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PFAW Urges Senate to Confirm Halligan

People For the American Way today sent letters to members of the U.S. Senate urging them to vote to confirm Caitlin Halligan to sit on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The full text of the letter:

March 4, 2013
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator:

On behalf of the hundreds of thousands of members of People For the American Way, we write to express our strong support for the confirmation of Caitlin Halligan to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the  District of Columbia Circuit. With a fourth seat on this 11-member court becoming vacant, the urgency  of confirming Halligan becomes even more pressing.

Caitlin Halligan is supremely qualified with a broad level of support in the legal, women’s and law  enforcement  communities. Currently the General Counsel for the Manhattan District Attorney's Office,  she also spent six years serving as New York State's Solicitor General. She is a nationally respected  litigator who has earned the ABA's highest possible evaluation of her qualifications.

Her career shows that she recognizes that protecting individuals, their families, and their entire  communities requires not only tough prosecution, but tough prosecution done fairly. So while she shares  management responsibility for the Manhattan DA's Special Victims Bureau (which prosecutes those  involved in child abuse, rape, domestic violence, and elder abuse), she also has been instrumental in the  DA's Conviction Integrity Program, which seeks to prevent and correct wrongful convictions.

Her nomination has the support of numerous law enforcement individuals and organizations, including Robert Morgenthau (former DA of Manhattan), Raymond Flynn (New York City's Police Commissioner), the National District Attorneys Association, the New York State Sheriffs’ Association, the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, and New York Women in Law Enforcement.

The best judges understand keenly how the law affects ordinary people. Halligan has worked to help  economically disadvantaged families throughout her career. Even before law school, she worked at Georgians for Children, a statewide public policy organization that focuses on issues related to impoverished children and families. Over the years, she has engaged in pro bono work and community service projects that focus on families with the greatest needs. For example, she represented victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita who were at risk of losing their housing assistance.

In its 120-year history, the DC Circuit has had a grand total of five women judges. Halligan clerked for  the first of those, trailblazer Patricia Wald, and she would be the sixth if confirmed. The National Conference of Women's Bar Associations, the Women's Bar Association of the District of Columbia, the National Center for Women and Policing, and the U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce are just some of the women's organizations that are supporting her nomination.

Halligan has received the highest possible rating of her qualifications from a unanimous panel of the ABA’s nonpartisan Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary. She has also received the strong support of a bipartisan group of renowned appellate advocates, including Miguel Estrada (Assistant to the Solicitor General under President George W. Bush and former nominee to this same court), Seth Waxman (Solicitor General under President Clinton), Carter Phillips (Assistant to the Solicitor General under President Reagan), and Walter Dellinger (Solicitor General under President Clinton).

A nominee with such sterling credentials and strong support from a broad range of the legal community is exactly the kind of mainstream, talented, and fair jurist we need on the federal bench.

The seat to which Halligan has been nominated has been vacant since 2005. In fact, the 11-member DC Circuit has lost three additional active judges since 2008. None of those judges has been replaced. Not surprisingly, this has had a serious impact on the caseload for the judges who are left. The Senate’s confirmation of George W. Bush nominee Thomas Griffith to the eleventh seat in 2005 resulted in there being approximately 121 pending cases per active judge. When the Senate debated Halligan’s nomination in 2011, that number had climbed to about 146 pending cases per active judge. Last month, with Judge Sentelle taking senior status, that number has now increased to about 188 cases per active judge, according to the most recent data on pending cases made available by the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts.

Caitlin Halligan has excelled throughout her career. With yet another vacancy opening up on the DC Circuit just last month, the need for someone of her caliber on the bench is greater than ever before. Her nomination deserves a vote on the Senate floor, and she should be confirmed to the DC Circuit.

Sincerely,

Marge Baker
Executive Vice President for Policy and Program
People For the American Way

Paul Gordon
Senior Legislative Counsel
People For the American Way
 

PFAW

Five Reasons the Senate Should Confirm Caitlin Halligan

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says he will ask the Senate to vote this week on the nomination of Caitlin Halligan, President Obama’s nominee to fill one of four vacancies on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals.
PFAW

Why It's Important to Have Diversity on the Federal Courts

The Washington Post ran a story yesterday about President Obama's successful push to bring greater diversity to the federal courts. The story quoted a conservative activist who accused the White House of "lowering their standards" in order to find diverse nominees and a Republican aide who claimed that the White House's focus on diversity would "override the substantive qualifications of the nominees."

