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VRA on the Brink a Half Century after Freedom Summer

Schwerner, Chaney, and Goodman did not give their lives 52 years ago today so that Congress could allow the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement and the voting protections it achieved to continue to unravel. We owe it to them and the countless others who put everything on the line in defense of voting rights to make sure – once and for all – that all eligible citizens can register to vote and cast a ballot that counts.
PFAW

Pat Robertson: God Will Punish Us For Satanic Abortion Rights

Today on “The 700 Club,” Pat Robertson railed against America’s “culture of death” that “delights in killing people,” warning that God will soon punish America for making abortion legal.

Robertson said that “we have to look at the spiritual roots” of abortion rights, blaming the right to abortion on Satan: “The enemy of our soul is Satan and he hates people, he hates human beings, and the idea is if humans can kill other humans, the devil wants to do everything to help it.”

“It’s a shocking holocaust,” he said. “And we as Americans seem to think it’s okay. Well, it’s not okay. And one day, a righteous, holy God is going to demand an accounting for every drop of blood that has been spilled of innocent, unborn babies. And we just keep it mind, when it happens it’s going to be awful.”

Glenn Beck: If America Will Just Humble Itself And Turn To God, 'He Will Ensure Your Survival'

On his television program last night, Glenn Beck followed up on his new theory, which he claims offers America one last hope to avoid destruction by turning back to God, by pointing to the Six-Day War, which he declared is impossible to explain without acknowledging God's direct intervention on behalf of Israel.

Pundits, historians and military analysts don't like to talk about this war, Beck said, "because this battle represents an inconvenient truth for the faithless [as] there is literally no way to describe this war if you take out one thing, and that is the power of God."

Just as God directly intervened on Israel's behalf in this war, Beck explained, so too did He intervene on America's behalf during the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 by creating "miracle after miracle after miracle after miracle."

The point of all this, Beck said, is that if we are humble and seek God's protection, then "He will help us with survival."

"We cannot separate ourselves from the plans of heaven," he declared. "When you are humble enough to make sure you are on His side, He will intervene and if you are humble and worthy, He will ensure your survival."

Sandy Rios: Trump Supporters Need AR-15s To Defend Themselves

American Family Association official Sandy Rios discussed the need for AR-15s to remain legal on her radio show on Monday, saying that Donald Trump supporters could have used AR-15s to protect themselves from violent protesters at a receny rally in San Jose, California.

Omar Mateen, the shooter responsible for the massacre in Orlando, used a Sig Sauer MCX, which is “similar to an AR-15.”

“The semi-automatic AR-15, which is routinely confused as being a machine gun or fully automatic weapon, is one of the most popular rifles in the United States and, of course, a lot of discussion is, you know, why would anybody need that?” Rios said, later adding, “I think the fact that we are in great danger might be a reason why we would need it.”

Rios said police officers “need to be armed at least as well as the drug cartels, as the Islamists, as the, you know, whoever is getting guns. They need to have at least the ability to have the same kind of firepower as these would-be killers. And I think they know the argument could be made for American citizens. We have to be able to protect ourselves, obviously.”

She continued, “Remember those protests at a Donald Trump rally in California where a man in a wheelchair was attacked, a woman was attacked, not attacked, but she was hit by eggs in the face and surrounded by a mob of men? It’s just, I do think, you know, people are understanding. That’s probably why 30,000 AR-15s sold since the Orlando shooting.”

Larry Pratt: 'Control The Amount Of Booze' Bars Sell So That Patrons Can Carry Firearms

Larry Pratt, the executive director emeritus of Gun Owners of America, often blames mass shootings on a lack of armed “good guys with guns” ready to take down a shooter, saying that the ideal situation is for everyone to pack heat when they go to churchschool, a political event or a bar.

Pratt was questioned about this vision on CNN yesterday during a discussion of the recent mass shooting at a Florida gay club, which Pratt persisted in calling a “gun-free zone” despite the fact that shooter was met by an armed guard. After Pratt criticized Florida for preventing patrons of establishments that serve alcohol from carrying concealed firearms, Costello responded that “when people drink the state of Florida probably doesn't think it's a very good idea to arm patrons."

The solution to this, Pratt responded, was not to regulate guns at bars but for bars to “control the amount of booze” they sell so that patrons can remain armed.

Crooks and Liars caught the exchange:

David Clarke: Trump Slamming 'Mexican' Judge Just Like Saying Obama Is The First Black President

On his radio show June 11, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke defended Donald Trump for accusing Gonzalo Curiel, the U.S.-born judge presiding over the Trump University case, of being biased because he is “Mexican.”

“We do it every day with Barack Obama, the first African-American president,” Clarke said. “We’re pointing out his ethnicity.”

“To me, Barack Obama is the 44th  president of the United States,” Clarke said. “I mean, I look at myself. I refer to myself as an American first, and I happen to be black.” To further defend Trump, Clarke pointed out Mexican is a nationality, not a race.

“What we’ve done in this society, in this hyphenated society that we live in today, everybody is something-hyphen-American,” Clarke said. “German-American, French-American, Asian-American, African-American, Mexican-American. And it’s fine, I’m not against it. But don’t tell me that it’s okay if people wanna use it to their advantage when it suits them, and then when someone else points out, ‘Hey, you’re a Mexican-American, oh, you’re a Mexican,’ that they’re going to get offended by it, that it now becomes a slur? You must be kidding me.”

Self-Proclaimed LGBT Hero Donald Trump To Announce Advisory Board Of Anti-LGBT Activists

Donald Trump, the self-proclaimed hero of the LGBT community, is slated to unveil a religious advisory board filled with outspoken opponents of LGBT rights this week, coinciding with his meeting tomorrow with hundreds of Religious Right leaders.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the group is likely to include longtime supporters such as televangelist Paula White, Liberty University President Jerry Falwell, Jr., and Southern Baptist pastor Robert Jeffress.

Others expected to join the board include Ralph Reed, who recently introduced Trump at an event hosted by his Faith and Freedom Coalition, Ronnie Floyd and Jack Graham, the current and past presidents of the Southern Baptist Convention, respectively, and Jay Strack of the Orlando-based Student Leadership University.

