Monthly Archives: July 2007

An Update

I’ll be on CNN Sunday Live tonight at 7 PM ET discussing my “Generation Chickenhawk” video. It will be a short taped segment possibly include some member of the College Republicans criticizing me. I am also told part of my video will be featured this week during The Daily Show’s Moment of Zen, so look out for that. The Minnesota Monitor has a good write-up on the eschatological contradictions that occured during Christians United for Israel’s Washington-Israel Summit.

The Youtube version of “Rapture Ready” is up. Spread it around like poison ivy:

Comments Shut Down

I’ve been informed by the Huffington Post that comments were indeed shut down on my post: “Posts involving Israel inevitably invite a rash of anti-Semitic comments…” Although I approve every comment here, including anti-Semitic ones by commenters like Lizard, I understand the Huffpost’s rationale. If they approved Jew-bashing comments, they would be accused by right-wingers from Bill O’Reilly to Powerline of anti-Semitism. However unfair that is, it’s the way it is. The most disheartening thing is that my video contains extensive footage of extremist evangelicals proclaiming their wish for the “cleansing of the Earth” of all its unbelievers — an anti-Semitic position if I ever heard one. I suppose hateful people attract each other.

I have been told by several visitors to this blog that the Huffington Post has shut down comments on my latest video. I am investigating that and will report back here tonight.

Rapture Ready: The Unauthorized Christians United for Israel Tour

My latest video is up at Huffington Post. Here’s a brief summary:

On July 16, I attended Christians United for Israel’s annual Washington-Israel Summit. Founded by San Antonio-based megachurch pastor John Hagee, CUFI has added the grassroots muscle of the Christian right to the already potent Israel lobby. Hagee and his minions have forged close ties with the Bush White House and members of Congress from Sen. Joseph Lieberman to Sen. John McCain. In its call for a unilateral military attack on Iran and the expansion of Israeli territory, CUFI has found unwavering encouragement from traditional pro-Israel groups like AIPAC and elements of the Israeli government.

But CUFI has an ulterior agenda: its support for Israel derives from the belief of Hagee and his flock that Jesus will return to Jerusalem after the battle of Armageddon and cleanse the earth of evil. In the end, all the non-believers – Jews, Muslims, Hindus, mainline Christians, etc. – must convert or suffer the torture of eternal damnation. Over a dozen CUFI members eagerly revealed to me their excitement at the prospect of Armageddon occurring tomorrow. Among the rapture ready was Republican Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. None of this seemed to matter to Lieberman, who delivered a long sermon hailing Hagee as nothing less than a modern-day Moses. Lieberman went on to describe Hagee’s flock as “even greater than the multitude Moses led out of Egypt.”

Throughout CUFI’s Israel Summit, videographer Thomas Shomaker and I were hounded by PR agents seeking to prevent us from interviewing attendees about the End Times. The conference, we were told, was about “one message” – evangelical Christians supporting Israel. We were instructed to only interview CUFI leaders capable of sticking to the talking point that their support for Israel has, as Hagee declared, “nothing to do with the End Times.” But I was forbidden from asking Hagee about statements he made in his book, “Jerusalem Countdown,” that appeared to blame Jews for their own persecution. After doing just that during a press conference, I was removed from the conference by off-duty DC cops summoned by members of Hagee’s family.

I have covered the Christian right intensely for over four years. During this time, I attended dozens of Christian right conferences, regularly monitored movement publications and radio shows, and interviewed scores of its key leaders. I have never witnessed any spectacle as politically extreme, outrageous, or bizarre as the one Christians United for Israel produced last week in Washington. See for yourself

What’s Next

The past two weeks have been unusually busy. I am trying to get everyone’s comments up as fast as possible and to respond to all your emails. I especially appreciate the flood of messages from active duty servicemembers who are appalled by the chickenhawks depicted in my latest video. The response to “Generation Chickenhawk” has been overwhelming so please accept my apology for not blogging.

(I haven’t even had time to respond to the perpetually petulant Joe Carter’s screed about my report on all the Christian right hacks lining up to join Fred Thompson’s campaign. For now I will simply say that I hope Thompson declares. He is a fresh breath of halitosis. And I hope Carter gets the contract he is transparently seeking and becomes Thompson’s blogger. That might resolve the conflict of interest he currently faces as the 501 c-3 Family Research Council’s lead blogger.)

