Texas

Scarborough Exploits Fort Hood Tragedy To Attack Hate Crimes Protections

Earlier this week we noted that Gary Cass of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission was planning a rally to challenge the recently enacted hate crimes law expanding protections for sexual orientation.

It looks like Rick Scarborough of Vision America will be joining him and has decided to announce his participation via an incoherent press release linking the issue the shooting at Fort Hood:

Referring to the man being held in connection with the deaths of 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas yesterday, Scarborough observed: "We know that Dr. Hasan is a devout Muslim who once told a fellow officer that 'Muslims have a right to stand up against the U.S. military.' Clearly, yesterday's rampage was not motivated by love. Given Hasan's worldview, it's probable that he was motivated in part by an animus toward Christians and Jews. Assuming that murder charges are brought against him, will Hasan also be charged with a hate crime?"

Scarborough said this highlights the absurdity of hate crimes laws. "If convicted, Hasan could face life in prison or the death penalty. Fanatics are not deterred by the prospect of an additional penalty for hating."

Scarborough predicted that the expansion of the federal Hate-Crimes statute, signed into law by President Obama recently, will not prevent crimes like the Fort Hood shootings, but will instead be used to silence dissent.

"Gay activists will use it against preachers who present the Biblical view of homosexuality. Muslim groups will use it against those who speak the verifiable truth about Islam. The federal Hate Crimes Law doesn't target crime, but free speech," Scarborough charged.

Scarborough said Hasan's case also illustrates an entrenched double standard, noting that the Army psychiatrist had received poor fitness reports for proselytizing his patients for Islam. "If a Christian doctor witnessed for Jesus to his patients, I can guarantee he would have been discharged from the United States Army in a New York minute," Scarborough stated.

Rev. Scarborough will lead a demonstration of pastors and other clergy in Washington, D.C., on November 16, where they will preach the Gospel and hold a press conference enumerating their objections to the recently passed Federal Hate Crimes Law. Will the U.S. Attorney General prosecute them for violating the expanded Hate Crimes law?

Oklahoma Prison to Be Run By Christians, For Christians

Reading through this article about a proposed Christian prison in Oklahoma, I kept thinking to myself that there has got to be some Religious Right involvement in this ... and lo and behold there is, as Pat Robertson's ACLJ has already agreed to defend it against any constitutional challenges:

A 150-acre site on the edge Wakita has been selected, and an agreement has been reached with Corrections Concepts Inc. to manage the 600-bed prison if and when it is built ... [Bill] Robinson said the $42 million project would be financed with bonds.

A bond underwriting company said that if a government jurisdiction will commit to sending 310 inmates at a cost of $42.80 a day, bond sales can begin, and the project can proceed.

...

Robinson, himself an ex-con and prison minister, said he had been working for years on the idea of an all-Christian prison, and he had invested $1.3 million so far on construction plans and other expenses.

He said a lot of prisons have faith-based or Christian units, but he knows of none with an all-Christian staff.

"The staff, being all born-again believers, will see this as a mission," he said.

"I want people to understand what it's about. It's about changing criminals into citizens."

The prison would accept only men near the end of their sentences who volunteer to come into the prison and sign an agreement to participate.

They would work full time at private industries that operate inside the prison, get job training, and earn money.

The money would go to support their families, pay restitution to their victims, contribute to their own room and board, and produce a nest egg they can take when they leave prison.

Classes in literacy, General Educational Development requirements and life skills would be offered, and Wayland University, a Christian college in Plainview, Texas, has agreed to put a satellite campus in the prison.

"They don't have to go to church, or Bible study, but they have to participate in the curriculum, which is Christ-centered," Robinson said.

He possesses legal opinions that say that as a religious organization, the prison will be able to hire only people of like faith, he said.