The choice of these activists as campaign advisers would further undermine Trump’s attempts — bolstered by some in the media — to portray himself as either supportive of gay rights or at least distanced from the GOP’s anti-LGBT politics.

Jeffress, as we’ve noted, “believes that gays and lesbians are ‘perverse’ people who are either pedophiles or likely to abuse children in the future; compared homosexuality to bestiality and called it ‘a miserable lifestyle’; accused gay people of using ‘brainwashing techniques’ to have homosexuality ‘crammed down our throats’; said that gay people ‘are engaged in the most detestable, unclean, abominable acts you can imagine’; predicted that the gay rights movement ‘will pave the way for that future world dictator, the Antichrist’; and labeled homosexuality a ‘filthy practice’ that will lead to the ‘implosion of our country.’”

Floyd, the SBC president, once said that Satan is using the “gay lifestyle” to destroy cultural values and labeled the adoption of children by same-sex couples a “tragedy”:

It appears now that everywhere you look, everything you read and everything you hear is about the gay lifestyle. Satan has taken his tool of homosexuality, a gross and evil sin, and done a con job on the American culture, making it seem like all is okay when you are gay. I hope you are aware that what was once subtle has now turned into the rage of a lion as brazen and threatening as anything in our culture. I must sound the trumpet loud and clear, praying that we do not run in retreat, but march in the truth of God valiantly. This is not a skirmish or a conflict or a disagreement, but it is a war. The war they have declared against our culture has an agenda and we need to be aware of it.



The attack everywhere in our culture is to get you to see the gay lifestyle or gay couples as being the same as you. The agenda is also trying to desensitize you to them, their verbiage and lifestyle. In other words, "if you get use to us you will eventually ignore us or accept us." The bombardment and intentionality is already so great that the desensitization is already occurring. Of course, inclusiveness is their theme song. Their goal is to get themselves included into all of society and its benefits, including benefits economically. As they play the song of "inclusiveness," gay couples are now adopting children. What a tragedy. As each of us desire, the homosexual and lesbian want affirmation and will do whatever it takes to receive it. The love and acceptance they have found in the homosexual community is what lured them there and will keep them there until God intervenes.

Graham, one of Floyd’s predecessors in leading the SBC, has a similar view, telling his congregation recently that “the LBGT [sic] promotes a godless agenda, and now on the backs of many confused and conflicted people, are opening the door, literally, to perversion of all kinds.” Last year, he encouraged civil disobedience to protest the Supreme Court’s landmark marriage equality ruling.

Reed has used his Faith and Freedom Coalition to regularly attack LGBT rights and Falwell’s Liberty University is well-known for its rules against homosexuality and support for anti-gay activism.

Other Trump-backing pastors include Frank Amedia, Trump’s “liaison for Christian policy,” who has described HIV/AIDS as “a disease that comes because of unnatural sex” and said he would be willing to burn to death to resist LGBT rights, and Carl Gallups, a pastor who spoke before Trump at a Florida rally and whose endorsement was touted by Trump’s campaign, who believes, as we recently summarized, that “same-sex marriage will completely destroy society by bringing about economic turmoilsevere persecutionthe ‘enslavement’ of Christians and divine punishment.”

By Refusing To Vote For Trump, Glenn Beck Is Standing Against 'The Entire World,' Just Like Gandhi And Nelson Mandela

Glenn Beck literally spent the first two hours of his radio program today laying out some ridiculous two-chalkboard theory that he crafted over the weekend which he thinks explains all of human history and now offers America one last option for escaping inevitable destruction.

The theory was so convoluted and nonsensical that we're not even going to bother trying to explain it, but part of it involved leaders like Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Pope John Paul II and Church of Latter Day Saints president Ezra Taft Benson, whom Beck credited with destroying communism.

Somehow, the discussion of these leaders prompted Beck to reference a piece in Townhall today purporting to offer him a way out of his pledge never to support Donald Trump .

"Sitting at home on your moral high horse and refusing to vote is the comfortable thing to do," the column stated of Beck's refusal to vote for Trump and Beck took great offense to that ... and did so by comparing himself to Reagan and Gandhi and Nelson Mandela.

"You have got to be kidding me," Beck said. "You are clueless ... You want the hard road? You stand up when the entire world is against you. That's the hard road! That's the road that Reagan and Thatcher and John Paul took. They took the hard road. That's the road that Nelson Mandela and Gandhi and Martin Luther King took, when the entire world was against them!"

Trump Ally Wayne Allyn Root: Hispanics And Muslims Need To Apologize

Wayne Allyn Root, an activist who has campaigned with Donald Trump and fed him conspiracy theories, demanded last week that American Muslims and Latinos apologize for terrorism and crime, claiming that “if Jews were running over the border and illegally coming into America and they all wanted welfare and some of them turned out to be terrorists,” he would similarly want them barred from the country.

“I’ve never seen any major protest by Muslims in the United States of America, like in Dearborn, Michigan, which is a majority-Muslim city, I’ve never seen anyone apologize for their own people,” Root told Florida talk radio host Joyce Kaufman during a discussion of the recent mass shooting in Orlando. “I happen to be Jewish, Joyce. And if Jews were running over the border and illegally coming into America and they all wanted welfare and some of them turned out to be terrorists, some of them turn out to be drunk drivers murdering people, some of them were just murderers and rapists, I would have no problem saying let’s seal the border, I don’t want any more Israelis coming over the border. None. I can’t take it anymore. I have no problem, I’m not a hypocrite. So even if they were my fellow Jews, it doesn’t matter. I like my fellow Jews if they’re law-abiding.”

“So I don’t understand why there’s no Muslims speaking out,” he said, “I don’t understand why there’s no Hispanics speaking out and saying, ‘By the way, I’m Hispanic, I love Hispanics, I want Donald Trump to love Hispanics, but we need a wall because I want legal Hispanics, not illegal Hispanics.’”

Kaufman, who is of Puerto Rican descent, countered that at least she is speaking out.

