Feel the Love

Donna Garner, the right-wing gadfly who last year circulated an e-mail screed charging that Jeffrey Dahmer was a serial murderer because he believed in evolution, has posted a “love” note to the Texas Freedom Network on TFN Insider.

Ms. Garner’s comment is in response to news that TFN will receive the National Intellectual Freedom Award this week at the National Council of Teachers of English’s conference in Philadelphia. In 2008 Ms. Garner helped persuade far-right members of the State Board of Education to throw out nearly three years of work by classroom teachers and curriculum specialists to develop new language arts curriculum standards for Texas public schools. The board ultimately adopted a curriculum patched together overnight by far-right board members and then slipped under the hotel-room doors of colleagues about an hour before the final meeting and vote. Like many others — including some board members, Democrats and Republicans alike — we at TFN were appalled and supported the teachers.

For your convenience (and some grins), we repost Ms. Garner’s comment from today here. Enjoy.

Texas Freedom Network is an aggressive, leftwing, political organization that is completely out of step with today’s parents who want their children to learn foundational skills that will help them to become well-informed leaders of tomorrow.

TFN has a well-defined political/social agenda for our school children; and the purpose of TFN is to practice the politics of personal destruction on the conservative members of the Texas State Board of Education and anyone else who holds the same principled beliefs.

TFN staffers have never bothered to read an entire textbook, critique it, research the contents, list factual errors, and go through the laborious yet legitimate textbook adoption process. TFN prefers to hold press conferences, highlight statements in textbooks that are taken out of context, and steal the attention of the all-too-willing liberal media who then go out and spread misinformation and bias across the country.

In recent years, TFN has lost the battle over the English / Language Arts / Reading standards. The ones passed by the majority of the elected SBOE members are much improved over the old ones and stress phonics, grammar, usage, spelling, penmanship, expository and persuasive writing, research writing, and the great pieces of literature along with their characteristics.

TFN also lost the battle over the new Science standards that will now require teachers to teach all sides of scientific theories including the weaknesses of evolution.

After TFN suffered these resounding defeats with the SBOE, Kathy Miller decided to go across the street to the Texas Legislature where she found TFN board member, Rep. Donna Howard.

Working with Rep. Howard, the ACLU Texas, Alliance for Clean Texas, Center for Public Policy Priorities, Equality Texas, NARAL Pro-Choice, Sierra Club, Stand Down Texas, TAPPA, Texas Impact, and The Texas Observer, TFN filed 15 anti-SBOE bills during the 2009 Legislative session.

Only one out of fifteen bills passed the Legislature, and that bill simply requires that the SBOE meetings be video streamed.

Kathy Miller thought she and TFN had achieved a great victory when they managed to convince 11 Democrat Senators to vote against McLeroy’s confirmation as chair of the SBOE even though 19 Republicans voted for him. Because of the two-thirds rule, however, McLeroy was not confirmed; but an equally capable new chair was appointed by Gov. Perry — Gail Lowe. Lowe holds the same conservative views about education as McLeroy does. TFN has been defeated once again!

Because Texas Freedom Network has injected itself into decisions that impact Texas public school students, I need to ask parents:

In 1995, TFN was founded by Cecile Richards, daughter of Texas’ liberal Democrat Governor, Ann Richards. Cecile is the president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and still serves on the TFN Board of Directors. Cecile was deputy chief of staff for Speaker Nancy Pelosi and worked with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). SEIU is closely associated with ACORN.

When Cecile left for Washington, D. C., Samantha Smoot took Cecile’s place. When Samantha left for Washington, D. C. in 2005, she went to work for the Human Rights Campaign, the largest homosexual organization in the country.

TFN, Planned Parenthood, and the Human Rights Campaign work together as “triplet sisters.”

The Chair of the TFN Education Fund is Janis Pinelli, who gave campaign contributions to Obama, Hillary Clinton, Emily’s List, the Texas Democratic Party, and Rick Noriega for Governor.

Also on the TFN Education Board of Directors is Dale Linebarger who is treasurer. He is the Senior Advisor to Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson. This firm started collecting debts for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in 2006 after a generous lobbying effort of half a million dollars to pressure Congress to hire outside bill collectors instead of requiring the IRS staff to do the job more inexpensively (Business Week, 8.25.06). Dale Linebarger made political contributions to Obama, Ruben Hinojosa, Al Franken, Lloyd A. Doggett, Ken Salazar, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and Border Health PAC.

Why does Border Health PAC sound familiar? According to Texas Monthly (Aug. 2009), Border Health PAC gives politicians huge contributions “to order expensive medical procedures” and has come under scrutiny because of the New Yorker (June 2009) article that stated the costs of treating Medicare patients in McAllen are twice the national average. “The primary cause of McAllen’s extreme costs was, very simply, the across-the-board overuse of medicine.” Dale Linebarger gave monthly contributions to Border Health PAC throughout 2008.

