California

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Judicial Watch has released a "Special Report on Judge Sotomayor's Connection to the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund."
  • Rick Warren will reportedly be attending Islamic Society of North America's annual convention in Washington, D.C. over the Fourth of July weekend.
  • Carrie Prejean is seeking a book deal.
  • Gary Bauer says that Sarah Palin's feud with David Letterman "proves conservatives can fight pop culture and win."
  • Operation Rescue and other Wichita-based anti-abortion groups say they have received death threats in response to last month's killing of George Tiller.
  • The Family Research Council defends Bill O'Reilly's attacks on Tiller, saying "Something has been lost in the canonization of George Tiller--and that 'something' is the truth ... If Bill O'Reilly was fanning anything, it was the facts. We applaud him for drawing attention to a grisly procedure that even the most hardened pro-choice Democrats in Congress oppose.
  • Finally, the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission explains that Tiller's murder was wrong because, even though "Tiller certainly was guilty of murder before God ... lawfully established civil authorities are the rightful ministers of God’s wrath. They have been granted a monopoly by God on the use of the sword, namely capital punishment and physical coercion. "

Right Wing Round-Up

  • David Hart explains why the US Commission on Civil Rights' opposition to hate crimes legislation comes as no surprise.
  • Speaking of hate crimes, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights has released a new report finding that "the problem of hate crimes continues to be a significant national concern that demands priority attention."
  • Pam's House Blend points out that anti-gay activists in Maine have hired the California public relations firm that ran the successful Proposition 8 campaign.
  • David Corn reports that Ken Starr has endorsed Sonia Sotomayor.
  • Jodi Jacobson of RH Reality Check reports that a Republicans are obstructing a Senate resolution condemning clinic violence.
  • As David Neiwert asks, what should the media be calling Shawna Forde and her Minuteman gang if not "extremists"?
  • Finally, the Southern Poverty Law Center reports that the Westboro Baptist Church is now targeting Jews.

The Birth of the Birthers

Spencer Kornhaber of the OC Weekly has done us all a great service by taking on the unenviable task of trying to understand the motivations and history of the "Birther" movement by producing this lengthy and excellent profile of Orly Taitz, the dentist who has become one of the key figures in starting conspiracy theories about Barack Obama's eligibility to be President of the United States.

The piece is excellent as it covers her ties to people like Wiley Drake and Alan Keyes and explains how she ended up getting sued by others in the Birther movement who accuse her of being an Obama plant out to discredit their efforts.  The piece is rather long, so I'm just going to excerpt a few sections and urge you to read the whole thing:

There’s a term some use for people like Taitz, and she doesn’t like it. It’s “birther”—or, if you want to be really mean, “birfer.” (The controversy was born on the Internet, so naturally the Internet gave it a goofy name.) While rumors about Obama’s background and citizenship simmered throughout the 2008 presidential campaign, after Election Day, those rumors coalesced into a near-religion for a group of true believers. To Taitz and the unknown number of people who agree with her, Barack Obama isn’t president and probably wasn’t even born in the U.S. Taitz, a Laguna Niguel dentist with a law degree from an online academy, has been awarded a few creative variations on the birther term: “The Queen Bee of Birferstan” is probably the best.

“That’s demeaning,” Taitz says. “I don’t call anybody names.”

This isn’t quite true. She calls Obama a “usurper” and an “arrogant jerk from Africa and Indonesia.” She called a judge an “idiot.” And she calls anyone who stands in her way an “Obama thug.” Taitz has built a sizable following on her blog; in the comments for each post at orlytaitzesq.com, you can read a few more names for people whom Taitz doesn’t like: “traitors,” “Muslims,” “terrorists.”

In the past eight months, Taitz’s face has become one of the most recognizable of what its adherents prefer to call the “eligibility” movement, and her actions have been some of the most controversial. Her end goal is simple—to remove Obama from office—but her methods have sometimes put her at odds with other anti-Obama activists. And that’s not to mention the legion of Obama supporters who have assembled evidence claiming that Taitz is, at best, a liar and, at worst, treasonous.

Ask about Taitz’s motivations, and she’ll tell you about her background. She immigrated to the United States from Israel in 1987; before Israel, she lived in what was then the Soviet Socialist Republic of Moldavia. She says it’s her upbringing that initially caused her to be suspicious of Obama. “I was just like any other mom; I didn’t do anything different from any other mother,” she says, her accent turning mother into muddah. “And it’s just during this last election, I became really concerned because I came from a communist country. I saw the things that Obama is saying that really did not make sense and that concerned me. One, of course, that had to do with the all-civilian army. And I saw footage of children dressed in uniforms, saluting Obama and doing drills. That reminded me of young communists.”

(Unsure what she’s referring to? Google “Obama civilian army” and “Obama children drills.” That’ll bring up the appropriate World Net Daily articles and FOX News clips.)

The mistrust turned into something stronger when Taitz received an e-mail claiming there was evidence that Obama wasn’t born in America. “At first, I thought it was a hoax,” she says. “I didn’t believe it.” But then, in October, she filled out the “contact” form on the California Secretary of State website, asking if the secretary verifies the eligibility of presidential candidates. The response was no. “I was shocked,” Taitz says.

