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40 Years After Roe, My Personal Fight for Justice

"I am my mother's child. The one she told one day many years ago, as I laid on a hospital table that, 'God did not intend for your life to be like mine!' The forms had been signed, we were in agreement and I was tearfully rolled into the very cold, unfriendly operating room.

"It was 1974, one year after the landmark decision Roe v. Wade legalized abortion. I was fourteen and my mother was twenty-eight, on welfare with five other children. Fourteen at the time of my birth, she was what we now call 'an unwed teen mother.' On this day, at that moment, the decision was not about legislation or white men in suits far away. It was not about the doctor, the nurse, or the technicians. It was just the two of us and God."

I wrote those words, published in In Motion magazine, 15 years ago. I had at that point devoted more than a decade to working with the black church to fight for reproductive rights in my home state of Louisiana and in Washington, making sure that girls and women like me have not only reproductive choice, but reproductive justice -- the choice to determine our own futures and the justice that comes from a system that respects us as human beings with equal dignity and equal rights.

Today, on the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, and after 15 more years of fighting and praying, I see many reasons to celebrate. I am grateful for those who continue to fight for women's rights in the halls in Congress and in front of clinics; to the doctors and medical staff who risk their own safety to care for women in need; to the women who must shut out the noise of politics to make the most personal of decisions; and to the family and friends who stand behind them. Behind an issue that inspires so much venom and shouting, it's easy to forget that there are countless men and women who are quietly fighting for justice on a small, personal scale.

But on the national scale we see a very different picture. In 2012, state legislatures passed 92 laws restricting reproductive justice and many more followed in 2012. Republican presidential candidates and their allies in Congress went after women's right to birth control, claiming that an employer should decide whether a woman's health care covers her contraceptive care. Prominent figures on the right dismissed the wrenching circumstances of women who become pregnant by rape, claiming it wasn't possible or that some rapes are more "legitimate" than others. While so many Americans grappled with their own and their loved ones' decisions with decency and grace, our politicians experienced a crisis of empathy and a deficit of facts.

Particularly galling is the campaign by some far-right groups to promote the idea that legal abortion is a "genocide" of African Americans. This campaign seeks to paint black women as passive victims rather than as fully realized human beings facing real, tough choices. In the process, it has helped to make the political debate about reproductive rights even more about caricatures of women and less about real women.

Polling consistently shows that Americans' personal views of reproductive rights are not always the same as their political views. A recent poll by Planned Parenthood found that 23 percent thought abortion was "morally acceptable" and 40 percent said it "depends on the situation." That "depends" is important -- as has been the case with the LGBT rights, civil rights, paycheck fairness and gun violence prevention movements, sometimes strongly held political opinions must bend when they run up against the real experiences of a real person.

I celebrate 1974 and the start of my "pro-choice, pro-faith" journey. I have hope for the future of reproductive rights. Roe v. Wade still holds in the courts. And last year, as attacks on reproductive rights reached a fever pitch, women across the country rose up with their votes. Women didn't ask our politicians to make the personal political. But we must continue to fight back by making the political personal. This is about choice and it's about justice -- for every woman, no matter her story.

This post was originally published at the Huffington Post.

PFAW

'Non-Political' Prayer Breakfast Welcomes Pastor Who Prays for Obama's Death

As RWW reported two weeks ago, organizers of the official-sounding-but-not-remotely-official Presidential Inaugural Prayer Breakfast hoped that Rep. Michele Bachmann, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Sen. Roy Blunt, and other big names would join them, along with birther extremist Joseph Farah.  After some embarrassing back-and-forth about Farah’s participation, he didn’t show up. Neither did Bachmann, Cantor, Blunt or Pat Robertson, though Robertson, Farah, and Pat Boone sent messages that were read out loud. People who did show up representing foreign embassies may have been duped by the name of event into thinking they were attending something connected to the actual inauguration.

Organizers insisted that the event had no political agenda, that it was called simply to pray for President Obama and the nation. But there was plenty of politics.  Speakers included Marjorie Dannenfelser of the anti-choice Susan B. Anthony List.  Sid Roth, a Messianic Jew and radio host, said there were three sins that cause a land to "vomit out" its people: child sacrifice (abortion), homosexuality, and the “tipping point” sin of dividing up the land of Israel.  Stewart Greenleaf, a Pennsylvania state senator, said he could make an argument for Israel’s right to disputed lands based on history, but that the best argument is that “the Lord gave Israel that land.”

Even Pastor Wiley Drake – infamous for his devotion to “imprecatory prayers” against his political opponents, and his admission that he regularly prays for President Obama’s death, was recognized, applauded, and called up to the stage.

