Josh Glasstetter's blog

Ann Romney Booked for Gay-Bashing Conference?

[Update 9-12-12: Ann Romney Joins Cardinal Dolan In Declining Values Voter Summit Invitation]

Ann Romney, the person tasked with humanizing her husband Mitt, is apparently scheduled to address a conference that dehumanizes others. I’m talking about the Values Voter Summit, which is hosted and sponsored by two Southern Poverty Law Center-designated hate groups – the Family Research Council and American Family Association.

The National Journal Daybook and Values Voter Summit website both list Ann Romney on the schedule:
 
 
 
Notably absent from the list is Cardinal Timothy Dolan, whose spokesperson pointedly declined FRC’s invitation. Yet there Ann Romney is.
 
It’s an odd move by the Romney campaign. They’ve previously deployed her to show the softer side of Mitt. Now they’re sending her to stand on stage with a man who paid $83,000 to use David Duke’s mailing list and addressed a white supremacist group while in public office. The same person – Tony Perkins – also praised a law in Uganda to execute gays and warned senators they would have “the blood of innocent soldiers on their hands” if they repealed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
 
The Romney campaign must have its reasons, but it sure seems like an odd way to deploy Ann Romney. They already have Paul Ryan scheduled to address the conference. Do they really need two headliners reaching out to the Bachmann-Akin wing of the party? Besides, just last week Ann Romney refused to answer questions about same-sex marriage and contraception, dismissing them as distractions "from what the real voting issue is going to be."
 
For weeks, the Values Voter Summit website listed Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan as invited speakers. When Ryan was added to the ticket in August, the Family Research Council blasted out an email confirming Ryan’s appearance. No one really expected Mitt Romney to show for the event – too radical, too close to the election. That’s why, when the conference schedule was recently posted, it was a shock to see not only “Romney” on the lineup, but Ann Romney.
 
Ryan and Ann Romney, if she appears, will be speaking on stage with Perkins in a lineup that includes Kirk Cameron and Michele Bachmann. They’ll be kicking off a conference that features a who’s who of Todd Akin backers (e.g. Mike Huckabee and Rep. Steve King) and anti-Muslim McCarthyites (e.g. Frank Gaffney and Jerry Boykin). And, of course, there will be gay-bashers – featured speakers like Perkins and Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver, who recently defended Malawi’s law criminalizing homosexuality. They would push for the same thing here in America if they thought they could pull it off. In fact, FRC’s Peter Sprigg and the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer have already done so.
 
These aren’t conservative people pushing conservative values and policies – this is the radical right. America, and the Romney campaign in all likelihood, would be better served if Romney and Ryan followed Dolan’s example and skipped the conference. Or they can go cast their lot with the extremists with the national media looking on. We’ll see what their priorities are this Friday morning.

 

New Ad Highlights Romney's Right-Wing Agenda for the Supreme Court

Taking over the Supreme Court is an obsession on the far right, and Mitt Romney is on course to do their bidding. Romney selected none other than Robert Bork to serve as his chief judicial advisor. 

Just last week Romney deflected a question about abortion by saying it would be decided by the Supreme Court. He neglected to mention that he’s committed to overturning Roe v. Wade by appointing right-wing judges.
 
A new ad out today from People For the American Way takes Romney to task for his misleading remarks and highlights his extreme agenda for the Supreme Court.
 
 

Huckabee Blocked Abortion Funding for 15-Year-Old Girl Raped by Stepfather

Mike Huckabee and Paul Ryan have both supported “personhood” amendments, which would ban abortion in the case of rape or incest, among other things. But unlike Ryan, Huckabee has already had the opportunity to force others to live in accordance with his extreme beliefs. Ryan, who speaks shortly after Huckabee tonight at the RNC, is still waiting for his chance.
 
Huckabee makes no secret of his views on reproductive rights. He has denounced the “holocaust of liberalized abortion,” angering the Anti-Defamation League in the process, and he argued at a personhood fundraiser that pro-choice activists are really motivated by “profit from the sale of death.” He was raising cash, by the way, for an amendment that would have criminalized not only abortion but also in vitro fertilization, stem cell research, the treatment of ectopic pregnancies and some types of birth control.
 