If constitutional challenges arise, he said, the American Center for Law and Justice, a major Christian law firm, has agreed to represent the ministry for free.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Dick Cheney will endorse Kay Bailey Hutchison's campaign for Texas governor next month.
  • 7 in 10 people say Sarah Palin is not qualified to be President. What are those other 3 people thinking?
  • Bill Donohue does not like the phrase "opposite sex marriage." But then again, is there anything that Donohue does like?
  • Harry Jackson disputes the Washington Post's estimate of the crowd size at his "People's Rally," insisting that there were 2,000 people in attendance, rather than the 150 the Post estimated.
  • Finally, WorldNetDaily is now selling its Birther video for a mere $5, so stock up on gifts for the holiday season.

Beverly LaHaye Demands More God, Less Devil In Politics

Despite the fact that Beverly LaHaye founded Concerned Women for America back in 1979 and is therefore an influential and powerful leader of the Religious Right, she doesn't seem to generate very much press, which is too bad since she is fond of saying things like "Christian values should dominate our government. The test of those values is the Bible. Politicians who do not use the Bible to guide their public and private lives do not belong in office."

But just because she doesn't generate much press doesn't mean she isn't a sought after speaker.  Yesterday she addressed "a crowd of at least 100 people Monday during a dinner at the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center" (at the Southern Baptist of Texas 2009 Annual Convention) where she shared her insights and urged those in attendance to "stand up against the wiles of the devil" and save America:

She called for the reintroduction of God into the day-to-day functions of American politics, where she said the framers originally intended him to be as they created the country more than 200 years ago.

The United States began tilting into moral decline in the 1970s, and faced further "crumbling" of families and social structures in the future without conservative Christian outcry, she said.

She repeatedly encouraged the audience to "stand up against the wiles of the devil" and join their Christian faith and with activism.

"It's time for Christian men and women to stand up for righteousness," LaHaye said.

Right Wing Leftovers

State Eagle Forum President Becomes Head of Texas GOP

Over the weekend, Cathie Adams was elected the new Chairwoman of the Texas Republican Party. 

Adams also happens to be the President of the Texas Eagle Forum who has deep ties to other right-wing leaders in the state, such as David Barton and, as the Texas Freedom Network notes, has a long history of ultra-right-wing activism:

- Ms. Adams has compared President Obama to Adolf Hitler, suggesting that his speech to American students was “eerily like Hitler’s youth movement.”

- In an e-mail to far-right activists in 2008, Ms. Adams viciously attacked the faith of then-candidate Obama (page 40):

“While many question Barak Hussein Obama’s ‘religion’…, the more important question is whether he has a ‘relationship’ with Jesus Christ because that is the only HOPE that any of us have to obtain eternal life. I personally see NO evidence that Obama has that kind of ‘saving faith.’”

- Two years ago Ms. Adams opposed a ballot measure providing $300 million annually over 10 years for cancer research. Voters approved the measure, which had the support of Gov. Perry and then-President George Bush. But Adams didn’t, falsely claiming that the money would be used in embryonic stem cell research and suggesting that medical researchers are amoral monsters:

“Scientists are on the verge of cloning humans, injecting them with diseases and studying them, then killing them.”

- Defending the dominance of failed abstinence-only programs in Texas schools recently, Ms. Adams blamed the state’s sky-high rates of teen births and sexually transmitted diseases on the supposedly inferior morals of Mexican immigrants:

“If mom had a baby at age 15, are her morals going to be setting different standards than someone who has grown up in the American culture where that is not typical? As a matter of fact, we would look at someone impregnating a 15-year-old as child abuse.”

- She opposes the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which gives children of the working poor access to health care:

“Now illegal aliens will be able to purchase cheap insurance for their children. This is an incentive for them to come here.”

Right Wing Round-Up

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Americans for Prosperity's "Hands Off My Health Care" tour stopped at Liberty University yesterday where Jerry Falwell Jr. thanked them for taking the "time and effort to stop these crazy people."
  • Bishop E.W. Jackson Sr., Founder and President of STAND , defends Rush Limbaugh from charges of racism.
  • Dick Armey backs Kay Bailey Hutchison, saying Rick Perry has accomplished nothing.
  • Norm Coleman has now been picked as a board member of the Republican Jewish Coalition.
  • Finally, the CADC asks activists to get to work trying to keep Rifqa Bary in Florida while Tom Trento says that is Bary is sent back to Ohio, she'll be immediately packed off to a "re-education camp" in Sri Lanka .