Rev. Dr. Larry Bethune is also on the TFN Board Education Board of Directors. He is the senior pastor of University Baptist Church (Austin, Texas). As stated on its website, UBC is sometimes “in conflict with the views of the wider religious community and secular society…in the 1990s it ordained a homosexual deacon.” Bethune has stated that he opposes “attempts to dilute, distort, or censor the teaching of evolution in biology textbooks.”

Also on the TFN Education Board of Directors is Diane Iresone (Clinical Social Worker) who has given political contributions to Obama, John Kerry, Lloyd A. Doggett, John Edwards, Emily’s List, Barbara Boxer, and Hillary Clinton.

Rebecca Lightsey is on the TFN Education Board of Directors and is an attorney and executive director of Texas Appleseed that focuses on social justice issues. Lightsey worked on Governor Ann Richards’ staff and supported Democrat Rick Noriega for Governor of Texas.

Rhonda Gerson is the Chair of TFN and has given campaign contributions to Hillary Clinton, Democrat Senator Carl Levin, and Emily’s List.

Texas Representative Donna Howard (Democrat) is a board member of TFN. NARAL Pro-Choice has given Howard a 100% rating. Texas Eagle Forum gave Howard a rating of 8% in the 2009 legislative session.

After reading this list of left-wing individuals who are involved with Texas Freedom Network, I hope the next time you hear Kathy Miller interviewed by the media, you will carefully “consider the source!” She wants to demonize the people who represent traditional values and undercut their efforts to raise academic standards for our students.

14 thoughts on “Feel the Love

  1. Just a few comments for Donna:

    1) Jesus loves you.

    2) When TFN speaks the truth to the folks on your side, it just sounds like hell.

    3) It always amuses me when the right wingers who INVENTED the so-called “politics of personal destruction” whine when they have to take some of their own medicine. One of the older folks at my church has a bumper sticker that pretty much sums it up. It says “If there had been no Pearl Harbor, there would have been no Hiroshima.” You need to give that bumper sticker some thought Donna.

    4) If TFN were as unsuccessful as you say and if it poses no real threat to people like you, why are you wailing about it like a stuck pig to warn the people of Texas. It sounds to me as if you perceive TFN as being an ABSOLUTELY HUGE threat to the far right wing extremist agenda in Texas. The days when you and your Religious Right “whack job” buddies can have the soapbox all to yourselves—unopposed—are over. You have a bonafide war on your hands right now with an opposition that is well-funded, vocal, and ready to slug it out on the public stage. Pretty soon, if you keep up your extremism, one of your big nightmares is going to come true. The mainline protestant churches, Roman Catholic Church, and other well-known and extremely well-funded religious organizations are going to come after you just as aggressively. There are already rumblings that are going to turn into an earthquake.

    5) Donna. Maybe you could explain something to me. My 15-year-old daughter has attended our very Jesus-loving United Methodist Church with us all of her life. Recently, she fell in puppy love with a local boy who was two years older than her. He and his whole family are devout evangelical/fundamentalist Christians. Much to our horror, we discovered that she and her boyfriend had been using their cell phone cameras to take nude pictures of themselves, and they had been swapping those pictures with each electronically by cell phone. My wife, who grew up as a devout Southern Baptist, was aghast. I was shocked. We have never promoted open pornography or anything like that in our home, so I figure it had to have come from the other home. You know how boys are. Can you explain how this happened? Before you offer that explanation, you need to read the next paragraph.

    Up until a couple of weeks ago, my daughter was attending the evangelical/fundamentalist church of the boyfriend in question. My daughter and several of her other friends who were attending that same church went to a special Saturday evening ceremony at another evangelical/fundamentalist church to attend a “promise ring” ceremony where they all pledged to “abstain from sex” until after they are married. My daughter proudly brought home her “promise ring” and the associated paperwork. One of my daughter’s best friends and her boyfriend also took the abstinence pledge that night. About four weeks later, the girl’s mother came home and caught them in the bedroom right in the very middle of the COITAL ACT. My daughter was shocked and questioned her female friend about why she was having sex with her boyfriend after their “promise ring” pledges. Her friend says that she and her boyfriend are INTENTIONALLY TRYING to have a baby out of wedlock. How does that grab you Donna? This is a dead-on true story. I would like to emphasize that this church is not some sort of weird pseudo-Christian sect. This is a normal, stable, solid, and community-respected evangelical/ fundamentalist church. The pastor is a graduate of Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University. Needless to say, my wife and I have removed our daughter from this evangelical/fundamentalist church and her reckless Christian friends who attend it. I have threatened a legal restraining order if the church youth leaders or any of my daughter’s reckless friends get near my daughter or attempt to entice her into their religious circle again. We are considering birth control pills for our daughter as a well-heeded precaution after these experiences.

    6) Christmas season is upon us Donna. If you would please send your mailing address to me via Dan Quinn at TFN, I would very much like to send you a seasonal fruitcake made by one of our local bakers.

