Arkansas

At Last Minute, Barton Backs Out of Teaching Seminar for Arkansas Legislators

Earlier this month we noted that the Arkansas Family Council had scheduled a two-day seminar for Arkansas legislators to be held today and tomorrow that was to be led by David Barton, who was going to teach them that helping the poor is not the government's responsibility.

But, at the last minute, Barton backed out without providing an explanation:

Evangelical activist David Barton has declined an invitation from the Family Council to speak to Arkansas lawmakers at the state Capitol, Family Council President Jerry Cox said Monday.

Cox said he did not know why Barton declined. The Family Council had reserved a room at the Capitol for Barton to hold a seminar today and Wednesday. The Christian conservative Family Council has no plans to reschedule the seminar, Cox said.

At Last Minute, Barton Backs Out of Teaching Seminar for Arkansas Legislators

Earlier this month we noted that the Arkansas Family Council had scheduled a two-day seminar for Arkansas legislators to be held today and tomorrow that was to be led by David Barton, who was going to teach them that helping the poor is not the government's responsibility.

But, at the last minute, Barton backed out without providing an explanation:

Evangelical activist David Barton has declined an invitation from the Family Council to speak to Arkansas lawmakers at the state Capitol, Family Council President Jerry Cox said Monday.

Cox said he did not know why Barton declined. The Family Council had reserved a room at the Capitol for Barton to hold a seminar today and Wednesday. The Christian conservative Family Council has no plans to reschedule the seminar, Cox said.

Leading GOP Contenders to Speak At Forums Hosted By Iowa's Leading Anti-Gay Group

The other day, Brian noted that Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty would soon be heading to Iowa to discuss "pro-family issues, all the way from life and marriage to economic policy and energy policy" at a forum being hosted by the right-wing group The Family Leader

The Family Leader is the new group that is being run by Bob Vander Plaats after his successful effort to remove three state Supreme Court justices over the court's gay marriage ruling ... and it looks like Pawlenty will be just the first in a series of GOP presidential hopefuls to participate in such forums for the anti-gay group: 

The series line-up begins with former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty on Monday, February 7. Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, and businessman and radio host Herman Cain have also made commitments to participate. Other invited speakers include former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, South Dakota Senator John Thune, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, and Indiana Representative Mike Pence.

“Iowans play a vital role in hosting the first-in-the-nation presidential caucus, and it is our privilege to offer this Presidential Lecture Series in order to provide our very influential base an opportunity to gain insight into our political process,” said Bob Vander Plaats, president and CEO of The FAMiLY LEADER. “Our base is serious about its role in the political process and the Presidential Lecture Series is a focused strategy to facilitate meaningful exposure to our constituents.”

It is worth pointing out that Vander Plaats' crusade against the Supreme Court continues to this day, leading a former advisor to declare that he has become "obsessed with the gay-marriage issue" and that his effort had deep support from many of the national anti-gay Religious Right groups, including the American Family Association and its bigot-in-chief Bryan Fischer.

Leading GOP Contenders to Speak At Forums Hosted By Iowa's Leading Anti-Gay Group

The other day, Brian noted that Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty would soon be heading to Iowa to discuss "pro-family issues, all the way from life and marriage to economic policy and energy policy" at a forum being hosted by the right-wing group The Family Leader

The Family Leader is the new group that is being run by Bob Vander Plaats after his successful effort to remove three state Supreme Court justices over the court's gay marriage ruling ... and it looks like Pawlenty will be just the first in a series of GOP presidential hopefuls to participate in such forums for the anti-gay group: 

The series line-up begins with former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty on Monday, February 7. Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, and businessman and radio host Herman Cain have also made commitments to participate. Other invited speakers include former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, South Dakota Senator John Thune, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, and Indiana Representative Mike Pence.

“Iowans play a vital role in hosting the first-in-the-nation presidential caucus, and it is our privilege to offer this Presidential Lecture Series in order to provide our very influential base an opportunity to gain insight into our political process,” said Bob Vander Plaats, president and CEO of The FAMiLY LEADER. “Our base is serious about its role in the political process and the Presidential Lecture Series is a focused strategy to facilitate meaningful exposure to our constituents.”

It is worth pointing out that Vander Plaats' crusade against the Supreme Court continues to this day, leading a former advisor to declare that he has become "obsessed with the gay-marriage issue" and that his effort had deep support from many of the national anti-gay Religious Right groups, including the American Family Association and its bigot-in-chief Bryan Fischer.

