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Santorum: “Democracy and freedom will disappear” under Obama

Rick Santorum continues to test the waters for a presidential run in the Republican primary, now with a fresh profile in today’s Washington Post. While candidacies from Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, and Mike Pence may leave little room for Santorum to campaign as the Religious Right’s favored contender, he seems to be doing everything right to play to his social conservative base: denouncing John F. Kennedy’s famous speech on the separation of church and state, campaigning against Iowa Supreme Court justices, donating to Republicans in early primary states through his leadership PAC, and declaring himself the only Tea Party presidential aspirant. And of course, nothing riles the right wing base more than ominous rhetoric about President Obama:

Santorum still breathes fire. In his evolving stump speech, he frames the prospect of Obama's reelection in near-apocalyptic terms: "Democracy and freedom will disappear." His agenda consists of stopping pretty much everything that has been set in motion in the past two years, starting with the overhaul of the nation's health-care system.

After losing his 2006 reelection bid for Senate by a lopsided 59% to 41% margin, Santorum hopes that Republican voters in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina are much kinder:

"I'm feeling like doors are opening," the Republican former senator from Pennsylvania mused over his decaf. "Things are happening that maybe give me the impression that maybe I need to look at this seriously."

So seriously that Santorum was on his seventh trip to New Hampshire since April. Not to mention seven to Iowa over the past 14 months and seven to South Carolina in that time.

It had been a busy day: morning meetings with influential New Hampshire Republicans and grass-roots leaders, a luncheon with the Manchester Rotary Club, a dash to the seacoast for a private audience with former governor John Sununu, a dinner with GOP activist Claira Monier, then a question-and-answer session with the Goffstown-Weare Republican Committee.

Santorum had yet another meeting that evening back at his hotel. Before heading home the next day, he would get in an early-morning speech to a second Rotary chapter, a round of media interviews, more face time with GOP activists. Oh, and he'd make it to Mass at a nearby church.

This is what the embryonic days of a long-shot presidential campaign look like.

"If someone gets in the race that I feel really comfortable could do the things that need to be done - both winning and governing - then maybe this is a chance to say, 'Let this cup pass,' " Santorum said. "At this point, given what I see out there, I'm not feeling that."

Right Wing Round-Up

Right Wing Leftovers

  • FRC hails the failure of the DADT vote.
  • Speaking of FRC, they remain very upset about being classified as a hate group by the SPLC.
  • But I do want to highlight this good post by Tom McClusky pointing out the ridiculousness of Grover Norquist's self-serving rationalization.
  • What a surprise: Westboro Baptist Church is going to protest Elizabeth Edwards' funeral.
  • Finally, CNSNews has started asking members of Congress whether they believe Jesus had a right to life at the moment of conception.  I have no idea why.

CPAC To Allow GOProud, John Birch Society to Continue Sponsorship

For the last few weeks, Religious Right groups have been pressuring CPAC organizers to drop the gay conservative group GOProud for the list of event co-sponsors and threatening to boycott next year's conference if GOP was allowed to participate.

The pressure prompted the American Conservative Union, which organizes CPAC, to put the issue before board members for a vote ... and CPAC has decided to allow both GOProud and the John Birch Society to participate:

Several socially conservative organizations have threatened to boycott one of the largest gatherings of conservative activists of the year if a group of gay Republicans is allowed to serve as a participating organization at the event.

Social conservatives, including the National Organization for Marriage among others, staged a walk-out at a meeting of board members of the Conservative Political Action Conference, according to multiple board members, to protest CPAC's decision to allow GOProud to join the event as more than just a vendor organization.

Those groups put enough pressure on the American Conservative Union, which runs CPAC, that officials put GOProud's fate, along with that of the ultra-conservative John Birch Society, up for a vote. Results made available to board members on Wednesday showed the board voted to allow both groups to continue their affiliation with CPAC.

That could send socially conservative groups packing and cause a rift in the CPAC board. GOProud has its enemies on the board of directors. Board member Cleta Mitchell is stridently opposed to allowing the gay group to participate and has led the charge to kick them out of the event, according to other board members.

