Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Heads Up, Houston

November 7, 2011

Our friends at Thompson & Knight, LLP and the Houston Society of the Archaeological  Institute of America have asked us to extend an invitation to TFN members and supporters in the Houston area to attend an event next week:

The First Wild, Wild West:
Jamestown Archaeology and the Origins of Modern America

featuring Dr. Bill Kelso

5:30 to 6:30 pm
Tuesday, November 15

Thompson & Knight, LLP
333 Clay Street, Houston, Texas, 77002
( free parking at the Allen Center Garage)

The topic should be of interest to TFN Insider devotees:

“The lecture will explore the earliest successful English settlement in North America and remember those days before the Founding Fathers crafted the First Amendment and separated church from state. In this Thanksgiving season, we’re going all the way back to Jamestown, where the first representative government in English-speaking North America, the Virginia General Assembly, met inside the Anglican Church just outside the fortress walls where Pocahontas married John Rolfe in 1614.  There is no better way to see how much progress has been made during these last 400 years in America than to look with clear eyes and the best scientific tools available at the early colonial foundations of our modern world.”

The event is free and open to the public, but they do ask that you register to reserve your seat beforehand (which you can do by clicking here).


Separated at Birth

October 11, 2011

Has anyone ever seen the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer and Dallas First Baptist Church Pastor Robert Jeffress together in the same room at the same time? No, I’m not implying that one is Clark Kent and that the other is Superman. What I’m saying is, well, this:

“Because my argument all along has been that the purpose of the First Amendment is to protect the free exercise of the Christian
religion.” — Bryan Fischer

“However, the fact that our Constitution demands that everyone have the freedom to embrace any religious beliefs, or no religious beliefs, does not mean that the government cannot demonstrate a preference for Christianity.” — Robert Jeffress


Disarming the SBOE Culture Warriors

September 9, 2011

Earlier today the TFN Education Fund released an analysis of Senate Bill 6, a piece of legislation that was signed into law earlier this summer. SB 6 includes a provision that has received little attention from the general public, but that promises to have a considerable impact on what Texas children learn in public schools. SB also disarms the culture warriors on the State Board of Education by stripping them of some of their power to inject personal agendas and partisan politics into textbooks.

Below is the press release issued this morning. You can read the bill analysis here (PDF).


Follow Our The Response Coverage

August 6, 2011

We are at Gov. Rick Perry’s The Response to observe. Follow our updates at and watch for #theresponse.

Technical Issues

June 1, 2011

UPDATE: We hope we have these technical issues resolved. Fingers crossed.

TFN Insider has been experiencing some strange technical issues the last two days. We apologize if you’ve had problems accessing the blog. We’re working on it and hope to have everything smoothed out soon.

The Week in Quotes (May 15 – 21)

May 21, 2011

Here are some of the week’s most notable quotes culled from news reports from across Texas, and beyond.


Interesting Timing, Chuck

May 2, 2011

We hope we don’t get beat down for daring to mess with Chuck Norris, but here goes.

For a while now, the movie and TV star — and now far-right icon — has been penning opinion pieces for the far-right propagandist website WorldNetDaily. In part three of what he calls the “Top 10 U.S. infiltrations of Shariah law,” Norris repeats a familiar far-right meme in which he accuses President Obama of being more concerned with advancing Muslim interests (and pro-Sharia radicalism) than he is with advancing America and its interests.

From Norris’ article:

There is no greater proponent of the partnership of America and Islam (and therefore Shariah) than President Obama himself. I’m not saying he is a Muslim but a Muslim advocate and apologist. He said it himself. He declared his explicit mission in Cairo in June 2009 for the whole world to hear, when he vowed to establish “a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world. … That experience guides my conviction that partnership between America and Islam must be based on what Islam is, not what it isn’t. And I consider it part of my responsibility as president of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.” Have you ever heard of a president talk about “partnership between America and [the religion of] Islam”? And a presidential responsibility to “fight” for the Islamic religion? Or are we naïve enough to believe that Obama’s “fight” will never entail an advocacy for Shariah law when it permeates Islam?

Here’s where it gets ironic and amusing. Norris’ latest article was no doubt set to auto-publish, which it did … at 1 a.m. EST this morning, a mere 90 minutes after President Obama confirmed Osama bin Laden had been killed on his orders.

