In case you missed it, Bob Smietana at the Tennessean has a must-read investigation following the money behind the self-styled "Anti-Jihad" activists fueling the backlash against a planned mosque in Murfreesboro. Conclusion: It's kind of a racket:
Former Tennessee State University physics professor Bill French runs the Nashville-based, for-profit Center for the Study of Political Islam. He spoke recently to a group of opponents of the Murfreesboro mosque gathered at a house in Murfreesboro...
"This offends Allah," said French, pointing to the flag on the wall. "You offend Allah."
French, who has no formal education in religion, believes Islam is not a religion. Instead, he sees Islam and its doctrine and rules—known as Shariah law—as a totalitarian ideology.
"Center for the Study of Political Islam" sounds harmless, right? It gets worse, though. Last year, Steven Emerson, founder of the totally innocuous-sounding Investigative Project on Terrorism Foundation, funneled $3.4 million from IPTF (a tax-exempt non-profit) to a for-profit company he also founded, SAE Productions. The two organizations share the same address in Washington, DC, and in both cases, he's the only executive.
Last week I told you about "Miss Liberty America," the beauty pageant that, among other things, will evaluate contestants based on marksmanship (rifles and pistols only), CPR, fitness, and knowledge of the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence. I referred to it, somewhat in jest, as "the first-ever Tea Party beauty pageant." This morning I received a message from Alicia Hayes-Roberts, sister of Tea Party presidential candidate Rutherford B. Hayes, and founder of the pageant. Her concern? Being tagged as a Tea Party operation might be bad for business.
"We don't want to be associated with that," Hayes-Roberts told me. "We're a corporation, we are a for-profit operation, and I can't have that."
For one thing, she explained, Miss Liberty America is hoping to promote diversity (the judging panel "will consist equally of African American, Caucasian, Hispanic, and Asian judges to more closely represent America"), and Hayes-Roberts is concerned that the Tea Party tag might complicate matters. For another, she just doesn't consider the event's core message to be anything out of the mainstream. "This fringe
you've got fringe on the left, fringe on the right. I want to be associated with what the meat of America is."
"I'm trying to bring people together, not separate people. And there are some organizations that do nothing but segregate people."
So let me clarify: Miss Liberty America is not a Tea Party pageant; it's just a beauty pageant that awards a lifetime NRA membership to the winner, has a goal of "restoring Liberty to the United States" and promotes "personal responsibility," employs a North American Union-fearing presidential candidate as its Chief Financial Officer, and quizzes its contestants on the founding documents. For the record.
Earlier this week, I introduced you to Obama's unlikeliest 2012 challenger (well, other than the Naked Cowboy): Rutherford B. Hayes, a Navy veteran and high-school dropout who's the chief financial officer of Miss Liberty America, the first and only Tea Party beauty pageant. Yesterday, I spoke with Hayes about his campaign.
The first thing Rutherford Bert Hayes makes clear to me is that he is absolutely not related to the disgraced and undemocratically-elected nineteenth president, Rutherford Birchard Hayes. Nor is he even named for the man known to his contemporaries as "Rutherfraud." "It is a coincidence," he says. "Obviously, my dad is a Hayes. But my mother was not, obviously. And her grandpa was named Rutherford. And so it was just a coincidence, because she loved her grandfather, that she named me Rutherford. And then the last name just followed. The nineteenth president, his name was Birchard. And I'm glad I didn't get that. I had enough problems with the name Bert as a kid. You know like, 'Hey Bert, where's Ernie?'"
Hayes is not a Birchard; he is, however, something of a birther: "My birth certificate is Rutherford B. Hayes. That is my real name. And I do have a birth certificate." He explains later in our conversation, "I just kind of put that in there as a jab because [Obama's] had issues with his birth certificate. And the first thing he did when he was in office was seal his records. I mean, I don't kow all the aspects of this stuff, but there have been things that I've seen that definitely question it."
Photo/Tim MurphyUnbeknown to me, while I was finishing up my own 43-state road trip, Joe Klein was doing more or less the same thing for Time. Klein hit 12 states and nearly 7,000 miles over nearly a month, which he wrote up for the magazine's cover story last week. There's plenty of good color in there, but his takeaway seems woefully deaf:
I found the same themes dominant everywhere — a rethinking of basic assumptions, a moment of national introspection. There was a unanimous sense that Washington was broken beyond repair.
Klein's big revelation is—I hope you're sitting down—that to people in "the middle of the country," the main concern "our politicians aren't talking about in an angry and anxious election season" is jobs. Who knew?
So here's the news: The angst and the rampant anger that is making America such a dangerous place right now are completely rooted in secular, faith-free issues. There are no cultural, moral or religious issues at play at the moment. And there will be no wave of post-election data from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life that demonstrates, once again, that frequent visits to pews or sanctuaries have anything to do with how Americans make their decisions when they pull levers in voting booths.
Photo Courtesy of the University of Texas at AustinMeet your 45th president, America. He's the same as the 19th, really, only without the beard.
That would be 2012 candidate Rutherford B. Hayes (no relation to the former president), a Gulf War veteran-turned-businessman and as of today, aspiring leader of the free world. He's also something of a Tea Partier; according to his website, Hayes's most important order of business in Washington will be to weed out "socialists, communists, and marxists, as well as sensatiable[sic] condescending egos." Time permitting, he'll get us out of Afghanistan, institute a 10-percent flat tax, withdraw from the United Nations, return to the gold standard, abolish the IRS, fire all teachers who "indoctrinate children," and undo the core tenets of his predecessor's "unconstitutional" health care reform.
Whether the (kind of) famous name will be an asset or a liability, though, remains to be seen
—Hayes was, after all, swept into office with the help of a systematic vote-suppression scheme and a series of backroom deals; "Rutherfraud" was like the 1870s answer to "Nobama," except all of the allegations were true.
Hayes—the living one—has not responded to MoJo's requests for comment, but we'll let you know when he does. In the meantime, he seems to be keeping busy. According to his website, he's currently the Chief Financial Officer for "Miss Liberty America," believed to be the first-ever Tea Party beauty paegant. Except it's so, so much more than that:
The contestants will be judged in categories of personal interview, swimsuit, evening gown, beauty, talent, questions regarding the documents of America's founding fathers, and Marksmanship! This will be the first pageant of its kind to introduce competency in the handling, safety and use of firearms, and CPR! The contestants must be able to save a life as well as defend one!