our prayers and support and express our heartfelt thanks for all that he has done to prick the nation's conscience on this vitally important issue. We hope that his courage and conviction will be an inspiration to others and that Darfur will soon begin to get the attention that it deserves.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Barry Goldwater's Prophecy

For those who don't think faith is really that powerful:

"However, on religious issues there can be little or no compromise. There is no position on which people are so immovable as their religious beliefs. There is no more powerful ally one can claim in a debate than Jesus Christ, or God, or Allah, or whatever one calls this supreme being. But like any powerful weapon, the use of God's name on one's behalf should be used sparingly. The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom. They are trying to force government leaders into following their position 100 percent. If you disagree with these religious groups on a particular moral issue, they complain, they threaten you with a loss of money or votes or both. I'm frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in 'A,' 'B,' 'C,' and 'D.' Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me? And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate. I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of 'conservatism.'"

Former Senator Barry Goldwater, September 16, 1981.

Thanks to

Centerfield for the hat tip.

There are Things More Important Than Money

I've always had an feeling, that the Bull Moose doesn't think much about the power of religion in our public life. In his view, it's all about money. The Moose has said before that what drives the GOP is not the Religious Right, but it's plutocratic leaders, like Bush and Cheney. They basically give a few sops to the theocons in order to get their plans like tax cuts and the new bankruptcy law.

The Moose critiques Andrew Sullivan's article on the rifts taking place between the conservatives of faith and the conservatives of doubt. As a minister, I think the Moose doesn't see the power of faith; it's good side and it's dark side.

Let's take the Schiavo case. Congress didn't try to pass a specially tailored bill with the President flying in from Texas, to sign the bill for money reasons. They did it because of the factions in the party who have strong RELIGIOUS view on this issue. Granted, they were messed up views in my opinion, but they were faith-based.

Or, the whole judicial filibuster. Again, it has very little to do with money politics, but it has everything to do with social issues.

Also, as a gay man, the growing social right scares me. Maybe the Moose doesn't think that GOP leaders don't go to bed thinking about how to thwart to guys from getting hitched, but rank and file theocons do, as well as many legislators. These people interpret the Bible in a way that says that gays have few if any rights. If a court gets in the way, they are more than willing to do something about it.

Faith can be powerful. As a force for good, it can have a role in changing society for the better. Witness the role of Protestant churches in the civil rights movement; or the rise of Catholic Social Teaching with stresses care for the poor.

But faith has its bad side and is jsut as powerful. We all saw that on September 11.

The Moose is right that money has a corrupting influence; but so can faith. Sadly, the Moose is acting like many is his adopted political party in that he can't understand faith and tends to misunderestimate it. As a gay man who is religious, all I can say is, I understand the power of faith and I can't afford to ignore the religious right like the Moose can. My rights are at stake.

The Downsides of Hard Right Politics

Washington Post columnist, EJ Dionne, has a wonderful column this morning about the dangers of playing too hard to your base. Dionne notes that moderates that voted for President Bush last year are in revolt after the recent stories involving Terri Schiavo, the fundy war on judges and the President's Social Security plan. As Dionne notes, moderates have a pragmatic view of government and want it to deal with the currrent economic problems and NOT on issues that only please a small group of extremists.

It seems like the President and Republicans on the Hill have believed the hype that they won a "mandate" (three percentage points does not a mandate make) and therefore can pursue a hard right agenda without any consequences. They are learning that ignoring the center, is like ignoring the laws of gravity: in both cases, sooner or later you end up falling on your butt.

This has been the warning that moderates like Christie Todd Whitman have been talking about since November 2. If you ignore the moderates, don't expect to win.

I'm interested to see how this loss of confidence among the public for Republicans will show itself come November 2006.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Third Party Time....Again?

Los Angeles Times columnist, Ron Brownstein has an interesting column about the need for a third party or independent presidential candidacy come 2008. He talks about how both parties have catered to their extremely partisan bases, leaving the middle wide open.

In the last few months, I've been wary of the prospects of third parties. In the 90s, we saw Ross Perot and the Reform Party flower. Jesse Ventura really did shock the world back in 1998 when he beat to two major party candidates for the governorship of my adopted state of Minnesota. But in the end, the Reform Party was nothing more than a vanity party for Perot, and Ventura failed to grow the Independence Party, the main third party here in Minnesota.

In the mid to late 90s, I was involved in the Reform Party/Independence Party. I left because I didn't see the movement getting anywhere and I thought that the view of most centrist parties like the Independence Party was too much of "we take a little bit of the left and a little bit of the right" approach that seemed to mushy and weak.

However, maybe now might be a better time. Think about it; we are seeing the GOP hurtling towards towards theocracy. The GOP has lashed out at long held institutions like the judiciary and attack judges, even those appointed by Republican presidents for not ruling the way they want. They may talk about democracy, but in reality they want Taliban on the Potomac. Democracy is about tolerance and making room for other opinions. I don't hear that among the current GOP leadership.

