Climate change

Focus on the Family Wants House Republicans to Investigate the Justice Department over DOMA Cases

Tom Minnery, Vice President of Government and Public Policy at CitizenLink (formerly Focus on the Family Action), is insisting that House Republicans investigate the Justice Department over their handling of the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, in order to fulfill the desires of the GOP’s Religious Right supporters.

Earlier this year, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley and Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders brought two separate cases to a federal judge in Boston contesting DOMA’s constitutionality. The Justice Department defended DOMA and argued that the law is constitutional, but the Judge ruled otherwise and found that the law was unconstitutional under the equal protection clause and the Tenth Amendment.

Infuriated by the judge’s ruling, Religious Right activists were so assured of DOMA’s constitutionality that they maintained that the Justice Department must have intentionally mishandled the cases and purposefully lost. Tom McClusky of the Family Research Council said that “in part, this decision results from the deliberately weak legal defense of DOMA that was mounted on behalf of the government by the Obama administration,” and Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel and David Barton of WallBuilders recently discussed why they believe the Justice Department “threw the case.”

Today, Focus on the Family’s Tom Minnery called for social conservatives to be more demanding of congressional Republicans than they were when Republicans previously had control of Congress:

On Nov. 2, 2010, the Republicans again won control of the House, by an even larger margin than they did in 1994. It was once again a severe rebuke of the policies of the Democratic Party. We hope it won’t again cause a severe misreading of results by conservative Christians. What we learned in 1994 was that simply having power isn’t enough. What matters is what is done with that power.

Minnery goes on to say that the Religious Right should push the House Committee On Oversight and Government Reform, to be led by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), to investigate the Justice Department’s management of the DOMA case to show that the GOP is serious about opposing marriage equality:

Will there be comprehensive hearings by House oversight committees on the unwillingness of the Justice Department to thoroughly defend, as the Constitution requires, legal challenges to federal laws? I have in mind the Defense of Marriage Act. The Justice Department has failed to provide an adequate defense against lawsuits seeking to tear away this law.

He also resuscitated the false claim that the government is using taxpayer funds to subsidize abortion, asking, “Will they try hard to undo health care reform, aiming specifically at its vast expansion of government-paid abortions?”

While Issa has already said that his committee may launch inquiries into everything from climate change science to consumer protection efforts to the Justice Department’s handling of the “New Black Panther Party” case, Minnery and other Religious Right activists will work to pressure Issa to include the DOMA cases among his growing lists of investigations.

 

GOP Readies Investigations into Muslim Americans

Republican leaders in Congress are preparing new investigations into everything from climate change scientists to Elizabeth Warren, and now Rep. Peter King (R-NY) , the incoming Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, has announced the latest target: Muslim Americans. While Republican attempts to vilify and demonize Muslim Americans are nothing new, King’s plans for congressional hearings takes the GOP’s anti-Muslim zeal to a new, and dangerous, level.

King previously wanted to investigate the planners of the Park51 Islamic Community Center, saying, “It’s a house of worship, but we are at war with al-Qaida,” and his proposed hearings could endanger collaboration between law enforcement offices and Muslim communities, inflame religious tensions, and usher in the return of classic McCarthy tactics to the House.

The move by Mr. King, who said he was planning to open a hearing on the matter beginning early next year, is the latest example of the new direction that the House will take under the incoming Republican majority.



Told of Mr. King’s plan, Muslim leaders expressed strong opposition, describing the move as a prejudiced act that was akin to racial profiling and that would unfairly cast suspicion on an entire group.

Abed A. Ayoub, the legal director for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, said Mr. King’s effort ignored that Muslim leaders around the country had been working closely with law enforcement officials since the 2001 terror attacks.

“We are disturbed that this representative who is in a leadership position does not have the understanding and knowledge of what the realities are on the ground,” Mr. Ayoub said, adding that Mr. King’s proposal “has bigoted intentions.”

This won’t be the only effort by the newly-empowered Republicans to put Muslims in their crosshairs. Rep. Sue Myrick (R-NC) previously tried to investigate the Council on American Islamic Relations which she accused of trying to turn Capitol Hill interns into “spies.” Myrick, who wrote the foreword of a WorldNetDaily book on the matter, recently told Fox News that terrorist groups are sending members to Venezuela to learn Spanish and then to Mexico to illegally cross the boarder into the US.

Climate Change Denier John Shimkus (R-IL) to Head New Subcommittee on Environment and Economy

While Illinois Congressman John Shimkus wasn’t elected Chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Shimkus was appointed head of the new Environment and Economy Subcommittee. The GOP leadership carved out the new subcommittee for Shimkus, who has collected hundreds of thousands of dollars of contributions from electric utilities and the oil and gas industry over his career.

An adamant climate change denier, Shimkus believes that carbon dioxide is not harmful to the environment and that man-made climate change isn’t real because “the earth will end only when God declares it’s time to be over. Man will not destroy this earth.”

During a 2009 congressional hearing, Shimkus labeled the efforts at stopping climate change as “the largest assault on democracy and freedom in this country that I’ve ever experienced,” including the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. He also said that his interpretation of scripture contradicts and trumps climate change science:

I want to start with Genesis:8, verse 21 and 22, ‘Never again will I curse the ground because of man even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood and never again will I destroy all living creatures as I have done. As long as the earth endures, sea, time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.’ I believe that’s the infallible word of God and that’s the way it’s going to be for his creation.

Shimkus went on to say that because humans “breath out carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is not a toxic emittent.” He even claimed that “the climate debate has, at least for two years, has ended with this election,” and Politico reports that Shimkus wants the committee to focus on finding ways to “permanently block the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions.”

Clearly, a Subcommittee on the Environment and Economy is fitting for a Congressman who wants to use his powers to thwart attempts at environmental protection and defend his radical religious views on climate change.