She fired off a round of letters to the editors of local newspapers, arguing that Obama didn’t meet the constitutional requirements to be president. The only one to publish her words was the Westminster Herald. But that was enough. Someone read the letter in the newspaper and called Taitz at her dental office to invite her to speak at an upcoming meeting of the California Coalition for Immigration Reform in Garden Grove, the far-right anti-immigrant group whose projects include a boycott of Mexico. There, she told the story of her own legal immigration to the United States, and afterward, she was approached by Buena Park radio pastor Wiley Drake (recently in the news because he publicly admitted to praying for Obama’s death). After chatting a little about immigration, the conversation turned to Obama’s birth certificate. Drake invited Taitz onto his radio show. On the air, the two discussed what they thought of the Usurper, and then Drake asked, “Well, what can we do?”

Taitz’s answer: “We can sue.”

 

Carrie Prejean Stripped Of Her Crown

Last month, after Miss USA contestant Carrie Prejean set off a firestorm for saying she opposed marriage equality and then linking up with the National Organization for Marriage to promote her views, there was lots of talk that she might be stripped of her title as Miss California. 

At the time, Donald Trump, who owns the Miss USA Pageant, decided that she could keep her title while Prejean, after portraying herself as a vicitm, vowed not to talk about the issue of marriage any more.

But today Trump apparently reconsidered his decision and has now stripped Prejean of her title, citing breach of contract:

The Miss California USA Organization, with the blessing of owner Donald Trump, announced on Wednesday that Prejean would lose her crown due to "continued breach of contract issues."

"This was a decision based solely on contract violations including Ms. Prejean's unwillingness to make appearances on behalf of the Miss California USA organization," Miss California USA Executive Director Keith Lewis said in a statement to ET. "After our press conference in New York we had hoped we would be able to forge a better working relationship. However, since that time it has become abundantly clear that Carrie is unwilling to fulfill her obligations under our contract and work together."

"I told Carrie she needed to get back to work and honor her contract with the Miss California USA Organization and I gave her the opportunity to do so," Trump said about the decision. "Unfortunately it just doesn't look like it is going to happen and I offered Keith my full support in making this decision. Carrie is a beautiful young woman and I wish her well as she pursues her other interests."

Since Prejean was already fast on her way to becoming a right-wing superstar, this latest development will probably be good for her career as she is now free to dedicated herself full-time to her victimization in the name of her favorite cause: preventing gay people from getting equality.

Lou Engle's New Political Movement

In recent months, Lou Engle, founder of The Call, has been becoming increasingly political. 

When Engle was organizing a Call event on the National Mall last year, he repeatedly insisted that the event was not about politics but simply a call to "fasting and prayer for the benefit of the nation." Of course, the fact that it was held just months before the election and featured political operatives and figures like Tony Perkins, Harry Jackson, and Mike Huckabee rather undercut that assertion.

When he organized another Call event in California explicitly to fight for the passage of Proposition 8  where he was joined by James Dobson, it became clear that it was only a matter of time before Engle officially announced that he was starting a full-fledged political organization that would seek to turn the tens of thousands who attend his Call events into a bona fide political force. 

And that is just what he did at the recent Rediscovering God in America conference that we mentioned earlier. In this clip, Engle declares that he is no longer willing to be "silenced" by the limits of The Call's 501c3 status and so he started a 501c4 group known as The Call to Action and that this conference was its first official act.

The goal of Engle's Call to Action is to "redefine voting" for the next generation as a "prophetic act" and train them that they don't vote Democrat or Republican but vote "moral absolute truths," creating a mass army of young, motivated Christian voters who will pledge never to vote for a candidate who is not anti-choice, thereby creating a "spiritual revolution [and] training a generation to seize technology and turn the tide": 

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Ann Coulter: clever and classy as always.
  • Roy Moore is running for Governor of Alabama because "We cannot and will not allow activist judges from California and Massachusetts to push their own immoral opinions on the people of this state."
  • The ACLJ is stepping in to defend those arrested while protesting President Obama's speech at Notre Dame.
  • You know who is really responsible for George Tiller's murder? Kathleen Sebelius.
  • The Florida Supreme Court has rejected Liberty Counsel's request to throw out the Florida Bar's friend-of-the-court brief against the state's ban on gay adoption.
  • I always thought the National Organization for Marriage was dedicated solely to fighting efforts to grant marriage equality.  Apparently not.

Beware of Prop 8 Backer Seeking ‘Friendship’

On the day the California Supreme Court upheld Prop 8, the ballot initiative stripping same-sex couples of their right to get married in the state, one of the most aggressive backers of the initiative announced that he’s looking for a few good relationships with people who are “opposed to biblical values.” 
 
Today, the day of the California Supreme Court Proposition 8 ruling (10am PDT), San Diego pastor Dr. Jim Garlow, one of the visible warriors in the battle for traditional, natural marriage in California, is calling for a "two-pronged strategy." He stated, "As pastors, we must unabashedly stand for life and for marriage, even if those two causes are not as hip as they once were. Our goal is not to be chic, but biblical."

At the same time, Dr. Garlow strongly urges forming friendships with those who oppose biblical truths regarding marriage and life. During the heat of the Prop 8 battle, Garlow reached out hundreds of times to persons who advocated same sex "marriage," in a desire for civil discourse and meaningful relationships.

While in Washington, DC recently, Garlow spent time -- his second such meeting -- with the nation's top leader, funder and proponent of same sex "marriage" with the desire of establishing a friendship, which Garlow hopes will open the door to ministry.

