Southern Religion

Torture talk from a serial commuter

Past Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee, whose many prison pardons and commutations while governor of Arkansas are well documented, showed his national security credentials by talking tough about how Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab should be treated.

Huckabee, a former Southern Baptist pastor who now has a Fox News talk show, suggested on a recent show that Abdulmutallab be tortured. Specifically, Huckabee mentioned putting the explosives back into Abdulmutallab’s underwear, where he reportedly had them on an airline flight when he was captured, and detonated if that was required to make him talk.

Huckabee later said he was being facetious. Someone should tell him that sadistic levity about a deadly serious topic hardly befits a president, a presidential candidate, a former presidential hopeful or even a television talk show host who may or may not seek his party’s nomination for the office again. For that matter, neither is blaming others for gubernatorial pardon and commutation mistakes.

[H/T: Ambassador Gwen]

January 20, 2010 Posted by | Politics | , , | Comments Off on Torture talk from a serial commuter

Texas Baptist editor sings Huckabee, off-key

Marv Knox gave himself to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s Republican presidential aspirations in a well-phrased column which is flawed only by failures of documentation, overlooked facts and broken logic.

Texas Baptist Standard Editor Marv Knox

Marv Knox

Knox is editor of the Texas Baptist Standard, whose Web presence is probably the most commanding among the state Southern Baptist newspapers and chief strategist of a four-publication [1, 2, 3, 4] online partnership.

Knox framed Huckabee’s issue as the “tension between Christian compassion and the duties of citizenship.” Yet Knox began by speaking directly to former Southern Baptist pastor Huckabee’s motivations in granting clemency to Maurice Clemmons, who as a result, Knox writes, “was free to walk into a Lakewood, Wash., coffee shop and murder four police officers.”

Mike Huckabee speaks


It’s a vacant example, robbed of force by Huckabee himself. On Dec. 1, before Knox’s piece was published on Dec. 5, Huckabee wrote about the Clemmons matter for Human Events, saying:

Religion had nothing to do with the commutation. It’s been erroneously expressed that my own personal faith or the claims of faith of the inmate factored into my decision. That is simply not true and nothing in the record even suggests it.

The overarching record of Huckabee’s 1,033 (or 1,058 if you prefer the Arkansas Secretary of State’s number) clemencies is itself a muddled mess of inconsistencies and so does nothing for Knox’s argument. They are variously:

  • Without useful explanation because none is apparent and Huckabee refuses to explain. In one case Huckabee is reported to have laughed aloud at a request for explanation.
  • Fraught with contradictory, factually inaccurate accounts, like those Huckabee gave in the case of Arkansas rapist and murderer Wayne Dumond.
  • Capricious: Huckabee pushed through a pardon for Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards’ 1975 reckless driving conviction 31 years after the fact on the apparent basis of Richards’ guitar playing skill.
  • Fundamentally irrational albeit recommended by a fellow pastor. That was the case with Huckabee’s offer of clemency to Glen Green, “a madman who beat an 18-year-old woman with Chinese martial-arts sticks, raped her as she barely clung to life, ran over her with his car, then dumped her in the bayou … .” And Huckabee abandoned that one amid a firestorm of public pressure.
  • Apparently driven by the recommendations of family and/or personal acquaintances as in the case of “Samuel W. Taylor, convicted on a drug charge. A prosecutor said the man had told him Taylor’s sister had gone to school with Huckabee.”
  • Well-deserved, as Jeralyn wrote, “particularly for drug offenders serving excessive sentences. A Governor’s use of clemency and pardon power is a good thing.”

It is in light of that record a triumph of false comparison for Knox to suggest that Huckabee’s record somehow parallels former President Jimmy Carter’s often-noted Christian naivete.

Although Huckabee has busily tried to excuse himself and shift blame to others for variously motivated Arkansas gubernatorial decisions which resulted in rape and murder. While Carter appears to have been without similar blemishes on his record governor of Georgia, has been effective if controversial in diplomacy, won a Nobel Peace Prize for work after leaving the presidency and has at times been frank in accepting blame. Most recently, Carter issued an apology (Al Het) for any harm done the Israelis by his words or deeds. Thus Knox’s is an apples to asteroids comparison. Strained.

Knox takes flight from that illogic, demolishing, resurrecting and abandoning a straw man argument that some people of faith should not permitted to hold “specific offices.” He refutes unnamed, undocumented “extremists” and asserts without proof the views of “most citizens.” Knox finally concludes that the role of faith in public policy decision-making will be a key issue in the next presidential election, and Baptists have much to offer.

They do, as Carter continues to demonstrate.

