Indiana

Daniels: Truce Talk "Just a Suggestion"

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels has now responded to the outrage from the Religious Right to his statement that we need to call a "truce" in the culture wars in order to focus on economic issues.

And while Daniels is neither backing down or defending it, he does seem to think that the Religious Right ought to be able to discuss the suggestion like rational adults ... good luck with that approach:

Daniels, talking to reporters in Indiana, said his remarks were “just a suggestion,” and a reflection of the fact that he believes the nation has to focus on the soaring debt and national security threats.

“It’s an expression of the urgency I think all Americans should feel about certain other questions. The debt burden, which I think literally threatens not just our economy but America’s role in the world, and the threat of nuclear terror -- or weapons of mass destruction, I should say, in the hands of people who are perfectly willing to use them,” he said.

“I really believe that for the first time the future of the American experiment is at risk. It’s a thought that maybe we could agree to disagree. I picked the word truce because no one has to change their point of view, no one has to surrender. Just that we might simply try to come together, I think it will take that if we’re going to address what I believe are the most urgent problems of the country.”

Huckabee Joins The Fray, Saying He "Cannot" and "Will Not" Accept a Truce In the Culture Wars

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels is, predictably, getting hammered from social conservatives for his statement that the next president will have to call a "truce" in the culture war in order to focus on economic issues.

He has already been blasted by Concerned Women for America and the Family Research Council and right-wing activists continue to pile on:

Others, like Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute and an early supporter of 2008 presidential hopeful John McCain, says Daniels will have a hard time winning the GOP nomination if he demurs on pro-life issues.

“Something like this will cost him any consideration from one of the key constituencies of the Republican Party," he told LifeNews.com.

...

Kristan Hawkins, the president of Students for Life of America -- a group that has spearheaded efforts to oppose Elena Kagan and the pro-abortion health care bill -- didn't mince words either.

"When it involves life, no one can make no a truce. There is no room for gray area, no time to play dead, and no time to stick out head in the sand. When you realize that 1.3 million babies are aborted every year, Governor Mitch Daniels’ words show a level of cowardice that is not expected from a presidential hopeful," she told LifeNews.com.

Even Mike Huckabee, who has steadily been working to establish himself as the champion of the socially conservative wing of the party, is getting in on the action ... and using it to raise donations for his HuckPAC:

I received an astonishing email today from a concerned friend who has been very influential in the fight to end the scourge of abortion.

Apparently, a 2012 Republican presidential prospect in an interview with a reporter has made the suggestion that the next President should call for a “truce” on social issues like abortion and traditional marriage to focus on fiscal problems.

In other words, stop fighting to end abortion and don’t make protecting traditional marriage a priority.

Let me be clear though, the issue of life and traditional marriage are not bargaining chips nor are they political issues. They are moral issues. I didn’t get involved in politics just to lower taxes and cut spending though I believe in both and have done it as a Governor. But I want to stay true to the basic premises of our civilization.

For those of us who have labored long and hard in the fight to educate the Democrats, voters, the media and even some Republicans on the importance of strong families, traditional marriage and life to our society, this is absolutely heartbreaking. And that one of our Republican “leaders” would suggest this truce, even more so. Governor Daniels is a personal friend and a terrific Governor, and I’m very disappointed that he would think that pro-life and pro-family activists would just lie down.

Are you ready to stop fighting for traditional marriage? I cannot. I will not.

Can you let the tragedy of abortion go unchecked while we get our financial house in order? I cannot. I will not.


A strong leader doesn’t need to focus myopically on one or two issues – but a strong leader is willing to fight for and defend their principles while rising to meet new challenges and solve all of the existing systemic problems confronting us.

For me these issues are critical. Indeed they are founding principles of my personal conservatism and part of the ideological foundation of the Republican Party. If you agree, I am asking you to help me send a signal.

...

Help me raise 2,012 new donations within the next 7 days for Huck PAC. That will help me show the importance of these issues to our Party and give us the financial resources we need to support strong conservatives who are fighting for life, traditional marriage, lower taxes, lower spending, secure borders and a strong national defense.

Help me send a strong signal – life and traditional marriage are NOT bargaining chips. Make a donation today.