Former Operation Rescue Spokeswoman Wins Seat in Congress

After a contentious recount, Rep. Dan Maffei has conceded to Republican Ann Marie Buerkle, who led the Upstate New York Democrat by just 567 votes. While Buerkle ran as a Tea Party conservative, she has her political roots in the anti-choice movement. Buerkle formerly served as her region’s spokesperson for Operation Rescue, the militant anti-choice and anti-gay organization founded by Randall Terry. Terry, like Buerkle, is from Upstate New York where he made a run for Congress and started his career of attacking “murderous abortionists and demonic homosexual sodomites.”

According to the Syracuse Post-Standard, Buerkle “was the local spokeswoman for Operation Rescue when the group demonstrated outside of a gynecologist’s office in 1989. In that protest, 44 abortion protesters who blocked the entrance to the office were charged with trespassing. Earlier that year, she was with a group that carried a blackened fetus named ‘Baby Choice’ to a protest at Planned Parenthood in Syracuse, where 14 protesters were arrested.”

Buerkle told a Tea Party rally that under Democratic leadership “we lose more and more freedoms every day” and that if Republicans don’t win the election, “by 2012 we’re not going to recognize the United States of America.” One threat to freedom that Buerkle falsely alleges is that “the Obama Health and Human Services Department is planning to compile a federal health record on all U.S. citizens by 2014, and will include information on each individual’s Body Mass Index in the files.”

Although she strongly supports budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthy and Wall Street, Buerkle believes she would be able to cut the deficit by ending the near-non-existent federal funding for abortion. Buerkle has embraced other right-wing beliefs, calling for the elimination of the Department of Education and charging that climate change isn’t real and that “a lot of the global warming myth has been exposed.”

Buerkle claims her political and social views have not changed since her days of working for the radical Operation Rescue and organizing demonstrations to stop women from accessing health clinics, but now Buerkle appears to fit comfortably with the "Ten Scariest Republicans Heading to Congress."

Renewed Push for Birther Bills Following GOP’s Midterm Gains

Texas State Rep. Leo Berman, who introduced a “Birther bill” in the State House because “we have a president whom the American people don’t know whether he was born in Kenya or some other place,” appears to be part of a growing trend among Republican state legislators. In Pennsylvania, State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe told WorldNetDaily that he will be “introducing the legislation that would require presidential candidates to prove their natural born citizenship before they are allowed to file petitions to have their name on the state ballot.”

Metcalfe, who was last seen calling veterans who supported actions to prevent climate change “traitors,” dubbing a Domestic Violence Awareness Month resolution part of the “homosexual agenda,” and decrying Muslims because they “don't recognize Jesus Christ as God,” believes that the bill will gain momentum after the Republicans won control of the State House in the 2010 elections. Metcalfe said that he and his cosponsors “hope we would be able to pass this legislation and put it into law before the next session.”

Like Metcalfe, Georgia State Rep. Mark Hatfield confirmed to WND that he is seeking to reintroduce his Birther bill in the State House since the Republicans control both chambers of the legislature and “"every constitutional statewide office.” Hatfield claimed that Hawaii only made “cryptic” statements confirming Obama’s birth in the state, and that, “I don’t think anyone has seen his original long-form birth certificate.” But Hatfield not only has doubts concerning Obama’s birth certificate but also his time in college and abroad, saying: “The President himself could release the records to show and document where he was born, he could release the records to show where he went to college and what he did in college, and he can release his passport. These are things that are completely within his control and he has chosen not to show those to the American people.”

Meet Congresswoman-Elect Vicky Hartzler: Missouri’s Anti-Gay Zealot

Following last Tuesday's election, RWW will bring you our list of the "The Ten Scariest Republicans Heading to Congress." Our seventh candidate profile is on Missouri's Vicky Hartzler:

Although Ike Skelton, the long-time representative in Missouri’s fourth congressional district, was far from a supporter of LGBT equality, Vicky Hartzler, who defeated him in this year’s election, has based her political career on supporting discrimination against gays and lesbians.

A former state legislator, she was the spokeswoman and public face of the Coalition to Protect Marriage in Missouri, which successfully amended the state constitution to include a ban same-sex marriage (which was already banned by statute) in 2004. The New York Times writes that her group used “church functions, yard signs and a ‘marriage chain’ of rallies across the state,” and Hartzler “said she hoped that the outcome would send a loud message to the rest of the country: ‘Here in the heartland we have a heart for families, and this is how deeply we feel about marriage.’”

Her work helped her receive praise from Religious Right leaders like Mike Huckabee, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, and Penny Nance of Concerned Women PAC.

Mother Jones asked if Hartzler was the “most anti-gay candidate in America” since she believes that repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell will “put us at risk,” maintains that sexual orientation is a choice and therefore gay people aren’t entitled to civil rights, and dubbed hate crimes legislation one of the “the extreme agenda items of the gay movement.”

Paul Guequierre of the Human Rights Campaign told Mother Jones that while “Ike Skelton has not been a friend of the LGBT community,” unlike Hartzler, “he does not wake up in the morning thinking about what he can do to harm the LGBT community.”

A staunch anti-choice activist, Hartzler supported legislation which “would have allowed for prosecutors to charge women who obtained late-term abortions with murder” and “also have permitted second-degree murder charges to be filed against doctors who performed such procedures.” She was also the chief sponsor of a bill that would pressure women seeking an abortion to view their sonograms. Throughout her career in the State House, she consistently received perfect ratings from the right-wing Missouri Family Network.

Hartzler wrote a book for Christian activists running for office called “Running God’s Way: Step by Step to a Successful Political Campaign,” which “discusses how to run a political campaign by using events and stories in the bible as a guide.” Phyllis Schlafly gave her a laudatory introduction at an Eagle Forum event, calling her book “a manual for action.”

In a profile by the American Family Association, Hartzler said that she found inspiration from God to run for public office at the age of nine, and her book maintains that “Christians must become more active in politics if they are to have the impact God calls them to have.” Hartzler said that her book provides Christian candidates with “the tools and inspiration they need to bring God’s light in a darkening world.”

