Part 2: Obama’s Conservative Meeting Guests–The Pastors

In the first report on Obama’s meeting with religious leaders earlier this month [Part 1: Obama’s Conservative Meeting Guests (Non-Pastors)], I focused on attendees who were not pastors. In Part 2, the focus is on the church pastors. (Pastor T. D. Jakes is profiled in the my first post entitled “So, What’s Obama Going to Give Away to Conservative Religious Leaders and Constitutional Law Profs Who Work with Ken Starr??” ).

Here are a few more pastors who attended:

Rev. Luis Cortes

In 2005 Time magazine listed Cortes as one of the “25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America.” And who helped him raise his profile?? George W. Bush, while he was running for President in 2000:

In the summer of 2000, a fleet of dark, unmarked vehicles pulled up to the North Philadelphia office of the Rev. Luis Cortes Jr. As neighbors watched in amazement, armed men hustled a mysterious visitor inside. What happened next launched the remarkable ascent of a Hispanic Baptist minister until then little known outside Philadelphia. The visitor was G.O.P. presidential candidate George W. Bush, on a low-profile visit to woo Cortes and other Hispanic leaders. Over the next few hours, Cortes and Bush formed a bond that has vaulted the minister to the top tier of the fast-growing Hispanic Protestant community. With grants from Bush’s Faith-Based Initiative and the cachet that comes from his Bush connection, Cortes, now 47, has expanded his two-decade-old organization, Nueva Esperanza (New Hope) nationwide, building houses in poor communities, offering start-up loans to Hispanic businesses and launching an aids-awareness program. In 2002 Cortes established the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast, addressed annually by Bush and attended by a bipartisan slate of political heavyweights.

By November 2005, Howard Dean was meeting with Cortes. Now, Cortes was seen as exemplifying “he core values and beliefs of the Democratic Party.” Dean wrote in his blog:

I just got out of a great meeting with Chairman Dean and Reverend Luis Cortes. Rev. Cortes is President and CEO of Esperanza USA, which translates into ‘Hope USA’. The meeting took place at the Democratic National Committee headquarters to discuss matters of mutual interest and concern. Esperanza USA is the largest Hispanic faith-based community development corporation in the country. Beginning in Philadelphia with programs targeted to address the many unmet needs in Philadelphia’s Hispanic community, the Reverend Luis Cortes has become a leader in building Hispanic owned institutions nationwide.

The Reverend Luis Cortes recently served as Vice Chair of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board of Pittsburgh. Governor Rendell has nominated the reverend to the Pennsylvania Minority Business Development Authority. Philadelphia Mayor John Street named Reverend Luis Cortes to the City’s Workforce Investment Board. He is also the founder and Executive Director of the Hispanic Clergy of Philadelphia and is also one of the founders of United Bank, the first African-American owned commercial bank in Pennsylvania.

Today, with a national network of 10,000 Hispanic faith and community based agencies; Esperanza USA is one of the leading voices for Hispanics in America. Rev. Cortes, whose ministry envisions an America built on compassion, justice and service exemplifies the core values and beliefs of the Democratic Party.

On March 2, 2008, Cortes was interviewed by NPR (The Rev. Luis Cortes on the Hispanic Vote–4 min. audio available). At that time Cortes spoke highly of John McCain, as well as Clinton. Obama was still an unknown quantity.

He says he was in San Antonio last week for the Southern Baptist church meetings, and among the clergy, they spoke highly of Obama’s speeches but hadn’t had the opportunity to have contact with him and to hear some of their issues and concerns addressed.

On the Republican side, Cortes says John McCain has done well among Latino evangelical voters. “He was the only Republican who had a family matters position on immigration, and, as such, he did very, very well.”

The Latino community shows a bit of a divide between younger and older voters, he says.

“A lot of the younger people who are getting involved for the first time are hearing Obama’s speeches, and his speeches are pushing people to think about the larger American democracy project, and, as such, he’s gathering a lot of young Latinos to move his way,” Cortes says. “And then, folks who have been involved in the past, they hear the speeches but the thought patterns are, ‘OK, we like what we hear, but what is the substance, what are the issues, what are the policies behind the call to a greater America?'”

It will be interesting to see if Cortes throws the weight of his extensive organization behind Obama or McCain or if he decides to stay neutral.

Max Lucado

Lucado has been Senior Pastor for over twenty years at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas. His website reveals his popularity as a Christian author:

Max Lucado has touched millions with his signature storytelling writing style. Awards and accolades follow Max with each book he writes. Max is the first author to win the Gold Medallion Christian Book of the Year three times—1999 for Just Like Jesus, 1997 for In the Grip of Grace and 1995 for When God Whispers Your Name. In 2005, Reader’s Digest dubbed him “America’s Best Preacher.” In addition, he has been an ECPA Gold Medallion finalist with more titles than any other author in the industry.