The interminable event – four hours and counting when I left – felt like a disorganized muddle. It started with an altar call and communion -- “Let’s sing about the blood of Jesus for a moment….who has the chuppah?” -- and included prayers from Native American Christians, a delegation from Newtown, repentance for anti-Semitism, and some marketing for a new American Christian flag. “We may not be as formal” as other events, said one speaker, “but I bet we love God more.”

The Chaplain of the House of Representatives, Patrick Conroy, did briefly lend an air of officialdom. Perhaps with the pre-event controversy in mind, Conroy led a prayer for President Obama and reminded attendees pointedly that Obama was reelected by a clear majority of Americans. Former Democratic Rep. Diane Watson brought a bit of bipartisanship, and while her belief that President Obama has been anointed for our time got a smattering of affirmation from Obama supporters in attendance, that was a minority view, to put it lightly.

Keynoter Jonathan Cahn decried the withdrawal of Rev. Louie Giglio from the inaugural program over anti-gay-rights comments, portraying it as evidence of anti-Christian persecution: “…it is a new America in which one can be banned from the public square simply for believing the Bible, where profanity is treated as holy, and the holy is profane. A new America where the Bible is treated as contraband and nativity scenes are seen as dangerous.”

Cahn’s overall message is that America is facing the judgment of God the way ancient Israel did when it stopped following God’s orders.  Cahn heads Beth Israel Worship Center, which bills itself the largest Messianic congregation in the world. He believes that the 9-11 attacks were a “wake-up call” from God, who lifted divine protection from America as a warning. Since the country did not turn back to God,  says Cahn, God slammed us with financial collapse. He warned President Obama of judgment “if you utter the words so help me God, and you should in any way take part in leading a nation farther away from God….”

Cahn’s speech was essentially a summary of the argument in his book, “The Harbinger,” which purports to connect the inauguration of George Washington, 9-11, and more through his revelations about the “ancient mysteries.”

“There exists an ancient mystery that lies beyond everything from 9-11 to the collapse of the American economy, a mystery so precise that it actually reveals the actions of American leaders before they take them, the exact words of American leaders before they speak them, a mystery so exact that it gives the actual dates even the hours of some of the most dramatic days in recent history.”

Cahn’s keynote ended with a rousing call against “political correctness” and compromise, saying “the shadow of judgment is upon us” and urging, “It’s time to be strong! It’s time to be bold! It’s time to be radical!” as shouts and shofar-blowing thundered through the room.

PFAW Praises President Obama’s Common Sense Plan to Reduce Gun Violence

People For the American Way praised President Obama for putting forward bold proposals to combat gun violence and joins him in urging Congress to take swift action on the issue.
PFAW

Anti-Muslim Activists Apoplectic Over PFAW's Michele Bachmann Petition

On Monday, People For the American Way delivered a petition with 178,000 signatures to House Speaker John Boehner calling for the removal of Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Bachmann, one of Congress’ leading purveyors of conspiracy theories, earned rebukes from Boehner and others last year when she accused several Muslim-American government employees, include top Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, of being secret agents of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The petition, to put it mildly, hit a nerve among Bachmann’s allies in the anti-Muslim Right. FrontPageMag, an online outfit led by David Horowitz, has published a full three articles defending Bachmann and accusing PFAW of “smearing” the “vindicated” Bachmann by launching an “all-out war” on her.  In one article, Robert Spencer of JihadWatch argues, “If they really had any genuine concern for the American way, instead of calling for her removal from the Intelligence committee, the People for the American Way would be calling for Bachmann to be appointed to chair that committee.”

Yesterday, Horowitz launched his own petition, titled, ironically, “Stop the Witch Hunt Against Rep. Bachmann.”

Horowitz and Spencer aren’t the only ones coming to Bachmann’s defense. The Center for Security Policy’s Frank Gaffney, who was the source of the bulk of Bachmann’s accusations against Abedin, and conservative columnist Diana West discussed the petition on Wednesday’s edition of Secure Freedom Radio. People For the American Way, Gaffney suggested, is part of the “Red-Green Axis” and should be called instead “People For the Islamist Way”:

Gaffney: I wanted to turn to a woman who has probably understood this jihadist enterprise, most especially the civilization jihadist element of it, that is to say the so-called non-violent -- actually pre-violent form -- that we’ve talked about in the book that you contributed marvelously to, Sharia: The Threat to America, namely Michele Bachmann. She has been savaged now for almost a year for having actually raised an alarm about some of this. What’s going on with her at the moment and what should our listeners be thinking about it and doing?