Tony Perkins Piles On Daniels For Calling For a "Truce" In The Culture War

Following up on my last post about Concerned Women for America responding "Never!" to Gov. Mitch Daniels statement that there needs to be a truce in the culture war so that the nation can focus on more important economic issues, now comes the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins voicing his own outrage at the suggestion:

In most parts of the country, sitting politicians aren't enjoying much popularity these days. Hoosier Governor Mitch Daniels (R) has been one exception. Some 590 miles away from the eye of Washington's storm, the Indiana leader is about as beloved as an elected official can be in this climate. His approval rating is consistently above 60%, prompting whispers that he might be "the man" for Republicans in 2012. Unfortunately, comments he made this week raise serious questions about his level of commitment to fundamental issues like life-leading many of us to wonder if he has the ability to lead a unified conservative movement.

...

That's astonishing. Not only is he noncommittal about his role as a pro-life leader, but the Governor wouldn't even agree to a modest step like banning taxpayer-funded promotion of abortion overseas-which President Bush did on his first day in office with 65% of the country's support. Let's face it. These aren't fringe issues that stretch moderate America. They're mainstream ideals that an overwhelming majority of the nation espouses. I support the Governor 100% on the call for fiscal responsibility, but nothing is more fiscally responsible than ending the taxpayer funding of abortion and abortion promotion. More than 70% of our nation agrees that killing innocent unborn children with federal dollars is wrong. Yet stopping government-funded murder isn't a "genuine national emergency?" We cannot "save the republic," in Gov. Daniels' words, by killing the next generation. Regardless of what the Establishment believes, fiscal and social conservatism have never been mutually exclusive. Without life, there is no pursuit of happiness. Thank goodness the Founding Fathers were not timid in their leadership; they understood that "truce" was nothing more than surrender.

Anyone want to place a bet on how long it'll be before Daniels issues a "clarification," claiming that his statement was either taken out of context or is being misinterpreted?  I give it a day.

A Truce In The Culture War? CWA Says "Never!"

Just yesterday I was wondering how the Religious Right would react to Gov. Mitch Daniels' statement that a "truce" needs to be called in the culture wars so that our nation can focus on more important economic issues.

Well, today we are starting to get an answer to that question as Penny Nance of Concerned Women for America tells Daniels that is never going to happen:

Republican Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana basically raised the white flag on social issues when, in an interview with the Weekly Standard yesterday, he said that the next president “would have to call a truce on the so-called social issues. We’re going to just have to agree to get along for a little while,” until economic issues are resolved.

So we’re just going to give up the fight on abortion, on euthanasia, on “gay marriage,” on all of our most sacred traditional values and morals that are just “too tough” to focus on right now? I don’t think so.

Conservatives are more revved up than ever before, having come together to fight the health care reform bill and taxpayer-funded abortion. Pro-life leaders are rising up out of college campuses and at the ballot box. Polling shows that more Americans are pro-life than pro-abortion, and pro-lifers are younger and more energetic than the aging pro-abortion feminists.

Why would we ever call a truce now? Why ever actually? Life is something we will never compromise and stop fighting for.

How Will The Right Respond to Mitch Daniels' Calls For a "Truce" in Culture Wars?

The Weekly Standard has a long profile of Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and the question of whether he plans to make a run for the White House in 2012.

If Daniels does plan on running, there are a few issues the might temper support from the Religious Right, like his 1970 arrest for pot possession or his three year divorce and eventual remarriage to his wife Cheri ... but those sorts of things would probably pale in comparison to Daniels' view that a "truce" needs to be called in the culture wars so that our nation can focus on economic issues: 

“There are things that I would advance as a candidate that the playbook says are folly—suicidal,” he said. “We’d have to fundamentally change all the welfare and entitlement programs. What Bush tried to do [in proposing private accounts for Social Security] was mild compared to what needs to be done. You have to have a completely new compact for people under a certain age, for Medicare and Social Security. You’re gonna have to dramatically cut spending across the whole government, including, by the way, national defense. When Bush arrived, we were spending $300 billion on national defense, and he thought that was plenty. Now it’s, what, $800 billion?”

Beyond the debt and the deficit, in Daniels’s telling, all other issues fade to comparative insignificance. He’s an agnostic on the science of global warming but says his views don’t matter. “I don’t know if the CO2 zealots are right,” he said. “But I don’t care, because we can’t afford to do what they want to do. Unless you want to go broke, in which case the world isn’t going to be any greener. Poor nations are never green.”

And then, he says, the next president, whoever he is, “would have to call a truce on the so-called social issues. We’re going to just have to agree to get along for a little while,” until the economic issues are resolved. Daniels is pro-life himself, and he gets high marks from conservative religious groups in his state.