The Dems aren't as bad, but they aren't much better. The Dems are out of power and are looking at the Republican "red meat" strategy as the best way to go. They have dropped the Clintonian "Third-Way" approach, in favor of the Dean "rally the troops" approach. Out is the Democratic Leadership Council, in it's place is

So, if a Third Party came about with a solid platform, say Fiscal Conservatism, fixing Social Security, Federalism and the like, there might be a chance for that party. If they could promote a strong centrism, instead of the mushy middle approach, then things might happen.

However, this could also be done in the parties as well. It would take a while, but it could be done.

2008 will be interesting. Maybe it acutally will be the time for new, strong movement.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

One Republican's Take on the UN

My fellow blogger over at Booking Rising linked to my post on Friday about John Bolton. One person decided to comment. Here is part of what he said:

I find it strange that his opponents are all in favor of someone critiquing our own government in general, and this administration in particular, but maintain the UN as sacrosanct.

Hmmm. I don't like when people assume they know what I think, so I will tell him what I think.

First, I don't think the UN is above being criticized. I think it has a lot of problems. As someone said, it hasn't really been effective since the first Gulf War. On subsequent crises like the Rwandan genocide, ethnic cleasning in Bosnia, and the current sitiation in Darfur, the UN's record has been abysmal. Also, it is disconcerting to have nations with woeful human rights records chairing human rights committees at the UN which has been the case. The UN has problems. By the way, David Brooks has an excellent column on the limits of the UN.

So, no I'm not one of these people who think the UN is beyond criticism. Why I now think that Bolton is not the right man for the job is because he is being appointed to a diplomatic position. You have to have some sense of decorum and willingness to persuade people who may not agree with you to come over to your side. Of course there are times you need to basically use the big stick as Brooks comments. But, I wonder if Bolton knows when to use the big stick and when to not. I don't think he can.

Just because anyone has reservations on a appointee doesn't mean that they blindly follow the UN. I want someone to shakeup the UN, but not at the expense of souring relations with other countries. We need someone to can find the balance between shaking things up and being a diplomat.

I doubt that will make sense to the partisans. But that's my explanation and I'm sticking to it.

Friday, April 22, 2005

The Conservative Crisis

If you haven't done so, you simply must go and read Andrew Sullivan's article in the latest New Republic. In it, he talks about the growing division taking place in modern conservatism between what Sullivan calls "conservatives of faith," those who see government as a vehicle to espouse their moral and religious agenda, and "conservatives of doubt" who believe in restraint and moderation. You can probably guess which conservative I am.

In light of the recent Schiavo saga, the current war against judges, and the election of the new Pope, people should read this article to understand what is at stake and what needs to be done.

Colin Powell's Quiet Insurgency

I have not been writing at all about the confimration hearings of John Bolton for UN Ambassador. If you want a good running history of the hearings, check out my fellow moderate Republican blogger, Charging RINO. I wasn't crazy about the choice, but I thought he should be given a chance. When some said that he was a bully, I initially thought that not every boss is a wonder to work with. The question is, can he get the job done?

Well, more and more it seems he could not. Read today's column by Washington Post columnist David Ignatius. It cites a man that intimidated his underlings when the facts didn't line up with his beliefs. Read this account between Bolton and Christian Westermann the chief bioweapons analyst for the State Department.

The most damaging allegation about Bolton involves his 2002 efforts to prod the intelligence community to back his allegation that Cuba might be seeking to export weapons of mass destruction from a biowarfare program. In February 2002, he prepared a speech that, according to an unclassified Senate intelligence committee report, "contained a sentence which said that the U.S. believes Cuba has a developmental, offensive biological warfare program and is providing assistance to other rogue state programs."

The problem was that Bolton's charges went well beyond what the intelligence community viewed as solid evidence. The agencies' cautious judgment, expressed in a 1999 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) that was still classified in 2002, was that Cuba had a "limited, developmental, offensive biological warfare research and development effort."

Bolton wanted to sound the alarm about Cuba, regardless of what the NIE said. So he asked his chief of staff to submit his proposed language to the intelligence community for clearance. The request went to the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), where it was given to the chief biological weapons analyst, Christian Westermann. And there the battle was joined.

To appreciate the story, it's important to see Bolton and Westermann as Washington archetypes. Bolton is a political appointee who has made his career delivering broadsides at think tanks. Westermann, by contrast, is a career man. He served 20 years in the Navy, including combat time, before joining INR as a weapons analyst. He took his job as an intelligence gatekeeper seriously.