December 28, 2009 Posted by | Politics, Religion | , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Texas Baptist editor sings Huckabee, off-key

Huckabee endorses a candidate who was going to promise not to run

S.C. Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer was going to promise not to run in return for being appointed governer if Gov. Mark Sanford resigned after his Appalachian Trail hike to Argentina.

The odd ploy failed and Bauer, who in a recent poll is tied with Attorney General Henry McMaster (both at 22%) and losing to “no answer” (28%) in the race for the S.C. Republican gubernatorial nomination, was endorsed yesterday by former Southern Baptist pastor Mike Huckabee.

That has attracted some attention of LGBT blogs for various reasons, a little from the mainstream press and not much notice from political blogs.

Huckabee’s endorsement looks like payback since the Methodist former Irmo (S.C.) High School varsity cheerleader, then Lt. Gov., endorsed Huckabee for president in 2008.

Go, guys?

December 23, 2009 Posted by | Politics, SBC | , , , | Comments Off on Huckabee endorses a candidate who was going to promise not to run

Clemmons was part of a pattern of negligence [Updated]

Matthew Yglesias has an incomplete point. There was nothing unreasonable, on the surface, about Mike Huckabee’s granting clemency to a someone given 60 years for burglaries committed when he was 17.

Unless Huckabee commuted Maurice Clemmons sentence when the court record showed Clemmons had demonstrated a propensity for violence and there was no evidence he had been rehabilitated.


The circuit court made its foregoing findings and decision to grant postconviction relief based on pretrial events that occurred at Clemmons’s burglary and theft trial held before Judge Floyd Lofton. Clemmons’s defense counsel, Llewellyn J. Marczuk, testifying at the postconviction hearing, related that, at the earlier trial, a security guard had reported to Judge Lofton that Clemmons had taken a hinge from one of the courtroom doors, hid it in his sock, and intended to use it as a weapon. The hinge was found and taken from him before he harmed anyone. In another incident, Clemmons extracted a lock from a holding cell, and he later threw the lock which hit his mother. During this second episode, Clemmons purportedly threatened Judge Lofton. In a third incident, Clemmons reportedly reached for a guard’s pistol during his transportation to the courtroom. Based on these occurrences, Judge Lofton placed Clemmons in leg irons and seated a uniformed officer near him during trial. This court upheld Judge Lofton’s remedial actions in Clemmons. 303 Ark. at 267-269, 795 S.W.2d at 928-929.

Recidivism quickly made Clemmons a frequently cited example of Huckabee’s recklessness with commutations and pardons. Garrick Feldman of the Arkansas Leader wrote in June of 2004:

[Pulaski County Prosecuting Attorney Larry] Jegley cites numerous examples of Huckabee’s freeing felons who go on committing more crimes and wind up back in prison.

Maurice Clemmons received a 35-year sentence in the early 1990s for armed robbery and theft. His sentence was commuted in May 2000, and he was let out three months later.

The following March, Clem-mons committed two armed robberies and other crimes and was sentenced to 10 years. You’d think they’d keep him locked up after that, but no: He was paroled last March and is now wanted for aggravated robbery.

If Huckabee decides to set these criminals free, Jegley says, at least “he ought to give an accounting. I can’t imagine why in the world they’d want them released from jail. There’s a good reason we’re afraid of them. The sad truth is that a significant number of people re-offend.”

The victims’ families, Jegley says, “deserve an explanation. I look into people’s eyes who’ve suffered the unspeakable. I believe they deserve justice.

The record suggests that Huckabee recklessly ignited the cycle of criminality which has had a variety of horrific consequences, possibly including the execution-style murder of four Lakewood, Washington, policemen.


Nothing in the parole documentation suggests [.pdf] that the propensity for violence revealed in court papers was considered.

Clemmons was fatally shot by Seattle, Washington, police while being taken into custody Tuesday in connection with the Sunday slaying of four Tacoma, Washington, police officers.

Huckabee blistered for passing the buck by Joel Connelly of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

November 30, 2009 Posted by | Crime, Politics | , , , , | 1 Comment

Huckabee pardons himself re Washington

He was one of many. Some with catastrophic consequences. Maurice Clemmons, named a “person of interest” in the murder of four police officers in Washington state coffeehouse Sunday morning, was granted clemency from what amounted to a life sentence by then Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in 2000. He was subsequently paroled.

Huckabee, whose presidential possibilities are sliding toward past tense, had HuckPAC issue an exculpatory statement.

