2012 Candidates Weekly Update 3/8/11

Michele Bachmann

Health Care: Decries secret funding of reform law which wasn't actually a secret (Minnesota Post, 3/7).

Energy: As gas prices rise over Mideast crisis, Bachmann blames Obama (CNN, 3/7).

Religious Right: Invites Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel to her Tea Party Caucus (RWW, 3/4).

Haley Barbour

Campaign: Adds staff to leadership PAC (The Fix, 3/7).

Iowa: Will join Bachmann, Santorum, Gingrich and others at conference hosted by Steve King (Des Moines Register, 3/7).

Background: Made millions as a lobbyist for the energy industry, now repeating their arguments (HuffPo, 3/3).

Mitch Daniels

Indiana: Democrats in state legislature lead boycott to protest Daniels's anti-labor agenda (TPM, 3/4).

Religious Right: Richard Land attacks Daniels's truce proposal as "political suicide" (RWW, 3/4).

Newt Gingrich

Campaign: Discusses "confusion" of exploratory committee announcement (Des Moines Register, 3/7).

Obama: Tells Ralph Reed's Faith and Freedom Coalition that "secular, socialist" Obama administration "cannot represent America" (The Hill, 3/7).

Religious Right: Plans to address Religious Right conferences in Iowa and Liberty University, and meet with controversial pastor John Hagee (RWW, 3/4).

Mike Huckabee

South Carolina: Tells South Carolina crowd on book tour that the state is a must-win primary (The State, 3/8).

Culture: Slams actress Natalie Portman for allegedly glorifying single motherhood (The Week, 3/4).

Obama: Agrees with Bryan Fischer that Obama is anti-American; falsely claims that President Obama grew up in Kenya and then lied in his mea culpa (RWW, 3/2; County Fair, 3/7).

Religious Right: Joins Bachmann, Barbour, Gingrich and pseudo-historian David Barton for a webcast on religion in politics (RWW, 3/2).

Jon Huntsman

Campaign: Top aides meet in New Orleans, set sights on New Hampshire voters (RCP, 3/7).

Obama: Praise from President may damage Huntsman's chances (Salt Lake Tribune, 3/6).

Donors: Supporters of Huntsman paid for video about his work as Ambassador (Politico, 3/3).

Sarah Palin

2012: Says she would run for President if voters are ready for someone who is against "obsessive partisanship" (BBC News, 3/7).

Culture: Picks fight with comedian Kathy Griffin (LA Times, 3/7).

Foreign Affairs: Prepares for trip to India (Politico, 3/6).

Tim Pawlenty

2012: May be GOP front runner due to the "process of elimination" (TNR, 3/8).

Religious Right: Calls on members of Ralph Reed's Iowa group to "take back our country" (CBS News, 3/7).

Minnesota: Keith Ellison says Pawlenty has "no connection" to his roots (Think Progress, 3/4).

Buddy Roemer

Tea Party: Tells Religious Right group, "Thank God for the tea party" (Des Moines Register, 3/7).

Campaign: The former Louisiana governor announces exploratory committee (CBS News, 3/4).

Mitt Romney

Health Care: Massachusetts AG uses Romney's health care policy to defend federal law (Politico, 3/7).

Social issues: After turning hard right on social issues, Romney now wants to downplay them (Salon, 3/7).

Campaign: Produces "restoring hope" video for leadership PAC (Politico, 3/7).

Rick Santorum

Reproductive Rights: Plays-up his career in the anti-choice movement to Ralph Reed's Iowa group (Des Moines Register, 3/7).

Religious Right: Argues in Iowa op-ed that LGBT equality will "eviscerate" freedom (RWW, 3/7).

Right Wing Round-Up

  • PFAW: The GOP Takes Its War on Women to the States.
     
  • Jim Burroway @ Box Turtle Bulletin: Scott Lively Warns of “Outbreak of Homosexuality” In Moldova, Part of a “Secret Plan By the Homosexual Powers of the EU.”
     
  • Nick @ Bold Faith Type: Peter King's Own Witness Undermines his Claims.
     
  • Alan Colmes: Michele Bachmann Says She Opposes Government Shutdown; But She Voted For It.
     
  • Good As You: The Times' latest DOMA story: A Fisch-y disservice to the debate.
     
