Virginia

Right Wing Leftovers

  • FRC rejoices over the defeat of the effort to repeal Don't ask Don't Tell.
  • Over the weekend, Sharron Angle spoke at Utah’s Freedom Conference, an event co-sponsored by the John Birch Society.
  • Tim Scott tells CBN's David Brody that there is no racism in the Tea Party movement.
  • Gov. Bob McDonnell, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli will all speak at Virginia's first annual Tea Party Convention next month.
  • You can now add Rep. Paul Ryan to the list of conservatives saying there might be a need to call a "truce" in the culture wars.
  • Jerry Falwell, Jr. supports efforts by VA Gov. Bob McDonnell's plan to privatize the state's liquor monopoly.
  • Finally, I find it hilarious that FRC is outraged that Republicans would speak to the Log Cabin Republicans just days after FRC gave a prime speaking slot to notorious bigot Bryan Fischer.

Value Voter Recap: We're All Tea Partiers Now (Including God)

The so-called Values Voter Summit, organized by the Family Research Council and sponsored by a number of right-wing groups, brought more than 2,000 activists (their count) to Washington D.C. for two solid days of speeches, workshops, networking, and a chance to spend time with others who passionately hate President Obama and the Democratic congressional leadership. Addressing the crowd were a number of GOP presidential hopefuls, including Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, and Rep. Mike Pence (who eked out a narrow victory over Huckabee in the straw poll). Not surprisingly, conference speakers echoed the themes heard at the smaller Faith and Freedom conference convened by Ralph Reed just one week earlier.

Here were the top themes emerging from these Religious Right political conferences.
 
1) We’re All Tea Partiers Now (Including God)
 
The Faith and Freedom conference and Values Voter Summit signaled the Religious Right’s full embrace of (or effort to co-opt) the Tea Party movement and its activists’ anti-Washington energies. Rep. Michele Bachmann, a superstar in both the Religious Right and Tea Party movements, railed at Tea Party critics: “If you are scared of the Tea Party movement, you are afraid of Thomas Jefferson, who penned our mission statement [the Declaration of Independence].”
 
The events were also designed to attack the notion that the Tea Party movement is, or should be, focused only on economic issues and not on moral ones. This is more than the ongoing effort to solidify a working electoral partnership among fiscal, social, and national security conservatives. This is an ideological campaign against the very idea that one can legitimately be a fiscal conservative without embracing the Religious Right’s “family values” agenda on issues such as legal abortion and marriage equality. At the Values Voter Summit, there was little patience for libertarians who consider themselves economically conservative but socially liberal. Sen. Jim DeMint, greeted as a folk-hero for his success at backing Tea Party challengers to establishment GOP candidates, took on the idea directly, saying “you can’t be a true fiscal conservative if you do not understand the value of a culture that is based on values.” 
 
Others echoed the theme. A Heritage Foundation video declared that faith is necessary for liberty. Rep Mike Pence, the dark-horse winner of the summit’s straw poll, said America’s darkest moments have come when economic arguments trumped moral principles. Newt Gingrich declared that activists have to go back to making the moral case for free enterprise, not the economic case. David Limbaugh decried “economic justice,” which he called a leftist euphemism for “confiscation.” 
 
At a Values Voter Summit panel on the Tea Party movement, two activists described their work as being inspired in part by instructions they received from God in the early morning hours, like Glenn Beck; one insisted that her activism was not just about taxes but about getting America to turn back to God.
 
2) Nothing is more important than the 2010 and 2012 elections.
 
Nearly every speaker said that the 2010 election is the most important in our lifetime. Speakers insisted that President Obama, his administration, and Democratic congressional leaders are not only wrong, they are evil and are out to destroy the American experiment in limited government and individual liberty.  It is simply not possible to overstate the level of anger and hostility directed toward Obama (described as an America-hating narcissistic Marxist), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. 
 
Activists were told they must fast, pray, and work hard to defeat Democrats this November. The Family Research Council urged people to visit the website of Pray and A.C.T, a campaign led by Jim Garlow, who has been a rising star on the Religious Right since leading religious organizing on behalf of California’s anti-gay Prop 8. Ralph Reed is promising to share with local activists a massive new database of faith-based and fiscally conservative voters that he is building. 
 
Activists were also told that they must plan to keep sacrificing their time, energy and money for the next two years to make sure that Obama is defeated in 2012. Former Sen. Rick Santorum told activists not to expect dramatic improvements even if they win big in November: things won’t really change for the better as long as the White House is in Obama’s hands. Activists were warned that these two elections may be the last chance to stop the nation’s slide toward socialism and the end of America as we know it.
 
Right-wing speakers are optimistic about the possibility of delivering both the House and Senate into Republican hands and electing a conservative Republican president in 2012. FRC’s PAC held a fundraiser Friday night for Christine O’Donnell, the new Tea Party-backed GOP Senate candidate from Delaware, and other like-minded candidates.   Ralph Reed said that voter registration and focused turnout campaigns being waged by his and other right-wing groups would turn this from a good election cycle for Republicans into a historically sweeping one. And there’s particular excitement that Florida GOP Senate candidate Marco Rubio could be the face of the GOP’s future: right-wing strategists see him as Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama rolled into one appealing, Latino-vote-getting package.
 
3) Repealing Health Care Reform the Top Legislative Priority
 
According to several Values Voter Summit speakers, health care reform legislation signed into law by President Obama wasn’t really about health care at all. It was about extending the power of the federal government into tyrannical realms. Repealing “Obamacare” before it fully goes into effect is the top legislative priority of movement leaders. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell was one of several speakers who called the legislation unconstitutional, saying that if the legislation was allowed to stand, it would effectively spell the end of any limits on federal power. 
 