If there is one thing that drives social conservatives crazy, it is the insistance from Republican and conservative leaders that their agenda has to perpetually take a back seat to the party's economic platform ... so the idea of Religious Right leaders supporting a candidate who is calling for that agenda to be set aside in favor of focusing on economic issues seems rather unlikely: 

This morning, at the Heritage Foundation, I asked Daniels if that meant the next president shouldn't push issues like stopping taxpayer funding of abortion in Obamacare or reinstating the Mexico City Policy banning federal funds to overseas groups that perform abortions. Daniels replied that we face a "genuine national emergency" regarding the budget and that "maybe these things could be set aside for a while. But this doesn't mean anybody abandons their position at all. Everybody just stands down for a little while, while we try to save the republic."

To clarify whether Daniels simply wants to de-emphasize these issues or actually not act on them, I asked if, as president, he would issue an executive order to reinstate Reagan's "Mexico City Policy" his first week in office. (Obama revoked the policy during his first week in office.) Daniels replied, "I don't know."

Dobson: "As You Know, I Do Not Personally Endorse Many Political Candidates"

Back in February, James Dobson announced his endorsement of Rep. Todd Tiahrt, who is running for the vacant US Senate in Kansas, claiming that while he normally didn't endorse candidates, 2010 was so important that he had to make an exception: 

As you know, I do not personally endorse many political candidates. However, with the stakes so high in the 2010 elections, I believe it is imperative that we elect Christian leaders who will fight for the principles that promote strong family values. That is why I am enthusiastically endorsing Todd Tiahrt in his race for the United States Senate.

If the idea that Dobson was reluctant to endorse candidates seemed odd to you, you were not alone, considering that he endorsed Mike Huckabee back in 2008 and then all but endorsed John McCain after explicitly and repeatedly declaring that he would not vote for McCain under any circumstances.

Since then, Dobson has gone on to endorse several other candidates heading into the 2010 elections: 

Rick Perry

Gov. Rick Perry today received the endorsement of Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, for re-election in 2010.

“Over the years, Gov. Perry has established a record that is consistently pro-life, pro-marriage and pro-religious liberty,” said Dr. Dobson. “He has demonstrated his deep regard for the sanctity of life by signing more pro-life bills into law than any other governor in Texas history. He demonstrated his support for the God-given institution of marriage by strongly supporting the Texas Marriage Amendment. And he has helped lead the effort to establish the strongest protections for religious liberty in the state of Texas. No other candidate in this race measures up to the high standards established by Gov. Perry on these critical issues of our day.”

Dan Coats

Dr. James Dobson, the influential evangelical and founder of Focus on the Family, is endorsing Republican Dan Coats in the race for Senate in Indiana, the Coats campaign said Monday.

“I have long respected former Senator Dan Coats for his integrity and his legislative influence in the Congress,” Dobson said in a statement. “I also admire his personal commitment to his Christian faith in public life. Dan has been a consistent leader of pro-family causes and a stalwart defender of unborn children. If my wife Shirley and I were Hoosiers, we would definitely vote for Dan Coats in the May 4th primary.”

In addition to the endorsement, Dobson cut a radio ad on Coats’ behalf that is set to run starting on Tuesday.

Trey Grayson

Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, announced today that he is endorsing Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate.

“Trey Grayson is the only candidate with the conviction to lead on the issues that matter to Kentucky families. His unwavering commitment to the sanctity of human life and the family resonates with me. I know that he will be a leader on these issues, not just another Senator who checks the box. As a matter of conscience, I encourage Kentuckians to support Trey Grayson on May 18th,” said Dobson.

You know, for someone who claims not to "personally endorse many political candidates," James Dobson sure does seem to be personally endorsing a lot of political candidates.

Right Wing Round-Up

  • Think Progress: Indiana’s ‘sovereign citizens’ renounce their U.S. citizenship, claim to secede from the Union.
  • TPM: Louisiana sheriff forming a citizen militia to defend the parish in the event of a terrorist attack.
  • Adam Serwer: How a smearing of Justice Department lawyers as "terrorist sympathizers" traveled from the conservative media to the United States Senate.
  • Alvin McEwen: Attacks on gay students no big deal to the religious right.
  • Media Matters: Glenn Beck repeatedly likens himself to historical figures of note, including Socrates, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Benjamin Franklin.
  • Finally, if this was satire, it would be absolutely brilliant.  It is not satire:

