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Unless you were listening carefully, you might have missed Mitt Romney's dog whistle to the Christian Right in his speech in Tampa. But stick with me for a few short paragraphs, and you too can learn to hear -- and to deliver -- this year's dog whistle to the Christian Right.

In order to hear it like the dog being whistled to, as I know you would, really all you need to know is that the major Christian Right organizations have a simple and consistent message that has been gaining traction since the release of The Manhattan Declaration in 2009.  The Manhattan Declaration is the premier alliance of conservative evangelical and Catholic leaders. It was principally drafted by Catholic Right strategist, Robert George. They claim more than a half million people have joined with the likes of such original signers as Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, and James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family.

There are only three-closely related issues for the Christian Right.  Abortion, homosexuality and religious freedom -- in that order.  You might also see such variations on the theme, as life, marriage and religious liberty. But the meaning is essentially the same.  This is not to say that other issues are unimportant, but to say that these are the most important, and they are always stated in this way, in this order.

For example, the Family Research Council has jointly sponsored the Values Bus with the Heritage Foundation encouraging conservative voter participation. Their slogan -- in banners painted on the side of the bus: Your Money, Your Values, Your Vote. Heritage is mostly about the Money part. And FRC Action's stated agenda is:  "Defending Life, Marriage and Religious Liberty."   The Values Bus, BTW, will be in Charlotte during the Democratic Convention but, probably wisely, not at the convention itself.  

So you may be wondering, how did Romney do the dog whistle? Well your wait is over:

"As president, I will protect the sanctity of life. I will honor the institution of marriage. And I will guarantee America's first liberty: the freedom of religion."
There were other explicit panders to the Christian Right for those with ears to hear. But that is enough dog whistle training for today.

Meanwhile, here is a one minute video of Tony Perkins explaining what the Values Bus is all about.

Originally posted to Frederick Clarkson on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 07:23 PM PDT.

Also republished by Street Prophets , Abortion, and Pro Choice.

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Comment Preferences

  •  By making an alliance with the Christian right (19+ / 0-)

    Romney is inevitably forging an alliance with people that hate Romney's faith.

    The Christian right despise Mormonism (Latter Day Saints movement), and do not consider Mormonism to be a part of Christianity.

    It's political masochism, and a willingness to sell out your own people and your own dignity just to win votes.

    •  I have always thought that the strangest of all (11+ / 0-)

      bedfellows is the laying down of fundamentalists with mormons.

      But if your sole focus is having your agenda implemented, it's no stranger than Mitch McConnell's vow to obstruct Obama at any cost - regardless of the consequences to the country.  And his constituents.

      "I like paying taxes. With them I buy civilization." - United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes (Republican) -8.12, -5.18

      by ncarolinagirl on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 07:46:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  and we should milk it for all it's worth. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sandino, Bob Duck, CherryTheTart, Wee Mama

      Admittedly this is a crass tactic, but since it's not violent it's permissible:

      Raise questions.  Get on the religious-rightie boards and sites such as Yahoo News, and concern-troll them to death.  For example:  

      "My pastor told us that Mormons aren't really Christians.  I'm disappointed (the word "disappointment" is highly useful in this context) that we didn't nominate a real Christian, and I'm tempted to sit this one out."

      The key here is to spread the emotional narrative because that's what gets results:  Suspicion, disappointment, sit it out.

      "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

      by G2geek on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 09:09:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I doubt he cares (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      My impression is that Romney paid attention to his religion because it was useful to do so-- it was a stepping stone, a door opener, a network. His real creed is cash.

      Still, I doubt we will hear much Mormon bashing over the next few months. The party bosses will make sure of that.

      The one reassuring thing about Romney's shallowness is that I don't think he is a zealot or an armageddonist.

      •  he isn't, so he has to prove himself to them. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wintergreen8694, Olds88

        He isn't a zealot or an armageddonist: but he's counting on those constituencies for votes.  So he'll be under serious pressure to "prove himself" to them.

        This he'll do by nominating Supreme Court justices who can be counted on to rule reliably in the culture wars, and by ramping up the whole "faith-based" infrastructure, and by using relevant language in speeches.  Of these, the Supreme Court thing is the most dangerous.  