4) Muslims Replace Immigrants as a Top Target
 
While previous conferences have portrayed unchecked illegal immigration as the most dire threat to America, this year’s speakers picked up on the right-wing generated furor over a proposed Islamic center in lower Manhattan – the inaccurately dubbed “Ground Zero Mosque” – to make repeated bitter denunciations of Islam. Immigration was not completely ignored: Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, in a list of complaints, denounced the White House for being an administration “whose idea of a rogue state is Arizona,” and the Heritage Foundation sponsored a workshop on “The Real Cost of Illegal Immigration.” But the real energy was in attacking Islam, which was a primary focus of remarks by Bill Bennett and Gary Bauer.
 
5) Pursuit of Happiness With an Asterisk: Gays Need Not Apply
 
Not surprisingly, all the talk about individual liberty being at the core of our national identity did not extend to the freedom of gay and lesbian Americans to pursue happiness by marrying the person they love. Several speakers exhorted attendees to help mobilize conservative voters in Iowa to turn out for upcoming retention elections and vote against Iowa Supreme Court justices who ruled that denying gay couples the freedom to marriage violated the state’s constitution. The American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, who insisted that there is no confusion about what is right in the sight of God and what is evil in the sight of God, said that politicians who support, defend, and promote “counterfeits” to marriage (which include not only marriage equality but also civil unions and domestic partnerships) are doing something evil and deserve condemnation. Fischer repeated Religious Right claims that LGBT equality and religious liberty are incompatible: “we are going to have to choose between the homosexual agenda and religious liberty because we simply cannot have both.”
 
The federal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law which forbids gay members of the Armed Forces for serving openly and honestly, was also high on speakers’ minds. Sen. James Inhofe urged people to call their senators in advance of a scheduled vote on a defense authorization bill that would include language to overturn Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell as well as language that would, in his words, turn military hospitals into abortion clinics. 

PFAW’s Letter to NPR

Yesterday, Kyle pointed out Bryan Fischer’s appearance on Morning Edition, where he was billed simply as a representative of the American Family Association. If a respected media outlet like NPR is going to give a platform to someone like Fischer, it needs to make clear the long record of hate speech he brings with him. PFAW President Michael B. Keegan reached out to Alicia Shepard, the NPR Ombudsman with this note:

Dear Ms. Shepard:

I was surprised yesterday to hear the voice of Bryan Fischer, Director of Issue Analysis at the American Family Association, on Morning Edition. I wonder if the show's producers knew of Mr. Fischer's record of extremism and hate speech against Muslim Americans and gays and lesbians.

People For the American Way's RightWingWatch.org blog tracks Fischer in his roll as a blogger and radio host for the AFA, where he makes no attempt to disguise his extremism. Just in the past year, Fischer has:

Yesterday, in response to People For's call that GOP leaders distance themselves from Mr. Fischer, he repeated his comparison of gay men to domestic terrorists. On Tuesday, Mr. Fischer defended his call for deporting Muslim Americans, saying "we are doing them a favor by repatriating them to their homeland where an entire nation shares their values."

Of course, Mr. Fischer has the right to air his opinions, no matter how hurtful. However, he should not be given air time by a nonpartisan news organization without some disclosure of his record of hate speech.

I also hope that Mr. Fischer is not, as Morning Edition implied, representative of the Tea Party movement as a whole.

This weekend, he will be appearing this weekend alongside leaders of the Republican Party, including Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint, and 2012 presidential hopefuls Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, and Mike Pence. We have alerted these public figures to Mr. Fischer's record and urged them to denounce Fischer's remarks lest they lend credibility to his extremism.

Similarly, I urge NPR to resist lending credibility to an extremist like Fischer by providing him with a national platform without alerting audiences to his record of vocal bigotry.

Thank you for your time,

Michael B. Keegan

President, People For the American Way

 We’ll keep you posted on the response.

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

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

Dear ________:

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

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

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

Values Voter Summit Participants:

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,

Michael B. Keegan
President, People For the American Way

The Black Robe Regiment: Glenn Beck's Redundant New Group

One thing I find fascinating about the Religious Right is how seemingly every major new organization or effort that it launches is literally the same as every other organization or effort it has ever launched.

Just today I noted how yet another group was calling for 40 days of prayer heading into the mid-term elections, as if all the other calls to 40 days of prayer and fasting were not enough.

Similarly, it seems like every few weeks, some new Religious Right group is formed that does exactly the same thing all of the other Religious Right groups are doing.

And now we have Glenn Beck announcing the formation of his Black Robe Regiment:

Apparently, the idea began with Beck's favorite historian, David Barton. When Beck told Barton he wanted to "get religious leaders together," Barton suggested forming a Black Robe Regiment -- named after what Barton had said was a group of preachers who supported the American Revolution from their pulpits. Beck decided that was "exactly" what he was looking for because it was a movement supposedly like his that was "not about politics."

Beck then described the first meeting he held with "the largest evangelical leaders in the country" some of whom had been involved in the Christian Coalition. ... Beck elaborated on his call to "mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes," calling on his listeners to "tithe 10 percent" and encouraging them to "sacrifice our fortunes so our children don't have to pay for our lifestyle." Beck implored his listeners: "You must tithe because these people [the Black Robe Regiment] are going to be in trouble. They're going to come under attack."

So Beck's brilliant idea is to bring together a bunch of Religious Right leaders in an effort to motivate pastors to play a bigger role in politics and the culture?

Has Beck never heard of the Patriot Pastors?

Fellow pastor Russell Johnson lacks [Rod] Parsley's charisma, but he has mastered the art of organizing. His group, the Ohio Restoration Project (ORP), recruited nearly 1,800 churches with "Patriot Pastors" and deputized them to draft new "values voters."

The ministers signed 410,000 Ohio homes onto Johnson's mailing list, and the ORP can tap 100,000 prayer warriors through e-mail in a moment's notice. This is more than just a group of voters ready to punch some ballots. According to ORP outreach materials, it is a "mighty army" ready to do battle.