In 1994, he became the only author to have 11 of his twelve books in print simultaneously appear on paperback, hardcover and children’s CBA bestseller lists. Lucado set a new industry record by concurrently placing nine different Word Publishing titles on the CBA Hardcover Bestseller List in both March and April 1997. Max Lucado is a fixture on the national bestseller lists – a Max Lucado title has appeared on the CBA hardcover bestseller list every month for the past dozen years. He has appeared on the Publishers Weekly, USA Today and New York Times bestseller lists. He has won eight ECPA Gold Medallion awards.

Stephen John Thurston

Thurston is part of a line of pastors. His grandfather founded the New Covenant Missionary Baptist Church and he is the third generation to preach at the Southside Chicago church, whose congregation numbers over 2,000. According to a 2004 biography,

He was named one of “America’s Best and Brightest Young Business and Professional Men” by Dollars and Sense magazine in 1987, and Manya A. Brachear of the Chicago Tribune reported in 2003, “Congregants who have known all three pastors said Stephen Thurston inherited his grandfather’s booming voice and conservative values and his father’s charisma and activist aspirations.” Many of his sermons are available as a transcript or on tape or CD.

The church’s website lists radio and TV broadcasts of Thurston’s services and the 2004 biography states that he “is pushing his congregation to establish its own telecommunications systems to increase control of airtime. Conservative in his social values (he’s against same-sex marriage and ordination of gays), he actively and unapologetically pushes a political platform.” His son has joined him as co-pastor.

The church website summarizes the goals for the future:

A local church with a worldwide vision sums up the future of New Covenant. Senior Pastor Rev. Stephen J. Thurston and Co-Pastor Rev. Stephen J. Thurston II are God’s appointed pair to spiritually lead the people of New Covenant. Through life-changing ministries, three Sunday worship services, weekly Bible study and prayer meetings, a strong media presence (via television, radio, and internet), extraordinary leadership, and the favor of God, New Covenant is committed to effectively changing the lives of its members, the community, and the nation.

In 2007, a $10 million worship center will be completed at the current location further enabling the church and its members to achieve its vision of “Creating a Christian Community Cradled in Kingdom Quality.”

Dr. T. DeWitt Smith

Dr. T. DeWitt Smith, Jr. succeeded the late Civil Rights Leader and Pastor, the Rev. Dr. Ralph David Abernathy as the Pastor of the West Hunter Street Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. In 2003 he formed the Trinity Baptist Church of Metro Atlanta, which participates in the Worship Anytime Network which streams featured worship services from across the nation. Dr. Smith was elected and installed as the 18th President of the Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc. (PNBC) in August 2006. The PNBC has 2,000 congregations with 2.5 million members.

Bishop Philip Robert Cousin, Sr.

Cousin heads the Philip R. Cousin African Methodist Episcopal Church in Naperville, IL, which is described as a “multicultural church.” He was appointed Presiding Prelate of the Fourth Episcopal District in 2000. Cousin has been a member of the National Board of the Southern Leadership Conference since 1979 and National Board member of the National Association for the Advancemenet of Colored People (NAACP). He was a delegate to the 1968 National Democratic Convention; chosen to dialogue with Pope John Paul II in 1987; and was selected by Ebony Magazine as one of the 100 most influential Black Americans. His wife, Dr. Joan Cousin has been an HIV/AIDS crusader, having established centers around the world as well as care centers for the homeless in several states in the U.S.

It seems that these attendees have a heavy involvement in media and/or extensive memberships and organization that can be mobilized . Cousins seems to operate in the most “traditional” way as compared to the others I’ve profiled.

It will be interesting to see which of these pastors get on the Obama bandwagon and how their presence will be felt during the campaign.

Part 1: Obama’s Conservative Meeting Guests–Non-Pastors (UPDATED 1x)

In my June 11 post entitled “So, What’s Obama Going to Give Away to Conservative Religious Leaders and Constitutional Law Profs Who Work with Ken Starr??” I focused on mega-pastor T. D. Jakes and Doug Kmiec, a conservative Catholic constitutional lawyer who serve in the Justice Department under Reagan and Bush I and who is now a faculty member at the Pepperdine University School of Law, whose dean is none other than Ken Starr.

But there are others who attended Obama’s “reach-out” to conservative Christian leaders earlier this month who should be introduced. Although the guest list was not announced, the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody seemed to get a hold of a few names, in addition to the exclusive on the June 6 announcement of Obama’s “Joshua Generation Project.”

