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Huelskamp 'Not Convinced' Sandy Relief Bill Is Necessary; Claims Obama's Policies are Akin to Communism

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) appeared on the radio show of American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer today where the far-right congressman said he found no reason for a Sandy relief bill, arguing that FEMA “can’t spend all the [money] quick enough.” Of course, FEMA just today said that the flood insurance program is about to run out of funds and officials from Sandy-affected states roundly criticized the House Republican leadership for refusing to put the urgent care package up to a vote. But the congressman maintained the bill is “loaded up with pork” and that he is “not convinced yet” that a Sandy relief package is needed, seemingly dumbfounded that “for some reason” people want the aid.

While discussing the fiscal cliff deal, Huelskamp told Fischer that Obama has the view that “government should run everything” which he got straight from “the communist centers of the world.” “Far too many of my Republican colleagues don’t understand that about the President, what his ultimate goals are,” Huelskamp said, “that’s frustrating given that we know where the President is at.”

Gaffney: Obama has a 'Profound Affinity for' Islamism

It is always fascinating to watch far-right activists claim that Muslims should be stripped of their First Amendment rights while denouncing the Obama administration for allegedly trying to undermine the freedom of religion all in the same breath.

Take, for example, Frank Gaffney, who testified in a Tennessee court on behalf of a group that tried to ban a mosque by arguing that Islam is not be protected under the First Amendment. He spoke with Eagle Forum head Phyllis Schlafly yesterday about Obama, whom Gaffney thinks is likely a secret Muslim, about his purported “assaults” on religious freedom.

After Schlafly named a series of lawsuits (most of which had no connection to the Obama administration) that she says prove Obama is hostile to the First Amendment, Gaffney asserted that Obama is not only trying to impose a “secularist agenda” but also champion “unalloyed efforts to promote Islamism.” He argued that Obama has a “profound affinity for” Islamism and asked Schlafly how that squares with his secularism.

Schlafly, however, couldn’t come up with a coherent answer besides arguing that Obama is wrong for saying that “we are not a Christian nation” since that’s “what the founding fathers were saying all the time.”

Gaffney: These seem sort of like small and unconnected assaults, but one of the places where we see and you write very powerfully about, this coming to ahead as you say, is the exception to his secularist agenda, which seems to be President Obama’s profound affinity for and I would argue unalloyed efforts to promote Islamism. Tell us what that’s about and how that’s translating into further problematic behavior with respect to our religious freedoms.

Schlafly: Well my book, No Higher Power, shows how he is trying to completely secularize our country but he is giving a pass to Islam. You find that he doesn’t attack Islam and he went over to one of those countries and announced that we are not a Christian nation, but America is a Christian nation, look at all of our founding documents and what the founding fathers were saying all the time and the very beginning. It is very peculiar the way he gives a pass to Islam.

Maybe Schlafly and Gaffney can read Thomas Jefferson’s autobiography where he explicitly states that Muslims have religious freedom and no religion has a privileged status, or see the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli negotiated by George Washington and ratified unanimously under John Adams which reads in part:

As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility [sic], of Mussulmen [Muslims]; and, as the said States never have entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

Tea Party Nation: Obama 'Hates America'

Tea Party Nation head Judson Phillips goes full Dinesh D’Souza today in his daily email to members, warning that President Obama “hates America” because he “looks at America through his Marxist background” and wants to destroy it by sabotaging the economy. He tells TPN supporters that Obama seeks “the power to be a dictator” in order to introduce “tyranny” and “completely bring down the American economy and possibly the American state.”

What he really wants is the power to be a dictator.

Barack Obama does not like the American system of government. He doesn’t like our founding fathers either. Our founding fathers were very wise. They dealt with tyranny in their lifetime. The fundamental purpose of the way they set up our government was not to be efficient or even to accommodate rapid change.

It was to block the accumulation of power by one man.

Barack Obama wants to change this.



Obama does not love America. He hates America. He looks at America through his Marxist background and sees not the greatest nation in the world. He does not see the country that has done more good for more people than any other nation. He sees the evil oppressive power that Marxists always view America as.

By continuing to borrow money, unabated, he knows sooner or later debt will completely bring down the American economy and possibly the American state.

There is a deeper battle here as well.