Walid Shoebat: The Zika Virus Is 'God's Punishment For Sin'

Writing on his website over the weekend, Walid Shoebat, the supposed ex-terrorist who is now an extremist anti-Muslim and anti-gay activist, declared that the Zika virus is "God’s punishment for sin."

As Shoebat explains it, the world has turned away from God and so God is now "using mosquitos again to punish the world for drugs, promiscuity and faithlessness" in order to "force sinners into repentance":

Just yesterday, the CDC finally admitted we have a very serious problem. It estimates that 25 percent of the population of Puerto Rico will be infected with Zika virus which causes shrinked heads in new-born babies as you see in the photo above.

25% is a huge number.

Is this God’s punishment for sin?

I believe so.

Want biblical evidence do I have for this?

God says throughout the Bible that He can only put up with so much. When God gets angry at times He sends His private armies. In Joel 1-2 it was locusts and in Isaiah 18:1-6 it was mosquitos. Read the verses.

In recent history in the nineteenth century the West finally dealt with the plague of Islam by building massive weapons. God on the other hand pitched in and used locusts to end the Muslim Ottoman plague.

He also used mosquitos to change history when the Americas gained their independence.

Now it seems that He is using mosquitos again to punish the world for drugs, promiscuity and faithlessness.

Most modern Christians have lost touch with the way God operates. They do not understand God and think that He thinks like them. God in the Bible “punishes the fathers upon the children”:

The LORD [is] longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing [the guilty], visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth [generation]. (Numbers 14:18)

It is time people think in reverse and perhaps then they can understand God.

In God’s view such curses to mankind are meant to force sinners into repentance for leaving Him no choice. Most people are oblivious to how God manages sinners. Most modern Christians describe God as an accepting-loving teddy-bear.

He is not.

...

The sexual revolution which took place in the 1960’s and 70’s opened the door to what is known in modern times as causal sex. But when the fear of God doesn’t stop the trend of having sex without attachment and purely for physical satisfaction or indulgence, then God acts.

So God sends the female Aedes aegypti mosquito. The blood-sucking females are responsible for the spread of dangerous diseases such as yellow and dengue fevers, chikungunya and now Zika.

PFAW Releases New Report: The 2016 Election and the Economic War on Women

Today, People For the American Way (PFAW) released a new report, “The 2016 Election and the Economic War on Women,” detailing Republicans’ opposition to measures essential to women’s economic livelihood including paid family and sick leave, equal pay, affordable childcare, and protections from workplace discrimination.

The report discusses Donald Trump’s troubling rhetoric and Republican leaders’ harmful records on many of these policies. It also examines why these policies are critical for women, details the support these issues enjoy from the American public and businesses alike, and exposes and counters the right-wing groups that push back against these policies.

“Our political leaders – whether they describe themselves as ‘pro-choice’ or ‘pro-life,’ Republican or Democratic – should support the policies that are critical to women’s economic success, like affordable childcare and paid family and sick leave,” said PFAW Senior Researcher for Special Projects Miranda Blue. “Yet with the backing of right-wing groups, the Republican leadership in Congress continues to put up roadblocks against progress on these and other key economic policies for American women. And Donald Trump’s offensive and obtuse comments on these issues show how much a Trump presidency could hold back working women in our country.”

You can read the report here. To schedule an interview with a PFAW expert on these issues, please email media@pfaw.org.

People For the American Way is a progressive advocacy organization founded to fight right-wing extremism and defend constitutional values including free expression, religious liberty, equal justice under the law, and the right to meaningfully participate in our democracy.

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Andrew McCarthy: Orlando Transcripts Redacted Because 'The Government Is Becoming Sharia-Adherent'

Andrew McCarthy, a one-time national security adviser to Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign, said today that the Justice Department’s decision to redact parts of a transcript of the Orlando terrorist’s 911 calls in which he states his allegiance to “a person and groups” shows that “the government is becoming Sharia-adherent.”

Attorney General Loretta Lynch has said that portions of the calls were redacted because the administration does not want to “further proclaim this man's pledges of allegiance to terrorist groups, and further his propaganda.”

But McCarthy didn’t buy this explanation, telling Breitbart’s Stephen Bannon today that it’s all part of a plot to suppress the truth on Islamic terrorism, just like the plot to suppress the truth about “what they call ‘climate change’”:

No, it’s clearly that the government is becoming Sharia-adherent. And the left is using the same tactic with respect to law enforcement against radical Islamic extremism as it uses in the area of what they call ‘climate change.’ That is, they have an official version of events which may be part of a counter-universe, but it’s their story and they’re sticking to it, and what they’re trying to do is purge any alternative explanation.

So the administration has the position that violent extremism, which is what they call it, is disconnected from any credible interpretation of Islam, that Islam is singularly a religion of peace and there is to be no other interpretation of it and therefore anything that shows the direct nexus between Islamic doctrine and jihadist terror is to be suppressed.

Bryan Fischer: 'Homosexuals Were At The Core Of Forming The Nazi Party'

On his radio program on Friday, Bryan Fischer took some time out to pat himself on the back for being one of the only people brave enough to admit "the truth" that Adolf Hitler was gay and that "homosexuals helped to form and shape and mold the Nazi party."

The inspiration for this celebration was Jonah Goldberg's appearance on Fox News last week where he asserted that he knows "for a fact that a lot of the founders of the Nazi Party were gays," which Fischer noted is what he has been saying for at least seven years.

Fischer declared that nobody else within the conservative movement has been willing to admit this historical fact because they saw what happened to him when first did so several years back.

"I said that back in 2009, got absolutely hammered, got absolutely blistered," Fischer said, "and I think what happened is people like Jonah Goldberg saw what happened to somebody who was willing to step out and tell the truth about the origins of the Nazi party, that it was rooted in the homosexual movement, homosexual community; it was formed in a gay bar in Munich, most of the officers of the SA, the Stormtroopers, were homosexuals, you had no chance of advancing in the Stormtroopers unless you were a practicing homosexual."