It would probably stand to reason that if President Obama is the Muslim-lovin’, pro-Sharia secret Muslim that Norris claims he is, then the president wouldn’t be too interested in killing bin Laden, who was A) Muslim, and B) pro-radical Islam.

The timing of Norris’ article was unfortunate — for him. But amusing for us.

Hat tip: Right Wing Watch.

Of Pandas and Texas

January 20, 2011

Breaking news from today’s State Board of Education meeting. The long and short of it — the war on science is officially back on in Texas.

See TFN’s press statement for the basics. And watch TFN Insider for more in the days to come.


Texas SBOE Asked To Consider Materials from Fringe Anti-Science Group

January 20, 2011

In a move that should not surprise anyone, a well-known creationist/“intelligent design” group appeared on a list of publishers that have indicated an intent to submit science curriculum materials for approval by the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) later this spring. The formal inclusion of this creationist group means Texas will once again be ground zero for creationist attacks on 21st-century science, TFN President Kathy Miller said.

“In 2009 the State Board of Education approved new science curriculum standards that opened the door to creationist materials in Texas classrooms. Today we saw that one prominent creationist group intends to walk through that door,” Miller said. “Getting their materials in public schools has long been a top priority for creationists, and it’s clear that they intend to make Texas their flagship. Teaching inaccurate information rejected by the scientific community would be a huge disservice to Texas kids and a major setback for science education everywhere.”


‘The Willingness to Die’

January 12, 2011

Think the tea party is going to tone down its violent rhetoric in the wake of the horrific shooting that left six innocent people dead in Arizona last weekend?

Think the religious right is willing to let lawmakers focus on critical fiscal issues in these tough economic times?

Think the far right has recognized the need for compromise to govern in a sharply divided nation?

Not in Texas.

“Do they [politicians] have the willingness to die to overturn the tyranny we see not only in this nation but in this state? That’s what it’s going to take. Do you hear me? That’s what it’s gonna take!”

That’s Apostle Clāver T. Kamau-Imani of a group called “Raging Elephant,” speaking at a rally of several hundred tea party activists at the Texas Capitol on Tuesday. Kamau-Imani and other speakers left little doubt about what their extremist vision for politics in Texas entails.


Jesus Favored Tax Cuts for the Rich?

December 17, 2010

In case you missed it, on his show last night Stephen Colbert gave a theology lesson to Bill O’Reilly and the other sanctimonious supply-siders who draft Jesus into their “no help for the poor” army.

Because if this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we’ve got to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we’ve got to acknowledge that he commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition. And then admit that we just don’t want to do it.

Check it out. It’s not to be missed.


October 30, 2010

A note to TFN Insider readers:

We have noticed that some legitimate comments from readers get caught by a WordPress spam filter. It’s actually a pretty good filter — nearly all spam comments are caught before we ever see them (and we get hundreds of spam comments on unrelated topics ranging from Nigerian royalty who need a temporary bank account to websites that promise — guaranteed! — to improve certain physical attributes.) Unfortunately, the filter occasionally catches legitimate comments, too. That happens most often when a comment includes a link (and especially if it includes two or more links) or an image. But not always. We’ve seen some comments from regular posters caught by the spam filter even if they include nothing that might trigger such a filter (like links). We don’t monitor the spam folder because of the large volume of spam comments that get sent there, and we approve nearly all legitimate comments we see pending. So if you have posted a comment and can’t figure out why you haven’t seen it show up, it’s likely to be a case of the moderator being unable to get to it yet or that it has been caught by the spam filter in error. Apologies from us for that.

By the way, this is a good time also for us to remind readers about our comments policy.

SBOE Campaign Finance Reports – 8 Days Out

October 28, 2010

The final campaign finance reports before next Tuesday’s election were released earlier this week, detailing funds raised and expended over the period of September 24 – October 23. They suggest we might be in for an eventful closing week in some of the hotly contested SBOE races. Here are a few of the notable findings from these reports:

District 10

  • Democratic candidate Judy Jennings continued her strong fundraising performance, reporting another $32,000 raised during this period. She also reported expenditures in excess of $71,000, mostly on media purchases. The Jennings campaign reported just over $13,000 on hand heading into the final 8 days of the campaign.
  • Jennings’ Republican opponent Marsha Farney also reported more than $58,000 in media expenditures during the period. However, Farney reported minimal funds raised during the period, so she appears to be dipping into her own pockets for these purchases  — just as TFN Insider predicted last month.

