Daily Archives: December 29, 2010
Doesn’t this make your New Year brighter?
- In Today’s Neanderthal News… (dojorat.blogspot.com)
- Another humanoid species co-existed with early humans and Neanderthals (io9.com)
- Fossil DNA points to new branch of humanity (msnbc.msn.com)
- Gene study shows Neanderthals had eastern cousins (reuters.com)
If you thought your January was going to contain a hopeful future when the new Congress arrives, then you need to read this piece from People For The American Way that I reproduce in full:
Reaping the rewards of anti-incumbent sentiment, Republicans made enormous gains in the House of Representatives in the 2010 elections. While the majority of Americans agree that the vote was no mandate for the Republicans’ agenda, the new GOP House leadership, empowered by the most far-right Freshman Class since 1994, is nevertheless looking to impose a radical agenda. The House GOP’s Freshman Class provides an extreme far-right backbone for the GOP’s agenda—many newly-elected members based their campaigns on propagating anti-government extremism, appealing to bizarre and debunked conspiracy theories, denigrating gays, immigrants, and Muslims, and pledging to repeal multiple amendments of the U.S. Constitution.
In this profile of the “Ten Scariest Republicans Heading to Congress,” People For the American Way looks into newly elected members of the House, from Tea Party all-star Allen West to anti-gay activist Vicky Hartzler to Bush-crony Tim Griffin. The “Ten Scariest” include incoming congressmen who have been clouded by ethics scandals, lied about health care reform, and have ties to extremist groups. Among the ten, all share rapidly anti-choice and anti-equality views, enthusiastic support from the Religious Right, and reactionary economic ideas. Now, as members of the new GOP majority, the radical Freshman Class will have significant clout to promote Tea Party economics, lend credibility to dangerous conspiracy theories, and roll back the rights of women, immigrants, and gay people.
Tea Party activist Renee Ellmers defeated Democratic Rep. Bob Etheridge by less than 1% of the vote in North Carolina’s second district.
A self-declared “product of the tea party,” Ellmers ran on an anti-health care and anti-stimulus platform: she compared President Obama to “Louis XIV, the Sun King” and asserted that his administration is establishing “a socialistic form of government.” She blasted Democrats for their “imperial ruling class attitude,” and referred to the economic stimulus plan as “massive government takeovers of the economy.”
Ellmers believes that Obama puts the country at risk because he supposedly refuses “to recognize – and tell the American people – [that] he understands radical Islamic terrorism does exist.” She also launched an ugly and bigoted campaign ad equating all Muslims with the 9/11 terrorists,  arguing that the planned Islamic Community Center in Lower Manhattan is a “victory mosque” and a symbol of Muslim conquest:
Narrator: “After the Muslims conquered Jerusalem, and Cordoba and Constantinople, they built victory mosques. And now, they want to build a mosque near Ground Zero. Where does Bob Etheridge stand? He won’t say, won’t speak out, won’t take a stand.”
Ellmers: “The terrorists haven’t won, and we should tell them in plain English, ‘No, there will never be a mosque at Ground Zero.'”
In an interview with Anderson Cooper, she suggested that Obama’s foreign policy subtly shows support for terrorists by using foreign aid to build mosques. Cooper, however, pointed out that she was referring to a program started by President Bush that helps rebuild houses of worships including churches and temples. When Cooper asked if the Roman Catholic Church built a “victory church” in Rome over a Pagan temple, she took umbrage and asked Cooper if he was “anti-religion” or “anti-Christian.” Cooper replied: “That’s like the lowest response I have ever heard from a candidate, I have got to tell you.”
Defending her ad to right-wing radio talk show host Tammy Bruce, she said ,”It’s time for elected officials to go to Washington who are ready to stand up for America.”
Ellmers says she decided to run for Congress after she started campaigning against health care reform with Americans for Prosperity, a corporate front group tied to the Koch brothers. She told G. Gordon Liddy that the health care reform bill was “put in place simply to control our lives,” and maintained that “physicians are not going to be able to continue to practice” because of the reform law, which she said “is just a monster.”
According to Ellmers, insurance companies should be able to deny individuals coverage for pre-existing conditions. “Private insurance companies [should] decide how they’re going to handle the pre-existing conditions situation,” she said. Ellmers also attacked a requirement that insurance companies to cover maternity care and other health issues, calling such coverage “very costly.”
In a debate, Ellmers came out against emergency funding to protect the jobs of teachers, and suggested that diverting public funds towards private school vouchers through “school choice” would help prevent job losses among public school teachers.
She said that her plan to reduce the debt would be to cut taxes and end foreign aid. As a proponent of the “FairTax” she believes that the progressive income tax should be scrapped and replaced with a regressive national sales tax.
An avowed opponent of immigrant rights, Ellmers claimed that Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer showed “the kind of leadership we have not seen in a long time” when she signed SB 1070, and suggested that Congress vote to defund the Department of Justice over their lawsuit against the draconian immigration law.
Ellmers told the conservative RedState blog that she is fiercely anti-choice and opposes the feminist movement. She was been endorsed by Sarah Palin, Concerned Women for America, and the Susan B. Anthony List.
A Tea Party activist who smears minority groups for political gain and has no real plan to cut the deficit or save jobs, Renee Ellmers appears to exemplify many of the ugliest qualities of the Tea Party movement.
In 2007, Tom Marino resigned from his position as U.S. Attorney in Pennsylvania after a corruption scandal clouded his career and raised questions about his honesty. In 2005, Marino had used his official title as U.S. Attorney to provide a reference to his “close friend,” convicted felon Louis DeNaples, who was trying to win the state gaming commission’s approval to open slot machines at a resort he owned. When Marino’s office began an investigation into DeNaples for lying about his ties to organized crime, Marino’s assistants uncovered the reference and notified the Justice Department, which transferred the investigation out of Marino’s office. But questions about Marino’s ties to DeNaples remained.