After claiming that the infamous "Night of the Long Knives" was really directed at eliminating Nazi insiders who were about to "out" Hitler to the German public, Fischer declared that he originally made this case back in 2009 and 2010 because the U.S. government was discussing the possible repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

"That was the discussion at the time," Fischer said, "what about homosexuality in the military? And my point was very simple: That's been tried. Nazi Germany tried that. How did that experiment work out?"

Fischer's claims about the Nazis are, of course, entirely untrue.

The 2016 Election and the Economic War on Women

After President Obama’s decisive reelection in 2012, the Republican National Committee commissioned an “autopsy report” to examine how the party could perform better among demographic groups that had overwhelmingly rejected Republicans that year. One of the groups the RNC was concerned about was women, many of whom had become alienated by the GOP’s “war on women,” a steady crusade of regressive policies paired with mind-bogglingly insensitive and out-of-touch remarks.

That project hasn’t exactly been a success. GOP-led state legislatures have continued their assault on safe and legal abortion, enacting 288 abortion restrictions in the past five years, more than a quarter of all of those enacted since Roe v. Wade. And some have considered drastic anti-abortion measures like a bill passed in Oklahoma that would have made providing an abortion a felony and so-called “personhood” measures that would ban all abortion and even threaten legal birth control that were considered in several states this year.

Further cementing the GOP’s continued problem with women voters is the success of Donald Trump, who is now the party’s presumptive presidential nominee.

Not only does Trump have a long history of making insulting and dehumanizing comments about women, he has suggested that there should be “some form of punishment” for women who have abortions, conceding that if abortion is recriminalized, as he would like, some women will be forced into the back alleys to obtain the procedure.

But the GOP’s war on women goes far beyond Trump and beyond the contentious issue of abortion rights. The party has shown few signs of relenting on key policy proposals that affect women’s economic freedom.

Paid family and sick leave, fair wages, access to child care, and the ability of women to start families without facing discrimination in the workplace are matters that affect millions of women every day.

These are causes that should unite those who identify as “pro-life” and those who call themselves “pro-choice.”

The right to reproductive freedom includes the right to choose to have a child without risking your livelihood or your economic future. And, while women should be free to obtain a safe and legal abortion for any reason, a truly “pro-life” approach would alleviate the economic risks around childbearing rather than putting women at risk by criminalizing abortion. As a 2005 study by the Guttmacher Institute found, three-quarters of women who sought abortions cited economic concerns or the pressures of work, school and caring for dependents.

What’s more, these policies are broadly popular with the American public. A 2015 poll found that 81 percent of voters, including 65 percent of Republicans, agreed that “workplace rules to ensure equal pay, paid time off to care for family members and affordable child care ‘is good for our nation.’”

Candidates running in both parties for all levels of office — especially those who identify as “pro-life” — should be asked where they stand on efforts to give women a true choice in their futures.

 

Paid Family Leave & Sick Leave

The U.S. is the only industrialized country in the world that does not guarantee paid maternity leave for new mothers. In fact, when the International Labor Organization looked at maternity leave policies in 188 countries, just the U.S. and Papua New Guinea lacked such a policy.

This means that even as companies like Google and Facebook earn headlines as they attempt to woo highly educated, high-earning men and women with offers of more and more generous parental leave, millions of parents are left behind. According to the Department of Labor, just “12 percent of U.S. private sector workers have access to paid family leave through their employer.” Public sector employees don’t fare much better. According to 2015 Bureau of Labor Statistics data, only 18 percent of state government employees and 15 percent of local government employees had access to paid family leave.

Although the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 requires many employers to offer new parents an option to take unpaid leave without risking their jobs, as the Labor Department notes, “Too many workers still cannot afford to take unpaid leave because of the loss of income it entails, or have to cut their leave short because of financial or workplace pressures.” A 2015 analysis of a 2012 Labor Department survey found that nearly one in four women returned to work within two weeks of giving birth; while 80 percent of women with college degrees were able to take at least six weeks of maternity leave, only 54 percent of those without college degrees did so.

Five states have enacted their own paid family leave laws, although two have yet to take effect, and five have paid sick leave requirements, one of which is set to take effect next year. One study of California’s family leave law, which was implemented in 2004, found that “87 percent of employers surveyed noted that family leave did not result in any cost increases, and about 9 percent of employers noted that the program had generated cost savings due to coordination of their own benefits with the family leave program and reduced employee turnover.”

Even as municipalities across the country work to enact their own paid parental and sick leave laws, a countertrend has emerged among states with conservative leadership, which have begun passing “preemption” laws blocking localities from guaranteeing paid leave.

According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, this strategy “first appeared in 2011 in Wisconsin, where the state legislature passed, and Governor Scott Walker signed, legislation to effectively void a Milwaukee paid sick days measure that passed in 2008 with the approval of nearly 70 percent of voters.” Behind that bill was the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a secretive group that helps corporate interests feed policy to legislators. The National Restaurant Association and a local chapter of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce also lobbied for the bill. ALEC and the Restaurant Association then helped to push preemption laws to at 16 other states, with even more states considering similar legislation this year.

The American Prospect notes that “The National Federation of Independent [Business], a Washington-based group that has received large donations from Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS and the Koch brothers’ American Prosperity Foundation (yet calls itself the ‘voice of small business’), has waged campaigns against at least 21 paid-sick-leave bills, issuing local reports with high estimates of the cost to businesses.”

Efforts to strengthen federal family and sick leave protections have also met resistance.

The Healthy Families Act, a bill that would allow “workers in businesses with 15 or more employees to earn up to seven job-protected paid sick days each year to be used to recover from their own illnesses, access preventive care, provide care to a sick family member, or attend school meetings related to a child’s health condition or disability,” has failed to become law in the more than a decade that it has been proposed. In 2015, a filibuster-proof majority of the Senate, including 14 Republicans, approved a largely symbolic budget amendment backing a similar plan, showing a possible path forward. Unfortunately, the already nonbinding language was watered down further before a final budget was passed by Congress.

Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York has introduced a bill called the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act (FAMILY Act) that would provide eligible workers with up to 12 weeks of paid leave at two-thirds of their wages “for a personal or family member’s medical emergency, including those arising from service members’ deployment, or to care for a newborn or adopted baby.” The leave would be funded by a small payroll tax, split evenly between employees and employers, which the National Partnership calculates would come out to about $1.50 per worker per week.