West: Well, you have People For the American Way, a leftist advocacy group, actually putting together a petition asking to have Speaker John Boehner to remove Michele Bachmann from the House Intelligence Committee. Now this actually all ties in to what we were talking about already because FOX has also savaged Michele Bachmann, specifically going back to last summer when she and a few of her colleagues were raising questions about Muslim Brotherhood penetration into the United States government. Specifically, one of the cause celebre was the perhaps penetration, her question of the secretary of state’s office with her top aide being Huma Abedin, who we’ve spoken about before. And this is one of these…

Gaffney: Closely tied to the Muslim Brotherhood.

West: Correct.

Gaffney: I think what we’re really getting at here is Michele Bachmann is being vilified for having exposed some of that influence operation, penetration problem and she should be, if anything, lauded for it, not taken to task by the Red-Green Axis, as they call it, doing business under the form of People For the Islamist Way.

Tea Party Nation: 'Anti-American Marxist' Obama 'Wants to Destroy America'

Judson Phillips of Tea Party Nation is running out of ways to express his belief that President Obama is working to destroy America. In his column for members today, he warns Republicans against cooperating with Obama on anything because “underneath that grey hair lies the heart of the young anti-American Marxist that went to Occidental and Columbia.”

“Barack Obama wants to destroy America,” Phillips maintains, warning Obama is “disarming America” because he “believes America is the focus of evil in the modern world.”

John Boehner and the House Republicans cannot seem to grasp the idea that Barack Obama does not simply want his name to go down on his agenda like Johnson did on the Great Society or Roosevelt did on the New Deal. Barack Obama wants to destroy America.

Underneath that grey hair lies the heart of the young anti-American Marxist that went to Occidental and Columbia. He still believes in disarming America, just as he did as a young man. He still believes America is the focus of evil in the modern world, just as he did then.

The Republicans believe if they can just escape the “obstructionist” label, they can move on and win.

How stupid can John Boehner be?

This is not about winning or losing an election. This is about saving the nation.



We conservatives are ready to bolt the GOP. What the hell good is an opposition party that does not want to oppose really bad ideas?

The fate of this nation hangs in the balance. Great men like George Washington, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson founded America. Unfortunately our fate now lies in the hands of John Boehner.

Sotomayor Debunks Right-Wing Line on Courts

In an interview with “60 Minutes” this weekend, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor gave one of the best debunkings I’ve seen of the Right's line that a judge should be no more than an umpire, exercising no independent judgment and facing no difficult questions. Using the politically neutral example of the 3rd Amendment, Sotomayor explains how even the most seemingly clear-cut parts of the Constitution still require interpretation by judges and Justices:

Chief Justice John Roberts made headlines when, in his confirmation hearings, he said that a judge’s job was merely to call “balls and strikes.” The comforting words of his analogy hide the fact that most of the issues the Supreme Court approaches are complex and require human judgment – that’s why they reach the Supreme Court in the first place. They also conveniently obscure the fact that the conservative bloc on the Court is plenty influenced by their own ideology – there are plenty of examples here.

Justice Elena Kagan, in her confirmation hearings, gave another great rebuke to Roberts’ flawed baseball analogy. “We know that not every case is decided 9-0,” she said, “and we know that’s not because anybody’s acting in bad faith. It’s because reasonable people can reasonably disagree sometimes. So in that sense, the law does require a kind of judgment, a kind of wisdom. “

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PFAW

Rand Paul Pushes Conspiracy Theory that Obamacare 'Databanks' Gather Information on Gun Owners

The right-wing group Gun Owners of America has for the past few years been pushing the debunked conspiracy theory that the health care reform law will be used to collect information on gun owners, information that will later be used as part of a gun-confiscation scheme.

Speaking with Family Research Council president Tony Perkins yesterday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) echoed that theory, claiming that President Obama’s new executive actions have “language in there talking about doctors being required to report on patients and ask patients if they own guns or not.”

He warned that President Obama’s “going to use Obamacare apparently to have doctors informing on their patients to whether or not they have guns” and will put the information into “government databanks.” He added: “I’m very much opposed to this kind of information going into government databanks because I fear that the time will come when this data will be misused.”

Paul: He’s going to use Obamacare apparently to have doctors informing on their patients to whether or not they have guns.

Perkins: I mean, that’s crazy.

Paul: How exactly he’s going to make this work, I don’t know, but there is language in there talking about doctors being required to report on patients and ask patients if they own guns or not.

Perkins: I read that and I was just flabbergasted…. Senator, not everybody may know this but you’re also a physician so I think you have probably a pretty different perspective on that, not just as a patient but as a doctor. I mean do you want to ask, how are you feeling, got a little fever and by the way how many guns do you have? I mean, how do you work that into the conversation?

Paul: The whole idea that the government is going to be in between you and your doctor, that the doctor-patient relationship which is a very private relationship. In fact it’s part of our Hippocratic Oath that if you come to me and see me and I’m treating you for problems which often can become personal problems and private problems would you want me going down to the grocery store and saying, I just saw so-and-so and he’s got this. You know it’s really not the kind of relationship you want with your patients.