Although Garlow led one of San Diego's largest prolife rallies a week ago and views abortion as a barbaric act, he has reached out and met with the spokesman for Planned Parenthood. "While not compromising biblical values, nor backing down on the issues, I am trying to do what I think Jesus would do -- be with them, and look for the possibility of ministry," says Garlow.
 
James Garlow isn’t a household name, but the San Diego pastor was a driving force behind the Religious Right’s mobilization of money and volunteers to pass Prop 8. He sponsored a series of organizing meetings and conference calls that pushed pastors to do more to counter what he and other speakers called the satanic gay rights movement.
 
Garlow reports that he’s been meeting with marriage equality backers seeking to establish civil discourse and “meaningful relationships.” But if anyone in the gay rights movement thinks that meeting with Garlow will accomplish anything other than giving the preacher some additional justification for comparing himself to Jesus, or some good public relations for appearing reasonable, it’s worth taking a few minutes to familiarize yourself with his record. Here are just a couple of highlights:
 
·         Garlow has said repeatedly that Prop 8 is a spiritual war against Satan, who wants to decimate Gods plan for marriage, and against Satan’s allies in the pro-equality movement. He told pastors on one of his organizing calls, “One of the dumbest things the devil ever did was attack the institution of marriage.” 
 
·         On one of the subsequent calls, he proposed that Christian families try to circumvent campaign donation disclosure laws.
 
·         Garlow is also a major pusher of the Religious Right’s Big Lie on Religious Liberty, writing in USA Today that Prop 8 was necessary to keep clergy from being thrown in jail: ”When same-sex relationships — especially marriage — acquire government sanction, anyone in opposition to it must be intimidated, silenced, fined, jailed or at least threatened.”
 
With that kind of friend….

Ted Olson Takes a Stand for Equality

Ted Olson was the man who argued Bush v. Gore at the Supreme Court and won, making George W. Bush the 43rd President of the United States.  And he was also the man Bush then quickly tapped to serve as the Solicitor General.  On top of that, he served as Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel under President Reagan and even sits on the board of the Federalist Society.

But I have a feeling that none of that will matter to the Religious Right when they find out about this:

Former Bush administration solicitor general Theodore Olson is part of a team that has filed suit in federal court in California seeking to overturn Proposition 8 and re-establish the right of same-sex couples to marry.

The suit argues that the state's marriage ban, upheld Tuesday by the California Supreme Court, violates the federal constitutional right for same-sex couples to marry. The complaint was filed Friday, and Olson and co-counsel David Boies -- who argued against Olson in the Bush v. Gore case -- will hold a news conference in Los Angeles Wednesday to explain the case.  The conference will feature the two same-sex couples on whose behalf Olson filed suit.

The suit also asks the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to issue an injunction that would stop enforcement of Proposition 8 and allow same-sex couples to marry while the case is being decided.

"I personally think it is time that we as a nation get past distinguishing people on the basis of sexual orientation, and that a grave injustice is being done to people by making these distinctions," Olson told me Tuesday night.  "I thought their cause was just."

I asked Olson about the objections of conservatives who will argue that he is asking a court to overturn the legitimately-expressed will of the people of California.  "It is our position in this case that Proposition 8, as upheld by the California Supreme Court, denies federal constitutional rights under the equal protection and due process clauses of the constitution," Olson said. "The constitution protects individuals' basic rights that cannot be taken away by a vote.  If the people of California had voted to ban interracial marriage, it would have been the responsibility of the courts to say that they cannot do that under the constitution.  We believe that denying individuals in this category the right to lasting, loving relationships through marriage is a denial to them, on an impermissible basis, of the rights that the rest of us enjoy…I also personally believe that it is wrong for us to continue to deny rights to individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation."

Technically, the suit Olson has filed is against the governor, attorney general, and other officials of the state of California.  Ultimately, Olson said, it's a question that will be decided in Washington, by the Supreme Court. "This is an issue that will get to the Supreme Court, and I think it could well be this case," he said.

I imagine that Olson’s conservative bona fides won’t be enough to shelter him from an onslaught of vicious criticism from the Right for this heresy.

Just The Sort of Conservatives The Right Had In Mind

For the last several weeks, Jeremy at Good As You has been keeping a running list of the right-wing groups and figures who have equated homosexuality with pedophilia in opposing marriage equality or hate crimes legislation.

To that list, he can now add William Smith. Who's William Smith, you ask. We'll let David Ingram at the Legal Times blog explain it:

The new chief Republican counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee wrote a blog post last month in which he linked same-sex marriage to pedophilia, according to a Web site that has since been taken down.

William Smith’s post responded to a recent speech by Steve Schmidt, a Republican campaign consultant who advised Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign. Speaking in Washington to the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay rights group, Schmidt had urged Republicans to support same-sex marriage.

“I wonder if next week Schmidt will take his close minded stump speech to a NAMBLA meeting. For those unfamiliar with NAMBLA, the acronym is for North American Man Boy Love Association,” Smith responded on wsmith.org in a post dated April 20.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) announced Smith as chief counsel May 13, after Sessions replaced Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee. Sessions named three other lawyers to top positions as part of a sweep of Specter’s former committee staff.

Smith’s Web site is no longer visible, though Google has kept a “cached,” or archived, version of the site. It was visible earlier this month. The mailing address, e-mail address, and phone number on the Web site’s domain name registration match the address and phone number on Smith’s Alabama bar registration.

...