Both candidates running for the Democratic presidential nomination support expanding family leave; Sen. Bernie Sanders supports the Gillibrand bill while Hillary Clinton has proposed a similar plan with a different funding mechanism.

In 2015, President Obama ordered federal agencies to advance up to six weeks of paid sick leave to their employees to care for a new child and urged Congress to pass legislation granting federal employees an additional six weeks of paid administrative leave after a birth or adoption. Before the president took action, the federal government offered no specifically designated paid family leave, a situation that New York Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney has called “embarrassing.” Maloney’s Federal Employee Paid Parental Leave Act, which would grant six weeks of paid family leave to federal employees, passed the House in 2009 with the support of most Democrats and 24 Republicans but was not acted on in the Senate. The bill has gone nowhere since Republicans gained control of the House.

Trump has signaled his resistance to federal paid family leave protections, calling pregnancy an “inconvenience” to businesses and saying that “there are a lot of people discussing it” but “we have to keep our country very competitive, so you have to be careful of it.” Trump’s closest competitor in the GOP presidential race, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, said of paid family leave: “I think maternity leave and paternity leave are wonderful things. I support them personally. But I don’t think the federal government should be in the business of mandating them.” 

House Speaker Paul Ryan has taken a similar tone, speaking frequently about the importance of spending time with his family but saying that doesn’t translate into support for a paid family leave law: “I don’t think that sticking up for being a person with balance in your life, for wanting to spend your weekends in your home with your family… I don’t think that means signing up for some new unfunded mandate.”

One 2016 Republican presidential candidate, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, did technically propose a paid family leave plan. However, his plan to offer tax credits to companies that provide leave rather than requiring it would have exacerbated the inequalities that already exist in family leave policies.

Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, who chairs the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, has said that expanding paid family leave will “reduce” Americans’ “freedoms.”

The National Federation of Independent Business, a Koch-funded group, has come out against expanded leave requirements. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the behemoth lobbying group that claims to represent American business interests as a whole but is instead largely funded by a handful of companies, lists as policy priorities opposing efforts to “make FMLA leave paid or to mandate paid sick leave.” This stance, however, runs against the priorities of many business executives, who, according to leaked documents from a conservative polling firm, overwhelmingly support increasing paid parental leave and requiring paid sick leave. Sixty-three percent of those polled were members of local, state or federal chambers of commerce.

 

Equal Pay

According to the latest data from the American Association of University Women, women who work full time, year round still earn just 79 cents for every dollar earned by men, a gap that is even worse for Latina and African American women. Gaps persist even among those with equal educational attainment and those working in the same industry.  Childbirth can exacerbate the gap: One 2014 study found that while men’s earnings increased when they had children, women saw their pay drop.

The National Partnership for Women and Families notes that “mothers are primary or sole breadwinners in more than 40 percent of families, and about 31 percent of female-headed households have incomes that fall below the poverty level.”

Trump has said that the solution to the pay gap is for women to “do as good a job” as men. One of Trump’s prominent supporters, anti-feminist activist Phyllis Schlafly, has claimed that “the pay gap, really, is something that women like” because women “like to marry a man who makes more than she does.”

From 2011 to 2014, Senate Republicans blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act four times. The act, which Clinton and Sanders both support, would eliminate loopholes in and add enforcement tools to the 1963 Equal Pay Act.

Threats to equal pay go beyond legislative inaction. In 2008, the conservative majority of the Supreme Court ruled against Lilly Ledbetter, a longtime employee of a Goodyear Tire plant who found out late in her career that she had been being paid less than her male colleagues for decades. After a jury awarded Ledbetter the back pay she had earned, Goodyear appealed the case to the Supreme Court, which ruled that Ledbetter had run out the statute of limitations for filing suit before she had even known that she had been the victim of discrimination. The Ledbetter decision was remedied in 2009 when President Obama signed a bill, passed over Republican opposition, that clarified the statute of limitations for pay discrimination claims.

The case highlights the importance of the court system in ensuring economic justice for women. The opinion in the Ledbetter case was written by George W. Bush appointee Justice Samuel Alito, whose ultra-conservative ideology is similar to many of the judges whom Trump has said he would consider elevating to the Supreme Court and those he would be likely to nominate to lower federal courts.

As the courts continue to determine the limits of workplace protections for women including, recently, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, it is important to have courts that will give fair consideration to working people, including women.

 

Minimum wage

The National Women’s Law Center calculates that women make up “nearly two-thirds of minimum wage workers and two-thirds of tipped workers.”  According to the Economic Policy Institute, raising the minimum wage to $12 by 2020 would result in a raise for 27 percent of working moms and 40 percent of single moms.

The National Women’s Law Center calculates, “A woman working full time at minimum wage earns just $14,500 annually, more than $4,500 below the poverty line for a mother with two children.”

What’s more, the Law Center has found that states with higher minimum wages also have lower gender pay gaps. An Economic Policy Institute study found that in states that increased their minimum wage in 2015 (either by legislation or a scheduled index increase), wages grew faster for low-wage workers as a whole.

The last time the federal minimum wage was increased was 2009, when it was bumped to $7.25 an hour; the tipped minimum wage has remained at $2.13 per hour since 1991. Periodic increases in the minimum wage have failed to keep up with inflation; in fact, adjusted for inflation, the federal minimum wage peaked in 1968.

President Obama backs a plan in Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020. Clinton also backs raising the federal minimum wage to $12  and has supported some state and local efforts to raise the minimum wage to $15; Sanders has called for a $15 federal minimum wage.

Both of these plans would phase out the tipped minimum wage so that all workers are entitled to the same minimum wage before tips. The National Women’s Law Center has found that eliminating the tipped minimum wage narrows the wage gap and lowers poverty rates for women working full time jobs. According to a study by the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, “Women living off tips in states with a $2.13 an hour tipped minimum wage are twice as likely to experience sexual harassment than women in states that pay the full minimum wage to all workers.”