Same way would you want your government to know and does your government need to know what medications you take, whether you own guns. I’m very much opposed to this kind of information going into government databanks because I fear that the time will come when this data will be misused.

Paul’s interpretation of the executive action is, of course, completely off-base, as are his claims about Obamacare.

The White House statement does discuss having doctors talk to patients about gun safety if someone in the home has mental health issues, rebutting the rumor that Obamacare prohibits doctors from asking about gun ownership.

Contrary to Paul’s claims, this neither “requires” doctors to ask patients about gun ownership nor makes doctors give government “databanks” information on who owns guns. A plain reading of the law finds that it explicitly prohibits such data collection:

‘‘(c) PROTECTION OF SECOND AMENDMENT GUN RIGHTS.—

‘‘(1) WELLNESS AND PREVENTION PROGRAMS.— A wellness and health promotion activity implemented under subsection (a)(1)(D) may not require the disclosure or collection of any information relating to—

‘‘(A) the presence or storage of a lawfully possessed firearm or ammunition in the residence or on the property of an individual; or

‘‘(B) the lawful use, possession, or storage of a firearm or ammunition by an individual.

‘‘(2) LIMITATION ON DATA COLLECTION.—None of the authorities provided to the Secretary under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or an amendment made by that Act shall be construed to authorize or may be used for the collection of any information relating to— ‘‘(A) the lawful ownership or possession of a firearm or ammunition;

‘‘(B) the lawful use of a firearm or ammunition; or

‘‘(C) the lawful storage of a firearm or ammunition.

‘‘(3) LIMITATION ON DATABASES OR DATABANKS.—None of the authorities provided to the Secretary under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or an amendment made by that Act shall be construed to authorize or may be used to maintain records of individual ownership or possession of a firearm or ammunition.

‘‘(4) LIMITATION ON DETERMINATION OF PREMIUM RATES OR ELIGIBILITY FOR HEALTH INSURANCE.— A premium rate may not be increased, health insurance coverage may not be denied, and a discount, rebate, or reward offered for participation in a wellness program may not be reduced or withheld under any health benefit plan issued pursuant to or in accordance with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or an amendment made by that Act on the basis of, or on reliance upon—

‘‘(A) the lawful ownership or possession of a firearm or ammunition; or

‘‘(B) the lawful use or storage of a firearm or ammunition.

‘‘(5) LIMITATION ON DATA COLLECTION REQUIREMENTS FOR INDIVIDUALS.— No individual shall be required to disclose any information under any data collection activity authorized under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or an amendment made by that Act relating to—

‘‘(A) the lawful ownership or possession of a firearm or ammunition; or

‘‘(B) the lawful use, possession, or storage of a firearm or ammunition.’’

Santorum: Colleges 'Indoctrinating' Students in 'Sea of Antagonism Toward Christianity'

The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins welcomed former presidential contender Rick Santorum to his “Washington Watch” radio program on Tuesday, where the two discussed the moral decline of the nation. Santorum blamed colleges and universities for “indoctrinating in a sea of relativism and a sea of antagonism toward Christianity,” leading to the “symptoms” of abortion, marriage and pornography:

Santorum: The cultural indicators that I talked about earlier that are sort of going the wrong way, we're, you know, in ever-increasing numbers, less and less people here in America, you know, and believe in God, and believe in Jesus Christ, and believe in truth and right and wrong. It’s understandable, I mean, if you certainly, if you look at popular culture and what comes out of Hollywood, if you go to our schools and particularly our colleges and universities, they are indoctrinating in a sea of relativism and a sea of antagonism toward Christianity -- religion in general, but Christianity in particular. And so it’s understandable that that happens, but we, you’re right. Abortion is a symptom, marriage is a symptom, I mean pornography is, all of these are symptoms to the fundamental issue that we’ve gotten away from the truth and the Truth-Giver.

Earlier in the program, in a conversation with FOX News’s Todd Starnes, Perkins fondly reminisced about the days “before repressive government” when his elementary school teacher would discipline her students with a yardstick:

Perkins: I remember my third grade teacher had a big Bible, one of the biggest Bibles I ever saw, sitting on the corner of her desk, and on the other side of the desk was a yardstick, and I think she used the yardstick more. In classrooms today, you couldn’t have either one. But that was, we date things in terms of A.D., that was B.R.G., Before Repressive Government, back when God was still welcome in our schools.