  • Steve Benen: The DOMA Move Has Plenty of Precedent.
     
  • Joe Sudbay @ Americablog: Mormon bigots already gearing up to repeal Maryland's marriage law.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Sen. John Ensign will not seek re-election.
  • Matt Barber says President Obama is a dictator for not defending DOMA.
  • Shockingly, Phyllis Schlafly doesn't know what she is talking about.
  • Bryan Fischer says Mike Huckabee "is exactly right about Natalie Portman's out-of-wedlock pregnancy. She made two poor life decisions: conceiving a child outside marriage, then celebrating it before the nation."
  • ABC is apparently preparing a pilot for a new show called “Good Christian B**ches.” The AFA has already announced a boycott.
  • Finally, the quote of the day from Larry Klayman: While I firmly believe that Obama, Hillary Clinton and many Democrats around them have been ... bribed by foreign regimes – such as the radical Islamic regime in Iran – I cannot prove it at this time. However, from what has already occurred, the offenses of the 'mullah in chief' are 'already' so compelling as to warrant immediate impeachment and conviction for his high crimes and misdemeanors, before the United States is totally destroyed by him."

Random Book Blogging: David Barton's Misuse of History

Last year, during the debate over curriculum standards in Texas, we came across a quote from John Fea, Associate Professor of American History at Messiah College in Pennsylvania, on the way in which David Barton misuses and misrepresents history to further his Religious Right agenda:

"I'm an evangelical Christian, and I think David Barton and Peter Marshall are completely out to lunch. They are not experts on social studies and history. Neither of them are trained in history. They are preachers who use the past and history as a means of promoting a political agenda in the present." 

Last month, Fea released a book entitled "Was America Founded As a Christian Nation?: A Historical Introduction" that he hopes will become a valuable resource between those who claim that America was founded to be a Christian nation and those who assert it was designed to be a purely secular state.

I received a copy of it last week and eagerly read through it and Fea's conclusion is that the question is complex and the answers are mixed in that Christian ideas and the Christian faith most certainly did play a important role in the founding of this nation, but that neither the Declaration of Independence nor the Constitution can be considered Christian documents and that many of the Founding Fathers, while considering themselves to be Christians, held a variety of views that were deeply at odds with Christian orthodoxy.

I will be posting excerpts throughout the week, but for the purposes of this post, I want to highlight a few paragraphs relevant to David Barton and his fundamental misuse of history:

The discipline of history was never meant to function as a means of getting one's political point across or convincing people to join a cause. Yet Americans use the past for these purposes all the time. Such an approach to the past can easily degenerate into a form of propaganda or, as the historian Bernard Bailyn described it, "indoctrination by historical example."

This sort of present-mindedness is very common among those Christian writers and preachers who defend the idea that America was founded as a Christian nation. They enter the past with the preconceived purpose of trying to find the religious roots of the United States. If they are indeed able to gather evidence suggesting that the founders were Christians or believed that the promotion of religion was important to the success of the Republic, then they have gotten all that they need from the past. It has served them adequately as a tool from promoting a particular twenty-first century political agenda. It has provided ammunition to win the cultural war they are engaged in ...

Such an approach to the past is more suitable for a lawyer than for a historian. In fact, David Barton, one of the leading proponents of "Christian America," counter his opponents by suggesting that his research is done in accordance with the practices of the legal profession. Barton "let's the Founders speak for themselves in accordance with the legal rules of evidence." The difference between how a lawyer uses the past and how a historian interprets the past is huge. The lawyer cares about the past only to the degree that he or she can use the legal decision in the past to win a complex case in the present. A lawyer does not reconstruct the past in all its complexity, but rather cherry-picks from the past in order to obtain a positive result for his or her client. Context, change over time, causality, contingency, and complexity are not as important as letting the Founders speak for themselves," even if such speaking violates every rule of historical inquiry. The historian, however, does not encounter the past in this way.

...

For these writers revisionism is not only about the practice of removing references to God from the narratives historians tell about the past, but also about the way historians treat their sources. Revisionism is dangerous because it implies looking critically at primary sources rather than simply accepting them as face value. For example, if Puritans believed that they were God's new Israel, and this assertion can be supported by primary documents, then it must be true that the Puritans were indeed God's new Israel. Good historians must always believe what the primary sources tell them. Such an approach does not allow a place for any type of theological critique of those sources. If John Witherspoon, the only minister to sign the Declaration of Independence, wrote that God was on the side of the patriots in the American Revolution, then it must be true - a theological certainty - that God was on the side of America. To suggest that Witherspoon was wrong or misguided is the kind of interpretative work these writers such as a mark of dangerous revisionism.

