1. Tom DeLay: The Left "Has Surpassed Us"
That's the rallying cry behind Hot Tub Tom's new venture, the Coalition for a Conservative Majority (CCM), a political advocacy group designed to unite all those fractured conservatives around the cause of out-mobilizing Democrats. "For six years now," reads CCM's opening salvo, "former leaders of the Clinton administration have studied and surpassed the conservative grassroots network, creating a liberal coalition unprecedented in its size, scope, and funding." And who better to lead conservatives out of the wilderness than Ken Blackwell, the former Ohio Secretary of State who presided over the controversial election of 2004, was routed in his bid to become Ohio's governor last year, and who now works at the Family Research Council.
Wasn't it the conventional wisdom just a short time ago that conservatives were a mighty bunch united around making America an unregulated Christian nation with no taxes? Surveying the landscape from a minority position, DeLay now believes it's the liberals who are unified, largely because of what he calls "the liberal Shadow Party," by which he apparently refers to the vast Soros conspiracy. "The liberal Shadow Party," according to CCM's website, "has been built for one reason: to elect Hillary Clinton President of the United States in 2008." (In 2008, the Christian right is spelling unity H-I-L-L-A-R-Y.) "They have the money, the organization, and the coordination to do it," CCM goes on, "and there is no conservative network capable of standing in its path. Until now."
The venture is classic DeLay. He wasn't beaten by his own dirty dealings, self-aggrandizement, or hubris. Instead, it was all the enemy's fault. They out-maneuvered us, DeLay is saying, but we won't let it happen again because God's on our side.
CCM appears to be operated out of DeLay's political consulting company, First Principles LLC. And if you expect to find out who's funding CCM, don't hold your breath. It is organized as a 501(c)(4) political advocacy organization, which, unlike 527s, do not have to disclose their donors.
2. Mike Huckabee Fact: Mike Doesn't Understand the Constitution
In his first TV ad buy in Iowa, Mike Huckabee goes for the Chuck Norris platform: I'm a tough, gun-toting, border-securing American because Chuck says so. For as much as the Republicans complain of the supposed Democratic-Hollywood cabal, Huckabee is sure milking his celebrity endorsement more than those of the American Family Association's Don Wildmon, the president of the anti-abortion National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, or a growing roster of local evangelical leaders who have thrown their support behind him.
Huckabee's relationship with Norris tells us a lot about the candidate's views on the separation of church and state. (More than Huckabee probably would tell us if he gave the speech Richard Cohen wants him to give.) Norris may be best known as America's manliest martial arts expert, but he's also a spokesperson for the National Council for Bible Curriculum in Public Schools (NCBCPS), which aims to have its evangelizing bible curriculum in every public school in the country. Although the group's Web site portrays the curriculum as a harmless inclusion of the Bible as a scholarly subject in public schools, its content has been debunked by Southern Methodist University religious studies professor Mark A. Chancey as "filled with factual errors, fringe scholarship, and plagiarism." What's more, Chancey wrote in a peer-reviewed journal earlier this year, the NCBCPS curriculum "attempts to re-shape the collective memory of American origins and encourage the notion that the American character is quintessentially conservative Protestant ...The adoption of the course is one step toward restoring its conservative Protestant advocates to what they see as their rightful place in the center not only of American education but of society as a whole . . . . such efforts should be interpreted as an example of the Christian Right strategy of re-Christianization, the aggressive introduction of Christian elements into public school life."
Although NCBCPS claims its curriculum is constitutional, based on a 1963 Supreme Court case which allowed the scholarly study of the bible in public schools but held that devotional study violated the separation of church and state, it neglects to mention the only case to address the NCBCPS curriculum directly. In that 1998 case, a federal court in Florida held the curriculum unconstitutional because it presented events in the New Testament -- such as miracles and the resurrection of Jesus Christ -- as historical fact.
Last spring, the American Civil Liberties Union sued another school district in Odessa, Texas, which uses the curriculum. That case is still pending.
3. Televangelist Update: Huckabee Hearts Kenneth Copeland
Time reports this week that Huckabee is not backing away from his association with televangelist Kenneth Copeland, one of six targets in Sen. Charles Grassley's (R-Iowa) probe into churches' use of tax-exempt donor funds for luxurious personal lifestyles. According to Time -- which apparently gets its copy of Charisma magazine before I do -- the December issue of Huckabee supporter Stephen Strang's flagship publication features an advertisement for Huckabee's upcoming appearance on Copeland's television program. When asked whether Grassley's investigation would prove damaging to his campaign, Huckabee told Time that he considers the televangelist and his wife Gloria to be the "most gracious, authentic, and humble people I know and I consider them dear friends."
Huckabee is doing far more publicly what George W. Bush did behind the scenes in 2000 and 2004. He met with a lot of evangelical leaders, some of whom are very well known, like Copeland, as well as numerous less-recognizable leaders. Whether Huckabee is smart for making his association with these figures such a public affair remains to be seen, but his outreach to a variety of leaders is far more like what Bush did than what Rudy Giuliani, for example, is doing with his singular embrace of Pat Robertson.
For more on all of this, and why not everyone would agree with Huckabee's assessment of the Copelands, pick up a copy of God's Profits.
4. Legal Roundup: Embryos, Bibles, and Christmas
- In Colorado, the state Supreme Court held that a group called Colorado for Equal Rights could proceed with collecting signatures for a proposed ballot measure to amend the state's constitution to grant a fertilized egg the same constitutional rights as a person. The measure is intended to set up a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade.
Two days after Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue prayed publicly for an end to his state's drought, rain finally fell on the Peach State. Before the deluge, the Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) sent Perdue a letter questioning the constitutionality of his actions, not to mention the cause and effect relationship between prayer and precipitation. Jay Sekulow at the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) fired back with a seven-page legal memorandum (PDF) for Perdue, assuring him of the constitutionality of his prayer, and of the fact (thanks in part to Sekulow's role in shaping our conservative Supreme Court) that under last summer's Court ruling in FFRF's challenge to the Bush faith-based initiative, the FFRF probably lacks standing to do anything about it.
In Maine, ACLJ plans a lawsuit to stop King Middle School from implementing a new policy to distribute birth control to students, which caused widespread outrage on the Christian right.
The Alliance Defense Fund has (more quietly) geared up its "Say Christmas" campaign this year. It gleefully announced that thanks to its efforts, people are no longer afraid to say "Merry Christmas," but of course you never know when the ACLU will try to muzzle some poor unsuspecting Christian and make them say "Happy Holidays" instead.
5. Happy Thanksgiving from Gary Bauer
Christmas isn't the only holiday that has been spoiled by secularists and thought police. This week, Gary Bauer bemoans how "political correctness" has tarnished his enjoyment of Thanksgiving:
Thanksgiving -- a great American tradition during which families gather to thank God for the many blessings He has bestowed upon them in this great country -- is fast approaching. Of course, in this age of left-wing political correctness it was only a matter of time before this cherished observance came under fire. Last year, one public school insisted on teaching its children that the Pilgrims gave thanks to the Indians (whoops -- I mean Native Americans) rather than to God. But the idiocy hasn't stopped there. Last week, the Seattle School District sent a letter to its teachers warning them that, "Thanksgiving can be a difficult time for many native students." The letter goes on to tell the teachers that for many Native Americans Thanksgiving is seen as a "time of mourning" and "a reminder of 500 years of betrayal." To which I reply, "Pass the stuffing!"
In case you ever wondered what that Christian nation would look like, I think a stuffing-stuffed Bauer just gave you an idea.
Contact me at tapthefundamentalist AT gmail DOT com.