While Johnson reaches white evangelicals and fundamentalists, Parsley appeals to both African Americans and Pentecostals. Together, the two men have forged a political machine that aims to remake Ohio politics—and the nation.

Or what about the US Pastor Council?

The mission of the Houston Area Pastor Council and sister councils in USPC is to empower pastors and their congregations across racial and denominational lines to impact the culture and community through concerted prayer, to equip our congregations for effective citizenship and to provide a unified voice on spiritual, cultural, social and moral issues from a Biblical perspective. The AMERICA Plan was developed as a Purpose Statement of how pastors and churches can and must enage in godly citizenship.

HAPC has become a respected voice on front line cultural and political issues from a non-partisan perspective, holding elected officials of both major parties and non-partisan offices to a Biblical standard. The Pastors' Declaration of Godly Citizenship was developed to clarify the core values of this coalition.

HAPC has conducted numerous luncheons, workshops, rallies, elected official summits, Pastors' Day At the Capitol and many other activities bringing pastors together, proving top quality Biblical, historical, legal and public policy information as well as standing in the gap for our nation.

Or what about the Pulpit Initiative:

Historically, churches have emphatically, and with great passion, spoken Scriptural truth from the pulpit about government and culture. Historians have stated that America owes its independence in great degree to the moral force of the pulpit. Pastors have proclaimed Scriptural truth throughout history on great moral issues such as slavery, women’s suffrage, child labor and prostitution. Pastors have also spoken from the pulpit with great frequency for and against various candidates for government office ... It is time for the intimidation and threats to end. Churches and pastors have a constitutional right to speak freely and truthfully from the pulpit – even on candidates and voting – without fearing loss of their tax exemption.

Or the Watchmen on the Wall:

Watchmen on the Wall" is a powerful conference in the nation's capital especially designed for pastors and ministers, based on Isa. 62:6: "I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem. They shall never hold their peace day or night. You who make mention of the Lord, do not keep silent..." FRC launched the Briefing in May 2004 to:

* Remind spiritual leaders of our nation's Judeo-Christian heritage.
* Inform them about the moral issues being debated in the public square.
* Ignite their passion to become watchmen who will sound the alarm.
* Inspire them to encourage their churches to engage the culture.

Our hope is that you will return home encouraged and educated about the issues of the day that affect faith and family and that you will be inspired to share with your congregations what they may do to take a more active role as salt and light in your community and government.

Or what about the Patriotic Pastors, or Pastors for Family Values, or even the Patriot Pastors’ T.E.A. Party?

And those are the groups I can think of just off the top of my head. 

Obviously, none of the previous efforts have accomplished their goals - if they had, there would be no need to keep launching new groups with the exact same mission over and over again. 

But apparently Beck believes that Beck thinks that he (with the help of the very Religious Right leaders behind all these other efforts) has finally found the key:  getting pastors more engaged in the political process. 

Gee, why has nobody ever thought of that before?  

Americans for Prosperity funnels big money, activist anger into attacks on House Democrats

Americans for Prosperity, the “grassroots” Tea Party organization funded by anti-government billionaires, is one of several right-wing groups that glommed on to Glenn Beck’s decision to bring the Tea Party crowd to Washington, D.C. With help from the Koch family, AFP has grown rapidly. In the words of Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, AFP has grown in a few years from “an idea in a New York apartment” into a network with 32 chapter and more than a million activists. AFP’s Tim Phillips told the 2500 activists (their number) at the “Defending the American Dream Summit” on Friday that “we’re going to take back Washington for two days and we’re going to take back our country over the next few years.” 

During the plenary session and in workshops, AFP speakers insisted that the organization was nonpartisan and will not endorse candidates, disclaimers that seemed like a micro-thin veneer of legalese over plans to pour millions of dollars into attacks on Democratic House candidates between now and November. In fact, the group’s November is Coming! campaign is targeting 40-50 House races where they can “make a difference.” Here’s part of the message it asks voters to sign:
 
Dear Policymakers, Elected Officials, and Candidates: You know that November is coming and voters care about the issues. Left-wing policies continue to drive Obama’s agenda for even bigger government. We want you to oppose big government programs or any other freedom-killing policies or we will remember in November.
 
November is Coming includes a publicity-seeking bus tour, and AFP is recruiting activists to engage in door to door “voter education” efforts and make phone calls from home into targeted districts using a sophisticated computer phonebanking system. The calls and visits aren’t about telling people to vote for, AFP says, it’s just doing people the service of letting them know how their representatives voted on issues like health care, cap and trade legislation, and stimulus spending. You can see some of the ads on AFP's You Tube channel.
 
AFP group used Colorado as a test case for the November is Coming model, and has held organizing meetings in 20 cities since June. Among its targets in Colorado: Reps. Betsy Markey, Ed Perlmutter, and John Salazar. Campaign organizers showed ads attacking candidates for being in league with Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi, and said they are currently running a $330,000 ad buy attacking Markey.
 
Political consultant Dick Morris predicted that the GOP would take control over both Houses after the November elections and promised big attacks on public employee unions and a showdown over government spending. He told the crowd that there would be another government shutdown, like in 1995 and 1996, but this time he’d be on their side, and this time they’d win.
 
 

Reed Unveils More Speakers at Faith And Freedom Conference

Earlier this month I wrote about Ralph Reed's upcoming Faith and Freedom Conference and Strategy Briefing to be held in Washington, D.C., September 9-11 which Reed is calling the "the political equivalent of NFL minicamp."

