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ORIGINAL RESEARCH | pages 1 2 3 4 5 6

Bill Berkowitz
June 6, 2006

Jim Towey's brave new faith-based world

The head of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives moves on after successfully promoting and expanding the president's religion-based patronage system

Unlike the sudden resignation of CIA Director Porter Goss on Friday, May 5 � which caught the media by surprise -- the long anticipated replacement of White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan with columnist and the Fox News Channel's Tony Snow, or the recent replacement of Treasury Secretary John Snow with Goldman Sachs chief executive Henry Paulson, when Jim Towey announced his decision to move on, the media barely blinked an eye.

On April 18, 2006 Towey, who served for more than four years as Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Community and Faith-Based Initiatives, announced that as of July 1, he would become president of Saint Vincent College, a small Catholic school in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.

In announcing his resignation, Towey told reporters that he expected the faith-based program to continue in the future regardless of who may be in the White House: "I think you'll be talking about this for generations. Because we will never help our poor if we don't give them reasons to change, and government can't love and government cannot bond and connect with our poor. They will never have the trust of the poor like a rabbi or a preacher or some of these grass-roots groups that may have no particular faith at all."

That there was a general lack of media interest in Towey's departure may say more about the media than his record.

Towey has unquestionably left his mark: It would not be an understatement to give him credit for helping set the president's then-floundering faith-based initiative back on track.

Read the full report >


Bill Berkowitz
June 2, 2006

Competitive Enterprise Institute's Category 5 Gore bashing

Conservatives having a field day with the release of Al Gore's new film on global warming

If former Vice President Al Gore eventually decides to mount another run for presidency, it may be that the bashing he received from the right during the run-up to and premiere of "An Inconvenient Truth," his new highly-acclaimed documentary film warning of the dangers of global warming, was a motivating factor.

According to New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, Gore's movie "suggests that there are three reasons it's hard to get action on global warming. The first is boiled-frog syndrome: Because the effects of greenhouse gases build up gradually, at any given moment it's easier to do nothing. The second is the perception, nurtured by a careful disinformation campaign, that there's still a lot of uncertainty about whether man-made global warming is a serious problem. The third is the belief, again fostered by disinformation, that trying to curb global warming would have devastating economic effects."

The release of the film has been accompanied by disinfomania from conservatives; an onslaught of anti-Gore and global warming denial commentary. The National Review ran a cover story with the self-explanatory title, "Scare of the Century." And on the May 23 edition of the Fox News Channel's "Dayside," Sterling Burnett, a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis cranked up the volume, calling the film "propaganda." Burnett added: "You don't go see Joseph Goebbels' films to see the truth about Nazi Germany. You don't want to go see Al Gore's film to see the truth about global warming."

Another longtime, and leading, purveyor of disinformation about global warming is the Washington, D.C.-based Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), which is attempting to discredit Gore's film, while continuing its campaign aimed at convincing the public that the jury "is still out" on the issue and there is no global warming crisis.

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Bill Berkowitz
May 31, 2006

Karl Zinsmeister moves on up to the White House

Former editor-in-chief of the American Enterprise Institute's magazine appointed President Bush's top domestic advisor

We can't say with absolute certainty, but we suspect that unlike his predecessor, Karl Zinsmeister, the Bush Administration's newly appointed top domestic policy advisor, has not been ripping off Target, Hecht or any other D.C.-area department store. We can only assume that his credit card record is clean, and that the vetting process was a lot more thorough than the one used when former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik was nominated by George W. Bush to head up the Department of Homeland Security. Soon after being nominated, Kerik -- a longtime buddy and business partner of former NYC Mayor Rudolph Giuliani -- was forced to withdraw his name after admitting to employing an illegal immigrant as a nanny, and revelations surfaced about extramarital affairs and past conflicts of interest.

So while Claude Allen -- the Black conservative who previously held the job Zinsmeister is taking -- is waiting for the legal system to deal with charges that he committed serial fraud at several department stores in the Washington, D.C. area, Zinsmeister will stroll on over to the White House from the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), and assume the position.

