Idaho

Vitter, Craig Reintroduce Marriage Amendment

With Congressional Republicans terrified of the potentially disastrous electoral showing that seemingly awaits them this November, it looks as if they are pulling out all the stops to demonstrate to their right-wing base that they are committed to advancing their agenda, no matter how obvious the pandering or how fruitless the effort may be – which explains why several Republican Senators have, once again, introduced the Federal Marriage Amendment.

The ultimate irony is that two of its main sponsors are Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana and Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho – not exactly the poster boys of the family values crowd or particularly upstanding examples of the supposed sanctity of the “union of a man and a woman”:

SJ 43 IS

110th CONGRESS

2d Session

S. J. RES. 43

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relating to marriage.

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

June 25, 2008

Mr. WICKER (for himself, Mr. VITTER, Mr. CRAIG, Mr. ROBERTS, Mr. INHOFE, Mr. BROWNBACK, Mr. ALLARD, Mr. THUNE, and Mr. SHELBY) introduced the following joint resolution; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary

JOINT RESOLUTION

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relating to marriage.

      Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of each House concurring therein), That the following article is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years after the date of its submission by the Congress:

`Article --

      `Section 1. This article may be cited as the `Marriage Protection Amendment'.
                                      
      `Section 2. Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.'.

The Nazi Thing

Zirkle and the Nazi PartyTony Zirkle’s 15 minutes of swastika-draped fame were widely reported last month, when the Indiana congressional candidate spoke at an American Nazi Party celebration of Adolf Hitler’s birthday. Zirkle, whose campaign warns of a link between Jews and pornography, offered the comical explanation that, despite the oversize Hitler portrait and Nazi flags directly behind him, the swastika armbands of the men on either side of him, and the words “Seig Heil” on the cake, “he didn't believe the event he attended included people necessarily of the Nazi mindset, pointing out the name isn't Nazi, but Nationalist Socialist Workers Party.” The candidate was duly reviled by his opponent in the Republican primary race, as well as by everybody else, as an isolated racist crackpot.

However, the report on the matter by the right-wing WorldNetDaily—a product of the anti-Bill Clinton Arkansas Project that now hosts columnists such as Ann Coulter, Pat Buchanan, and Chuck Norris—offered an unusual twist. After reviewing the story and printing a number of random comments from other websites (a common journalistic technique at WND), the article tried to put it in a kind of context: "Other congressional candidates have raised eyebrows with their speeches, too," it stated. But its only example was a quote from Rep. Keith Ellison comparing the time after September 11, 2001, when the Bush Administration asserted new executive privileges, to the time after the burning of the Reichstag, when Hitler consolidated his powers.

While Ellison took heat for using the metaphor, there is, to put it mildly, a pretty obvious distinction between making a rhetorical comparison of your opponents' tactics to historical events in Nazi Germany, and actually forging an alliance with present-day Nazis based on apparently shared values. So why did WND choose this as its only attempt at context?

Ellison, of course, was the first Muslim member of Congress, and after his election in 2006, the Right launched an effort to portray his presence in Washington as a dire threat to the nation. WorldNetDaily offered obsessive coverage through dozens of flimsy, paranoid articles with titles such as “Doubts grow over Muslim lawmaker's loyalty” and “Muslim congressman called 'security' issue.”

Since WND is so desperate for an example of an anti-Semitic political figure, it’s fortunate that Ted Pike provided a timely reminder. Pike, head of the National Prayer Network, has been a frequent source of quotes for WND whenever the site covered proposed federal hate-crimes protections, most recently in December.

Pike is best-known, however, for pushing out anti-Semitic propaganda along with his father, a radio talker in the 1980s. As People For the American Way reported in a press release from 1989, Pike was warning that there was “a tendency toward Jewish domination of society,” that “Jewish international bankers” were behind the Bolshevik Revolution, and that the state of Israel was “the first stage in Satan’s plan to take this world from Christ and give it to the Antichrist.” Twenty years ago, Pike was warning that the Jewish motivation behind hate-crimes legislation was to silence churches; today, he warns of the “homosexual agenda.”