Today, Reed sent out an email urging activists to register and provided the first look at the line-up of scheduled speakers he has landed:   

  • Gary Bauer, President, American Values
  • Ken Blackwell, Senior Fellow of Family Empowerment, Family Research Council
  • Glen Bolger, Political strategist and pollster
  • Jim Bopp, Legal Counsel, Faith & Freedom Coalition
  • Brent Bozell, President, Media Research Center
  • Herman Cain, Conservative radio talk show host
  • Tucker Carlson, Political correspondent
  • Teresa Collett, Congressional candidate (R-MN 4th district)
  • Kellyanne Conway, President and CEO, Women Trend
  • S.E. Cupp, Author, “Losing Our Religion”
  • Majorie Dannenfelser, President , Susan B. Anthony List
  • Brian Donahue, Founder, CRAFT Media/Digital
  • Erick Erickson, Founder, RedState.com
  • Mindy Finn, E- Media strategist
  • J. Randy Forbes, Congressmen (R-VA-4th district)
  • John Fund, Political journalist and conservative columnist
  • Dr. Jim Garlow, Coauthor, “Cracking Da Vinci's Code”
  • Tim Goeglein, Vice President, Focus on the Family
  • Ed Goeas, Political strategist and pollster
  • Deal Hudson, Director, Morley Institute for Church and Culture
  • Richard Land, President, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
  • Anna Little, Congressional candidate (R-NJ-6th district)
  • Dana Loesch, Conservative radio talk show host
  • Jenny Beth Martin, Tea Party Leader
  • Jack St. Martin, Partner, Orange Hat Group
  • Jason Mattera, Political Blogger and Author of “Obama  Zombies”
  • Thaddeus McCotter, Congressman  (R-MI-11th district)
  • Bob McDonnell, Governor of Virginia
  • Mark Meckler, Tea Party Leader
  • Grover Norquist, President, Americans for Tax Reform
  • Star Parker, Congressional candidate (R-CA-37th district)
  • Tony Perkins, President, the Family Research Council
  • Tom Price, Congressmen (R-GA-6th district)
  • Karl Rove, Sr. Advisor, White House
  • Patrick Ruffini, E-Media Strategist
  • Chip Saltsman, Former Campaign Manager, Mike Huckabee for President
  • Rick Santorum, Former U.S. Senator
  • Tim Scott, Congressional candidate (R-SC-1st district)
  • Orit Sklar, Executive Director, Fulton County Republican Party
  • Mark Smith, President, Ohio Christian University
  • Matt Smith, Priest
  • Bill Stephens, President, Florida Faith & Freedom Coalition
  • Jim Talent, Former U.S. Senators
  • Hans von Spakovsky, Senior Legal Fellow , Heritage Foundation
  • Jackie Walorski, Congressional candidate (R-IN-2nd district)
  • Lynn Westmoreland, United States Congressman (R-GA-3rd district)

Interestingly, the names Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, and Mike Huckabe are not on this list despite the fact that Reed has been using them in his promos for weeks now: 

Gingrich, McDonnell, Rove Sign on For Ralph Reed's Political "Minicamp"

Why is it that when Ralph Reed is involved, nothing can ever just be what it is? 

For instance, his new Faith and Freedom Coalition is not just a new Religious Right group, but rather the "Christian Coalition on Steroids."

And Reed is not just another Religious Right operative, but the Religious Right's Steve Jobs.

And Reed's works is not just standard voter mobilization, but rather guerilla warfare and saturation bombing.

And so, of course, his upcoming Faith and Freedom Coalition Summit is not just a political conference, but "the political equivalent of NFL minicamp":

The Faith & Freedom Coalition will hold its first national Conference and Strategy Briefing with top grassroots leaders, pastors, and activists in Washington, DC, on September 9-11. The Faith & Freedom Coalition, founded by Ralph Reed, will inform and train its state and chapter leaders, activists, and supporters in preparation for the 2010 elections.

To date confirmed speakers include former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former White House senior advisor and Fox News contributor Karl Rove, Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia, former RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie, Congressmen Randy Forbes, Tom Price, and Lynn Westmoreland, among many others.

Hundreds of grassroots activists will gather for training, workshops and breakout sessions on voter registration, Get-Out-the-Vote tactics, and how to utilize Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites to build a volunteer network. Among scheduled panels: "Mama Grizzly" candidates who are making 2010 the "Year of the Conservative Woman," and leading Tea Party organizers, including Jenny Beth Martin with Tea Party Patriots.

"This is not just a conference or a retreat," said Ralph Reed. "This is the political equivalent of NFL minicamp. We will train and equip our activists on how to block and tackle in the churches and precincts as we prepare for the most important election of our lifetimes."

Even WND is Debunking the Right's "Original Jurisdiction" Nonsense

Yesterday I noted that Bryan Fischer and others had stumbled upon a novel justification for why they didn't have to recognize court decisions they didn't like by claiming that the Supreme Court has "original jurisdiction" in "all cases...in which a State shall be Party." 

As such, any ruling involving a state that was not decided by the Supreme Court first "has no legal weight" and does not carry "the slightest constitutional authority."

As I pointed out, that means that any rulings in Virginia's lawsuit against health-care reform are likewise illegitimate, as are all the rulings in countless other cases making their way through the federal court system.

But you don't have to take my word for it, as even WorldNetDaily recognizes this simple fact

[C]onstitutional expert Herb Titus, who is affiliated with the William J. Olson law firm, said the full text of the constitutional provision needs to be noted, because it does not provide the Supreme Court with "exclusive" original jurisdiction.

He noted the constitutional text:

"In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make."

It is that provision that allows Congress to make exceptions and regulations that provides the authority for Bolton's court to hear the case, he noted.

"Could you imagine every case that involves a state as a party being before the Supreme Court. The court would be so loaded with those kinds of cases …" he said.

Another top constitutional expert, John Eidsmoe, of the Foundation for Moral Law, agreed.

"Congress can make exceptions out of that area," he told WND. "What the courts have said in areas where the court has original jurisdiction, Congress by its power to create exceptions, can add [responsibility or authority]."