The fear of revisionism is why the defenders of Christian America make such a big deal about grounding their research in primary sources. If a historian makes an argument based on the ideas of another historian's work, rather than the primary sources, then she has succumbed to revisionism. Barton calls his historical method a "best evidence" approach. This way of dealing with evidence allows him to let the founders speak for themselves, but it rarely explores deeply the context in which such words were uttered.

300: Religious Right Forming It Own Spartan Army

For months now, we have been chronicling how self-described prophets and apostles have been merging 7 Mountains/Dominionism with "mainstream" Religious Right activism ... and increasingly the man at the center of this appears to be the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins.

Perkins was among the first to embrace Lou Engle and transform him into a Religious Right leader and now he seems to be doing the same with Rick Joyner of The Oak Initiative.

Just today we noted that Joyner, Jerry Boykin, and Janet Porter were gathering for a conference next month and as I was looking for more information about that, I stumbled across this video of Perkins, Joyner, Boykin and Frank Turek discussing the importance of Christians getting deeply involved in politics. 

Perkins explains the absolute necessity of getting Christians into all levels of government while Boykin compared Christians today to the Spartan army and quoted King Leonidas by declaring "molon labe" ["come and get them"] when he and his army were told to lay down their weapons. 

Likewise, Boykin declared "molon labe," stating that he will not be silenced and challenged those in Washington who are out to take his liberties, rob his grandchildren, and destroy America to just try to take them from him.

Finally, Joyner announced that Christians have more than enough people to take control, but they need to bind together and, as such, would soon be unveiling coalition called "300":

South Dakota Governor Likely to Sign Radical Anti-Choice Bill

The Republican governor of South Dakota announced that he is “inclined to sign” an extreme bill passed by the state legislature that requires women seeking an abortion to undergo a 72 hour waiting period and biased counseling. RWW first reported on the bill when it was first approved by a House committee, and has since passed the full House and Senate.

As outlined in a new People For the American Way report on the flurry of anti-choice laws under consideration in the states, the impending 72 hour waiting period would even exceed the more common 24 hour waiting period in a state which only has one clinic that offers abortion services, which are provided just once a week.

If signed into law, South Dakota women would be forced to meet with staffers of so-called “pregnancy care centers,” better known as crisis pregnancy centers, who are typically not medical professionals but instead anti-choice activists. Such centers receive significant funding from Religious Right groups and organizations opposed to abortion rights, and frequently employ deceiving and discredited propaganda against abortion and contraception.

According to a 2006 Congressional report, close to 90 percent of such centers “grossly misrepresented the medical risks of abortion, telling the callers that having an abortion could increase the risk of breast cancer, result in sterility, and lead to suicide and ‘post-abortion stress disorder.’” Many of the groups also receive government funding through abstinence-only-until-marriage programs and one of the largest private financers said that the goal of such centers is to “get the chance to share the Gospel with [women], which is the ultimate thing of what we’re doing.” In fact, the New York City Council just passed a measure that would make the centers disclose that they are not accredited medical offices.

Porter, Boykin, Joyner Team Up for "Oak Initiative Summit"

A week after the Freedom Federation hosts its Awakening 2011 conference at Liberty University, one of its more fringe members - The Oak Initiative - will be hosting its own conference in South Carolina featuring Rick Joyner, Jerry Boykin, and Janet Porter:

To give you a sense of just what type of ultra-right-wing lunacy attendees can expect at this conference, here is Boykin warning that President Obama is attempting to create an army of Brownshirts loyal only to him though the passage of Health Care Reform, Porter praying for God to give Christians complete control over every level of government, and Joyner explaining how governmental leaders need to start seeking counsel from the "prophetic voices" like himself, because God speaks to him in dreams: 

Reed: It Is Unfair For Conservatives To Be "Judged On Their Past"

Tonight, the Iowa affiliate of Ralph Reed's Faith and Freedom Coalition is hosting it's "Spring Kick-off Event" featuring Five potential presidential candidates - Herman Cain, Buddy Roemer, Rick Santorum, Tim Pawlenty and Newt Gingrich.