Leslie Watson Malachi, Director of African American Religious Affairs at People For the American Way, responded with the following letter to the editor:

To the editor:

Regarding the March 3 story, “Obama pushing to diversify federal judiciary amid GOP delays.”

One of President Obama’s most significant, but least noticed, achievements has been his effort to bring more women and people of color to the federal bench. Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court showed us just how critical that effort is.

In oral arguments on Shelby County v. Holder, the challenge to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, Justice Antonin Scalia declared that the renewal of voting protections for people of color simply amounts to a “racial entitlement.” Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina on the Supreme Court, promptly contradicted him.

Scalia’s arrogant dismissal is echoed by the conservative activist who tells the Post that the White House may be “lowering their standards” in nominating women and people of color and the  GOP aide who worries that a focus on diversity would “override the substantive qualifications of the nominees.”

President Obama hasn’t had to choose between qualified nominees and diverse ones. Instead, he’s chosen judges and justices like Sotomayor: excellent nominees from diverse backgrounds, all of whom have earned their way to judgeships for which they are eminently qualified. 

LESLIE WATSON MALACHI
DIRECTOR, AFRICAN AMERICAN RELIGIOUS AFFAIRS
PEOPLE FOR THE AMERICAN WAY

PFAW

Harry Jackson: 'Absurd' to Think 'Homosexuals Are Being Denied Equal Protection'

Harry Jackson is out with a column today accusing gay rights supporters of seeking “to hijack not only the moral authority of the Civil Rights Movement, but also the legal arguments which liberated minorities from centuries of legalized oppression and discrimination.” He specifically takes issue with the fact that marriage equality supporters cite the Fourteenth Amendment and Loving v. Virginia, which found anti-miscegenation laws to be unconstitutional.

Jackson explains that same-sex couples don’t have a right to marry because “‘marriage’ means what it has always meant in America: the union of one man and one woman,” and cites a Nevada ruling which argued that marriage laws aren’t discriminatory because a gay person has the right to marry someone of the opposite sex.

Ironically, those two arguments were exactly those used by supporters of laws banning interracial marriage.

Peggy Pascoe in “What Comes Naturally: Miscegenation Law and the Making of Race in America” writes that up until the 1960s white society and the white-dominated legal system “believe[d] that the interracial marriage was unnatural” and “assumed that the marriage of one White man to one White woman was the only kind of marriage worthy of the name.”

Not only did they not consider interracial marriage to be a “marriage,” but they also argued that anti-miscegenation laws were not discriminatory because they applied to people of every race and did not target one race in particular.

Despite this history about marriage laws, Jackson concludes his column by insisting that “the notion that homosexuals are being denied equal protection under the law becomes absurd.”

From the very beginning, homosexual “marriage” activists have sought to hijack not only the moral authority of the Civil Rights Movement, but also the legal arguments which liberated minorities from centuries of legalized oppression and discrimination.

After decades of aggressive activism, the common sense understanding of marriage has become almost hopelessly mired in incomprehensible legal terminology. It becomes difficult for everyday observers to navigate the convoluted logic homosexual activists employ as they attempt to remake one of civilization’s oldest institutions. The argument that redefining marriage to include homosexual couples is only “fair” rests on a specious interpretation of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The clause reads as follows:

No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

As most of us know, the Fourteenth Amendment was enacted just before the end of the Civil War in response to the Black Codes of the South. The Black Codes were various state laws which, among other things, prevented blacks from owning property and imposed harsher penalties for crimes on blacks than on whites. The Fourteenth Amendment clarified that these laws were unconstitutional, and that the government was obligated to protect the rights of all citizens equally.

So what about the “right” to marry? Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) activists argue that the state is abridging their privileges, often citing Chief Justice Earl Warren’s words in Loving v. Virginia, the 1967 decision that overturned state bans on interracial marriage: “The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.”