The blame-shifting takeaway is:

He was recommended for and received a commutation of his original sentence from 1990, this commutation made him parole eligible and he was then paroled by the parole board once they determined he met the conditions at that time. He was arrested later for parole violation and taken back to prison to serve his full term, but prosecutors dropped the charges that would have held him. It appears that he has continued to have a string of criminal and psychotic behavior but was not kept incarcerated by either state.


Huckabee’s refusal to accept responsibility for the consequences of his own actions, and blame-shifting, are old news to prosecutors who were present during his era of Arkansas gubernatorial pardons. Literally. Garrick Feldman of the Arkansas Leader wrote in June of 2004:

Until now, Huckabee has refused to comment on his controversial policy of making violent prisoners eligible for parole– they include murderers, armed robbers and rapists, who often return to a life of crime after they’re freed – but in a statement to The Leader this week, he lashed out at prosecutors for not doing more to keep prisoners behind bars – to which Pulaski County Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley had this response: “That’s a load of baloney.”

“I’m offended as a prosecutor and as a citizen. He can blame the prosecutors, but ultimately he’s the man responsible,” Jegley says. “He’s the only one who can sign on the dotted line.

“All he has to do is look in the mirror and say, ‘I let (convicted rapist) Wayne DuMond go free who then killed at least once and probably twice.’”

Jegley says the governor ignores the will of the people when he reduces a life sentence without parole that was handed down by a jury.

“He has obviously disregarded the jury’s decision. It’s a crying shame that a sitting governor would be so insensitive to victims’ right and disregard the system,” says Jegley, who points to several clemency cases where felons went free and then committed more crimes.

Pulaski County Prosecutor Larry Jegley

Larry Jegley

In addition, Jegley, Saline County Prosecuting Attorney Robert Herzfeld and others have accused Huckabee of violating the state Constitution when he commutes sentences without explanation. The Constitution requires the governor to give reasons why he grants clemency to criminals.

“He doesn’t do it,” insists Herzfeld, who recently had a clemency overturned because Huckabee did not explain why he commuted a murderer’s life sentence.

Here is Huckabee’s response to critics:

“Have Robert Herzfeld, Larry Jegley and the other prosecuting attorneys prosecuted every crime to the full extent the law allows? In other words, have they in every case pursued the maximum penalties? Did they ever plea bargain? How often? What’s the percentage of cases in which they’ve accepted less than the maximum penalties allowed by law?

“This is the day I’ve been dreading for a long time,” Jegley said to the Seattle Times this Sunday, when told Clemmons was a suspect in the quadruple murder.

Jegley’s statement has a back to the future quality for those who have followed Huckabee’s clemencies/pardons history from the days when it was well-documented by The Arkansas Leader.

Huckabee issued more commutations and pardons than all of the six neighboring states combined. He apparently gave little real consideration to his actions, or so one might generously infer from his decision to pardon the likes of Glen Green. Garrick Feldman of the Arkansas Leader wrote:

But if he read the confession and still considers Green deserving of parole, he’s certainly unfit to hold office. Who would free a madman who beat an 18-year-old woman with Chinese martial-arts sticks, raped her as she barely clung to life, ran over her with his car, then dumped her in the bayou, her hand reaching up, as if begging for mercy?

Such lack of care is perhaps not a quality reasonable people seek in a president.


Clemmons was part of a pattern of negligence: Court papers reveal a propensity for violence that was apparently not considered at parole time.

Clemmons was fatally shot by Seattle, Washington, police while being taken into custody Tuesday in connection with the Sunday slaying of four Lakewood, Washington, police officers.

Huckabee blistered for passing the buck by Joel Connelly of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

November 30, 2009 Posted by | Politics, SBC | , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Huckabee and the fate of the Palestinians

The Jerusalem Post called Mike Huckabee’s rejection of a two-state Israel/Palestine solution as a challenge to “the policies of both Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama.”

Harvard’s Stephen M. Walt wrote in Foreign Policy:

Given that current demographic trends suggest that Arabs will be a majority in the lands currently controlled by Israel in the not-too-distant future, Huckabee is either endorsing ethnic cleansing or calling for the permanent denial of democratic rights to the Arab residents of the Occupied Territories, which is a form of apartheid. Either way, he is no friend of Israel, and the policies he’s endorsing will do great damage to US interests throughout the region.

Jay Bookman of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution offered demographic detail:

At current estimates, there are 2.3 million Arabs living in the occupied West Bank and 1.4 million Arabs in the Gaza Strip, in addition to 1.5 million Arabs living within Israel’s internationally recognized boundaries. In fact, there are probably more Arabs living in the “Jewish homeland” than there are Jews. To achieve the single-state, Jewish-state solution proposed by Huckabee, one of two things must happen. The Palestinians would have to either go or stay.