According to one sympathetic review in a local newspaper, Hartzler’s book “praises Absalom — a rebellious son of King David, God’s anointed leader for Israel and according to Christian theology an early example of divinely ordained rule prefiguring that of Jesus Christ — as being the “first politician” and an example for modern political leaders. In Hartzler’s words, ‘Absalom won over the hearts of the people of Israel using time-tested campaign strategies. We, too, can campaign successfully following these same guidelines.’”

A climate change denier, Hartzler asserted that she does not believe in climate change since she read “some articles that [said] it’s actually decreasing, that we have climates getting colder…and certainly, I don’t believe that if there is a climate change that man has a very significant role in that.”

Hartzler ran an ugly anti-immigrant ad against Ike Skelton, where she claimed that by voting to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program he supports “welfare benefits” for “illegal immigrants”, and criticized him for opposing a measure that would prohibit illegal immigrants from attending public schools as “giving illegal immigrants free education.”

She appealed to Tea Partiers by slamming government spending, as she blasted Congress’s spending plans and said that “we just want the government to leave us alone here in Missouri’s 4th.” However, according to the Kansas City Star, Hartzler’s “farm has received $774,325 in federal subsidies from 1995 to 2009.” She defended the government farm subsidies as a “national defense issue,” and claimed that she would not support cuts to Social Security, Medicare, or defense.

In an editorial board interview she couldn’t name any programs she would cut funding to other than “the Lady Bird Highway Beautification projects. She indicated that garden clubs could do some of this work along the highways, saving public funds.”

However, Hartzler does appear to support spending money to expand the role of the Navy in Missouri, as she argued that under Skelton’s watch the landlocked state has “the smallest Navy here that we have had since the early 1960s.”

Hartzler blended her Tea Party lip service and Religious Right advocacy to topple one of the most powerful members of the House, and will now bring her years of anti-equality and anti-choice activism to become a prominent voice of the Far-Right in the GOP-led House.

 

 

 

 

 

Meet Lou Barletta: America's Anti-Immigrant Mayor Heads to Congress

Following last Tuesday's election, RWW will bring you our list of the "The Ten Scariest Republicans Heading to Congress." Our sixth candidate profile is on Lou Barletta, America’s anti-immigrant mayor:

Those disappointed to see anti-immigrant zealot Tom Tancredo off the national political stage will find a similar one-issue firebrand in Pennsylvania congressman-elect Lou Barletta.

Barletta rose to national prominence as the mayor of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, a small working class city that in 2006 enacted some of the most draconian anti-immigrant measures in the country. Hazleton’s law put tough penalties on individuals and businesses who knowingly or unknowingly did business with undocumented immigrants—it revoked for five years the business license of any business caught employing an undocumented immigrant, and slapped landlords renting to undocumented immigrants with a $1,000-a-day fine. The law also declared English the official language of Hazleton, and prohibited city officials from translating documents without permission.

When the law passed, Barletta told the Washington Post, “I will get rid of the illegal people. It's this simple: They must leave." On the day the city passed the measure, Barletta wore a bulletproof vest to illustrate his concern over crimes he said were being committed by undocumented immigrants. Statistics, however, showed that undocumented immigrants were hardly responsible for a crime wave in Hazelton: the city’s data showed that of 8,575 felonies committed in the city between 2000 and 2007, 20 had been linked to undocumented immigrants. Later, forced to admit that he had no proof of an illegal immigrant-caused crime wave, or proof that illegal immigrants were crowding Hazleton’s schools and hospitals, or even any idea how many illegal immigrants were in Hazelton, Barletta responded, “The people in my city don’t need numbers.”

After the law took effect, businesses catering to Latino residents that had revitalized Hazleton’s downtown area saw a sharp drop in business, and Latino residents reported increased hostility from white residents.

A federal judge struck down Barletta’s law in 2007, writing, "The genius of our Constitution is that it provides rights even to those who evoke the least sympathy from the general public. Hazleton, in its zeal to control the presence of a group deemed undesirable, violated the rights of such people, as well as others within the community." An appeals court this year upheld the ruling.

Although Barletta claimed to be defending “the legal taxpayer of any race,” he admitted that he found inspiration for the law from the website of self-described “proud nationalist” Jim Turner, who pushed a similar measure in San Bernardino, California to prevent the state from becoming, as he put it, a “Third World Cesspool.”

As copy-cat laws started to pop up in towns around the country, Barletta became a hero to anti-immigrant and nativist groups. When he ran for Congress in 2008, Barletta’s campaign received $10,920 from the Minuteman PAC, the political spending arm of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, a vigilante border-patrol group that the Southern Poverty Law Center calls “nativist extremist.” It was the largest donation the Minuteman PAC made to a candidate that year.

In 2009, Barletta drew fire for speaking at a conference hosted by The American Cause, a group that had earlier that year released a report urging the Republican Party to not “pander to pro-amnesty Hispanics and swing voters,” and instead to put anti-immigrant policies at the forefront of the party’s strategy. The report was authored by several anti-immigrant advocates, many who had clear records of dabbling in white supremacy. The executive director of the group, and main author of the report, had even been charged with a hate crime against an African American woman. The immigrants’ rights group America’s Voice described the 2009 conference as “a forum for white nationalists to forge ties with ‘mainstream’ media commentators and conservative leaders.”

Although Barletta frames most of his politics through the lens of illegal immigration, he has also embraced Tea Party talking points on social issues, the environment, and the scope of government. In a candidates’ debate, he said his first action as a member of Congress would be to vote to repeal health care reform. He says the Affordable Care Act brought about “nationalized health care” and said it would put “life-affecting health decisions in the hands of bureaucrats,” and echoed the false claim raised by many in the Tea Party that health care reform “will take $500 billion out of Medicare." He told a forum in Pocono, "We're afraid of our government. We're afraid of what our government is going to do” and claimed on his campaign website that President Obama and Democrats in Congress are “spending our country into servitude.”