I agree with Justice Warren that marriage is a central ingredient in the pursuit of happiness. I disagree with LGBT activists about what “marriage” is. And it is very hard to have a reasonable or productive discussion when the two sides cannot agree on the definition of a central term. You and I may agree that it should be legal to walk a dog in a particular public park. But you may think that the term “dog” includes only domesticated members of the Canis lupus familiaris species, and I may think that the term “dog” can include large gray wolves. You may argue that “dog” should be defined by the laws and traditions that have governed dog ownership for generations, and I may feel that such an approach in unfair to people who want to walk wolves in the park. The point is that we cannot get anywhere until we agree on what a “dog” is.

Homosexuals are not being denied “marriage” rights any more than wolf enthusiasts are being denied dog-ownership rights. Last November, a federal appeals court in Nevada pointed out homosexuals are not, in fact, being denied the right to marry, as the term “marriage” has been long understood. A lesbian couple had sued the state, seeking to overturn Nevada’s ban on gay marriage under the Fourteenth Amendment. Wrote Judge Robert Jones:

Like heterosexual persons, they [homosexuals] may not marry members of the same sex. A homosexual man may marry anyone a heterosexual man may marry, and a homosexual woman may marry anyone a heterosexual woman may marry.

Judge Jones went on to point out that homosexuals have little cause to identify with historically oppressed minorities in the United States, observing that, “Homosexuals have not historically been denied the right to vote, the right to serve on juries, or the right to own property.” Judge Jones starts with the assumption, as we all should, that “marriage” means what it has always meant in America: the union of one man and one woman. If we begin with that reality, the notion that homosexuals are being denied equal protection under the law becomes absurd.

Extremist Gun Owners of America Goes to Bat Against D.C. Circuit Nominee

Gun Owners of America, a fringe group that hovers to the right of the National Rifle Association, is wading into the debate over Caitlin Halligan, one of President Obama's nominees to the hugely influential DC Circuit Court of Appeals. GOA's beef with Halligan is that when she was solicitor general of New York, she represented the state in its suit against gun manufacturers – a position she took for a client rather than one she espoused herself.

In an action alert today, GOA asks its members to call on their senators to oppose Halligan, calling her the “most anti-Second Amendment nominee in recent history,” a “zealot” and a “radical leftist.”

Among those who might disagree with GOA’s assessment of Halligan are former Bush judicial nominee Miguel Estrada, Reagan administration attorney Carter Phillips, and numerous law enforcement groups, all of whom have endorsed her nomination.

But the GOA’s extreme language should come as no surprise. After all, this is the same group that speculated that the Aurora movie theater shooting was an inside job, said that armed citizens could have stopped the Holocaust, claimed that the Affordable Care Act would “take away your guns,” and warned President Obama that he should “remember King George III’s experience.” Recently, GOA president Larry Pratt has gone even further, agreeing with theories that President Obama is raising a black army to massacre white Americans and that the president intends to pit “Christian, heterosexual white haves” against “black Muslim and/or atheist…have-nots.”

Eagle Forum Pushes Blatantly False Attack on Obamacare

Phyllis Schlafly of Eagle Forum on Friday warned that the Obama administration has estimated that the average family will pay a minimum of $20,000 for health insurance once the health care reform law goes fully into effect.

The only problem with Schlafly’s claim is that the government never issued such an estimate.

The IRS simply used the $20,000 figure as an example for calculating the “shared responsibility payment,” or penalty, for a nonexempt family that does not acquire health insurance.

As the Annenberg Center’s FactCheck.org notes:

The IRS used $20,000 in a hypothetical example to illustrate how it will calculate the tax penalty for a family that fails to obtain health coverage as required by law. Treasury says the figure “is not an estimate of premiums.”



[T]he regulations weren’t a “cost analysis” at all. A spokesperson for the Treasury Department confirmed to FactCheck.org in an email that the IRS wasn’t making any declarations or projections about what prices will be.

“[Twenty thousand dollars] is a round number used by IRS for a hypothetical example,” the official wrote. “It is not an estimate of premiums for a bronze plan for a family of five in 2016.”

Schlafly wasn’t the only conservative leader to fall for the false story, Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel also wrote an article arguing that a government “cost analysis based on ObamaCare regulations show[s] that the cheapest healthcare plan in 2016 will cost average American families of four or five members $20,000 per year for the so-called ‘bronze plan.’”