Smith’s post continued:

Schmidt would quickly tell you that he is not advocating that we support 60 year old men in their desire to rape 8 year old boys, but he would not classify his opposition as narrow minded. No! This is a principled position; there is some logic behind it, Schmidt would say.

Is Schmidt then going to take his close minded stump speech to the Bestiality Club? Again, his answer would be no, although there are a group of people who embrace this lifestyle.

Schmidt and other gay lifestyle proponents would say that my opposition is based on the slippery slope approach. I say that it is based on principle and that it is no more close minded than their position for gay unions. The difference between me and Schmidt is that I’m not a maverick. I’m guided by something called Christian principles. And I don’t need people in California, New York and Washington to tell me what the principles should be.

Not long ago, we noted that Religious Right groups were overjoyed that Sessions had been chosen to serve as ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee because, as Jay Sekulow put it, "he will bring in some conservative staff."

Presumably, Smith was just the sort of conservative they had in mind.

Porter Apologizes for America In Order to Save It

Remember a few weeks ago when the Right was outraged that President Obama had gone abroad and supposedly apologized for America?

How dare he, said Rush Limbaugh:

So Barack Obama goes on his world tour, apologizes for America. Everybody says, "Wow, it's great to have such a humble guy leading the country." Humble? It takes profound arrogance to go around the world, apologize for your country, to say that your country is lacking, but only now is your country worth anything, because you happen to be president. That's not humility. That's profound conceit and arrogance, which is part and parcel of Barack Obama.

For the Right, the idea that the United States would ever apologize for anything was ludicrous and downright offensive ...which makes this open letter Janet Porter has penned to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu all the more confusing:

You are not alone. Christians in America stand with you and your right to exist.

Know, also, that there are 60 million Americans who did not abandon our core values or our allies for the empty rhetoric of "hope" and "change." We are the ones who did not support the Hamas-endorsed, Muslim-bowing White House occupant, who, until he was "corrected" on national television, said how proud he was of his "Muslim faith" ... We apologize for the undue pressure that has been put upon you to jeopardize your vital interests to carve up yet more land for promises of peace from people who want to obliterate you. We also acknowledge that this pressure did not begin with the current administration.

As it turns out, Porter's apology for the United States is really more about protecting this nation from God's wrath because, as she explains, whenever there is "U.S. pressure to divide Israel," we get hit by a natural disaster:

  • Hurricane Andrew (Aug. 23, 1992), when the Madrid Peace Conference moved to Washington, D.C., to pressure Israel to divide their land.

  • The 6.9 Northridge Earthquake in Southern California (Jan. 16, 1994), when Clinton met with Syria's president to discuss Israel giving up the Golan Heights where half of their fresh drinking water is found.

  • Hurricane George (Sept. 28, 1998) when Secretary of State Albright pressured Israel to give up parts of Judah and Samaria.

  • Texas Flood (Oct. 15-22, 1998) following a meeting with you, Mr. Prime Minister, and President Clinton with Yasser Arafat over Israel giving up 13 percent of the West Bank. On Oct. 21 of that year, a quarter of Texas was declared by Clinton a major disaster area.

  • A "super tornado" across Oklahoma and Kansas (May 3, 1999) with 316 mph winds – the highest winds ever recorded – the day Yasser Arafat was scheduled to declare a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as the capital.

  • Hurricanes Gustav, Hanna and Ike (Aug. 25-Sept. 13, 2008) following Secretary Condoleezza Rice's pressure to sign a treaty for a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

A 4.7 earthquake hit L.A. Sunday night when you, Mr. Prime Minister, arrived in the U.S. to meet with President Obama who is pushing to divide your land even further. Many are looking to the weather reports for what may follow.

Consequences. Elections have consequences. Abandoning our (and God's) best friend Israel has consequences. Dividing land has consequences. Consequences we don't want.

So if the US gets hit by a natural disaster some time soon, it will be all President Obama's fault.  But if we don't, it'll be because Porter managed to save us by apologizing.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Florida conservatives are already signaling that are ready to try and take out Gov. Charlie Crist during the Republican primary for the state's open Senate seat.
  • Richard Viguerie continues his attacks on the Republican leadership, saying to his fellow conservatives that "we have a party and a country to save, and the GOP establishment is in our way."
  • Sen. Jeff Session clarifies his recent somewhat contradictory statements on his willingness to possibly vote for a gay Supreme Court nominee.
  • It looks like Carrie Prejean will get to keep her Miss California title after all.
  • The Missouri Eagle Forum doesn't want even parents of sixth-grade girls to get information about the HPV vaccine because it encourages promiscuity: "Science isn't keeping up with the consequences of sexual immorality,"
  • Finally, Elaine Donnelly says that President Obama is on the verge of breaking the law if he doesn't follow through with the policies dictated by Don't Ask, Don't Tell:
  • “Any presidential order or Defense Department directive disregarding the law, handed down for reasons of political expediency, would constitute a serious, perhaps irreparable, breach of faith with men and women who volunteer to serve ... An imperious presidential challenge to congressional authority on a matter as important as this would erode relationships and good will, and give rise to constitutional questions. History shows that in conflicts with Congress, presidents do not win.”

Right Wing Leftovers

NOM: Do As We Say, Not As We Do

The New York Times reports that Equality California is laying the groundwork for a campaign to overturn Proposition 8 if the court challenge is not successful. Not surprisingly, the National Organization for Marriage does not approve:

Opponents of same-sex marriage said a second campaign would be a mistake. “The fact is that the people of California have already spoken,” said Brian S. Brown, the executive director in National Organization for Marriage, in Princeton, N.J. “And they don’t like being told they were wrong the first time.”