Jacobs: Birds Are Dying Because of DADT Repeal

Over the weekend, Cindy Jacobs of Generals International posted a new video prompted by the fact that, as a prophet, people have been asking her about the meaning behind the recent rash of bird deaths ... to which she replied that it might be due to the fact that America is violating God's prohibition on homosexuality with support for gay marriage and the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell:

According to biblical principles, marriage is between a man and a woman, so we have to say “what happens when a nation makes a decision that’s against God’s principles?” Well, often what happens is that nature itself will begin to talk to us – for instance, violent storms, flooding. And you know there are actually some patterns that you can see where a nation will make a decision that is contrary to the principles of God and after that there is some kind of answer that God gives - being the God of creation, the God who created nature - but we don’t always understand what He’s saying.

Well, there’s something interesting we have been watching – let’s talk about this Arkansas pattern and say, could it be a pattern? We’re going to watch and see. But the blackbirds fell to the ground in Beebe, Arkansas. Well the Governor of Arkansas’ name is Beebe. And also, there was something put out of Arkansas called "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" by a former Governor, this was proposed, Bill Clinton. As so, could there be a connection between this passage [Hosea 4] and now that we’ve had the repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, where people now legally in the United States have broken restraints with the Scripture because the Scripture says in Romans 1 that homosexuality is not allowed.

It could be because we have said it’s okay for people who commit these kinds of acts to be recognized in our military for the first time in our history, there is a potential that there is something that actually happened in the land where a hundred thousand drum fish died and also where these birds just fell out of the air.

More Religious Right Seminars for Elected Leaders

Looks like members of Congress and legislators in Arkansas might not be the only elected officials David Barton will be teaching in the coming weeks, as Andy Birkey of the Minnesota Independent reports that he has also been invited to participate in a joint Minnesota Family Council/Family Research Council summit for Minnesota legislators: 

When state legislators checked their office mailboxes Wednesday, they found an invitation to attend a Minnesota Family and Marriage Summit featuring a group that the Southern Poverty Law Center identifies as a hate group. The summit, to be held next week, is organized by the Minnesota Family Council and the Family Research Council and will teach legislators how to pass a constitutional amendment banning rights for same-sex couples.

The summit includes courses for legislators such as “Bullying bills: The homosexual agenda in your child’s public school” and “Why family matters,” but the bulk of the summit appears to be focused on getting an amendment on the ballot in 2012 banning gay marriage.

Sessions entitled “Effective marriage protection amendment strategies” and “What’s the harm in same-sex marriage?” are aimed at getting the amendment passed, and the latter is taught by a man who once said gays should be “exported” and that homosexuality should be outlawed: Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council.

...

Invited, but not confirmed, is David Barton of Wallbuilders.

Barton To Inform AR Legislators Helping The Poor Is Not a Government Responsibility

The other day we noted that the Arkansas Family Council is going to be bringing David Barton in to lead a two-day seminar for state legislators and government officials and explain to them that "helping the poor ... is primarily a function of the church," not government.

And indeed, the idea that it is not the government's responsibility to help the poor seems as if it is going to be one of the main points Barton intends to impart, as the AFC's Jerry Cox explained to Arkansas News columnist John Brummett:

Cox told me that Barton will not be lecturing these legislators on imposing Christianity on the government. Instead, he said, this highly polarizing Texan of dubious academic credentials will explain that some responsibilities belong to government, some to families and some to the church.

Quoting Barton from a recent lecture in Garland County, Cox said:

—Justice belongs to the government because a system of church punishment might bear alarming comparisons to inquisitions.

—Child rearing belongs to the family.

—Services for the poor and needy are the rightful responsibility of the church.

Interesting, isn't it, how Barton isn't going to churches with the message that it is their responsility to help the poor but is instead going to legislators with the the message that it is not their responsibility to help the poor?

Barton to Teach Two-Day Seminar for Arkansas Legislators

If Rep. Michele Bachmann believes that David Barton is qualified to teach members of Congress about the Constitution, I guess we shouldn't be surprised that the Arkansas Family Council is bringing Barton in for a two-day seminar to impart his wisdom to state legislators and government officials:

A political activist who claims America was founded on biblical principles has been invited to speak to elected officials at the state Capitol later this month.

The Christian conservative Family Council has asked David Barton to hold a seminar for state legislators and constitutional officers on Jan. 25 and 26 and has reserved the Old Supreme Court chamber on those dates, said Jerry Cox, the group's executive director.

Barton, of Aledo, Texas, is the founder of the group WallBuilders and the author of several books on American history. Cox said he has spoken with Barton and is 90 percent certain he will accept the invitation.

Barton has argued that the Founding Fathers intended for the United States to be a Christian nation and did not support the separation of church and state as the phrase is understood today. Cox said Barton will discuss his views on the proper role of government, including his belief that "helping the poor ... is primarily a function of the church," not government.

Cox said he agrees with Barton's views and wants to help educate lawmakers who will be sworn into office next week, the first week of the legislative session.

"I want to help our lawmakers understand what the role of government is and then try to keep the laws that we pass within the bounds of the proper role of government," he said.

Maybe Barton will use the seminar to encourage Arkansas legislators to regulate gay sex.