Read the full report >


Bill Berkowitz
May 27, 2006

Spurned by Washington Republicans, Frank Luntz turns to Canada

From Canada to Great Britain, from Iowa to the nation's capital, Frank Luntz is racking up the frequent flyer miles these days. Luntz, the Republican pollster/consultant and message massager, appears to be at his best when he's darting from one place to another dispensing advice and offering up fanciful political frames.

Recently, after an apparently fruitful meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Luntz met with a group of Canadian conservatives and advised them how to win upcoming elections.

But Canada was only one stop for the Luntzmobile.

In recent weeks, the Toronto Star reported, Luntz weighed in with his "analysis of British Conservative Leader David Cameron's electoral chances, [given] his take on whether New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg could run as an independent for president ... and has tested the appeal of Democrat presidential hopefuls Joe Biden and John Edwards in New Hampshire and Iowa."

In addition, the New York Daily News reported, in a "private" meeting with 20 Republican state senators from New York, Luntz told them "to spurn any offers of campaign help made by [Gov. George] Pataki, according to people who attended the Albany gathering last week. �He told us if the governor offers help, just tell him you are going to be out of town or on vacation,' said one source."

Read the full report >


Bill Berkowitz
May 22, 2006

Media Research Center takes on 'The West Wing'

Conservative Philanthropy supported group claims show had liberal bias

The 2,195th CyberAlert, issued on Friday May 12, 2006 is a gift to both current and former fans of "The West Wing," from the resolute media watchers at the Media Research Center. When the series premiered on NBC in September 1999 -- toward the end of the Clinton years -- it started off by immediately pressing a political hot button: President Josiah Bartlet, played by Martin Sheen, told a group of conservative religious leaders to "get your fat asses out of my White House."

"The West Wing"--which ended its seven-year run on Sunday, May 14 -- was smart television; it won scads of Emmys. Critics raved about its fast-paced and intelligent dialogue, its willingness to take on tough political issues, and its magnificent ensemble cast. The show captured the imagination of television viewers across the country, and it soon became a top rated program.

The Media Research Center's crack team of media critics recently characterized the first episode of the series this way: "Viewers saw how the Hollywood Left views conservatives as the show concocted a preposterous plot and series of scenes which portrayed leaders of the Religious Right as anti-Semitic buffoons. The show culminated with an angry Democratic 'President Josiah Bartlet'...indignantly telling some conservative ministers: 'You can all get your fat asses out of my White House.'"

Over the years, as the national political landscape changed and Aaron Sorkin, the show's primary creator, left the program, viewers started drifting away. The plots got thinner, the so-called liberalism got a little washed out, the characters seemed to lose their bearings, and as shows are wont to do in serial television, "The West Wing" grew stale.

Read the full report >


Bill Berkowitz
May 15, 2006

Anti-Gay leader to mobilize legions of "values voters" for Kenneth Blackwell in Ohio

Phil Burress' Cincinnati, Ohio-based Citizens for Community Values goes statewide

Kenneth BlackwellOn May 2, 2006 Kenneth Blackwell, Ohio's controversial Black conservative Secretary of State defeated current Attorney General Jim Petro in the Republican gubernatorial primary. Phil Burress, the head of an Ohio-based political action committee called Citizens for Community Values Action (CCVA), observed that Blackwell -- the candidate his organization backed -- won because of his longtime support for "family values," particularly his backing of Ohio's anti-same sex marriage amendment which passed in 2004. Burress expects Blackwell to defeat his Democratic challenger, Congressman Ted Strickland, and to help get that done he intends to mobilize legions of "values voters."

A few weeks earlier, members of a Cincinnati, Ohio-based group called Equal Rights Not Special Rights (ERNSP - a 501(c)(3) charity), another of Phil Burress' enterprises, marched into the office of Joe Gray, the city's finance director, carrying some 14 to 15 thousand signatures -- twice the number necessary -- from city residents on petitions calling for the repeal of the city's new lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality ordinance. According to a recent report in Gay People's Chronicle, the "city council passed the ordinance last month" but the intervention by ERNSP -- just before it was scheduled to take effect on April 14 -- will force the ordinance onto the November ballot.

Thirteen years ago Burress' Citizens for Community Values (CCV) played a pivotal role in forcing the removal of "sexual orientation" from Cincinnati's original human rights ordinance, thereby prohibiting the city from protecting gays, lesbians or bisexuals. Voters finally repealed article 12 in 2004.