Here’s what Huckabee did when he was in power. In August of 1996, not even a month into his governorship, he went to the mat to deny funding – $430 to be precise – for an abortion provided to a “15-year-old mentally retarded girl impregnated by her stepfather”:
 
In defiance of an order from a federal judge, Gov. Mike Huckabee on Friday refused to allow Medicaid to pay for the abortion of a 15-year-old girl whose stepfather has been charged with incest.
 
While federal law requires Medicaid to fund abortions for poor women in cases of rape or incest, Huckabee said through a spokesman his first obligation is to the Arkansas Constitution, which forbids public funds to be used for abortion except when the mother's life is in danger.
 
While Huckabee claimed his first obligation was to the Arkansas Constitution, he was either willfully ignoring, or unfamiliar with, the basics of federalism. Either way, his first obligation clearly was not to the U.S. Constitution or the 15-year-old girl, who thankfully underwent the procedure in advance of the standoff. Nor was it to the people of his state. As the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported, the standoff “appeared to put the entire state Medicaid program in jeopardy.”
 
Huckabee stuck to his guns as long as he could. As the Memphis Commercial Appeal reported, “U.S. Dist. Judge William Wilson entered into the record Thursday a ruling that Arkansas must pay for Medicaid abortions in cases of rape, incest and to protect the life of the mother, making the ruling official” and clearing the way for contempt charges for Huckabee. That never happened, as Huckabee agreed under pressure to the creation of a private trust to pay for such abortions.
 
The debate over reproductive choice can seem at times to be more theoretical than practical, but Huckabee's actions give us an idea of how a Religious Right America would look. So a 15-year-old mentally retarded girl was raped by her stepfather and got pregnant? Aw shucks, no abortion for her!
 

Mike Huckabee Pushed for Parole of Rapist Who Then Killed Two Women

Do you remember the time when then-Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee went above and beyond to push for a convicted rapist to be paroled – over the objections of victims and the community – who then murdered two women? It began in 1996, when Huckabee began his push for the convicted rapist to be released, and ran through 2001, when the parolee was arrested for murdering two women. By most accounts, Huckabee took “extraordinary steps” to exert his influence.

I wrote earlier that Huckabee has a long, sordid and frankly astonishing history involving the crime of rape, and the Wayne Dumond saga is certainly at or near the top. It’s incredible to think that any politician, particularly a member of the tough-on-crime GOP, could survive it, let alone come to be seen by many as the conscience of the party. Remember this when you watch him address the cheering RNC crowd tonight.
 
Despite Dumond’s previous run-ins with the law – he was charged with bludgeoning a man to death but the charge was dropped, he was questioned on suspicion of rape and assault, and he pled guilty to assault in a separate case – and the testimony of two women who said they had been raped by him, Huckabee pushed ahead. He even considered outright clemency but pulled back in the face of public opposition. He instead worked behind the scenes to pressure the parole board to release Dumond.
 
I’ve pulled key headlines and excerpts from five years’ of coverage by the AP and organized them here in chronological order. I’m not sure how anyone could read through the clips and not come away questioning Huckabee’s judgment and character:
 
Governor: Free castrated rapist; Says man has been punished enough, AP, 9/21/96
After a review of Wayne Dumond's case, which included DNA evidence not available at trial, Huckabee said he could not justify Dumond's imprisonment.
 
His castration "more than has given whatever punishment is necessary, particularly for a crime that is very questionable he committed," the governor said.
 
Dumond, 45, was sentenced to life in prison plus 20 years for kidnapping a 17-year-old girl from her home in 1984 and raping her.
 
