Wild About Harry | God in Vegas | Cuban Missiles

Wild About Harry—Free to air attack ads without identifying who paid for them, independent groups are on track to spend a record $500 million in the 2010 election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. In Nevada, groups have spent $4.2 million to defeat Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, including $1 million from American Crossroads. The group founded by Karl Rove (see page 3) poured $356,000 into the race in one week, even as Republican challenger Sharron Angle announced a quarterly fundraising total of $14.3 million. An analysis of Angle’s fundraising found that 75 percent of the money she raised in the first two quarters came from out of state. Reid raised 75 percent of his money from out of state, which might be expected for the leader of a party in control of Congress. But as an undistinguished former state senator, Angle is raising unprecedented quantities of campaign cash.

Angle, a creation of the Tea Party, is ill-versed on public policy, often at odds with electronically documented statements she has previously made, and so averse to the media that she has on more than one occasion run from reporters.

God in LasVegas—If Texas money doesn’t defeat Harry Reid, Texas Christians might. The Texas Restoration Project, an organization that enlisted conservative pastors to turn out voters when Texas Governor Rick Perry was running for reelection in 2006, has been resurrected as the Nevada Renewal Project, according to the Texas Freedom Network, a non-profit organization that monitors the religious right. The project’s October 21-22 “Rediscovering God In America” Las Vegas event featured the same Texas evangelicals who worked for Perry four years ago: Rev. Laurence L. White, a Lutheran pastor from Houston who is a regular on the Focus on the Family circuit, and David Barton from Aledo, Texas. Barton is the former vice chairman of the Texas Republican Party and the president of WallBuilders, an advocacy group that opposes the separation of church and state and promotes its own Christian revisionist American history. The big draw was former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who met (in the biblical sense) his current wife Callista while he was married and she was a Congressional staffer, then converted to Roman Catholicism and persuaded the church to annul his previous marriage or marriages.

An e-mail invitation described the event: “At a time when Congress is busy trying to legislate defeat, the Nevada Renewal Project’s Pastors’ Policy Briefing encourages pastors and their congregations to take a stand for morality in their daily lives by giving pastors tools that will help them and their congregations engage in the battle.”

Cuban Missiles?—If a rising tide of Tea Party anger lifts all right-wing boats, look for Ilario Pantano to defeat North Carolina Rep. Mike McIntyre. Pantano is a former Marine who was charged in 2005 with the murder of two unarmed Iraqis. (A corporal in his platoon testified that Pantano shot them in the back.) Charges were dropped, but the officer who conducted the hearing said Pantano had used poor judgment and should have been punished for desecrating the two Iraqi corpses. He fired one 30-round magazine at the men then reloaded and emptied a second one. He then hung a sign that read “No better friend, no worse enemy” on their car. Which makes Pantano an odd choice for the Republican Party’s “Young Guns” — newcomers taking on veteran Democrats.

“Loose screws” might be a more appropriate category. In The Second Cuban Missile Crisis, written in 2009 for the Institute of World Politics, Pantano described a Chinese attack on Taiwan coupled with a threat against the U.S. should it intervene. The Chinese would discretely inform the White House that Chinese “conventional ballistic missile capabilities on Cuba can eliminate 50 percent of U.S.-based air and ground forces as well as economic political hubs along the Eastern Seaboard.” And the U.S. would fold.

In an October 13 interview with wired.com’s “Danger Room” Pantano stuck to his guns:

“The threat of a second potential Cuban missile crisis. Basically, with the Chinese as the [instigators] this time, converting Cuba into basically the world’s largest floating missile delivery platform. It’s certainly a dark case scenario or a worst-case scenario, but it’s the kind of scenario that national security thinkers need to be thinking about. … Because the technologies that we’re talking about are all feasible and possible. … And the political will has been demonstrated. This [China] is a society that has cleansed itself to the tune of 60 million people. So are we really sure that we know what they are and aren’t willing to do?”