  2. This really is a charming piece of literature. It’s also offended me sufficiently that I’ve put fingers to keyboard.

    So the Texas Eagle Forum don’t like Donna Howard: This is the same Texas Eagle Forum that recently ranted *against* hate-crimes legislation (so hate crimes are good now??), and are derisive of “left-wing action”. For these purposes apparently “left-wing action” includes supporting health care legislation, working for UNICEF, community service and reducing use of plastics. Forgive me for not finding the evil in these seemingly charitable actions.

    Many of the other so-called complaints Ms. Garner has about the board of TFN are that they donated money to support political campaigns. Again, where is the problem here? Ms. Garner is hardly apolitical…

    Now to her educational views. Since we’ve all heard about the “weaknesses of evolution”, I’ll stick to the English. To hear that stressing phonics is a great victory is somewhat disappointing. While phonics has some benefits, I wonder which to approach to phonics Ms. Garner subscribes? Both synthetic and analytic phonics have been used in teaching (I can’t vouch for Texas) and it is also widely recognized that while phonics may provide a fast route to reading comprehension for young children, there are a great many fundamentals of language that cannot be taught this way. Phonics is not a cure-all for literacy problems and can lead, if rigidly adhered to as the only teaching method, to a number of problems highlighted all too well by writers more educated on the matter than myself. To forestall any questions, I have been a lecturer at two well-respected international universities – not in language, which is a great passion of mine – but in physical sciences.

    I’m also somewhat mystified by her claims about “English/Language Arts/Reading standards”. Surely Ms. Garner is aware that of these subject areas only one needs capitalizing. A clue, Ms. Garner, it’s the one derived from a proper noun. Another part of her letter that leaves me stumped is her ‘question’. She writes, “… I need to ask parents: …”
    Now let me ask a question, at what point following that statement was there a question? Six paragraphs later. Really Ms. Garner, is this the kind of writing you’d like Texas schoolchildren to emulate?

    Finally, I would like to paraphrase Ms. Garner: [Ms Garner’s] purpose [] is to practice the politics of personal destruction on the [rational] members of the Texas [Freedom Network] and anyone else who holds the same principled beliefs.

    I think that about sums it up.

  3. Wow, somebody really is out of touch with the people (and teachers) of Texas and it sure isn’t TFN.

    This teacher supports everything that TFN does and stands for.

    I’ll happily challenge Ms. Garner to a debate on her teaching standards (especially science, but I could make a good case for history too).

  4. Hi Ben. I didn’t understand your message. Could you explain a little better? Today has not been going so well for me, and i might not be registering things correctly in my head. Thanks.

  5. Donna Garner wrote: “Lightsey worked on Governor Ann Richards’ staff and supported Democrat Rick Noriega for Governor of Texas.” When did Rick Noriega run for governor? Is this another example of the alternate universe these right-wing nuts inhabit?

    Garner’s “indictment” of TFN and its backers actually reaffirms my belief in TFN and its mission. One is best known, after all, by the caliber of one’s enemies.

  6. “And unlike Charles, Texas Hill Country Tom and TFN, I have not attempted to appear superior by calling others “fruitcakes”, “wackos” or “bamboozled.”

    Superior? These referees just call the plays as they see them. Those three words don’t exist in the English language for nothing.

    A dash of dark rum will embalm a fruitcake for years—maybe even give it eternal life. Nope. No one but Jesus has that kind of power over some fruitcakes.

  7. Everyone who ever thought about contributing money to a Democrat and particularly anyone who voted for OBAMA will surely rot in hell– just ask Donna Garner.

    Teachers are morons and wing nuts are saints–ask Donna Garner.

    Bravo TFN and congratulations for receiving accolades from NCTE–oh I forgot they are morons and will surely rot in hell…ask Donna Garner.

  8. I do hope Donna responds with an address so I can send her a nice fruitcake. In addition, I am still waiting for her to respond vis-a-vis my own personal experiences with abstinence only sex education. Are you out there Donna?

  9. It appears that Donna is not out there. Oh well, I was trying to decide on whether to send a Claxton or Kern’s fruitcake.

  10. 😉 @ Charles. And Charles, my sincere best wishes to your daughter and your family.

    Wow, I couldn’t have said it any better than the comments above. Ms. Garner’s diatribe against TFN is exactly why I LOVE TFN.

    What is her complaint about funding? As if she doesn’t donate to organizations of which she approves? What’s so wrong with that? Isn’t that part of the First Amendment? Oh wait, maybe she disapproves of the First Amendment.

    Jeffrey Dahmer was a serial murderer because he “believed in” evolution? The Pope “believes in” evolution. Is he a serial murderer too?

  11. Cytocop. Hi there. Thanks. The extreme right likes the First Amendment only after they have revised and reinterpreted it to serve their pre-existing prejudices. I could send a fruitcake to you this Christmas, but I would need your address.

  12. Hi Charles. Thank you very much. I’m sure Ms. Garner would consider me one of the worst of the fruitcakes here so yes, I’d be delighted and honored to receive a fruitcake. (*grin*)