Tim Pawlenty's tenure as governor of Minnesota was largely devoid of the kind of polarizing episodes that give campaign managers migraines. If anything, the knock on the GOP presidential contender seems to be that, with a few exceptions, he's a little too ordinary. One of those exceptions came in 2003, when the newly elected Republican governor selected Cheri Yecke, a little-known Bush administration veteran, to produce new educational standards for what students should—and shouldn't—learn.
The battle that followed put Pawlenty at the center of a culture war conflagration. Members of Yecke's handpicked standards committees dismissed sharing and cooperation as "socialist" ideas, suggested replacing "We Shall Overcome" with "Dixie" in a unit on protest songs, and advocated downplaying the impact of slavery on the nation's antebellum economy—lest it sour students on the virtues of the free market.
Happy Holy Week! This year, Walker Texas Ranger star and Internet meme Chuck Norris is celebrating things a little differently—by writing a special week-long series at WorldNetDaily on the dangers of creeping Islamic Sharia law in American society. Norris, who wants to make clear that he is absolutely not an Islamophobe, warns that "where Muslim religion and culture has spread, Shariah law has shortly followed":
Of course, many Americans watch on video a Middle Eastern woman allegedly caught in adultery, buried in the ground up to her head and being stoned to death, and think, "That could never happen in America." But they fail to see how Shariah law has already been enabled and subtly invoked in our country, and that any such induction like it is brought about by understated lukewarm changes, like a frog boiled in a kettle by a slow simmer.
As proof of the slow boiling of the American frog, Norris cites three examples: A Florida judge ordering two Muslim parties to settle their dispute through Islamic arbitration, per the terms of their mutually agreed-upon contract; the push by various state legislators to ban Islamic law from state courts; and an Obama adviser telling a British audience that Sharia has been "oversimplified." And that's just in the last few months! Of course, each of these points has its self-refuting flaws. Judges turn cases over to pre-selected religious arbitrators all the time, for instance, and not just for Muslims. None of the state legislators in question have produced a single example of Sharia being forced upon their states. And as for the argument that Sharia has been "oversimplified," I would just point you to the fact that a quasi-mulleted martial arts actor from the mid 1990s feels qualified to explain to a national audience what Sharia is.
Read the full piece here. Norris promises four more articles this week on Sharia (and yes, because it's the Internet, one of those columns will appear in the form of a top-ten list). While you wait patiently for part two, Norris recommends that you read David Gaubatz's novel expose Muslim Mafia, in which he exposes the Muslim Brotherhood's attempt to infiltrate Capitol Hill with interns.
Anyway, this is part of a trend for Norris: In 2009, he challenged President Obama to produce his birth certificate—promising that if he did, the entire birther controversy would "fade away like the pains of childbirth"; he also warned that the Copenhagen Climate Conference was merely an excuse to bring the globe closer to a "one world order." That prophesy came two years after he single-handedly disproved the theory of evolution.
Thinking of running for president, but can't find a copy of your long-form birth certificate? No problem, say Arizona GOPers. Just be prepared to provide a description of your penis.
The state's birther bill, which had until recently been sidelined, cruised through the state Senate on a 20-to-9 party line vote Wednesday and was passed by the state House late Thursday. It's now awaiting the signature of Arizona's Republican Governor Jan Brewer. The bill, resurrected late last month with some minor changes, requires presidential candidates to provide a valid long-form birth certificate before they can appear on the ballot in Arizona. Because not all states even produce such records anymore, the bill allows prospective candidates to provide any two of the following documents in lieu of a long-form birth certificate: an "early census record," a signed post-partum medical record, a hospital birth record (also known as a certificate of live birth), or a baptismal or circumcision certificate.
That's right: Arizona Republicans want you to provide proof that you've been circumcised; it makes the "boxers and briefs" question look downright prudish. But a warning for overzealous candidates: As the Phoenix New Timeshelpfully notes, "Pulling out your penis in front of election officials, however, will not prove citizenship—and, in the worst case scenario, could get [you] labeled a sex offender." Rules to live by.
As we first reported in January, Arizona's bill was inspired by conservative activists who believe President Obama is not an American citizen by birth (for the millionth time: he is). To that end, potential GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, who recently jumped on the birther bandwagon, called Arizona legislators this week to voice his support for the measure, and invited the bill's supporters to a meeting at his Manhattan office. More than a dozen states have now considered legislation to require presidential candidates to verify their citizenship, but Arizona's bill is the first to clear a state legislature. If enacted, Democrats say the law would face a legal challenge.
Republicans talk a lot about the need to make tough, painful cuts. We just didn't know this is what they had in mind.
According to Adam Serwer's Birtherism Lexicon, birthers, like dwarves, come in seven different vintages: birthers, post-birthers, ironic post-birthers, pseudo-birthers, the birther-curious, reform birthers, and orthodox birthers. Newly minted GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney wants you to know he's in that eighth category: He's not a birther:
Mitt Romney forcefully said Tuesday night that he believes President Barack Obama was born in America and that "the citizenship test has been passed."
"I think the citizenship test has been passed. I believe the president was born in the United States. There are real reasons to get this guy out of office," Romney told CNBC's Larry Kudlow the day after he formally announced that he's exploring a run for the White House. "The man needs to be taken out of office but his citizenship isn't the reason why."
Romney's right—at least about the citizenship bit. But it also goes to show just how low the bar has been set for the Republican field in 2012: A candidate can come off as reasonable and moderate simply by asserting that the President of the United States is, in fact, from the United States, and not part of some sort of vast, international conspiracy to destroy the republic.
Eight years after the Supreme Court deemed Texas' anti-sodomy statute unconstitutional, the state's penal code still lists "homosexual conduct" as a criminal offense—and Republican lawmakers are fighting to keep it that way.
A pair of identicalbills that have been introduced in the Texas House would delete language from the state penal code making "deviate sexual intercourse with another individual of the same sex" a misdemeanor offense. Under the proposals, a clause in the state's health and safety code that cites the criminal statute and states that homosexuality is "not an acceptable lifestyle" would also be repealed.
That is, if the legislature's Republican supermajority ever lets the bills come to a vote.
"Their silence is deafening," says Democratic State Rep. Jessica Farrar, who sponsored one of the proposals. "It's killing us. It's just as bad as if they were vocal."