In terms of government spending, Barletta took particular issue with the comparatively miniscule $1.1 million that was spent to send members of Congress and their staffers to last year’s climate summit in Copenhagen. He claims to be a climate change skeptic, saying, “You know there's arguments on both sides. I'm not convinced that there's scientific evidence that proves that. I believe there's some that can also argue the opposite.”

When Obama created a panel to distribute recovery funds from BP’s $20 billion escrow account after the Gulf oil spill, Barletta said, “It’s exactly what the people of the Gulf don’t need – more bureaucracy.”

Barletta’s record as mayor of Hazleton doesn’t speak well, however, for his future as a fiscal problem solver: his budget for Hazleton last year hikes taxes and fees, and called for laying off government workers—including a number of police officers. As Barletta leaves office, Hazleton has the highest rate of unemployment in Pennsylvania. Despite raising taxes as Mayor of Hazleton, Barletta has signed Americans for Tax Reform’s pledge to never raise taxes in Washington.

Barletta opposes marriage equality, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal, and abortion rights. He has also embraced right-wing conspiracy theories about government-run “death panels” and the imminent risk of human cloning, stating on his website, “I will oppose the efforts of some to increase or expand the protection or establishment of legal euthanasia, abortion, and human cloning. As Congress begins to tackle the issues of Medicare and health care reform, I will never support a program that results in rationing of life-saving procedures to those covered under those programs.”

In his predictably hostile response to the planned Islamic community center in lower Manhattan, he advanced the popular right-wing pseudo-historical theory of Muslim “victory mosques.”

While Barletta, it seems, will be a reliable vote for the Republican Party’s far-right wing, he’s already emerging as a leader on anti-immigrant zealotry. Two days after the election, he went on Fox News to accuse Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of attempting to buy Hispanic votes by introducing the DREAM Act. Watch:
 

 

 

 

 

2010 Right Wing Candidates Weekly Update 10/13

Sharron Angle

Fundraising: Raised $14 million in three months (WaPo, 10/12).

GOP: Leading Nevada Republicans endorse Reid over Angle (Politico, 10/12).

Religious Right: ADL criticizes Angle for refusing to condemn her pastor’s anti-Mormon comments (KVVU, 10/8).

Extremism: Cites Dearborn, Michigan and a non-existent town in Texas as outposts of Sharia law (CNN, 10/9).

Ken Buck

Controversy: Referred to a rape victim’s situation as “buyers remorse;” suspect even admitted that it was rape (PFAW, 10/12; Colorado Independent, 10/12).

Ad: DSCC launches new ad blasting Buck’s record as a prosecutor (Daily Kos, 10/12).

Religious Right: American Right to Life rescinds endorsement of Buck (CBS, 10/12).

Debate: Blasts Stimulus Plan and Afghan strategy in debate with Bennet (Chieftain, 10/8).

Carly Fiorina

Ad: Boxer hits Fiorina for backing Arizona’s SB 1070 in Spanish-language ad (LA Times, 10/12).

Religious Right: Anti-choice, anti-lgbt equality groups spend money to back Fiorina (SF Gate, 10/12).

Palin: Calls Palin “qualified” to be President but chooses to campaign with McCain over her (Politico, 10/12).

Film: BraveNewFilms tackles Fiorina’s time running HP (NYT, 10/10).

Joe Miller

Poll: In statistical dead heat with Murkowski in Public Policy Polling (Politico, 10/12).

Controversy: Said he won’t answer questions about “personal issues” (Anchorage Daily News, 10/11).

Taxes: Supported higher taxes during pipeline lawsuit (Anchorage Daily News, 10/12).

Ad: New pro-Murkowski PAC airs ads blasting Miller’s “radical ideas” (AP, 10/12).

Christine O’Donnell

Debate: Faces off with Coons in CNN debate tonight at 7:30 (Baltimore Sun, 10/12).

Poll: Coons leads O’Donnell by 16% in Fox News poll (TPM, 10/12).

Ad: Refers to Coons as “The Taxman” in latest ad (NYT, 10/12).

Rand Paul

Ad: PolitiFact confirms Conway’s charge that Paul supports a $2,000 Medicare deductable (St. Petersburg Times, 9/13).

Taxes: Calls for elimination of federal income taxes, backs national sales tax (AP, 9/12).

Clinton: Says the former President, who backs Conway, is a “less than honorable” person (PoliticsDaily, 10/12).

College: Paul’s student group often mocked Christians at Baylor (Politico, 10/12).

Dino Rossi

Outside groups: Crossroads GPS and other pro-GOP groups pummel Murray to help Rossi (Seattle Times, 10/11).

Poll: Elway poll shows Rossi trailing Murray by 13% (PoliticalWire, 10/12).

Ad: Murray campaign blasts Rossi’s extreme views on choice and contraception (CQ, 10/12).

Marco Rubio

Health Care: Dubs reform law a “disaster” (Herald Tribune, 10/8).

Debate: Meek and Crist call Rubio an extreme candidate in debate (WaPo, 10/7).

Tea Party: Crist says only he can “stop the Tea Party mess that Mr. Rubio would bring to Washington” (Miami New Times, 10/12).

Pat Toomey

Climate Change: Disputes notion that human activity contributes to climate change (Think Progress, 10/12).

Tea Party: FreedomWorks to kickstart GOTV efforts for Toomey (FreedomWorks, 10/11).

Ad: Democrats blast Toomey for backing Social Security privatization (HuffPo, 10/12).

Random Book Blogging: Money, Greed and God

A few weeks ago I mentioned that Jim Garlow had been promoting the book "Money, Greed, and God" to anyone who would listen for the last several months and that finally the Family Research Council had gotten on board and scheduled an event with its author, Jay Richards, for December.

As such, I decided to give it a read ... and I was decidedly unimpressed.