Westermann sent Bolton's proposed speech language about Cuban biowarfare efforts to the intelligence community for clearance the afternoon of Feb. 12, 2002. With it, he attached alternative language that in his view accorded better with the NIE. Westermann had frequently suggested similar changes for other colleagues and saw it as part of his job. But Bolton seemed convinced that it was a stab in the back. His chief of staff fired off an e-mail complaining about the alternative language and summoning the analyst to Bolton's office immediately. Westermann e-mailed back meekly that he had provided the same language a few months before for Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Bolton was enraged when Westermann arrived: "He wanted to know what right I had trying to change an undersecretary's language. . . . And he got very red in the face and shaking his finger at me and explained that I was acting way beyond my position. . . . And so, he basically threw me out of his office and told me to get Tom Fingar up there," Westermann testified.

Fingar at the time was acting head of INR and now has the job full-time. He testified that when he arrived, Bolton was still furious, saying that "he wasn't going to be told what he could say by a midlevel INR munchkin analyst," and "that he wanted Westermann taken off his accounts." To their immense credit, Fingar and his boss, INR chief Carl Ford, refused to cave to continuing pressure from Bolton to transfer Westermann. He's still on the job.

And what about the Cuban biological weapons program that had Bolton so exercised? In 2004 the intelligence community revised its 1999 estimate because it was even less sure that Cuba had any such effort to develop offensive weapons of mass destruction. In other words, the mercurial, finger-wagging policymaker appears to have had it wrong, and the cautious analyst who refused to be intimidated had it right.

Bolton represents a worriesome trend among the Bushies: if someone questions them, even if that is their job, they are viewed as traitors. Their is a sense that Bolton believed what he thought was true and that the underlings must simply obey.

To me, this beyond simply bad behavior. This is someone who sees everything as political and trusts no one who dares question him. This person can't accept that sometimes questioning is objective and not partisan. That doesn't make a good leader in my view.

It seems that Colin Powell is working quietly to stop this nomination. He isn't doing it outright, but he is wearing gloves on the knife to get at Bolton. He happened to be only Secretary of State not to endorse Bolton in a letter.

Doesn't look good for Bolton, huh?

Thursday, April 21, 2005

And Now, Connecticut

Connecticut became the second state in the Union to allow for civil unions for gay couples. Marriage is still reserved for heterosexuals, but let's face it, gay couples in Connecticut will have the same rights as their straight counterparts.

There are two things that are interesting about this. Unlike Vermont, the other state that has civil unions, this was all done by the legislature. The far right can't talk about this being done by unelected "Activist" judges. Second, this bill was signed into law by a Republican governor, Governor Jodi Rell.

While I can understand why the courts are needed, it is far better to get partnership rights by the legislature since it is a representative body, while the judiciary by design (unless the theocrats get their hands by it) is not. It might look like the far right is winning on gay marriage with the passage of marriage bans, but I think ultimately the war will be won by those who favor some kind of partnership rights for same sex couples, call it marriage or civil unions. The more we see states make room for gay couples like Massachusetts, Vermont and now Connecticit have, the more people will know we are not the threat the far right say we are.

This also shows that the gay rights lobby needs to pay attention to Republicans. If a Republican governor can sign a law like this in Connecticut, why not in other states? Not all Republicans are bigots. Work with them.

All in all, a good sign.

Popes and Politics

I've seen an interesting similarity going on between church and state. This week, of course, we saw the election of a new leader of the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI, the Pontiff Formally Known As Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. In his old role, he was known as the cheif enforcer of Catholic doctrine, and he did that with gusto. He put a stop to theologians who the Vatican believed were straying from dogma. Leading theologians like Hans Kung and Charles Curran were sidelined.

While there has been much ballyhoo about the current Pope's penchant for religious correctness, there is something similar going on in American Politics. Both major parties have their own Cardinal Ratzinger who is watching for dissent from political orthodoxy and ready to pounce on the apostate.

As I said yesterday, two legislators, one Democrat, the other a Republican, are being beaten up because they are not falling in line. The Yellow Line reported yesterday that Ohio GOP Senator George Voinovich is being attacked by a right wing group for wavering on the nomination of Joh Bolton to the post of UN Ambassasdor. They report today about how Maryland Democrat Steny Hoyer is being savaged by for is vote on the bankruptcy bill.

As the extremes control both major parties, politics is become more like religion, the dark side to be exact. Those who follow the dictates of the Family Research Council or are rewarded, but woe to those who decided to actually represent their constitutents or put country before party. They will be dealt with.

In the eyes of the extremists, legislators must toe the line. No independent thinking aloud. Heck, in this state, there is NO thinking.

Like the new Pope, both parties no longer worry that their adherence to the extreme is causing people to drop out of politics. It doesn't matter. What matters is being right...or left.

It's time for centrists "agnostics" to back up these embattled moderates in government. If not, then we will lose our government to the extremists.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Targeting Moderates

The guys over at The Yellow Line report about attacks going on in both parties tareting moderates who don't tow the party line.