        What could Romney do to top Obama?

        Obama got Bin Laden, so Romney will be out to get Roe.

        This he would seek to do in his 2nd year in office, so the aftermath amps up the zealots for the mid-term election, and sweeps more Republicans into state legislatures.  

        Doing that would result in a rash of states passing anti-abortion laws and keeping the religious right fired up going into 2016, ensuring him a second term.

        Along the way, contraception will be "in play" as well, and in his second term, he'd be out to get Griswold.  

        "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

        by G2geek on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 11:37:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Romney's faith is Mammon (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      like all republicans.  The truly religious are just their suckers; thuggish cannon fodder and props for photo-ops.

  •  Liberal media! Lol. (5+ / 0-)

    The false equivalency of the MSM is the only thing that props up their bigoted asses.

    Thanks for your information, though I would hope that most here are already aware of the allusions.  But even if so, with everything going on today, we need to heighten our awareness and constantly work toward enlightening the unwary among relatives, friends, and acquaintances.

    I do take some satisfaction knowing that in the alliances the different partners really hate each other's guts, fake it as they must.

    Chief neoconservative/fundamentalist allied belief: All things are possible if only you lie.

    by blueoasis on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 07:39:47 PM PDT

    •  oh I dunno (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek, terabytes, Liberal Protestant

      Most people probably know the latest polls too. But we write about it and discuss it anyway.

      •  Oh, I didn't mean to suggest that it wasn't (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        G2geek, Liberal Protestant

        important.  Just that I hoped that members here would be aware, but even if so, it's important, I think, to hone the awareness and present the information with great clarity.

        Chief neoconservative/fundamentalist allied belief: All things are possible if only you lie.

        by blueoasis on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 08:11:49 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The piece that's new and important... (10+ / 0-) the order in which they present the issues, and you caught on to it first.  

        Most of us know that the religious right is all tweakled over abortion, homosexuality, and religion.  But what I didn't know, and I suspect many of us didn't know, is that the dog-whistle involves the arrangement of those items in order:

        Abortion, homosexuality, religion, in that order.

        "Sanctity of life, marriage, religious liberty."  Same thing, same ordering.  

        Semantic information consists of meaningful configurations of ordered bits.  Part of the meaning is in the words themselves; another part of it is in the arrangement of the words into recognizable phrases and sentences.  For example "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," immediately brings to mind the Declaration of Independence.

        Question is, what's the best way to disrupt their meme?  

        One phrase I saw that struck me as an instant viral meme was:  "nationalizing women's uteruses."  One could use the word "wombs" instead of "uteruses" to bring down the syllable count and increase the emotional resonance.  

        "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

        by G2geek on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 09:15:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  thanks (4+ / 0-)

          and yes, exactly right about the three points and the cadence of the Declaration.  (Hence the Manhattan Declaration.  As you know, the religious right is quite desperate to utilize the Declaration of Independence to promote its issues, such as the right to life (as if that had anything to do with abortion), even though it is of zero legal or Constitutional significance.  They have to do this because the Constitution, the history of its development and ratification and its interpretation in the 29th century, is not working in their favor.

          The reason why this is a dog whistle is not that the issues are obscure, its that you have to recognize it a  dog whistle in the first place.  Its also not the issues, its the three taken together, and spoken together in order that frames a coherent message, and conveys a shared worldview on the part of a very large and very motivated constituency that might be otherwise divided about, say, religious identity.

        •  There are all kinds of ways to disrupt memes. (5+ / 0-)

          If you are a woman, calmly right in their face works well:

          No thank you. I will have all the hot single sex I want to have, use contraceptives, and if I have an unwanted pregnancy, I may abort. My sex life is not subject to religious or public review.

          I live in my own home, which I own myself with my children. There is nothing in marriage for the modern woman.  51% of marriages are headed by women alone because women are voting with their feet.  Why buy the whole pig when all you want is six ounces of sausage.

          Happiness is a warm gun.

          When confronted in this way, there is no where for them to go but vituperative.  Once they go vituperative, they have lost bigtime. Just keep smiling and remain calm.

          If they say "I will pray for you," I say "Do not pray for me. God might think I hang out with you."

          As long as you treat religious zealots with kid gloves, you have lost and will forever lose the argument.  