For years, there has been a tension within the conservative movement between the social conservatives, who care mainly about fighting abortion and gays, and fiscal conservatives, who care mostly about cutting taxes and shrinking government.  Now obviously there is a lot of overlap between the two groups, but Richards' book seems designed to merge the two by giving the right-wing deregulatory, free market free-for-all agenda the Biblical seal of approval. 

It will comes as no surprise to discover that Richards is a climate change-denying, Intelligent Design-promoting Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute, so that ought to give you some sense of just where he is coming from when he lays out the Biblical case for unfettered free market deregulation. 

In the book, Richards claims that minimum wage laws, fare trade practices, and foreign aid are all unbiblical, praises factory farming and big box stores, and completely dismisses concerns about global warming and natural resource depletion.   He also offers some useful advice like "even if you get food by begging, it's degrading.  You should avoid it if you can" and "there's no biblical rule that requires us to consume only what we need to survive."

In Richards' view, it was God who created the free market system and therefore, every result of that free market system is "a stunning example of God's providence over a fallen world." As such, there is nothing wrong with inequality because, as Richards puts it "Is God obliged to distribute his blessing equally?":

Think of another parable, of a landowner who goes out early one morning to hire workers for his vineyard. The landowner agrees to pay the going rate - a denarius - to the first workers he hires in the morning. But he ends up hiring more workers at nine o'clock, then again at noon and three o'clock. He even hires a few stragglers at five o'clock. At the end of the day, the landowner pays all the workers the same amount. The ones who work only one hour get the same as the workers who labor all day. Ah-hah! Everyone is treated equally, right? But the early birds in the parable don't see it that way. When they get wind of this, they grumble that they didn't get more. But the landowner rebuffs one of them: "Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? That what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?" (Matt. 20:13-15)

Of course, this parable isn't primarily an economic lesson. Jesus begins the parable by saying: "The kingdom of heaven is like ..." He's illustrating a mystery about the kingdom of God: when it comes to its fullness, "the last shall be first, and the first will be last." But that doesn't make the parable any less relevant to our question. The landowner represents God, so clearly Jesus see his actions as just. If the landowner had not paid the first workers what he promised, he would have been guilty of theft. That's injustice. As it is, the landowner keeps his promises. He just pays each a different rate per hour. But so what? That's his choice to make. Instead of being pleased for receiving what they were promised, the early risers envy the others for what they have received. We all tend to do that - to link inequality of outcome or opportunity with injustice. But they're not the same thing.

Richards' view is that so long as nobody is coerced, lied to, or stolen from, there is nothing wrong with any market transaction that occurs between free actors. 

So it only stands to reason that if an employer wanted to pay male workers twice what was paid to female workers, well there is nothing wrong with that because "that's his choice to make."  And if minority workers get paid less, well there is nothing wrong with that either because "absolute equality doesn't apply in God's kingdom [so] why do we think it should apply to human society?"

As Richards explains, any inequality that results from unrestricted, deregulated free trade is part of God's will because the entire system of free market capitalism is God's means of working his will in the world:

Just as God could work his will through the sinful choices of Joseph's brothers, so too can he work his will through the free market, which involves countless trillions of individual choices, whether they be good, bad, or indifferent. No mere human can plan an economy, because no human can know all the value judgments made by the actors in an economy. But that's a limit on what we can know, not on what God can know.

Rather than despising the market order, Christians should see it as God's way of providentially governing the actions of billions of free agenda in the fallen world.

Heritage Foundation on Money and Morals

The Heritage Foundation, one of the co-sponsors of the Values Voter Summit, held a breakout conversation to push one of the conference’s central themes: the indivisibility of social and economic conservativism. The overall political goal was aptly summed up by the Heritage Foundation’s Jennifer Marshall, who spoke of the need to call attention to the “moral bankruptcy” of the war on poverty and the welfare state.

Heritage has been promoting for some time now “Indivisible,” a small book of essays with a gimmick: Heritage asked people known for being social conservatives to write on an economic theme, and vice versa. Anti-gay crusader Harry Jackson, for example, contributed a chapter on the evils of the minimum wage, which he says is a form of coercion of employers that “reminds me of slavery.”
 
One of the speakers on the Heritage panel was Stephen Moore, founder of the radically anti-tax Club for Growth and now the senior economics writer for the Wall Street Journal’s notoriously right-wing editorial board. Moore said the growing national debt erodes the nation’s moral fabric, and he called for an end to the progressive income tax and the estate tax (described as a “death tax,” which he called “obscene.”) Moore also called global warming “the biggest myth of the last one hundred years,” suggesting that the bumper crop of reality- and science-denying congressional candidates may have friendly WSJ editorials to fall back on when challenged on their climate change denialism.
 
Former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, now at the Family Research Council, warned that federal spending in the U.S. is approaching levels of western Europe, and warned that anytime government has gotten big “it has accelerated the collapse of the most basic economic unit in our country and in western civilization – the family.”
 
The workshop came to an awkward end when an audience member who said he has complications from diabetes and tens of thousands of dollars in chronic medical expenses wondered what the panel would offer people like him once they abolish “Obamacare,” and the panelists had nothing much to offer beyond standard right-wing talking points about medical malpractice, medical savings accounts, and marketplace competition. He didn’t seem convinced that they understood or cared about his problem.

Right Wing Round-Up

Right Wing Leftovers

  • FRC is now officially on the record as calling for Elena Kagan's defeat, mainly because she's not anti-gay.
  • According to The Hill, Democrats are turning to the Religious Right in an effort to pass immigration reform and climate change legislation.
  • 800 Virginia scientists and professors have signed a letter asking Ken Cuccinelli to drop his subpoena for documents related to the work of climate scientist Michael Mann.
  • You know how not to teach a geometry lesson on angles? By using an example involving the assassination of the President of the United States.
  • Richard Land has received the Phillip E. Johnson Award for Liberty and Truth from "Biola University during an event that focused on the future of the Intelligent Design movement." That is quite an impressive honor.
  • Finally, Andrew Breitbart calls Rep. Michele Bachmann a "warrior for Judeo-Christian and foundational American values." I have nothing to add to that.