Defending his actions, Marino said on a local radio show that the Department of Justice gave him permission to be a reference for DeNaples. But the Justice Department says there is “no record of Marino having received the permission” to serve as a reference for DeNaples and that Marino never informed the General Counsel office. Although Marino stands by his claim that he received written permission, he failed to produce any letter from the Department.
When the Justice Department launched an investigation into Marino’s actions, he resigned and promptly took a $250,000-a-year job as “DeNaples’ in-house lawyer.” Marino later under-reported his income on his financial disclosure forms, reporting that he only received $25,000 from DeNaples. Even Zack Oldham of the conservative blog RedState said of Marino’s actions: “The reality is just as bad as–if not worse than–the optics of this scandal.”
The DeNaples affair wasn’t even the first time Marino had run into corruption accusations. When Marino was District Attorney in Lycoming County, he tried to get a friend out of a drug charge by going behind the back of the county judge who had refused to toss out his friend’s conviction. According to the Luzeme County Citizens Voice, Marino “approached another judge and won the expungement, but the plan backfired when the second judge learned of the first judge’s involvement in the case.”
Marino continued to struggle with the truth in his campaign for Congress. He criticized his opponent, Rep. Chris Carney, for leaving Washington as an anti-abortion rights bill was being circulated during the health care reform debate. Carney was not in Washington at the time because his wife was undergoing surgery for breast cancer.
He later alleged that Carney “has no problem spending taxpayers’ money for abortions” and that Pennsylvania women were receiving taxpayer-subsidized abortions under the new health care law, even though nonpartisan fact-checkers have confirmed, repeatedly, that the law prohibits taxpayer funding for abortion.
Marino also berated his opponent for refusing to take questions from the press on political matters after Carney, a Navy Reservist, was called for active duty and was barred by law from making “statements to or answer questions from the news media regarding political issues or regarding government policies.”
But Marino’s ethical challenges have not kept the Far Right from embracing him. In fact, his right-wing politics have earned him the endorsements of Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum, Rick Santorum’s America’s Foundation, Mike Huckabee’s HuckPAC, the Family Research Council, and the Government Is Not God PAC.
On the issue of immigration, Marino opposes a pathway for citizenship for illegal immigrants, and touts his endorsement from Americans for Legal Immigration , which has been called a “nativist extremist organization” by the Southern Poverty Law Center. In his Americans for Legal Immigration  survey, Marino says he strongly favors Arizona’s severe SB 1070 law, would refuse to support comprehensive immigration reform, and would consider impeaching the president over immigration policy.
Marino said he would vote against extending unemployment benefits, maintaining that some of the people on unemployment simply don’t “want to go get work because they are being paid to stay home.” He said that non-senior citizens should face cuts in Social Security benefits if not the elimination of the program altogether, saying, “My generation and probably the generation that follows me, we are going to have to step up to the plate and say, ‘We are not going to get Social Security.'” The 60 Plus Association, a front group for the health care and pharmaceutical industries that supports privatizing Social Security, aired TV ads on Marino’s behalf.
In a radio interview in August, Marino reportedly suggested eliminating the IRS and the Departments of Education and Energy and replacing them with new agencies, saying, “There’s got to be a total revolution there.”
Despite the ethical cloud surrounding Marino, his hard-line conservative views and support from the Radical Right helped him win election to Congress.
Tim Walberg, who is returning to the House next year after representing Michigan’s 7th district for one term from 2007-2009, brags that he “was a Tea Partier before there was a Tea Party.” Indeed, Walberg enthusiastically embraces the most extreme aspects of the Tea Party—from corporate pandering and vowing to cut social safety-net programs to far-right views on social issues and a predilection for conspiracy theories.
Walberg is perhaps most famous for his unabashed embrace of “birther” theories. Asked by a radio show caller if he thinks President Obama is an American citizen or a Muslim, Walberg responded:
“You know, I don’t know, I really don’t know.  We don’t have enough information about this President. He was never given a job interview that was complete.
“But that’s not the issue now.  He is President. Right now, we need to make sure that he doesn’t remain as President. Whether he’s American, a Muslim, a Christian, you name it.”
While other candidates have tried to tiptoe away from their own birther claims, Walberg later doubled down, saying that he would “take [Obama] at his word that he’s an American citizen”…and then suggested that Congress impeach Obama in order to obtain a copy of his birth certificate.
But birtherism isn’t the only right-wing conspiracy theory that Walberg backs. He has repeated the bizarre—and completely debunked—theory that the Chinese are drilling for oil off the coast of Florida. And he continues to repeat discredited ideas about the origins of the Iraq war. He said that Saddam Hussein funded the Al Qaeda terrorists behind the 9/11 attacks, and insisted in a debate last month that Iraq “absolutely” had weapons of mass destruction before the American invasion—something that even George W. Bush now admits is not true.
Walberg backs an extreme pro-corporate economic agenda. When Walberg first won election in 2006, the ultra-conservative Club For Growth counted his victory as its own, bragging that its PAC “scored its first-ever knock-out of an incumbent” when Walberg defeat a moderate incumbent in the Republican primary. The Club for Grouth had poured millions of dollars into Walberg’s 2006 campaign, spending $1 million in the primary, and then producing vicious attack adds against his Democratic opponent in the general election. This year, American Future Fund, an especially shadowy group with ties to Big Agriculture, spent over $500,000 to run an ad attacking Walberg’s opponent with false claims about health care reform and clean energy legislation.