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Don Wildmon is officially stepping down from his role at the American Family Association due to on-going health problems.
  • Politico got its hands on a rather remarkable RNC fundraising presentation, and the RNC is already furiously backing away from it, calling its images and language "unacceptable" and saying "it will not be used by the Republican National Committee – in any capacity – in the future."
  • Shirley Dobson has been dismissed from the lawsuit against the National Day of Prayer.
  • Rick Perry has been the Governor of Texas for more than a decade, so why is he playing off his primary win last night as some sort of shot at the establishment?
  • Rick Warren and the Jonas Brothers, together at last.
  • Wow, FRC is really producing groundbreaking research.
  • Finally, the quote of the day from Rev. Rob Schenck reacting to marriage equality officially coming to Washington DC today: "Let me remind everyone that there’s nothing new about what happened today at the Superior Court of the District of Columbia Marriage Bureau. In fact, it’s very old. Thousands of years ago, the world at the base of Mount Sinai looked very much like Indiana Avenue, NW, the street outside the Marriage Bureau office. Actually, it was far worse. On the Day of Pentecost, when the Christian Church was born at Jerusalem, Greco-Roman athletes competed in the nude and engaged in homosexual acts to titillate insatiably wild crowds. Worse, Roman men of stature kept wives to sire children by, but young boys as sexual play toys. Temple prostitutes were used and abused as an act of worship. It was into this kind of moral abandon that the Jews first taught God’s moral code and Christians later were called to evangelize. Both remain our challenge today. It was this kind of sin-sick, miserably wretched, often shockingly coarse and even frightening world that 'God so loved,' and to which He 'gave His only begotten son' ... If there’s anything to be disappointed about today here in the Nation’s Capital, it’s that we thought human progress had come so far, but, in fact, it has regressed."

The People Have Spoken: Palin in 2012

Gary Bauer reports the shocking news that Sarah Palin is the Religious Right's choice for President in 2012:

My Inbox was overflowing this morning with responses to yesterday’s question on preferred presidential candidates in 2012 – and they are still pouring in. But as my staff worked furiously to sort through the barrage of e-mails, two things stood out.

First, I was surprised by the wide range of names that came back. Granted we asked a very open-ended question, but folks obviously are thinking outside the box and willing to consider many options. Quite a few people insisted on a fresh face, such as Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana, who tied for fifth place with Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Other suggestions included Senators John Thune and Jim DeMint, as well as General David Petraeus.

Nevertheless, the final results were quite surprising. There was a spirited contest for second place with Mike Huckabee edging Mitt Romney, while Newt Gingrich finished fourth. But to say there was a clear favorite is an understatement. In fact, one individual got more votes than the other 23 names combined. If my emails and her book sales are any indication, Sarah Palin has a very bright future indeed!

And it's not just emails to Bauer that Palin dominates, as she's also running away with this OneNewsNow poll:

I think the GOP should just do away with its primary process entirely and simply pick its next presidential candidate based solely on the contents of Gary Bauer's email inbox. 

Of course, in 2000 and 2008, Bauer was John McCain's biggest (and pretty much only) Religious Right supporter... and that didn't work out too well for McCain either time.  

Right Wing Leftovers

  • The Baltimore City Council has passed a measure requiring all crisis pregnancy centers to display signs stating they do not provide abortions or birth control referrals.
  • Rick Santorum continues to test the waters in the 2012 presidential pool.
  • Bill Donohue is mad at Chris Matthews ... and says Irish Catholics are rude.
  • The Eagle Forum wants everyone to thank Rep. Michelle Bachmann for being so awesome.
  • Finally, apropos of nothing: did you know that James Bopp's résumé is 38 pages long [PDF] and includes extracurricular activities from high school and college, the fact that he’s a longtime season ticket holder for Indiana University basketball, his birthday, and his marital status?

Remember Back When the Right Hated The Filibuster?

Once upon a time, activists on the Right were vehemently opposed to the use of the filibuster against judicial nominees, declaring on principle that its use was flagrantly unconstitutional and calling on Senate Republicans to do away with the Democratic minority's ability to use them against President Bush's nominees.

But then President Obama took office and made a Supreme Court nomination and those "principles" went right out the window and suddenly those who had been, just a few years earlier, decrying the filibuster as downright evil were championing it.

