The Occupy Wall Street protests have entered their second month.
The Occupy Wall Street movement is so unlike the tea party movement in so many ways it's almost worth dismissing the comparison entirely as a totally contrived media-generated narrative. Almost. But there is one key similiarity: Both groups have become, in the eyes of their opponents, a symbol for everything that's wrong with American politics. They are their brothers' punching bags. Which is why Occupiers and tea partiers sort of freak out when you make the comparison; it's like being told to look in the mirror and finding out that you've suddenly sprouted three heads.
The protesters weren't the number-one topic of discussion at the Values Voter Summit in DC—that would probably be President Barack Obama's continued assault on American values. But the nationwide demonstrations were a recurring theme on stage and among the rank-and-file attendees. Over the course of the weekend, a consensus began to form about who these protesters were and what shadowy groups might be behind them.
Ian Freeman's campaign of civil disobedience started on the autumn day in 2008 when the Blue Light Gang came for his couch. It was a plaid three-seater, anonymous even by the standards of living-room furniture, except that it occupied prime real estate on the front lawn of his two-story, white-and-green renter in Keene, New Hampshire. His tenants used it for bird-watching. But in this quiet college town near the Vermont border, that put him on the wrong side of a city ordinance that considers such exterior furnishings "rubbish." A neighbor lodged a complaint. Code enforcement—the Blue Light Gang, as Freeman calls them—asked him to get rid of the couch. He refused. A man has to stand for something.
In court, Freeman (whose given surname is Bernard) represented himself and grilled the lone witness, a city code enforcer. He refused to plead guilty—or not guilty, for that matter—and instead asked the city to pay him a $5,000-per-hour appearance fee (PDF); otherwise he'd consider it kidnapping. The court was not amused. What started as a fine for littering (PDF) escalated to a 90-day jail sentence for three counts of contempt plus an additional three days for violating the rubbish rules. (Freeman ultimately served four days.)
Dallas pastor's call for Evangelical voters to apply a religious test on GOP presidential candidates has put Rick Perry's campaign in hot water.
Dallas pastor Robert Jeffress says that he is not going to be Rick Perry's Jeremiah Wright. That's probably true. But Jeffress, who introduced Perry at the Values Voter Summit on October 7, certainly isn't doing the Texas governor any favors with his argument that Mitt Romney belongs to a cult (Mormonism) and holds religious views that should be held against him at the polls this winter. Jeffress's appearance on-stage was approved by the Perry campaign, according to the event's organizer, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins.
It's only getting worse. Alex Burns flags comments Jeffress made at his church on Sunday that, "Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Mormonism are all false religions and I stand by those statements." But Jeffress left one major world religion out: Judaism. That wasn't always the case. Here's what he said in his Politically Incorrect lecture series in 2010:
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has made illegal immigration an issue in the GOP presidential race.
You probably heard about Mitt Romney's on-stage condemnation of an anti-Muslim* speaker at the Values Voter Summit this weekend in Washington, DC. But there was another, less-noticed truth-to-power moment at the conference: Liberty University law school dean Matt Staver calling out his fellow conservatives for policies and language that alienate Latinos.
"Personally I am very concerned about who occupies that White House, but I'm also very concerned about the future of the Latino population," Staver said in his Friday afternoon address. "And I'm concerned that we will push them...into a liberal, political, leftist machine that is contrary to their values but also is seemingly open to them I am concerned about the rhetoric conservatives use with regard to the Latino community. They are not our enemies; they are our friends, they are our allies, and we need to engage them."
Mitt Romney came in sixth place at the Values Voter straw poll, with just 4 percent of the vote.
If Mitt Romney has ever had a "Sista Soulja moment," it came on Saturday morning at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, when he called out a scheduled speaker, the American Family Association's Bryan Fischer, for using "poisonous" rhetoric. Speaking to a crowd that politely acknowledged his best lines but hardly embraced him, Romney did not refer to Fischer by name (a fact that left the many attendees who do not receive email alerts from People for the American Way utterly confused) and did not specificy what exactly set him off. But there's no question about this: Romney made absolutely certain that his comments—and the role of Mormons in the GOP coalition—would be a dominant topic at the event.
Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, the host for this weekend's festival, came to Fischer's defense (sort of) when I asked him about the speech. "Discourse is important," he said. "But we don't want anybody shutting down the debate, and that's part of the problem with maybe more inflamed rhetoric, is there is one side that's trying to shut down the debate. The left is trying to shut off debate and not have a discussion." Perkins said he didn't know enough about Fischer's statements to comment on them.