Donald Trump, meanwhile, said last year that not only would he not raise the minimum wage, but that American wages are “too high.” He later seemed to express openness to a minimum wage hike, only to clarify that he meant that the matter should be left to the states.

Many states and localities have indeed stepped in to fill the gap left by federal inaction on the minimum wage: 29 states and the District of Columbia now have minimum wages above the federal minimum and the National Employment Law Project counts dozens of municipalities with their own minimum wages, 18 of which have been passed in 2015 and 2016 alone. Still, this leaves 21 states, including a swath across the Deep South, that still rely on the baseline federal minimum wage.

A backlash against the recent wave of municipal minimum wage laws has come in the form of “preemption” bills similar to those used to stop sick leave protections, which prevent municipalities in a given state from enacting their own minimum wage protections. As of March, 19 states had enacted these laws, which have been promoted by ALEC and sometimes copied verbatim from ALEC model legislation. One such law recently enacted in Alabama was targeted at undoing a Birmingham ordinance that hiked the city’s minimum wage to $10.10.

At the federal level, resistance to minimum wage increases is led in part by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which says one of its policy priorities is to “oppose efforts to increase the minimum wage and to index the minimum wage to inflation or any other factor that will automatically increase labor costs.” Like with paid family and sick leave, the Chamber is out of step with many business leaders on the minimum wage issue: the leaked poll of executives found that 80 percent supported a minimum wage increase and just eight percent opposed it.

Another major player in the efforts to oppose minimum wage hikes, including a long-overdue increase in the tipped minimum wage, is the National Restaurant Association, a lobbying group for the restaurant and food service industry which, according to Pew, is “the single biggest employer of near-minimum-wage workers.” Women make up 52 percent of restaurant employees and 66 percent of tipped restaurant workers. According to a 2014 report by the Restaurant Opportunities Center United, “The median wage for tipped workers hovers around $9 an hour including tips.”

The Restaurant Association has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars opposing minimum wage increases at the state and federal level. The group spent $4.25 million lobbying at the federal level just last year. The Restaurant Association’s PAC has already contributed more than $400,000 to federal candidates this election cycle, the bulk of it to Republicans.

Corporate Accountability International notes that many candidates get additional contributions from major corporate members of the Restaurant Association. It’s these powerful transnational corporations like McDonald’s and Darden Restaurants — not small mom-and-pop businesses — that are “the driving force behind the [National Restaurant Association’s] policy agenda,” the watchdog group says.

 

Affordable Child Care

According to a 2015 report from the Economic Policy Institute, average child care costs exceed 30 percent of a minimum-wage worker’s income in every state. Child Care Aware has found that in 2014 in 28 states and the District of Columbia, the cost of center-based care for an infant was more than the in-state tuition at a public college. The group found that “In all regions of the United States, average child care fees for an infant in a child care center are more than the average amount that families spend on food.”

Clinton has proposed capping child care costs at 10 percent of a family’s income using a combination of tax credits and subsidized care, while Sanders has called for greatly expanded investments in child care. Trump, meanwhile, has suggested leaving child care to the whims of employers, saying that it’s “not expensive” for businesses to provide on-site child care for employees — even though only seven percent of employers currently provide on-site or nearby child care. Trump responded to one question about child care affordability by saying “I love children,” before telling his female questioner, “It’s a big subject, darling.” Trump revealed his lack of personal experience in this area in 2005 when he said that he doesn’t “do anything to take care of” his children, adding that men who participate in child care are acting “like the wife.”

As the American Prospect noted last year, “American child care policy has faced two uphill battles: opposition by economic conservatives to increased public spending and opposition by social conservatives to government policies they see as disadvantaging families with stay-at-home mothers.”

However, in recent years there has been some bipartisan progress made toward expanding access to affordable child care. In 2014, the Senate passed 97-1 and the House passed by voice vote legislation reauthorizing the Child Care and Development Block Grant, which provides federal funding (matched by state contributions) to states to help low-income families afford child care and improve the quality of care. The reauthorization increases health and safety requirements for child care, encourages greater improvements to the quality of care, and aims to make it easier for families to get and keep child care assistance. (Unfortunately, Congress has not provided the significant new funding necessary to cover the increased costs entailed in meeting the law’s requirements.) When President Obama proposed expanding the child care tax credit in his State of the Union speech the next year, then-House Speaker John Boehner seemed receptive to the idea, saying that it was “certainly something we’d look at.”

Measures that give all women and families a true choice in shaping their futures should appeal to Republicans and Democrats, pro-choicers and pro-lifers. These are a few places to start.

 

Major players working to stop women’s economic freedom measures

American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)

As People For the American Way wrote in a report on ALEC, the organization “is a one-stop shop for corporations looking to identify friendly state legislators and work with them to get special-interest legislation introduced.” Corporations pay dues to the organization and earn the privilege to meet with state legislatures and present them with corporate-friendly model legislation.

ALEC bills that have spread across conservative state legislatures have included voter ID restrictions, tax cuts for the wealthy, attempts to undercut the Affordable Care Act, and so-called “right to work” laws that are meant to weaken labor unions.

ALEC has also been behind the push, discussed in this report, to pass state “preemption” laws preventing localities from enacting their own paid sick leave and minimum wage standards.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is a behemoth lobbying group that, while claiming to represent the interests of American businesses as a whole, is sometimes at odds with its local chapters and its individual members.

The Chamber is one of the largest spenders in U.S. elections. In the 2014 election cycle, the group spent more than $35 million in independent expenditures, mostly on behalf of Republican candidates. Already in 2016, the Chamber has spent $13 million in independent expenditures — again, mostly on behalf of Republicans. The Chamber also spends an enormous amount of money lobbying Congress and federal agencies, $124 million in 2014 and $84 million in 2015.

While the Chamber says it represents members ranging “from mom-and-pop shops and local chambers to leading industry associations and large corporations,” in reality much of its funding comes from large corporate interests and political groups. An Open Secrets analysis has found multimillion dollar contributions to the Chamber from Freedom Partners, the main group through which the billionaire Koch brothers funnel their considerable political spending, and Crossroads GPS, a political group started by former George W. Bush strategist Karl Rove. In fact, half of the money that the Chamber took in in 2012 came from just 64 large donors.

