Southeast Tennessee U.S. Attorney Bill Killian and an FBI agent will speak at an American Muslim Advisory Council of Tennessee event in what he describes as “an educational effort with civil rights laws as they play into freedom of religion and exercising freedom of religion.”
A Politico blogger suggests his comments to the Tullahoma News on the event – including a remark that “everybody needs to understand” internet postings can violate federal civil rights laws – translate into “vowing to use federal civil rights statutes to clamp down on offensive and inflammatory speech about Islam.”
An excerpt from the Tullahoma News story: Killian said the presentation will also focus on Muslim culture and how, that although terrorist acts have been committed by some in the faith, they are no different from those in other religions.
He referred to the 1995 Oklahoma City Bombing in which Timothy McVeigh, an American terrorist, detonated a truck bomb in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995. Commonly referred to as the Oklahoma City Bombing, the attack killed 168 people and injured more than 800.
…Killian referred to a Facebook posting made by Coffee County Commissioner Barry West that showed a picture of a man pointing a double-barreled shotgun at a camera lens with the caption saying, “How to Wink at a Muslim.”
Killian said he and Moore had discussed the issue.
“If a Muslim had posted ‘How to Wink at a Christian,’ could you imagine what would have happened?” he said. “We need to educate people about Muslims and their civil rights, and as long as we’re here, they’re going to be protected.”
Killian said Internet postings that violate civil rights are subject to federal jurisdiction.
“That’s what everybody needs to understand,” he said.
And from the Politico post: While threats directed at individuals or small groups can lead to punishment, First Amendment experts expressed doubt that the government has any power to stop offensive material about Islam from circulating.
“He’s just wrong,” said Floyd Abrams, one of the country’s most respected First Amendment attorneys. “The government may, indeed, play a useful and entirely constitutional role in urging people not to engage in speech that amounts to religious discrimination. But it may not, under the First Amendment, prevent or punish speech even if it may be viewed as hostile to a religion.”
“And what it most clearly may not do is to stifle political or social debate, however rambunctious or offensive some may think it is,” Abrams said.
A conservative watchdog group, Judicial Watch, accused the Obama administration of using federal law to specifically protect Muslims from criticism.
Excerpt from a Politico article on how Republican U.S. senators – Tennessee’s Lamar Alexander being a prime example – are working diligently to assure they don’t face a serious primary challenger in 2014. “I’m running a Colin Powell military operation, which is assemble an overwhelming force, focus on a single target and have the stomach to see it all the way through to the end,” Alexander said in an interview.
The recent Washington controversies are giving the senators a unique opportunity to woo the right — whether it’s McConnell’s rhetoric against the Internal Revenue Service, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) railing at the White House for its handling of the Benghazi attacks or Alexander slamming Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for soliciting private donations to help with the implementation of Obamacare, comparing the situation to the Iran-Contra scandal.
And some of the senators are finding ways to push issues in Washington that resonate back home, including last week, when the Senate passed a McConnell-Alexander plan they called the Freedom to Fish Act targeting federal restrictions along a river their states share.
…Alexander ended the first quarter of 2013 with $1.8 million in cash and has stepped up his fundraising considerably since then. Last month, he pulled in $430,000 at a dinner at the Chattanooga home of his fellow GOP senator, Bob Corker, just days before a Nashville fundraiser pulled in $1 million more. Alexander later secured an additional $530,000 at a dinner on May 2 in Memphis, officials said.
…In this race, Alexander clearly recognized a primary as his biggest threat and wasted no time locking up support within his own ranks. Less than a month after the 2012 elections, Alexander had awarded campaign chairmanships to every Republican in the congressional delegation except Rep. Scott DesJarlais, who was ensnared in a sex scandal. Other big name Republicans in the state who could give him a serious scare in a primary were added as well, including Gov. Bill Haslam, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and state House Speaker Beth Harwell.
Alexander even won the endorsements of the 13 living past GOP party chairs in Tennessee.
“He said if it’s necessary he would get some who were deceased, too,” Corker quipped.
With some charm and back-slapping, Alexander is also trying to ensure no state legislator emerges against him, either. After the state legislative session earlier this year, Alexander hosted a Nashville reception for state GOP lawmakers. And that came after he addressed the GOP-dominated Legislature with a red-meat speech attacking Washington mandates.
Gov. Bill Haslam tells Politico that Republicans didn’t do a good job of messaging in the 2012 national elections. He said that President Barack Obama “was able to say, ‘Listen, if you all would just tax rich people, problem solved'” — and that the Republican Party failed to push back successfully.
“We lost the argument,” Haslam said in an interview with POLITICO’s Jonathan Martin.
Haslam said the GOP should do a better job of illustrating the problems generated by debt and other economic woes.
“The one message we haven’t gotten by is, we’re not doing any favors by continuing to pass the debt on down, and we have not done a good job for whatever reason of explaining it,” Haslam said. “The second thing we haven’t done a good job of explaining is this: Unemployment and economic growth are directly related to business investment. Directly related. And we have not been able to make that connection.”
He also acknowledged that the Obama campaign chalked up successes at the ground game level, and called on his party to compete everywhere — not just in GOP-friendly territory.
Haslam, the governor of a deep-red state, also struck a centrist tone on the topic of immigration. When Martin asked about immigration reform, Haslam said he “actually would” like to see a comprehensive immigration reform bill signed. He said he views the issue through the lens of economic development, and senses that there is the political will to move on the subject.