Michael Steele and the Council For National Policy

Yesterday we posted video of James Dobson's remarks at the recent Council For National Policy meeting, so we were aware of the meeting took place, but didn't know where it was held.

W. Gardner Selby of the Austin America-Statesmen reports that it was held in Austin, Texas and that RNC Chairman Michael Steele was in attendance:

Eyewitness nugget: At the Austin event, Chairman Michael Steele of the Republican National Committee took [Phyllis] Schlafly's questions only after calling a time-out to give her a hug. I'll speculate he was trying to soften her up.

Steele told me his general message was to " get ready, stay engaged. There's a lot of work that has to be done."

Apparently, Steele has weathered the storm from earlier this year when various CNP members and allied activists were demanding his resignation.

Right Wing Leftovers

David Barton: "Historian"

What kind of historical "expertise" is the Texas State Board of Education getting from David Barton as he helps review and create the state's social studies curriculum? 

According to the Texas Freedom Network, this is the sort of expert advice Barton is dispensing: 

Buried on page 62 of phony history “expert” David Barton’s 87-page review of the social studies draft curriculum standards is a short section calling for the following revision to the eighth-grade American History requirements:

(C) analyze reasons for and the impact of selected examples of civil disobedience in U.S. history such as the Boston Tea Party, Shay’s Rebellion, Henry David Thoreau’s refusal to pay a tax, the Underground Railroad, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and Rosa Parks at the lunch counter.

This is especially amazing because it was Park's refusal to give up her seat on the bus that led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott. 

Does Barton not know this? 

Right Wing Round-Up

  • David Weigel: National Organization for Marriage Chairman Takes On Kevin Jennings.
  • The New Republic: The never-ending lunacy of Betsy McCaughey.
  • Why do right-wingers hate America?
  • Texas Freedom Network: Could the Republican Party of Texas move even farther to the extreme right? Apparently, yes.
  • Why is Stand For Marriage Maine linking marriage equality to an increase in AIDS infections?
  • Why is Mike Huckabee using his position with Fox News to bolster his PAC?

Right Wing Round-Up

  • Pam's House Blend: Washington Times publishes ugly hit piece on Kevin Jennings.
  • Truth Wins Out: Focus on the Family Seeks to Exempt Alabama Gays from Antibullying Protection.
  • Rob Boston: At the Values Voter Summit, Wing-Nut Christian Right Plots Its Comeback.
  • Texas Freedom Network: David Barton Promotes Oklahoma Extremist Sally Kern.
  • Amanda Hess: Ex-Gay Group Calls Hate Crime Laws “Anti-Ex-Gay.”
  • Wow, Hitler and Obama really do have a lot in common.
  • Finally, I'll be out for the rest of the week.  See you Monday.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Randall Terry and company are now targeting the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
  • The Freedom Foundation of Texas has received Focus on the Family Action's "Family Champion Award."
  • Tullian Tchividjian says members of D. James Kennedy's church tried to oust him because he wasn't talking about politics enough from the pulpit.
  • Do you remember the brothers responsible for Huck's Army? The are now working to save thousands from wasting their youth.
  • The Alliance Defense Fund has announced its second Pulpit Freedom Sunday, to be held on September 27 in order to challenge IRS restrictions on what pastors and priests can say.

