You are browsing the archive for Sam Brownback.

by Peterr

What Could Possibly Go Wrong: Kansas Edition

9:36 am in abortion, Guns by Peterr

Tomorrow is election day in Kansas, the place Sam Brownback is using to test-drive every conservative policy proposal he can think of, facts be damned. As I noted last year, when Mitt Romney had to burnish his conservative credentials, it was at Brownback’s feet he bowed when he chose Paul Ryan to be his VP candidate — Ryan, whose last job before becoming a member of Congress was as Brownback’s legislative director. Pick an issue, lay out the most conservative policy prescription you can think of, and the GOP in Brownbackistan will find something even further to the right to enact.

Chief among Brownback’s minions, and the guy who desperately wants Brownback’s job when Brownback announces he’s running for president in 2016*, is Kris Kobach. Kobach is an alumnus of the Ashcroft DOJ, and first made waves nationally as the principal author of Arizona’s anti-immigration laws that were struck down by SCOTUS. Since then, he was elected the Kansas Secretary of State, going after the plague of vote fraud that wasn’t sweeping the state with new state ID laws, ramping up the pressure on anyone who even thinks of getting an abortion, and generally trying to make himself look like The Next True Conservative Leader behind Brownback.

Now he’s latched on to another conservative issue, hoping to win more friends in the conservative coalition in addition to the anti-abortion, anti-immigrant crowds who love him already. That issue? Guns.

Kansas has an open carry law, which says (generally speaking) that almost all public buildings must allow people to openly carry weapons as they embrace their Second Amendment right to self-defense. Only if a building has security in place similar to the TSA screenings at airports can that building declare itself to be a no-carry location. Various cities are unhappy about this, but are similarly unhappy about the prospects of (a) having to spend lots of money they don’t have to upgrade and install security on lots of public buildings, or (b) having to spend lots of money they don’t have defending themselves from lawsuits if they challenge the law.

So what could possibly go wrong with this scenario?:

The next time you vote in a Kansas election, the person next to you at the polling place may be packing a pistol.

It depends on how state Attorney General Derek Schmidt rules on a request for a legal opinion that has been filed by the state’s chief election officer, Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

The argument here is this: Because churches, schools, and other places open their doors to the state to serve as polling places, that makes them public property for the day, and thus overrides their own “no guns here” policies. That’s sure to go over well with a fair number of the pastors and parishes I know in Kansas.

I’m trying to imagine the reaction if a couple of members of the New Black Panthers were to show up at a KS polling place with legal weapons carried openly. The right wing would leap to their defense, wouldn’t they?

Or, you know, not.

But my favorite part of the article at the link is the photograph the Wichita Eagle used of voting machines set up at Reformation Lutheran Church in an earlier election. As everyone in Wichita knows, Reformation is the church where George Tiller was gunned down while serving as an usher one Sunday morning in 2009. Using an image of that church is a not-so-veiled — and well-deserved — slam at Kobach and the gun rights fetishists.

Good. Read the rest of this entry →

by Peterr

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back in Kansas Over Abortion

11:38 am in 2016 election, abortion, Health Care, Women's rights by Peterr

It’s been almost four years since George Tiller was murdered in the narthex of his church while serving as an usher, and the fight over a woman’s right to make her own medical decisions is still up for grabs in the state of Brownbackistan.

On Wednesday, a foundation named Trust Women opened the South Wind Women’s Center in the same space where George Tiller practiced medicine in Wichita. The founder of Trust Women, Julie Burkhart, used to work with Tiller, and SWWC has engaged three doctors to work there to provide a full range of women’s reproductive medical services, including abortions in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy and referrals elsewhere thereafter. As you might imagine, Operation Rescue and Kansans for Life are not at all happy about this. They failed to prevent SWWC from opening, and now they are preparing their usual protests and disruptive actions to try to force them to close.

Two days later, up the road in Topeka, the overwhelmingly GOP-led legislature passed a sweeping new anti-abortion, anti-women, anti-science bill and sent it to Governor Brownback’s office for his inevitable signature. From the Wichita Eagle:

The Kansas House voted late Friday to send a bill to the governor defining human life as beginning at fertilization and mandating that abortion doctors must provide controversial information to patients of a theorized link between abortion and breast cancer.