Right Wing Round-Up

  • Texas Freedom Network: Rally with TFN for Education over Politics.
  • David Weigel: Thugs and criminals, they keep you in the dark!
  • Alan Colmes: Gingrich: No Hearings Needed, Just Withdraw Kagan’s Nomination; She’s Anti-Military.
  • Religion Dispatches: That’s Dr. Glenn Beck—Thanks to Liberty University.
  • Towleroad: George 'Rentboy' Rekers Once Tried to 'Spank the Gay' Out of Effeminate Boys.
  • Think Progress: Pawlenty: Gays Shouldn’t Have The Power To Decide What To Do With The Body Of A Deceased Partner.
  • Steve Benen: Conservatives Find Great Importance In Miss USA Pageant.
  • AMERICAblog: Obama appoints self-proclaimed 'proud homophobe', who refers to gays as 'sodomites', and denies climate change, to fix oil spill.
  • Andy Birkey: Is Bachmann supporting the birther movement?

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Rick Santorum has endorsed Jay Riemersma, warning that otherwise "our country could slip away under your watch."
  • Americans United for Life is giving Rep. John Boehner the 2010 Henry J. Hyde Defender of Life Award.
  • Fox News is refusing to run an ad on climate change on the grounds that it is "too confusing."
  • Tammy Bruce has joined GOProud's Advisory Council.
  • For some reason, Janice Shaw Crouse provided written testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee for the hearing on the Violence Against Women Act.
  • Finally, Concerned Women for America does not approve of efforts to decriminalize marijuana in Washington DC: "Women and mothers have enough to worry about without the easy availability of marijuana added to the list."

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Rep. Michele Bachmann's Tea Party rally cost taxpayers $14,000.
  • Speaking of Bachmann, she and Rep. Steve King are so in sync that they are now sharing a press secretary.
  • Niger Innin and Harry Jackson are taking their bogus "war on the poor" effort to the Tea Party crowd.
  • FRC's Peter Sprigg blasts Census officials for telling gay couples to report themselves as married .
  • It is "unlikely" that Tommy Thompson will challenge Sen. Russ Feingold.
  • Mike Huckabee has now registered to vote in Florida.
  • Behold an upcoming FRC event: "How a Climate Change Treaty Threatens You, Your Nation and Your Church." Not "How a Climate Change Threatens You, Your Nation and Your Church," but "How a Climate Change Treaty Threatens You, Your Nation and Your Church."
  • Finally, quote of the day from David Brooks: "First, let’s all stop paying attention to Sarah Palin for a little while ... She is in 2010 what Jerry Falwell was from the mid-1990s until his death — a conservative cartoon inflated by media. Evangelicals used to say that Falwell had three main constituency groups — ABC, CBS and NBC."

Liberty vs Reality

Yesterday, we posted this AFP video report on what passes for science education at Liberty University, so I guess it is not a surprise that when Liberty U Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr. promised students a special guest for convocation, it turned out to be infamous climate change-denier Christopher Monckton.

You really have to admire Liberty's interpretation of the visit.

First, read this Lynchburg News and Advance article entitled "Global-warming skeptic speaks at Liberty University":

British climate-change skeptic Lord Christopher Monckton took on the United Nations, Al Gore and the mainstream media during a talk at Liberty University’s student convocation Wednesday, in which he questioned the science behind climate-change research and called for an end to the “global warming panic" ... Monckton praised the late Rev. Jerry Falwell for his outspoken criticism of global warming and mocked Al Gore’s documentary film “An Inconvenient Truth,” calling it a “mawkish, science fiction, comedy horror movie.”

...

Jerry Falwell Jr. said inviting Monckton to speak at Liberty was a way to expose students to both sides of the climate-change debate.

“A lot of our students come from public schools where the truth of global warming and the science of global warming is not always known,“ Falwell said after convocation.

Christians have a calling by God to protect the environment, Falwell added, and therefore should have a complete view of the global-warming debate.

“Many Christian young people are susceptible to the claims of the vast majority of environmentalists today who use pseudo-science to promote political agendas in the name of protecting the environment when their real goals are destroying freedom and destroying the economies of the western world,” he said later by e-mail. “Lord Monckton illustrated for our students in great detail how the hard left is doing just that around the world.”

...

Monckton is transparent about his lack of a science background.

“I have no scientific credentials whatsoever except a rather profitable knowledge of mathematics,” he said, adding that mathematics is the language of science.

Monckton said the “global warming panic” was responsible for countless deaths from starvation in Third World countries when Western nations shifted their priorities from growing food to growing biofuels.

“This is an outrage and a scandal that everyone at this university should oppose,” Monckton said.

Now compare that to this Liberty University article that provides a rather different account of the visit in a piece entitled "British royalty speaks on climate change":

On Wednesday, Liberty University Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr., promised students an unusual convocation and that is what they got. Lord Christopher Monckton, the first member of British royalty to speak at convocation, presented issues with the current climate change scare driven by prominent figures within the scientific and political communities.

Monckton, Third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, is chief policy advisor to the Science and Public Policy Institute. He has held various prestigious titles — businessman, policy advisor, newspaper editor, writer, classical architect and puzzle inventor.

Monckton served as an advisor to former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s policy unit and is a renowned advocate of Euro skepticism.

After first hearing Monckton on the Neal Boortz radio program a couple of years ago, Falwell said he knew he had to have him come and share with the students.

“He was so brilliant, so articulate and he was so politically incorrect on the issue of climate change,” Falwell said.

In introducing Monckton on Wednesday, Falwell encouraged students to consider the issues surrounding this false fear of climate change.

...

Students found the presentation both eye-opening and entertaining, as it called them to once again challenge majority opinion, media content and so-called scientific facts.