Which brings us to this new Conservative Action Project "Memo to the Movement" demanding a filibuster of Seventh Circuit nominee David Hamilton:

We agree with Senator Sessions that indeed this is one of those extraordinary circumstances where the President should be informed that his nominee is not qualified. "Extraordinary circumstances" is the standard agreed to by the bipartisan Gang of 14 for when it is permissible to block a confirmation vote against judicial nominees. The Senate should apply it now to stop the Hamilton nomination ... Judge Hamilton is precisely the kind of liberal judicial activist who would use our federal courts as his own super-legislature. The Senate should vote no on the cloture vote to stop this nomination.

The memo is signed by the following group and I have taken the liberty of highlighting those individuals or organizations who, during the Bush presidency, signed on to letters [PDF] demanding an end to the use of the filibuster

Marion Edwyn Harrison, President, Free Congress Foundation
Edwin Meese, former Attorney General
Mathew D. Staver, Founder & Chairman, Liberty Counsel
Wendy Wright, President, Concerned Women for America
Cleta Mitchell, American Conservative Union Board of Directors
J. Kenneth Blackwell, Visiting Professor, Liberty University School of Law
Marjorie Dannenfelser, President, Susan B. Anthony List
Curt Levey, Executive Director, Committee for Justice
Colin A. Hanna, President, Let Freedom Ring
Susan Carleson, Chairman & CEO, American Civil Rights Union
William Wilson, President, Americans for Limited Government
Kay Daly, President, Coalition for a Fair Judiciary
T. Kenneth Cribb, former Counselor to the U.S. Attorney General
Andrea Lafferty, Executive Director, Traditional Values Coalition
David Keene, Chairman, American Conservative Union
Gary Bauer, President, American Values
Phil Burress, President, Citizens for Community Values

Jim Martin, President, 60 Plus Association
David McIntosh, former Member of Congress, Indiana
Tom Winter, Editor in Chief, Human Events
Richard Viguerie, Chairman, ConservativeHQ.com
Alfred Regnery, Publisher, American Spectator
Becky Norton Dunlop, President, Council for National Policy
Rev. Lou Sheldon, Chairman, Traditional Values Coalition

By my count, 15 of 24 individuals listed of this memo demanding a filibuster of Hamilton either signed, or represent an organization which signed, a letter just a few years back demanding an end to the use of the filibuster.

Tornado Was a "Warning" to Lutherans Not to Approve Gay Pastors

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in American has been meeting at the Minneapolis Convention Center all week for its 2009 Churchwide Assembly. And today, those in attendance are scheduled to participate in a key decision:

Following the Methodists, Presbyterians and Episcopalians into one of the thorniest social debates of contemporary Protestantism, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is to decide today whether to allow sexually active gays and lesbians to serve as pastors.

Meeting this week in Minneapolis for its biennial convention, the nation's seventh-largest denomination is considering a policy that would allow its 10,000 congregations to hire as pastor any properly ordained person "in a lifelong, committed, monogamous, same-gender relationship."

And apparently God is not happy with this effort, which is why, according to John Piper, he sent a tornado earlier in the week to let them know:

A day after tornados and storms slammed the Midwest, John Piper, a prolific author and preaching pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, called an out-of-the-blue tornado that struck downtown Minneapolis Aug. 19 a "warning" from God to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, whose delegates were meeting there to debate a liberalized policy on homosexuality.

The tornado tore off part of a 90-year-old steeple of the Central Lutheran Church and ripped apart large outdoor tents set up to serve breakfast to the delegates to the ECLA convention which has been holding its meetings this week next door at the convention center. Some meetings also are taking place at the church. The tornado also damaged the convention center, where delegates were at the time.

...

Piper then listed six points and accompanying texts as to why he thinks the tornado was providential:

1. "The unrepentant practice of homosexual behavior (like other sins) will exclude a person from the kingdom of God. 'The unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.' (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

2. "The church has always embraced those who forsake sexual sin but who still struggle with homosexual desires, rejoicing with them that all our fallen, sinful, disordered lives (all of us, no exceptions) are forgiven if we turn to Christ in faith. 'Such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.' (1 Corinthians 6:11).

3. "Therefore, official church pronouncements that condone the very sins that keep people out of the kingdom of God are evil. They dishonor God, contradict Scripture and implicitly promote damnation where salvation is freely offered.

4. "Jesus Christ controls the wind, including all tornados. 'Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?' (Mark 4:41).