Earlier in the day, the Senate approved the final version of the bill after a bruising debate with references to the Taliban and the Dred Scott decision that once upheld slavery.

House Bill 2253 was one of the final bills in a late-night marathon meeting that wrapped up the regular legislative session for the year. Gov. Sam Brownback has indicated he would sign any anti-abortion bill the Legislature sends him.

The House vote was so little in doubt that no members went to the podium to speak in favor of it, although four of the outnumbered Democrats in the chamber harshly criticized the bill.

The GOP in Brownbackistan is well-known for their opposition to science, and the pseudo-scientists behind this bill continue along that same path. Actual scientists at the National Cancer Institute, on the other hand, note that current medical research concludes “that having an abortion or miscarriage does not increase a woman’s subsequent risk of developing breast cancer.” Never mind that, says the GOP — we require that women be presented with inaccurate information should they inquire about abortion.

A question for any lawyers in the audience here: Can someone sue the state GOP for practicing medicine without a license?

And then there’s that nifty new “life begins at conception” provision. The legislative summary of the bill [pdf] describes it like this: Read the rest of this entry →

by Peterr

Is James Dobson Repenting for His 2007 Interview with Newt Gingrich?

9:17 am in 2012 election, Religion by Peterr

James Dobson’s slam on Newt Gingrich at the recent behind-closed-doors meeting of evangelical Christian leaders grabbed a lot of attention in the press — almost as much as the group’s eventual vote to get behind Rick Santorum. Grace Wyler at Business Insider described Dobson’s comments like this:

Influential evangelical leader James Dobson set off the fireworks at this weekend’s Christian Right summit, giving a speech that lavished praise on Karen Santorum and asked whether Americans really wanted Callista Gingrich — “a woman who was a man’s mistress for eight years” — as their First Lady, according to sources who attended the meeting.

Sources told Business Insider that Dobson’s speech was a “startling moment” that left many in the audience — particularly those who support Gingrich — floored. One source described Dobson’s tone as “angry,” and said it seemed like Dobson was blaming Callista Gingrich for the couples’ affair, which began while the former House Speaker was still married to his second wife (this is Callista Gingrich’s first marriage).

“It was clear that, to him, the villian in this story is Callista Gingrich,” the source said. “And he was announcing it to 170 ministers with huge mailing lists and television ministries.”

That’s gotta sting. What no one seems to remember — not Wyler or anyone else — is that five years ago, when Gingrich was looking to reenter the political fights but knew he needed to address the adultery issue, it was to James Dobson that Gingrich turned. Gingrich and Dobson had a memorable radio conversation in which Newt admitted his adultery publicly for the first time (you can listen to the audio at the link). Folks like the late Jerry Falwell clamored to commend Gingrich for his confession:

“He has admitted his moral shortcomings to me, as well, in private conversations,” Falwell wrote in a weekly newsletter sent Friday to members of the Moral Majority Coalition and The Liberty Alliance. “And he has also told me that he has, in recent years, come to grips with his personal failures and sought God’s forgiveness.”

CNN’s Bill Schneider speculated at the time that this was a signal from Gingrich that he wanted in the presidential race and wanted the whole adultery question neutralized. In contrast to Rudy Giuliani’s interview with Larry King admitting his own rather substantive marital problems, Gingrich went to a major — perhaps the major — figure in the TheoCon movement, looking for absolution and a blessing.

And he got it.

But three weeks after that radio broadcast, Dobson made an unsolicited phone call to author and blogger Dan Gilgoff (then at US News), adding another layer to the conversation with Gingrich:

Focus on the Family founder James Dobson appeared to throw cold water on a possible presidential bid by former Sen. Fred Thompson while praising former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who is also weighing a presidential run, in a phone interview Tuesday.