2012 Candidates Weekly Update 1/4/11

Mitch Daniels

Social issues: Candidates for RNC Chair pan Daniels's "truce" proposal (GOP12, 1/3).

2012: Claims that a potential presidential bid scares his family "to death" (The Hill, 1/3).

Newt Gingrich

Religious Right: Bryan Fischer of AFA thinks his history of extramarital affairs will doom him among social conservatives (RWW, 1/3).

Fundraising: Confirmed to address, along with Mike Pence, Illinois GOP fundraiser celebrating Ronald Reagan's birthday (Chicago Tribune, 1/3).

Mike Huckabee

Arkansas: Enthusiasm builds for a second presidential run in his home state of Arkansas (Politics Daily, 1/2).

Poll: Two out of three Republicans said that they were "very or somewhat likely" to back Huckabee, leading the field (CBNNews, 1/2).

Jon Huntsman

2012: Still open to presidential bid despite his appointment as Ambassador to China (Newsweek, 1/1).

Sarah Palin

Social issues: Re-tweets Tammy Bruce, who said that "the more someone complains about the homos the more we should look under their bed" (Gawker, 1/4).

GOP: Conservative writer George Will and blogger Erick Erickson dismiss Palin's chances of winning the Presidency (Salon, 1/3).

Book: Reviewer of America By Heart finds that "there is no identity she embraces with more alacrity than that of victim" (Religion Dispatches, 1/2).

Tim Pawlenty

2012: With Mark Dayton's inauguration as governor, Pawlenty now "full-time candidate" (The Atlantic, 1/3).

Book: Will begin tour for new book, Courage to Stand (Minnesota Public Radio, 1/3).

Mike Pence

Indiana: Fundraising plans point to potential gubernatorial bid (TPM, 1/4).

GOP: Wins the endorsement of RedState's Erick Erickson (RedState, 1/3).

Fundraising: Confirmed to address, along with Newt Gingrich, Illinois GOP fundraiser celebrating Ronald Reagan's birthday (Chicago Tribune, 1/3).

Mitt Romney

Massachusetts: May have a "Willie Horton" situation from his parole board appointments as Massachusetts governor (UPI, 1/3).

South Carolina: Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) calls Romney "the most electable conservative" (Greenville Online, 1/3).

House GOP Picks Ethically-Challenged Freshmen for Judiciary Committee

The House Republican Leadership recently announced that incoming Pennsylvania Congressman Tom Marino and Arkansas Congressman Tim Griffin have been assigned seats on Rep. Lamar Smith’s Judiciary Committee. Marino and Griffin, who were profiled in Right Wing Watch’s The Ten Scariest Republicans Heading to Congress, are peculiar picks for a committee which has “jurisdiction over matters relating to the administration of justice in federal courts, administrative bodies, and law enforcement agencies” since both Republicans were dogged by corruption and ethics scandals prior to their successful bids for Congress.

Marino resigned from his position as a US Attorney in the wake of a brewing scandal over his ties to resort owner and convicted felon Louis DeNaples. He described DeNaples as his “close friend” and provided a reference for DeNaples when he attempted to win state approval to have slot machines at his resort.

But when Marino’s own office opened an investigation into DeNaples over his ties to organized crime, Marino's assistants discovered the reference and the Department of Justice (DOJ) transferred the case to the US Attorney of Binghamton, NY. The DOJ later launched an investigation of Marino “for allegedly violating several department guidelines” over the “reference letter he wrote to help Louis DeNaples get a casino license,” but the investigation ended once Marino resigned.

Responding to criticism about his ties to DeNaples, Marino declared during an interview that he has evidence the DOJ gave him permission to serve as a reference. However, Boryk Krawczeniuk of The Times-Tribune found that DOJ officials never gave him permission, and Marino failed to produce his “evidence.” Krawczeniuk writes that the DOJ confirmed to multiple news outlets that Marino never sought or received such permission: “an Associated Press story, quoting an anonymous Justice Department source, said the department had ‘no record’ that Mr. Marino sought or received Justice authorization to serve as a reference for Mr. DeNaples. A Justice spokeswoman confirmed the department had no such record last week to The Citizens’ Voice newspaper in Wilkes-Barre, which is owned by the same company as The Times-Tribune.”

Eventually, Marino backed away from his false claim that he was given permission from the DOJ, and “told the Sunbury Daily Item he never asked the Justice Department for permission to serve as a reference.”

After Marino resigned in order to end the DOJ investigations into his actions, he quickly obtained a $250,000-a-year job as “DeNaples’ in-house lawyer.” In his financial disclosure form, Marino under-reported his income and stated that his DeNaples’ salary was just $25,000 annually.

The conservative blog RedState’s Zack Oldham said of Marino’s actions: “The reality is just as bad as–if not worse than–the optics of this scandal.”