This move will undoubtedly anger the many Religious Right groups who regularly participate in CPAC ... but that doesn't seem to particularly concern organizers:

CPAC organizers strongly suggest that this is overplayed. NOM, for example, is neither a board member -- there are only three of those, David Keene, Millie Hallow, and Cleta Mitchell -- or a participating organization of CPAC. "2010 was the first and only year they participated in CPAC," said CPAC director Lisa De Pasquale. "They have not registered for 2011 and have not attended any planning meetings." Participating organizations do not actually get votes on speakers, and while NOM has looked for help from the American Conservative Union's board, it's got only one like-minded GOProud critic -- Mitchell -- on the CPAC board.

Bachmann Intends to Have David Barton Teach Classes on Constitution and Christian History to Members of Congress

Rep. Michele Bachmann confirmed to CBN's David Brody that she intends to have Glenn Beck's BFF David Barton of Wallbuilders teach classes on the Constitution and America's Christian heritage to Tea Party members of Congress:

Bachmann: Every week we'll start our week with a class on the Constitution and how maybe bills that we're working on fit in with the Constitution - real time application.

Brody: One guest speaker on the list: influential Evangelical David Barton and his Christian perspective on American history.

Bachmann: The Judeo-Christian heritage isn't a belief. It's a fact.

Brody: And there's another fact Bachmann is bringing to the table.

Bachmann: One thing we know from the Book of Isaiah is that Isaiah tells us that the government is on His shoulders. "We can trust a holy, almighty God with our future and nothing is too big for Him."

Right Wing Groups Play Games with the Courts, Try to Block Judicial Nominees

As GOP delay-tactics in the US Senate continue to cause and aggravate judicial emergencies in the nation’s courtrooms, right wing activists demand that Senate Republicans persist in preventing members from voting to confirm Obama’s judicial nominees, even those who won significant bipartisan support. Even former Republican judges have condemned Republican games in the Senate as the number of judicial vacancies and emergencies rapidly grow.

But right wing activists are calling on the Senate GOP to stand firm and further weaken the judicial system. In the effort to paint President Obama as the second coming of who else but Jimmy Carter, Eagle Forum’s Phyllis Schlafly blasted Obama’s purportedly “radical” nominees:

One of the greatest risks of the current lame-duck Congress is the possibility of Senate confirmation of President Obama's radical appointments to federal courts, boards and agencies.

Nominees hoping for confirmation include the radical redistributionist Goodwin Liu, who is seeking a spot on the Ninth Circuit; Louis Butler Jr., who was removed from the Wisconsin Supreme Court by the voters in 2008, and Chai Feldblum, an advocate of same-sex marriage and polygamy who is now enjoying a recess appointment to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Appointees to federal circuit and district courts can be almost as important as Supreme Court justices because the Supreme Court takes only about 1% of the cases that seek to reach the high court. Lower federal court judges have been making final rulings on dozens of controversial issues that should be legislative decisions, including marriage, parents' rights in public schools and immigration.

Some have lamented that Jimmy Carter, who served only one term as president, didn't get a chance to make any Supreme Court appointments. But don't cry for Carter — he had plenty of influence on the judiciary.



The historic election of 2010 delivered a clear "shellacking" to President Obama's policies, one of which was his choice of federal judges, including the extremely left-wing Elena Kagan, now on the Supreme Court. The Senate should refuse to confirm any of Obama's judicial or agency nominees in the lame-duck session.

Of course, Goodwin Liu is seen as one of the country’s top legal and constitutional scholars; Louis Butler did lose his 2008 race, but only after a vicious smear-campaign by corporate interest groups, and Chai Feldblum is a prominent law professor and disability-rights activist.

Rick Manning of the pro-corporate Astroturf group Americans for Limited Government is also calling on the Senate to reject Liu, by propagating the false charge that Liu believes health care is a constitutional right.

His views that health and welfare issues are constitutional rights are outside-the-mainstream, pitting those who believe in limited government power against those who would give unfettered power to the federal government.

Liu’s extremism is particularly disturbing because the court system is likely to be confronted by a variety of cases related to health care. Liu’s belief that health care is a right would put him firmly in the position of supporting an even broader expansion of the ObamaCare legislation to eliminate the private provision of health care services.