Monckton ended his appearance with a quote from former British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, “‘The university should be a place of light, of liberty and of learning,’ and you are a place of light and of liberty and of learning.” He then participated in a question-and-answer session with students regarding global climate change.

The More Moderate, Less Heated Religious Right?

There are certain articles that seem to pop up on a semi-regular basis that I just can never understand. The first are the obligatory "The Religious Right is Dead" articles that get written every time the GOP loses an election ... and they are inevitable followed a few years later by articles marveling at the Right's miraculous resurrection.

The other articles I don't understand are more recent, beginning back when Mike Huckabee was running for president, in which it is asserted that the Religious Right is getting toning down its rhetoric and somehow broadening its agenda.

Articles like this:

Fire and brimstone evangelicalism has simmered down into a broader movement of cooler approaches.

Yet much of what has been said about the expanded political agenda and softer tone of evangelical Christians has missed the point, say observers of the Christian right.

"Every time a Democrat gets elected they say: 'That's the end of the Christian conservatives. They're gone,' " said D.C.-based Ethics and Public Policy Center vice president Michael Cromartie. "But they're not. Broadening their agenda doesn't mean they are suddenly liberal Democrats."

And evangelicals, Cromartie said, are not abandoning their core issues: traditional marriage and sanctity of life. "Climate change does not trump pro-life issues."

Although the rhetoric is gentler, the politics are the same. The money is going to lobby for the same things. The basic voting structure was largely unchanged in 2008, pollsters say.

"We want to be relevant to a new generation, but we plan to stay strong on the pillars Dr. James Dobson built at Focus on the Family," said Tom Minnery, the ministry's senior vice president of government and public policy.

...

Jim Daly, the 48-year-old head of Focus on the Family media ministry, is seen inside the conservative Christian organization as less authoritarian and more approachable than his predecessor, the 73-year- old Dobson.

Outside the organization, Cromartie said, Daly is seen as more affable and willing to seek common ground.

"As (Focus on the Family) tries to reach the next generation of young families, we're trying to use words that work," Minnery said.

What evidence is there that "fire and brimstone evangelicalism has simmered down"?  The article provides none.  

Have they even been paying attention to anything the Religious Right has been saying lately

As for the idea that Focus on the Family is moderating its tone, that remains to be seen.  James Dobson is still, for all intents and purposes, the voice of the organization and will remain so until he finally leaves next month.  If the organization does become more willing to seek common ground and less confrontational under Daly, that will certainly be newsworthy, but for now it is impossible to say.

If journalists want to declare that the Religious Right is moderating its tone and broadening its agenda, they ought to at least provide some evidence, because I haven't seen any.  If anything, the Right is getting more radical and its language more strident under Obama than it has ever been in recent years.

Porter Calls for Prayer and Fasting to Stop Health Care Reform, Brownback Vows to "String This Thing Out"

Janet Porter was not involved in the Right Wing "prayercast" earlier this week, so she is issuing her own call to prayer and fasting to stop health care reform because "we are literally in a battle for our lives and our freedom":

Faith2Action, founded by Janet (Folger) Porter, is today issuing a national call to prayer, fasting and action until Christmas Day.

The two reasons for this urgent call, one week before Christmas, are (1) the pending cloture vote in the U.S. Senate on government-run healthcare, and (2) the last-minute attempts to reach a global agreement as the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference comes to an end.

“Even though Christmas is less than a week away, we are literally in a battle for our lives and our freedom," states Faith2Action President Janet Porter. "If the Senate votes to put the Government in control of our life-saving treatment options, we are all in grave danger. This lethal legislation includes abortion funding and the denial of treatment needed to save our lives. We are also in danger of surrendering our Sovereignty to global governance," added Porter. "Please pray that God will intervene to block a treaty from being signed in Copenhagen that would sign away U.S. sovereignty and issue unprecedented taxes and control over our lives and businesses.

"Please join us for a time of prayer, fasting, and action all the way to Christmas--calling on our Senators to vote against Cloture on the government takeover of health care," Porter added. "Please also pray that Senator Ben Nelson will continue to stand strong against forced funding of abortion on demand and vote against cloture which would bring the government-run healthcare bill to the floor for a vote. If he doesn't, Americans would be forced to violate their consciences in funding abortions through their tax dollars for the first time in 30 years.

"All I want for Christmas is my life and my freedom. But it's going to take prayer, fasting, and action to achieve that." Porter emphasized.

And for good measure Sen. Sam Brownback, who was a featured participant in the "prayercast," appeared on Porter's radio program yesterday to discuss the Republican effort to stop health care reform, promising that they would do everything possible to "string this thing out" and make sure that this "monstrosity" does not pass and agreed with Porter when she declared that "our very lives are on the line":

Monckton's Got Nothing On Huckabee

Last week, Media Matters ran this piece exposing the views of Lord Christopher Monckton:

Media Matters Action Network, our partner organization, has unearthed a 1987 American Spectator article in which Lord Christopher Monckton -- one of the right's favorite global warming deniers -- advocates requiring the entire population to undergo monthly HIV tests and forcibly quarantining "for life" those who test positive.

You would think that such views would have made Monckton a marginal figure. But apparently there are no views too extreme for the right-wing media.

On October 23, for instance, Glenn Beck said on his Fox News show that Monckton is "one of the world's foremost authorities on what the global warming hoax is really all about and what they are about to sign over in Copenhagen."

Monckton appeared as a guest throughout Beck's October 30 Fox show. Beck introduced Monckton by saying: "With me now, Lord Christopher Monckton, former adviser to British prime minister, Margaret Thatcher and climate change expert."

On October 19, Rush Limbaugh described Monckton as "a voice of sanity," saying, "The hysteria on the left on virtually everything is all over the place. So you got to hear a voice of sanity in this. Last Wednesday, St. Paul, Minnesota, during a presentation at Bethel University, a portion of remarks made by Lord Christopher Monckton regarding the United Nations' climate change treaty."