Interesting ... especially considering that NOM itself was founded in response to the failed effort to pass a marriage amendment in Arizona in 2006:

After spending 15 years as the director of the marriage program at the Institute for American Values, [Maggie Gallagher] said, in 2003 she became aware that gay marriage was about to become a major political issue. She founded the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy as a think tank that would focus on the issue, using a $10,000 check from a Protestant group as seed money.

"I felt very strongly that the people who cared about marriage were not sufficiently involved in this debate," she said.

After an anti-gay marriage initiative went down in 2006 in Arizona, she said, she wanted to create a group that could be more directly involved politically. In the summer of 2007, she worked with Robbie George, a Princeton professor and current board member of NOM, to create the group. This time they started out with $100,000 from a Catholic group and $125,000 from a Protestant one.

Apparently anti-marriage equality activists had no problems telling the people of Arizona "they were wrong the first time" and got the issue back on the ballot in 2008 and won

But of course, nobody from NOM would never support that, would they?

Lopez: Are initiatives in Florida and Arizona less important? They seem to be getting less attention.

Maggie Gallagher: In Florida, 60 percent of voters are needed to pass Amendment 2. Getting to 60 percent will be tough, especially as opponents have a great deal more money. Nonetheless, it’s very close. In Arizona, it will take only a simple majority to pass Prop 102. I think we will win. Victory in Arizona will be sweet, because Arizona in 2006 was the only state ever to reject a marriage amendment. If at first you don’t succeed. . . .

So it really comes as no surprise that NOM has now announced that it is joining the effort to overturn Maine's recent decision to legalize gay marriage because it doesn't represent the will of the people:

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) today announced that it will join the Maine Marriage Coalition to push for a People's Veto of the same-sex marriage bill signed into law by Governor John Baldacci. Robert Emrich of Maine Marriage Alliance and Marc Mutty of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland are leading the coalition effort and filed for a People's Veto to overturn Governor John Baldacci's signature of the same-sex marriage bill this morning.

"NOM stands foursquare with our colleagues in Maine to give voters the ability to overturn this misguided legislation by referendum," said Brian Brown, executive director of NOM. "We will devote staff, volunteers and resources to this battle in Maine. Marriage means a man and a woman, and we will work hard to ensure that voters in Maine have the ability to do what voters in every other state where they have had a chance have done and stand up for marriage as we have always known it."

Prejean To Receive The Right's Highest Honor

In just a matter of weeks, Carrie Prejean went from an utter unknown to a household name, stemming from her stated opposition to marriage equality when asked about during the Miss USA pageant.

Since then, she has become a darling of the Religious Right and the face of the anti-marriage equality movement.  But just as her star was climbing, it came crashing back down to earth when topless photos of her began surfacing, and now she is facing the possibility of being stripped of her title as Miss California:

Miss California Carrie Prejean could be stripped of her title after organisers say she breached her contract by keeping topless photos secret.

...

Apart from not being up front over the semi-nude pictures which appeared on an internet site, organisers of the Miss California USA pageant say Carrie Prejean also breached her contract by appearing unauthorised in commercials.

But just when things were starting to look grim, Prejean was awarded the highest honor any aspiring Religious Right activist could desire: a two-part interview with James Dobson

Jim Daly, president and CEO of Focus on the Family, said the Christian community should stand behind Miss California, even after a racy photo of her appearing in panties appeared on a gossip blog.

"In her moment of truth, standing on a national stage and defending marriage, that meant more for the cause of marriage than anything else," he said.

Several conservative Christian groups praised Carrie Prejean for her voicing her opposition to same-sex marriage during the Miss USA pageant. After a racy photo of her was posted on the web, Prejean said her Christian faith was under attack and that the photo was taken while she was a teenager.

CitizenLink writes, "Daly pointed out that we are all sinners, saved by grace."

"I think at this moment, we should stand behind Carrie," he said. "The reality is we’re all fallen people, we’re all made in God’s image, and Jesus has come to set us free."

Dobson will interview Prejean for a two-day broadcast starting Monday.

By comparison, Sarah Palin, the single most beloved figure in recent Religious Right history, only received one episode when she was interveiwed by Dobson last October.

James Dobson's Hate Crimes Freak-Out

For anyone tempted to think that James Dobson was about to throw in the towel, concede defeat in the culture wars and retire … well, think again

Dr. James Dobson, Focus on the Family founder and chairman emeritus, has recorded a special video message for a pro-family event in California ..."Now, perhaps more than ever in our nation's history, it's crucial that Christians stand up for their faith and for the defense of His Word," Dr. Dobson says. "I'm convinced that if God's people do not seek His blessing and mercy, the Church will be tested severely, as if by fire, over the coming weeks and years" …"Yes, the landscape looks bleak right now," Dr. Dobson says. "(But) citizens can move mountains when they unite in prayer and action. Remember that God is always faithful to hear and respond to the petitions of His people. As you enter this battle, make sure that you put on the full armor of God. 

Here is the video, in which Dobson freaks out about a variety of things, but primarily about hate crimes legislation, declaring “have we gone completely mad?”