          I used to be Snow White. And then I drifted. - Mae West

          by CherryTheTart on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 01:15:18 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  One thing he does is suggest that he finds the (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis, terabytes, wintergreen8694

    Declaration of Independence to be inspired.  Not by deist Jeffersons knowledge of the French Enlightenment, but by Jesus so we can get involved in Armageddon and bring about the end of the world.  And we get mystical help from Jesus, although the Jews expect help[ from their Messiah and the  Muslems expect the 6th Imman to show up.  Alas, nothing mystical has ever happened in the world outside of the mind of mystics so we would be left with one big mess if a magic believer like Willard ever got power.

    Although I believe that Bush the lesser believed he was doing enough to bring about the end times, thus his lack of attention to the budget.  Remember him babbling to Blair about Gog and Megog.

    Never promote men who seek after a state-established religion; it is spiritual tyranny--the worst of despotism. It is turnpiking the way to heaven by human law, in order to establish ministerial gates to collect toll. John Leland

    by J Edward on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 07:41:39 PM PDT

    •  "he who controls the past controls the future." (4+ / 0-)

      (Orwell; and the rest of that is "he who controls the future controls the present.")

      This is part of the religious right's attempt to rewrite history to pave the way for their intended theocracy.  Some of them are so brazen as to attempt to rewrite the Bible itself, per the "Conservative Bible Project", that intends to remove all of the references to Jesus' communistic teachings and behaviors.

      Though I'll quibble with you over this:

      You're misusing the word "mystical" for the idea "supernatural."

      Strictly speaking, mysticism is the branch of religion that deals with the direct personal experience of the deity or ground of being, unmediated by scriptural or clerical authority.  Mystics are notorious religious dissidents, consistent thorns in the side of the powers-that-be.  

      Nor does mysticism presuppose anything supernatural ("above or outside of nature").  Einstein spoke knowingly of "the sense of the mystical" in relation to the understanding of nature through science, and Einstein was clearly agnostic if not overtly atheistic.  

      An outbreak of popular mysticism would spell the E-N-D of the religious right.  

      "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

      by G2geek on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 09:22:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I get your point, I tend to use them (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        interchangably.  As a Deist who has no arguments with Jefferson and Paine I view irrational beliefs with great distain.  The God of Nature only gave us the ability to reason and figure out better and more productive answers than killing others of our species.  "Thou shall not kill" came from the old testament and has been widely ignored by both Christians and Jews.  I have always assumed it meant not to kill other humans since we have to eat and kill both plants and animals. I have to go with the Jefferson approach to Jesus and throw out all of the stuff Paul put in to sell the religion to the pagans.  There is quite enough left for Jefferson to call it the most sublime philosophy extant.

        Did you ever look into New England Transendentalism?

        Never promote men who seek after a state-established religion; it is spiritual tyranny--the worst of despotism. It is turnpiking the way to heaven by human law, in order to establish ministerial gates to collect toll. John Leland

        by J Edward on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 11:39:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  though, they're no more interchangeable than.... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Wee Mama

          .... the names of roughly-similar-looking animals, for example the way in which the terms "frog" and "toad", or "salamander" and "lizard," are often used interchangeably.  I wince when I see those, because they obscure rather than illuminate.    

          And where shall we draw the line between nonrational and irrational?  Nonrational thought, filtered through rational methods, has very often been the key to new scientific hypotheses and theories.  The more well-known examples include Kekule's hypnagogic (borderline-sleep state) image of a snake grasping its tail and rolling down the hill, from which he deduced the structure of the benzene ring; and Crick's then-legal LSD trip under the guidance of a psychedelic psychiatrist, in which he envisioned the double-helix structure of DNA.  There are numerous less-well-known examples throughout science and technology.    

          And what of the arts, where "truth" doesn't mean "hypotheses supported by measurements," but rather, "authenticity to an aesthetic ideal or to the human condition"...?  

          A certain amount of nonrationality is good for progress, and a large dose of irrationality is what helps reproduce the species.

          Transcendentalism: only in passing, though perhaps I should study it in greater depth.