In fact, Phil Burress, the born again Christian and one-time union leader and porn addict, "is behind almost every anti-gay effort in Ohio," the Gay People's Chronicle recently pointed out.

Read the full report >


Bill Berkowitz
May 8, 2006

Is it a Massachusetts 'Miracle'?

The Heritage Foundation plays key role in a new health care initiative that promises to cover 95% of the state's uninsured

A few weeks back UC Berkeley's Nicholas C. Petris Center on Healthcare Markets and Consumer Welfare (named after the former California State Senator whose legislative career was marked by his deep concern with California's health care issues) sponsored a seminar on health care. One panel in particular examined the current status of California's Proposition 63 -- the State's 2004 mental health initiative funded through a tax on millionaires.

While many considered the passage of Proposition 63 something of an electoral "miracle," these days just about everyone involved in health care policy is talking about another "miracle" -- Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney's plan to provide healthcare insurance for 95 percent of the state's uninsured.

In mid-April, Massachusetts became the first state in the nation to require every individual to have health insurance -- whether they want it or not -- or possibly be subject to financial penalties. The new plan not only will cover the vast majority of the uninsured, but it represents what politicians like to call a "bipartisan compromise." The legislation was crafted by the state's conservative Republican Governor and supported by its Democratic-controlled legislature.

It appears that the reasons this legislative package was put together now was due to the impending loss of more than $300 million in Medicaid funds if it didn't establish a reform plan; a ballot initiative that would have called for a much more substantial payroll tax based contribution from employers was threatened; a strong presence of pro-consumer health care organizations; and the significant role played by Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation of Massachusetts' Roadmap to Coverage initiative.

Read the full report >


Bill Berkowitz
May 1, 2006

State government, Amway-style

Former Amway head Dick DeVos hopes Michigan gubernatorial voters will disregard his company's controversial business model and socially conservative views, and instead buy into his talk of economic revival

State government, Amway styleIn an era where money talks and just about everything else walks, Dick DeVos, the multi-millionaire son of the founder of Amway and the likely Republican Party candidate for governor of Michigan, is hoping to talk his way into the statehouse. As any good political advisor understands, one key to victory is being able to define yourself before your opponents define you, and, define your opponents before they define themselves.

Thus far, DeVos' campaign has spent $2 million on a series of television advertisements that have been blanketing the state's airwaves for several months; it branded current Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm's stewardship over the state as the road to economic ruination.

The early ad buy seems to have paid off. Results from a recent EPIC/MRA poll showed that DeVos was in a statistical dead heart with Gov. Granholm.

What was surprising about the poll, however, was the finding that DeVos, who had been at the center of state politics when he funded and supported a controversial school voucher initiative called Kids First! Yes! -- an initiative which failed at the polls-- still appears to be relatively unknown to Michigan voters.

Read the full report >


Bill Berkowitz
April 28, 2006

Podcasting: A new weapon for the right

Are conservative think tanks and advocacy groups glomming on to podcasting as they did with talk radio?

After Apple Computer announced its new video-capable iPod, the San Francisco Chronicle's Mark Morford, a funny, controversial and ever-iconoclastic columnist, enthused that the new "sexy" and "delicious" device would usher in a future where pornography would be available at the flick of a finger.

Morford isn't the only one imagining the future of podcasting. Jennifer Biddison, the Coalitions Manager and Associate Editor for -- one of the oldest and most successful right wing networking websites -- maintains that while podcasting has already become a useful political tool for the conservative movement its potential has yet to be tapped.

Conservative organizations, which have a proven track record of getting their message out via a sophisticated coordinated network -- foundations, think tanks and public policy institutes, the Internet (including the blogosphere), newspapers and magazines, talk radio -- are now "hopping aboard" the podcasting train, Biddison reported in "Podcasting: The latest trend in talk," an article recently posted at

Thanks to the financial wherewithal and technical savvy of a handful of right wing organizations, conservatives can listen to many of their favorite right wing radio talk jockeys, tune in to a discussion about privatizing social security and other critical policy questions, and catch the latest presentation from the Heritage Foundation, whenever they darned well feel like it.