Right Wing Round-Up

  • Raw Story: Rush Limbaugh says we need to return to segregated buses.
  • Adam Serwer: Why Can't Tom Perez Get Confirmed?
  • David Neiwert: Newt Gingrich and Sean Hannity agree that the bashing of Bush was much worse than attacks on Obama
  • Think Progress: Michael Steele Criticizes Democrats For Playing The Race Card, While He Plays The Race Card.
  • Finally, from the "you couldn't make this up" file: Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas sent a letter to Washington's Metro system complaining that the taxpayer-funded subway system was unable to properly transport 9/12 protesters to the rally to protest government spending and expansion. Added bonus: Brady Brady voted against the stimulus package. It provided millions upon millions of dollars for all manner of improvements to … the D.C. Metro.

The Inane State of The Healthcare Debate - Part II

To follow-up on the post I wrote yesterday, here are a few more.

Why do we need healthcare reform when we already have free healthcare?

Bruce Engelman is pastor of Baptist Temple in Fort Worth, Texas, and is also a spokesperson for American Inspirational Ministries. Engelman, who often travels the country as part of his ministry work, says he has made an observation about available healthcare.

"Why do we need socialized medicine or healthcare when there is already free healthcare?" he wonders. "In Grand Rapids, Michigan, Mary Free Bed Hospital; in Pittsburgh, children's hospital; St. Jude's in Memphis, Tennessee; Shriners hospital in Kentucky, Cook County hospital in Chicago, Illinois."

The pastor believes the healthcare option is being pushed for two reasons. "Number one, to increase the voting bloc for the liberals -- of both parties, by the way -- of illegal immigration," Engleman says, "and the other reason is there's no question that the other side wants to advance a radical, and I emphasize radical, social agenda."

Engelman says those who are speaking out against the healthcare plan are heroes, much like the Founding Fathers of the nation.

Churches are the key to healthcare reform:

The head of a coalition of evangelical churches says healthcare reform should focus less on government and more on marshaling churches to meet community needs.

Bishop Harry Jackson, Jr., who chairs the High Impact Leadership Coalition, says large churches could work together to provide diagnostic screening and care for people with diseases like HIV-AIDS.

Jackson says the contrast between government and faith-based relief was striking when Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans four years ago. He says, "When the government failed, the church stepped up."

Instead of government healthcare, Jackson believes "there has to be a community-based answer that includes a faith community component."

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Carrie Prejean says losing the Miss USA pageant and later her state crown was part of God's plan.
  • The Hill: An aide to former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas), was indicted Friday on public corruption charges related to the wide-ranging case involving Jack Abramoff.
  • Personhood Colorado announces that it is launching an effort to get its "personhood" amendment back on the ballot after its humiliating defeat last year, saying they are "seeing incremental advances for the personhood rights of the preborn."
  • Gary Dull and his Faith and Freedom Institute announce that they will be conducting a "Patriotic Prayer Rally" at Lafayette Park in Washington, DC tomorrow.
  • Janet Porter and gang will be hosting yet another web conference early next month highlighting the upcoming How To Take Back America Conference.
  • Finally, Roy Moore came in second at the straw poll conducted by the St. Clair County [Alabama] Republican Party after a gubernatorial forum featuring all six Republican candidates seeking the party's nomination next year.

Texas Curriculum: Thurgood Marshall Out, Newt Gingrich In?

Back in April, the Texas Freedom Network reported that the Texas State Board of Education had named both David Barton of WallBuilders and the Rev. Peter Marshall, who suggests that California wildfires and Hurricane Katrina were divine punishments for tolerance of homosexuality, to its social studies curriculum “experts” panel.

When Barton and Marshall released their recommendations for changing the curriculum, they suggested, among other things, dropping mentions of both César Chavez and Thurgood Marshall.

"Review committees" are now putting together a draft of a new curriculum based on recommendations from the "expert" panel and it looks they are set to fill their history books with figures like Newt Gingrich, James Dobson, and Phyllis Schlafly:

Texas high school students would learn about such significant individuals and milestones of conservative politics as Newt Gingrich and the rise of the Moral Majority under the first draft of new standards for public school history textbooks, but nothing about people or groups considered more liberal.

...

The first draft for proposed standards in "United States History Studies Since Reconstruction" says students should be expected "to identify significant conservative advocacy organizations and individuals, such as Newt Gingrich, Phyllis Schlafly and the Moral Majority."

