Archive for the ‘Barack Obama’ Category

Just Couldn’t Bring Themselves to Do It?

May 5, 2011

UPDATE: Austin American-Statesman reporter Jason Embry finds that 10 House Republicans voted against the resolution.

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Why did three Republicans in the Texas House of Representatives on Monday refuse to support a resolution congratulating President Obama, intelligence personnel and members of our armed forces for the successful operation against Osama bin Laden in Pakistan?

The overwhelmingly Republican Texas House of Representatives passed HR 1694 on Monday. But right-wingers  Will Hartnett, R-Dallas, Dan Huberty, R-Houston, Randy Weber, R-Pearland, asked that their votes be recorded as “no.” (See page 2574 of the House Journal.)

The resolution reads in part:

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Berman’s Portable Goal Posts

April 28, 2011

Say what you will about Texas state Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, you have to give the man credit for becoming a master at moving the goal posts.

Unless you were nowhere near a TV or computer on Wednesday, you missed the big dose of widely verified reality the White House dropped on the world when it released President Obama’s long-form birth certificate proving what most rational people already knew: President Obama was, in fact, born in the United States.

Maybe not surprisingly, that still doesn’t satisfy Rep. Berman, who filed a bill (HB 295) this year requiring that presidential and vice presidential candidates present an original birth certificate to qualify for the Texas ballot. But after President Obama presented his birth certificate to the nation yesterday, Birther Berman flipped the switch and got those goal posts a-movin’ out of the stadium and all the way out into the parking lot.

The Texas Tribune wrote the following about Berman:

He said he’s now seen two birth certificates: the Hawaiian one released by Obama this morning, and one he said indicates Obama was born in Mombasa, Kenya. And he claims the hospital Obama lists on his birth certificate — in fact, all hospitals in Honolulu — have denied the president was born there.

And here’s video from the Tribune of Berman’s lingering doubts:

See? He’s just asking questions — not giving any credible answers, but at least he has the courage to ask questions.

You know who else asks a lot of questions? PolitiFact Texas. The award-winning website has vetted Berman’s latest claims and guess how they rated them? C’mon, guess.

Yep, Pants on Fire.

They’ll Say Anything

April 27, 2011

The religious right is angry again (so what else is new?) with President Obama. This time religious-right pressure groups are attacking the president (and closet Muslim, right?) for not issuing a proclamation in honor of Easter. Here’s a Twitter post on Monday from David Barton, head of Texas-based WallBuilders:

@whitehouse fails to release #Easter Proclamation and no statement from @BarackObama

Barton’s Tweet links to a disingenuous (one wonders if there is any other kind with that outfit) Fox News piece noting the “failure” of the president to issue such a proclamation.

Then in an “Action Alert” email on Tuesday, the American Family Association (which the Southern Poverty Law Center has identified as a hate group) told its supporters:

The president has been devoted to issuing statements marking all major Muslim holidays, which are of no historical significance to the United States whatsoever. He has released statements in honor of Ramadan, Eid-ul-Fitr, Hajj and Eid-ul-Adha, holidays which most Americans cannot pronounce and certainly do not celebrate. More glaringly, President Obama made no mention of Good Friday or Easter in his weekly address to the nation on Saturday.

AFA shrieked that the president’s failure to issue an Easter proclamation “was an intentional act of disrespect” toward Christian Americans.

Actually, what’s really, deeply disrespectful is how religious-right groups treat their conservative Christian supporters like they’re stupid and gullible. In fact, a blogger searched through presidential proclamations going back to 1980 and found no Easter proclamations from other presidents. Search for yourself here. Moreover, President Obama spoke at an Easter Prayer Breakfast at the White House last week about the importance of the day to himself and other Christians. Here’s just part of what he said:

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Why Do You Think Obama Worships Satan?

October 2, 2010

OneNewsNow, the far-right website that bills itself as a source of the “latest news from a Christian perspective,” might as well have included that question in its “poll” of readers Wednesday. The website posted an Associated Press article reporting President Obama’s comments about his Christian faith. Then readers were invited to take part in this multiple-choice poll:

What troubles you the most about President Obama’s views about Christianity?

– He suggests Christ died on the cross to convey humility
– He believes there are other paths to grace that should be revered
– He sees no conflict between abortion and the precepts of Jesus Christ

Ummm… how about an option for “Nothing troubles me about the president’s views about Christianity”? Or “I consider his religious views none of my business.”

OneNewsNow would never consider optional answers like those, of course. Doing so would suggest that the website’s editors think some readers don’t share their religious bigotry.