Marino’s relationship with DeNaples and his attempts to cover-up his ethics troubles were not his first encounter with ethics questions. As a District Attorney, Marino approached a judge to toss out his friend’s conviction on drug charges. After the Judge refused, the Luzeme County Citizens Voice reports that Marino “approached another judge and won the expungement, but the plan backfired when the second judge learned of the first judge's involvement in the case.”

Despite the corruption accusations, false statements, and the DOJ investigation which plagued Marino’s legal career, House Republicans still picked him for a Judiciary Committee post. Perhaps, Marino was picked due to his staunchly anti-immigrant views, as incoming Judiciary Committee Chair Lamar Smith (R-TX) intends to use the committee to push a hard line agenda that includes overturning the 14th Amendment’s of birthright citizenship. Marino opposes comprehensive immigration reform, backs Arizona’s draconian SB 1070, and was endorsed by Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, which has been described as a “nativist extremist organization.” Just as Smith said that President Obama was “awfully close to a violation of [his] oath of office” as a result of his immigration policy, Marino said he would consider impeaching the President over his handling of immigration.

Like Marino, freshman Tim Griffin was forced to resign as a US Attorney and faced his own ethics questions. Griffin worked his way up through the Republican Party ranks through his work in opposition research and was known as “a protégé of Karl Rove.” He worked for the Bush presidential campaigns and has ties to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Griffin then aided efforts in the Bush White House to replace US Attorneys with partisan appointees, and then-US Attorney Paul Charlton said that Griffin “spread the rumors around the White House that Bud Cummins,” who was the US Attorney of Northeast Arkansas at the time, “was not a good U.S. attorney.”

When Cummins was fired, Griffin was appointed to take his place. Deputy Attorney General Paul McNaulty later testified that “Cummings was fired to make a place for Griffin at the urging of Karl Rove and Harriet Miers,” the former White House Counsel. Kyle Sampson, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’s Chief of Staff, wrote in an email that “getting him appointed was important to Harriet, Karl, etc.” Former US Attorney David Iglesias, said that Tim Griffin “never should have been U.S. Attorney, he was fundamentally unqualified.”

However, Griffin resigned from his position as US Attorney when the BBC uncovered documents showing his work in “vote caging” operations in Florida while he was working for the Bush reelection campaign. Griffin tried to suppress the vote by designing and sending out “caging lists” which “were heavily weighted with minority voters including homeless individuals, students and soldiers sent overseas.”

The Arkansas Leader wrote that “The White House intended to fully consolidate the entire federal criminal justice system into its political operation” and Griffin’s “resignation or dismissal ought to be imminent.” Griffin resigned from his post as US Attorney on May 30, 2007.

Now, two former US Attorneys who resigned under the cloud of scandal will have seats on the Judiciary Committee. By selecting Marino and Griffin, the Republican leadership rewarded coveted posts to two freshmen with serious and troubling ethics questions on the committee which oversees the court system, the rule of law, and law enforcement.

Huckabee Irked Nobody Considers Him a 2012 Front-Runner

Ever since losing the Republican primary to John McCain in 2008, Mike Huckabee has repeatedly been asked if he plans to make another run for the White House in 2012.  And his answer has always been the same: "I don't know.  Maybe."

As Huckabee made clear during his last try, he is not independently wealthy and actually had to take breaks from campaigning in order to deliver paid speechs in order to have any sort of income.  He's now got several different projects that provide a nice living, but he'd have to give them up if he decided to run for president and once again find himself without a steady income. 

Given these constraints and Huckabee's perpetually nonchalant "maybe I will, maybe I won't" attitude, he's frequently left off the list of possible 2012 GOP candidates ... and that apparently irks him to no end:

Huckabee, for one, is tired of being left out of the conversation and sounds increasingly like a candidate.

“I just don’t understand how it is that a person can read these polls day after day and the narrative is constantly everybody but me,” he told POLITICO. “Whether I do it or not, the fact is that if one looks at the overall body of information that’s available, nobody would be in a better position to take it all the way to November.”

Few politicians who have felt – as Huckabee did for a moment in 2008 – a real shot at the presidency pass on a second run. That Huckabee’s national footprint, along with his bank account, has grown only strengthens the rationale for a second shot.

“The polls are consistently favorable, putting me either at the top of every poll or right near it. It’s hard to ignore that, having swum in that water before when I barely registered in those very kinds of polls,” he said.

Huckabee said he’s never wavered in seriously considering a bid, and interviews with the former Arkansas governor and much of his small inner circle suggest that he may be more likely to run than is widely presumed – and has recently shifted toward considering it more seriously.    

I, for one, welcome this development, as we've spent years chronicling Huckabee's myriad ties to radical right-wing activists and candidates and would hate to see all of that work go to waste.