And, it seems, Walberg’s big business backers will get what they paid for. The League of Conservation Voters named him to their 2010 Dirty Dozen, the second time he had made that list. During his one previous term in Congress, LCV said, “Walberg opposed every major clean energy reform…earning a 0% LCV score.” LCV continued, “During his two years in office, he was on the wrong side of conservation and clean energy on 32 out of 33 votes. He even voted against the No Child Left Inside Act, designed to help educate children about the natural environment.” Indeed, no clean energy effort is too small to earn Walberg’s disdain: on the campaign trail, he slammed Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm for riding her bicycle to work.
Walberg wants to dramatically cut social safety net programs, and directs much of his scorn on Social Security. He’s advocated for privatizing the program, and agreed with a supporter at a Tea Party event who said Social Security is unconstitutional and “a Ponzi scheme.” In 2006, he called Social Security “socialism at its finest,” adding, “That’s defined as socialism when the government is required to take care of us all.”
Walberg’s Religious Right credentials are also stellar. He opposes abortion rights, including in cases of rape or incest. As a member of the House, he cosponsored two bills that, according to NARAL, “would end all legal abortion, most common forms of birth control, stem cell research, and in vitro fertilization”. He voted against a bill that would have provided for stem cell research.
In 2008, Walberg was the only member of the House education committee to vote “no” on extending funding for the Head Start program. He objected to a provision in the bill that prohibited Head Start preschools from discriminating based on religion, warning that a Christian parochial school might have to hire a Muslim or “a Wiccan from a coven in Ann Arbor.”
In the House, Walberg voted against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and against expanding hate crimes legislation to include gender identity and sexual orientation, and against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. He also opposed equal pay legislation and the 2008 Paycheck Fairness Act.
Although Ike Skelton, the long-time representative in Missouri’s fourth congressional district, was far from a supporter of LGBT equality, Vicky Hartzler, the Republican who defeated him in this year’s election, has based her political career on supporting discrimination against gays and lesbians.
A former state legislator, she was the spokeswoman and public face of the Coalition to Protect Marriage in Missouri, which successfully amended the state Constitution to include a ban same-sex marriage (which was already banned by statute) in 2004. The New York Times writes that her group used “church functions, yard signs and a ‘marriage chain’ of rallies across the state,” and Hartzler “said she hoped that the outcome would send a loud message to the rest of the country: ‘Here in the heartland we have a heart for families, and this is how deeply we feel about marriage.'”
Mother Jones posited that Hartzler might be the “most anti-gay candidate in America”– she believes that repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell will “put us at risk,” maintains that sexual orientation is a choice and therefore gay people aren’t entitled to civil rights, and dubbed hate crimes legislation one of the “the extreme agenda items of the gay movement.”
Paul Guequierre of the Human Rights Campaign told Mother Jones that while “Ike Skelton has not been a friend of the LGBT community,” unlike Hartzler, “he does not wake up in the morning thinking about what he can do to harm the LGBT community.”
A staunch anti-choice activist, Hartzler supported legislation which “would have allowed for prosecutors to charge women who obtained late-term abortions with murder” and “also have permitted second-degree murder charges to be filed against doctors who performed such procedures.” She was also the chief sponsor of a bill that would pressure women seeking an abortion to view their sonograms. Throughout her career in the State House, she consistently received perfect ratings from the right-wing Missouri Family Network.
Hartzler wrote a book for Christian activists running for office called “Running God’s Way: Step by Step to a Successful Political Campaign,” which “discusses how to run a political campaign by using events and stories in the Bible as a guide.” Phyllis Schlafly gave her a laudatory introduction at an Eagle Forum event, calling her book “a manual for action.”
In a profile by the American Family Association, Hartzler said that she found inspiration from God to run for public office at the age of nine, and her book maintains that “Christians must become more active in politics if they are to have the impact God calls them to have.” Hartzler said that her book provides Christian candidates with “the tools and inspiration they need to bring God’s light in a darkening world.”
According to one sympathetic review in a local newspaper, Hartzler’s book “praises Absalom — a rebellious son of King David, God’s anointed leader for Israel and according to Christian theology an early example of divinely ordained rule prefiguring that of Jesus Christ — as being the ‘first politician’ and an example for modern political leaders. In Hartzler’s words, ‘Absalom won over the hearts of the people of Israel using time-tested campaign strategies. We, too, can campaign successfully following these same guidelines.'”
A climate change denier, Hartzler asserted that she does not believe in climate change since she read “some articles that [said] it’s actually decreasing, that we have climates getting colder…and certainly, I don’t believe that if there is a climate change that man has a very significant role in that.”
Hartzler ran an ugly anti-immigrant ad against Ike Skelton, in which she claimed that by voting to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program Skelton supported “welfare benefits” for “illegal immigrants,” and criticized him for opposing a measure that would prohibit illegal immigrants from attending public schools as “giving illegal immigrants free education.”
She appealed to Tea Partiers by slamming government spending, as she blasted Congress’s spending plans and said that “we just want the government to leave us alone here in Missouri’s 4th.” However, according to the Kansas City Star, Hartzler’s “farm has received $774,325 in federal subsidies from 1995 to 2009.” She defended the government farm subsidies as a “national defense issue,” and claimed that she would not support cuts to Social Security, Medicare, or defense.
In an editorial board interview, she couldn’t name any programs she would cut funding to other than “the Lady Bird Highway Beautification projects. She indicated that garden clubs could do some of this work along the highways, saving public funds.”