Allow me to just remind everyone that Mike Huckabee said more or less the same thing ... in 1992, which was five years after Monckton wrote his piece and four years after the federal government had distributed a pamphlet penned by then Surgeon General C. Everett Koop entitled “Understanding AIDS” which explained that the disease could not be contracted through everyday contact:

"It is the first time in the history of civilization in which the carriers of a genuine plague have not been isolated from the general population," he said. "This deadly disease, for which there is no cure, is being treated as a civil rights issue instead of the true health crisis it represents.

"If the federal government is truly serious about doing something with the AIDS virus, we need to take steps that would isolate the carriers of this plague."

Huckabee is currently a leading contender for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, a highly sought-after speaker, and host of a television program on Fox News.

Considering that such views didn't turn Huckabee into a marginal figure, it shouldn't come as much of a shock to see someone like Monckton hailed as a "voice of sanity" because, as Media Matters notes, there simply are "no views too extreme for the right-wing media."

UPDATE: Over at Open Left, Nick Berning points out that Monckton is not actully a "lord," nor is he a "Nobel Laureate."

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Interesting info: Mass Resistance started up in 1993 in Cardinal Bernard Law's residence with a bunch of people from around the state. It was mostly clergy and other related people who wanted to talk about issues having to do with the culture wars and after a series of months, Mr. Camenker was elected to run the group in late 1993. In 1994, they named themselves the "Interfaith Coalition." Later, after same sex marriage became law in the state, a blogger in the group set a up a site called "Mass Resistance," and the group changed the name. Right before that, they were known as the "Parent's Rights Coalition."
  • You know what the White House needs?  Someone with "Divine Integrity."
  • For some reason, the Washington Post thought it was a good use of space to let Sarah Palin write an op-ed about Copenhagen and climate change.
  • Anti-immigration hero and Hazleton mayor Lou Barletta is mounting yet another challenge to Rep. Paul Kanjorski.
  • It looks like Gov. Mark Sanford will escape impeachment.
  • Business Insider: Health insurance industry trade groups opposed to President Obama's health care reform bill are paying Facebook users fake money -- called "virtual currency" -- to send letters to Congress protesting the bill
  • Have you always want to see Sen. Orrin Hatch sing about Hanukkah. Well, here you go.
  • Finally, Chico The Car Guard is just like the shepherds to whom the angles announced the birth of Christ!
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Climate change Posts Archive

Brian Tashman, Thursday 03/08/2012, 3:10pm
Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) appeared on Voice of Christian Youth America’s radio program Crosstalk with Vic Eliason yesterday to promote his new book The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future, where he repeated his frequent claim that human influenced climate change is impossible because “God’s still up there.” Inhofe cited Genesis 8:22 to claim that it is “outrageous” and arrogant for people to believe human beings are “able to change what He is doing in the climate.” Eliason: Senator, we’re going to talk... MORE
Brian Tashman, Friday 11/04/2011, 11:40am
Calvin Beisner is running low on allies in his effort to deny climate change. Beisner, the head of the Cornwall Alliance, is trying to stop other evangelical Christians from supporting efforts to curtail climate change with warnings that scientists are liars and environmental protection will destroy Christianity, promote mass genocide and hurt the poor. But a recent study sponsored by the Charles Koch Foundation that was meant to prove that scientists were twisting data on climate change actually confirmed the science behind climate change. The physicist behind the study, climate skeptic... MORE
Brian Tashman, Friday 06/10/2011, 2:11pm
Calvin Beisner of the Cornwall Alliance spoke to Bryan Fischer yesterday on American Family Radio about the evil plans that environmentalists have in store for humanity. Beisner, who has his PhD in Scottish History and whose group is tied to energy companies, previously worked with Fischer and other Religious Right leaders on the “Resisting The Green Dragon” miniseries which attacked the supposedly anti-Christian, anti-human environmentalist movement. Last time Beisner was on Fischer’s program, Beisner said that the deadly tornadoes in the American South were “little... MORE
Brian Tashman, Thursday 06/09/2011, 10:01am
While speaking to Rush Limbaugh yesterday, presidential candidate and former Senator Rick Santorum called global warming “patently absurd” and “junk science.” In addition, Santorum said that climate change science was simply a “beautifully concocted scheme” to allow the “government to come in and regulate your life some more.” In 2006, Santorum claimed that “scientists have not decisively concluded” that climate change is real and received a zero percent score from Republicans for Environmental Protection. Later in the program,... MORE
Brian Tashman, Friday 05/13/2011, 11:15am
The Religious Right’s favorite Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is the “honorary host” of a Virginia fundraiser for Concerned Women for America. Cuccinelli won plaudits from right-wing activists for using his Virginia post to challenge anti-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation, attack scientists who believe in climate change, undercut health care reform, and censor the official state seal over nudity. It makes sense that Cuccinelli is hosting a fundraiser for a group which believes that health care reform violates the Ten Commandments, gays are... MORE
Brian Tashman, Thursday 05/12/2011, 2:37pm
After she was forced out as head of the Texas GOP, Cathie Adams became Eagle Forum’s International Issues Chairman. Adams, who as president of Eagle Forum’s Texas chapter denied that Obama is a Christian and insisted that scientists will soon start cloning humans for the purposes of “injecting them with diseases and studying them, then killing them,” is now arguing that the United Nations is using environmentalism to destroy Christianity in American youth. Joining the many Religious Right leaders who have derided environmentalism an anti-Christian movement, Adams... MORE
Brian Tashman, Tuesday 05/03/2011, 4:47pm
Pennsylvania State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe has introduced an amendment to the State Constitution to ban equal marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples. Same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania is already banned by statute, and the amendment would need to win the approval of the state legislature in two consecutive terms, which would result in a popular referendum. Republicans currently control both chambers of the Pennsylvania legislature and Metcalfe chairs the House State Government Committee. A committee in the Minnesota State House passed a similar amendment earlier today. A longtime opponent... MORE