More and more I think the extremes in both parties don't want lawmakers that can think for themselves. They want stooges who can breathe fire and get the bases riled up, that's all that matters.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

On Pope Benedict

When I heard that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected as Pope, my heart sank. I'm just one of those cranky Protestants, but I thought this guy was not what my Catholic brothers and sisters needed.

But to my more liberal friends, I don't think any of us should have expected that the Catholic Church would elect a flaming progressive. Of course we didn't expect Ratzinger, either.

With that said, I do want to say that we can't fully know how Pope Benedict XVI will rule. Yes, we know of his hardline stances on issues such as homosexuality and women in the church, but that was in his position as the enforcer of doctrine. The papal office is a whole other kettle of fish. We might have a clue, but again, we don't really know if Pope Benedict will be the same as Cardinal Ratzinger.

Some people are bringing up the fact that the Pope, who is German, was a member of the Hitler Youth. Rick Heller over at Transparent Eye is shocked that the cardinals would pick someone involved with any Nazi organization. While that is troubling, I'm more concerned with how he has treated Jews since than what he did 60 years ago. Also, they have not found that he did any crimes. It was a poor choice, I agree. But again, if he is working for reconciliation now, then what he did back then should not weigh as much.

The Yellow Line has more about this issue.

As a fellow Christian, all I can do is pray for the best. I don't agree with the new Pope on his views,( remember, I am gay) but I will pray that he will listen to God and open his heart to dissenting views.

Hope and pray. That's all we can do. And sometimes, it's enough.

Monday, April 18, 2005

The Incredible Shrinking Moderate

Every so often I get a post such as this from some "concerned Democrat" that goes like this: stop beating your head against a wall with the Republicans and join the Democrats which are more acepting of moderates. The fallacy is that Democrats are not as extreme as Republicans and that moderates will find a home in the Party of the Donkey as opposed to the Party of the Elephant.

But of course, the Dems are becoming as radical as the Republican party, though maybe not drinking such large amounts of Kool-Aid as Republicans. There are a few articles in the news that highlight this growing poliarization among the political class and how it is destroying any chance for compromise.

Ronald Brownstien notes that moderates in both parties, Blue State Republicans and Red State Democrats are finding it hard to be bridge builders when both parties think that's it in their best interests to be as partisan as one can be. He talks about moderate Republican Senator Linc Chafee, who is considered by some in his own party to be "RINO" or Republican in Name Only because he has deviated from party orthodoxy on issues such as tax cuts, the Iraq war and drilling in the Alaskan Artic. He also throws in Democrat Ben Nelson from Nebraska who along with other moderate Dems are being held in line on the Social Secutiry issue and not allowed to make a compromise.

The Washington Post reports that a handful of GOP state legislators are recieving primary challenges this year. Their chief? Voting for a tax hike. One of the primary challengers explains that there are other reasons he is running:

If Scott "had voted right on the moral issues, I wouldn't be in this race," [Mark]Jarvis said. He cited Scott's opposition to a bill that required parental notification for minors to receive the morning-after pill as an example of his "moderate" social stands.

"Taxes are important," Jarvis said, "but I didn't get in just for the taxes."

It used to be that both parties had a great amount of diversity within them. The factions didn't always get along, but they respected one another. These days, the parties tend to represent religion at its worst. The darker side of faith tends to see those who are faithful, the remnant, and those who are on the side of evil. There is good and bad and no in between.

Politics on both the left and right in America has become more and more based "faith" than on reason. To be loyal is to follow the dictates of party orthodoxy. If you stray, woe to you.

For those of us who don't see politics as faith, but as a way to get things done, we are being cast off into the sidelines. I have no idea what we can do get combat this increasing fanaticism that is infecting both parties.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Running Commentary with Tony Perkins

I found this statement from Tony Perkins, the head of the Family Research Council. He's talking about "Justice Sunday" the event scheduled for next Sunday to bash those godless Democrats. I've decided to do some running commentary. Here goes.

Dear Friend:

A day of decision is upon us. Whether it was the legalization of abortion, the banning of school prayer, the expulsion of the 10 Commandments from public spaces, or the starvation of Terri Schiavo, decisions by the courts have not only changed our nation's course, but even led to the taking of human lives. As the liberal, anti-Christian dogma of the left has been repudiated in almost every recent election, the courts have become the last great bastion for liberalism.

You know, I happen to know many liberals who are also God-fearing Christians. They drive me crazy at times, but they are far from anti-Christian since they happen to be Christians. I guess Mr. Perkins has never met any.

For years activist courts, aided by liberal interest groups like the ACLU, have been quietly working under the veil of the judiciary, like thieves in the night, to rob us of our Christian heritage and our religious freedoms. Federal judges have systematically grabbed power, usurping the constitutional authority that resides in the other two branches of government and, ultimately, in the American people.

Hmmm. And Congress and the President did so much when it came to segregation. Thanks, guys!