However, Hartzler does appear to support spending money to expand the role of the Navy in Missouri– she argued that under Skelton’s watch the landlocked state has “the smallest Navy here that we have had since the early 1960s.”
Hartzler blended her Tea Party lip service and Religious Right advocacy to topple one of the most powerful members of the House, and will now bring her years of experience in anti-equality and anti-choice activism to become a prominent voice of the Far Right in the GOP-led House.
Barletta rose to national prominence as the mayor of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, a small working class city that in 2006 enacted some of the most draconian anti-immigrant measures in the country. Hazleton’s law put tough penalties on individuals and businesses who knowingly or unknowingly did business with undocumented immigrants—it revoked for five years the business license of any business caught employing an undocumented immigrant, and slapped landlords caught renting to undocumented immigrants with a $1,000-a-day fine. The law also declared English the official language of Hazleton, and prohibited city officials from translating documents without permission.
When the law passed, Barletta told the Washington Post, “I will get rid of the illegal people. It’s this simple: They must leave.” On the day the city passed the measure, Barletta wore a bulletproof vest to illustrate his concern over crimes he said were being committed by undocumented immigrants. Statistics, however, showed that undocumented immigrants were hardly responsible for a crime wave in Hazelton: the city’s data showed that of 8,575 felonies committed in the city between 2000 and 2007, 20 had been linked to undocumented immigrants. Later, forced to admit that he had no proof of an illegal immigrant-caused crime wave, or proof that illegal immigrants were crowding Hazleton’s schools and hospitals, or even any idea how many illegal immigrants were in Hazelton, Barletta responded, “The people in my city don’t need numbers.”
After the law took effect, businesses catering to Latino residents that had revitalized Hazleton’s downtown area saw a sharp drop in business, and Latino residents reported increased hostility from white residents.
A federal judge struck down Barletta’s law in 2007, writing, “The genius of our Constitution is that it provides rights even to those who evoke the least sympathy from the general public. Hazleton, in its zeal to control the presence of a group deemed undesirable, violated the rights of such people, as well as others within the community.” An appeals court this year upheld the ruling.
Although Barletta claimed to be defending “the legal taxpayer of any race,” he admitted that he found inspiration for the law from the website of self-described “proud nationalist” Jim Turner, who pushed a similar measure in San Bernardino, California to prevent the state from becoming, as he put it, a “Third World Cesspool.”
As copy-cat laws started to pop up in towns around the country, Barletta became a hero to anti-immigrant and nativist groups. When he ran for Congress in 2008, Barletta’s campaign received $10,920 from the Minuteman PAC, the political spending arm of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, a vigilante border-patrol group that the Southern Poverty Law Center calls “nativist extremist.” It was the largest donation the Minuteman PAC made to a candidate that year.
In 2009, Barletta drew fire for speaking at a conference hosted by The American Cause, a group that had earlier that year released a report urging the Republican Party to not “pander to pro-amnesty Hispanics and swing voters,” and instead to put anti-immigrant policies at the forefront of the party’s strategy. The report was authored by several anti-immigrant advocates, many who had clear records of dabbling in white supremacy. The executive director of the group, and main author of the report, had even been charged with a hate crime against an African American woman. The immigrants’ rights group America’s Voice described the 2009 conference as “a forum for white nationalists to forge ties with ‘mainstream’ media commentators and conservative leaders.”
Although Barletta frames most of his politics through the lens of illegal immigration, he has also embraced Tea Party talking points on social issues, the environment, and the scope of government. In a candidates’ debate, he said his first action as a member of Congress would be to vote to repeal health care reform. He says the Affordable Care Act brought about “nationalized health care” and said it would put “life-affecting health decisions in the hands of bureaucrats,” and echoed the false claim raised by many in the Tea Party that health care reform “will take $500 billion out of Medicare.” He told a forum in Pocono, “We’re afraid of our government. We’re afraid of what our government is going to do” and claimed on his campaign website that President Obama and Democrats in Congress are “spending our country into servitude.”
In terms of government spending, Barletta took particular issue with the comparatively miniscule $1.1 million that was spent to send members of Congress and their staffers to last year’s climate summit in Copenhagen. He claims to be a climate change skeptic, saying, “You know there’s arguments on both sides. I’m not convinced that there’s scientific evidence that proves that. I believe there’s some that can also argue the opposite.”
When Obama created a panel to distribute recovery funds from BP’s $20 billion escrow account after the Gulf oil spill, Barletta said, “It’s exactly what the people of the Gulf don’t need – more bureaucracy.”
Barletta’s record as mayor of Hazleton doesn’t speak well, however, for his future as a fiscal problem solver: his budget for Hazleton last year hikes taxes and fees, and called for laying off government workers—including a number of police officers. As Barletta leaves office, Hazleton has the highest rate of unemployment in Pennsylvania. Despite raising taxes as Mayor of Hazleton, Barletta has signed Americans for Tax Reform’s pledge to never raise taxes in Washington.
Barletta opposes marriage equality, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal, and abortion rights. He has also embraced right-wing conspiracy theories about government-run “death panels” and the imminent risk of human cloning, stating on his website, “I will oppose the efforts of some to increase or expand the protection or establishment of legal euthanasia, abortion, and human cloning. As Congress begins to tackle the issues of Medicare and health care reform, I will never support a program that results in rationing of life-saving procedures to those covered under those programs.”
In his predictably hostile response to the planned Islamic community center in lower Manhattan, he advanced the popular right-wing pseudo-historical theory of Muslim “victory mosques.”