PFAW and Allies Mark Citizens United Anniversary, MLK Day With Dozens of Actions Across the Nation, New Data on Election Spending

Washington, DC –  This week People For the American Way joined with ally organizations to mark Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and the third anniversary of Citizens United v. FEC with events drawing attention to the dual threats of voter suppression and unlimited corporate and special interest money in politics. Under the banner of Money Out/Voters In, organizers are hosting “Day of Action” events in more than 76 cities in 33 states on and around the weekend of January 19.

Additionally, two reports highlighting new data on spending in the 2012 election season were released today.  A report by Demos and the U.S. PIRG Education Fund provides a wide-ranging analysis of the role of money in the 2012 elections, and a report by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund and the Center for Media and Democracy examines the role dark money nonprofits and shell corporations played in 2012.

“Voter suppression and unlimited corporate and special interest money in politics serve as barriers to full civic participation, transparency, and accountability,” said Marge Baker, Executive Vice President at People For the American Way. “Both stand in the way of democracy. We are excited to come together with our allies on this important weekend to signal our intentions to confront the multi-faceted assault on the voices of everyday Americans in our political system.”

“Big Money over Voters, or Voters over Big Money. The Kochs and Roves have made their choice, and they're in it for the long-term. Now We, the People are rising up to announce our choice: Money Out, Voters In,” said Robert Weissman, President of Public Citizen. “With the actions on January 19, a growing movement calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, a guarantee of voting rights and a restoration of our democracy is announcing that we're in it for the long haul also, and we aim to win.”

“We are facing a dual attack on our democracy – everyday voters are being disenfranchised while corporations are being hyper-enfranchised,” stated NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous. “We need to fix the fundamentals of our political system if we want to get down to solving our long-term problems.”

“Our reports found clear evidence of what the vast majority of Americans already understand: political power in America is concentrated in the hands of an elite few,” said U.S. PIRG Democracy Advocate Blair Bowie. “It’s time for our leaders in Washington and across the country to take concrete action to build a democracy in which every citizen is truly a political equal. It’s time we make good on the promise of government of, by, and for the people.”

“Getting big money out and more voters in are two critical fronts in the ongoing fight for true political equality in America,” said Demos Counsel Adam Lioz.  “We all deserve a meaningful voice in shaping the decisions that affect our lives, and we won't stand for being blocked by red tape at the polls or drowned out by millionaires and billionaires in the public square.”

“Big, secret money is corrupting our democracy. This was the most expensive election year in the world and one of the least transparent in decades, with nonprofit groups having more influence than ever before while keeping CEO and corporate donors secret,” said Lisa Graves, Executive Director of the Center for Media and Democracy and a former Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department.

“Since the Citizens United decision three years ago, voters have been clear in their disdain for this decision,” said Common Cause President Bob Edgar. “The big question is whether our elected representatives will listen to those voices. Our goal is to build a wave of grassroots support so strong that they cannot ignore it.”

For more information about the Money Out/Voters In Days of Action, please visit http://www.moneyout-votersin.org.

Groups supporting the Money Out/Voters In effort include 350.org, African American Ministers in Action, Campaign for America's Future, Center for Media & Democracy, Citizens For Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Coffee Party, Common Cause, Communications Workers of America, Consumer Action, CREDO Action, Demos, Free Speech for People, Friends of the Earth, Global Exchange, Hip Hop Caucus, League of United Latin American Citizens, Move to Amend, MoveOn, NAACP, National People's Action, National Women's Health Network, Oil Change International, Organic Consumers Association, People For the American Way, Public Citizen, Rootstrikers, Stamp Stampede, Sierra Club, Story of Stuff, U.S. PIRG, United for a Fair Economy, United Republic/Represent.Us.

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Buster Wilson Warns Obama Might Confiscate Guns of Anti-Gay Activists

The American Family Association’s Buster Wilson has been warning for the last few weeks that President Obama is getting ready to confiscate guns en masse. When Obama announced his twenty-three executive actions yesterday, gun groups largely shrugged them off, but not Wilson. In his latest effort to stoke fear, he’s warning that the Obama administration may take guns away from pastors and radio talk show hosts like himself who denounce homosexuality:

Wilson: What if the Attorney General, and listen the reason I say this might happen is because if you remember the first report put out by the Director of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, when the President became President of the United States, she put out a paper talking about the people who are the categories of people who might be homegrown terrorists. In that list she put people who believe in the second coming of Jesus Christ, people who believe in pro-life issues, people who don’t believe in having illegal aliens here, they put a lot of good, decent categories of people in that paper. Well here’s what number four says, the Attorney General can put who he wants to on the list of people who are too dangerous to get guns. What if he decides radio talk show hosts who don’t believe in gay marriage, they’re dangerous, so they shouldn’t get guns; what about pastors who preach against abortion and homosexuality, they’re too dangerous get guns; that could happen.