 As I'm recording this video greeting, there's a so-called hate crimes bill that's working its way through the congress that contains no adequate safeguards to protect the preaching of God's word. Because the liberals in Congress would not define sexual orientation, we have to assume that protection under the law will be extended to the 30 sexual disorders identified as such by the American Psychiatric Association. Let me read just a few of them: bisexuality, exhibitionism, fetishism, incest, necrophilia, pedophilia, prostitution, sexual masochism, urophilia, voyeurism, and bestiality. Those are just a few. And I have to ask, have we gone completely mad? 

Good as You, Pam, and Towleroad all have more on this video, but I wanted to look at Dobson's claim that he has to " assume that protection under the law will be extended to the 30 sexual disorders" identified by the APA.

Of course, he does not “have to assume” anything of the sort – he is choosing to assume this because it is part of an intentional effort by the Religious Right to conflate protections for gays with protections for pedophiles and thus generate opposition to the legislation; a tactic that is being employed by everyone from the American Family Association to the Traditional Values Coalition.

But Dobson is correct that Congress did not define “sexual orientation” in the legislation - and during the mark-up of the legislation [PDF] in the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Tammy Baldwin explained why they didn’t do so and also why they rejected Rep. Steve King’s amendment to explicitly exclude pedophiles from the definition:   

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I move to strike the last word in opposition to this amendment that—well, the gentleman claims that we have not pinned down a definition for sexual orientation. And indeed, in our earlier session yet today, I drew his attention to the fact that there is a definition with regard to the Hate Crimes Statistics Act.

I, during the break, searched to just confirm that what I had articulated earlier today was, indeed, the definition. And it is. Sexual orientation means consensual homosexuality or heterosexuality. That is the definition.

Now, as you have noted earlier, there is only one term defined in this legislation. And that is gender identity on page 14. And the reason for that is that that definition exists nowhere else in federal law. This is the first time it is occurring in federal law.

But in every other case, gender, disability, sexual orientation, race, national origin, color and—I am missing one—the architecture of the hate crimes statutes in the United States is those definitions do not lie within that architecture. They exist elsewhere in federal law, and we rely on them. So there is a clear, concise definition of sexual orientation.

Your amendment is unnecessary and also, I would add, inflammatory in terms of insinuations, I would say. But given the definition of sexual orientation meaning consensual homosexuality or heterosexuality, it is absolutely clear that that could not include pedophilia.

Aside from the astute point that King was merely trying to add unnecessary and inflammatory insinuations into the bill, Baldwin pointed out that the term “sexual orientation” was already defined in the "Hate Crime Statistics Act of 1990.”  Here is precisely what that legislation says

As used in this section, the term "sexual orientation" means consensual homosexuality or heterosexuality. 

Thus, a definition of the term “sexual orientation” is not needed in the hate crimes legislation because it already exists.  And this definition does not cover things like incest, necrophilia, pedophilia, or bestiality, despite all of the Religious Right’s lies and scare-tactics.  

Rep. Forbes Gets It Precisely Backwards

It would be nice to think that members of Congress like Rep. Randy Forbes actually understand what the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act does instead of just reflexively voting against it and then making asinine claims such as this:

Congressman Randy Forbes (R-Virginia) is a former ranking member of the Judiciary Crime Subcommittee, and founder of the Congressional Prayer Caucus. He recently took to the House floor and provided a powerful example of how the "Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act" does not ensure equality under the law.

Congressman Forbes compared the protection Miss California Carrie Prejean would receive under the bill to the special protection homosexual blogger and Miss USA judge Perez Hilton would have been afforded.
 
"Had [Hilton] done what he said he would do and stormed that stage and pulled that tiara off [Prejean's] head and [inflicted] bodily harm when he did it, there would not have been one ounce of protection under this piece of legislation for that young girl," Forbes stated.
 
"But after he did it, if she had in response made a statement back about the very sexual orientation that had led him to his hatred and dislike for her, and if she had responded by slapping him or any physical injury, she would have had the potential of a ten-year federal piece of legislation coming against her."

Forbes has this exactly backwards.

Under the current hates crimes law, violent crimes targeting someone because of their real or perceived religion are already covered and carry enhanced penalties, whereas violent crimes targeting real or perceived “sexual orientation” are not - hence the need for the new hate crimes legislation:   

The LLEHCPA adds sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and disability to existing federal law conferring authority on the federal government to investigate and prosecute violent crimes.  This authority already exists for crimes committed because of the victim’s race, color, religion and national origin.

Aside from the fact that it is highly unlikely that anyone would ever get charged with a hate crime for pulling a tiara of someone’s head or slapping them, under a worst case scenario imagined by Forbes resulting in a violent showdown between figures like Hilton and Prejean, it is Prejean who would be protected by hate crimes legislation.

Provided it could be established that she was attacked because of her Christian faith, her attacker could be charged with a hate crime whereas someone attacking Hilton would not because, as it stands now, real or perceived sexual orientation is not protected by federal law.  As such, Prejean could theoretically violently attack Hilton solely because of his sexual orientation and she would not be charged with a hate crime.  

The whole point of the current hate crimes legislation is to add sexual orientation to the list of protections, along with things like race and religion, because such protections currently do not exist.  

In short, if anyone in Forbes' hypothetical battle is granted "special protection," it is Prejean, not Hilton. Passage of the current hate crimes legislation merely levels the field.

Like I said, it would be nice if members of Congress actually tried to understand the legislation on which they vote – but apparently, when it comes to Forbes, that is just too much to ask.