Right Wing Round-Up

Neo-Confederate Radical Catches GOP Wave, Elected to Arkansas State House

As the Republican Party lurches farther to the right and comes to the successful conclusion of its Southern Strategy, even the party’s most radical candidates can win elections. In an open Democratic seat in Arkansas, where Republicans made significant gains in the election, Republican candidate Loy Mauch defeated his Democratic opponent. According to the Arkansas Times, State Representative-elect Mauch is a staunch Neo-Confederate who is “a current member of The League of the South,” a white supremacist group, and an avowed opponent of Abraham Lincoln and his legacy. He describes the Confederate Battle Flag as “a symbol of Jesus Christ” and “Biblical government,” and an affiliate of the Sons of Confederate Veterans he led presented a speech entitled “Homage to John Wilkes Booth.” David Koon of the Arkansas Times writes:

For seven years, Mauch was the commander of James M. Keller Camp 648 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. He stepped down as commander last year. In 2004, angered by the city of Hot Springs' refusal to remove a statue of Abraham Lincoln displayed in the Hot Springs Civic and Convention Center, the Keller Camp hosted a conference in Hot Springs called "Seminar on Abraham Lincoln — Truth vs. Myth," with a keynote address called "Homage to John Wilkes Booth."

Mauch said that he believes Lincoln didn't follow the Constitution. Of the statue of Lincoln in the convention center, Mauch said: "I didn't think it had any place down in Hot Springs, Arkansas. He wasn't friendly to Arkansas. He didn't have anything to do with Arkansas. Nobody in Arkansas voted for him."

A prolific writer of letters to the editor (Garland County Democratic Party chair George Hozendorf said one of the only things he knew about Mauch was that he recalled a letter to the Hot Springs Sentinel-Record in which Mauch advocated for enlarging the controversial Confederate flag and Confederate soldier statue at the fork of Central and Ouachita Avenues), Mauch took pen in hand in 2008 during the controversy stirred up by Huntsville businessman James Vandiver's decision to respond to the election of Barack Obama by flying a Confederate battle flag in front of his motel.

"The government has lost its moral authority over God-fearing Americans," Mauch wrote to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. "I wish more patriots like James Vandiver would take their stand for what the Confederate Battle Flag truly symbolizes."

When asked what the Confederate flag symbolizes, Mauch said: "It's a symbol of constitutional government. It's a symbol of Jesus Christ above all else. It's a symbol of Biblical government."

The Southern Poverty Law Center’s profiles of the League of The South, which calls for Whites to “establish a Christian theocratic state and politically dominate blacks and other minorities,” and the Sons of Confederate Veterans, which has ties to extremist groups such as the League and the Council of Conservative Citizens, reveal their radical underpinnings. The SPLC has documented the Southern Republican politicians who have ties to such racist groups, and Mauch appears to be the latest example of a politician who views the Southern Confederacy with nostalgia and praises its history with religious fervor and nationalistic devotion.

Huckabee Going To Iowa To Deliver Political Message Because He Hasn’t Been a Pastor for 20 Years

We noted the other day that Mike Huckabee was heading to Iowa to raise money for the Iowa Family Policy Center, which is now being overseen by Bob Vander Plaats who recently orchestrated the removal of three state Supreme Court justices in order to carry out "God's will."

In anticipation of Huckabee's visit, Pastor Dean Schmitt of Cedar Falls was featured in a video produced by IFPC explaining that Huckabee was "coming not as a politician but as a pastor" so he can "share his heart about the needs for the church to be energized and engaged in our culture":

But today Huck PAC Executive Director Hogan Gidley released a statement clarifying that Huckabee is not, in fact, attending as a pastor but is going there to deliver a political message:

“Governor Huckabee is excited about the opportunity to travel back to Iowa, see his friends and speak at the IFPC’s event. However, after seeing recent communications and comments made by the Iowa Family Policy Center and its representatives, Huck PAC would like to clarify the purpose of the message Governor Mike Huckabee will be delivering on November 21.

The Governor often speaks openly and unapologetically about his own personal Christian faith, but he doesn’t want there to be any confusion as to the nature of this invitation. The speaking request was made through Governor Huckabee’s Political Action Committee. The Governor was invited to speak about the political issues of the day and how they shape the culture of our country. His message will be political, but not partisan.

Governor Huckabee served honorably as Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas for three years, as Governor of Arkansas for ten and a half years and remains one of our nation’s strongest political leaders. While Governor Huckabee is grateful to have been an ordained minister – he hasn’t been a pastor of a church for about 20 years.”

Meet Tim Griffin: Karl Rove’s Man in Congress

Following last Tuesday's election, RWW will bring you our list of the "The Ten Scariest Republicans Heading to Congress." Our fifth candidate profile is on Tim Griffin of Arkansas:

Running in an open Democratic district, Tim Griffin defeated progressive champion Joyce Elliott to win the election to represent Arkansas’s 2nd Congressional District.