If Barack Obama and the Party of Treason can beat the Republicans down to the point where they abdicate or at least refuse to fight for their Constitutionally mandated role in controlling the purse, America will no longer have three co-equal branches of government.

If Obama wins this next battle, it will fundamentally transform America and our government. Which is exactly what he said he wanted to do when he ran in 2008. Obama has spoken several times, almost longingly talking about how he wishes he had dictatorial powers. Now, here is his chance.

The legislative branch, instead of being equal to the executive will now become inferior and submissive. The tyranny of the strong leader that our founding fathers feared will have materialized here in America.

PFAW Commends President for Standing Up For Stalled Judicial Nominees

WASHINGTON – People For the American Way today commended President Obama for re-nominating the 33 federal judicial nominees the Senate failed to confirm in the last Congress, and urged the Senate to act quickly to confirm all 33.

“The president is sending a strong message to the new Senate about the importance of ending the judicial vacancy crisis,” said Marge Baker, Executive Vice President of People For the American Way. “It is imperative that the Senate work with the  White House to confirm qualified nominees to our federal courts and put an end to the obstruction that has denied too many Americans timely access to justice. These nominees could and should have been confirmed last year. There is no excuse for delaying their confirmations any longer.”

One third of the 33 nominees that the president sent to the Senate were approved by the Judiciary Committee last year but were stalled by Republicans on the Senate floor. Others were awaiting hearings or votes in committee. One, D.C. Circuit nominee Caitlin Halligan, was first nominated by the president to fill a vacancy on this critically important court more than two years ago. 

The nominations sent back to the Senate reflect President Obama’s efforts to bring diversity to the federal bench. 25 of the 33  nominees sent to the Senate today are women or people of color.


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Thanks to House GOP, New Year Starts Without Violence Against Women Act

Back in April, the Senate passed  a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which since 1994 has provided funding and training for state and local law enforcement to prevent domestic violence and sexual assault. The law has worked incredibly well: between 1993 and 2010, the rate of intimate partner violence fell by 67 percent and the reporting of domestic violence has increased dramatically.

But this week, the Violence Against Women Act expires because House Republicans refused to reauthorize it. They refused even to hold a vote on it, instead proposing a watered-down bill that the president promised to veto. What they objected to were the new bill’s increased protections for immigrants, LGBT people and Native American women, which Majority Leader Eric Cantor characterized as “issues that divide us.”

Now the new Congress will have to start the process of reauthorizing VAWA all over again. Until they do, women across the country will be left without the safety net that VAWA provides.

PFAW

Swanson: Obama's Reelection 'Solidified our Doom' and Empowered 'Softy-Wofty, Weeny Socialists'

On the latest episode of Generations Radio, Pastor Kevin Swanson recounted the Religious Right’s political drubbings last year, especially the failure to defeat President Obama. He claimed Obama’s re-election “solidified our doom” and will encourage the election of “a bunch of softy-wofty, weeny socialists for the years to come.” Swanson maintained that women put Obama over the top because they tend to have “more communist” views. Later his cohost, pastor Dave Buehner, agreed and said Obama “doesn’t have a mandate; he’s got a woman-date. The men didn’t vote for him, it was the women who voted for him.”

They further speculated that TIME had trouble deciding whether to name Obama or North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un “Man of the Year” since they are “both committed to Marx.”

Swanson: It solidified our doom, it effectively said there is no way out of this thing at least for the time being unless we get back to the foundations, reconstruct the foundations, which is something we’ve been talking about for a long time. Unless we rebuild families, fatherhood, young men, unless we bring back manhood, a biblical manhood, we are going to be a bunch of softy-wofty, weeny socialists for the years to come. That’s what’s going to happen. It’s going to be the single women that run most of the households in America voting and they almost always vote more socialist, more government, more communist, because they find their security in the state and not in the social structure of that family. Dave, we’re headed in that election. I think the 2012 election really was a turning point for America.



Swanson: The man has tremendous influence. He has got a mandate; he’s got a lot of support—

Buehner: He doesn’t have a mandate; he’s got a woman-date. The men didn’t vote for him, it was the women who voted for him, which is why he’s their ‘Man of the Year.’