In 1985, while Dumond awaited trial, two men in stocking masks broke into his home, tied him up and castrated him with fishing line. His children found him unconscious when they got home from school. The intruders were never caught.
Rape Victim Appeals to Governor Not To Free Castrated Convict, AP, 9/24/96
"I'm scared for my safety and I'm scared for every woman that walks the street. He's a repeat offender and I think he will do it again," she said.
Second Woman Asks Governor to Keep Castrated Rapist in Prison, AP, 9/28/96
Gov. Mike Huckabee, who plans to release a convicted rapist who was castrated by vigilantes, received a letter from second woman who says she was raped by the man.
Supporters of Rape Victim Rally Against Commutation, AP, 10/1/96
Supporters of a rape victim rallied at the state Capitol today in opposition to the governor's plan to release the convicted rapist, who was castrated by vigilantes.
Board approves parole for castrated rapist, governor agrees, AP, 1/16/97
"The governor believes that this does satisfy the request of people on both sides in this case and accomplishes his wish to ensure that Mr. Dumond gets out of prison," said Huckabee spokesman Rex Nelson.
Victim asks board to keep attacker behind bars, AP, 4/8/99
The woman who says she was kidnapped and raped by Wayne Dumond has asked a prison screening committee to keep her attacker behind bars. […]
 
In January 1998, Dumond withdrew a request to be paroled. A week earlier, officials in Florida said they did not want to deal with Dumond's notoriety. In 1997, Texas officials said they did not want to supervise Dumond.
Board will recommend Huckabee deny Dumond's request, AP, 4/16/99
In September 1996, Huckabee riled many, including the victim and her family, when he said he was considering freeing Dumond through an act of executive clemency. Ms. Stevens came forth publicly in opposition.
Board to set Dumond Free, AP, 9/20/99
Wayne Dumond, the convicted rapist who has served 14 years in prison since he was castrated at his Forrest City home while awaiting trial in 1985, could be released in a matter of weeks, the state parole board announced Monday. […]
 
Gov. Mike Huckabee announced in September 1996 that he intended to free Dumond. Citing "serious questions" about Dumond's guilt, the governor said Dumond had suffered enough and served enough time.
 
The governor's announcement evoked protests from the victim's family and Ms. Steven publicly urged Huckabee to reconsider. The governor did not make a final decision until January 1997, denying Dumond clemency after the parole board first granted parole.
 
Dumond had previous brushes with the law. In Oklahoma in 1972, he was charged in the death of man who was bludgeoned with a claw hammer. The charge was dropped.
 
Just over a year later, after he had moved to Washington, Dumond pleaded guilty to second-degree assault in an attack on a woman in a shopping mall parking lot. […]
 
In 1976, after moving to DeWitt, he was questioned in the rape of a woman who told police that a man broke into her home and assaulted her at knifepoint as she lay in bed with her 3-year-old child.
Parole of convicted rapist stirs hard feelings in hometown, AP, 9/26/99
"He's not going to do anything. You got to remember the boy was castrated," says Dumond's younger brother Bobby Dumond. "I don't understand why everyone is making a big deal about it."
DuMond released from prison, AP, 10/22/99
Wayne DuMond, the state's most notorious sex offender, was released from state prison today.
Ex-Arkansas prisoner picked up on suspicion of murder, AP, 6/25/01
Castrated rapist Wayne Dumond was arrested in Missouri on a parole violation after being linked to a murder, less than two years after his release from an Arkansas prison.
Kansas City police suspect Arkansas rapist in Sept. 2000 murder of woman, 6/26/01
A castrated rapist on parole from an Arkansas prison became a suspect in a Kansas City-area murder after genetic evidence linked him to the dead woman.
Lawyer: Police suspect castrated rapist in second homicide, AP, 6/28/01
A castrated rapist being held Thursday on a parole violation and suspicion of murder is apparently also being looked at for a second homicide in the Kansas City area, a lawyer for the rapist said.
Huckabee says he's not having it both ways on DuMond, AP, 6/29/01
Gov. Mike Huckabee said Friday he is not trying to have it both ways by reminding people that he denied clemency for a paroled castrated rapist now charged with murder, and playing down that he once strongly advocated Wayne DuMond's release from prison.
Governor attempts to shed political baggage, AP, 6/30/01
Convicted rapist Wayne DuMond walked out of an Arkansas prison on Oct. 22, 1999, freed with the support, if not directly by the hand, of a governor who insisted Arkansas' most notorious sex offender had suffered enough. […]
 