You know that your arguments are doomed when even WorldNetDaily agrees that they are utter nonsense.

Fischer Offers A Novel Argument For Ignoring Federal Court Decisions

I love it when right-wingers suddenly start screaming about the Constitution and jurisdiction and the like whenever they think doing so will justify ignoring a court ruling they don't like. 

The latest post from Bryan Fisher is a case in point:

Although tyrannical judge Susan Bolton won’t like to hear this, her federal court is referred to in the Constitution as an “inferior” tribunal. She certainly has given us no reason to doubt the appropriateness of that term in her case.

The problem here is that the Constitution plainly gives “original jurisdiction” to the Supreme Court in “all cases...in which a State shall be Party.” That’s from Article III, Sec. 2. You could look it up.

The state of Arizona is without question a party in this suit. The named defendants are:

“State of Arizona; and Janice K. Brewer, Governor of the State of Arizona, in her Official Capacity.”

...

The bottom line here is that Judge Bolton does not have the slightest constitutional authority even to hear this case, let alone issue misbegotten and ill-informed rulings on it.

My hope continues to be that Arizona will follow the Constitution, ignore Judge Bolton’s ruling, which has no legal weight, and implement the law as written by the elected representatives of the people of Arizona. Why should they allow themselves to be dictated to and pushed around by this petty, little tyrant of a judge who didn’t even have the right to receive this case in the first place?

Apparently the decision is meaningless because Judge Bolton did not have the authority to hear the case as the Supreme Court has "original jurisdiction" in "all cases...in which a State shall be Party."

Does that mean that the federal judge who yesterday refused to dismiss Virginia's lawsuit challenging health-care reform likewise has no constitutional authority and that his decision carries no legal weight and can be ignored? 

After all, Virginia is clearly a party to this lawsuit: "Commonwealth of Virginia v. Kathleen Sebelius."

Fischer can look it up. 

Gingrich, Sharia, Marital Rape, and Phyllis Schlafly

Earlier this week I wrote about the absurd hypocrisy of Newt Gingrich decrying efforts by Muslims to impose their religious views on the world through Sharia while his very own organization is seeking to impose its religious views on the world through Dominionism.

One of the other points that Gingrich made in that same article was that Sharia tolerates marital rape, but I didn't bother to include that as it was not related to the point I was making at the time. 

But now that Gingrich made the same point in his speech yesterday at the American Enterprise Institute, let's revisit it:

In June 2009, a New Jersey state judge rejected an allegation that a Muslim man who punished his wife with pain for hours and then raped her repeatedly was guilty of criminal sexual assault, citing his religious beliefs as proof that he did not believe he was acting in a criminal matter. “This court believes that he was operating under his belief that it is, as the husband, his desire to have sex when and whether he wanted to, was something that was consistent with his practices and it was something that was not prohibited.” Thankfully, this ruling was reversed in an appellate court.

As I pointed out earlier this week, you know who else supports marital rape?  Phyllis Schlafly:

At one point, Schlafly also contended that married women cannot be sexually assaulted by their husbands.

"By getting married, the woman has consented to sex, and I don't think you can call it rape," she said.

Schlafly said that back in 2007.  In 2008, Washington University in St. Louis decided to honor Schlafly with an honorary doctorate, which set off protests on campus ... to which Schlafly responsed by reiterating this view:

Could you clarify some of the statements that you made in Maine last year about martial rape?

I think that when you get married you have consented to sex. That's what marriage is all about, I don't know if maybe these girls missed sex ed. That doesn't mean the husband can beat you up, we have plenty of laws against assault and battery. If there is any violence or mistreatment that can be dealt with by criminal prosecution, by divorce or in various ways. When it gets down to calling it rape though, it isn't rape, it's a he said-she said where it's just too easy to lie about it.

Was the way in which your statement was portrayed correct?

Yes. Feminists, if they get tired of a husband or if they want to fight over child custody, they can make an accusation of marital rape and they want that to be there, available to them.

So you see this as more of a tool used by people to get out of marriages than as legitimate-

Yes, I certainly do.

And it's not like this was some anomaly, as Schlafly has a long history of making outrageous statements. I mean, doesn't anyone remember when she blamed the Virginia Tech massacre on the university's English Department?

And how does the Religious Right respond to such views?  By awarding Schlafly the James C. Dobson Vision and Leadership Award at last year's Values Voter Summit.

So, to sum up:  conservatives are outraged that Sharia says husbands are free to rape their wives, which is proof that Muslim values are at odds with our cherished America values ... while Phyllis Schlafly believes the exact same thing and she is honored a visionary and leader of the conservative movement.

How President Obama Is Destroying Our "Freedom of Religion"

Do you ever get the impression that the Religious Right is just making up "controversies" that they can pretend to get upset about?  Or do you get the impression that they just don't even bother to do so much as a minute of research before voicing their outrage about some nonexistent threat? 

Behold the latest such incident, courtesy of the Family Research Council:

Can one word change the world? President Obama certainly hopes so. Since last year's speech in Cairo, one phrase is subtly worming its way into speeches with high level White House officials. With incredible precision, the President is abandoning the term "freedom of religion" in favor of what he calls the "freedom of worship." Now to most people, that rhetoric is nothing to write home about. But to those of us standing guard for our faith in Washington, the shift is ominous. As Nina Shea, director of the Center for Religious Freedom said, "[Freedom of worship] excludes the right to raise your children in your faith; the right to have religious literature; the right to meet with co-religionists; the right to raise funds; the right to appoint your religious leaders, and to carry out charitable activities, to evangelize," and perhaps the most troubling, to engage in the public square.