We were reminded of Pike—and his place as a privileged WorldNetDaily commentator—after he sent out an e-mail alert two weeks ago complaining that the Southern Poverty Law Center had cited the National Prayer Network as a hate group:

Jewish activist groups want to increasingly broaden the terms "hate" and "anti-Semitism" to include evangelicals. …

Jewish activists thus display a truly hateful intent—to harm Christians and deprive them of freedom. Such activists work to warp public and government perceptions of Christian conservatives—demonizing us as potential sources of “homophobic,” anti-Semitic bigotry and possible violence. SPLC alleges a 48 percent increase of threat from the "radical right" since 2000. Jewish attack groups such as the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, American Civil Liberties Union, and People for the American Way, smear “homophobic” evangelicals as being part of this “threat.”

After defaming Christians as "haters," Jewish supremacists want to actually outlaw Christian political activity and evangelism. The ADL created hate crime laws that will particularly outlaw reproof of sodomy and evangelism of non-Christians, especially Jews.

(Photo: The Times of Northwest Indiana.)

Vote Pro-Life

Literally: " A Senate candidate has legally changed his name to Pro-Life and will appear on the ballot that way this year, state election officials say. As Marvin Pro-Life Richardson, the organic strawberry farmer from Letha, 30 miles northwest of Boise, was denied the use of his middle name when he ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2006 because the state's policy bars the use of slogans on the ballot. Now, though, officials in the Idaho secretary of state's office say they have no choice because Pro-Life is his full and only name. He says he will run for the highest state office on the ballot every two years for the rest of his life, advocating murder charges for doctors who perform abortions and for women who obtain the procedure."

1980s = Stone Age?

Idaho Values Alliance dir. Bryan Fischer on why his Christian compassion says to oppose an effort to reduce greenhouse gases to pre-1990 levels: "They would be impossible to attain unless we went back to virtually a Stone Age culture."

Federal Funds Earmarked for Far-Right Group to 'Combat Evolution'

Over the weekend, the New Orleans Times-Picayune revealed that a federal spending bill contains a substantial sum of money budgeted for the Louisiana Family Forum, apparently for the purpose of combating the teaching of evolution and global warming in public schools. The earmark, inserted by Republican Sen. David Vitter, provides $100,000 to the group for the purpose of “develop[ing] a plan to promote better science education,” but as the newspaper points out, LFF has been a leading advocate of creationism in the state:

The group's stated mission is to "persuasively present biblical principles in the centers of influence on issues affecting the family through research, communication and networking." Until recently, its Web site contained a "battle plan to combat evolution," which called the theory a "dangerous" concept that "has no place in the classroom." The document was removed after a reporter's inquiry. …

In 2002, the Louisiana Family Forum unsuccessfully sought to persuade the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to insert a five-paragraph disclaimer in all of its science texts challenging the natural science view that life came about by accident and has evolved through the process of natural selection.

The group notched a victory last year when the Ouachita School Board adopted a policy that, without mentioning the Bible or creationism, gave teachers leeway to introduce other views besides those contained in traditional science texts.

LFF, a “family policy council” affiliated with Focus on the Family, was founded in 1999 by Tony Perkins, before he became president of the Family Research Council and gained national prominence.

Vitter defended the earmark as an “important program” that “helps supplement and support educators and school systems that would like to offer all of the explanations in the study of controversial science topics such as global warming and the life sciences.”

The money in the earmark will pay for a report suggesting "improvements" in science education in Louisiana, the development and distribution of educational materials and an evaluation of the effectiveness of the Ouachita Parish School Board's 2006 policy that opened the door to biblically inspired teachings in science classes.

Vitter made news this summer when phone records from the “D.C. Madam” showed him to be a customer of a prostitution ring while he served in Congress. While Rev. Gene Mills, director of Louisiana Family Forum, said the $100,000 earmark is “a bit of a surprise,” it’s hard not to notice that Mills has been one of the few voices coming to Vitter's defense. In this interview, which LFF posted online two weeks, ago, Mills claimed that comparisons with this summer’s other Republican senator involved in a sex scandal—Idaho’s Larry Craig, who was caught in a bathroom solicitation sting—were a matter of the media doing “what it can to smear any of the family values guys.”