We now have a President who is committed to nominate judicial candidates who are not activists, but strict constructionists -- judges who will simply interpret the Constitution as it was written. We now have a majority in the U.S. Senate that will confirm these nominees. However, there is a radical minority that has launched an unprecedented filibuster against these outstanding men and women.

Unprecedented! Oh, come on. Since when is a filibuster sinful. Was that the 11th commandment?

Many of these nominees to the all-important appellate court level are being blocked, not because they haven't paid their taxes or because they have used drugs or because they have criminal records or for any other reason that would disqualify them from public service; rather, they are being blocked because they are people of faith and moral conviction. These are people whose only offense is to say that abortion is wrong or that marriage should be between one man and one woman.

I haven't heard anyone say that they are going after these judges because they happen to be Christians. And since we are talking about people of faith, what about that church in Flordia that asked the one of the judges involved in the Terry Schiavo case to leave the church? He was a Republican and a Southern Baptist, hardly a liberal. He was interpreting the law as it read. Why was he treated so...well, un-Christlike?

Only 51 votes are needed to approve these nominees and most of these candidates, if not all, would receive more then 51 votes if a vote were held on the Senate floor. But a radical minority in the Senate is using the filibuster to block an up or down vote on the Senate floor. They are requiring a super majority, 60 votes, to proceed on these nominees. This liberal minority does not respect the will of the people: they want judge-made law because our elected officials will not give them the social anarchy they demand.

The Senate Majority Leader, Bill Frist of Tennessee, is committed to returning Constitutional order to the Senate by requiring an up-or-down vote on these nominees. To do this, he urgently needs the help of every "values voter." Without doubt, this will be the most important vote cast in the United States Senate in this term. If this effort fails, the best we can hope for are likely to be mediocre judges who meet the approval of Ted Kennedy, Charles Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Mr. Perkins, why do you think that the only values that matter are things like beating up gays? Some people think that taking care of the environment is a value. Or how about caring for the poor?

And another thing: have you ever thought that the Republicans won't be in power forever? It might be next year, it might be 30 years from now, but the other party will come back to power. I'm not crazy about the Dems being back in power, but it's inevtitable. And they have looooong memories.

We must stop this unprecedented filibuster of people of faith. Join us on Sunday, April 24, as we observe Justice Sunday. On that date, just around the corner, FRC will host a nationwide, live simulcast to engage values voters in this all-important issue of reining in our out-of-control courts.

Am I living in China or something? Do you really want a judicial system that rubber stamps what the President or Congress wants?

The simulcast will originate from Highview Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky. Participants joining me include Dr. James Dobson, Dr. Al Mohler, Chuck Colson, and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.

Nice to Senator Frist go after the theocratic vote. He's already lost my vote in '08.

For more information on how your church can participate or how you can find a venue to participate in this critically important simulcast, click the links on website below. This is an event you won't want to miss, an historic debate we can't afford to lose!

Well, you got one thing right. It is a debate we (meaning the rest of the American public) can't afford to lose. I love my country and I love my God, Mr. Perkins. And I won't let you make this into some kind of radical Christian version of Iran and I won't allow you to use God for your narrow political purposes.


Tony Perkins
FRC Action

Calling All "RINO" Bloggers

I want to know if there are any other Moderate Republican bloggers out there. If there are, please respond to this post or send me an email at denminn_2000 at yahoo dot com. I'd like to see about creating a group blog of Moderate Republican bloggers.

Friday, April 15, 2005

God's Own Party Watch

You've probably heard about how Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's threat to use the "nuclear option" banning filibusters of the President's judicial picks. The Moderate Voice blogged this morning that Frist is pretty close to pushing the button despite warnings from wise and seasoned Republican politicians like former Senator Bob Dole. Dole warns that the GOP won't be in power forever and that what they do now could come back and hurt them. Dole should know since he was majority leader in the mid 80s, saw the GOP lose control of the Senate and then became majority leader again in 1994.

But the current Republican leadership is not thinking about the future or even looking to the past. They are set in the now. In further evidence that the Republican Party is becoming more and more a Christian version of Hezbollah or the Taliban, Senator Frist will appear at Kentucky magachurch on Sunday to do a telecast with leaders of the religious right where Democrats who block judicial nominees will be portrayed as against people of faith.

The Religious Right sees themselves as on a mission from God. No problem there. Many people of faith feel called by God. The problem is that they seem to see democracy as getting in the way of what they want. In fact, they seem to show a contempt for democratic governance. Because it's "God's Will," they should get their way and anyone who disagrees is an enemy of God.

The Religious Right are not democrats. They don't believe in our way of governing. They are theocrats who only see one way and it's theirs. What's sad is that the GOP has bought into the lie that the "Christo-fascists" won the election for them and are bending over backwards to fullfill their wishes. This can only end in disaster.

It's time that moderates got mad enough to put a stop to this madeness. This is not Christianity. I have no idea what it is, but it has nothing to do with Jesus the Son of God who preached love and forgiveness and not hatred.