This is the culmination of a 40-year process to expel God from America. First it was taking prayer and the Bible from public schools; then it was driving out the 10 Commandments from courthouses and nativities from town squares. Now religion would be squeezed out of every pocket of society until it exists only within the four walls of the church. This is more than semantics; it's a bold leap forward to completely secularize America. We've already witnessed what the courts and culture have done to alienate faith. President Obama's vision is to codify those decisions in policy--making it virtually impossible for men and women to exercise their religion in public. And that includes any church outreach like homeless shelters or orphanages. If we pursue this to its logical conclusion, America would eventually shut out or constrict anything having to do with Christ. President Obama says plenty of things he doesn't mean. But in this, his pursuit of wiping religion off the map, we should take him at his word.

Really? This is what it has come to?  President Obama doesn't use the phrase "freedom of religion" and it is proof that he is out to "completely secularize America"?  Even by the Religious Right's standard, this is laughably pathetic.

Hey, take a look at this procilmation that President Obama issued just four days ago:

The journey towards worldwide freedom and democracy sought in 1959 remains unfinished. Today, we still observe the profound differences between governments that reflect the will of their people, and those that sustain power by force; between nations striving for equal justice and rule of law, and those that deny their citizens freedom of religion, expression, and peaceful assembly; and between states that are open and accountable, and those that restrict the flow of ideas and information. The United States has a special responsibility to bear witness to those whose voices are silenced, and to stand alongside those who yearn to exercise their universal human rights.

In fact, a search of the White House website returns 124 uses of the phrase "freedom of religion" compared to just 9 uses of "freedom of worship."

Interestingly, a search of the George W. Bush White House website archive also returns exactly 124 mentions of "freedom of religion" versus 33 uses of "freedom of worship."

Do you remember the Religious Right freaking out when Bush used the phrase several times in proclaiming Religious Freedom Day 2008?  Me neither:

Thomas Jefferson counted the freedom of worship as one of America's greatest blessings. He said it was "a liberty deemed in other countries incompatible with good government, and yet proved by our experience to be its best support." On Religious Freedom Day, we celebrate the 1786 passage of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom.

The freedom to worship according to one's conscience is one of our Nation's most cherished values. It is the first protection offered in the Bill of Rights: that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." In America, people of different faiths can live together united in peace, tolerance, and humility. We are committed to the proposition that as equal citizens of the United States of America, all are free to worship as they choose.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Ken Hutcherson explains how the "Minority Thought Pattern" causes White people to be discriminated against and Black people to be duped by Democrats.
  • It is even possible for Alveda King not to turn everything into an attack on abortion?  I doubt it.
  • What could be more exciting than West Virginia's 8th annual Creation Conference?
  • Hooray, Rep. Michele Bachmann's "Tea Party Caucus" is now officially a thing.
  • Lou Engle will be on The 700 Club tomorrow, so we have that to look forward to.
  • Randall Terry's "Filibuster Elena Kagan" bus tour is off to a rough start.
  • Finally, the quote of the day from Rep. Randy Forbes: "[I]f we do not do anything else, we must make a commitment that we will never look the 56 Americans who signed the foundational document of freedom of the world in the eye and apologize for the greatness of America. America is a nation that was born to be special, and the moment we begin to apologize for America is the moment we begin to spread roots that choke out any seeds of success. America may not be perfect, but America is great."

Robertson's TV Network Bails Out His University

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that Pat Robertson's Regent University was in such dire financial straits that his CBN television network had to step in in order to keep it afloat:

Regent University is in dire financial straits, but it received help last week from the Christian Broadcasting Network, according to a report released on Wednesday by Moody's Investors Service.

M.G. (Pat) Robertson, the influential televangelist, founded both the network and Regent University, which was originally called CBN University. Both are located in Virginia Beach, Va., and Mr. Robertson is Regent's chancellor and president.

The university's fiscal footing began to slide in 2006, when its bond rating was downgraded because of deficits and weak fund-raising. Regent's money problems have accelerated since then. Annual operating deficits averaged 26 percent from 2007 to 2009, according to Moody's, and its endowment draw was a whopping 11 percent in 2008, more than double the normal payout rate.

While the balance sheet improved last year, thanks to increased tuition revenue from a growing undergraduate enrollment, Regent has a dangerously small amount of cash on hand to pay the bills.

Moody's reports that last year the university had only $1.3-million in liquid assets, which could cover roughly six days of operating costs. But Mr. Robertson's television network came to the rescue on June 24, relaxing restrictions on a $95-million gift it made to the university in 1992. The money had been classified as "permanently restricted net assets," but now Regent will be able to spend it freely, which will improve the university's liquidity crisis.

The Hypocrisy At The Heart Of The Right's Complaints About "Judicial Activism"

Given that we are in the middle of Elena Kagan's Supreme Court confirmation hearing and keep hearing all sorts of complaints from the Right about "judicial activism" and "legislating from the bench" and whatever, I just wanted to highlight this article from Focus on the Family because it  perfectly demonstrates just how bogus this entire talking point really is: 

A new front just opened Monday in the political tug-of-war over "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" – a Clinton-era policy prohibiting people who are openly gay or lesbian from serving in the military.

U.S. District Judge Virginia A. Phillips in Riverside, Calif., agreed to hear a case that challenges the military policy. The lawsuit was filed by the Log Cabin Republicans, a fiscally conservative, gay-activist group within the Republican Party.

Bruce Hausknecht, judicial analyst for CitizenLink, is concerned the proceedings could become a show trial – with the underlying intent to solidifying the concept that gay members of the military are a victimized class and in need of special protections.

"Once again, gay activists want to use the courts to impose social change rather than leaving this issue to the democratic process," said Hausknecht. "There never seems a lack of judges who will jump at the chance to legislate from the bench."

Hausknecht is angry that the Log Cabin Republicans are trying to use to the courts to impose this change instead of allowing the democratic process to take care of it.  At the same time, Focus on the Family is vehemently opposing efforts in Congress to repeal DADT, which is the very "democratic process" they say should be used. 

