Archive for the ‘Joe Straus’ Category

Far Right Fails in GOP Speaker Vote

January 10, 2011

A large majority of Republicans in the Texas House have rejected demands by far-right groups by indicating that they will support the re-election of Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, as House speaker. The vote in the Republican House caucus represents a major defeat for far-right pressure groups like Texas Eagle Forum and Liberty Institute (the Texas affiliate of Focus on the Family) and extremists like David Barton and Peter Morrison, all of whom demanded that GOP House members replace Straus with a speaker who would be more obedient to their divisive legislative agenda.

The full House will vote for speaker on Tuesday, but the decision of the GOP House caucus appeared to ensure Straus’ re-election. Of course, Straus is a conservative, and given that the GOP holds a 101-49 edge in the House, conservative Republicans are expected to hold most committee chairmanships. Some are likely to be very conservative. So the legislative session will still be a tough battle. Help the Texas Freedom Network defend mainstream values like religious freedom and civil liberties at the Legislature by joining a Rapid Response Team today.

Race-Baiting E-mails

January 10, 2011

One of the state’s right-wing extremists who has been among the most vocal in demanding the replacement of Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, as speaker of the Texas House appears to have a stunningly ignorant understanding of civil rights history. In a new e-mail commentary about the speaker’s race on Friday, Peter Morrison insists that the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is a “racist” law:

“[T]he Voting Rights Act is a nearly 50 year old law that unconstitutionally discriminates against southern states. It’s a racist law that presumes black people can only be represented by black people, and that white voters in southern states are wicked racists who are always out to deny black people their right to vote.”

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Backlash Against the Right in Speaker Fight?

January 5, 2011

The fight among Texas Republicans over who should be speaker of the state House of Representatives is getting hotter. We suggested on Tuesday that over-the-top efforts by far-right pressure groups and their extremist supporters to replace Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, may well alienate other Republicans. That point was made clearer in a letter from a House Republican made public today by the Austin-based political website Quorum Report (subscription required).

The letter from state Rep. Sid Miller, R-Stephenville, is addressed to right-wing gadfly Donna “Jeffrey Dahmer Believed in Evolution” Garner. Garner, David Barton and groups like Texas Eagle Forum and Liberty Institute (the Texas affiliate of Focus on the Family) have been demanding that Republicans replace Speaker Straus with a hardliner like state Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, or Ken Paxton, R-McKinney. Some far-right activists have gone so far as to demand the election of a “Christian conservative” speaker over Straus (who is Jewish). And Garner’s attacks have been particularly misleading. In fact, PolitiFact Texas recently rated one particular Garner claim as a “Pants on Fire” lie. Rep. Miller went after Garner’s truth-twisting in his letter to her:

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Anti-Straus Forces Step Up Pressure

December 20, 2010

Religious-right groups are taking the highly unusual step of calling a public rally next month at the state Capitol in Austin to demand the removal of Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, as Speaker of the Texas House. This  newest intimidation tactic comes after a weeks-long religious campaign against Straus in which Straus opponents have noted that other candidates for Speaker are Christians. Straus is Jewish. Nonpartisan organizations such as PolitiFact have also flagged the anti-Straus campaign for distortions and outright lies.

The public rally, set for Jan. 11, is just one more step in the far right’s efforts to elect an obedient House Speaker who is willing to put extremist policies ahead of the Legislature’s most important work in the coming session — closing a massive budget deficit, tackling election redistricting, strengthening public education and helping working families who are struggling in a difficult economy. Two years ago Straus replaced the last Speaker who was beholden to the far right, Tom Craddick. Under Craddick’s six-year, autocratic tenure, legislators regularly faced intimidation and pressure tactics to force them to vote for policies like draining money from neighborhood public schools to subsidize private and religious schools, gutting the Children’s Health Insurance Program and tearing down the wall separating church and state.

The Right Lies Again in the TX Speaker Battle

December 13, 2010

TFN Insider has already reported about the religious campaign the far right has been waging against Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio. Now PolitiFact offers a clear example of how the religious right is also spreading distortions and falsehoods in the effort to replace Straus with another speaker far more likely to obey their commands on radical social policies.