Contrary to what Wilson said, the fourth executive action simply directs the Attorney General to make sure that people who are already prohibited from owning a firearm do not do so, not to come up with any new categories:

Direct the Attorney General to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.

Not only did Wilson clearly distort the plain wording of the executive actions, but he also grossly misrepresented the DHS report on right-wing terrorism.

He said that the DHS report tacked “good, decent” people “who believe in the second coming of Jesus Christ, people who believe in pro-life issues, people who don’t believe in having illegal aliens here.”

Not so.

The 2009 report [PDF], which concentrates on racist and anti-government militias, only mentions abortion in a single footnote as an example of how violent actions can be driven by a single issue, such as the bombings of clinics or the murder of abortion doctors. The only references to the Second Coming or Christianity are to the racist, anti-Semitic Christian Identity movement – whose members have engaged in violence – and a note about how End Times and doomsday prophesies have in the past radicalized certain individuals or groups.

As for immigration, the DHS only addresses the connection between anti-immigrant militarism and hate crimes against Hispanics, like violent border vigilantes, not political activism on illegal immigration.

The author of the report, Daryl Johnson, is actually an anti-choice, Mormon gun owner and a Republican. His warnings were prescient – right-wing extremists recently committed a massacre in a Sikh temple in Wisconsin and a shooting at the Holocaust Museum.

But to Wilson, completely twisting Obama’s gun orders and the DHS report on right-wing extremism are all par for the course of a job of an AFA spokesman.

Sen. Leahy Talks About Judges at Georgetown Law

The Judiciary Committee chairman condemns obstruction of qualified judicial nominees.
PFAW

PFAW Praises President’s Gun Violence Plan, Urges Quick Action From Congress

WASHINGTON – People For the American Way today praised President Obama for putting forward bold proposals to combat gun violence and urged Congress to quickly take action on the issue.

“Our dire situation requires bold action,” said Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way. “We’ve seen too many American lives lost to senseless gun violence. The president is correct to recognize that there is no one solution to this national blight, just as there is no one cause. We must take quick and meaningful action to prevent further tragedies by restricting access to weapons of war.”

“Gun violence is a threat to everyone in America, but it particularly plagues young African Americans,” added Minister Leslie Watson Malachi, Director of African American Religious Affairs at People For the American Way. “We are morally required to do everything we possibly can to keep our children safe and free from fear, whether they are in the classroom or playing on the streets in their neighborhood, whether they live in Newtown or in Chicago or in the District of Columbia. These proposals are an important step in the right direction.”

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GOP Electoral College Power Play Tests Our Democracy

The GOP proposal to game the Electoral College in key blue states represents a massive escalation in the GOP war against electoral democracy.
PFAW

Reince Priebus, Ron Johnson to Headline Dinner Hosted by Birther Alabama GOP Chair

Sen. Rand Paul isn’t the only prominent Republican hanging out with birthers these days. Next month, RNC chairman Reince Preibus and Wisconson Sen. Ron Johnson will travel to Alabama to headline a dinner hosted by state GOP chairman Bill Armistead. Armistead raised eyebrows last year when he publicly recommended “Dreams From My Real Father,” a “documentary” that promotes the alternate birther theory that President Obama somehow inherited a Marxist worldview from his “real father” Frank Marshall Davis. Somewhat unbelievably, Armistead stated that he had “verified that it is factual, all of it.”

Interestingly, Priebus and Johnson will be stepping into the middle of a fight over whether Armistead will keep his job. (He faces a challenger backed by his longtime rival, state House Speaker Mike Hubbard.) Charles Dean at the Birmingham News reports that Priebus might be attending as a political favored to Armistead:

Some saw Tuesday's late announcement by Armistead that Priebus had accepted the invitation to attend the dinner as a sign that maybe Armistead had convinced the GOP national party chairman to support him.

Late last week Armistead announced that he was supporting Priebus for a second term as Republican Party Chairman. So far Priebus is unopposed for a second term but rumors have persisted for months that a challenger might step up.

UPDATE: The RNC tells the Birmingham News that Priebus is not taking sides in the party chairmanship race.

Rand Paul's Travels with Birthers

While preparing up for the 2016 presidential election, Rand Paul visited Israel in a trip that “was arranged by the American Family Association and included 53 prominent evangelicals and conservative activists.”

This wouldn’t be the first time the far-right AFA worked closely with a potential Republican presidential candidate, as the group also put together Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s “The Response” prayer rally that he used as a springboard into the presidential race.

Guests included top Religious Right organizer David Lane, anti-gay activist Tamara Scott of Concerned Women for America and birther leader Joseph Farah of WorldNetDaily. Farah praised Paul in his column today and saluted his opposition to foreign aid and marriage equality.

Farah’s participation is not surprising as the American Family Association also peddles similar conspiracies.