Barton Named to Texas School Board "Experts" Panel

We don't pay that much attention to the ins-and-outs of goings-on regarding the Texas State Board of Education, but the Texas Freedom Network certainly does and they report this latest development:

The Texas State Board of Education is set to appoint a social studies curriculum “expert” panel that includes absurdly unqualified ideologues who are hostile to public education and argue that laws and public policies should be based on their narrow interpretations of the Bible.

TFN has obtained the names of “experts” appointed by far-right state board members. Those panelists will guide the revision of social studies curriculum standards for Texas public schools. They include David Barton of the fundamentalist, Texas-based group WallBuilders, whose degree is in religious education, not the social sciences, and the Rev. Peter Marshall of Peter Marshall Ministries in Massachusetts, who suggests that California wildfires and Hurricane Katrina were divine punishments for tolerance of homosexuality.

The two have argued that the Constitution doesn’t protect separation of church and state and hold a variety of other extreme views related to religion, education and government, TFN President Kathy Miller said.

...

Barton, former vice chairman of the Texas Republican Party, is a self-styled “historian” without any formal training in the field. He argues that separation of church and state is a “myth” and that the nation’s laws should be based on Scripture. He says, for example, that the Bible forbids taxes on income and capital gains. Yet even such groups as Texas Baptists Committed and the Baptist Joint Committee have sharply criticized Barton’s interpretations of the Constitution and history.

Barton also acknowledges having used in his publications and speeches nearly a dozen quotes he has attributed to the nation’s Founders even though he can’t identify any primary sources showing that they really said them.

Some state board members have criticized what they believe are efforts to overemphasize the contributions of minorities in the nation’s history. It is alarming, then, that in 1991 Barton spoke at events hosted by groups tied to white supremacists. He later said he hadn’t known the groups were “part of a Nazi movement.”

In addition, Barton’s WallBuilders Web site suggests as a “helpful” resource the National Association of Christian Educators/Citizens for Excellence in Education, an organization that calls public schools places of "social depravity" and "spiritual slaughter."

The Peter Marshall Ministries Web site includes Marshall’s commentaries sharply attacking Muslims, characterizing the Obama administration as “wicked,” and calling on Christian parents to reject public education for their children.

Marshall has also attacked Roman Catholic and mainline Protestant churches. In his call for a spiritual revival in America last year, he called traditional mainline Protestantism an “institutionally fossilized, Bible-rejecting shell of Christianity.”

TFN also provides informative links to these documents containing more info about both Barton and Marshall, and so I'll just add links to all of our posts on Barton as well as a link to our report on him, "Propaganda Masquerading as History," for good measure.

Nice Try, NOM

As we noted yesterday, Miss California Carrie Prejean was going to be featured in a new National Organization for Marriage ad released today.

Well, NOM has put it out and here it is:

Joined by Carrie Prejean, the now-famous beauty contestant who lost her crown when she spoke up for marriage, the National Organization for Marriage today launched the second in a series of television ads to be released as part of NOM's ongoing Religious Liberty Ad Campaign. The new ad, "No Offense," opens with footage of Ms. Prejean's response to a question she was asked regarding same-sex marriage during the Miss USA competition on April 19, 2009. The ad highlights the efforts of same-sex marriage activists to silence and discredit pro-marriage advocates, calling them "liars," "bigots," and worse. Over the protests of gay marriage advocates, a group of prominent religious liberty scholars (including scholars both for and against same-sex marriage) recently warned the Connecticut legislature that a bill codifying the state supreme court's ruling on same-sex marriage raised the potential of "widespread and devastating" effects for religious liberty, if robust exemptions were not provided for faith groups and religious organizations.

The most interesting part comes near the end with the narrator asserts that advocates of marriage equality are trying to silence those who oppose it "because they don't want to debate the consequences of same-sex marriage. They want to silence opposition. Some of the nation's foremost scholars warn that gay marriage can create widespread legal conflicts for individuals, small businesses, and religious organizations."

The NOM ad then flashes the quotes "will create widespread and unnecessary legal conflicts" and "effects would be ... devestating" on the screen, but doesn't say where they came from.

In the press release on its website, NOM instead links to these two letters [PDFs] addressed to Christopher Donovan, Speaker of the House in Connecticut, showing where the quotes came from.  The only problem is that the authors weren't warning of the "devastating" effects of gay marriage - they were urging the state legislature to pass an exemption for religious organizations when it enacted its marriage equality law:

We write to provide you with an analysis of the effects of Raised Bill 899 on religious liberty. Those effects would be widespread and devastating. If Raised Bill 899 is passed in its current form—without religious-conscience protections—many religious organizations and individuals will be forced to engage in conduct that violates their deepest religious beliefs, and religious organizations would be limited in crucial aspects of their religious exercise.

In the only comprehensive scholarly work on same-sex marriage and religious liberty to date, legal scholars on both sides of the same-sex marriage debate agreed that codifying same-sex marriage without providing robust religious accommodations will create widespread and unnecessary legal conflict.

The second letter comes from Douglas Laycock, Yale Kamisar Collegiate Professor of Law at the University of Michigan, who is a supporter of same-sex marriage and wrote to the Connecticut Legislature to urge them to add such an exemption in order to prevent the Religious Right from playing the victim:

[I]is it in the interest of the gay and lesbian community to create religious martyrs in the enforcement of this bill. To impose legal penalties or civil liabilities on a wedding planner who refuses to do a same-sex wedding, or on a religious counseling agency that refuses to provide marriage counseling to same-sex couples, will simply ensure that conservative religious opinion on this issue can repeatedly be aroused to fever pitch. Every such case will be in the news repeatedly, and every such story will further inflame the opponents of same-sex marriage. Refusing exemptions to such religious dissenters will politically empower the most demagogic opponents of same-sex marriage. It will ensure that the issue remains alive, bitter, and deeply divisive.