Read the full report >


Jerry Landay
April 24, 2006

The Flight of the American Dream

You can't stuff the real world into a cramped ideology. It took the Radicalized Republicans 30 years to put their master plan into operation, underwritten by millions of dollars of patronage by far-right foundations and large injections of private wealth. It's only taken less than two years for the plan to catch fire and burn.

Narrow ideology is no substitute for ideas coupled to action, for minds coupled to heart. George Bush had neither. He knew what he wanted to do on taxes -- cut them for the privileged; on government -- turn it into a piggy bank for his cronies; on Social Security and Medicare -- "reform" them into submission; on what to do with kids -- test them into cookie-cutter conformists. But he just sat there when Al Qaeda slammed airplanes into the World Trade Center. He just sat there when his buddies in the Congress sent the deficit plunging into the depths. He just sat there when Hurricane Katrina destroyed a major American city. He just sat there while his bureaucrats rubber-stamped the Dubai ports deal. His ideology couldn't serve up the ready answers to those crises. Nor could his neocon ideologues. They sit there while Iraq spins into hemorrhage of lives, squandered money, and lost opportunities.

Columnist Paul Krugman exults prematurely that this is promising to be a Democrat/liberal Springtime, and concludes that "the high-water mark of a conservative now receding." But the flood wreckage the Democrats will have to deal with is catastrophic, incalculable. It includes a war without end, a foreign policy and our global repute in ruins, America's petroleum economy confronting chaos, religious division that continues to polarize the nation, and the public in a daze of confusion and anger. For Americans must confront another devastating loss: the End of the American Dream.

Read the full report >


Bill Berkowitz
April 19, 2006

Senator Rick Santorum counting on the Pennsylvania Pastors Network

Following the example set by the Ohio Restoration Project, the PPN is organizing Christian conservatives to save Santorum's career

Senator Rick Santorum and the Pennsylvania Pastors NetworkAfter two-term Pennsylvania Republican Senator Rick Santorum's book, "It Takes A Family: Conservatism and the Common Good" -- a sort-of rebuttal to Senator Hillary Clinton's "It Takes a Village" -- was published by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, moaning and groaning was heard from the usual anti-Santorum crowd. But the anti-Santorum folks weren't completely alone; a resoundingly negative review also appeared at the website of Christianity Today, where reviewer John Wilson wrote: "Every Christian on the front lines of the culture wars should read this book -- as an example of how not to go about it."

While the book contains "well-reasoned policy recommendations and telling anecdotes...from the start, [it] has a divided heart," Wilson maintained. "Santorum's contemptuous references to 'liberals,' 'village elders,' and 'the Bigs' (this from a candidate who boasts Wal-Mart as a major donor) are pitched to the right-wing choir. One moment sneering in full talk-radio mode, the next moment sanctimoniously quoting Tocqueville, Santorum wants to have his cake and eat it, too."

Sanctimonious is as good a term as any to describe the embattled incumbent. These days, Sen. Rick Santorum, the 47-year old devout Roman Catholic who was once named one of "The 25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America" by Time magazine, is in the fight of his political career.

Read the full report >


Bill Berkowitz
April 14, 2006

'Where's the outrage?'

Another fracture in the conservative evangelical movement

Ken Connor, the former head of the Family Research Council, is angry about the 'double standard' on ethical issues that may threaten the credibility of Christian conservative leaders.

The tumultuous reception accorded Tom DeLay at the late-March "War on Christians and the Values Voters in 2006" conference appears to have triggered at least two distinct reactions. For DeLay, the love in the room assured him that there would be life after Congress, so he decided the time was right to announce his resignation from the House. For Ken Connor, the former head of the Family Research Council and the founder and president of the Center for a Just Society, the reaction appeared to be a tipping point; a visible indicator that his Christian evangelical brethren had lost their bearings when it came to identifying and criticizing unethical behavior.

Despite the possibility of losing movement friends, Ken Connor recently voiced his outrage about Christian conservatives' failure to condemn the ethical abuses of Tom DeLay in a 600+-word essay that appeared on the front page of his organization's website, and was sent out to subscribers of his Ideas in Action e-mail newsletter.

Read the full report >


Bill Berkowitz
April 9, 2006

Daniel Lapin: The Right's favorite Rabbi

Will Lapin's involvement in the Abramoff scandal hurt, or solidify, his position with Christian evangelicals?