Religious Freedom and America

September 10, 2010

Some critics have continually and absurdly attacked President Obama for supposedly not calling out the murderers behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks, for supposedly not talking about his Christian faith (if, indeed, they even believe he’s a Christian) and for supposedly being too pro-Muslim (whatever that means). So we thought this response by President Obama to a question at his press conference today was particularly interesting. Regardless of whether one supports or opposes the president’s public policies, surely we can all agree that his response here reveals how our nation is strengthened by respecting religious freedom for people of all faiths. Can’t we? President Obama (from the transcript here):

“One of the things that I most admired about President Bush was after 9/11, him being crystal-clear about the fact that we were not at war with Islam. We were at war with terrorists and murderers who had perverted Islam, had stolen its banner to carry out their outrageous acts. And I was so proud of the country rallying around that idea, that notion that we are not going to be divided by religion; we’re not going to be divided by ethnicity. We are all Americans. We stand together against those who would try to do us harm.

And that’s what we’ve done over the last nine years. And we should take great pride in that. And I think it is absolutely important now for the overwhelming majority of the American people to hang on to that thing that is best in us, a belief in religious tolerance, clarity about who our enemies are — our enemies are al Qaeda and their allies who are trying to kill us, but have killed more Muslims than just about anybody on Earth. We have to make sure that we don’t start turning on each other.

And I will do everything that I can as long as I am President of the United States to remind the American people that we are one nation under God, and we may call that God different names but we remain one nation. And as somebody who relies heavily on my Christian faith in my job, I understand the passions that religious faith can raise. But I’m also respectful that people of different faiths can practice their religion, even if they don’t subscribe to the exact same notions that I do, and that they are still good people, and they are my neighbors and they are my friends, and they are fighting alongside us in our battles.”

Faith, Politics and Muslim-Baiting

August 20, 2010

A piece in the Washington Post today reveals insights into President Obama’s Christian faith — and gives readers some perspective into how easily the right uses faith as a weapon to divide Americans for political gain.

The story notes a circle of Christian spiritual advisers who privately counsel and pray with the president and begins with this vignette:

As he flew aboard Air Force One to Chicago on his 49th birthday earlier this month, President Obama dialed three Christian pastors to pray with him.

On an airborne conference call, he kidded with the religious leaders about being abandoned by his wife and daughters, who were away on vacation and at camp. As he celebrated his birthday, he was in a reflective mood. He told them he wanted to pray about the year that had passed, what’s really important in life and the challenges ahead.

“That was simply something that he wanted to do at his initiative because it was important to him,” said Joel Hunter, an evangelical pastor who was on the call and who is part of a small circle of spiritual advisers who frequently talk to Obama by phone.

The prayer session, which was not publicized and which neither the White House nor the ministers sought to bring to light, reflects Obama’s decision to keep his public expressions of religious faith to a minimum. Hunter said the president often reaches out to pastors for private spiritual conversation.

Just two days earlier, another Washington Post story noted a poll showing a growing percentage of Americans (though still a minority) think President Obama is actually a secret Muslim. Conservatives were most likely to hold that opinion, facts be damned. Why has this distortion spread?

Perhaps it’s because supposedly responsible people say such irresponsibly misleading things — people like Franklin Graham, son of the famous evangelist Bill Graham. Here, for example, is part of what the younger Graham said Thursday on CNN:

“I think the president’s problem is that he was born a Muslim, his father was a Muslim. The seed of Islam is passed through the father like the seed of Judaism is passed through the mother. He was born a Muslim, his father gave him an Islamic name. Now it’s obvious that the president has renounced the prophet Mohammed and he has renounced Islam and he has accepted Jesus Christ. That’s what he says he has done, I cannot say that he hasn’t. So I just have to believe that the president is what he has said.”

Other people on the religious right are even more insulting in questioning President Obama’s explicitly professed faith. During the 2008 presidential campaign, for example, Texas Eagle Forum President Cathie Adams — who later became chair of the Texas Republican Party — viciously attacked then-candidate Obama’s faith:

“While many question Barak Hussein Obama’s ‘religion’ …, the more important question is whether he has a ‘relationship’ with Jesus Christ because that is the only HOPE that any of us have to obtain eternal life. I personally see NO evidence that Obama has that kind of ‘saving faith.’”

Here’s “Pastor” Rick Scarborough, head of the Texas-based far-right group Vision America, in a September press release last year:

“Our President has made it clear where his allegiance lies by hosting a Muslim prayer breakfast in the White House but refusing to participate in the National Day of Prayer. . .”