The Chamber is an ever-present force in efforts to stop paid family leave and sick leave and raising the minimum wage, all of which it lists as among its 2016 policy priorities. The group also opposes the Paycheck Fairness Act and it opposed the bill undoing the Ledbetter decision.

National Restaurant Association (NRA)

Known as “the other NRA,” the National Restaurant Association is a lobbying group funded by some of the largest U.S. restaurant chains that has worked to fight restaurant regulations including menu labeling requirements and guidelines on marketing junk food to kids. The Restaurant Association has been a leading opponent of minimum wage hikes across the country, along with opposing paid sick leave legislation and working to limit the scope of the Affordable Care Act. In one extreme example, the group spent $100,000 to defeat a paid sick leave ballot measure in Denver. The Restaurant Association has worked with ALEC to push for state “preemption” laws that prevent municipalities from enacting their own minimum wage and paid sick leave laws.

So far this year, the Restaurant Association has spent $1.5 million on federal lobbying and its PAC has contributed $400,000 to federal candidates, 87 percent of it to Republicans. This is on top of hefty contributions from some of the association’s largest members.

National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB)

While the NFIB describes itself as “the voice of small business,” it has received millions of dollars “in secret contributions from groups associated with Karl Rove and the Koch Brothers” according to the Huffington Post, and uses the vast majority of its political spending to back Republican candidates.

As Mother Jones noted in 2012, “few among the legions of small business owners that [NFIB] represents will benefit from its lobbying,” which has skewed toward the priorities of the ultra-rich, including opposing tax hikes on the wealthy. NFIB has fought to stop drinking water protections and climate change action and was the lead plaintiff in NFIB v. Sebelius, a major challenge to the Affordable Care Act. The NFIB has used its status as the supposed “voice of small business” to oppose paid family leave and sick leave policies and minimum wage increases.

Major Win for Democracy in New York

Last week New York became the 17th state to formally call for a constitutional amendment to overturn Supreme Court decisions such as Citizens United. This landmark achievement came as the result of a multiyear collaborative campaign involving several advocacy groups including People For the American Way.

On behalf of the 156,000 PFAW members who live in New York, Government By the People Campaign Manager Rio Tazewell spoke at the state capitol in Albany on Wednesday to help commemorate this significant victory. After remarks from activists, organizational leaders, and lawmakers, a strategy session was held to discuss what comes next for democracy reform organizing in the state of New York.

Over twenty municipalities from across the state including Buffalo, Syracuse, Albany, Mt. Vernon, Ithaca and New York City have passed resolutions supporting an amendment to the constitution. Moreover, since 2010 — the year of the Citizens United decision — nearly 700 cities and towns nationally have passed resolutions calling for an amendment and more than five million petition signatures have been gathered in support.

People in this country want a government that represents them and their interests. In New York and across the nation, poll after poll shows that reforming our big money system is a top priority for Americans. Not only does this win help affirm the hard work and value of partnerships on the ground between activists, organizations and lawmakers, it helps drive a national narrative that the days of Citizens United are numbered.

PFAW

Right Wing Round-Up - 6/17/16

  • Simon Maloy @ Salon: Ted Cruz’s awful terrorism speech: The 2016 drop-out has some terrible opinions about fighting extremism. 
  • Carl Schreck @ RFE/RL: 'Shame They Didn't Croak': Russian 'Young Leader' Outrages With Homophobic Rant After Orlando Massacre.

Right Wing Bonus Tracks - 6/17/16

  • The “unskewed polls” movement returns
  • Sean Hannity floats the idea of deposing House Speaker Paul Ryan for daring to criticize Donald Trump. 
  • Sam Brownback’s “real live experiment” in Kansas continues to be a disaster
  • Cliff Kincaid says: ‘We Need More Islamophobia, Not Less.’ 
  • FRC commends a California church for ousting its pastor after he objected to a policy that would “effectively exclude homosexual individuals” from church life.

Paranoia-Rama: Far-Right Reactions To Orlando Edition

RWW’s Paranoia-Rama takes a look at five of the week’s most absurd conspiracy theories from the Right.

It took almost no time at all for conservative pundits and politicians to claim that President Obama either wanted the terrorist attack in Orlando to take place or will use the tragedy to advance his nefarious agenda.

5) False Flag!

As expected, InfoWars broadcaster Alex Jones swiftly declared that the Orlando massacre was a government-instigated false flag attack.

According to Jones, President Obama and other leaders are trying to encourage Muslims to settle in America in hopes that they will soon turn to violence, which will in turn justify government attempts to censor speech and seize firearms: “Our governments are bringing these people in and they’re allowing them to operate openly in our society so they can attack us and then have our freedoms taken.”

The fact that the shooter was born in New York didn’t stop Jones from blaming “the Islamic invasion” of America through immigration.

Later, Jones accused the LGBT rights movement of allying with Islamic extremists because both groups “want access to our kids” to sexually abuse them.

“I charge the left and I charge Obama and I charge the LGBT community in general with endangering America and with the blood of these 50-plus innocent men and women,” he said.

4) ‘Confiscate Muslims’

“Trunews” host Rick Wiles wants the government to go one step further than just banning Muslim immigration, telling his listeners that every single Muslim living in the U.S. must be rounded up and deported before Islam, which he said should be criminalized, “destroys civilization”:

The left is calling for gun control. What we need is Muslim control. We don’t need to confiscate guns, we need to confiscate Muslims. You’re not going to solve this problem until you round up the Muslims and ship them out of this country. End of discussion. Outlaw Islam. Make it an illegal religion. Don’t tell me it can’t be done. Pass a constitutional amendment that says we’re a Christian nation and Islam is illegal. Done. Get rid of it. Stamp it out before it destroys civilization.

3) Tom DeLay Has Some Thoughts

Former House GOP Leader Tom DeLay weighed in on the massacre in Orlando by telling Wiles that the president is a Marxist/Islamist anti-American mastermind who has “empowered” terrorist groups and “put American lives in danger.”