The Obama Administration is now estimating that by 2016 the minimum annual cost of health insurance for an average American family under ObamaCare will be $20,000. And there is no guarantee that the health insurance will actually cover all the medical treatments that the family wants and needs. $20,000 is merely the minimum annual cost; many families could face even higher premiums. Millions of Americans will be faced with the choice of buying this expensive health insurance, or paying hefty penalties to the IRS. Those who choose not to buy health insurance will be slapped by the IRS with thousands of dollars in additional taxes. Is this what Americans really want? Certainly not. $20,000 is many times more expensive than what most Americans pay for health insurance today.

It's not only families who will be hit by these enormous price increases under ObamaCare. One study predicts that a 27-year-old non-smoking male in Texas will go from paying $54 a month in health insurance premiums to a whopping $153 per month as soon as ObamaCare goes into full effect. That will be on top of the massive student debt that so many young people are already struggling to pay off. The real result may be that many Americans will choose to drop their health insurance simply because they cannot afford it. But that is the opposite of what ObamaCare was supposed to achieve.

None of this is a surprise to those who have criticized ObamaCare for years. Not a single Republican voted for this costly injection of federal bureaucracy into the American health care system, which has been the finest the world has ever known. Many businesses are decreasing the number of hours that their employees can work in order to fall below the threshold requiring employers to buy this costly insurance for their employees.

Jeffress: Most Catholics Going to Hell, Obama Paving the Way for the Antichrist

First Baptist Dallas Pastor Robert Jeffress, who made headlines when Tim Tebow backed out of an upcoming appearance at his new $130 million megachurch campus, spoke at length about the controversy during a recent appearance on the Alan Colmes Radio Show. Jeffress complained that he had been taken out of context and tried to downplay and sidestep some of his most explosive remarks. But for the most part, he just cemented his reputation as an extremist.

Jeffress began his defense on an inauspicious note, noting that he has a Jewish friend in New York so he can’t possibly be anti-Semitic. While we’ve never called him anti-Semitic, we have noted that Jeffress believes Jews are destined for hell – along with Catholics, Mormons, Muslims and gays, so at least they’ll have company.

Colmes asked Jeffress about many of his most contentious remarks, such as whether he ever said that “Roman Catholicism is Satanic.” “I never used the term ‘Satanic,’” Jeffress responded. That’s technically true but highly misleading: Jeffress has said Satan is behind the Catholic Church. It only got more disingenuous from there. 

Jeffress relegated the overwhelming majority of the world’s Catholics to hell while trying to make it sound like he was doing no such thing:

I believe today that there are millions of Catholics who are gonna be in heaven because of the relationship with Christ. I work with Catholic priests in our community. We march together on the pro-life issues. I think there are millions of Catholics who are in heaven. 

There are over one billion Catholics alive today around the world, and there have been countless more over the course of nearly two millennia. Jeffress wants to assure us that he’s not an extremist who would just assign all Catholics to hell. So instead he damned about 99% and saved “millions” from eternal damnation. Lucky for Jeffress, they’re the same ones that show up for anti-abortion rallies. What are the odds?

Jeffress also tried to clear up a misunderstanding about President Obama and the Antichrist. He does not believe that Obama is the Antichrist per se, as some have reported, but merely believes that Obama is paving the way for the Antichrist, as we first reported. Gee, I can't imagine why there was confusion.

Jeffress was only willing to fully own up to one of his comments. “Mormonism, you said, Islam, is from the pit of hell?” Colmes asked. “Yes, now that one they actually got right Al,” responded Jeffress.

Watch:

Fischer: Obama Has No Soul; Gays Have No Place in the NFL

Yesterday on Focal Point it took American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer just a few minutes to transition from praising NFL teams for asking about players’ sexual orientations to talking about why he believes President Obama has no soul.

First, Fischer said that the NFL shouldn’t sign gay players because they would cause a “grenade-like explosion” that would destroy the team. He said that the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is doing such damage to the military, even though all the reports so far show that the new policy has had zero negative impacts.

Just minutes later, Fischer went on a rant about how he believes Obama lacks empathy and “seems to be soulless,” maintaining that the “pathologically narcissistic” president callously views people as imaginary avatars in SimCity.