Another Moderate Republican Blog/ Another Blog of Note

I've finally linked to the Coalition for Darfur. It's an important blog, trying to get attention to the genocide that is taking place in the Sudan.

I'm also linking to another moderate Republican blog (wow, there is more than one of us!)called Charging RINO by Jeremy Dibbell. It's nice to see another guy who wants to stop the GOP from its far right-wing lurch.

The Moderate Book Club, Volume One

I'm going to start occasionally posting about books that moderates and Moderate Republicans especially, should be reading. I've talked about this book before, but I will say it again, if you have not read It's My Party Too by Christie Todd Whitman, do so now. Whitman's book is a call to arms to take the GOP back from the extremists. This book is now more timely than ever, we see the far right trying to destroy our system of federalism and replace it with a theocracy. Moderate Republicans who have read the book feel inspired again.

So, if you are looking for something to read, get this book. And please let me know what you think of it.

New Centrist Blog

It's nice to see more bloggers of the center sprouting up. The newest one is The Yelllow Line, a team blog run by a former Democrat and a former Republican. I love the name, because they are taking aim at the old saying from Texas Lefty Jim Hightower who says,

The middle of the road is for yellow lines and dead armadillos.

Well these guys are not cowards and they are not roadkill either. They are taking stands and taking names. Check 'em out.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

More on Finkelstein

Robert George, another black Republican, has another take on the Finkelstein issue.

Pot. Kettle. Clinton.

I'm not a "Clinton hater," but I am a bit bugged by his recent comments concerning a gay GOP operative who is going after his wife, former First Lady and current Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. The operative, Arthur Finklestien, has worked on many a Republican's campaign, including the very anti-gay for Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina. Finkelstien was secretly married in Massachusetts a few months ago to his partner of 40 years. The Bay State, of course, is the only state in the Union that grants marriage to same-sex partners (and the state STILL has not slipped into the ocean because of that).

The former president came to his wife's defense, saying Finkelstien was "self-loathing." Here is the quote:

"... He went to Massachusetts and married his longtime male partner and then he comes back here and announces this," Clinton said at a Harlem news conference.

"I thought, one of two things. Either this guy believes his party is not serious, and is totally Machiavellian in his position, or there's some sort of self-loathing there. I was more sad for him."

While I don't approve of Finkelstein's hardball tactics, I don't see where his work in a so-called "Stop Hillary" campaign means he is "self-loathing." Furthermore, Clinton seems to be falling for the same argument that many liberals tend to spew: why would any self-respecting gay person would belong to a party that hates them? In their eyes, gays should leave the GOP and join the Democrats where they would be welcomed. Nevermind that gay conservatives may not agree with their Democratic brethren on many issues. That line of argument then continues that any gay person that is a Republican, must surely hate themselves since they choose to remain in a party that doesn't like them.

Of course this is all rubbish. I don't think Finkelstein or any other gay Republican is self-loathing. I for one am a proud gay Republican. I'm proud to be who I am. Finkelstien can be faulted for working with anti-gay politicans like Helms, but if we are going to use the self-lothing label, there are gay Democrats who continue to work for politicians who sell the gay community out when the going gets tough. That label should be used on them as well.

The liberal Americablog, has post that takes the former President to task for his remarks. However, Americablog is a bit too soft on the 42nd President. They explain away his vote for DOMA as one where he was backed into a corner by the GOP. That may well have been, but that never stopped Clinton from supporting abortion rights when the far right tried to limit that right. Clinton was always willing to expend political capital on that issue, but when it came to gays, we were sold down the river. And what of the fact that last year, he told John Kerry last year to support amendments banning gay marriage?

And what about they fact that the gay community supported John Kerry even though he said he would have voted to stop his home state of Massachusetts from granting marriage licenses to same sex couples? Was that self-loathing?

I won't defend my party's record on gay rights. That's why I'm trying to change it. But with all due respect, on the issue of gay rights, the former President should keep his mouth shut. He has not been the friend to the gay community he pretends to be.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

On the Pope

I haven't said much on the death of Pope John Paul II. My feelings on his legacy are mixed. I think he did a lot to highlight the plight of the poor and to call on rich nations to do something about those who are less fortunate in our midst. He was a model of forgiveness when he forgave the man who tried to assisinate him back in 1981. He stood against communism and helped in it's downfall in Europe. The are all good things and things the JPII should be remembered for.