...

Conservatives form the largest bloc on the 15-member State Board of Education, whose partisan makeup is 10 Republicans and five Democrats.

David Bradley, R-Beaumont, one of the conservative leaders, figures that the current draft will pass a preliminary vote along party lines "once the napalm and smoke clear the room."

But not all conservative board members share that view.

"It is hard to believe that a majority of the writing team would approve of such wording," said Terri Leo, R-Spring. "It’s not even a representative selection of the conservative movement, and it is inappropriate."

Another board conservative, Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio, said he thinks that students should study both sides to "see what the differences are and be able to define those differences."

He would add James Dobson’s Focus on the Family, conservative talk show host Sean Hannity and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee to the list of conservatives. Others have proposed adding talk show host Rush Limbaugh and the National Rifle Association.

Mercer says he would also mention groups like the National Education Association, MoveOn.org, Planned Parenthood and the Texas Freedom Network so that students will be "able to identify what’s conservative ... [a]nd what is liberal in contrast."

For Barton, History and Religion Are One And The Same

Back in April, it was reported that David Barton had been appointed to serve on the Texas State Board of Education's "panel of experts" tasked with examining the state's social studies curriculum.

At the time, Barton made is clear that his goal was to ensure that the standards better reflected his right-wing views regarding our nation's history, especially as it pertained to the issue of religion, but vowed to be so thoroughly accurate that nobody would be able to question his biased recommendations:

Barton expects outside groups to "holler and scream" about his recommendations to fix those errors due to the fact that he is a Christian and a conservative. But he adds that he and other members of the panel will give recommendations that are so historically accurate that board members will have a hard time refuting them.

Needless to say, it came as no surprise that when Barton unveiled his recommended changes [PDF], it contained a heavy focus on the need to teach students about the religious aspects of the nation's history:

Understanding American Government. Students [Grade 5 (a)(1), (b)(16)] are told to “identify the roots of representative government in this nation as well as the important ideas in the Declaration of Independence,” but nowhere are those ideas specifically identified. Students should be familiar with the fundamental principles of America government set forth in the 126 words in the first three sentences at the beginning of the Declaration and those principles should be regularly reviewed throughout their tenure as a student:

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitles them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

(It is from this section that students are to recite by memory under state law.)

The principles set forth here and subsequently secured in the Constitution and Bill of Rights include:

1. There is a fixed moral law derived from God and nature
2. There is a Creator
3. The Creator gives to man certain unalienable rights
4. Government exists primarily to protect God-given rights to every individual
5. Below God-given rights and moral law, government is directed by the consent of the governed

Students must also understand the Framers’ very explicit (and very frequent) definition of inalienable rights as being those rights given by God to every individual, independent of any government anywhere (as John Adams explained, inalienable rights are those rights that are “antecedent to all earthly government; rights [that] cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws; rights [that are] derived from the Great Legislator of the Universe”). The inalienable rights specifically listed in the Declaration include those of life, liberty, and property, and the Bill of Rights subsequently identified other inalienable rights, including freedoms of religion, press, speech, assembly, and petition; the right of self-defense; the sanctity of the home; and due process. Each of these rights is to remain beyond the scope of government and is to be protected inviolable by government. These fundamental five precepts of American government must be thoroughly understood by students, but they are not currently addressed in the TEKS.

This is standard procedure for Barton: claiming that he is merely explaining history while focusing entirely on promoting his claims that American was fundamentally designed to be a Christian nation. 

In fact, he has more or less admitted that to ABC News

David Barton, president of the Texas-based Christian heritage advocacy group WallBuilders, is another expert on the panel who would like to see changes made to the school curriculum.

"I think there should be more of an emphasis on history in the social studies curriculum," Barton said. "If there is an emphasis on history, there will be a demonstration of religion."

...

Barton told ABCNews.com that he believes Texas' public school curriculum should "reflect the fact that the U.S. Constitution was written with God in mind."