5. "When asked about a seemingly random calamity near Jerusalem where 18 people were killed, Jesus answered in general terms -- an answer that would cover calamities in Minneapolis, Taiwan or Baghdad. God's message is repent, because none of us will otherwise escape God's judgment. Jesus: 'Those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.' (Luke 13:4-5)

6. "Conclusion: The tornado in Minneapolis was a gentle but firm warning to the ELCA and all of us: Turn from the approval of sin. Turn from the promotion of behaviors that lead to destruction. Reaffirm the great Lutheran heritage of allegiance to the truth and authority of Scripture. Turn back from distorting the grace of God into sensuality. Rejoice in the pardon of the cross of Christ and its power to transform left and right wing sinners."

Interestingly, tornadoes also reportedly hit parts of Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana on Wednesday as well, but Piper has not yet clued us in to what message God was trying to send to the people in those areas who had their homes and businesses destroyed.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • I, for one, am growing increasingly weary of Randall Terry's need for attention.
  • Gov. Mark Sanford's spokesperson has apparently had enough of trying to defend his boss.
  • Gov. Rick Perry is now "asking the federal government for a loan to cover the very expenses the rejected stimulus money would have paid for."
  • Gary Bauer explains why Democrats don't like Sarah Palin: they hate Trig.
  • Ralph Reed offers his brilliant insights on how "Republicans can reap significant political benefits by voting against [Sonia Sotomayor's] confirmation and making her an issue in key races next year."
  • The Liberty Counsel comments on the hate crimes legislation, warning that Democrats "will not be able to continue their efforts to undermine moral values, socialize the economy, and trash American pride and heritage. The people will not remain silent forever."
  • Finally, a newspaper in Indiana is coming under fire from the Religious Right for posting an engagement of a gay couple planning to wed in Iowa and offers a very clear response:
  • Same-sex marriage is legal in Iowa, where the couple lives and plans to marry. Since one of the young men is originally from Elkhart and his family still lives here, we did the same thing we’d do for any other local family with a child getting married — we published the couple’s engagement announcement.

Mat Staver is Your Best Friend in Protecting Religious Liberties...But Only If You Pick the Right Religion

Mat Staver can be a prison inmate's fiercest advocate for religious liberties, so long as the inmate chooses Staver's religion. If not, your religious freedoms are more likely to be called "security threats" by the Liberty Counsel's founder.

In a suit recently filed by the Indiana chapter of the ACLU, Muslim inmates have asked that they be able to practice their faith dutifully, which in turn, means small group prayer five times a day.

Louay Safi, director of leadership development with the Plainfield-based Islamic Society of North American, said Muslims try to pray in groups whenever possible.

"Muhammad said there is a much greater reward for people who pray in congregation than those who pray individually," he said.

As of now, the prison only allows the Muslim inmates to worship as a group one hour per week, though inmates are allowed to congregate for card games or to watch television multiple times a day.

To Staver, however, there is no reason the inmates should be allowed to worship in small groups, especially since a group of Muslim inmates congregating is an obvious security threat:

The lawsuit, however, in this particular case says that they are allowed to pray as a group only just one hour a week. The fact is that there is no constitutional right to assembly as a group five times a day.

But I think in the situation with regards to the Muslims, there is clearly a security issue at risk here.

While there may not be an explicit constitutional right to prayer five times a day, there isn't an explicit constitutional right to monthly baptisms at a prison either; that is because they both fall under laws protecting an inmate's right to worship. Staver must be getting forgetful, because not too long ago his Liberty Counsel threatened a New Mexico jail with a lawsuit unless monthly baptisms were allowed for inmates wishing to convert to Christianity.

Liberty Counsel sent a demand letter to the warden and the county explaining that failure to allow the baptisms violated the inmates' constitutional right to free exercise of religion.

Mathew D. Staver, Founder of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, commented, "With the high rate of recidivism, prisons are in desperate need of better ways to rehabilitate inmates and make them productive citizens. Christian conversion and faith play a key role in transforming broken lives into new beginnings. Rather than throwing up roadblocks to Christian faith and worship, prisons should welcome the positive changes that the Christian conversion brings and the role that baptism plays in the inmates making a public confession of burying the old life and being resurrected to a new life in Jesus Christ."

So, in other words, Staver believes firmly in an inmate's right to religious freedom; the religion just has to be Christianity.

The Notre Dame Protests Get Even Fringier

Just when it seemed like the fringe right-wing protesting at Notre Dame couldn't get any more ridiculous, we come to find out that some anonymous donor has now handed Rick Scarborough a thousand dollars so that he could join the fray as well:

Today a gentleman entered my office and donated the $1,000 needed to pay for my trip to South Bend, IN to join Alan Keyes and Randall Terry in protest of Obama's commencement speech on Sunday at Notre Dame. This came after much prayer seeking God's direction and financial provision concerning whether or not I was to say yes to their request to join them and many others facing potential arrest tomorrow for standing for life on the Notre Dame campus.