But he also had a dark side. He seemed unwilling to even deal with the issue of homosexuality beyond what is considered traiditional Catholic teaching. One of his last opinions on sexual issues called gay marriage an "ideology of evil." It's hard to see my fellow gays who are in committed relationships as some kind of threat to the order of God. Then there was the clergy sex abuse scandal. As the issue raged her in America and in other countries, the Pope's response was pretty feeble. Here's Andrew Sullivan's take:

Under John Paul II (and his predecessors), the Roman Catholic church presided over the rape and molestation of thousands of children and teenagers. Under John Paul II, the church at first did all it could to protect its own and to impugn and threaten the victims of this abuse. Rome never acknowledged, let alone take responsibility for, the scale of the moral betrayal. I was staggered to see Cardinal Bernard Law holding press conferences in Rome this week, and appearing on television next to the man who announced the Pope's death. But that was the central reaction of the late Pope to this scandal: he sided with the perpetrators, because they were integral to his maintenance of power. When you hear about this Pope's compassion, his concern for the victims of society, his love of children, it's important to recall that when it came to walking the walk in his own life and with his own responsibility, he walked away. He all but ignored his church's violation of the most basic morality - that you don't use the prestige of the church to rape innocent children. Here was a man who lectured American married couples that they could not take the pill, who told committed gay couples that they were part of an "ideology of evil," but acquiesced and covered up the rape of minors. When truth met power, John Paul II chose truth. When truth met his power, John Paul II defended his own prerogatives at the expense of the innocent. Many have forgotten. That's not an option for the victims of this clerical criminality.

I have to agree. There has been much talk in the media about how John Paul loved the youth and I have no doubt that his affections for them were sincere. However, when the rubber met the road, he did not defend the children. Instead he protected the institution.

Another dark legacy is how John Paul's attitude has affected gays and gay Catholics in particluar. As a reader of Andrew Sullivan's blog and just a general fan, I've always appreciated his open talk of his faith. He remained a committed Catholic even though his church didn't approve because he always saw an opening for discussion and change. However, the clergy sex abuse scandal and the Vatican's assault on gays, has made him on of many "recovering Catholics" who have left the church. You have to wonder how many good Catholics who happened to be gay have left to join Protestant churches or just leave Christianity all together. I know many gay friends who are pretty happy John Paul died because of his unyeilding stances.

I don't see John Paul as some evil person and I'm not celebrating his death. He has done many good things. But we should not forget the darker legacy as well and should hope the next Pope will not repeat the same mistakes.

Of course these are just the rants of one Protestant, so take it for what it's worth.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

The Republican War on the Judiciary

I don't know if there is a cause-and-effect connection but we have seen some recent episodes of courthouse violence in this country. Certainly nothing new, but we seem to have run through a spate of courthouse violence recently that's been on the news and I wonder whether there may be some connection between the perception in some quarters on some occasions where judges are making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public, that it builds up and builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in - engage in violence.

Those are the words of Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas (aka: Senator Box Turtle) bascially saying he's on the side of those who have recently gone after federal judges and their families.

Yup, family values.

Both Andrew Sullivan and Talking Points Memo have more to say on this.

And just when you think it couldn't get any worse, here is more proof that the GOP leadership has total contempt for our judicuary:

From the Moderate Voice...

The theocons are on the march. More on all of this later...

Moderate Republicans = Rodney Dangerfield?

One should never provoke a Puerto Rican.

It's not easy being a moderate Republican these days. You are viewed by the many in the party as a traitor, called derisively a RINO (Republican in Name Only) and targeted by far right groups.

And that's just the Republicans.

Democrats and Independents see you as a fool to stay in a party that is so conservative. They also tend to see you as a patsy, who blindly follows the dictates of a far right leadership and is too timid to speak up. It would be far better, they say to leave the party and maybe even better to find a party that accepts you, like maybe the Democrats.


I'm a bit bothered ( and that's a BIG understatement) at the latest posts this morning by both The Moderate Voice and Bull Moose, a blog run by a former Republican who is now closely associated with the centrist Democratic Leadership Council.

Bull Moose doesn't have much sympathy for his former moderate friends in the party of the Elephant. He writes:
With all due respect to the GOP "wets", their problem is not that they are weak, but rather they are blind. They ignore the political reality that dictates that their party without the religious right is merely a full service concierge for big corporate money. The Moose writes in a review of Whitman's book ,

" The GOP bigwigs pay obeisance to the religious right because it provides the shock troops for their campaigns. The Republican establishment cynically manipulates the cultural issues because a party that is dedicated only to redistributing wealth upward has little chance of majority status. Once elected, Republicans reward the religious right with some crumbs, while the real goodies are handed out to their wealthy donors and corporate cronies."

The moderates have largely made their peace with a party that is the province not of Danforth, Warner, Shays or Whitman, but rather of Tom DeLay - money power marinated in social conservatism. Ultimately, the real problem for the mods is not the religious right but a party that has made as its primary purpose the promotion of the economic interests of the great malefactors of wealth. Cultural conservatism is essential to provide a populist facade for the plutocratic agenda.