Fox News' Top Five Islamophobic Smears

Sean Hannity last night was clearly upset that Rep. Keith Ellison exposed him for what he is — a partisan hack — and he is now launching attacks on the congressman by recycling statements Ellison made in the 1990s about the Nation of Islam, a group that the congressman later vociferously denounced. He even wondered if “we have somebody then in Congress that is the equivalent of one side of what the Klan is?”

Hannity has attacked Ellison over his faith in the past, arguing that Ellison’s use of Thomas Jefferson’s copy of the Quran during his symbolic swearing-in ceremony “will embolden Islamic extremists” and is no different from a congressman using “Hitler’s Mein Kampf, which is the Nazi bible.”

While the use of inflammatory language and false claims is nothing new for Sean Hannity, we decided to use the segment as an opportunity to highlight the five Islamophobic smears regularly found on Fox News.

1. Obama is a Secret Muslim:

Fox News host Eric Bolling claimed that Obama “answers to the Quran first and to the Constitution second” and Hannity himself alleged that Obama “went to a Muslim school.” Regular contributors like Charles Krauthammer and Donald Trump have also floated the claim that Obama was raised as a Muslim and back in 2007, Fox News ran with the discredited story that Obama was a student an Islamic “madrassa” in Indonesia.

2. Park 51 Will be used for Terrorism:

Dick Morris, who just recently was booted from the network following his hilariously bad election predictions, said that the Park 51 Islamic Community Center near Ground Zero is planning to “train the same kind of terrorists” that attacked the U.S. on 9/11, warning the building will be a “command center for terrorism.” Bolling alleged that Park 51 is being built to represent “the people who flew planes” into the Twin Towers and Bill O’Reilly warned the project is housing “condos for Al Qaeda.”

3. Al Jazeera Conspiracies:

Fox News contributor Lisa Daftari warned that Al Jazeera’s acquisition of Current TV will activate terrorist “sleeper cells” in Detroit and regular Fox guest Michelle Malkin called the channel “a cheerleader for terror” and “a Trojan Horse for terror TV.”

4. Sharia law a-comin’:

Regular Fox News viewers may be under the impression that President Obama, public schools and NASA seek to impose Sharia law. The network also recently hired Herman Cain as a contributor, who insisted that Muslims should be prohibited from serving in high levels of government and that localities have a right to ban mosques because Muslims seek to introduce Sharia law, warnings Hannity readily endorsed.

5. ‘All Terrorists are Muslims’:

Brian Kilmeade of Fox & Friends claimed that “not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims” and Bill O’Reilly has implied that all Muslims were responsible for 9/11. Fox News regularly hosts anti-Muslim guests such as Brigitte Gabriel, Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer. In fact, Fox News host Laura Ingraham and contributor John Bolton prematurely blamed the far-right terrorist attack in Norway on government offices and a left-wing party youth summit on Muslims.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher Demands Obama Copy Reagan Foreign Policy

Appearing on Frank Gaffney’s Secure Freedom Radio yesterday, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) argued that President Obama should emulate President Reagan’s policy of arming “the enemy of our enemy.” This tactic, of course, led the U.S. to arm the combatants in Afghanistan led by Osama bin Laden and the notorious Contras of Nicaragua.

The congressman even agreed with Gaffney when he made the egregious claim that the Obama administration wants to “prop up” the Iranian regime.

Rohrabacher also suggested that the US should arm the Mujahedeen-e Khlaq (People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran), which last year was delisted as a foreign terror organization. Gaffney’s CSP has criticized the MEK as being a “pro-Saddam Hussein group” and noted its record of violence.

Rohrabacher: In order to accomplish what we need to have accomplished in Iran is regime change and we haven’t gone down anything in that direction and we—

Gaffney: Arguably to the contrary, we’ve been helping prop up the regime in the face of a lot of opposition at home.