...

I will be arriving in South Bend Thursday to join them. It is my privilege to stand for truth and with courageous men and women, going to jail if called upon, to bring awareness to our nation that this madness must stop. Please be in prayer as we choose to take our stand for the sanctity of life.

Now, it was at least understandable that Keyes and Terry would target Notre Dame with protests claiming that the Catholic University is violating Catholic teachings by inviting President Obama to speak, because both men are Catholic.

But Scarborough is a Baptist, so what exactly warrants his participation in these protests? 

The whole "controversy" here is that a Catholic University had invited a pro-choice president to address its graduating class ... and it is predominantly right-wing Catholics who are upset about it (while most other Catholics hadn't even heard about it and those that had largely support it.)

Scarborough seems to be going to just protest Obama's pro-choice views ... but why he needed a $1000 to fly from Texas to Indiana to do that is beyond me because he probably could have saved himself considerable time and money if he had just gone and protested at Arizona State University where Obama spoke last night.

A Lesson In Senate Procedure for FRC

We have known for some time now that the Right was targeting Dawn Johnsen, President Obama's nominee to head the Office of Legal Counsel, for defeat.  But what we weren't aware of, until reading this post from the Family Research Council's Tom McClusky, was that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid doesn't have the votes to get her confirmed:

Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is now telling reporters he does not have the votes to confirm Dawn Johnsen for Assistant Attorney General at the Justice Department. Ms. Johnsen has been a long time advocate for abortion rights groups, comparing pregnancy to slavery. She has also been outspoken on counterterrorism measures.

Of course, if you read the article he links to, you find out that Reid didn't say he doesn't have the votes to confirm Johnsen - what he actually said was that he doesn't have the votes to prevent a Republican-led filibuster of her nomination:

As Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) moves to ease a backlog of executive branch nominations, he suggested on Tuesday that he does not have the votes to bring up President Barack Obama’s pick to run the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel.

“Right now we’re finding out when to do that,” Reid said, responding to a question about the status of Indiana University law professor Dawn Johnsen’s nomination to the Justice post. “We need a couple Republican votes until we can get to 60.”

As Reid explained elsewhere:

“We need a couple Republican votes until we can get to 60," Reid added. And it's just a small number, maybe two or three. But at this stage, I don't have all the Democrats. I have virtually all, but not all. And remember, we have 59 Democrats, and that's not enough to do it."

Reid has more than enough votes to confirm Johnsen if she can get an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor, which is exactly what Republicans are trying to prevent with a filibuster. 

According to his bio, McClusky has a long history of working in politics, including a stint as a political analyst for the Republican National Committee, so presumably he knows about Senate procedure and the difference between a confirmation vote and a cloture vote.

In fact, I 'm pretty sure that he does, because just a few years ago, he signed onto a letter calling on Senators to ensure that Bush administration nominees received an up-or-down vote on the floor:

If you cannot support a particular nominee, vote him or her out of committee without a positive recommendation, or vote against confirmation. But please do not deny the nominee a fair up-or-down vote on the Senate floor. In other words, we ask only that you do your job by putting statesmanship above politics and special interests.

Is it too much to ask that the Vice President for Government Affairs at the Family Research Council not hypocritically and purposely mischaracterize what is going on regarding Johnsen's nomination and the GOP's obstruction efforts?

Apparently it is.

DHS Report: It's Déjà Vu All Over Again

I have already written several posts about the entirely bogus "controversy" surrounding the recent Department of Homeland Security report on right-wing extremism.

In several of these posts, I noted how the closely it resembled the similarly bogus controversy from a few months back regarding the stimulus legislation, the only difference being that this trumped up right-wing scandal had not really managed to make its way into the halls of Congress.

Well, now that one last difference has been erased:

House Republicans demanded Wednesday that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano detail how the controversial "right-wing extremism" report was compiled, using a rare legislative maneuver that ensures that the Democrats must take a public stand - one way or another.

...

House Republicans filed their request under the chamber's Rule XIII, Clause 7 - called "a resolution of inquiry" - which will force the Homeland Security Committee to vote within 14 legislative days on the Republican request. The request covers all documents relating to the intelligence assessment titled "Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment."