So what happens if Congress does manage to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell?

Robert Maginnis, senior fellow for national security with the Family Research Council, doesn't make much out of this case, as he believes Congress will succeed in repealing the policy well before the November election – and before the court can rule.

"The real decision's going to be made by the Congress," said Maginnis, "and then we have a fight after that – if, in fact, they do repeal."

Hmmm .... is FRC suggesting that they will go to court to fight the repeal of DADT?  

But what about the sanctity of the "democratic process"?  What about using judges to impose decisions contrary to the will of the people?  What about legislating from the bench? 

So apparently the Religious Right is opposed to using the courts to try and repeal DADT ... but entirely willing to use the courts to try and repeal any repeal of DADT. 

Liberty Counsel's Odd Definition of "Fit Parent"

You really have to marvel at the anti-gay animus that is driving the Liberty Counsel as it continues to argue on behalf of Lisa Miller in court despite that fact that she has kidnapped her daughter and reportedly fled the country so as to avoid complying by court orders.

Yesterday, Miller's case was back in court, this time in front of the Vermont Supreme Court, where LC attorneys continue to argue that Janet Jenkins should have absolutely no access to her daughter: 

Miller's lawyers told the Vermont Supreme Court a lower court judge was wrong to have given Jenkins custody of Miller's biological daughter.

"Hoping that they'll reverse that of the trial court withholding that before you take custody away from a biological parent you're required to perform some constitutional analysis," said Rena Lindevaldsen, Miller's lawyer.

The lower court gave Jenkins custody after Miller refused to give Jenkins visitation rights. Miller's lawyers from the Liberty Counsel-- a public interest law firm-- say Jenkins should not have standing as a parent.

"If it were to go to the United States Supreme Court, I would like them to revisit the whole thing, and ultimately protect Lisa's fundamental rights, and indicate that even visitation is an err," Lindevaldsen said.

And I have a feeling that Lindevaldsen just might get her wish to appeal the case to the US Supreme Court, because it doesn't look like the judges in Vermont are buying her arguments

Miller's lawyer is Rena Lindevaldsen. She says she hasn't heard from her client in months and doesn't know where she is. And she told the state Supreme Court that a Vermont trial judge was wrong to award custody to Miller's former partner.

(Lindevaldsen) You're switching from the first time anywhere in this nation from a fit biological parent that individual's child and switching to somebody who has been declared to be a parent who is not that child's biological or adoptive parent.

But associate Justice John Dooley challenged the lawyer on a number of points. First, Dooley asked: what about men whose children were conceived through reproductive technologies."

(Dooley) "So I take it your position would be the same to a father, to a husband, for whose spouse was impregnated by artificial insemination - he could not ask for custody in a proceeding if they went through a divorce? Is that right?"

(Lindevaldsen) "Unless of course he adopted the child in the meantime."

But Dooley said because the couple had been joined in a Vermont civil union the child did not have to be adopted in order for Jenkins to be considered a legal parent.

Then Chief Justice Paul Reiber weighed in. Reiber brought up the issue of Lisa Miller's contempt of court citations. The Virginia woman faces arrest because she defied a court order and disappeared with the child.

(Reiber) "You said a few moments ago that your client, your referred to her as a ‘fit parent." Hasn't she had seven or eight contempt orders issued against her?"

Even though Miller has been cited for contempt multiple times and ultimately kidnapped her daughter and fled the country, Lindevaldsen and the Liberty Counsel think she is the "fit parent" who deserves sole custody ... simply because Janet Jenkins is gay.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • I have no idea what "Freedom Fest 2010" is supposed to be, but it is sponsored by the ACLJ and being headlined by Sarah Palin.
  • Someone just gave Cindy Jacobs $15,000 to continue her prophetic intercession.  Really? 
  • It looks like Samuel Rodriquez has joined up with Harry Jackson and Niger Innis for their bogus Affordable Power Alliance.
  • The House's Office of Congressional Ethics says there is no "probable cause to believe the alleged violation occurred" by members of Congress getting cheap rent at The Family's house on C Street.
  • Legislators in Virginia are looking to pass Arizona-like immigration laws in the state.
  • Keep in mind that Richard Land and the Southern Baptist Convention support immigration reform because they see it as an opportunity to grow their church.
  • Finally, Paul Blair of Reclaiming America for Christ is also a participant in the ADF's "Pulpit Initiative."

Rep. Randy Forbes Seeks To Create A National "Prayer Caucus" Network

Earlier this week we noted that Rep. Randy Forbes had been a guest on James Dobson's new radio program where he unveiled his plan to create a series of state-level "prayer caucuses" that would monitor legislation, court rulings, and elected officials and mobilize activists to fight them.

The latest issue of World Magazine profiles Forbes and his Congressional Prayer Caucus and reports that he has already created one state-level caucus in Mississippi, with others in Virginia and Florida coming soon: 

Forbes says anti-faith groups have raised vast sums of money to pick fights with religious organizations. "For decades now people of faith have said, 'We are just working our own ministries, and we are going to wait and play defense when they come after us.' Our strategy is different. We think we need to push back."

To do so Forbes set up the nonprofit Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation to raise both awareness and money. The foundation's website, which asks churches and individuals to sign up to pray for the nation on a "digital prayer wall," also offers $5,000 annual memberships to a club called the "300"—a reference to Gideon's army in Judges.

The money funds Forbes' signature strategy: franchising out the Congressional Prayer Caucus concept to state legislatures.

Mississippi became the first state to partner with the caucus. Mississippi's GOP Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant spearheaded the effort after Forbes visited his office in February. At that meeting Forbes enticed Bryant by telling him Mississippi could help spread the movement around the country. "I immediately accepted the challenge because Mississippi is one of the most religious states in the nation," Bryant told me.