          Killing animals and plants:  

          The basis for the belief that animals don't have souls, is the need to accommodate the cannibalism taboo.  This is made explicit in Hinduism and leads to the prohibition on killing at least certain types of animals, and it has variations around the world whereby we regard dogs as family but Southeast Asian cuisine regards them as livestock.  

          The more we learn about animal cognition, the more unsupportable becomes the "dividing line" between humans and other animals.  Logically this leads to vegetarianism with vitamin B-12 supplements, or at least to "vat meat."  

          But the real ethical dilemma would occur if there was evidence that plants had anything like minds.  From the perspective of science, that proposition is unsupported, plus or minus some questionable studies showing that plants reacted to the behaviors of humans.  But what if those studies were replicated?, and what if the conclusion was that plants have minds?  Then we would find ourselves in an ethical double-bind of large magnitude, seeking to subsist on purely synthetic foods.

          One can find some recourse in the premise that humans, as with other large animals, must subsist by predation upon plants and other animals, and that this is consistent with the rest of nature.  But ethical consistency calls for a more complete answer, backed up by the best available facts.

          "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

          by G2geek on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 01:45:05 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  "Religious Freedom" is an Election Theme This (8+ / 0-)

    year as a result of the recent health insurance birth control ruling.

    Normally for the fall election the Catholics in particular put up abortion messaging like the dead baby crosses we see in our area
    Image Hosted by

    but this year I'm seeing a huge amount of Religious Freedom signage either deployed or stacked up in waiting for the pay-attention season. I'm pretty sure the fundies are working this one too.

    So Romney's not merely dog whistling, he's joining a current issue war.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 07:51:43 PM PDT

  •  Religious freedom (11+ / 0-)

    Does Romney even really know what he's saying?  (I guess he does, but counts on us not to.)  One of the signal fallacies of the Christian right is the glossing of the difference between the free exercise clause and the establishment clause.  Prayer in the public schools is the classic example.  The establishment clause (that there be no officially sanctioned or promoted religion) generally prohibits requiring prayer in the public schools.  The free exercise clause (I can pursue whatever religion I choose, or no religion if I so choose) gives me wide latitude in my religious observance, but the Christian right conflates the two.  They're fond of making the specious claim that by prohibiting them from requiring prayer in the public schools, I abridge their free exercise.  If Mr Romney really endorses that position, then he's both a fool and a knave.

    Romney: The guy that laid off your father. Ryan: The guy that thinks your father should starve because he couldn't keep a job.

    by Liberal Protestant on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 08:21:30 PM PDT

    •  indeed (5+ / 0-)

      Religious freedom is being demagogued by the religious right and because that is so, it is likely to become one of the signature issues of our time.  We all need to get good at navigating this tricky issue.

      More than most pols it seems, Mitt Romney will say anything.

      •  I think there should be a counter (0+ / 0-)

        argument made on the "religious freedom" BS and the example for this counter argument exists in almost every town in the nation. Catholic hospitals (now 1 in 6 beds) do not allow patients their "religious freedom" to choose legal medications (contraceptives, methotrexate for ectopic pregnancies, date rape drugs, etc.) or legal medical procedures (abortions, sterilizations, fertility treatments, etc).  

        There is not enough clamor in this country over how in the world we allowed the Catholic church to own hospitals and withhold best medical treatments and choices based solely on religion.  Patients who enter Catholic owned hospitals LOSE their religious freedoms. And in many towns across the country, a Catholic hospital is your ONLY choice.

        I offered this point of view in a newspaper op-ed after someone wrote from a Catholic view about the horrors of the HHS affronts to Catholic institutional "religious freedoms".  The hypocrisy is mind boggling, and yet very few groups have really tackled this issue.

        I think that every time a representative of the Catholic church starts in with this "religious freedom" stuff, someone should talk about the hospitals.

  •  One drop sperm removes born human women (7+ / 0-)

    from the right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.  Like one drop of black blood removed human and civil rights for way to long.

    Their platform clearly states they want fertile egg to trump female right to life.

    If they establish the right to demand pregnancy, the scene is set for government to demand abortion if & when the situation changes and they use the fact that govt. has right to regulate reproduction, which means THEY own your body.

    Hence they can force any citizen they devalue to donate blood, body parts, etc. to save the life of someone they value more.  Our menfolk need to protect our freedom or they lose theirs.