Rohrabacher: Well that’s it. With the opposition at home we should be supporting all of those people within Iran who are enemies of the mullah regime. I just came back from a congressional delegation to Central Asia and we met with leaders of the MEK who are an anti-Mullah group and they are controversial to some people but the bottom line is they are actually fighting the mullahs, the mullah regime. We should be indiscriminately working with those groups that want to eliminate the mullah regime and hopefully will replace it with a democratic government. I support for example the Baloch, there are six million Balochis in the southern part of Iran, they are Sunnis I might add, and they are persecuted by these mullahs and I have been doing everything I can to support the insurgency and the independence of Balochistan. There are several groups, there are Kurds in Iran. We have not done anything to actually support the enemy of our enemies unlike Reagan which ended the Cold War because he supported the enemy of our enemies rather than deploy American troops everywhere.

Why It’s Time to Dump DOMA: Reverend Charles Williams II

This piece is the fifth in a series of guest blog posts on “Why It’s Time to Dump DOMA.” In the weeks leading up to the Supreme Court arguments on the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act, we’re asking friends of PFAW to share why dumping DOMA matters to them. Be sure to check back soon for the latest post in the series.

Is it wrong for committed couples to share retirement and medical benefits? Is it wrong for Americans to expect to receive equal justice under the law?

No, but it is wrong for our government to dictate who we can love and who we cannot. It is wrong for our government to recognize some married couples and not others. But that is exactly what the Defense Of Marriage Act does.

Marriage equality doesn’t hurt anybody or take away anybody’s freedoms. But DOMA does both of those things. Supporters of DOMA sound dangerously like those who said we should outlaw interracial marriages in the previous century. It’s time for this country to say we are done with DOMA and dump it.

Reverend Charles Williams II
Member of People For the American Way’s African American Ministers In Action

PFAW

South Dakota Legislature Approves 'Women Can't Think on Weekends' Bill

South Dakota’s state senate today passed a bill that would extend the mandatory 72 hour waiting period women face when seeking an abortion in the state to specifically exclude weekend days and holidays from counting towards the 72 hour period. Apparently, South Dakota’s Republican lawmakers think women aren’t able to think as well on weekends.

The AP reports:

The South Dakota Senate has given final legislative approval to an extension of what is already the nation's longest waiting period for a woman to receive an abortion.

Senators voted 24-9 Thursday to approve the bill, which has already been passed by the House. The measure will become law if signed by Gov. Dennis Daugaard.

Women seeking abortions in South Dakota currently must wait three days after seeing an abortion clinic doctor before they can have the procedure. The bill would make it so that weekends and holidays do not count in calculating the three-day waiting period.

The state House of Representatives approved the anti-choice legislation earlier this month, and it now heads to the governor’s desk.

FRC's Tony Perkins: Democrats Aligned with 'Jewish Lobby,' 'Enjoy the Money' Coming from Jews

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, made an interesting observation on his radio show yesterday. Speaking about the confirmation of Chuck Hagel, Perkins mused about the ‘irony’ that Hagel, whom he considers to be anti-Israel, was backed by Democratic senators who are “mostly aligned with a lot of the Jewish lobby” and “enjoy the money coming from the Jewish community.” Hmmm, “Jewish lobby,” where have I heard that before?

Hagel has been savaged in recent weeks for having used the phrase in a 2006 interview. He has since apologized and said he should phrased his comments differently. In case it isn’t obvious, the ADL’s Abe Foxman explains the many problems with saying “Jewish lobby.”

Notwithstanding Hagel’s apology, Sen. Lindsey Graham grilled him about his use of the phrase during his confirmation hearing. FRC also cited Hagel’s use of “Jewish lobby” in its background document opposing his confirmation. Meanwhile over at the website of the American Family Association, which broadcasts Perkins’ show, David Limbaugh railed against Hagel’s “bigoted accusation” about the “Jewish lobby” and said he failed to provide a “satisfactory explanation for his disgraceful terminology – because there is none.”

“Bigoted” and “disgraceful” sounds about right, but don’t hold your breath waiting for conservatives to denounce Perkins’ comments:

But here’s the irony. Is that the Democratic Party and the Democratic senators that supported Hagel, in spite of the fact that he has a record that’s deplorable on Israel, it comes from Democratic senators who are mostly aligned with a lot of the Jewish lobby here in Washington and around the nation, enjoy the money coming from the Jewish community. The Jewish community tends to be liberal, not all, but a lot of it is, and it supports Democratic candidates. But yet the Democratic Party works against the benefit of Israel in many ways, and this is an example of it.

