No, that's not a picture of Speaker Hastert.
It's not even Karl Rove -- though he does have some shoes like that.
This of course is actually a person with a disfiguring ailment used as a symbol of what the Republican Party has become. And it's not their legs or even their genitalia (if the picture here makes you squeamish, then don't click here) but their egos that have swollen so hideously large that you will recoil in horror upon gazing at them.
David Kuo, who will be on "60 Minutes" tomorrow evening, describes how the GOP has used the religious right as a fob in his book Tempting Faith, here on Keith Olbermann recently:
ThinkProgress has posted another excerpt from the book, setting the scene just prior to Bush's 2001 inuguration:
Every other White House office was up and running. The faith-based initiative still operated out of the nearly vacant transition offices.
Three days later, a Tuesday, Karl Rove summoned (Don) Willett (a former Bush aide from Texas who initially shepharded the program) to his office to announce that the entire faith-based initiative would be rolled out the following Monday. Willett asked just how — without a director, staff, office, or plan — the president could do that. Rove looked at him, took a deep breath, and said, “I don’t know. Just get me a f—ing faith-based thing. Got it?” Willett was shown the door.
Don Willett was appointed to the Texas Supreme Court, by Governor Rick Perry, in 2005 with nearly no courtroom -- much less judicial -- experience. (His opponent, Judge William Moody, was the only Democratic statewide candidate endorsed by the Dallas Morning News.)
Got the stomach for following the thread a little further?
Rick Perry has released a television ad portraying Chris Bell as the recipient of special interest money, while at the same time accepting even larger contributions from Bob "Swift Boat" Perry and James "Death to Public Schools" Leininger, a couple of guys with no hidden agenda.
Bob Perry has also contributed over a million dollars to former Texas Supreme Court justice and current Texas attorney general Greg Abbott, whose own faith-based intiatives as well as his moral failings and ethical lapses have been well-documented.
Greg Abbott, a man who was paralyzed when a tree fell on him, who then sued to collect millions from insurance, then also succeeded in changing the laws by which he collected that money by advocating for tort reform in Texas, is a darling of the religious right in Deep-In-The-Hearta. The fundamentalists and evangelical Christians long ago joined forces with the Texas Republican Party to take over not just the legislative and judicial branches of state government but also the state board of education in order to re-write school textbooks -- performing edits such as deleting scientific theories of evolution and replacing them with creationist views. The Texas Freedom Network details how this came about; here's a summary:
• The religious right has tightened its grip on the Republican Party of Texas and now completely controls the party leadership. In fact, it has become increasingly difficult to distinguish between the movement and the party in leadership, political goals and tactics.
• Having spent $10 million since 1997 to help the Texas GOP take control of state government, wealthy San Antonio businessman James Leininger is now working to purge from office those Republicans who fail to support fully the religious right’s public policy agenda. In fact, with Leininger’s financial support, the religious right is on the verge of finally winning a majority of seats on the State Board of Education.
• The new model in the religious right’s political strategy relies on recruiting conservative evangelical pastors who will use their positions as church leaders to advance the movement’s policy agenda. In fact, the state’s newest far-right pressure group, the Texas Restoration Project, has been recruiting thousands of pastors to support (successfully) a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and to back conservative candidates for office, including Gov. Rick Perry.
• David Barton, vice chair of the state GOP and president of the Christian advocacy group WallBuilders, has become a key part of efforts to recruit conservative evangelicals into the Republican Party. Using questionable research, Barton appeals to Christian conservatives with the dubious argument that the separation of church and state is a myth created by activist judges.
Karl Rove, Don Willett, Rick Perry, James Leininger, Bob Perry, and Greg Abbott. Six degrees of barely any separation, and bookended by Jesus. Men who have waved the flag, carried the cross, made millions of dollars and used it to ruin other men, destroy public institutions, re-write laws to serve their means, spread lies and disinformation and done it all not in the name of God or even in defense of liberty but for power and ever more money.
And pass the ammunition.
Update (10/17): More about David Barton, Republican Jesus freak, at this Kos diary.