Kobach Seeks to Expand Own Power Over 'Election Fraud' Cases

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the driving force behind draconian anti-immigrant laws in Arizona and Alabama and a rising national figure on the Right, is close to a major victory on one of his other pet projects – gaining attention for the mythical problem of “election fraud.”

Kansas’ legislature is poised to grant Kobach’s office the power to prosecute election fraud cases that it identifies, a responsibility previously reserved for county and federal prosecutors. Kobach claims that prosecutors and the state attorney general’s office are neglecting these cases because of “a very full plate.”

But a look at even a few of the cases Kobach claims that prosecutors are neglecting tells a very different story. In February, Kobach told The Topeka Capital-Journal that he had referred eleven “slam dunk” cases to prosecutors, none of which had ended in convictions. But one of the prosecutors responsible for following up on those cases found that most were isolated incidents involving people who were just confused about the voting laws:

Johnson County District Attorney Stephen Howe took exception to some of Kobach's characterizations in his testimony on behalf of the Kansas County and District Attorneys Association. Howe said Kobach's bird’s-eye view of widespread voter fraud crumbles when investigated by those on the ground.

For instance, Howe said one double-voter his office investigated was an elderly man showing "the early stages of dementia." Howe's office notified the man's family rather than prosecute him.

Another alleged double voter was a developmentally disabled man.

“Are we supposed to prosecute that case?" Howe asked. "I chose not to.”

This fits with the pattern. In 2011, Kobach claimed that there had been 221 incidents of voter fraud in Kansas between 1997 and 2010. Yet just seven of these resulted in convictions.

Kobach now claims that he has identified at least 30 cases of illegal double voting in the 2012 election by finding people with the same name and birthdate who voted in two separate states. Such matching tactics have in the past have resulted not in legitimate voter fraud convictions, but in embarrassing errors and mass wrongful disenfranchisement.

Kobach’s issue with the state’s prosecutors seems to be not that they haven’t properly investigated voter fraud – but that they have failed to promote the conspiracy theory about widespread voter fraud that, when it becomes popular, benefits people like Kris Kobach and the policies they pursue.
 

FRC's 'Stand with Scouts Sunday' Warns Gays Are Unclean and a Sign of the End Times

Last night, the Family Research Council held a “Stand with Scouts Sunday” event, featuring politicians such as Gov. Rick Perry and Rep. Steve Palazzo, to oppose a proposed resolution that would end the Boy Scouts of America’s ban on gay members who are under the age of eighteen.

The event included an address by pastor Robert Hall of Calvary Chapel Rio Rancho, who warned that the push to end the ban on gays is a sign of the End Times and will ultimately make America “self-destruct.” FRC president Tony Perkins argued that the BSA should fear what happened to the military after it repealed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, even though all reports so far have found no problems as a result.

Boy Scouts who participated in the webcast described homosexuality as unclean and expressed fears that he might “have my buddy come on to me.”

Watch highlights here:

Rep. Palazzo: If Boy Scouts Don't Maintain Anti-Gay Policy 'Then What Do We Stand For as a Country?'

Rep. Steve Palazzo (R-MS) has been working with the Family Research Council to defeat efforts to allow gays under the age of 18 into the Boy Scouts and appeared yesterday on FRC’s “Stand With Scouts Sunday” webcast. The congressman said he would do anything he could “to protect the Boy Scouts from this popular culture, this liberal agenda that is being crammed down their throat,” arguing that “the Boy Scouts are actually being bullied worse than any group or organization that has ever been bullied before.”

“They are being harassed and at the end of the day they are also being ridiculed by some in the liberal media,” he added. Palazzo asked if America cannot tell the Boy Scouts to “stand strong” and preserve its ban on gay members, “then what do we stand for as a country?”

Later, Palazzo said that the organization must “remove the agitators who are trying to corrupt the Boy Scouts of America and bend to popular culture.”

Watch:

Rick Perry Urges Boy Scouts to Oppose Gay 'Pop Culture' Like Sam Houston Resisted Slavery

Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) appeared in the Family Research Council’s “Stand With Scouts Sunday” webcast last night where he told FRC president Tony Perkins that the Boy Scouts of America must resist those trying to “tear apart” the organization’s values and replace them with the “flavor of the month”—homosexuality.

He warned the BSA against becoming “more like pop culture” and urged scout leaders to channel the spirit of Sam Houston, whom Perry said lost his governorship because he was “against slavery” and opposed secession.