Part 2 will focus on the pastors who were at the meeting. Today, Part 1 gives some brief information on some of the “non-pastor” attendees whose names were leaked:

Rich Cizik

Cizik is the Vice President for Governmental Affairs for the National Associaton of Evangelicals. His bio states:

Richard Cizik is Vice President for Governmental Affairs of the National Association of Evangelicals. His primary responsibilities include editing publications such as NAE Washington Insight, directing NAE’s Washington Insight Briefing and Christian Student Leadership Conferences, setting its policy direction on issues before Congress, the White House, and Supreme Court, as well as serving as a national spokesman on issues of concern to evangelicals.

Paul Corts

Corts is the fifth president of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU) and prior to holding this post, Corts served as Assistant Attorney General for Administration for the U.S. Department of Justice under Bush from 2002-2006. Prior to his stint at Justice he was president of Palm Beach Atlantic University, a Christian school in Florida, for more than 11 years.

Cameron Strang

Strang is a “well-disguised evangelist” according to a 2004 story in USA Today.

Three silver hoops in his ears. Stubble-haze beard. Casually hip duds that the Fab Five from Queer Eye wouldn’t change.

No plans to preach. No pulpit.

Yet he’s hot-wired to a generation of young adult Christians he says are “on fire with faith” — a generation that eludes many churches, retailers and publishers.


“Sight, sound, experience — that’s what my generation is about,” says Strang, founder and CEO of Relevant Media Group. He has created an edgy magazine, Relevant: God. Life. Progressive Culture, to reach believers in ways their elders can’t — or won’t. (Link to Relevant Media Group.)


Relevant‘s target reader, Strang says, is a 27-year-old who is “grounded in the world of work and adult relationships,” who’s unwilling to sit still, even in church.

Strang is particularly interesting to me because of his focus on the “younger” voters whom Obama is going after via the Joshua Generation Project. It will be interesting to find out if Obama and Strang are co-ordinating their efforts beyond this June 11 meeting.


While Obama is making friends with these guests, he apparently is purging the names of people on his website…Check out Rezko Watch…”About Obama’s Klonsky Purge” which discusses Obama’s pattern of ditiching people and then goes on to delve into the meaning of the word “sociopath” and how it applies…

UPDATE July 9, 2008

Also attending this meeting–Steve Strang, the father of Cameron Strang.  See his latest report where he discusses the meeting with Obama.  Steve Strang was the only one to attend both Obama’s meeting and the one in Denver which was held by 100 conservative leaders.  That group decided to back McCain.  Strang says his son got a phone interview with Obama, but senior is still trying to get one.

Obama Courts “Working Women” in ABQ, NM in Another Closed Event

Obama conducted an “invitation only” visit to ab ABQ, NM Flying Star restaurant Monday to try to shore up his image with women. Specifically, “working women.” I guess he’s interested in the demographic now. It’ll be on to senior citizens next…

I had read that some Obama supporters were miffed that this was another “closed” event…but the reports on the visit didn’t mention that. The blogger at New Mexico for Democracy (part of the DFA, Howard Dean’s organization that has been helping all along) reported that Michael Isikoff from Newsweek was there, which isn’t surprising because Newsweek HEARTS OBAMA. Where was his Newsweek colleague Eleanor Clift? The way she “analyzes” on The McLaughlin Report sounds like she is on the Obama payroll, after all. I would have thought she would have been drooling at the chance to attend this “up close and personal” event.

As reported by the New Mexico Independent:

UNM professor Christine Sierra said Monday’s event was all about Obama’s effort to reach out to women.

“Barack is definitely trying to be fast out of the gate to claim the women supporters who were adamantly for Hillary Clinton,” Sierra said. “He is doing what he needs to do.”

Obama already appears to be doing well with this group, according to a Rasmussen poll released early Monday. It showed Obama leading McCain among women by 12 percent in New Mexico. According to Rasmussen’s national tracking poll, Obama currently leads among women by the same percentage.

Lt. Gov. Diane Denish — who backed Hillary Clinton in the Democratic presidential primary — introduced the Illinois senator to his small audience. Denish was one of the first New Mexico superdelegates to endorse Clinton but has supported Obama since he clinched the Democratic nomination earlier this month.

“The media is making a lot of talk about angry white women,” Denish told the audience of working women. “But they’re right about one thing, we are angry. We haven’t made any progress in the last eight years.”

“We may be angry, but we’re really smart too.”

Denish has jumped on board as if nothing has happened during the primaries, of course. Bill Richardson’s wife Barbara also showed up at the event. By the way, Denish did ads for Harry Teague, now the Democratic nominee in the House raise here in CD-2. She knows him from Hobbs, where they both grew up. Teague, of course, is tight with Republican Steve Pearce because of their oil industry businesses.

And you wonder why I’m unenthusiastic about the election this fall?