I have been in the studio (actually a bedroom in Queens) for the past four days with my right-hand man Thomas Shomaker, editing our next video. It is a tour of the Christians United for Israel’s annual Washington Israel Summit. This one will certainly be more controversial and possibly more shocking than “Generation Chickenhawk.” If you thought Tom DeLay’s attempt to link abortion to illegal immigration at the College Republican National Convention was unsane, wait until you see my interview with him at CUFI’s summit. For now I can only report that he has some interesting views on the Rapture. Joe Lieberman plays a supporting role.

I am hoping to release this video on Wednesday at the Huffington Post, so stay tuned. If the scheduled release date changes, I will update here.

Generation Chickenhawk: The Unauthorized College Republican National Convention Tour, Now On Youtube

Just posted it on Youtube. It’s yours:

Generation Chickenhawk: The Unauthorized College Republican National Convention Tour

(The Huffingtonpost has had technical issues all day. I will have a Youtube link available shortly.)

On July 13, 2007, I visited Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery, where the bodies of American soldiers killed in Iraq were freshly interred. Afterwards, I headed across the street to the Sheraton National Hotel, owned by right-wing Korean cult leader Sun Myung-Moon, to meet some of the war’s most fervent supporters at the College Republican National Convention.

In conversations with at least twenty College Republicans about the war in Iraq, I listened as they lip-synched discredited cant about “fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here.” Many of the young GOP cadres I met described the so-called “war on terror” as nothing less than the cause of their time.

Yet when I asked these College Repulicans why they were not participating in this historical cause, they immediately went into contortions. Asthma. Bad knees from playing catcher in high school. “Medical reasons.” “It’s not for me.” These were some of the excuses College Republicans offered for why they could not fight them “over there.” Like the current Republican leaders who skipped out on Vietnam, the GOP’s next generation would rather cheerlead from the sidelines for the war in Iraq while other, less privileged young men and women fight and die.

Along with videographer Thomas Shomaker, I captured a vivid portrait of the hypocritical mentality of the next generation of Republican leaders. See for yourself.

I’m Back, Sort Of

Sorry everybody for falling off the face of the earth for a week. I’ve been working on some new video projects and I think you will be grateful I put all my energy into them once you see them. Hopefully my video on the College Republican National Convention will be up within 48 hours. I also dropped a print piece on the Nation’s website on Monday about the Christian right’s swift-boating of Mitt Romney in the service of Fred Thompson. Here is an excerpt:

With onetime Republican presidential frontrunner Senator John McCain in meltdown, Mitt Romney suddenly finds himself under fire from some of the Christian right’s most influential activists. Romney’s evangelical critics claim the former Massachusetts governor and devout Mormon was complicit in the Marriott hotel chain’s sale of pay-per-view porn on its in-room television sets when he served on the corporation’s board of directors from 1992 to 2001. Two Christian-right operatives involved in orchestrating the charges have enlisted as Internet organizers for former Senator Fred Thompson, who is preparing to enter the race formally. The tactics of these religious-right players, targeted below the radar against Romney, are calculated to alter decisively the outcome of the Republican primary contest.

[...]

The hostility of segments of the Christian right to Romney coincides with its mounting interest in Fred Thompson. Less than two weeks before Focus on the Family launched its attack on Romney, the Family Research Council began an informal campaign to rally support for Thompson. Without fanfare, the Family Research Council’s director of web communications, Joe Carter, and the group’s web editor, Jared Bridges, founded Blogs for Fred, a website that alternately shields Thompson from criticism and promotes him as the Great Right Hope. When Carter and Bridges are not plumping for Thompson, they blog on the website of the Family Research Council, advancing the causes of faith, family and freedom for the purportedly nonpartisan 501(c)(3) organization.

More on Giuliani’s neo-Confederate SC Campaign Chairman

Last week, Rudy Giuliani’s campaign was hit with a flurry of bad press over the GOP presidential aspirant’s alliance with South Carolina’s Ravenel family. Arthur Ravenel Jr., the family patriarch, is a former Republican US Representative and current regional chairman of Giuliani’s campaign in the early voting primary state. Ravenel’s son, former SC state treasurer, Thomas, was forced to resign from his post as Giuliani’s state chairman last month after being indicted for cocaine trafficking.