"The action of the board accomplishes what I sought to do in considering an earlier request for commutation," Huckabee said then.
Former parole board member says Huckabee pushed for DuMond parole, AP, 7/3/01
A former state parole board member said Monday that Gov. Mike Huckabee pressured the board to approve the release of a convicted rapist now charged in the murder of a Missouri woman.
Board members differ on governor's role in freeing DuMond, AP, 7/3/01
With public and private words of support for Wayne DuMond, Gov. Mike Huckabee put pressure on the state parole board to set the convicted rapist free, two former board members said Tuesday.
Governor 'not trying to escape' support for rapist, AP, 7/11/01
For the first time publicly since Wayne DuMond's arrest in a Missouri murder, Gov. Mike Huckabee acknowledged Wednesday that he supported the convicted rapist's release from an Arkansas prison.

 

 

Todd Akin's Best Friend Mike Huckabee Takes RNC Stage Tonight

I’m not sure what the RNC schedulers were thinking, but Mike Huckabee is set to “legitimate rape” back on the map tonight – a mere two speeches ahead of Paul Ryan. To be sure, the former Arkansas governor and Fox News personality will be on his best behavior, but Huckabee is inextricably linked with Todd “legitimate rape” Akin. And as we’ll explore, Huckabee’s own record is even more extreme and disturbing than Akin’s. 

Huckabee, who prominently endorsed Akin in his recent primary, quickly emerged as his top defender in the wake of Akin’s controversial remarks. He publicly chastised Republican leaders for ditching Akin and sent out a fundraising appeal to his list. Akin even made the announcement that he was staying in the race on Huckabee’s radio show.
 
In the course of defending Akin, Huckabee made it known that some “extraordinary things” have resulted from rape:
And so I know it happens, and yet even from those horrible, horrible tragedies of rape, which are inexcusable and indefensible, life has come and sometimes, you know, those people are able to do extraordinary things.
This was no mistake. Huckabee starred in a documentary called “The Gift of Life,” which prominently features Rebecca Kiessling, author of “Conceived in Rape: A Story of Hope.” In the book and film, Kiessling shares her “personal story of having been conceived in rape and nearly aborted at two back-alley abortionists.” Kiessling, not by chance, came on Huckabee’s show immediately following Akin’s announcement.
 
Huckabee has been here before. In 1998, Arkansas State Senator Fay Boozman, who like Akin was running for Senate, argued that “hormones generated by fear usually prevented rape victims from getting pregnant.” Boozman lost badly, but he was rescued when “Huckabee, a friend and political ally for many years, put Boozman in charge of the Arkansas Department of Health.”
 
Then in 2004, he praised Leon Holmes, the former head of Arkansas Right to Life whom Huckabee later hired to represent the state, after his nomination to a federal judgeship became embroiled in controversy. Holmes had written years earlier that abortion in the case of rape “is a red herring because conceptions from rape occur with the same frequency as snow in Miami.” Huckabee jumped into the fray and vouched for the right-wing nominee, saying that he “will not let politics be a part his decisions but will judge according to the law.”
 
Remarkably though, this isn’t the worst of it. Mike Huckabee has a long, sordid and frankly astonishing history involving the crime of rape. I will highlight the worst of the worst later today.

 

RNC: Two Darlings of the Religious Right Take the Stage Tonight

Along with the parade of Republican officials and Tea Party favorites like Gov. Scott Walker and Ted Cruz, two darlings of the Religious Right will be speaking tonight during the Republican National Convention:

Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia chaired the 2012 RNC platform committee, which a committee member described as “the most conservative platform in modern history.” McDonnell, known to many as Governor Ultrasound for his support of the “vaginal probe” law, is the most prominent graduate of Pat Robertson’s foray into higher education – Christian Broadcasting Network University, now called Regent.