And Reed wants it known that social conservatives have no intention of riding in the "back of the bus":

The Iowa political season is set to kick off with Monday’s Faith and Freedom Coalition forum featuring a slew of potential 2012 hopefuls — an event that group’s national chairman says will show that social issues “shouldn’t ride in the back of the bus” in the Republican primaries.

“This is a reminder that in spite of what the polls say nationally about the most important issues, there are literally tens of millions of grassroots activists within the Republican Party who will play an exaggerated role in the nominating process,” coalition leader Ralph Reed Jr. told POLITICO.

He added that those activists “want to have a nominee who thinks that social [issues] shouldn’t ride in the back of the bus. They want to see... a leader in the party and in the country who can lead on more than one front at the same time.”

Given that Religious Right activist expect to be front and center, you would expect that would be bad news for Gingrich who, with his checkered past, might have some trouble convincing these "family values" activists that he is worthy of their support ... but Reed insists that that is not the case at all:

“I just reject the argument that ... Newt's past would be a liability,” said Ralph Reed, the former Christian Coalition chief. “I think as long as he’s prepared to confront those challenges and he can do so in an authentic way, people’s (inclination) will be to be forgiving. Who wants to be judged on their past? Everybody has had issues.”

Gee, Reed doesn't think that Religious Right leaders ought to be "judged on their past"?  I wonder why that would be?

Santorum: Obama Will "Eviscerate" Freedom By Supporting Gay Rights

Rick Santorum is set to address Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition in Iowa tonight along with Newt Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty, Herman Cain, and Buddy Roemer. On Saturday he wrote a guest column for the Des Moines Register where he repeated the same groundless right-wing arguments that marriage equality will lead to the end of religious freedom and that the Obama administration has stopped enforcing the Defense of Marriage Act. In Iowa, a state which has had equal marriage rights since 2009, religious liberty has yet to collapse, as many conservatives predicted. And while the Obama administration found DOMA to be an unconstitutional law that it would no longer defend in court, it will continue to enforce the law. Santorum claims that as a result of Obama’s “power grab,” the “free exercise of religion will be eviscerated,” and also argues that advocates of marriage equality use “hate-filled” rhetoric against their opponents:

In refusing to enforce DOMA, the president was saying a law that was overwhelmingly passed by both Democrats and Republicans, and signed by a Democratic president, was simply no longer valid, no longer constitutional. Usually such actions are the province of the Supreme Court. This was a power grab, and it was wrong at every level. It was also a surprise. President Obama defended the law in the courts for the first half of his term, and said to Rick Warren in 2008, "I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman."

Let me first define what we are not talking about. I believe if two adults of the same sex want to have a relationship that is their business. But when they ask society to give that relationship special recognition and privileges, then we should be able to have a rational debate about whether that is good public policy.

We should also ensure the debate takes cognizance of its constitutional implications. And with the President's decision, the free exercise of religion will be eviscerated.


Iowa is on the front-line of this looming battle because its activist Supreme Court redefined marriage to include same sex couples. But for the first time in Iowa history all of the justices up for retention were soundly defeated in November.

Iowans are not alone in standing up for traditional marriage. From Maine to California, 31 times voters were given the opportunity to amend their state constitutions to affirm marriage as it has always been, one man and one woman, and 31 times it has passed.

What is the retort to those who stand for what has been the foundation of every society from the beginning of time? Do they make a reasoned case providing evidence about such things as the effects on children, traditional marriage, faith, school curriculum and public health?

No, sadly there is no reasoned, civil discourse. Civility is only trotted out as a tactic to put the opponent on the defensive, never to actually enlighten. Their game plan is straight out of the Saul Alinsky playbook. Claim high-minded concepts like "equality" and "tolerance" then launch vile and hate-filled personal attacks intended to strike fear and silence the opposition.

Some have argued this is not the time to wage this fight; that we have to focus solely on the vitally important job of limiting government, reducing the debt and creating jobs and growth. I agree these issues are at the top of our national list, but a big nation can focus on more than one thing at one time, just as men like Jefferson and Madison fought for religious liberties when arguably more consequential issues were occupying the public mind. In the end, it simply will not profit a country to gain wealth and lose its soul.

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