Watch:

Right Wing Round-Up - 5/3/13

Right Wing Leftovers - 5/3/13

  • Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) is the latest Republican to embrace the discredited allegation that the military is preparing to court-martial Christians. 
  • Phyllis Schlafly prays that God will speak to the Justices of the Supreme Court and tell them to oppose marriage equality. 
  • Ex-gay activist Greg Quinlan of PFOX has launched the “Citizens Against the Jerry Sandusky Victimization Act.”
  • WND’s Ilana Mercer writes a column about how gun violence is the result of our “estrogen-infused” society and somehow manages to fit in an attack on Jason Collins.

Wisconsin Republicans Try to Limit Power of Courts Blocking Their Agenda

Last week, we reported on the creative and constitutionally questionable efforts by Iowa Republicans to punish the state supreme court justices who issued the state’s landmark marriage equality ruling.

Now, Wisconsin Republicans are up to something similar, seeking to strip county circuit court judges of the ability to issue preliminary injunctions on laws that may be unconstitutional. The measure, which was introduced last month and had public hearings yesterday, is widely seen as a reaction to judicial injunctions on efforts by state Republicans to impose voter ID requirements and limit collective bargaining rights.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel explains:

With some of their major legislative achievements thwarted by trial courts in the past two years, Wisconsin Republicans have been looking for ways to rein in local judges, particularly in liberal areas such as Dane County.

Since 2011, circuit court judges have blocked all or parts of laws backed by Republicans that required voters to show photo ID at the polls, limited collective bargaining for public employees and expanded the governor's power over administrative rules. Under a measure announced last month, such injunctions would be automatically stayed as soon as they were appealed - meaning laws that were blocked would be put back in effect until a higher court issued a ruling.

The state’s nonpartisan Legislative Council is now warning that the bill is likely unconstitutional.

Incidentally, one of the bill’s sponsors is state Sen. Glenn Grothman, who last year tried to get a state public health agency to list single parenthood listed as “a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect.”
 

Congressmen Scalise and Gohmert Fall for Debunked Fox News Story on Supposed Plan to Court Martial Christians

Fox News correspondent Todd Starnes likes to report on culture war issues and frequently highlights examples of supposed anti-Christian persecution. He plucks the examples from Religious Right media outlets, which then turn around and point to Starnes’ Fox News stories for validation.

Fox example, one recent Starnes story alleged that a New York school was forcing girls to kiss each other as part of an anti-bullying seminar. But the ‘forced lesbianism’ story was baseless [PDF], and the school superintendent had to write to Starnes to urge him to, you know, report stories accurately [PDF].

In another instance of shoddy journalism, Starnes claimed that the military was deliberately blocking access to a Southern Baptist website as part of a “Christian cleansing” of the armed forces by the Obama administration. Well, as it turns out, the website was automatically blocked over malware issues and the Southern Baptist Convention’s own director of information systems acknowledged that there was malware on the SBC website, not any anti-Christian animus in the military, was responsible for the mishap.

So it came as no surprise to learn that a new Starnes column about the military getting ready to court martial Christians, since picked up by organizations like the Family Research Council, was also completely groundless.

Starnes contends that Obama administration officials are working with church-state separation activists to begin kicking Christians out of the military and cracking down on their religious freedom.

As Warren Throckmorton points out, the Defense Department guidelines on proselytizing and religious bias that has so enraged Starnes and others was actually put in place in 2008 during the Bush administration and the language clearly “draws a distinction between simply speaking about one’s faith and coercion.” Throckmorton also notes that Starnes twisted a statement from a Pentagon spokesman “to make it seem as though the outcome of religious proselytizing cases would be court martial.”

The Tennessean and Stars and Stripes have also debunked the story, but don’t tell Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), who in an interview with Starnes said that Obama is trying to make Christian service members leave their faith:

“Under President Obama’s military you are no longer allowed to share your faith,” he said – noting that the policy is putting Christians in a tough position. “Do you follow President Obama or do you follow God and the teachings of Jesus?”

“That’s pretty tough when your commander in chief puts you on the horn for that dilemma,” he added.

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) similarly told Tony Perkins on Washington Watch earlier this week called the story “yet another attack on religious liberty that we’ve seen from the Obama administration.”

Perkins: The idea that members of the military who share their faith, directly or indirectly, could be potentially court martialed, is this stunning or what?

Scalise: It’s frightening and shocking. Unfortunately it is yet another attack on religious liberty that we’ve seen from the Obama administration and it’s just been an endless assault from so many different angles. Of course it comes off the heels of the FDA approving the morning-after pill. There are just so many things that this administration is doing that go against a lot of the Christian beliefs that this country was founded upon and I think it really needs to be pushed back hard on.