Tim Griffin worked in the two Bush presidential campaigns and McCain’s 2008 campaign as the Republicans’ chief opposition researcher. In 2000, he said with regards to his opposition research department: “We think of ourselves as the creators of the ammunition in a war…. We make the bullets.” Conservative columnist Robert Novak called Griffin “a protégé of Karl Rove, who is a leading practitioner of opposition research — the digging up of derogatory information about political opponents.”

He received notoriety in 2004 for his work to advance the false smears propagated by the discredited group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

Griffin next came to light when President Bush appointed him U.S. Attorney as part of his ongoing efforts to politicize the Department of Justice. “In December 2006, US Attorney Bud Cummings was fired from his district in Northeast Arkansas and replaced with Tim Griffin,” writes investigative journalist Shannyn Moore, as the Bush Administration used a little known provision of the USA Patriot Act to avoid confirmation hearings and votes by the US Senate. Deputy Attorney General Paul McNaulty later testified that “Cummings was fired to make a place for Griffin at the urging of Karl Rove and Harriet Miers,” the former White House Counsel. Kyle Sampson, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’s Chief of Staff, wrote in an email that “getting him appointed was important to Harriet, Karl, etc.”

Paul Charlton, who was also ousted in the Bush Administration’s Purge of US Attorneys, said that Griffin “spread the rumors around the White House that Bud Cummins was not a good U.S. attorney” in order to get him fired. Another U.S. Attorney who was pushed out during the purge, David Iglesias, maintains that Tim Griffin “never should have been U.S. Attorney, he was fundamentally unqualified.”

When defending Griffin’s nomination, the Bush Administration used “misleading talking points” which significantly exaggerated his experience as a prosecutor.

Griffin continued his deeply political work while serving as a U.S. Attorney, but was forced to resign in 2007 when he was caught in a “vote caging” operation to prevent minorities from voting. The BBC uncovered emails sent by Griffin during the 2004 campaign which included ‘caging lists’ to bar typically marginalized groups voting, and Griffin’s “caging lists were heavily weighted with minority voters including homeless individuals, students and soldiers sent overseas.”

According to Iglesias, his management of the vote caging maneuvers represents “reprehensible conduct and it may be illegal.” As a result of his disreputable background, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) rated him one of the “most corrupt” candidates for Congress.

When he was not working in the Bush Administration or for GOP campaigns, Griffin was a high-paid consultant and earned hundreds of thousands of dollars while working for “lobbying and consulting firms on shadowy causes,” including the corporate astro-turf campaign that was fighting Alaska’s Clean Water Initiative.

Throughout his congressional campaign, Griffin has closely followed the Karl Rove-playbook of appealing to both corporate interests and the Religious Right. Griffin wants to repeal health care reform and once supported the elimination of corporate taxes in favor of a national sales tax. At a candidate forum, he even went out of his way to laud the state’s relatively low wages for workers and anti-union laws.

An opponent of equal rights and a woman’s right to choose, Griffin supports a Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage, believes that employers should be allowed to fire their employees due to their sexual orientation, and has pledged to protect the discriminatory Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA). The fervently anti-choice group Americans United for Life Action ran ads boosting Griffin and criticizing his opponent, saying that she does not care about “the life of an innocent child.”

After a long career of dirty tricks, corporate astro-turfing, and Rovian politics, Griffin is a darling of the Republican leadership and set to become a star member of the GOP’s freshman class.

Watch this segment from the Bill Moyers Journal on Tim Griffin:

 

 

 

Right Wing Round-Up

An Unwelcome Reminder for Mike Huckabee

Last year, Mike Huckabee's presidential aspirations took a serious blow when Maurice Clemmons murdered four Washington state police offices because it turned out that Clemmons, an Arkansas native, had been sentenced to 108 years in prison only to have his sentence commuted by then Governor Mike Huckabee.

Immediately, conservatives jumped all over Huckabee and declared that he could never be trusted as president while Huckabee began feverishly defending his actions, claiming that he had commuted Clemmons' sentence because it was disproportionate and blaming others for having dropped the ball.

Since then, the issue has more or less faded away ... or had, until the Seattle Times ran this long report about Clemmons' criminal history that landed him in prison and then kept him there, noting that "Clemmons racked up eight felony charges in seven months" and then refused to accept any plea bargains and ended up with a total of 108 years, though prisoners typically only served one-sixth of their sentence.

In 2000, Clemmons wrote to Huckabee seeking clemency and Huckabee, who had a history of granting such requests at a rate far greater than his predecessors, granted it seemingly without much investigation: 

Huckabee called himself a "grace" Christian, not a "law" Christian, and what was clemency but an act of grace?

In his 10 ½ years as governor, starting in 1996, Mike Huckabee emerged as a political force, an ordained minister who could draw votes from across the political spectrum.

He spoke in support of "restorative justice," and backed up his words. In 17 years his three predecessors approved 507 clemency requests. Huckabee granted twice that many: 1,033.