Daniel LapinRabbi Daniel Lapin's Toward Tradition website is filled with all sorts of announcements and information about the organization's various projects. The ultra-orthodox Mercer Island, Washington-based Rabbi recently announced that he had signed on to host a weekly radio program called "The Rabbi Daniel Lapin Show," broadcast on KSFO, San Francisco.

Before signing on with the San Francisco-based right wing talk station, Lapin had been dropped from his regular radio gig at KTTH, Seattle. According to Michael Hood, of blatherWatch--"listening to talk radio so you don't have to..."--Lapin has been "no spellbinding broadcaster." He has "failed in syndication, and never really had much luck staying long anywhere on the dial, although he's tried at KVI, KKOL and KTTH."

In fact, blatherWatch noted, Lapin's "local show was brokered" which means that his organization, "Toward Tradition (TT) paid to get him on the air."

The Toward Tradition website also proudly reported that on Monday, March 13, 2006 Lapin appeared on the Trinity Broadcasting Network, where he and Rabbi Aryeh Scheinberg were introduced by Pastor John Hagee. The two-hour program was "devoted to the Jewish significance of the holiday of Purim and the historic links and prophecies found in the Book of Esther," according to a program description provided by TBN.

A much bigger story -- and one with national implications -- has failed to make it onto the front page of the website; details about Rabbi Lapin's longtime friendship and working relationship with former uber-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who on March 29, 2006 was sentenced to nearly six years in prison for fraud in the purchase of a Florida casino cruise line.

Read the full report >


Bill Berkowitz
April 4, 2006

Freedom House receiving US government money "for clandestine activities inside Iran"

While Mohamad ElBaradei, the atomic energy chief of the United Nations, urges restraint, Michael Ledeen, an American Enterprise Institute neocon, advocates "regime change" in Iran, and charges the Bush Administration with being asleep at the wheel

Regardless of what Michael Ledeen thinks of conflict in the Middle East, Iran has been in George W. Bush's sights for quite some time. Recently Bush Administration officials and some members of the European Union have been warning that conflict with Iran over its nuclear program may be inevitable, particularly if Iran doesn't cease its effort to perfect uranium enrichment.

In a newly released National Security Strategy (NSS) the Bush Administration placed Iran squarely in its crosshairs. Along with affirming Bush's preventive (not "preemptive") strike doctrine -- as outlined in the 2002 NSS -- the current document clearly has Iran in mind when it states that the U.S. is "committed to keeping the world's most dangerous weapons out of the hands of the world's most dangerous people."

On March 30, 2005 the Financial Times (London) reported that at a speech at New York's Freedom House, Bush "stepped into an intense debate among democracy activists in the US and Iran over how US dollars should be used to carry out the administration's policy of promoting freedom in the Islamic republic."

Freedom House is one of the organizations that is receiving money from the Bush Administration "for clandestine activities inside Iran," according to the Financial Times. A Freedom House research report concluded that "Far more often than is generally understood, the change agent is broad-based, non-violent civic resistance -- which employs tactics such as boycotts, mass protests, blockades, strikes and civil disobedience to de-legitimate authoritarian rulers and erode their sources of support, including the loyalty of their armed defenders."

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Bill Berkowitz
March 30, 2006

One year later, conservatives still cashing in on Terri Schiavo

The religious right still doesn't believe the scientific evidence that proved Schiavo was in a 'persistent vegetative state' since 1990. Their shameful, embarrassing and expensive crusade continues to this day

Last year at this time, stories about Terri Schiavo -- the woman who had been in a "persistent vegetative state" since 1990 -- dominated the political landscape. In a recent story in The New Yorker magazine about the Bush Administration's protracted war on science, Michael Specter wrote that In 1998, when Michael Schiavo "asked that [Terri's] feeding tube be removed...a legal war with her parents [was ignited] that eventually turned into a national conflict."

After several years of legal wrangling, it finally came down to a passion-packed month where regular press conferences were held by her parents, Mary and Bob Schindler and their surrogates, mostly right wing politicians and leaders of Christian conservative organizations, demonstrations and vigils organized by a cadre of longtime Christian right activists, fundraising pitches were sent by a host of Christian conservative organizations, and a well-orchestrated campaign was aimed at vilifying Michael Schiavo, Terri's husband.