Go, or stay?

Huckabee’s hosts have a preference, it seems. Huckabee was was the guest of the Jewish Reclamation Project of Ateret Cohanim, a Zionist group.

Bob Allen of Ethics Daily wrote in an article published today:

Former presidential candidate and possible vice presidential nominee Mike Huckabee visited Israel as a guest of a right-wing Zionist group that is buying up property to move Jews into Jerusalem’s Muslim Quarter in hopes of replacing the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque with a reconstruction of Solomon’s Temple and ushering in the Messianic Age.

Although Richard Silverstein goes deeper in his probing of Huckabee’s hosts.

Huckabee’s stance is no surprise. A Southern Baptist Minister is to be expected to base his foreign policy views on his faith.

Huckabee is quite conservative. His views brought him and his hosts together and lead him toward the kinds of solutions which concern Walt and others. Views about which simple humanity may have reasonable concerns.

With no reference to Huckabee, Tony Cartledge wrote Monday in a blog based on Alex Awad’s book, Palestinian Memories: The Story of a Palestinian Mother and Her People:

I have a lot of sympathy for Israel and the Israelis — don’t get me wrong. But I also have a great deal of sympathy for the Palestinians who continue to be displaced and dominated in ways that are wrong in the sight of God and man. The West has perpetrated unspeakable crimes against the Jews through the years — but trying to balance the scales on the backs of the Palestinians just adds one great crime to another.

August 19, 2009 Posted by | History, Israel, Obama, Politics | , , | Comments Off on Huckabee and the fate of the Palestinians

Stimulus act anti-Religious in its impact on institutions of higher education?

Red meat for the religious right, that claim came recently from former Arkansas Gov. and Southern Baptist pastor Mike Huckabee.

Tobin Grant of Southern Illinois University — Carbondale, writes:

In the final version of the stimulus bill, funds for higher education are included as part of the block grants to states. Not only does the bill state that these funds may be used to renovate facilities at private institutions, it also states that governors may not consider “the type or mission” of a college or university. The states must consider religious institutions along with public and other private colleges and universities.

The funds may not be used for facilities where admission is charged and the buildings must be religiously neutral in purpose. Thus neither football stadia nor chapels my be renovated using stimulus funds. No one should plan to renovate a department of divinity with them. Yet college and university student religious life is unaffected, as it has been in the half century that current law, as included in the stimulus bill, has been applied.

The restriction is on individual facilities, however. Funds may go to support religiously neutral structures at religiously affiliated colleges and universities.

Grant, who is coauthor of Expression vs. Equality: The Politics of Campaign Finance Reform and dozens of academic articles on politics and religion, explains in Christianity Today:

In the nearly four decades since [the 1971, the U.S. Supreme Court decision] Tilton v. Richardson, the constitutionality of federal funding for projects and programs at religious institutions has been upheld in the courts and supported by Congress. In the last Supreme Court case to consider public funds and religion at colleges, Rosenberger v. University of Virginia in 1995, the court found that as long as the purpose of a facility is religiously neutral, students have the right to use that facility for religious purposes, even at public universities. If a college allows students to use a conference room for any social function, it must allow them to use it even as a place to pray and study the Bible together.

Thus inclusion in the stimulus bill of the language over which Huckabee and others made such a fuss, ensured that there is no adverse impact on religion.

The entire uproar over that language was a canard.

February 19, 2009 Posted by | Law, Politics, Religion | , , | 3 Comments

Huckabee’s ‘anti-religious’ slander of the stimulus bill: Updated

The red meat claim from Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is that the stimulus bill is anti-religious.

Because it contains 46-year-old boilerplate [.pdf] prohibitions against spending the money for unconstitutionally religious purposes, as Steve Benen correctly explains.

What a delicious falsehood to toss out and lard with the throwaway line, “You would think the ACLU drafted this bill.”

“What can we do?” Huck asks.

Since he’s willing to try to whip us into a irrational frenzy over nothing, ignore him.

It is passing unlikely that a former governor was ignorant of this issue when he started laying it on us, but if so, it’s almost as bad to fail that egregiously to do one’s homework.

Addendum: Hucabee’s frenzy manufacturing began as a fund-raising ploy.

Last week, he sent an email calling Obama’s stimulus package “a real stink bomb,” and recommending his supporters donate to his political action committee in order to eventually “change the math” in Congress.

Or fuel his unfulfilled presidential aspirations?

February 12, 2009 Posted by | Law, Politics, Religion | , , , | 2 Comments