As a student there, McDonnell authored a 93-page thesis – “The Republican Party's Vision for the Family” – which served as a blueprint for a Religious Right version of America. In it, he characterized “working women and feminists as 'detrimental' to the family” and argued that the government “should favor married couples over 'cohabitators, homosexuals or fornicators.” McDonnell disavowed his thesis when he ran for governor, but the Washington Post noted that as a legislator he “pursued at least 10 of the policy goals he laid out” in his thesis. Not surprisingly, Pat Robertson donated to McDonnell’s gubernatorial campaign and hosted him on the 700 Club, referring to him as his “dear friend.” 

Rick Santorum, the former senator from Pennsylvania, ran away with the hearts of Religious Right leaders during the GOP presidential primary. They rallied together to propel his campaign and then keep it afloat, and when he finally dropped out, they had one consistent piece of advice for Romney – be more like Santorum. Santorum, although Catholic, resonated with right-wing evangelicals like no other candidate. He spoke consistently and candidly about his faith and his extreme views on social issues, particularly his fervent opposition to reproductive rights and equality for gays and lesbians. However, the comments that won him favor among Religious Right audiences often got him in hot water with the broader electorate.
 
Santorum spoke to the Religious Right’s view that America, and its culture and people, are going down the tubes. He warned of “dire consequences” if the country strays from God’s “principles” and vowed to prosecute obscenity while decrying the Obama administration, which he said favors “pornographers over children and families.” He promised that he would reinstate Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, forcing gays and lesbians in the military back into the shadows, and urged public schools to challenge the theory of evolution. He argued that Americans should not “defy nature” by allowing gays and lesbians to marry and accused Planned Parenthood of targeting African-Americans for abortions as part of a racist, eugenic plot. Instead of Planned Parenthood, he expressed nostalgia for the days of illegal, back alley abortions.
 
The remark that summed up Santorum’s outlook was recorded in 2008 but only surfaced during the primary. Speaking at Ave Maria University in Florida, Santorum said that Satan was systematically destroying the country. He also managed to start an international row during the primary with his claim that 10% of deaths in the Netherlands are from euthanasia (which, he argued, is what Obamacare would lead us to).

 

Romney Surrogate Briefly a No-Show at Tea Party Rally in Tampa, Awkwardness Ensues

Mitt Romney’s relationship with the Tea Party, despite his embrace of their positions on a range of issues, is famously awkward. Yesterday’s Unity Rally 2012 was no exception.

Following a rousing speech by Niger Innis, the emcee gave an uncharacteristically restrained introduction of Rep. Jason Chaffetz to speak on behalf of Romney:
Our next speaker is here on behalf of a guy you may have heard of. His name is Mitt Romney. He’s here to ask for your vote for this particular man for, uh, I believe it’s president of the United States. 
Chaffetz, however, was nowhere to be seen. After walking around on the stage and pretending to hand over the mic, the emcee said, “I hope Governor Romney shows up better in the polls than this guy does here. No offense.”
 
Here are the two most awkward minutes of the evening, which just might be a metaphor for Romney's awkward courtship of the Tea Party:
 

 

Public Schools Denounced at Tea Party Rally in Tampa, Blamed for Election of Barack Obama

Conservative talk show host Neal Boortz, speaking at yesterday’s Unity Rally 2012 in Tampa ahead of the Republican National Convention, denounced public schools as “government schools” that are “forced upon us.” Boortz blamed “100 years of government education” for bringing America “to the point that a man like Barack Obama could be sworn in as president of the United States.”

Boortz directed the crowd to change the way they speak about public schools – calling them “government schools” instead. He also called on the audience to “preach school choice,” by which meant efforts to defund public schools and provide taxpayer dollars for religious and private schools and homeschooling.

A number of public officials spoke at the rally, including Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and Reps. Jason Chaffetz and Michele Bachmann. Kleefisch and Chaffetz both followed Boortz but neither stood up for public schools. One has to wonder if they, like Boortz, also hate public education:
 
Let me change your language on two things. […]
 
They are not public schools, they are government schools. They are owned by, staffed by, operated by and forced upon by the government.
 