With the encouragement of Terri's parents, religious right activists unleashed a 24/7, no-holds-barred campaign aimed at winning the battle over public opinion. What was a private family matter turned into a media feeding frenzy and a public spectacle.

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Bill Berkowitz
March 22, 2006

"War on Christians"?

Later this month, Rich Scarborough's Vision America will host 'The War Against Christians and the Values Voter 2006' Conference in Washington D.C.

War on Christians?If this past holiday season's "War on Christmas" -- which occupied a disproportionate amount of air time on the 24/7 cable television networks, especially over at the Fox News Channel -- didn't really gain traction, and the "War on Valentines Day" -- a battle initiated by Christian conservative parents that claimed their children were discouraged from bringing Valentines Day cards with religious messages to their classrooms -- was a profound dud, what should we make of the latest evocation of "war on" phraseology by Christian conservatives?

According to the good folks at Vision America (VA), there's a "war on Christians" being waged in this country. You want proof? Consider the following nuggets provided by VA:

- Christmas symbols and greetings purged
- Judge bans "In God We Trust" from Pledge of Allegiance
- Chaplain told he can't pray in Jesus' name
- Removal of 10 Commandments monuments
- Move to stifle religious expression at Air Force Academy
- Christians arrested for praying at a "gay pride" rally in Philadelphia
- Homosexual "marriage" by judicial decree in Mass.
- Blasphemous "Da Vinci Code" movie hits theaters in May
- Churches torched in Alabama
- Court says parental rights end at schoolhouse door

While whining about Christians being under attack has been a standard operating tool of the religious right, Vision America has taken it to a new level, organizing the first full-fledged conference devoted to presenting evidence that there's a "war on Christians" in the United States.

The conference, called "The War on Christians and the Values Voter in 2006," will be held on March 27 and 28, at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Read the full report >


Bill Berkowitz
March 19, 2006

Pastor John Hagee spearheads Christians United for Israel

CUFI aims to set up working groups in all 50 states, lobby Congress and become a Christian AIPAC

Although charismatic televangelist Pastor John Hagee thinks that the Rev. Pat Robertson's suggestion that Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's stroke was payback from God for withdrawing from Gaza was "insensitive and unnecessary," he nevertheless appears to share Robertson's concern that Israel may be giving up too much land to the Palestinians.

To prevent the Bush Administration from ramrodding the Israelis into turning over even more land, Hagee, the pastor of San Antonio's Cornerstone Church, and the head of a multi-million dollar evangelical enterprise, recently brought together 400 Christian evangelical leaders -- representing as many as 30 million Christians -- for an invitation-only "Summit on Israel." The result was the launching of a new pro-Israeli lobbying group called Christians United for Israel .

Although not as well known on the national political scene as some of his evangelical counterparts, Hagee has built an impressive evangelical empire and developed strong political ties to the Republican Party. Since his 1978 "conversion" to Zionism, he has emphasized establishing and maintaining good relations with Israeli leaders and certain sectors of the American Jewish community. Over the years he has met with Israeli heads of state and he's carving out a special relationship with former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is once again seeking that office in the upcoming election in Israel. Hagee is also a longtime supporter of Rep. Tom DeLay, the embattled and indicted Texas congressman who recently handily won the Republican Party primary in his district. "Think of CUFI as a Christian version of American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)," the powerful pro-Israel lobby, Hagee told The Jerusalem Post in an interview a few days before the early February summit.

Read the full report >


Bill Berkowitz
March 10, 2006

The coming crack up in the Christian Right: Fact or fiction?

Focus on the Family's Dr. James Dobson calls for civil debate after being attacked by evangelical brethren

Focus on the Family's Dr. James Dobson was recently roughed up for supporting legislation that some on the right have charged is too "gay-friendly." When more than 80 highly respected evangelical leaders signed onto the Evangelical Climate Initiative -- a campaign recognizing that global warming is a serious threat to the planet -- they were blasted for cavorting with the enemy. And even the Rev. Pat Robertson -- once considered untouchable by his Christian right colleagues -- has gotten cuffed around by former close associates over a string of controversial commentaries he's made over the past several months.