While Barletta, it seems, will be a reliable vote for the Republican Party’s far-right wing, he’s already emerging as a leader on anti-immigrant zealotry. Two days after the election, he went on Fox News to accuse Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of attempting to buy Hispanic votes by introducing the widely popular DREAM Act, which provides a path to citizenship for those who entered the country illegally as children and who go on to college or military service.
Running for an open Democratic seat, Tim Griffin defeated progressive champion Joyce Elliott to win the election to represent Arkansas’s second district.
Tim Griffin worked on the two George W. Bush presidential campaigns and was the RNC’s chief opposition researcher during John McCain’s 2008 campaign . In 2000, he said of his opposition research department: “We think of ourselves as the creators of the ammunition in a war…. We make the bullets.” Conservative columnist Robert Novak called Griffin “a protégé of Karl Rove, who is a leading practitioner of opposition research — the digging up of derogatory information about political opponents.”
Griffin again came into controversy when President Bush appointed him U.S. Attorney as part of his ongoing efforts to politicize the Department of Justice. “In December 2006, U.S. Attorney Bud Cummings was fired from his district in Northeast Arkansas and replaced with Tim Griffin,” writes investigative journalist Shannyn Moore. In hiring Griffin and other U.S. Attorneys, the Bush Administration used a little known provision of the USA Patriot Act to avoid confirmation hearings and votes by the U.S. Senate. Deputy Attorney General Paul McNaulty later testified that “Cummings was fired to make a place for Griffin at the urging of Karl Rove and Harriet Miers,” the former White House Counsel. Kyle Sampson, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’s Chief of Staff, wrote in an email that “getting him appointed was important to Harriet, Karl, etc.”
Paul Charlton, who was also ousted in the Bush Administration’s purge of U.S. Attorneys, said that Griffin “spread the rumors around the White House that Bud Cummings was not a good U.S. Attorney” in order to get him fired. Another U.S. Attorney who was pushed out during the purge, David Iglesias, maintains that Tim Griffin “never should have been U.S. Attorney, he was fundamentally unqualified.”
When defending Griffin’s nomination, the Bush Administration used misleading talking points that significantly exaggerated his experience as a prosecutor.
Griffin continued his deeply political work while serving as a U.S. Attorney, but was forced to resign in 2007 when he was caught in a “vote caging” operation to prevent minorities from voting. The BBC uncovered emails sent by Griffin during the 2004 campaign which included ‘caging lists‘ to bar typically marginalized groups voting, and Griffin’s “caging lists were heavily weighted with minority voters including homeless individuals, students and soldiers sent overseas.”
Iglesias said that Griffin’s management of the vote caging maneuvers represented “reprehensible conduct and it may be illegal.” As a result of his disreputable background, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) rated him one of the “most corrupt” candidates for Congress.
When he was not working in the Bush Administration or for GOP campaigns, Griffin was a high-paid consultant and earned hundreds of thousands of dollars while working for “lobbying and consulting firms on shadowy causes,” including the corporate astro-turf campaign that was fighting Alaska’s Clean Water Initiative.
Throughout his congressional campaign, Griffin closely followed the Karl Rove-playbook of appealing to both corporate interests and the Religious Right. Griffin wants to repeal health care reform and once supported the elimination of corporate taxes in favor of a regressive national sales tax. At a candidate forum, he even went out of his way to laud the state’s relatively low wages for workers and anti-union laws.
An opponent of equal rights and a woman’s right to choose, Griffin supports a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, believes that employers should be allowed to fire their employees due to their sexual orientation, and has pledged to protect the discriminatory Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA). The fervently anti-choice group Americans United for Life Action ran ads boosting Griffin and criticizing his opponent, saying that she does not care about “the life of an innocent child.”
After a long career of dirty tricks, corporate astro-turfing, and Rovian politics, Griffin is a darling of the Republican leadership and set to become a star member of the GOP’s freshman class.
In one of the Tea Party’s biggest victories, Florida’s Allen West defeated incumbent Democrat Ron Klein in a rematch of their 2008 race. West, an Army veteran, became a YouTube sensation by criticizing “this tyrannical government” and crying out: “if you’re here to stand up to get your musket, to fix your bayonet, and to charge into the ranks, you are my brother and sister in this fight.” He said that the country was engaging in “class warfare” between “a producing class and an entitlement class,” which is composed of Obama supporters.
While serving in Iraq, he was forced out of the Army for his violent handling of an investigation of a police officer. During the interrogation, West dragged “him outside, pushed his head into the sand, and fired a gun next to his face to get him to sing.” According to West: “It wasn’t torture. Seeing Rosie O’Donnell naked would be torture.”
West also has close ties to the Outlaws motorcycle gang, which an NBC News report found had criminal ties and a website that features a page honoring members who are in prison, extolling “members convicted of violent crimes, including murder.” In a letter, West wrote: “Please, no more references to ‘criminal’ because I can tell you, they have the utmost respect for me and that which I seek to achieve. I was never more amazed at how members of the Outlaws guarded me during a one hour cell phone radio interview.”
West has addressed events sponsored by Outlaws-linked organizations, used Outlaws members to harass his rival’s campaign workers, and writes a column for the group’s magazine. The magazine, “Wheels on the Road,” has published anti-Semitic, racist and sexist material, and once called women “oral relief stations.”
West encouraged his supporters to use violence in suppressing the votes of opponents, saying, “You’ve got to make the fellow scared to come out of his house.”
He maintains that it is “unfortunate” that gays and lesbians are serving in the military, and compared homosexuality to adultery. He is also radically anti-choice. On abortion rights, he has said, “I believe all future discussion on this issue should move us toward the elimination of abortion except in the most extraordinary of circumstances,” and accused pro-choice groups of “promot[ing] abortion as a means of birth control.”