Commandments-Toting Ex-Judge Praises Senate Hecklers

Activists disrupted Hindu guest chaplain are "righteous example" against "official government recognition of a false religion," writes Roy Moore. More here, here.

Idaho Congressman: Hindu Prayer, Muslim Rep Will Doom America

Echoing the sentiments of religious-right activists who last month decried a Hindu guest chaplain giving the opening prayer in the Senate, Rep. Bill Sali (R-Idaho) warned that “the protective hand of God” could be lifted. Sali also cited the threat of his Muslim colleague, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota), but unlike comments last December by Rep. Virgil Goode (R-Virginia) linking Ellison to immigration and 9/11, Sali warned that Ellison’s presence, like the Hindu prayer, would displease both America’s founders and God.

"We have not only a Hindu prayer being offered in the Senate, we have a Muslim member of the House of Representatives now, Keith Ellison from Minnesota. Those are changes -- and they are not what was envisioned by the Founding Fathers," asserts Sali.

Sali says America was built on Christian principles that were derived from scripture. He also says the only way the United States has been allowed to exist in a world that is so hostile to Christian principles is through "the protective hand of God."

"You know, the Lord can cause the rain to fall on the just and the unjust alike," says the Idaho Republican.

According to Congressman Sali, the only way the U.S. can continue to survive is under that protective hand of God. He states when a Hindu prayer is offered, "that's a different god" and that it "creates problems for the longevity of this country."

Sali, with the backing of the Club for Growth and a following of social conservatives, won a divisive Republican primary in his GOP district last year, despite warnings from fellow Republicans that Sali was “an absolute idiot.”

Protesters associated with Operation Save America/Operation Rescue disrupted the prayer by Rajan Zed on July 12, attempting to shout the Hindu chaplain down.  Other religious-right activists rushed to their defense and attacked the prayer as “idolatry.” Janet Folger said the protestors “are heroes” and “may be what spares us from the judgment of God.” Jan Markell of Olive Tree Ministries warned that “When Israel went straying and worshiping other gods, very, very serious consequences came down upon her,” adding “America is at a turning point” and can expect a “major” terrorist act this summer.

And back in December, as some on the far Right were asserting that newly-elected Rep. Ellison should not be able to pose for a photo op after his swearing-in holding the Koran – or even to serve at all – Rep. Goode joined in, warning his constituents that “if American citizens don’t wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran.” Goode later expanded on his commentary, explaining that “we were not attacked by a nation on 9/11; we were attacked by extremists who acted in the name of the Islamic religion.” Pat Robertson warned in March that Muslim politicians like Ellison want to “take over” and “institute Sharia.”

REAL ID Debate in Maryland Mixes 9/11, Day Laborers

Since Congress passed the REAL ID Act in 2005, which (among other things) mandates that all states require drivers prove their legal immigration status in order to get a license, several states have balked at the cost and myriad civil liberties issues stemming from the bill. Maine and Idaho have passed laws rejecting the new guidelines, and a number of other state legislatures are considering joining them, including Maryland. This week, however, the Maryland Senate debated a competing bill that would implement at least one part of the REAL ID rules – the proof of immigration status requirement. And although REAL ID was passed as part of emergency funding for the War on Terror, some are trying to refocus the debate away from civil liberties and on to anti-immigrant “quality of life” complaints. From The Washington Times:

Bill supporters told the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee they were concerned about public safety and potential terrorist attacks because one of the September 11 hijackers obtained a Maryland driver's license.

"I live in Gaithersburg, Maryland, which has been in [newspapers] quite recently, and is really on its way to becoming the first authentic barrio in the county," said Susan Payne of Citizens Above Party. "The poison that's coming out of this state, known as the Maryland driver's license, has to be stopped because it's infecting the entire country."

Payne was also quoted in the Annapolis Capital, warning “You are driving people like me out of our home state.” She co-founded Citizens Above Party in response to the building of a day-laborer center in Gaithersburg, a prosperous D.C. suburb known for its New Urbanist planned communities.