And this is exactly the sort of result one would expect when a biased pseudo-historian like Barton is appointed to a "panel of experts" tasked with evaluating public school curriculum.

The Consequences For Failing Manny Miranda? Nothing

With Sonia Sotomayor's nomination having been voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on a vote of 13-6, she is scheduled to get a floor vote next week where it is expected that she will be easily confirmed.

Resigned to the inevitable, right-wing are doing all they can to spin this as a victory that will pay huge dividends in future elections:

"Republicans can reap significant political benefits by voting against her confirmation and making her an issue in key races next year," conservative activist Ralph Reed told his supporters in a memo.

Voters will remember that "it is a gun vote, and this was not a judge vote. It was a racial quota vote. She is for quotas," added Grover Norquist, a leading conservative activist, in an interview.

...

Norquist said conservatives can paint Sotomayor as a dangerous liberal just like President Barack Obama.

"She tarnishes him a little bit," said Norquist, who is president of Americans for Tax Reform and a member of the NRA board of directors.

In the Washington Independent, David Weigel provides more insight into this effort:

“The Republican senators did much better than I expected,” said Manny Miranda, the chairman of the Third Branch Conference, a judicial conservative umbrella group that opposed Sotomayor’s nomination largely behind the scenes.

In early June, Miranda had been bearish on the Republican conference, doubtful that it would put up a fight. He called Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell “limp-wristed” and organized 145 conservative activists to campaign for a filibuster of Sotomayor, which they’re not going to get. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), in announcing his opposition to the nominee, admitted that her confirmation was probably inevitable. Yet they feel like the debate over Sotomayor was as much as a conservative success as it could have possibly been, and they see a chance to give the nominee the lowest level of support from the opposition party since the bruising 1991 fight over Clarence Thomas.

“When we started, I didn’t expect more than 16 ‘no’ votes,” said Miranda. “Now I think we may go as high as 29 votes. We’ve achieved quite a lot.”

...

“The NRA’s decision to score the vote is a huge statement,” said Curt Levey, director of the Committee for Justice. “They were hesitant to get involved. Even if Sotomayor is eventually confirmed, the fact that the NRA came to realize the importance of Supreme Court nominations in protecting gun rights is a very big deal. The grassroots have been activated.”

Sotomayor is widely expected to be confirmed next week and you'll notice that all of Miranda's strident demands that Republicans lead a filibuster against her seem to have disappeared, as have his repeated assertions that any vote on her nomination before the August recess would be glaring failure of Republican leadership:

The mark of failed Republican leadership -- already strong-armed by Democrats on hearing scheduling -- will certainly be allowing a confirmation vote before the August recess that denies time to senators and to the American people. Republican leaders will fail too if their only goal is to mirror the 22-22 Democrat vote for Judge Roberts and simply deliver 20 Republicans for and 20 against.

Miranda and company had one demand of Senate Republicans: Under no circumstances allow a vote on Sotomayor's nomination before the August recess. Yet that is exactly what is going to happen and, instead of blasting them for their failure, Miranda is praising them for a job well done because their token opposition will be slightly bigger than he initially imagined.

Why is the Right suddenly so forgiving?  Maybe because they knew all along that their efforts weren't going to stop Sotomayor and they were just trying to pick a fight and look important, which is essentially what Curt Levey admitted to Weigel:

“The goal isn’t to defeat Sotomayor,” explained Levey. “It’s to send enough of a warning shot that future nominees won’t be as hostile to the Constitution.”

The Committee for Justice, for example, developed five ads formatted for television and newspapers, one of which compared Sotomayor’s work for the Puerto Rican Defense Fund to President Obama’s friendship with reformed Weather Underground member Bill Ayers. It got plenty of attention; people clicked through to the committee’s site, and some donated. But TV viewers won’t see that particular attack on their screens. “I don’t think the ad was effective,” Levey admitted. “We’ll run some ads in the final week, but I don’t think we’ll run that ad.”

 

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