When far-right members of the Texas State Board of Education last spring asked that new social studies standards identify President Obama with his middle name “Hussein,” even a fellow Republican on the board noted that everyone understood the cynical motive behind the move.

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Has Peter Marshall Come Unhinged?

August 9, 2010

Reading his increasingly vitriolic commentaries, one begins to question the Rev. Peter Marshall‘s grasp of reality. Yet the State Board of Education put him in a prominent position to influence what millions of public school children in Texas will learn in their social studies classrooms. The mind still reels at the thought.

In any case, consider two recent commentaries posted on his website. Marshall’s July 22 commentary about Islam included this stunning and vicious attack on Muslim Americans:

“When it comes to the reality of Islam in America, can a good or devout Muslim be a good American? No. The answer, my friends, is a flat ‘no!’ The only Muslim that could possibly be a good American is a Muslim that is non-practicing, or one that is in the process of repudiating Islam. Why? Because Islam is completely incompatible with either Christianity or patriotic Americanism.”

Marshall then offered a bizarre rant about President Obama in his July 29 commentary:

(I)rony abounds when one realizes that our current President, who claimed in his election campaign to really be ‘one of the people,’ and that he could ‘hear’ the plights and needs of the poor, the less fortunate, etc., etc., is in fact the most elitist President in our entire history. He is the product of an elite Hawaiian prep school, Columbia University, and Harvard Law School. That’s about as elitist as it gets in America. Further, he was on the faculty of the University of Chicago Law School. When you listen to the velvet sounds of his mellifluous baritone you are hearing the carefully modulated expressions of one who has been groomed for his present position for a very long time. He is an elitist of the elite.

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The Lie That Won’t Die

June 17, 2010

Remember when we told you how Cathie Adams, when she served as head of the far-right group Texas Eagle Forum, arrogantly questioned the religious faith of President Obama? Today we saw a perfect example of why that kind of religious bigotry continues to make the political rounds.

The far-right website OneNewsNow — “the day’s stories from a biblical perspective” — has a new post that recycles the long discredited claim that President Obama is a Muslim:

“Since before he was elected, controversy has stirred over the extent of President Obama’s ties to Islam. During the campaign, he spoke openly of both his Muslim upbringing and his adult conversion to Christianity. But now two major Middle East media outlets — Nile TV International and Israel Today Magazine — are reporting that the president has admitted in recent months that he is a Muslim.

Those outlets say that Obama, in a one-on-one meeting earlier this year with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, told Gheit that he was still a Muslim, the son of a Muslim father, and the step-son of a Muslim step-father; that his half brothers in Kenya are Muslims; and that he was sympathetic towards the Muslim agenda.”

Good grief.

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Hypocrisy and Cathie Adams

March 16, 2010

Remember when we warned you about the extremist politics of Cathie Adams? When the former head of the far-right Texas Eagle Forum was named chair of the Texas Republican Party last fall, we noted her shameful attacks in the past on President Obama’s faith, Hispanic immigrants and former Texas Gov. Ann Richards. Now she’s got the Texas GOP, in an e-mail to activists today, charging that congressional Democrats are violating the Constitution if they use a specific parliamentary maneuver to pass health care reform in the U.S. House. Problem for Adams’ and the other folks at the Texas GOP: Republicans used the same procedure to pass legislation 35 times the last time they controlled Congress in 2005-06. Oops.

TFN has no position on health care reform legislation pending in Congress, but we have noted the hysterical attacks from the far right. So here’s some unsolicited advice for Adams: if you’re going to accuse someone of breaking the law (or worse, violating the Constitution), make sure your own side hasn’t done the same thing numerous times. Otherwise, you’ll get a reputation for problems with hypocrisy. Just sayin’.

The Year in Quotes: Potluck Nuttiness

December 31, 2009

We heard nuttiness in many forms throughout 2009, including the Texas governor flirting with secessionists and the lieutenant governor criticizing the president of the United States for winning the Nobel Peace Prize. And there was plenty of downright hatefulness. More quotes from 2009:

“There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that.”

— Gov. Rick Perry, discussing the possibility that Texas might secede from the United States, Dallas Morning News, April 16, 2009

“The flip side of Obama’s ‘empathy’ is apparent hatred and contempt for white people, traditional families, small business owners, evangelical Christians, conservatives, and everyone else that liberals call the ‘racist, heterosexist, nativist, Christianist, capitalist, homophobic power structure’ in America. In other words, what most of us call normal people. These radical leftists regard folks like you and me and our children as the enemy, and it’s their mission in life to put us in our supposed place, which to them means at the back of the bus. They’re in charge now, and they fully intend to use their power to remake America in their image. If the Senate approves Sotomayor for the Supreme Court, Obama will know that he has carte blanche to escalate his all out war on traditional Americans.”