The panel is required to vote on the resolution in an up-or-down vote and send it to the floor within the time period, stating that the request for information has been reported favorably or unfavorably.

The resolution is sponsored by Mr. King and every ranking subcommittee member, as well as Minority Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia and Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana, Republican Conference chairman.

This is absolutely unbelievable and just one more reminder of the lesson I repeatedly fail to learn:  never underestimate the ability of the Right and their allies in Congress to generate "controversy" out of absolutely nothing at all.

SCOTUS Round-Up

Sen. Orrin Hatch says he spoke with President Obama, who "assured me that he would not be picking a radical or an extremist for the court that he was very pragmatic in his approach and that he would pick somebody who would abide by the rule of law.” Hatch also speculates that the White House could announce its nominee as soon as this week.

Following Arlen Specter's defection, Sen. Jeff Session has been chosen to take over his position as ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committe in a move that is being welcomed by right-wing groups:

“He is someone who has a tremendous amount of experience with legal policy issues that the committee has to involve itself in,” said Leonard Leo, the executive vice president of the Federalist Society, an organization of conservative lawyers ... Jay Sekulow, the chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, expects changes under Sessions.

“I assume he will bring in some conservative staff,” said Sekulow. He called Sessions’ elevation on the committee “good for Republicans.”

Phyllis Schlafly has now gotten around to weighing in with her latest column, accusing Souter of flipping "from presumed conservative to liberal as soon as the media began ridiculing him" and attacking President Obama and several of his nominees, including David Hamilton:

We would also like to know if Obama's Supreme Court nominee is cut from the same cloth as his first judicial nomination, David F. Hamilton. He's a former fundraiser for ACORN and a former leader of the Indiana chapter of the ACLU.

Ed Whelan starts the opposition research, announcing "one [possible nominee] whose candidacy I take seriously and whom I have previously written very little about is Seventh Circuit judge Diane P. Wood. I will address her record in this and subsequent posts" and concludes that "her course of conduct signals the dangers of judicial lawlessness that inhere in Obama’s badly misguided standard for judging."

Right Wing Leftovers

  • The Thomas More Law Center has filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Department of Homeland Security seeking answers about the recent report on right-wing extremists.
  • Gary Dull and his nascent Faith and Freedom Institute received some press coverage for their participation in a "tea party" rally yesterday, declaring "stop taking our freedoms away from us."
  • Bill Donohue opposes efforts to bring marriage quality to New York state, declaring "once you allow two men to marry there's nothing left. You can't stop three men from getting married. You could not stop Sam and Sally for that matter if they wanted to have an incestuous relationship granted by the state."
  • The Christian Anti-Defamation Commission warns that hate crimes legislation is on its way, saying that "if this bill passes it lays the foundation for censoring Christians."
  • The Judicial Confirmation Network's Wendy Long pens an attack piece on judicial nominee David Hamilton in which she repeats the discredited claims about his ties to ACORN.
  • The Susan B. Anthony List declares that Gov. Sarah Palin's decision to speak at the Vanderburgh County Right to Life Banquet in Indiana tonight proves that she is "authentic" and reflection of "her values and true persona." I'd argue that her refusal to follow to state law in filling an empty Democratic seat in the state Senate is a better reflection of her values and persona.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Former Indiana Congressman Chris Chocola has been tapped as president of the anti-tax group Club for Growth to replace Pat Toomey who is expected to run again Sen. Arlen Specter.
  • Right-wing activists are upset with the new head of the Massachusetts Republican Party for saying that "social issues are personal issues ... I am not legislating anyone's personal views."
  • Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) has joined the hate crimes scaremongering, saying that if the legislation passes pastors, rabbis, or imams could be charged with encouraging or inducing a "hate crime" if they preach against homosexuality.
  • The Susan B. Anthony List claims that its activists sent more than 25,000 letters to the Senate in opposition to Dawn Johnsen.
  • Steve Deace has a lot more questions than answers about how marriage equality came to his home state of Iowa.
  • Gov. Bobby Jindal knocked down rumors that he was going to run for the Senate in a challenge to Sen. David Vitter.
  • Thomas Road Baptist Church has merged with Gleaning for the World, an international relief organization.
  • Michael Steele will not be attending the Log Cabin Republicans' annual convention.
  • Finally, Alan Keyes appears to have ticked off a lot of Ron Paul supporters by claiming to have taught Paul everything he knows about the Federal Reserve.
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