And, ladies and gentlemen, it is 100 years of government education that led us to the point that a man like Barack Obama could be sworn in as president of the United States.
 
So, wherever you are, preach school choice.

 

Obama Wants to 'Destroy' America with 'Poverty, Tyranny and Mass Murder': Tea Party Leader at Pre-RNC Rally

Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips, speaking at yesterday’s Unity Rally 2012 in Tampa ahead of the Republican National Convention, claimed that President Obama and Congressional Democrats are out to destroy the country. Phillips told the crowd that Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are socialists who support a system that causes “poverty, tyranny and occasionally mass murder:”

This nation has done more good for more people than any other nation in the world. And this is the nation that Barack Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi want to diminish and destroy.

Today, freedom and liberty stand in opposition to socialism. You know, the primary products of the system that Barack Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi love so well are poverty, tyranny and occasionally mass murder.
 
These are the fruits of socialism, and to the socialists we have simply one word, "no!"
 
Friends, we are not going to go quietly into that dark night of socialist tyranny.
 

 

FRC Calls Islam a 'Fanatical Religion,' Attacks White House Event with Muslims

When the Family Research Council wasn’t rallying support this week for Todd Akin or pushing to keep the ban on abortions in the case of rape or incest in the GOP platform, it found time to denigrate an entire religion. FRC sends out weekly Prayer Team alerts, asking “for your prayers relating to various public policy issues.”

This week’s alert called Islam – the religion of 2.6 million Americans and 1.6 billion people around the world – a “fanatical religion.” The alert also attacked a recent White House event with the American Muslim community – an Iftar dinner to mark the end of the Ramadan fast.
 
At the dinner, President Obama highlighted the role of Muslim-Americans in government and showcased Thomas Jefferson’s Koran. Here’s FRC’s interpretation:
In his remarks, the President suggested that Thomas Jefferson may have hosted the first White House Iftar Dinner and he showcased the Koran from Jefferson's library (Fact: Thomas Jefferson long advocated using military force to deal with hostile Muslims in the Mediterranean and ordered the Marines to Tripoli among his first acts as President and had a Koran primarily to study the fanatical religion of his adversaries).
FRC characterized Obama’s remarks at the event as “amazing,” and not in a good way. What was so amazing, you ask? For one thing, Obama “praised Muslims in positions throughout his administration,” including Huma Abedin. The group also accused Obama of giving preference to Islam at the expense of Christians and Christianity:
The Iftar event stood in bold contrast to the National Day of Prayer. In four years, President Obama has neither hosted a White House NDP event nor sent a representative to the national event on Capitol Hill, as previous presidents have done. […] President Obama's Iftar remarks are amazing reading. While he said great things about religious freedom, his tribute to Islam stands in shocking contrast to his dealings with Christians and the National Day of Prayer. He praised Muslims in positions throughout his administration.
This is a very telling line of argument. FRC is conflating the National Day of Prayer – which is chaired by the wife of FRC’s founder, James Dobson – with all of Christianity, and it’s not by mistake. Religious Right leaders have long thought of themselves and their followers as the only real Christians.
 
That’s why Obama’s 2012 Easter Prayer Breakfast at the White House and Obama’s speech at the 2012 National Prayer Breakfast don’t count. Obama’s 2012 White House Seder is probably just more evidence to them that he’s not really Christian. Obama even issued a presidential proclamation declaring the 2012 National Day of Prayer, but that’s not good enough. They want him to come and kiss Dobson’s ring.
 
Remarkably, FRC used the same alert described above to call for prayers for “moderation and civility in the public debate” over social issues. That’s how blind FRC is to its own rhetoric.
 
Meanwhile the group is preparing to host Paul Ryan as the headliner of its Values Voter Summit next month in DC. Earlier in the month, Romney met privately with Dobson and FRC’s Vice President, Jerry Boykin, who has said that Islam is “evil” and should not be protected under the First Amendment. Romney met one-on-one with Perkins in mid-July.

 

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