— Peter Morrison, a member of the Lumberton Independent School District Board of Trustees in Southeast Texas who serves on a Texas State Board of Education social studies curriculum writing team, reacting to President Obama’s nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court, TFN Insider, June 20, 2009

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Rick Scarborough: Birther Extremist

December 22, 2009

Maybe Rick Scarborough should run for chair of the Texas Republican Party of Texas. After all, we’re beginning to think the head of the far-right group Vision America (based in Lufkin) could be even more extreme than the Texas GOP’s current chair, Cathie Adams. (See here and here for examples of Adams’ extremism.)

In a fundraising e-mail today, Pastor Scarborough once again aligned himself with the fringe right-wingers who run around claiming that President Obama wasn’t born in the United States and thus isn’t eligible to be president. Never mind that such nonsense has been debunked definitively and repeatedly, including here. Scarborough has money to raise.

So today Pastor Scarborough’s e-mail notes “two marching evils.” First:

“Out of control spending that will bankrupt the nation if not stopped and reversed, driven by a man who may not even be legally qualified to be our President.”

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President Obama vs. Charlie Brown?

December 11, 2009

Texas Republican Party Chair Cathie Adams isn’t the only right-winger to attack President Obama’s personal faith and make other bizarre charges about the nation’s chief executive. Plenty of other political figures and commentators on the fringe right continue to suggest (or claim outright) that the president is a closet Muslim, that he hates white people and that he’s a Marxist (or Nazi). But usually elected officials are little more careful. Not so in the case of the mayor of the Memphis-area city of Arlington, Tenn.

Arlington Mayor Russell Wiseman is charging that “our muslim president” deliberately chose the date of his nationally televised announcement on Afghanistan troop deployments last week so that his speech would preempt what Wiseman apparently considers a quintessential Christian television program: “The Charlie Brown Christmas Special” that kids have been watching annually for more than four decades.

We’re not making this up.

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Threatening ‘Everything You Hold Dear!’

November 23, 2009

That got your attention, didn’t it? That’s what one far-right group in Texas was counting on today when it sent out a hair-on-fire fundraising e-mail with that subject line. We wanted to give you a taste of how far-right extremists are trying to frighten and shake down folks for money these days. From the e-mail:

“Just days ago, President Obama signed the so-called ‘Hate Crimes’ bill into law. This bill is an attack on religious freedom like never before. We must not stand by and do nothing! This new federal law could actually criminalize pastors and ordinary citizens who speak out biblically against homosexuality.”

Of course, that’s a lie.

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An Anniversary and Warning about Extremism

November 22, 2009

This month marks the 46th anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas. We all remember that the assassin was a deranged, dysfunctional radical. But many — especially, of course, those of us born afterward — might not remember the hate and extremism that framed President Kennedy’s trip to Texas that November. Mark Warren, writing for Esquire, recalls it. And he worries about similarities to today:

“As I am from Texas, home over the years to some of the most wonderful and ridiculous members of congress, sometimes situated in the same person, I thought of my home delegation, and in my mind formed the image of the skinhead reprobate from Tyler, Louie Gohmert. Characterized chiefly by the blankness behind his eyes, Gohmert has the face of a hooligan and the politesse to match. Stinking of contempt, no greater reactionary is to be found in the Congress today. And certainly it is people like him who have abetted the toxic atmosphere that holds in our current politics. He has screamed that the president is a ‘socialist!’ perhaps louder and longer than anyone else in his caucus (which is quite a distinction), he is a birther who believes that Obama is an alien Muslim, and he has said that the president’s health care plan will ‘absolutely kill senior citizens. They’ll put them on lists and force them to die early.’

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Praying for God to Kill the President

November 19, 2009

Wow. Just, well … wow.

It seems that some folks are now driving around with bumper stickers that read, “Pray for Obama: Psalm 109:8.” What does that Bible verse say?

“Let his days be few; and let another take his office.”

And what does that mean? The verse that immediately follows clears up any ambiguity:

“Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.”

So now we have extremists using Bible verses to pray that God will kill the president of the United States. Of course, it would be absurd and offensive to suggest that all Christians agree with such sentiments. Almost certainly, nearly all would be appalled to learn about this. But some folks — like the Rev. Peter Marshall — don’t seem to have a problem suggesting that all Muslims be treated as potential criminals because of the actions of a few (or one).