District 5

  • Republican incumbent Ken Mercer enters the home stretch with just over $16,000 on hand. Mercer continues to spend comparatively small amounts on his campaign (though he did send a donation of $100 to the far-right group Texas Alliance for Life).
  • Democratic challenger Rebecca Bell-Metereau raised more than $32,000 during the reporting period, and spent almost $62,000 on television spots and other advertising.

Other interesting items

  • Houston homebuilder and major Republican donor Bob Perry took another step into the world of SBOE politics, contributing $5,000 each to the campaigns of Bob Craig (R, Lubbock) and George Clayton (R-Dallas). (Perry previously gave $5,000 each to the Garza and Mercer campaigns.)
  • Republican donor Michael Boylan of Houston jumped into two SBOE contests, giving $5,000 each to Carlos Garza (SBOE Dist. 1) and Ken Mercer.

Links to campaign finance reports for all of the SBOE candidates after the jump.

*Update: The original post stated that the last filing available for Thomas Ratliff, Republican candidate for SBOE 9, was from July. The Texas Ethics Commission has now updated the website, and Ratliff’s 8-day out report is now linked in the table below.


Celebrate with TFN This Week

October 4, 2010

The Texas Freedom Network celebrates its 15th anniversary at 7-10 p.m. this Thursday at a gala at the Bob Bullock Texas History Museum, 1800 Congress, in Austin. Please join us at our biggest event of the year! Purchase tickets or a sponsorship here.

TFN Honors Activists at 15th Anniversary Gala

September 29, 2010

The Texas Freedom Network celebrates its 15th anniversary on Oct. 7 in Austin. We would love to see you at the celebration. Click here to purchase tickets or to help sponsor the event. We sent out the following press release:

The Texas Freedom Network will honor two Texas activists for their extraordinary leadership on behalf of religious freedom, individual liberties and public education at the organization’s 15th anniversary celebration on October 7 in Austin.

“Our annual gala provides essential resources for the Texas Freedom Network to defend mainstream values under constant attack by religious and political extremists,” TFN President Kathy Miller said. “We are proud to honor these two dedicated activists at our 15th anniversary celebration.”

This year’s gala, which includes a silent auction, is at 7-10 p.m. at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum (1800 North Congress) in Austin. Tickets are $50, and sponsorships are available for up to $10,000.

TFN will honor Melessa Rodriguez with the organization’s annual Samantha Smoot Activist Award and Diane Ireson with the Walking the Walk Award that evening.


Barton Finally Gets University Gig

July 9, 2010

Well, we can no longer accuse wannabe historian David Barton of never holding an actual teaching position at a university. He can now add “professor at Glenn Beck University” to his vita.

A fake university and a fake historian — a match made in heaven.

Barton’s latest collaboration with his new BFF Glenn Beck of Fox News is typical Barton propaganda.  Barton is serving as the instructor of an online class called Faith 101, which launched this week on Beck’s “Inside Extreme” website.  This and two other courses, Hope 101 and Charity 101, are part of what Beck calls “Beck University” — a title Beck admits he chose to annoy people who don’t agree with the Beckian brand of frequently false, deliberately divisive and always outrageous assertions about issues and people in the news.  Subscribers pay $9.95 a month, and more classes are promised when the current weekly series ends on September 1.

Barton’s first lecture was full of the ideological hyperbole and specious factual claims that TFN Insider readers have become accustom to hearing from Barton, including this gem:

That means the Declaration of Independence is nothing more than a listing of all the sermons that folks had been hearing in church in the two decades leading up to the American Revolution.

We’re surprised that didn’t make its way into Texas’ new social studies curriculum standards, since Barton was appointed to an “expert” panel that advised the Texas SBOE on their recent controversial revision of the standards.

Predictably, those being introduced for the first time to Barton’s brand of sacred history don’t know whether to laugh or scream. Check out this segment from MSNBC’s Countdown last night, which features longtime Barton fact-checker Chris Rodda, author of Liars for Jesus.

Other early reactions have been similarly incredulous, as with this first-hand account from a “student” Talking Points Memo enrolled in Barton’s class.

TFN respects the right of all people to express their religious views, of course, but political partisans like Barton and Beck aren’t entitled to their own facts. And if there is one good thing about Barton’s new-found partnership with Beck, it is that his fringe opinions will be subjected to a much larger audience of fact-checkers.

Welcome to the world of peer review, David.