Swanson: He’s got a woman-date, big time. You know, the North Korean president got the most votes from the audience for ‘Man of the Year,’ he was a close second. If you had a choice between Barack Obama and the North Korean president, they’re both committed to Marx. They are, think about it. If you interviewed both of them and you said: what do you think about Marx and the redistribution of wealth? Remember what he said on that radio station in Chicago, Barack Obama some ten years ago, he said they should have had redistribution of the wealth in the Constitution. He is so committed to Marxism and so is the North Korean president, but it was a tossup for TIME Magazine.

After attacking Obama’s “woman-date,” they then went on to ridicule Sandra Fluke. Buehner later falsely claimed that the health care reform law included “free access” to abortifacients, and said Fluke didn’t win TIME’s honor because “there’s some question about how ladylike she might be.” Swanson wondered if Fluke is a woman at all.

Buehner: This is the year that we learned that it is a fundamental right for women to get free access and their abortifacients provided free. Sandra Fluke was there telling us how it’s unconscionable that women would have to pay.

Swanson: Time did not make her ‘Woman of the Year’ though; I’d like to point that out. I think that’s a positive.

Buehner: Well there’s some question about how ladylike she might be.

Swanson: So they were like, ‘Man of the Year,’ ‘Woman of the Year,’ we’re not exactly sure.

Buehner: Yeah, you know.

Swanson: I understand.

The Christian Right activists later went on to mock Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was recently hospitalized for a blood clot, with Buehner joking that her recent medical problems were a “dog ate her homework” excuse and that “her tummy’s upset.” Swanson expressed shock that Egypt elected a Muslim president and said that Clinton is elated over the election of a Muslim because “it involves killing Christians.” They agreed that Clinton “might even put on a burka” to put Christian-killing Muslims in power, which makes sense because that’s what any “softy-wofty” would do.

Swanson: The Egyptians placed a Muslim into the presidency, which does not bode well for freedom in America. Dave, I wonder what the Secretary of State of the United States thinks about the election in Egypt. I mean, they were pretty excited about the revolution.

Buehner: They were, the Arab Spring. And Hillary Clinton the Secretary of State was unavailable for comment. It turns out that she slipped on something and maybe banged her head—dog ate her homework. She’s not feeling well, her tummy’s upset and she’s not going to make a comment.

Swanson: It’s a sad, sad day in Egypt.

Buehner: The Muslim Brotherhood, not just a Muslim but a Muslim Brotherhood, we’re talking about the radical jihadists.

Swanson: So Egypt, out of the frying pan and into the fire for Egypt. I’m afraid that a lot of these secularist nations are going to flip-flop from secularism into hardcore Muslimism and that’s not going to be a very nice transition because the Muslims have never really been known to be much kinder than the secularists, socialists and communists that have ruled these nations.

Buehner: No, they tend to be a little on the violent edge.

Swanson: If you were Hillary Clinton and you had a choice between a Christian president and a Muslim president, which would you go for?

Buehner: If I was Hillary? Well Hillary would choose the Muslim.

Swanson: Oh yeah, of course. It involves killing Christians, I mean yeah.

Buehner: She might even put on a burka to get that done.

Swanson: Yeah.

Senators Speak Out for Judicial Confirmations

Sens. Whitehouse, Cardin, and (Tom) Udall discuss how Republican obstruction of judicial nominations is damaging the nation's system of justice.
PFAW

Concerns that Citizens United May Impact Your Access to Birth Control

What does Citizens United have to do with women’s health care?  According to a decision last week from the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, perhaps more than you may think.

Just a week after the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Hobby Lobby’s petition to prevent enforcement of the Affordable Care Act’s contraception coverage provision, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals made a ruling at odds with that decision.  Last Friday the panel granted a motion for an injunction pending appeal to plaintiffs Cyril and Jane Korte who run Korte & Luitjohan Contractors, a construction company.  The Kortes had argued that the contraception mandate of the ACA violated their right to religious freedom. 

In other words, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals decided that – at least temporarily – the company does not have to comply with the Obama Administration’s rules that most employer-provided health care plans must cover birth control.

ThinkProgress’s Ian Millhiser points out that the Appeals Court cited Citizens United in their reasoning, a move that he finds “ominous.” Millhiser highlights a line from the decision – “That the Kortes operate their business in the corporate form is not dispositive of their claim. See generally Citizens United v. Fed. Election Comm’n, 130 S. Ct. 876 (2010)” – before arguing that:

As a matter of current law, this decision is wrong. As the Supreme Court explained in United States v. Lee, “[w]hen followers of a particular sect enter into commercial activity as a matter of choice, the limits they accept on their own conduct as a matter of conscience and faith are not to be superimposed on the statutory schemes which are binding on others in that activity.” Lee established — with no justice in dissent — that religious liberty does not allow an employer to “impose the employer’s religious faith on the employees,” such as by forcing employees to give up their own rights because of the employer’s objections to birth control.