Is the Christian conservative movement heading for a crack up? Or, are right-wing watchers making much ado about much too little?

Dr. Dobson, the founder of the Colorado Springs, Colorado-based Focus on the Family, a multi-million dollar mega-media ministry, received heat from Christian conservatives who accused him of being soft on gays because he had expressed support for a bill in the Colorado state legislature making it easier for non-traditional partners to share certain benefits.

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Bill Berkowitz
March 3, 2006

Michael Joyce (1942-2006)

Former Bradley Foundation czar's investments in privatization and faith-based initiatives helped build the modern conservative movement

Michael JoyceIf there was a Hall of Fame for right wing philanthropists and their facilitators -- and who knows, the Heritage Foundation just might establish such an institution some day -- one of its first inductees would undoubtedly be Michael Joyce.

In 1986, Joyce was named in an Atlantic Monthly article as "one of the three people most responsible for the triumph of the conservative political movement." Waldemar Nielson, in his book on the foundation movement, Golden Donors, said Joyce was "pretty close to being the central figure [in conservative philanthropy]." He was once called "the godfather of modern philanthropy" by noted neo-conservative Irving Kristol.

Shortly after the first inauguration of President George W. Bush, Paul Gigot of the Wall Street Journal, wrote in that newspaper, "Michael Joyce is the closest thing to the original source for what Mr. Bush is trying to accomplish."

When Joyce retired from the Bradley Foundation, Bradley Board Chairman Allen M. Taylor pointed out that he had made "extraordinary contributions to the Foundation and to the world of philanthropy." Joyce "built a start-up into a nationally respected institution and leaves a durable record of remarkable accomplishment. His work will be remembered with pride, not only in Milwaukee and Wisconsin but throughout the nation. We all owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude and wish him well in his future endeavors. He still has much to give."

Joyce, who died last Friday at age 63 from liver illness, earned his well-deserved reputation as a major shaker of the right wing money-tree during his 16-year reign (1985-2001) as head of the Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation. He was a pioneering force behind the privatization of welfare -- funding initiatives that led to the Wisconsin Works program in Wisconsin -- and private school vouchers -- which is experiencing a rebirth through the Bush Administration's recently proposed budget.

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Bill Berkowitz
March 2, 2006

A quiet fifth anniversary for Bush's faith-based initiative

Despite the lack of media attention and grumbling from Bush supporters, the president's faith-based initiative continues apace

With the Bush Administration on the defensive over the Iraq War, official reports detailing its horrendously slow response to Hurricane Katrina, the controversy over its use of the NSA to spy on Americans, the Abramoff Affair, and a vice-president who may be up to his knickers in Plamegate, it was somewhat surprising that the White House allowed January 29 -- the fifth anniversary of President Bush's faith-based initiative (FBI) -- to slip by the boards.

Consider this theoretical made-for-TV moment: Hundreds of poor people of all races and religions gather with an embattled president on the lawn at the White House. One-by-one, folks step forward and testify to the power and the glory of President Bush's "armies of compassion" -- the forces unleashed by his faith-based initiative. Some speak of how religious organizations receiving government grants helped lift them out of poverty; some testify fiercely about their recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction. Some say their families were provided special housing and educational opportunities. Several former prison inmates praise the program's emphasis on rehabilitation, and how job training they received resulted in decent paying jobs.

While an up-close-and-personal White House gathering might not have lifted the president's paltry approval numbers, it certainly couldn't have hurt; and it would have publicized the fact that the centerpiece of President Bush's "compassionate conservative" domestic agenda was bearing fruit. Such a moment might even have been the launching pad for congressional legislation institutionalizing the faith-based initiative. Instead, on the fifth anniversary of the Bush Administration's faith based initiative, the White House lawn was quiet, raising fundamental questions about the program.

Read the full report >


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Andrew J. Weaver &
Nicole Seibert

Andrew J. Weaver, et. al.
Bill Berkowitz
Bryan G. Pfeifer
Dave Johnson
David Domke
David Rubenstein
Dennis Redovich
Eric Alterman
Jerry Landay
Mark & Louise Zwick
Max Blumenthal
Michael Winship
Phil Wilayto
Rob Levine