GOP Presidential Candidates Are Inconsistent in their Religious Values

Representative Michele Bachmann officially joined the crowded field of GOP presidential candidates on Monday. Like many in the race, she identifies herself as a Christian. In fact, in her kick-off speech in Waterloo, Iowa, she described how she gave her heart to Jesus Christ at the age of 16, and how she uses prayer to guide her decision-making. 

But there is one area in which Bachmann departs dramatically from her own tradition and that of most Christian denominations in the nation: environmental values.  Bachmann calls climate change “nonsense” and she routinely refers to the EPA as “the job-killing organization of America.” And yet the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, to which Bachmann was until recently connected, asserts that caring for the world is “a moral issue.”

Bachmann isn’t alone: In a great new post, Eleni Towns of the Center for America Progress outlines how nearly every GOP presidential candidate follows their church teachings when it comes to abortion and gay marriage, but not when it comes to climate change and environmental protection.

As a Christian myself, I know what it is like to have disagreements with the Church. I don’t concur with every teaching that comes from the pulpit, and I believe that questioning is a vital part of faith. But I am still suspicious about the timing of this GOP heterodoxy.

Over the past several years, most Christian denominations have officially embraced environmental values broadly and the moral imperative to confront climate change specifically. The Vatican, the National Association of Evangelicals, leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention, and other churches have called for on the faithful to help solve the climate crisis.

Several GOP candidates agreed with these church teachings — until the Tea Party became the new religion in Washington, that is.

Ever since the Koch Brothers (who made their money in oil refining and other fossil fuel operations) started pouring funds into the Tea Party, it has taken on decidedly polluter-friendly positions: climate change does not exist, we should rollback public safeguards that help prevent business from harming communities, and companies should not be required to reduce their dirty emissions.

And seemingly, once GOP campaigns realized that the Tea Party might bring more voters to the polls than churches could, they too started following the gospel according to the Koch Brothers. They began siding with the guys behind the curtain instead of the guys in the pulpit.  Almost every candidate has flip-flopped from their previous positions on climate change in the last year, even as their churches’ positions have become stronger.

Back in 2008, for instance, Newt Gingrich sat down with Nancy Pelosi and made a video saying the only issue they agreed upon was the need to fight climate change. Today, Gingrich doubts climate science and questions the need for action.

When Tim Pawlenty was governor of Minnesota, he signed a climate law designed to reduce Minnesota’s carbon emissions and helped launch a regional climate initiative within the Midwest. Today, however, he wonders how much of climate change is caused by humans and accuses the scientific community of “data manipulation.” Pawlenty, who is an evangelical, must have missed the 2006 “Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action” that 86 leaders signed, including the pastor of Pawlenty’s church.

I too hold positions that are at times out of sync with the Methodist Church, even though the church plays an enormous role in my life. It isn’t easy, and it makes me uncomfortable, and I only do it if my heart, my conscience, and my prayer guide me in that direction. I don’t do it to win primaries.  When the GOP candidates chose to follow the polluting Koch brothers instead of their own clergy, that’s pandering, not principle.

T-PAW Behind the Times

Former Minnesota Tim Pawlenty (R) decided to run for President on Monday.  Let’s see if it’s a decision he sticks with.  Because when it comes to environmental decisions, he has a habit of repeatedly changing his mind.

A quick review of Pawlenty’s career shows that, in the past, he has often worked to protect public health and the environment in the past. He pushed for expanding mass transit in his home state, and he even backed the cap-and-trade approach to fighting climate change.

Or at least his did temporarily. Once he set his sights on the White House, he decided to renounce his support of cap and trade in a hat tip to the Tea Party. Plenty of politicians reverse course during their professional lives. But what Pawlenty generally does is more troubling than your average flip flop: he only flip flops when it seems fashionable.

Instead of leading the way, Pawlenty waits for the crowd to move, and then he jumps on the bandwagon. That’s not what I call leadership.

For years Pawlenty opposed a commuter rail project, but changed his mind when the G.W. Bush Administration concluded that the project would be cost-effective and save commuters time. He backed another light-rail project that would have connected Minneapolis and St Paul… until 2008 when he followed a group of Republican governors who were refusing to accept federal money for green infrastructure investments like high-speed rail.