Connecticut legislators did ultimately provide such an exemption when it passed its marriage equality legislation ... and NOM itself hailed it:

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) applauds the Connecticut legislature which, in a surprise move today, adopted substantive religious liberty protections as part of what was expected to be a routine bill implementing the Connecticut court decision ordering same-sex marriage.

"We are just grateful that the Connecticut legislators acknowledged and addressed the serious potential implications of same-sex marriage for traditional faith communities," said Maggie Gallagher, president of NOM. "We hope this decision represents a change of heart among gay marriage advocates and a new willingness to accept broad conscience protections."

So NOM posted two letters urging the passage of a religious exemption to the state's marriage equality law - an exemption that was granted and hailed by NOM - yet is taking quotes from those letters out of context in their new ad to suggest that marriage equality itself will somehow have devastating effects for the nation, when the letters said nothing of the sort.

Carrie Prejean: The Anti-Marriage Joe The Plumber

One thing I have never understood about the conservative movement is its knee-jerk willingness to hail any person who happens to gain media exposure while expressing conservative views and immediately turning them into the face of the movement.  

They did it with Joe the Plumber and now they are doing it with Miss California, Carrie Prejean, who stated her opposition to marriage equality when asked about during the Miss USA pageant last week.  Since then, she’s been hailed in just about every right-wing media outlet, including World Magazine, WorldNetDaily, OneNewsNow, and Townhall, praised by the likes of Harry Jackson, Roy Moore, Day Gardner, and Gary Bauer, and recently “hired one of the country's premier Christian PR firms, A. Larry Ross Communications—which represents such evangelical powerhouses as Rick Warren” to deal with all the media requests.

As Politico reported earler this week, Prejean has become the Religious Right’s newest star:

Miss California may have lost her shot at becoming Miss USA after expressing her opposition to same-sex marriage, but she’s nevertheless emerged as a star.

After getting booed by the beauty pageant crowd and berated by one of the contest judges on Sunday, Carrie Prejean is suddenly a conservative sensation, a poster girl for the right who has bloggers, talk show hosts and Republican pols singing her praises.

An Alabama state legislator introduced a House resolution praising her for speaking out against gay marriage. In a press release, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins stated his “admiration and support” for her and lauded “her fortitude in the face of continued baseless personal attacks.”

“There’s a lot of people cheering you tonight that you stood on your principles, that you put the principles above winning,” Fox News talk show host Sean Hannity told Prejean when she appeared on his television program. “Not enough people do that. And I admire you a lot for it.”

...

“I would like to nominate Miss California as the new face of the marriage movement. Much better than mine!” National Organization for Marriage President Maggie Gallagher wrote on National Review’s The Corner.

The praise from Gallagher is especially interesting because, as Good as You noted, earlier this week she was Twittering that she was about to meet Prejean for lunch – a lunch which must have been quite a success because Gallagher’s fantasies about turning Prejean into the face of the anti-gay marriage movement are about to come true:

Miss California, Carrie Prejean, who offered memorable opposition to same-sex marriage and a young, attractive new face for the movement against it, will appear tomorrow at a press conference hosted by the National Organization for Marriage at the National Press Club, according to a press release from the group.

She'll be launching a new ad, the second in what the group says is a $1.5 million campaign.

The ad, the release says, will address:

What happens when a young California beauty pageant contestant is asked "do you support same-sex marriage?" She is attacked viciously for having the courage to speak up for her truth and her values. But Carrie's courage inspired a whole nation and a whole generation of young people because she chose to risk the Miss USA crown rather than be silent about her deepest moral values. "No Offense" calls gay marriage advocates to account for their unwillingness to debate the real issue: gay marriage has consequences.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Politico reports that there is a rebellion brewing among the GOP's base and that "activists and officials say the party is as resolute as ever, if not more so, on cultural issues – regardless of the soundings of some party elites."
  • Carrie Prejean continues to capitalize on her anti-gay Miss USA fame and has signed on with "one of the country's premier Christian PR firms, A. Larry Ross Communications—which represents such evangelical powerhouses as Rick Warren."
  • You know the times they are a changing when Promise Keepers starts opening its events to women.
  • YouDiligenceTM is teaming with Focus on the Family to provide Internet safety services to families who want to protect their children from online predators and cyber-bullies and inappropriate online exchanges. Maybe they should have put this in place a few weeks ago.
  • Mike Huckabee says George Soros is behind the Obama administration's decision to release the torture memos.
  • Concerned Women for America's Wendy Wright wonders if the timing of the swine flu scare was "a political thing to push the [Kathleen] Sebelius nomination through." Seriously. Glenn Beck makes the same allegation.
  • Finally, there is this, which speaks for itself:
  • Utah County Republicans defeated a resolution opposing well-heeled groups that a delegate claims are pushing a satanic plan to encourage illegitimate births and illegal immigration.

    Don Larsen, a Springville delegate, offered the resolution, titled "Resolution opposing the Hate America anti-Christian Open Borders cabal," warning delegates that an "invisible government" comprised of left-wing foundations was pumping money into the Democratic Party to push for looser immigration laws and anti-family legislation.

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