...

Clemmons wrote a letter to Huckabee, saying he was seeking compassion and mercy: "God Bless You ... It is so prayed!" Asked the grounds for his request, Clemmons checked a box for "excessive sentence." He also checked this box: "My institutional adjustment has been exemplary."

But Clemmons' adjustment had been just the opposite. The same year he filled out this clemency application, the Arkansas Department of Correction reduced Clemmons' time in prison to this damning score sheet:

"Disciplinaries: 29 Times.

Achievements: None."

In May 2000, Huckabee granted Clemmons' plea for clemency, citing Clemmons' youth when sentenced. The governor commuted the sentences for four of Clemmons' eight felony convictions, making him immediately eligible for parole.

Huckabee is already hamstrung by right-wing activists who believe him to be insufficiently hard-line conservative ... and presumably this article recounting Clemmons' criminal history and Huckabee's role in freeing him is only going to reinforce that reputation.

2012 Candidates Weekly Update 9/21/10

Your update on the potential 2012 Presidential candidates for 9/14-9/21:

Mitch Daniels

2012: Newt Gingrich says Daniels should run for President (Courier & Press, 9/21).

Economy: Attends Chamber of Commerce event in Indianapolis (WIBC, 9/20).

PAC: Leadership PAC runs ads encouraging IN voters to support Republicans (Politico, 9/19).

Newt Gingrich

Religious Right: Demands ban on Sharia Law’s use in US Courts (TPM, 9/18).

Health Care: Calls for HHS Sec. Kathleen Sebelius’ resignation, compares her service to “Soviet tyranny” (Politico, 9/18).

GOP: Headlines fundraiser for the Minnesota GOP (Star Tribune, 9/17).

Obama: Gingrich attacked by critics for pushing over the top anti-Obama rhetoric (NY Daily News, 9/20).

Mike Huckabee

Obama: Criticizes President’s treatment of Christians (Newsmax, 9/17).

GOP: “Thrilled” about the defeat of “establishment” candidate in primaries (Huffington Post, 9/20).

2010: Expects a Republican wave in home state of Arkansas (Arkansas Democrat Gazette, 9/20).

Sarah Palin

Iowa: Speaks at Iowa’s Ronald Reagan Dinner, tells Fox News she may “give it a shot” to Presidential run (NY Daily News, 9/18).

2012: Wins straw poll of presidential prospects at RightNation convention (Chicago Sun-Times, 9/20).

2010: Tweets to Delaware’s Christine O’Donnell with a warning against “appeasing nat'l media” that’s “seeking ur destruction” (The Hill, 9/19).

Religious Right: FRC head Tony Perkins suggests that Palin is a “cheerleader” rather than a presidential candidate (Politico, 9/18).

Media: Claims that journalists disrespect fallen troops when they “tell lies” about her (Des Moines Register, 9/17).

Poll: Rasmussen survey says slight majority of Americans identify more with Palin’s views than Obama’s (Rasmussen Reports, 9/20).

Tim Pawlenty

2010: Fundraising for GOP gubernatorial nominee Scott Walker in Wisconsin (AP, 9/20).

Economy: WSJ profiles Governors like Pawlenty and others who visited China (WSJ, 9/20).

Mike Pence

Religious Right: Indiana Congressman wins a plurality of votes at Values Voter Summit’s 2012 straw poll (MSNBC, 9/18).

2012: Speaks to conservative Hillsdale College about the Presidency (EducationNews, 9/21).

2010: Defends Christine O’Donnell in Delaware from attacks (CNN, 9/20).

Mitt Romney

New Hampshire: Romney’s Leadership PAC endorses and donates to victors of GOP primaries (Politics Daily, 9/18).

Religious Right: Lashes out at Obama’s economic and social policies, “counterfeit” values at Values Voter Summit (Religion Dispatches, 9/20).

Poll: Leads 2012 pack with 22% support from Republicans (Public Policy Polling, 9/12).

2010: Going to Florida to stump for Gov hopeful Rick Scott (Daily Sun, 9/20).

Rick Santorum

South Carolina: Tests message in early primary state (Daily Caller, 9/16).

Religious Right: Says that families don’t exist in poor neighborhoods (CBS News, 9/17).

PFAW Sends Letters to GOP Leaders Urging them to Denounce Fischer, Skip Values Voter Summit

People For's President, Michael Keegan, sent the following letter today to Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, Indiana Rep. Mike Pence, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, and Delaware Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell, all of whom are scheduled to appear this weekend at the Values Voter Summit, alongside the virulantly anti-Muslim and anti-gay Bryan Fischer.

Dear ________:

I am writing to express my concern about your appearance this weekend at the upcoming Values Voter Summit. Among the participants this weekend will be Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association. We urge you to publically denounce Fischer’s record of hate speech and extremism, and reconsider appearing beside him this weekend.