But as the Alliance for Justice points out, Liu in his legal writings made almost the opposite case about welfare rights such as health care:

[Liu] has argued for a model of judicial restraint, concluding that courts should not interpret the Constitution to create affirmative welfare rights, whether to education, health care, or minimal levels of subsistence. Liu has explained that “such rights cannot be reasoned into existence by courts on their own” and has explained that his understanding of the judicial role “does not license courts to declare rights to entirely new benefits or programs not yet in existence.”

Richard Painter, a former lawyer for the Bush White House, made clear in the Los Angeles times what activists like Phyllis Schlafly and Rick Manning are really up to. He argued that right wing groups are playing political games with the judiciary in their opposition to a renowned scholar like Liu:

A noisy argument has persisted for weeks in the Senate, on blog sites and in newspaper columns over President Obama's nomination of Liu to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. This political spat over a single appellate judge makes no sense if one looks at Liu's academic writings and speeches, which reflect a moderate outlook. Indeed, much of this may have nothing to do with Liu but rather with politicians and interest groups jostling for position in the impending battle over the president's next nominee to the Supreme Court.

Jeffress: "A Competent Christian is Better Than a Competent Non-Christian"

Pastor Robert Jeffress is getting lots of softball press coverage for his new Grinch Alert effort which seeks to highlight "businesses and organizations that shut-out expressions of Christmas in their interactions with the public via marketing, advertising and public relations."

But what nobody seems to be bothering to point out is that Jeffress is also a vehemently anti-gay, anti-Muslim, and anti-Mormon Religious Right activist.  

Last night Alan Colmes had Jeffress on his program to discuss his endeavor and asked him about his claims that "Muslim men having sex with 4-year-old girls" and pointed out that behind Jeffress' seemingly lighthearted effort is a belief that Christianity is a superior religion and that non-Christians should not hold public office and even got Jeffress to admit that he's find it almost impossible to ever vote for a non-Christian candidate, even going to far to vote for an incompetent Christian candidate over a competent non-Christian one:

Colmes: When you do this thing for fun, which you're having fun with this this Christmas season and the so-called War on Christmas and you're doing this to have some fun with this Grinch Who Stole Christmas concept. But behind that is a point of view that you have that Christians are a superior religion and non-Christians should not hold public office. You truly have a bias against those who are not of your particular faith. Is that what Jesus taught?

Jeffress: Well I believe that Christians have a right to elect Christian leaders. I've never suggested, Alan, that they ought to be codified into law.

Colmes: So you'd never vote for a Jew? You'd never vote for an Atheist? You'd never vote for a Muslim? You'd never vote for a Buddhist? You would only cast your vote, and urge your flock to cast their votes, for those of the Christian faith.

Jeffress: Well, I believe that a competent Christian is better than a competent non-Christian.

Colmes: Why?

Jeffress: Because that is my religious belief.

Colmes: Is a non-competent Christian better than a competent non-Christian ... Can you see an election where a non-competent Christian is running against a competent non-Christian and the non-Christian would be the better candidate?

Jeffress: I can see that possibility and I think at that moment, it has to be a matter of conscience with the Christian.

Colmes: So could you see yourself voting for a non-Christian?

Jeffress: I could see if there were two non-Christians running, I could.

Colmes: But if one is a Christian, even if that person is the less competent person, you'd still vote for the Christian?

...

Jeffress: Alan, I'll have to pray about that.

NOM’s Gallagher Outnumbered at Catholic Conversation on LGBT Issues

Georgetown University’s College Republicans and College Democrats hosted “A Catholic Family Conversation” on LGBT issues last night. The event at the Jesuit school was moderated by columnist E.J. Dionne and featured a debate between author/blogger Andrew Sullivan and Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization for Marriage.

At the outset, Gallagher asked for a show of hands on where members of the audience stood on gay marriage. There appeared to be more supporters than opponents (not surprising given the mostly young audience and data on widespread Catholic support for LGBT equality). That may be why Gallagher condescendingly told young Catholics who support gay marriage not to pat themselves on the back for bravery, because, she said, what takes courage these days is to defend the church’s teaching. Gallagher and others were wearing a NOM button that tries, clumsily and not very successfully IMHO, to co-opt the term “marriage equality”:

Dionne spoke about his own journey from opposition to support for marriage equality. “Be not afraid,” he said, quoting from the day’s Gospel reading to suggest that Catholics should not fear conversation or engagement with modernity. He said that the Catholic Church has sometimes challenged modernity and sometimes been enriched by it, and sometimes both.