While the victimhood narrative of oppressed white straight evangelicals is beloved by the Religious Right and trumpeted by Fox News, conservative activists may want to at least try to find real incidents of persecution and real journalists if they want people to ever believe them.

Rep. Scott Perry Wonders if Obama Hiding 'Saudi Connection' to Boston Bombings

On Wednesday, The Daily Mail published an article claiming that Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States warned the Department of Homeland Security about Tamerlan Tsarnaev a year before the Boston bombings. The story, which was already fairly fishy, completely fell apart when the Saudi embassy said they had sent no such letter. But the fictional Saudi letter had already entered the conspiracy theory news cycle, where Glenn Beck, among others, picked it up and ran with it.

The theory, it turns out, also reached the halls of Congress. In an interview with Newsmax’s Steve Malzberg on Wednesday afternoon, Republican Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania speculated that the Obama administration might be hiding a “Saudi connection” or other information about the the Boston bombings that might endanger “your town or my town.”

Well, we’re not surprised, number one, and we’re skeptical, I think, the American people, certainly I am, about the statements that there’s no one else involved. We keep on hearing about a Saudi connection. And listen, this administration hasn’t been forthcoming information on other cases that are important to the American people, namely Benghazi, Fast and Furious, etc., so pardon us for being skeptical and questioning the validity of the claims that, you know, nobody else is involved or nobody’s dangerous or this happened after the fact and so on and so forth.

Listen, when they haven’t been really forthcoming about these other Saudi connections and what have you, then we are skeptical and we are mistrusting and we just don’t believe them. And so we wonder what other shoes haven’t dropped yet, and is there an unsafe situation in your town or my town?
 

Dominionist 'Apostle' Promotes David Barton's Distorted History

Among the many publications distributed at Liberty Counsel’s Awakening conference in April were two booklets examining Democratic and Republican party platforms. They were produced by Justice at the Gate, a group that describes its vision as “Building strategic partnerships to mobilize Christians to pray effectively and to vote righteously.”

The two publications are both titled “Democrats & Republicans In Their Own Words.”  One of them is subtitled, “National Party Platforms on Specific Biblical Issues.”  I’m not sure where in the Bible they find school prayer and “school choice and faith-based education,” but those are listed as biblical issues, along with abortion and homosexuality.  This booklet includes side-by-side excerpts from party platforms between 1976 and 2000. Other notable issues covered in the Bible, such as poverty, are nowhere to be found.

The other “In Their Own Words” booklet features an African American couple with a young child on the front cover. It is subtitled, “A 124-Year History of Major Civil Rights Efforts Based on a Side-by-Side Comparison of the Early Platforms of the Two Major Political Parties.” Apparently, racial justice and civil rights do not count as “biblical issues,” since they aren’t mentioned in the other publication. The side-by-side comparison in this booklet goes back to old anti-abolitionist planks in Democratic platforms from the 1840s, before the Republican Party was even formed.  The booklet takes 13 pages before it even gets to the 20th Century -- and that part of the booklet, which focuses on Southern Democrats’ support for segregation, stops in 1964.

In other words, this supposed history of racial justice and the political parties finds no room for a discussion of the Republican Party’s post-civil-rights-era southern strategy, which built power by fomenting racial resentment among southern whites, or for any of the political parties’  positions on racial justice and civil rights over the past 50 years.

Why does that sound so familiar? The answer lies inside the front cover: “Historical footnotes and annotations by David Barton, President of WallBuilders.” Barton has been peddling the notion that Republicans are civil rights heroes for more than a decade. He made the same kind of distorted and truncated history the centerpiece of his 2006 DVD, “Setting the Record Straight: American History in Black and White,” and in the outreach he has done to African Americans on behalf of the GOP.  (For those just joining us, Barton is a right-wing “historian” whose book on Jefferson was disavowed by its publisher last year after complaints about its inaccuracies.)

Who or what is Justice at the Gate?  It’s a vehicle for Alice Patterson, who is among the Religious Right leaders hoping that the right kind of outreach will get African American Christians to start voting more conservatively. Patterson is an “apostle” affiliated with the dominionist New Apostolic Reformation who believes the Democratic Party is controlled by demons. Her mission has been described as bringing NAR’s views into government, which is why she organized The Response, the dominionist-heavy prayer rally that was supposed to launch Rick Perry into the White House.  

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