    Habeus corpus folks.    

    De fund + de bunk = de EXIT--->>>>>

    by Neon Mama on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 08:41:32 PM PDT

    •  brilliant analogy! "one drop." (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      This immediately clicks with black voters and anyone else who knows the history of that phrase.

      "One drop" of sperm and a woman becomes "property."  

      Also: "nationalizing women's wombs."

      "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

      by G2geek on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 09:05:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  thnx -- that's the impact I was trying for. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        It is so hard to bumper sticker/sound bite the evil of their intent.  
        They do want to enslave by removing rights.    

        I really like your more concise than mine --- "nationalizing women's wombs."   It zings at heart of their fearmongering re govt help where we DO need it.

        I keep trying to spread what verbal ammunition I can -- since I can't do much else -- hoping others use any of it they can to defend against R attacks.

          Wish I could drown their every dog whistle with  a danger siren to alert voters.

        De fund + de bunk = de EXIT--->>>>>

        by Neon Mama on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 09:08:05 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I never understood why it is fine for old white (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      men and some religious righties to take away legal freedom to choose from those most affected by it.  Let them lecture, discuss, plead or beg women to give up control of reproductive rights if they want. But let those of us whose religion or non-religion find it immoral to force women to give birth regardless of consequences, keep abortion legal, safe and rare.  Besides which, it makes much better economic sense. Aren't they always wanting talk about economics?   If they take away contraception rights, they will find out about 'economies of scale' in the first year.  And I expect them all to sign up  to take care of and fund all the babies that are unwanted or have special needs.  Line forms to the right...

      It's squirrels in my attic that I live-trap and relocate. The bats in my belfry, I fear, are permanent residents.

      by pvasileff on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 12:13:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It isn't fine. They do it to line their pockets (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        with power or cash --- made in various ways from exploiting parents desperate to feed too many kids, and from throwaway kids who can be used for profit in too many ways.   sigh

        De fund + de bunk = de EXIT--->>>>>

        by Neon Mama on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 09:16:15 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  new ry cooder song (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    G2geek, terabthia2

    Now boss Mitt Romney went for a ride
    Pulled up on a highway side
    Tied me down up on the roof
    Boss I hollered, woof woof woof

  •  Eh, he has the Christian right already (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    G2geek, terabthia2

    Almost typed "Christian white" then realized, same diff.

    "Well, the problem here is that you're out of candy. You're gonna need more candy." Rachel Maddow on the Big Bailout

    by cishart on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 10:29:55 PM PDT

    •  actually (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek, musicsleuth

      that's not as much of a given as you may think. For one thing, his Mormonism is a major obstacle for many.  

      But even he can overcome the obstacles he faces with elements of this constituency, he still needs to say the right thing in the right way. And this is it.  

      I might add, the presidential race is not the only one on the ballot, and the agenda of the Christian Right has never been so clearly and succinctly stated. I think this is an important moment.

  •  Broken down... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:


    "Life": Read: "fetuses". After the fetus is born, good luck. You're on your own. Or if, God forbid, the fetus turns out to be GAY! See below...

    "marriage": Remember, your marriage will suddenly become invalidated if TEH GAYZ start doing it!! This is what they think of something being "attacked" that needs "defending" even though they can't notice the cognitive dissonance if it whacked them in the noggin.

    "religious liberty": Ah, I love this. It's actually related to #2. The fact that TEH GAYZ exist is a very "threat" to their "religious liberty". I.e. if gays, by their very nature simply existing, keep on progressing into mainstream society, this must be a threat to their "religious liberty", but, again, they can't notice the massive cognitive dissonance here, either.

    Basically #2 and #3 are things that are being "defended" from "attacks" that are non-existent. The real world answer is not that either of these things are being "attacked". The only thing that's being "attacked" is their priveleged status. Their need to feel superior to TEH GAYS, with institutionalized discrimination and societal ostracism.

  •  The enemy of my enemy is my friend (0+ / 0-)

    I am actually surprised that Romney managed to win the nomination w/ so many evangelical voters. It must be shear ignorance of his Mormon background or a desire to beat President Obama so badly that you will support a candidate who is largely against your beliefs.

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