On April 22, a bipartisan group of more than three dozen Mississippi lawmakers crowded onto steps inside the state Capitol for a press conference on prayer. To make it official the state legislature even put it to a vote, unanimously passing in both the House and Senate a resolution that formed the state caucus. Next year a Senate Republican will lead the weekly prayer group while a House Democrat will take over in 2012.

Legislatures in Virginia and Florida are at work on similar partnerships.

It is through these state groups that Forbes hopes to change the debate over religion in public life. Many of the nation's legislatures already have prayer groups, but Forbes wants to bring them together into a nationwide network that tracks threats against religion. The D.C. caucus would serve as the clearinghouse where policy makers formulate and coordinate strategies.

"Here is the new world, if you send 100 lobbyists against us, we send two and a half million emails raising this issue," said Forbes. "Do you really want to fight that battle?"

Dobson Gets Back In The Game

James Dobson officially left Focus on the Family in February and started his new radio program, "Family Talk With Dr. James Dobson" in March ... and it took him just about a month to use his new program to do what he does best

On today’s program, Dr. Dobson sits down with Virginia Congressman Randy Forbes for a revealing interview about how forces in American society are sometimes surreptitiously removing all references to Christianity. Congressman Forbes describes the formation of the Congressional Prayer Caucus and the successes this group has had on the cultural battlefront.

The Christian Post reports that Dobson reiterated his standard concern that Christians are under constant attack while Forbes used the program as opportunity to call for the creation of state-level prayer caucuses that will monitoring legislation, court rulings, and elected officials:

Before Forbes was featured on Friday's broadcast, Dobson noted to listeners that the newly launched Family Talk is not being turned into a ministry that has "a political or public policy bent." But he stressed the significance of still addressing such issues and was unapologetic about doing so with passion.

"That's who we are and might as well state that up front," said Dobson, who started Family Talk with his son after leaving the prominent Focus on the Family ministry in February.

"This is the one reason that I didn't want to retire when I left Focus on the Family," the 74-year-old conservative evangelical leader stated. "The country is in a great deal of trouble and I just felt like we needed to do something about it."

Like many like-minded Christians, Dobson feels there is a growing attack against Christianity and efforts to eliminate all references to the Christian faith.

Expressing the same level of concern, Forbes said "anti-faith" groups around the country are amassing huge sums of money and focusing their resources on one particular situation or lawsuit so that they can get a precedent ... A number of states have begun to form prayer caucuses, including Mississippi and Virginia. Part of the purpose of prayer caucuses is to monitor legislation, agency rulings and court opinions that deny religious freedoms and access to the marketplace of ideas for people of faith, he said.

Forbes hopes to see prayer caucuses in every state "because it would be the first time that we have been able to integrate all of these policymakers across the country so that they can know what's going on and we can have policies that effectively deal with some of these attacks before it's too late."

Dobson also used the opportunity to post a commentary on the Family Talk website, blasting various legislative efforts - including efforts to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell - and vowing to place Family Talk on the "front lines" in fighting them: 

Time and space limitations permit me only to mention another regrettable piece of legislation that passed in the House of Representatives on May 27, 2010. It would eliminate the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy for all branches of the military. The four senior officers of the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines, have said “Don’t do this.” It threatens to affect morale, recruitment, retention, and the effectiveness of those who are risking their lives to protect this great nation. Yet, the attitude by liberals in Congress appears to be, “This is our window of opportunity,” and they are plunging ahead at breakneck speed. President Obama has promised to sign the legislation. Why does that surprise us?

On these issues and many others, Family Talk will be on the front lines of the battle to preserve the family. It is difficult now for us to engage fully because of the limitations of a 501(c)(3) organization. Nevertheless, we will do everything permitted by the IRS. We hope soon to have more freedom to defend families and help preserve the Judeo-Christian system of values. Your assistance in making Family Talk a strong and effective ministry will pay dividends in days to come. That is our passionate commitment.

Has Lisa Miller Fled The Country?

As we noted yesterday, Lisa Miller's attorneys at Liberty Counsel are continuing to work on her behalf even though she kidnapped her daughter and disappeared six months ago.  Liberty Counsel continues to insist that it does not know where Miller is ... but now it is being reported that she may have fled the country entirely:

An 8-year-old girl at the heart of a long-running child custody fight between former lesbian partners may be in Central America with her birth mother, a lawyer for one of the women said.

The girl, Isabella Miller-Jenkins, and her birth mother, Lisa Miller, failed to appear for a court-ordered custody swap in January and are believed to have flown to El Salvador last September, said attorney Sarah Star, who represents ex-partner Janet Jenkins.

Star said a Virginia police officer told her that Miller and the girl flew to El Salvador’s capital, San Salvador, from Juarez, Mexico, which is across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas.

“This is obviously horrifying,“ Star said yesterday. “Isabella’s not in school. She’s most likely in a country that is not as developed as the U.S., and [Jenkins is] worried about her. She’s worried she’s not in a safe environment. As far as we know, Lisa Miller doesn’t even speak Spanish.“

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has turned its attention to Central America, distributing photos and information about Isabella to news outlets throughout the region, apparently believing she and her birth mother moved there, Star said yesterday.

Since her disappearance, Miller has received praise from a wide-variety of right-wing groups for her actions ... including members of Concerned Women for America of Virginia who, as I noted back in February, seemingly admitted that they know where Miller is.

Miller had a significant support system when she was attending Jerry Falwell's Thomas Road Church, which is how she came to be represented by the Falwell-founded Liberty Counsel, and has been a cause célèbre of the Religious Right for several years ... all of which is making it increasingly difficult to believe that, as this saga wears on, this Religious Right network have not been deeply involved in hiding Miller and her daughter. 

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