See also Politico’s interview with Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy, mostly on the Democrat’s advocacy of gun control, wherein there is this line: During his interview with POLITICO, Malloy also slammed Republicans for not negotiating, he said, on sequestration. But he did have kind words for one GOP lawmaker: Malloy named Gov. Bill Haslam (R-Tenn.) when asked about his favorite governor from the other side.
Pollitico hails Gov. Bill Haslam as a model for Republican governors in a profile piece. Here’s an excerpt: But while attracting scant national attention and eschewing the camera-friendly approach of most up-and-coming Republican governors, Bill Haslam has amassed one of the most extensive conservative governing records in the country.
He is, in short, the most important Republican governor you’ve never heard of. And as the National Governors Association gathers in Washington this week for its winter meeting, the national GOP may have something to learn from Tennessee.
Since his election in 2010, Haslam has overhauled the Tennessee civil service, stripped back teacher tenure, cut taxes, enacted tort reform and expanded charter schools. Add up the various items on his agenda, and it looks a lot like a version of the pro-growth platform Washington Republicans have been grasping for.
Haslam has done all that during his first term without triggering the kind of large-scale backlash that other aggressive Republican governors have encountered. There aren’t tens of thousands of protesters, or even one irate MSNBC host, camped outside Haslam’s window.
The 54-year-old Haslam, who recorded a 68 percent approval rating last month, disavows any interest in national office. Yet to friends and allies, Haslam’s experience in Tennessee is at the very least a model for national Republicans groping around for ideas that appeal to the middle class.
— Note: For a somewhat different perspective, see Jeff Woods’ commentary on the ‘insanly fawning profile.”
Former Tennessee Repulbican Chairman Chip Saltsman is profiled today in Politico. The story starts like this: Capitol Hill staffers live by one commandment above all others: Thou shalt not outshine your boss.
Except, that is, if you’re Chip Saltsman.
A longtime Republican operative and former Tennessee Republican Party chairman, Saltsman took a job in 2011 as chief of staff for freshman Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.) after helping to run his campaign. But in an unusual twist, Saltsman has shunned the behind-the-scenes profile nearly all of his fellow Hill worker bees are forced to assume: The manager for Mike Huckabee’s 2008 presidential campaign has appeared on cable nearly two dozen times this year alone.
Fleishmann’s 2012 cable TV count? Zip.
Saltsman, 44, is never identified on TV as a Fleischmann aide; there’s no mention of his government-paid salary. Instead, he’s labeled a “Republican strategist.”
In an interview, Saltsman said he’s in such high demand on cable shows that he can accommodate only a fraction of the requests. He has a website, www.chipsaltsman.com, which includes a “guest speaker request form” and, until January, cataloged his TV appearances.
Politico has a story on four former politicians who left office after sex scandals and the lessons they learned. One is former Tennessee state Sen. Paul Stanley. Stanley, 49, served in the Tennessee state Senate from 2006 to 2009 before resigning after news of his affair with his 22-year-old intern broke. A week after the two ended what Stanley describes as a “purely sexual” and very brief “fling,” the intern’s boyfriend attempted to extort $10,000 from him by threatening to turn over pictures of the two to the press. Hours later, Stanley reported the incident to law enforcement and the intern’s boyfriend was arrested. Stanley told his wife about the affair the next day, but the story about the Tennessee legislator didn’t hit the news until four months later. The Republican lawmaker resigned his seat on Aug. 10, 2009.
The now-divorced father of two children, ages 12 and 8, is a writer living in Savannah, Tenn., his hometown. Stanley works as the politics editor for The Christian Post and is writing a memoir tentatively titled, “The Extortion of Forgiveness.” He is a born-again evangelical Christian and was at the time of the affair as well.
“You need to be honest with yourself. You know what you’ve done. You know what happened. Go to the ones you love… and tell the truth. When you do that, tell the entire truth. Don’t parcel it out, just tell it and ask for their forgiveness. When it becomes public, you’ve got to repent to God first. And then you need to genuinely say you’re sorry. Let me emphasize the word genuine. People will smoke you out in a heartbeat if your apology is superficial. They’re probably going to be disappointed in you, which they should, but the vast majority of them will forgive you.”
“I knew it was the best thing for my family at the time [for me to resign]. And without a doubt, without any question, I had been gone a lot as a politician. Politicians aren’t home a lot. For the next nine months, I was able to develop a very deep relationship with both my children… It’s made me a better person. I’ve told God on a number of occasions, I’d certainly like to go rewrite the ending, but he took me out of there the way he did and he did that for my own good. It wasn’t the way I would’ve liked to go out, but it was the right thing to have happened to me at the time.”
“My affairs were purely sexual. There was no emotion in them. … There need to be some ground rules in relationships — you don’t ever need to be alone with someone of the opposite sex after 5 p.m. or after business hours. There’s nothing good that can come of it.”
“Far too often politicians get thrown off course with people telling them how great they are, how wonderful they are. Even if you disagree with them, you’re complimenting them to get what you want. … You would think I would have learned from other people’s stories and other politicians from my story. … As you rise through political rings, more people pay attention to you and pay you compliments, accolades, and you have more power to control legislation. A lot of times, where there are females who are showing you that attention, you have to be very careful and have ground rules.”
“The No. 1 thing, and this is what threw me off, my spouse and I grew apart over time, and we didn’t deal with the issues when they occurred. That put me in a position where I was extremely vulnerable. I was a big boy and knew exactly what I was doing, but it put me in a place when I had more authority and more perceived power and I was getting attention — that was something that wasn’t good for me.”