Nevertheless, the Seventh Circuit’s citation to Citizens United is an ominous sign. Lee was decided at a time when the Court understood that corporations should not be allowed to buy and sell elections. That time has passed, and the precedents protecting against corporate election-buying were overruled in Citizens United. It is not difficult to imagine the same five justices who tossed out longstanding precedent in Citizens United doing the same in a case involving whether employers can impose their religious beliefs on their employees.


Circuit Judge Ilana Diamond Rovner also raised issues with the decision.  In her dissent, she addressed the corporation issue head-on.  She noted that:


...it is the corporation rather than the Kortes individually which will pay for the insurance coverage. The corporate form may not be dispositive of the claims raised in this litigation, but neither is it meaningless: it does separate the Kortes, in some real measure, from the actions of their company.


Similarly, our affiliate People For the American Way Foundation’s Paul Gordon noted last month in reference to the Hobby Lobby decision that the question of where to draw the line in terms of government regulation of religious institutions and individuals is a tricky one.  Still, he pointed out:


The requirement to provide certain health insurance for your employees – not for yourself, but for people you hire in a business you place in the public stream of commerce – seems a reasonable one.

 

PFAW

Anti-Gay Coalition Leader Cites Murder Rate to Oppose Marriage Equality

Last month, anti-gay groups in Illinois formed the Coalition to Protect Children and Marriage to oppose impending legislation to legalize same-sex marriage in the state. Coalition leader Paul Caprio of Family-PAC spoke to Sandy Rios today and warned that the gay rights bill will cause more children to go into foster care and seek state assistance. He even pointed to the city of Chicago’s murder rate as a reason to oppose marriage equality.

Listen: 

We think it’s important that we block this in the state of Illinois. We know that there have been several referendums recently in other more progressive states, frankly more liberal states, where this has passed by narrow margins, but we feel that it’s very important to stand up. You know, it’s interesting, when you stop to think about it what should the interest of the state be relative to the issue of marriage? The state, more than anyone, should be looking at marriage in terms of protection of children if for no other reason that if children are not protected, and children need foster care or they need DCF [Department for Children and Families] assistance, it costs the state so much more money. Just looking at it from the point of view from the state, not the point of view that we look at things from, including the moral perspective of this issue, but it’s really interesting when you stop to think about it. Chicago, it was announced yesterday, is murder capital of the United States: 506 murders. We have the second highest unwed—or children out of wedlock birth rate, of any major city in the United States, right behind Detroit. All of these things are for reasons and one of the major reasons is the breakdown and the lack of a stable family for children.

Empty Courtrooms in Obama’s First Term: A Slow Start on Judicial Nominations Magnified Many Times Over By Republican Obstruction

TO: Interested Parties
FROM: Marge Baker, Executive Vice President, People For the American Way
DATE: January 2, 2013

SUBJECT: Empty Courtrooms in Obama’s First Term: A Slow Start on Judicial Nominations Magnified Many Times Over By Republican Obstruction

As the U.S. Senate departs for the year, it leaves behind unfinished business: four long-pending circuit court nominations and 70 unfilled vacancies in the federal courts, with another 20 upcoming vacancies already announced.

President Obama ends his first term with more federal judicial vacancies than when he began. There are a number of reasons for this failure to efficiently fill seats in the federal courts, including the president’s slow start in making nominations in the early years of his first term. But that slow start was magnified many times over by Senate Republicans’ extreme intransigence, leading to a historic vacancy crisis in our federal courts that has persisted long after the White House picked up its pace on nominations. In an effort to keep the courts dominated by George W. Bush-nominated conservatives and to stall the president’s agenda wherever possible, Senate Republicans have stymied the nomination and confirmation of federal judicial nominees at every step in the process and at an unprecedented scale.

The result was that almost every one of President Obama’s first-term judicial nominees was delayed in the Judiciary Committee, and once approved by the Committee, waited an average of three times as long for a confirmation vote from the full Senate as did President Bush’s first-term nominees.