Farah and AFA spokesman Bryan Fischer have blamed the Sandy Hook shooting on the lack of school prayer, endorsed birther conspiracies, likened gays to terrorists and the Taliban, seek to restrict Muslim immigration and predicted that the Obama administration will use special security forces to persecute political opponents.

Of course, Rand Paul certainly won’t be the only potential GOP presidential candidate to court extremists like Farah and the AFA as more Republicans gear up to run.

Coburn: Not Raising the Debt Ceiling 'Might be a Wonderful Experiment'

In an interview with the American Family Association’s Sandy Rios today, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) said that a government default – which would crash the U.S. economy – may actually be a “wonderful experiment.” Coburn encouraged Republican resistance to raising the debt ceiling, the routine mechanism that allows the government to borrow to meet its existing financial obligations. 

Coburn justified his opposition to raising the debt ceiling by using the false equivalence of the federal budget with a household budget. He also falsely claimed that programs like Social Security and Medicare would not be impacted by a default and even used inflated statistics to attack public workers, suggesting that they are to blame for the national debt.

He concluded by arguing that “our freedoms are going to be put at risk” under President Obama and expressing doubt that the nation could “survive” Obama’s leadership.

We can also now add Coburn to the list of GOP leaders who apparently have no qualms appearing on shows hosted by the extremists at AFA. Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised: he seems to fit right in to the group’s fact-free alternate universe.

Coburn: Let me address again, which I didn’t, this idea we’re not going to pay our bills. We’re going to collect $200 billion a month if in fact the government were to not extend the debt limit. Social Security would be paid, Medicare would be paid, the essentials would be paid; it’s the non-essentials that wouldn’t be paid, it’s the $250-300 billion a year in stupid things we do that we wouldn’t pay, it’s the programs that aren’t an absolute necessity that wouldn’t get funded, the things that would be a necessity would get funded. It might be a wonderful experiment, regardless who wins the next election or not, just to see if we could live on the money that’s coming into the Treasury and not have to borrow against the future of our children.

Rios: But Dr. Coburn, who decides that. [Obama] made that threat yesterday when he said you know, Social Security recipients would have delayed checks and military and on and on the most horrible list of all these horrible cuts that would happen. Doesn’t he decide that? Doesn’t he ultimately decide?

Coburn: He can decide it but the point is, look, we’re coming to a point in our country where the cost of our profligate spending in the past is going to be so great and so manipulated that our freedoms are going to be put at risk. I’m not sure we shouldn’t challenge that. I’m not sure the debt limit is the place to challenge that. I’m not sure that we should continue to run a government that is highly inefficient and highly ineffective where the average federal employee works 3.8 weeks less than the rest of us and makes on average twice what the rest of us make. I’m not sure we should continue down that road. That doesn’t mean federal employees aren’t good employees and it doesn’t mean they don’t do a good job but we have set it up where we’ve undermined self-reliance, we’ve undermined efficiency, we’ve undermined expectations in this country as far as those who work for the federal government and then we’ve overpromised.

So when the federal government’s discretionary spending is about forty percent bigger than it was eleven years ago and the average family is tightening things and living within their means and living within their budget, its’ time for that comparison to be seen. Maybe we lose that battle but if we lose that battle we’re going to lose our country anyway and that’s what people ought to be thinking about. you cannot continue to borrow the way this President wants to borrow and our country survive.

Gaffney Troubled that Obama's CIA Pick Speaks Arabic

Frank Gaffney is demonstrating once again why even an increasing number of Republicans aren’t taking him seriously anymore, as he is attacking President Obama’s nominee to head the CIA for speaking Arabic. In his Washington Times column today, Gaffney said that counterterrorism adviser John Brennan’s knowledge of Arabic and past role as CIA station chief in Saudi Arabia are actually negatives and reveal his terrorist sympathies. Gaffney also took issue with Brennan’s resistance to using the term “jihad” and argued that Brennan is “the single most important enabler of the Islamic supremacists’ agenda in government today” as he “has helped legitimate, empower, fund, arm and embolden them abroad, and embraced and appeased them here at home.”

Mr. Brennan is a textbook example of a U.S. official who has “gone native.” He speaks Arabic and was formerly the top CIA officer in Saudi Arabia. He has shown himself to be deeply sympathetic to Islamists — for example, excusing and dissembling about their commitment to jihad and the necessity of not offending them.

After President Obama himself, Mr. Brennan is, arguably, the single most important enabler of the Islamic supremacists’ agenda in government today. In his role as homeland security adviser to the president — a position that does not require Senate confirmation and that he was given as a consolation prize when it became clear that he might not be confirmable as CIA director back in 2009 — Mr. Brennan has helped legitimate, empower, fund, arm and embolden them abroad, and embraced and appeased them here at home.