PolitiFact notes today that Texas Eagle Forum has claimed that Straus “was co-author of a bill that would have allowed Planned Parenthood to control public school sex education.” But after looking at the public record, PolitiFact rates that claim as a “Pants on Fire” lie.

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A ‘Christian, Conservative’ Speaker

December 1, 2010

That’s what one State Republican Executive Committee member says he — and, supposedly, other Texans — wants as the next Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives. The Texas Observer reports that SREC member John Cook said the following to another committee member in a Thursday (Nov. 30) e-mail:

“WE elected a house with Christian, conservative values. We now want a true Christian, conservative running it. This is not about Straus, this is about getting what the people want.”

The report about Cook’s e-mail comes as Christian-right pressure groups insist that they haven’t embarked on a religious crusade to replace current Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, a San Antonio Republican who is Jewish. (See here and here for more about that.)

Bigotry and the Texas Speaker’s Race II

November 16, 2010

Has the religious right’s effort to topple Texas House Speaker Joe Straus become an anti-Semitic smear campaign? Quorum Report (subscription required) has now posted various e-mails from groups and individuals opposed to Straus, who is Jewish. Excerpts:

“Straus is going down in Jesus name.”

“[W]e finally found a Christian conservative who decided not to be pushed around by the Joe Straus thugs.”

Another e-mail calls for replacing Straus as House Speaker so

“…that our nation will again prosper and hold to values that the Christians and Republicans hold so dear in their souls.”

Peter Morrison, who writes a right-wing e-mail newsletter, has also joined the anti-Straus battalion in the increasingly vicious Republican civil war. As Kronberg reports, a Morrison e-mail last week said that Straus’ rabbi sits on a Planned Parenthood board and then pointed out that Straus’ opponents in the Speaker’s race “are Christians and true conservatives.”

Morrison’s e-mail didn’t surprise us. TFN Insider long ago reported about the race-baiting screeds found in “Morrison Report” e-mails. See here and here for samples. Kronberg reports that VDARE.com, which the Southern Poverty Law Center calls a “white nationalist” website, regularly posts Morrison’s e-mails. In one post on VDARE, for example, Morrison suggests that affirmative action is all about “punishing white people” and turning them into “second class citizens.” Now Morrison seems to think that leadership of the state House of Representatives should be reserved for Christians. Big surprise.

Religious Bigotry and the Texas Speaker’s Race

November 15, 2010

Harvey Kronberg of the Austin-based political news website Quorum Report says religious-right pressure groups are running a deceitful campaign in the contest among Republicans for Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives. Many religious-righters claim Speaker Joe Straus, a San Antonio Republican, hasn’t been conservative enough for them (a bogus charge, other Republicans say). And Kronberg reports that religious-right groups are using an especially offensive line of attack:

“Now, the so-called grassroots effort has crossed over the line with coordinated email and robocall [recorded phone messages] programs calling for a true Christian speaker. Straus is Jewish.

Republicans won an enormous victory on Election Day. How they govern themselves will tell us a lot about how they intend to govern the rest of us.”

Listen to Kronberg’s full commentary for Austin’s News 8 cable channel here.

Religious-right pressure groups want a speaker like Warren Chisum of Pampa or Ken Paxton of McKinney. Those two rigid ideologues are more likely to promote the right’s divisive “culture war” agenda — even if it distracts from the Legislature’s key task of closing a massive budget deficit that threatens to further damage the state’s economy.

TFN Insider looked at the religious right’s campaign against Straus here.

Religious Right Targets Speaker Straus

November 10, 2010

Battle lines are forming in the newest “culture war” flash point in Texas: the state House of Representatives. In fact, religious-right pressure groups are working furiously to replace Republican Joe Straus of San Antonio with a hard-right Speaker of the House. Each day brings a new attack in the far right’s “scorched earth” strategy, with pressure groups denouncing Speaker Straus and his GOP supporters as “liberals” and “RINOs,” or “Republicans in name only.”

Dave Welch, head of the far-right Texas Pastor Council, suggests that Straus stands in the way of “moral law.” In an e-mail Monday, Welch even called on clergy to contact House members in opposition to Straus.

On Tuesday the president of the anti-everything Texas Eagle Forum, Pat Carlson, sent an e-mail to far-right activists attacking Straus: “We must not allow him to be elected speaker again.”

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