People For’s RightWingWatch.org blog has tracked Fischer’s career over the past several years. His long and prolific record of hate speech and extremism includes the following recent statements. Just in the past year, Fischer has:

I am attaching the names of over 6,500 concerned citizens who have signed the following letter regarding your participation in the summit:

Values Voter Summit Participants:

Reasonable people can, and do, have reasonable differences of opinion. Bryan Fischer, of the American Family Association, is not a reasonable person.

By sharing a stage with Fischer at this year's Values Voter Summit, public figures acknowledge the credibility of his shameless anti-Muslim and anti-gay propaganda. Any candidate thinking seriously of running for president in 2012 should think twice about standing alongside a man who has called for the deportation of all Muslims in America; insulted Muslim servicemembers; claimed that brave Americans died in vain because Iraq was not converted to Christianity; and called gay people deviants, felons, pedophiles and terrorists. Bryan Fischer is no mainstream conservative. And neither is any person who shares a platform with him while refusing to denounce his hate-filled propaganda.

We urge you to denounce Fischer's extremism and separate yourself from his comments.

For more background on Fischer’s extreme rhetoric, please click here.

Fischer’s appearance with conservative leaders such as yourself lends his extreme hate speech credibility. We urge you to publicly denounce Fischer’s record and to think twice about sharing the stage with him.

Sincerely,

Michael B. Keegan
President, People For the American Way

Gingrich Warns of Sharia While Seeking Dominion

Last week, when Newt Gingrich came out in opposition to the "Ground Zero Mosque," I noted that his position seemed rather hypocritical considering that he had recently founded an organization called Renewing American Leadership that has, as its mission, the protection and encouragement of the free exercise of religion in America.

But the hypocrisy at the root of that piece pales in comparison to the hypocrisy at the root of his latest piece:

Radical Islamism is more than simply a religious belief. It is a comprehensive political, economic, and religious movement that seeks to impose sharia—Islamic law—upon all aspects of global society.

Many Muslims see sharia as simply a reference point for their personal code of conduct. They recognize the distinction between their personal beliefs and the laws that govern all people of all faiths.

For the radical Islamist, however, this distinction does not exist. Radical Islamists see politics and religion as inseparable in a way it is difficult for Americans to understand. Radical Islamists assert sharia’s supremacy over the freely legislated laws and values of the countries they live in and see it as their sacred duty to achieve this totalitarian supremacy in practice.

Some radical Islamists use terrorism as a tactic to impose sharia but others use non-violent methods—a cultural, political, and legal jihad that seeks the same totalitarian goal even while claiming to repudiate violence.

Does Gingrich not realize that the man he hired to run Renewing American Leadership, Jim Garlow, is a full-bore advocate of the 7 Mountains Mandate, which is a Dominionist theology that seeks get Christians in control of the levers of power and influence the world over so as to create God's kingdom on Earth and bring about the return of Jesus Christ?

Taking control of the 7 Mountians is the foundational principal of Garlow's new Pray and ACT political organization, which is being prominently featured by Gingrinch's own ReAL website and has the support of a who's who of Religious Right leaders:

Jim Garlow, Skyline Church & Renewing American Leadership
Chuck Colson, Founder Prison Fellowship & BreakPoint
Che Ahn, Harvest International Ministry
Vonette Bright, Co-Founder, Campus Crusade for Christ, International
Bishop Keith Butler, Founding Pastor, Word of Faith International Christian Center
Jim Daly, President & CEO, Focus on the Family
Lou Engle, TheCall to Conscience, TheCall
Father Joseph Fessio, Editor in Chief, Ignatius Press, San Francisco
Maggie Gallagher, National Organization for Marriage
Professor Robert George, Princeton University
Professor Timothy George, Dean, Beeson Divinity School
Jack Hayford, Founder and Chancellor, The King's College and Seminary
Mike Huckabee, Former Governor of Arkansas & Host, The Mike Huckabee Show
Bishop Harry Jackson, Jr., High Impact Church Coalition
Alveda King, Silent No More Awareness Campaign
Richard Land, The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission
Ron Luce, Founder, Teen Mania & Battle Cry
Bishop Richard Malone, Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland (Maine)
Eva Muntean & Dolores Meehan, Co-Founders, West Coast Walk for Life, San Francisco
Penny Nance, Concerned Women for America
Tony Perkins, Family Research Council
James Robison, Life Outreach, International
Samuel Rodriguez, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference
Alan Sears, Alliance Defense Fund
Chuck Stetson, Let’s Strengthen Marriage Campaign

Obviously, these leaders and this Dominionist theology do not advocate the use of violence to achieve their goals, but you have to marvel at Gingrich's willingness to warn that "Islamists" are seeking to impose their religious views on all cultural, political, and legal matters while his very own organization is seeking to do the exact same thing.

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