On immigration, West claims that illegal immigrants should not have access to care in emergency rooms, and that Muslim terrorists are coming through the border with Mexico. West’s first decision as Representative-elect was to choose as his chief of staff right-wing radio talk show host Joyce Kaufman, who called for illegal immigrants to be “hung on the central square.”
A Republican partisan, West said: “I hate big-tent. I hate inclusiveness. And I hate outreach.” West uses extreme rhetoric against Democrats and liberals. He said that liberals resented the fact that he saved the lives of American soldiers. On the anti-Islam blog Atlas Shrugs, he wrote that progressives “detest anyone who has the courage of conviction and love of America, something which they find unconscionable.” In the same post, he wrote, “Liberals seek to destroy any institution of intrinsic value: God, country, family, honor, valor, courage, VIRTUE… Why? Because if such things exist, then they must be defended, which brings them back to their fear of action.” He has also claimed that Democratic combat veterans Joe Sestak and Patrick Murphy “hate the military.”
West says that Obama does not “care for this country” and wants to “make it like some type of third world socialist cesspool,” and is not an American since he grew up in Indonesia and “never played little league baseball.” He compared Obama and his “tyrannical government” to the rise of Adolph Hitler and the Nazi party in Germany, and dubbed the Obama Administration a “thugocracy.”
Militantly anti-Muslim, West consistently criticizes Arabs and Muslims. He told Atlas Shrugs’ Pamela Geller that the Bible is evidence the Arabs are a “wild” people: “the Angel of the Lord said to [Hagar]: ‘Behold you are with child, and you shall bear a son, you shall call his name Ishmael, because the Lord has heard your affliction. He shall be a wild man; His hand shall be against everyman, and every man’s hand against him. And he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.’ Ishmael of course became the beginning of the Arab people….and God’s word is immutable truth.”
He has suggested that there are “thirty-six training camps” run by terrorists inside the US, and that soldiers are becoming “brainwashed” by terrorists who “infiltrated the military.” According to West, Islam is “not a religion” but a “theo-political belief system and construct” that must be destroyed.
Mississippi Democrat Travis Childers was a prime target for the GOP the moment he took office after a special election in May, 2008 in a seat that Republicans had held for 14 years. One of the most conservative Democrats in the House, Childers opposed health care reform and abortion rights, supported gun rights, and voted with his party less often than almost any other House member.
But despite his conservative bona fides, Childers couldn’t hold onto his seat against the challenge of far-right state senator Alan Nunnelee. Nunnelee describes himself as on a “crusade to save America.” Although Childers voted against almost all of the Democrats’ major pieces of legislation, Nunnelee criticized him for not being conservative enough. In a speech before his primary victory, Nunnelee declared that Democratic policies are “more dangerous” than Pearl Harbor or 9/11: “What I see in Washington over the last 16 months is a more dangerous attack because it’s an attack on our freedom that’s coming from the inside.”
In an interview with a local Tea Party group, Nunnelee questioned whether the Obama Administration has a national security policy, saying “the administration has been so preoccupied with their domestic agenda that they have ignored our national defense.”
In a speech before the Byhalia Chamber of Commerce in August, Nunnelee dipped his toes in conspiracy theory, announcing that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was planning to investigate American citizens who oppose the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque”: “Just yesterday, the Speaker of the House said that those people that were opposed to building a mosque at the site of Ground Zero need to be investigated. So if you had a conversation at work, if you picked up your cell phone and called your brother in law, if you sent an email to your children, and you expressed concern about that, you need to watch out, because the Speaker of the House thinks you should be investigated.”
A state senator since 1994, Nunnelee has been a leader in far-right initiatives including hard-line anti-choice laws, opposition to gay rights, reducing environmental oversight, and making it more difficult to obtain Medicaid.
Nunnelee was at the forefront of Mississippi’s efforts to all but eliminate abortion services in the state. He was instrumental in the effort to pass Mississippi’s ban on late term abortion and led the effort to create a law directly challenging Roe v. Wade, which he called “the worst kind of law.” Nunnelee’s law set up tough parental consent requirements and provided that, in the event that Roe v. Wade was overturned, doctors performing abortions could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison. Nunnelee also wrote an “informed consent” law requiring women to look at a picture book of fetal development before agreeing to an abortion procedure. He worked with anti-choice groups to write a law requiring abortion clinics in Mississippi to meet “ambulatory surgical facility” standards, intended to put abortion clinics out of business by requiring them to follow onerous and precise standards including having hallways over six feet wide and “an attractive setting.” This year, Nunnelee sponsored a bill requiring Mississippi to “opt-out” of using federal health care funds for abortion—although the state already has such a ban and the federal health care bill involves no such funding. He called it the “Federal Abortion-Mandate Opt-Out Act.”
There is now only one abortion clinic in Mississippi.
On the issue of marriage, Nunnelee brags of having pushed Mississippi’s anti-marriage equality constitutional amendment, and of working to prevent gay couples in the state from adopting children, saying: “I am proud to have pushed the statutory language prohibiting same sex couples from adopting as well as the Constitutional Amendment prohibiting same sex marriage in Mississippi.” He also voted to allow an option for covenant marriage, a marriage agreement under which it is very difficult to get a divorce.
Nunnelee was behind the successful push to make the DMV print “Choose Life” license plates, with the proceeds going to benefit anti-choice groups, and also boasts that he “led the efforts to place our national motto, In God we Trust, on the classroom wall of every school classroom in the state.”