Perkins seems mystified as to why most American Jews support Democrats, but his right-hand man thinks he knows the reason. FRC’s Executive Vice President Jerry Boykin has argued that Hitler was “an extraordinarily off the scale leftist” but “many Jews in America, for example, can't identify with the Republican Party because they're called the party of the Right, when in fact nothing could be further from the truth.”

This is the same Boykin who was rebuked by the ADL in 2003 and believes that the “Jews must be lead to Christ.” And this is the same FRC – a certified hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center – that warned yesterday that Hagel's confirmation may bring God's judgment on America. So I guess we shouldn't be suprised.

 

Meet the Extremists Who Are Holding Up Gun Violence Prevention Reforms

Here at Right Wing Watch, we’ve been closely following the right-wing freak-out over President Obama’s proposed gun violence prevention reforms. The president’s proposals, which include requiring background checks on all gun sales and restricting access to certain assault weapons aren’t exactly radical -- about three-quarters of Americans support them. But right-wing politicians and organizations are going off the rails in opposition, claiming that the president wants to set up gulags and gas chambers in order to bring about the “complete destruction of Western civilization”; that he is preparing the military to “fire on American citizens” and kill hundreds of thousands; that he using Obamacare to collect information on gun owners; and he is instigating a race war pitting “Christian, heterosexual white haves” against “black Muslim and/or atheist…have-nots.”

Stunningly, this small, extreme faction has for many years succeeded at defeating gun violence prevention efforts at the federal level. A new report from Right Wing Watch’s Peter Montgomery takes a closer look at the activists and groups who are holding up federal gun violence reform, how they have succeeded, and how they can be defeated. Peter writes:

While the White House, governors, Congress and other public officials grapple with policy responses to last month’s mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school, many Americans wonder whether the massacre of young children will provide momentum for more effective laws that previous killing sprees – even one that gravely wounded a member of Congress – have not.

Some assume, wrongly, that nothing can be done.  Politicians’ fear of the $200+ million National Rifle Association (NRA) is generally cited as the reason for weak gun laws that undermine law enforcement and put citizens at higher risk from gun crimes.  The power of the NRA to determine the outcome of elections may well be more myth than reality, but even the perception of such power can give the group tremendous political muscle, along with its aggressive lobbying and strong-arm political tactics.

The NRA is not alone in attempting to prevent effective regulation of guns and promoting reckless policies that leave Americans vulnerable to crime.  Its efforts are supported by the same kind of coalition that undermines the nation’s ability to solve a wide range of problems.  Corporations, right-wing ideologues, and Religious Right leaders work together to misinform Americans, generate unfounded fears, and prevent passage of broadly supported solutions.
Understanding the extremism and dishonesty at the heart of right-wing obstructionism is crucial to overcoming it.

You can read the full report, The Lobby Against Common Sense: The Right’s Campaign Against Gun Violence Reform and How We Can Defeat It, here.

PFAW: House Passage of VAWA Proves ‘Enough is Enough’

WASHINGTON – People For the American Way today commended the House passage of a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which House Republicans had allowed to expire at the beginning of this year.

Marge Baker, Executive Vice President of People For the American Way, said:

“Today’s historic expansion of the Violence Against Women Act shows what Americans can do when we stand up to extremism and say ‘enough is enough.’ For 18 years, VAWA has saved lives, dramatically reducing intimate partner violence, helping women to escape abusive relationships and ensuring that domestic violence is treated like the crime it is. Now, the law will be even stronger, protecting at-risk groups who have too often slipped through the cracks of domestic violence prevention efforts.

“When extremists in the House GOP tried to bring down the Violence Against Women Act, Americans stopped them in their tracks. I hope this vote shows that the House Republican leadership is rethinking its embrace of dangerous extremism and destructive gridlock.”
 

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PFAW Report: The Radical Right and the Challenge of Gun Violence Prevention

WASHINGTON – People For the American Way’s Right Wing Watch released a report today chronicling the history and strategies of the radical groups and individuals who are working to prevent meaningful gun violence reform. While most Americans, including most gun owners, support common-sense gun violence prevention efforts, a small but vocal group of extremists has so far succeeded in blocking any attempt at meaningful reform.