Of particular concern is the fact that Mr. Brennan has presided over the policy of engaging the Muslim Brotherhood, which has consequently been portrayed by a politicized intelligence community as “largely secular” and “eschewing violence”; the shredding of training briefings and the proscribing of trainers that might upset Muslims by telling the truth about Shariah and the jihad it commands; the penetration of U.S. agencies by Muslim Brotherhood-associated individuals as employees or senior advisers; and misrepresentations to Congress about the true, jihadist character of the attack that killed four Americans in Benghazi this past Sept. 11.



Ordinarily, a president should be given wide latitude by the Senate to appoint those he wants to staff his administration. This is no ordinary time, though, and this is no ordinary president or administration. The circumstances are such that a Team Obama that is pursuing so dangerous a policy course must be challenged and impeded, not encouraged and abetted.

The Senate’s constitutional responsibility to confirm senior executive branch appointees is one of the few it hasn’t compromised or allowed the president to expropriate. It must exercise its authority to assure “quality control” with respect to his picks for top national security Cabinet posts.

Indeed, the fact that Mr. Obama seeks not one or two but three individuals who share his determination to achieve the radical and dangerous national security transformation he seeks in his second term demands that senators defy him. After all, should the Senate fail to object to this trajectory by rigorously debating and defeating any — and preferably all — of these problematic choices, its members risk not only allowing but becoming party to the realization of a world without America.

PFAW Delivers 178,000 Petitions Calling for Michele Bachmann’s Removal from Intelligence Committee

Today, after an overwhelming response from our members and supporters, members of PFAW’s staff delivered a whopping 178,000 petitions to House Speaker John Boehner calling on him to remove Rep. Michele Bachmann from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Last year, Bachmann earned rebukes from Democrats and Republicans alike when she accused Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin and others of a secret allegiance to the Muslim Brotherhood. In an interview first reported by PFAW’s Right Wing Watch, she alleged that “there has been deep penetration in the halls of our United States government by the Muslim Brotherhood.” Later, she accused President Obama of trying to implement Sharia law in the United States and abroad.

The petition states, "Members of the House Intelligence Committee are entrusted with classified information that affects the safety and security of all Americans. That information should not be in the hands of anyone with such a disregard for honesty, misunderstanding of national security, and lack of respect for his or her fellow public servants.”

Boehner, who is among the Republicans who condemned Bachmann’s allegations about Abedin, has not yet responded.

PFAW

Will the Texas GOP Fall for a Chain Email Warning of 'Islamic Indoctrination' in Schools?

After a chain email sparked rumors that Texas was “indoctrinating children with Islam” and anti-American views, the Irving school district launched an investigation. But the examination of the school curriculum, called CSCOPE, found that the charges were bogus. That didn’t stop WorldNetDaily, which often reads like an amalgam of erroneous chain emails, from running with the story.

WND is out with a new article, “Obama Interested in ‘Allah-is-God’ Curriculum,” which claims the Obama administration is using CSCOPE as part of a plan to “nationalize education.” It includes an interview with Texas Republican State Senator Dan Patrick, who says he might launch an investigation into CSCOPE as chairman of the Senate Education Committee.

CSCOPE, the controversial online curriculum that taught “Allah is God” and currently is used in 80 percent of Texas school districts, has caught the attention of the Obama administration’s Department of Education.

A source in the Texas education system has told WND that Common Core operatives in the U.S. Department of Education are actively pursuing CSCOPE as a way around the Texas legislative process.

Texas is one of the few states still resisting implementation of Common Core, Obama’s national standards initiative, which many feel is a transparent attempt to nationalize education and progressively control classroom content with minimal parental oversight.

Implementation of Common Core is known to have been made a condition of school systems’ receipt of federal dollars under Obama’s “Race to the Top” program. CSCOPE recently has come under fire for evidence of what sources claim to be radical content and secrecy. Now new information of such a radical agenda has surfaced showing CSCOPE connections to Obama mentor and self-acknowledged terror group member Bill Ayers.



Speaking with WND, Texas Sen. Dan Patrick, new chairman of the education committee, communicated his intent to hold high-profile hearings and investigate CSCOPE.

Sen. Patrick noted, “Any system where the chairman of the state board can’t get a password to explore their site in detail for six months, requires teachers to sign an agreement that could subject them to criminal penalties, and is not easily transparent to parents, needs to be closely examined by the legislature.”

When asked if he would support placing CSCOPE under state oversight and/or local school board oversight, Sen. Patrick answered carefully, explaining, “We will make that decision after our hearings. However, I have concerns of any curriculum program that is in the majority of our school districts without some level of oversight by either the SBOE, TEA, or the legislature.”
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