“Everyone knows he’s conservative and has come out strongly for the things that the pro-family movement stands for,” Dobson said of Thompson. “[But] I don’t think he’s a Christian; at least that’s my impression,” Dobson added, saying that such an impression would make it difficult for Thompson to connect with the Republican Party’s conservative Christian base and win the GOP nomination.

At the time, Fred Thompson was the up-and-coming flavor of the month. Very Serious People asked questions like “Will he get in the race or won’t he? Can he save the GOP from the likes of Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, and John McCain?” A couple of days later, Dobson’s spokesperson tried to backpedal a bit on the Gilgoff interview, saying

[Dobson's] words weren’t intended to represent either an endorsement of former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich or a disparagement of former Sen. Fred Thompson. Dr. Dobson appreciates Sen. Thompson’s solid, pro-family voting record and his position that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided.

In his conversation with Mr. Gilgoff, Dr. Dobson was attempting to highlight that to the best of his knowledge, Sen. Thompson hadn’t clearly communicated his religious faith, and many evangelical Christians might find this a barrier to supporting him.

Still, the implications were clear. For whatever reason, Dobson was clearly more comfortable supporting Newt Gingrich, a repentant serial adulterer, than Fred Thompson.

That was then, but my how things have changed.

Today, it seems as if Dobson is repenting a bit for his 2007 comments about Gingrich. In that Business Insider piece that I linked to at the top, Wyler goes on to describe a division among the participants:

In the wake of the conference, Christian Right leaders have publicly split into two camps — a bad sign for a coalition whose strength has always come from its solidarity. In one camp, powerful evangelical scions like Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family; Family Research Council President Tony Perkins; and Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention, have thrown their support behind Santorum. On the other hand, influential California megachurch pastor Jim Garlow, evangelical activist David Lane, and Christian marketing guru George Barna have teamed up to support Gingrich.

So what’s changed?

(a) Not much. In 2007, Dobson used Gingrich as a way to undercut Fred Thompson, hoping to energize the TheoCon community to get behind someone more religiously acceptable. He wasn’t praising Gingrich as much as slipping a knife into Thompson, to try to build up support for a candidate the TheoCons could really get behind. Not necessarily Gingrich in 2008, mind you, but perhaps someone like Mike Huckabee or Sam Brownback. In 2012, Dobson’s found a more acceptable candidate, and is quite willing to use Gingrich again, this time to derail Mitt Romney’s campaign.

(b) Everything. In 2007, Dobson allowed Gingrich to use Dobson’s radio show as a means to reenter politics, proclaiming himself to be a reformed, repentant, and renewed Christian. Those are words to warm every TheoCon’s heart. But in the five years since then, what has Gingrich done to show his faith credentials? What has he done to promote the TheoCon cause? He’s done lots of lobbying and consulting, promoting the bank account of Newt and Callista Gingrich, but nothing to get the TheoCons cheering. Neither Dobson nor Gingrich has said much publicly about the other since then (until recently, that is), but there is one little public thing that might be in play. In 2009, Gingrich left the Baptist church and became a Roman Catholic — not something that went down well with many TheoCons. If this was part of Dobson’s problem with Gingrich, it’s not as simple as saying “TheoCons don’t like Catholics.” After all, Dobson recently endorsed the very Roman Catholic Rick Santorum. Instead, it may be that Dobson sees Gingrich’s conversion to Catholicism as yet another sign that Gingrich views religion as a political tool to be used to manipulate others, not as a way of life for one’s self, and yet another indication that the 2007 interview was more calculated than sincere. In other words, Dobson now sees that he got played in 2007, and doesn’t like that one bit.

(c) Both of the above. Dobson used Gingrich in 2007 to torpedo Thompson, and wants to do the same now to torpedo Mitt Romney. If Dobson thinks he was played by Gingrich in 2007, that would certainly explain the anger with which Dobson spoke out against Newt and Callista last week. Being able to pay Gingrich back for being fooled by him in 2007 while at the same time trying to boost a “real Christian conservative” like Santorum as the alternative to Romney is icing on the cake.

It’s mostly a wild guess, but put me down for (c).


photo of a portion of the John the Baptist window in Glasgow Cathedral h/t to Glasgow Amateur