I think it's wrong to say that the moderates are not aware of the power politics, but I also think it's shortsided. Yes the corrupt tactics of people like Tom Delay are a major problem, but don't underestimate the religious right. Bull Moose and The Moderate Voice are deeply mistaken if they don't see the power of the Religious Right and how they are corroding our American Republic. The Religious Rights aren't fools. They want an American shaped by their views and they see the GOP as their vehicle. The GOP is not throwing a few crumbs their way, but it is a marriage of convenience. They theocrats and the "sleazo-cons" both want power and they are quite willing to work together. Moderate Republicans are aware of this and have spoken up, not just about the recent Schiavo case, but on issues such as the who Delay fracas as well.

Washington Post writer Dana Milbank also tars moderates. Listen to what he says as he rips into former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman:

But Christine Todd Whitman, last vestige of Rockefeller Republicanism, is too nice to do that. Prim and sensible as she sat in a green armchair and pitched her new book at a Council on Foreign Relations forum this week, Bush's former chief of the Environmental Protection Agency ruled out quitting the GOP or launching a presidential candidacy. She even refused -- politely, of course -- to identify a single one of the "social fundamentalists" she claims have hijacked the Republican Party.

Notice that one of the things he said she and other moderates should do is quit the GOP. Outsiders always think this is some kind of sure fire way to get the attention of the GOP. They might look to Vermont Senator Jim Jeffords, who bolted the GOP back in 2001. But let's look at the result: yes, for a time his defection did tip the Senate in favor of the Dems, but it had no real effect. The far right of the GOP was even stronger in the 2002 midterms. If Whitman and others including yours truly, left the party, the result would not necessairly be that the GOP would start losing elections, but would get stronger. In fact, it has. Countless moderates have left and what do we have? A stronger GOP and a withering Democratic party, not a stronger one.

Staying in the party and fighting is not easy and it's certainly lonely. But I can't place my hopes in some kind of electoral defeat, especially when the Dems are in the wilderness. But I will stay and work for change from the inside. America needs two moderate parties, not one. It was when both parties occupied the sensible center that we saw things get done (ie: environmental laws, civil rights laws). I just think that instead of making fun of moderates, bloggers and writers would start talking to the many moderates out there who are working for change. It's easy to curse the darkness, but better to carry a light.

Friday, April 01, 2005

A New Progressive Era?

When you hear the word, "progressive" these days, it tends to mean someone on the political left, mostly the far left. However, there was time that progressive meant someone who might belong to either party, but believed in good government, citizenship, and a democratic government that placed a check on the power of special interests. Teddy Roosevelt, a hero to many Moderate Republicans, was progressive.

Centrist blogger Peter Levine thinks 2008 could be the start of a new Progressive Era if the GOP puts up someone like John McCain and the Dems put up another reformer. He suggests a list of ideas such as campaign finance reform, tax simplicfication, citizenship education and one issue that is near and dear to my heart, non-partisan redistricting.

America could use another Progressive Era that could sweep away the dreck found in both parties. Too much of what passes for American politics today is driven by interests groups and leave most Americans out of the process. And the crooked antics of people like Tom Delay make Boss Tweed look like a Sunday School teacher.

However, a Progressive movement won't take place until citizens get together and demand change. McCain can't do it alone.

Creating a Moderate Republican "Pyramid"

Former New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley has a great op-ed in Thursday's New York Times about the differences in how the Dems and the GOP get their message out. He notes that the conservative Republicans back in the 70s and 80s created a "pyramid", with funding sources at the base, then think tanks like the Heritage Foundation, strategists like Ralph Reed occupy the next level. A partisan media, ala columnists like George Will or news outlets like Fox News are at the nex level and finally the President. The system is stable and the Presidential candidate doesn't have to worry about pushing and agenda, since it is already created by the levels below him or her.

Bradley goes on to suggest that the Dems have it all backwards: with the Presidential candidate having to put forward and agenda and hope for some kind of funding. Bradley believes this is based on the "charismatic leader" model ala JFK: find a leader that will rally the nation.

History can tell you which one worked.

I think a lot what Bradley is saying could be translated to the world of moderate Republicans. In essence, what Bradley is talking about culture. There is a conservative culture where ideas get born and tested, and where candidates get groomed for office. Conservative Republicans have think tanks at their disposal as well as magazines like The Weekly Standard. If you look at Moderates, we are lacking. There are no moderate or centrist think tanks churning out mainstream conservative ideas. There are no moderate versions of Ralph Reed who can get the message out there, be it new ideas or castigating bad policy. There are no moderate magazines out there putting forth moderate ideas like a balanced budget. Like out Democratic brethren, we pin our hopes on a candidate and ask them to be the bearer of all things moderate when there is nothing to back them up with.

If Moderate Republicanism is to make a comeback, then it might need to adopt this model. Times have changed and we need to change along with them. If moderates truly believe in issues like a balanced budget, or entitlement reform, or a clean environment, then we need to develop institutions that will carry that agenda to the people. Otherwise, we end up being framed by the far right as RINOs.

It's something to think about.

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