Even in his reversal on climate action, Pawlenty says he is just following a trend. As governor, Pawlenty signed a climate law in 2007 designed to reduce Minnesota’s carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050, he helped launch a regional climate initiative within the Midwest, and he and then Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano made a radio ad calling on Congress to address climate.

Yet when asked why he is now saying cap and trade is a “clunker,” his defense is essentially “all the kids are doing it”:   "As to cap and trade, almost everybody who's run has got the same problem," Pawlenty said at the Conservative Political Action Committee conference recently.

Pawlenty likes to embrace new trends, but only after the trend-setters have stated their position. He’s the guy who will start wearing bell-bottoms when the cool kids are tight-rolling their jeans. Just take his nickname. He actually calls himself T-Paw. Even then, you have to wonder why he is copying a Jennifer Lopez handle from 2002. Couldn’t he be a little more current?

His pack-mentality makes him a safe, predictable choice—he isn’t likely to propose anything radical or cutting edge. But considering the state of our economy, environment, and position in the world, America could use a trend-setter, not a follower.

We don’t need someone who will only be moved by major events or political pressure. We need someone who will take a stand and define the path forward.

Considering the major threats looming over our country—prolonged economic recession, two protracted wars, a changing climate—we desperately need strong leadership. This is not the time for fence-sitters.

Tim Pawlenty seems destined to let someone else define his environmental agenda.  If his track record is any indication, I am nervous that that someone is the Tea Party. He might occasionally veer off in one direction or the other, he might support clean energy or he might decide that climate change isn’t a problem anymore. But he is not likely to set his own course for America.

And we need someone with the courage to do that.

This blog was originally posted on NRDC Action Fund’s The Mark Up.


Democrats.Org strikes back against Kyle & Co.

(from) 10/1/09


Ben --

After decades of fighting to dismantle Medicare, GOP leaders like Senator Jon Kyl are taking to the airwaves with a cynical campaign of deception about how health reform will affect Medicare.

Kyl, one of the top Republicans in the Senate, has claimed that reform would cause the rationing of care for America's seniors. It's a claim that both AARP (which represents over 40 million seniors) and the non-partisan fact-check website PolitiFact have repeatedly debunked as absolutely false.

But it's no surprise that Senator Kyl has resorted to lying and scaring seniors to block reform. After all, he has publicly stated that insurance companies don't need to be "kept honest," and he even opposes requiring them to provide coverage without discriminating against pre-existing conditions.

Senator Kyl, we've had enough of the fear-mongering and lies -- we're calling you out.

Call 'em out: Jon Kyl. Watch the video, spread the word, make a call.

Contrary to Kyl's claims, reform would help seniors who are still paying too much for prescription drugs, while making Medicare more efficient and more financially-secure in the long-run.

But his lies don't end at Medicare. He's claimed that comparative effectiveness research (a key tool to increase quality of care while lowering costs) would lead to rationing, another claim clearly debunked by the independent

Kyl has also claimed that the debt from health reform would not be sustainable, even though President Obama has promised not to  sign a bill that adds to the deficit -- and even though Republican Senator Olympia Snowe has said the Senate Finance committee bill will be deficit neutral.

And, of course, Kyl has trotted out that most-debunked of lies, that reform will result in a government takeover of health care. No independent observer is buying that one.

Kyl's lies add up to a clear plan to score political points by tanking reform that Americans need. So, together, it's time to give Senator Kyl the same treatment as Rep. John Boehner and Gov. Tim Pawlenty before him: It's time to call him out.

Keep up the fight,


Jen O'Malley Dillon
Executive Director
Democratic National Committee

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Wolf Blizter, memory problem or just does not care?

After watching "Late Edition" today, I have decided that Wolf Blitzer is either the worst interviewer on TV or has a true medical memory issue.  Blitzer is incapable of getting people to answer specific questions, even when his producers give him great tools (video clips to support the question). I'm not sure if this is a result of lack of curiosity or a degrading memory.  

Today, Wolf Blitzer goes through the effort of showing the "two" John McCains.  

The first clip shows McCain saying that Mayors and Governer are the most qualified for national office because they know the people and their needs.  

The second clip shows McCain saying Mitt Romney would need on the job training and that a short stint as Mayor or Govner does not prepare one for the presidency.  

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