The report, The Lobby Against Common Sense: The Right’s Campaign Against Gun Violence Reform and How We Can Defeat It, is available at www.pfaw.org

“We cannot address the plague of gun violence in our country until we are able to have a reasonable debate about reforming our gun laws,” said Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way. “Unfortunately, for too many years this debate has been dominated by an extreme and vocal fringe. These extremists equate gun violence prevention with ‘tyranny’;  blame mass shootings on everything and everybody but lax gun safety laws; and push conspiracy theories about government confiscations of firearms.

“Stunningly, these extremists say that the real ‘radicals’ are Americans who support reforms to rein in the horror and devastation of gun violence. While these groups claim to represent American gun owners, they are in fact far out of step with most Americans, gun owners included. We hope that this report will help elected officials and voters understand the truth behind the forces that are trying to drag down meaningful gun violence reform.”

People For the American Way’s Right Wing Watch monitors and exposes the activities of right-wing movements in the United States.


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Happy Anniversary, Judge Cebull

Judge Cebull remains on the bench a year after his now-notorious racist e-mail was exposed.
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Sequestering Justice

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Vic Eliason Wonders if Chuck Hagel Is a Secret Muslim while Phyllis Schlafly Thinks All Muslims Are Terrorists

Apparently, President Obama and John Brennan aren’t the only secret Muslim agents in the administration.

Yesterday, Vic Eliason of Voice of Christian Youth America interviewed Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly about Chuck Hagel, who is set to be confirmed as secretary of defense later today. Adding to the other ridiculous, last-ditch efforts to sink Hagel’s nomination, Eliason asked Schlafly about wild allegations “that Mr. Hagel has become or has been a part of Islam, he’s Islamic.” Rather than specifically address Eliason’s question, Schlafly said that since Obama “gives a pass to Islam” in “his attack on religion,” Americans “have to be on guard on that all the time.”

The two then went on to praise Hagel-critic Jerome Corsi of WorldNetDaily, who must be taking a break from his usual endeavors of exposing Obama’s foreign birthplace, secret Muslim faith and gay past.

Eliason: Phyllis, there have been those that allege that Mr. Hagel has become or has been a part of Islam, he’s Islamic. What substance is on this thing?

Schlafly: Hagel is the most dangerous appointee for secretary of defense we’ve ever had, he’s got so many things wrong with him. He’s for getting rid of our nuclear weapons, he’s for downplaying our anti-missile defense and he’s even for signing onto the Law of the Sea Treaty, which would give some more foreign people the opportunity to make decisions about our policies. Whereas we know the whole world is better off if we have military superiority. Well, when we talk about Obama and his attack on religion he gives a pass to Islam. So, we have to be on guard on that all the time.

Eliason: Well our good friend Jerry Corsi from over at WND had an interesting statement here, of course he refers to Mr. Hagel: ‘A former Nobel Peace Prize nominee warns that Senate confirmation of Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense would send a message to Iran of weakened U.S. resolve, making it less likely America’s military might would in any way deter Iran’s nuclear ambitions.’

Schlafly: Well Jerry Corsi is very reliable and I would take his words very seriously, that’s absolutely true. I think it so dangerous to have Hagel as secretary of defense, who is trying to implement all of the pacifist ideas that Obama has.

She also agreed with a caller who claimed that officials like Hagel need to identify President Obama as “the enemy” of America.

Later, Schlafly compared the American policy of Cold War deterrence to the current policy for “dealing with the Islam,” while noting that “the Muslims are different” than the Soviets as “they seem to like to commit suicide.”

Schlafly’s classification of all Muslims as terrorists was part of a bizarre argument that criticized Hagel for supposedly seeking to do away with America’s nuclear arsenal that she claims we need to scare terrorists who also are not at all afraid of our nuclear weapons.

Schlafly: I want to point out one difference between dealing with the Communists and dealing with the Islam. When the Communists in Russia were in charge we had a policy called mutually assured destruction which we called MAD and it was that they knew that if they dropped a bomb on New York City we’d hit back and wipe them out and that was supposed to deter them from doing any bad attack. But the Muslims are different; they seem to like to commit suicide. I don’t think they are going to be deterred by that type of an attitude and we have to make sure that we have the weapons that are enough to scare them that they never attack in the first place.
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