Nunnelee also boasts of his roll in a 2004 plan that cut 65,000 Mississippians from the state’s Medicaid rolls. His suggestion for those who lost coverage was to call drug companies to find out about free or reduced price prescriptions. The Mississippi Human Services Coalition gave him a 0 percent ranking for his abysmal voting record.
He has consistently voted for Voter ID laws, which often work to prevent low-income people from voting. He has said he supports Arizona’s draconian anti-immigrant law, saying, “unless the federal government is willing to enforce existing laws, states must protect themselves as Arizona has.” In a GOP candidates’ debate, he stated, “I would be absolutely opposed to granting any kind of amnesty to any man or woman who is in this country illegally,” and also supports ending the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of birthright citizenship.
Finally, after he was elected, Nunnelee went on the radio with notorious bigot Bryan Fischer to discuss the GOP’s policies in the new Congress, repeatedly agreeing that health care reform should be repealed at all costs, even if it takes a government shut-down.
In the Republican primary to see who would face off against Democratic Rep. Walt Minnick, Raul Labrador ran to the right of his very conservative opponent, who was endorsed by Sarah Palin and the NRCC. Labrador rallied support from Religious Right and Tea Party groups in order to upset Republican Vaughn Ward, whose campaign imploded, and he went on to defeat Rep. Minnick.
Labrador made his right-wing views clear when he announced his campaign in an email “to a former Idaho blogger known for his extreme conservative views.” He supports withdrawing the US from the United Nations, returning to the Gold Standard, and eliminating the Department of Education. Labrador even wants to repeal the 17th Amendment and end the right of voters to elect their Senators, bizarrely saying that it is “the constitutional position to take” and the only way to make sure “that U.S. Senators are actually beholden to the people.”
In the State House, Labrador said he will work “tirelessly to defund and repeal Obamacare” and spearheaded the passage of a bill which compels the Attorney General to challenge the health care reform law in federal court and bars the government from mandating coverage. When speaking to radio talk show host Laura Ingraham, Labrador maintained that the law was “historic, but remember, Benedict Arnold was also historic, he betrayed our nation. And I think the Democratic Party betrayed our nation yesterday as well.”
An anti-government zealot, he backed bills which seek to reaffirm Idaho’s sovereignty from the federal government, to limit “Congress’ power under the commerce clause,” and to stop the federal government from enforcing gun laws.
He won support from the Religious Right community and the American Family Association’s director of public policy and talk show host Bryan Fischer, who compared gays to terrorists and believes that Muslims should be prohibited from building mosques in the U.S., called Labrador his “good friend” and the two hosted Tea Party rallies together. Labrador voted to make the federal government “provide for the presence of God in the public domain,” supports the law banning openly gay and lesbian soldiers from serving in the military, and opposes same-sex marriage rights.
The Family Research Council Action PAC ran radio ads endorsing Labrador, who supported him as a result of his 100% anti-choice record–he voted to allow medical professionals to refuse contraceptives, voted in favor of increasing burdens on women seeking to terminate their pregnancies–and lauded his opposition to abortion in all cases. Penny Nance of the far-right Concerned Women for America showered praise on Labrador, the National Right to Life Committee extolled his “exemplary pro-life record,” and he was a principal legislative ally of Idaho Chooses Life.
A proponent of corporate interests, Labrador wants to scrap the progressive income tax in favor of a national sales tax, supports the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, and signed Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge. Even though he opposes the economic stimulus, as a state representative he repeatedly voted in favor of spending federal money provided by the stimulus. On immigration, Arizona’s notorious Sheriff Joe Arpaio endorsed Labrador, who has said that illegal immigrants are “going to have to self-deport.”
Raul Labrador’s fanatical mission to rewrite the Constitution and dismantle the federal government has generated massive support from the Tea Party, and Religious Right figures like Bryan Fischer and Peggy Nance have given Labrador their blessing as a result of his rigid anti-choice and anti-equality views.  Labrador is now set to bring his extremist views and right-wing platform from the Idaho State House to the U.S. Congress.
Meet Congresswoman-Elect Sandy Adams: Conspiracy-Theorist, Religious Extremist
After serving four terms in the Florida State House, Sandy Adams ran for U.S. Congress and handily defeated freshman congresswoman Suzanne Kosmas. She built up a far-right voting record as a state representative, and she campaigned as the most conservative candidate in the competitive Republican primary.
As a legislator and candidate Sandy Adams has embraced the agenda of the Religious Right. Adams voted to enact burdensome waiting periods and tougher parental notice laws for young women seeking abortions, and voted in favor of forcing women to have ultrasound tests before terminating a pregnancy, which the governor ultimately vetoed because it placed “an inappropriate burden on women seeking to terminate a pregnancy.” During the GOP primary she was endorsed by militantly anti-choice groups including the Republican National Coalition for Life and the American Conservative Union. Moreover, she is on record opposing stem-cell research and boasts that she “fought against this type of research funding in the Florida House of Representatives.”
She is also an avowed opponent of teaching evolution, and voted in favor of a bill that calls on teachers to “teach theories that contradict the theory of evolution.” Adams herself does not believe evolution and says that Christians should reject evolution in favor of “the biblical terms of how we came about.” When asked “by a caller in a telephone town hall meeting whether she believed in evolution…Adams replied, ‘I’m Christian. What else do you want to know?'” Adams also supports Florida’s unsuccessful private school vouchers program and wants the Ten Commandments to be displayed in public schools.