Many of Gallagher’s arguments were familiar to those who follow the marriage issue: Gallagher insisted that marriage is primarily about procreation and that “traditional” marriage serves a societal benefit of ensuring that children are raised by their mothers and fathers. She asked how society would be able to channel young men’s sexual energies into marriage if the traditional ideal of marriage is redefined as bigotry.

Gallagher said she was “shocked” at how opponents of gay marriage are being stigmatized as akin to racists and claimed that the gay rights movement is going to create intensifying conflict between the government and faith communities. (Perhaps she was thinking about NOM board member Orson Scott Card’s call for the overthrow of the government and Constitution if that Constitution is interpreted to permit gay couples to marry.)

In response to one audience question about what she would say to a teen in despair, she said she would counsel that God loves him, and claimed that she would confront his bullies because she has no respect or tolerance for bullying. When a later questioner asked how that statement could be reconciled with some of the groups NOM works with, she essentially dismissed the question by saying she couldn’t respond without specific examples. (We’d be happy to provide a few, or a ton.)

Gallagher slammed Catholics for Equality, which helped organize the event, calling on the group to repent for language she thought too critical of the church. (She seems sensitive in that regard, saying during the debate that Sullivan’s blunt criticism of the pope’s denigrating language about gay people made her want to cry.) And although she criticized her opponents for being uncivil, NOM distributed a flyer to attendees attacking Catholics for Equality. (The flyer slammed People For the American Way as an “anti-religious group funded by George Soros.”)

Sullivan was particularly effective as a speaker because he combined hard-hitting debate about the logic of NOM’s positions and the consequences of the church’s anti-gay teachings with a very personal, moving and disarming honesty about his own life and the way it has been strengthened by his marriage and his husband’s love.

Sullivan said he agreed with much of what Gallagher said about heterosexual marriage as an amazing, beautiful, mysterious event, but that he does not accept that marriage is an “either/or” proposition, adding that neither his parents’ marriage nor his sister’s is invalidated by his own. Sullivan told Gallagher that of course it hurt that she was trying to forcibly divorce him from his husband. It was, he said, a dehumanizing effort to deny gay people human happiness.

For more on the event, see journalist Sarah Posner’s report here.

Fischer: It Should Be Public Policy To Discourage and Eliminate Gay Sex

Bryan Fischer is actually on vacation this week and has had guest hosts filling in for him on his radio program.

So what is it that Fischer does while he is on vacation?  Apparently just look for news stories that he can cite to "support" his obsession with seeing gay sex criminalized.

Yesterday he cited an article about an adult film actor who contracted HIV to call for "appropriate sanctions" for those who engage in gay sex, and today he is citing an article on the dangers of smoking to claim that the government ought to be working to reduce, and eventually eliminate, gay sex:

As long as we’re on the subject of health, what the surgeon general did not say but should have is that the same is true of homosexual behavior: the first act of gay sex can be the one that kills you ... Smoking will cut six to seven years from the lifespan of the smoker, meaning a cigarette habit is less dangerous to human health and longevity than gay sex.

...

If a case can be made that cigarette smoking should be made illegal, a far better case can be made for making homosexual sex contrary to public policy, as it was in every state in the Union until 1962, and in 49 states until 1972. It’s still against the law in 12 states, although the Supreme Court, in another egregious act of judicial activism, prohibited states from governing themselves in this matter in the Lawrence ruling of 2003.

Now the surgeon general knows she can’t make it illegal in the current political climate, so she’ll settle for a vigorous effort to reduce the practice by sending a clear-cut, unambiguous message about smoking as a behavior. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you have started, stop.

Here’s an idea: since gay sex is more dangerous to human health than cigarette smoking, let’s make sure our public policies on both are the same.

I will be content at this juncture in American history for our public policy on homosexual conduct to be the same as our public policy on cigarette smoking, and for the same reason: the hazard they pose to public health.