Yet instead of pushing white powder like his son allegedly has, Arthur Ravenel has trafficked in white power. During a speech at a 2000 rally for the display of the Confederate flag on public property, Ravenel called the NAACP, “The National Association of Retarded People,” and has made several other racially charged remarks throughout his career.

After I wrote about the Ravenels on Campaign Matters and on my blog, I received a note from my friend Ed Sebesta, a leading researcher of the neo-Confederate movement and author of the essential (and perhaps only) anti-Neo-Confederate blog. Sebesta told me he opened his files on Arthur Ravenel and discovered that the old Palmetto state pol has embedded himself with neo-Confederate radicals even more deeply than anyone has reported.

The extent of Ravenel’s radicalism was exemplified by a startling proclamation of “support for secessionists” he delivered on the House floor on June 25, 1991.

This is the Congressional Record entry of Ravenel’s speech (scroll down to the Giuliani section of Sebesta’s presidential candidates page for more):

SUPPORT FOR SECESSIONISTS (House of Representatives – June 25, 1991)

[Page: H4950]

(Mr. RAVENEL asked and was given permission to address the House for 1 minute.)

Mr. RAVENEL. Mr. Speaker, I know that those who win the wars write the histories. However, I must take exception to a remark made by Mr. Solarz last week wherein he said, Abraham Lincoln made the point that once the Southern States joined the Union, they were part of it permanently.

The fact was and still is that no constitutional prohibition of secession exists. Faced with this dilemma, Mr. Lincoln provoked the infant Confederacy into foolishly attacking Fort Sumter. He then declared the departing States to be in rebellion and called for 75,000 volunteers to suppress it. North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Virginia refused the call and joined their southern sisters. I join those who applaud todays secessions in the Soviet Union and around the world. But where were they in 1861? We’re content, but we still stand when the bands play Dixie!

[Page: H4951]
[TIME: 1230]

According to Sebesta, Ravenel’s ode to secession was reprinted Vol. 11, 2nd Quarter 1991 issue of Southern Partisan, page 10. The Southern Partisan is the flagship publication of the neo-Confederates. Its editors have habitually cast antebellum slavery as a benign institution that benefited both the master and slave. As I reported for the Nation, the Partisan’s former managing editor, shadowy international lobbyist Richard T. Hines, once penned a paean in the magazine to Preston Brooks, the secessionist South Carolina congressman who caned Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts on the Senate floor in 1854 for his speeches against slavery. In the year before Bush’s election, Southern Partisan advertised the sale of T-shirts emblazoned with a Confederate flag shaped like a Republican Party elephant beside the phrase “Lincoln’s Worst Nightmare!”

On October 9, 1993, Ravenel headlined an event in South Carolina sponsored by the now-defunct Confederate Heritage Preservation Society and the Council of Conservative Citizens (CofCC), according to the CofCC’s Citizens Informer (Vol. 24 No. 3 1993, page 5).

With 15,000 dues-paying members, the CoCC is America’s largest white nationalist organization. It represents the reincarnation of the White Citizens Councils that battled integration in the Jim Crow South. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the CofCC is a hate group that “has racism at its core.” If you don’t believe the SPLC, just take a cursory glance at the CofCC’s statement of principles, which includes this gem:

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.

By appointing Ravenel to his campaign, Giuliani has recognized the influence neo-Confederates have in the South Carolina GOP. As I reported in my profile of Richard T. Hines, the same radical elements that doomed John McCain’s presidential campaign in South Carolina’s 2000 primary election have taken over America’s largest Southern preservation group, the Sons of Confederate Veterans, and are implementing plans to transform it into a far-right wing lobbying outfit.

But Giuliani’s alliance with neo-Confederates like Ravenel is not surprising, nor is it necessarily novel. Those who lived under his regime in New York City are familiar with his penchant for exploiting racial divisions for political gain. Now that Giuliani has introduced his Southern strategy in the GOP primaries, he is truly the Copperhead Candidate.