Like Sharron Angle, Sandy Adams floats the baseless conspiracy theory that Islamic, or Sharia, law is thriving in Muslim communities in Michigan and in danger of spreading throughout Michigan and the United States:
“The Muslim extremist project is to create pockets and to grow their Muslim extreme philosophies, and if you look at some of our towns within our own borders, like Michigan, Michigan has cities that have a lot of Muslim influence and even so much as I would say some extremist Muslim influence because they are trying to operate under Sharia law, not American law. And I believe that we need to continue to operate under our Constitutional laws and the laws of our country and our state and we should not be under any other form of the law.”
Sarah Palin endorsed Sandy Adams, and Adams claims that she “can’t wait to join the Tea Party Caucus” and said that “I believe what Michele Bachmann is doing is the right thing to do and I will be part of that Caucus, I can assure you of that.”
She has embraced anti-government extremism, and wants to radically alter the Constitution by repealing the 16th and 17th Amendments, which would eliminate the progressive income tax and the right of voters to elect their U.S. Senators, respectively. Adams believes that instead of voters, state legislators like herself should pick the state’s Senators. Adams also wants to abolish the Department of Education, said that the Departments of Energy and Interior Departments should be “completely dismantled” because they are “not allowed by our Constitution,” and strongly opposes Wall Street Reform. She wouldn’t “vouch for the constitutionality of the federal Clean Water and Clean Air acts without reading them,” writes the Orlando Sentinel, “yet she’s all for big government when it comes to NASA,” which is based in her district.
Furthermore, she backs Republican Rep. Paul Ryan’s “Roadmap for America,” which calls for the privatization of Social Security and Medicare. According to Florida Today, Adams “wants to cut government spending, but couldn’t cite one area to cut; wants to repeal health care reform, but offered no alternative; and is willing to look at privatizing Medicare, something that should alarm seniors.” Adams was also the chief sponsor of a state constitutional amendment that would stop Florida from cooperating with the recently passed health care reform law by barring mandatory insurance coverage.
Adams is also ardently opposed to immigrant rights and touts the endorsement of Americans for Legal Immigration, which has been classified as a “nativist extremist organization” by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The group is “allied with various Minuteman factions” and, according to the SPLC, the group’s “‘rallying cry is: Illegals Go Home!'” While serving in the State House, Adams was one of just fourteen members to vote against allowing undocumented children to receive healthcare through Florida KidCare.
A steadfast and longtime advocate of the Religious Right and anti-government extremism, Sandy Adams plans to be a bridge between Christian conservatives and Tea Party reactionaries in addition to a stalwart ally of Michele Bachmann in the House.
- Nov. 2010: Putting the “Lame” in Lame Duck (ynative77.wordpress.com)
- Pfaw- Newsletter (ynative77.wordpress.com)
- Add YOUR Voice to the Anti-Right Chorus in 2011 (ynative77.wordpress.com)
- Made for these times (ynative77.wordpress.com)
- What’s the Matter with John McCain (ynative77.wordpress.com)
- New Congressmen Proud to be Homeless Bums [Congress] (gawker.com)
- Is Vicky Hartzler the Most Anti-Gay Candidate in America? (huffingtonpost.com)
- Christian Right Insiders Reveal Racism, Virulent Anti-Immigrant Attitudes and Homophobia in Prominent Religious Group (alternet.org)
While John has been on vacation I have been getting up at 5:30 in the morning… very early for a retired guy like me who likes to sit up at night and watch old movies on TV… and have still not gotten used to the schedule. John will be back from Montreal on Friday (I Hope!) and I can get back to my regular waking and sleeping routine.
I see that Andy Warhol‘s elder brother, John Warhola, died on Friday at age 85. The Pop Artist’s brother was responsible, after a promise made to their dying father, to make sure Andy got through college (and he did… going to Carnegie Institute, now Carnegie Mellon… and later going to New York and becoming one of the half dozen or so Top Pop Artists.) Warhola made a point of calling his brother and checking on his progress every Sunday for 38 years until Andy died in 1987.
John Warhola was one of the three original trustees of the Andy Warhol Foundation and was responsible for the establishment of two museums, The Andy Warhol Museum of Modern Art in Slovakia (their family’s homeland) and The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, PA.
From the NY Times Obituary:
John Warhola was a strong, persistent voice arguing that Pittsburgh, too, should have a museum dedicated to his brother’s work.
“I think with all the museums they already got in New York, they wouldn’t appreciate another one,” he told The Washington Post in 1994, the year the Pittsburgh museum opened as a joint venture of the Warhol Foundation, the Dia Foundation and the Carnegie-Mellon Institute.
In addition to his duties as a trustee, Mr. Warhola took on the role of personal curator of his brother’s pre-Manhattan years. Visiting art-world dignitaries and reporters could count on him for a tour of South Oakland, the neighborhood where the brothers grew up, and a visit to St. John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Cemetery in Bethel Park, where Andy Warhol is buried and where pilgrims often leave a soup can or Brillo pad on his gravestone.
- John Warhola, brother of artist Andy Warhol, dies (theglobeandmail.com)
- Andy Warhol Foundation Will Cancel Its $100K Smithsonian Check Over Yanked ‘AIDS Jesus’ Video Work (queerty.com)
- Andy Warhol Foundation Threatens to Pull Funding Over Smithsonian Censorship (sfist.com)
- John Warhola, brother of artist Andy Warhol, dies (telegraph.co.uk)
- News: John Warhola, Wilton Manors, Birthers, CPAC, Lightning (towleroad.com)
- Check out a giant Andy Warhol piñata at the Brooklyn Museum (timeoutny.com)
- Andy Warhol Coke Bottle Painting Sells for $35 Million (dailyfinance.com)
- Green Design Institute, Carnegie Mellon – Green Shopping Survey (go-green.ae)