The goal of the surgeon general’s office, since it can’t make smoking illegal, is to reduce the smoking rate from its current 20 percent to 12 percent by 2020.

We currently have between two and four percent of the population engaging in gay sex. How about we ask the surgeon general to launch a crusade to reduce the gay sex rate from four percent to one percent by 2020?

Says the surgeon general, in words that can and should be addressed to practicing homosexuals, “It's never too late to quit but the sooner you quit the better.”

In other words, the official administration policy on cigarette smoking is abstinence. Let’s make it the official government position on gay sex.

Just let me point out again that this is what Fischer does with his time while he is supposedly on vacation.

The Never-Ending Rise and Fall of the Religious Right

As we have stated again and again and again over the years, the media seems to have basically two ways of writing about the Religious Right:  1) they are dinosaurs on their way to extinction, or 2) they are galvanized, unified and motivated to reshape America.

And which of these narratives the media is presenting at any given time depends largely on how the Republicans did in the most recent election.  Thus after the 2008 election in which Barack Obama and the Democrats won significant victories, we saw articles like this in Newsweek:

The End of Christian America
The percentage of self-identified Christians has fallen 10 points in the past two decades. How that statistic explains who we are now—and what, as a nation, we are about to become.

...

This is not to say that the Christian God is dead, but that he is less of a force in American politics and culture than at any other time in recent memory. To the surprise of liberals who fear the advent of an evangelical theocracy and to the dismay of religious conservatives who long to see their faith more fully expressed in public life, Christians are now making up a declining percentage of the American population.

That was in April 2009. 

Today, of course, Republicans recently won significant victories in the last election, so now Newsweek is running this new cover story:

One Nation Under God
Powerful new rhetoric on the religious right pits Obama and big government against ‘God’s America’—and promises to galvanize Christians in 2012.

...

Though [Glenn] Beck may not be every conservative Christian's idea of a leader, many moderate conservatives agree that the old-guard religious right—represented by Pat Robertson and James Dobson—and their social priorities have ceased to hold much sway in Washington. Further, they believe that something like Christian patriotism, what in theological circles is often called “American exceptionalism,” has replaced abortion and gay marriage as the rallying cry of the religious right

...

Evangelicals characteristically see themselves as a persecuted group whose values are under assault by the mainstream culture, and Beck has most successfully (and visibly) reframed those values in terms of patriotism. The enemy is no longer “moral relativism,” a term that encompasses sexual promiscuity, divorce, homosexuality, and pornography. It’s socialism, the redistribution of wealth, immigrants—a kind of “global relativism” that makes no moral distinction between America and every other place. Beck speaks frequently about God’s special destiny for America. “We used to strive in this country to be a shining city on the hill,” he said at the “Restoring Honor” rally in August. “That’s what the Pilgrims came here for. That’s what they thought this land was. It’s what our Founders thought ... It is the shining example of a place where people work together in peace and friendship and worship God and make things better together.”

Sarah Palin, arguably the other emergent leader of the religious right, echoes this rhetoric. “Molding the crooked timber of humanity requires the grace of God,” she writes in her new book, America by Heart. “We have to know what makes America exceptional today more than ever because it is under assault today more than ever.” With this rhetoric, Beck and Palin are tapping a deep place in the American Protestant psyche ... But Beck’s gift, and Palin’s, is to articulate God’s special plan for America in such broad strokes that they trample no single creed or doctrine while they move millions with their message. Jerry Falwell had a similar gift, and in 1980 his Moral Majority helped make Jimmy Carter a one-term president—and elect Ronald Reagan in a landslide.

Newsweek has even produced two companion pieces - one, a photo-essay entited "Faces of the Christian Right" and another article examining possible GOP presidential candidates in terms of their appeal to the Religious Right.

Just last year Newsweek reported that we had "entered a post-Christian phase" in America where religion was going to play less and less of a role in politics. 

And today Newsweek is reporting that the influence of Christian conservatives remains substantial and that they are rallying around the idea of "American exceptionalism" to press their political agenda and have lots of Republican presidential hopefuls to choose from.  

What an amazing turnaround!