Temporarily Down…New Hard Drive being Installed…UPDATED 1X

UPDATE June 25, 2008

Well, I’m still limping along with the old drive. Alex the Agent installed the new one, but found that my recovery disks didn’t work, probably because they are specific to a certain motherboard. The original was previously replaced, so no go! Pending a chat with Brad, our local Best Buy ass’t. manager, the plan is to get reimbursed for the original disks, then Alex will order new ones from HP and hopefully they will work! If not, Alex will then propose again that I get a new machine…we have to follow the rules and work this through…

So far, so good with the old drive, but I’m can’t use by external backups because the machine is now EATING SOFTWARE and changes how they run…so, I’m preserving the backup I managed to make with the new Western Digital before this monster machine started screwing around with the software that comes with thed drive. Alex also did a backup to a drive he carries around. He advised me not to register the WD until we get this mess figured out. There is a chance that my WD drive is now screwed up because of the software being affected somehow by the monster machine…so let’s see if I have to invoke THAT warranty to get a new one!

So, to save a bookmark, I email it to myself. I don’t download email to my computer anymore, preferring to use the webmail function of my ISP.

Anyway, the veritable cascading series of disasters continues

***Original Post***

Well, after several months of turning off the computer and hearing loud noises like a plane makes when landing, I taped the noise and the tech finally decided it was the hard drive, after a couple of false starts involving the power supply fan.

He’s coming tomorrow to install the new one. In the past week, glitches have started to happen, which are probably due to a failing drive: couldn’t uninstall a program, tonight the computer didn’t start right and the system requested I do a restore to an earlier restore point, which is the first time that’s happened.

Yesterday, I ran out bought a new external backup, because the one I had been using suddenly had sofware problems…steadily decayed. This was the program I had reinstalled, but when I tried to uninstall again to try another install, it didn’t happen. Checking online, the support info indicated that the driver wasn’t being recognized and that the partitions were probably messed up. I’ll nail the tech tomorrow to help figure that out, since the actual external drive had tested out OK on the diagnostics when I was able to run them…

My new Western Digital is much easier to use. So maybe I’ll wind up with two external drives which will be excellent for backing up with maximun efficiency.

Anyway, I’ve got a couple of blogs to research which will take a couple of days, especially since I have to get the new drive all put together with my stuff.

So, see you all in a few days, and thanks for checking in….


DCCC Money Now in NM-CD2 for Richardson’s Guy HarryTeague…Where Were They When the Progressive Ran Last Time?? (The One Who Got 40% of the Vote, Then Was Shoved out of the Dem Primary the Race in 2008?)

Here we are in New Mexico CD-2 where money hasn’t been forthcoming to help a Democratic Congressional candidate for as long as I’ve been here. You see, you have to raise a lot of money BEFORE the DCCC will give you MORE money. A candidate who merely wins the primary on sheer guts and grassroots support isn’t rewarded…and you wonder WHY the Democrats keep morphing into “just get along” candidates who don’t make waves once they get to Washington?

Last time around, Al Kissling, a true progressive, ran an upstart campaign with little money and got nearly 40% of the vote against then-incumbent Steve Pearce. (See “Al Kissling’s Moral Victory” to see how he was so dramatically outspent.) As I reported earlier, Kissling wasn’t even given a fair chance by the Democratic poohbahs to make his case to get on the primary ballot this time. See my earlier post on this subject to see how Kissling was cut out of the process by Richardson et al.

And now, suddenly, money appears to support oil guy Teague, who buddies with Republicans…including GOP Senate candidate Steve Pearce. Teague poured in big bucks from his own pocket, yet only narrowly defeated Bill McCamley who made news by donating $47.50 to his own campaign and was outspent. Bill McCamley was no prize either, but at least he wasn’t in the pocket of big oil.

Joe Monohan reports how Teague has become a recipient of the DCCC’s largesse:


First it was ABQ Dem congressional nominee Martin Heinrich getting a boost from the national party, now it’s southern Dem congressional hopeful Harry Teague:

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) announced the addition of Harry Teague to its “Red to Blue” program. The Red to Blue program supports top Democratic campaigns and offers financial, communications, and strategic support…In 2006, the Red to Blue program raised nearly $22.6 million for 56 campaigns. Candidates earn a spot in the competitive program by surpassing demanding fundraising goals

The Cook political Report in D.C. now ranks the southern CD race as “lean Republican” instead of “likely Republican.” Teague faces GOP restaurant owner Ed Tinsley.

To find out why I’m not jumping for joy about all this, check out this earlier post on Teague’s Republican ties.

“Harry T. and the Chamber of Secrets” co-starring Oil and Republicans–Screenplay by Bill Richardson [Subtitle: The Behind-the-Scenes Adventures of Bill R., Harry Teague and the NM CD-02 Democratic Primary]