“He’s certainly a Muslim sympathizer and he’s scared to death that the United States and the people of the United States will go after and discriminate against Muslims and that’s why he can’t say the words, ‘radical Islamists,’” he said. “It’s his worldview. This is who he is. He was raised in a communist upbringing. He hates America.”

2) ‘Obama Intends To Take Control Of The Internet’

Apparently unaware of how net neutrality works, Rush Limbaugh said today that the president, when he commented that “deranged individuals” like the Orlando shooter are often “warped by the hateful propaganda that they had seen over the internet,” actually revealed that he “intends to take control of the internet, using this as justification,” linking it back to Obama’s support for net neutrality rules.

“Obama's takeover of the internet will not be to prevent these kinds of things from happening,” he said. “He's got an entirely different agenda. All the Democrats do. It's total control. It's limiting access to information. It's about shutting down opposition. That's why they want control of the internet.” Watch via Media Matters:

If Limbaugh is really worried about an American leader using terrorism as an excuse to “take control of the internet,” then he should look no further than Donald Trump.

1) Donald Trump Is Just Sayin’

During his egotistical and nauseating reaction to the Orlando massacre, Donald Trump made a not-so-thinly-veiled suggestion that the president may in fact be on the side of the terrorists.

As Trump often does, he framed the claim by saying that he was simply saying what “a lot of people” think, and that anyone who tries to hold him answerable for his remarks must be dishonest and biased.

After vigorously denying that he ever implied that Obama supported ISIS, he tweeted an article from the pro-Trump outlet Breitbart alleging that the administration is backing ISIS.

Trump’s insinuation that Obama is a champion of ISIS shouldn’t be that surprising, since he has repeatedly accused Obama of arming ISIS and claimed that the president “doesn’t want to get rid of the problem” of terrorism.

But that’s just what happens when the GOP decides to put up a notorious conspiracy theorist for the most powerful office in the world.

Trump's 'Christian Policy Liaison' Ready To Be Thrown In A Furnace In Protest Of LGBT Equality

While Donald Trump has been laughably trying to claim that he is the real champion of LGBT rights in the presidential race, just this week the man who he has recruited to help him build bridges with the Religious Right said that Christians must be willing to face death fighting Obama administration guidelines on transgender rights in schools.

Televangelist Frank Amedia, a volunteer “Christian policy liaison” for Trump who arranged a recent meeting for the candidate with conservative Christian leaders, addressed the transgender guidelines on the most recent episode of his Daystar program “Deep Calls to Deep.”

Amedia has said that Trump was “raised up” by God as part of a “breaker anointing” that is breaking down “established norms” in preparation for the return of Christ. He returned to this theme on the program, saying that this “breaker anointing” is “happening everywhere,” including politics, science and the schools.

This led him to the president’s “decree” on transgender students, which he likened to a story in the book of Daniel in which King Nebuchadnezzar demands that all local officials worship a huge gold statue of himself or be thrown into a furnace. Three Jews named Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refuse to do so and are thrown into the furnace, but are unharmed thanks to the protection of God.

“I liken it to the same decree that happened to Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in their day, and it said, ‘You will bow down to this false god and if you don’t, I will destroy you,’” Amedia said. “Well, what this decree said to our schools is, ‘You will bow down to the fact that we don’t care anymore about gender and if you don’t, we’re going to take your money from you.’ It’s no different, beloved. It was done with the stroke of a pen.”

“We will not tolerate this,” he added. “We will not stand for it. You may be persecuted, you may be punished, and some of you who are educators, wherever you are, you may have to pay a price. Well, what about the price that you’re going to pay if you don’t stand up to it. So we need to say ‘No more.’ We need to be a people of God that’s strong. We need the people that have the Daniel spirit inside of us and we say, ‘We’re not going to tolerate it, we’re not going to stand for it, and we don’t care what you wrote, we don’t care if you put us in a furnace, we’re going in, because our God shall take care of us.”

Glenn Beck's Network Has Now Been Infiltrated By Members Of A Muslim Brotherhood Front Group

Last year, Glenn Beck launched a campaign to get right-wing anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist removed from his position on the board of the National Rifle Association on the grounds that Norquist is "a very bad man" who has been serving as a spy for the Muslim Brotherhood.

Beck was so alarmed by the danger that Norquist poses to the NRA that he threatened to cancel his lifetime membership in the organization if Norquist was not removed from the board. The NRA, in response, promised to launch an investigation into the allegations against Norquist that would be fully transparent and the results of which would be published on its website.

Those results never were made public, but the investigation reportedly found that the case against Norquist was without merit and the organization declined to remove him from the board.

That prompted Beck to throw his support behind an effort to remove Norquist via a recall vote, but that too failed and Beck predictably backtracked from his threat to quit the organization if Norquist wasn't removed.

Now, instead of distancing himself from the NRA, it looks like the NRA is infiltrating Beck's own network as yesterday it was announced that The Blaze's Dana Loesch had been named as a special adviser on women's policy for the NRA:

Dana Loesch, the conservative leader and nationally syndicated radio host, will serve as a Special Advisor on Women's Policy for National Rifle Association Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre. The move is effective immediately, LaPierre announced today.

"Dana is a talented and influential leader and communicator," LaPierre said. "In her role as an NRA Commentator, as well as leading the fight for freedom for more than a decade, she has become a leading voice for Second Amendment freedom and a tremendous advocate for the rights of American women. Expanding her role as an advisor on women's issues, and particularly as a national spokesperson for the 5 million men and women of the NRA, strengthens our organization and our voice."

Loesch said she was eager to accept the challenges of her new role. "I applaud Wayne LaPierre for his vision to bring greater advocacy to bear for the Second Amendment freedom of all Americans, especially women," Loesch said, "and I look forward to facing the national news media and defending our freedom with great enthusiasm."

A year ago, Beck declared that Norquist was such "a very bad influence and a very bad man that if this is who the NRA decides to put on their board of directors, I don't think I can be associated with them" because it was proof that the organization has been infiltrated by Islamic radicals.

To use Beck's logic, this means that the dangerously compromised NRA has now managed to reach its tentacles directly into his own network by ensnaring Loesch, one of its most high-profile and popular hosts.

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