The other founder of the anti-day-laborer group was Demos Chrissos, a veteran producer of Republican political ads who, like Susan Payne, is frequently quoted in the local media. Chrissos is also a professional anti-immigration activist on a national scale: He produced a TV ad for WeNeedAFence.com that included a shot of the World Trade Center being hit, and more recently produced ads around a campaign to pardon border agents convicted in a shooting. According to the online bio from his video marketing firm, Chrissos co-founded Citizens Above Party to “investigat[e] the suspected link between illegal immigration and widespread voter fraud across the nation.”

Of course, there’s no sign of “widespread voter fraud” by illegal immigrants anywhere except in the press releases of anti-immigrant groups and the politicians who court them, or of a link between suburban day laborers and anti-American terrorists. But press coverage of Payne’s rhetoric does demonstrate how easily the anti-immigrant movement can “infect” the REAL ID debate in Maryland and elsewhere. And while Payne comes off in the media as a typical concerned citizen, her partner’s work as a professional media consultant suggests that this confusion is part of their strategy.

Rocky Mountain News: Club for Growth Spent Most Money Attacking Republicans

Group cited in “bitter GOP infighting,” putting at risk seats once considered safe in Colorado, Idaho, Arizona, and Rhode Island.

Out: Moderate Republicans? In: "Absolute Idiots"?

The New York Times reports that moderate Republicans are concerned about the GOP’s rightward lurch and worried that it is not only polarizing the party but harming their chances of winning re-election.

Leading moderates say Republicans concentrated on social wedge issues like same-sex marriage while pressing national security almost to the exclusion of popular wage and health policies that could have helped endangered Republicans in the Northeast and the Midwest.

Of course, those pushing the GOP ever rightward are not particularly concerned

Conservatives say the overall party message was developed to draw the most loyal voters to the polls by emphasizing bedrock principles. The leader of one group that backed conservative candidates in Republican primaries, angering the moderate wing, said some moderates were in trouble simply because they strayed too far, alienating Republicans without attracting Democrats.

“We have people who are certainly well left of the center of the Republican conference on all issues, including economic and growth issues,” said the leader, Pat Toomey, a former congressman from Pennsylvania who heads the Club for Growth. “I’m not hoping they lose. But if they do, I think we will be able to recapture those seats with pro-growth candidates who distance themselves from Democrats.”

Toomey’s confidence that the Club for Growth will be able to rebuild the Republican Party in its own image is undermined a bit by this article in USA Today

When members of the conservative Club for Growth opened their checkbooks to back candidates in Republican primaries for open House seats in Colorado and Idaho, it seemed a pretty good bet that their choices would cruise into Congress if they won the preliminary rounds.

Less than two weeks before the Nov. 7 election, the Club for Growth's choices in Colorado and Idaho are looking less like surefire investments. The group's 36,000 members and political action committee have spent about $700,000 on the Idaho race and about $310,000 in the Colorado district.

In Colorado, Republican candidate Doug Lamborn, a 12-year veteran of the state Senate, has been hurt by lingering divisions from a bitter six-way primary in August. Hefley, who has represented the district 20 years, called Lamborn's campaign "sleazy and dishonest" and has refused to endorse him.

In Idaho, it's been five months since Republican Bill Sali won a divisive six-candidate primary, but time has not healed rifts within the party, some of them dating to Sali's 16-year tenure in the Legislature. The Idaho Statesman endorsed Democrat Larry Grant, saying Sali spent his legislative career "fixated on hot-button issues such as abortion, alienating fellow Republicans."

After Sali discussed a supposed link between abortions and breast cancer early this year, Idaho House Speaker Bruce Newcomb, a Republican, called him "an absolute idiot" who "doesn't have an ounce of empathy." Former GOP speaker Mike Simpson, now in the U.S. House, once threatened to throw Sali from a second-floor window.

This rightward push is clearly having an impact and turning off moderates – including many who are now turning away from the GOP even in places like Kansas. But CFG is pushing ahead, spending millions of dollars in support of its approved far-right candidates. If Club for Growth gets its way, the moderate Republicans will soon find themselves all but extinct and replaced by a raft of “pro-growth candidates who distance themselves from Democrats” primarily by being “absolute idiots” who run “sleazy and dishonest” campaigns.   

Right Focuses on Anti-Gay Ballot Initiatives

FRC cites “desperate need”; Idaho, Wisconsin and Colorado groups cite NJ decision; South Dakota group mobilizes churches.
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