That persistent obstruction led to record vacancy levels in the federal courts. The 55 vacancies at the start of Obama’s presidency jumped to 90 over the course of his first year in office, and they have rarely gone below that number since. Notably, the president also ends his first term without confirming a single judge to the enormously influential Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, four of whose 11 seats are now vacant.

There were, of course, bright spots in the past four years of judicial nominations. Two extraordinarily qualified women earned seats on the Supreme Court. Sonia Sotomayor became the nation’s first Latina Supreme Court justice, and Elena Kagan brought the total number of women on the Court to three for the first time in history.

President Obama also brought unprecedented diversity to the lower federal courts. 41 percent of President Obama’s confirmed judicial nominees have been women – the highest percentage in history – and he has now put  more women on the federal bench in four years than President Bush did in eight. President Obama has also nominated a higher percentage of African Americans, Hispanics, and Asian Americans than any previous president, ensuring that our federal courts are beginning to reflect the country they serve. In addition, President Obama has put more openly LGBT people on the federal bench than all of his predecessors combined.

But this effort to bring talented, fair-minded Americans with a diversity of backgrounds to the federal bench has been hampered by a consistent and needless slow-walking of nominees in the U.S. Senate. This memo outlines the obstruction tactics that have resulted in a persistently high vacancy rate in the federal courts and needless delays for Americans seeking justice.

Abuse of the Filibuster and Filibuster Equivalents

The most well-known tool of Senate obstruction – the filibuster – has been abused to a new level by the Senate GOP in the last two Congresses. In 2005, many Senate Republicans loudly proclaimed that it was unconstitutional – not just a bad idea, but actually a violation of the United States Constitution – for Democratic senators to filibuster a small number of George W. Bush’s circuit court nominees on the well-documented grounds that they were dangerously out of the mainstream. A few others joined the bipartisan “Gang of 14,” agreeing that filibusters of judicial nominations were only appropriate under undefined “extraordinary circumstances.”  After January 20, 2009, they threw their claimed principles to the wind and made clear just what constitutes “extraordinary circumstances” in their book: being nominated by a Democratic president.

The Senate GOP  expanded  the use of filibusters to stall the confirmation of consensus circuit court nominees. Of the ten circuit court nominations on which Democrats have had to file cloture in order to break GOP obstruction, half had cleared the Judiciary Committee with overwhelming bipartisan support, and half went on to be confirmed with similarly overwhelming bipartisan support. In one typical example, Republicans filibustered the nomination of Adalberto Jordan of Florida to sit on the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, blocking a vote for four months after he was approved unanimously by the Judiciary Committee. (In contrast, the average confirmed circuit court nominee during President Bush's first term waited only a month for a floor vote.) Jordan, who had the strong support of Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, would become the first Cuban American to sit on the Eleventh Circuit. Once the filibuster was broken 89-5, he was confirmed in a 94-5 vote. No apologies or explanations for the filibuster were ever given.

Notably, the Senate GOP has been willing to filibuster even noncontroversial district court nominees, who historically have faced little partisan resistance on their way to trial court positions. The majority party had to move to end a filibuster of one district court nominee during the Clinton administration and one during the George W. Bush administration. In contrast, in just four years of President Obama’s administration, the majority has been forced to file twenty cloture petitions to end filibusters of district court nominees, almost all of whom were eventually confirmed unanimously or near-unanimously.

And this is just obstruction that ended in cloture votes. Because scheduling a vote in the Senate requires unanimous consent, Senate Republicans have been able to quietly delay votes on judicial nominees for months without stating a reason. These quiet delays – which effectively amount to filibusters but are not formally recorded as such – have led to a tremendous and damaging slowing of the confirmation process. President Obama’s circuit court nominees have, on average, been forced to wait 135 days between committee approval and a vote from the full Senate. In contrast, President Bush’s first-term circuit court nominees waited an average of just 37 days for a Senate vote. Similarly, President Obama’s district court nominees have waited an average of 103 days for a Senate vote, in contrast to just 35 days for Bush’s first-term nominees.

Three of the four currently pending circuit court nominees have been held up by this type of silent filibuster: the GOP has simply refused to allow confirmation votes for Patty Shwartz (Third Circuit, waiting for a vote since March), Richard Taranto (Federal Circuit, also waiting since March), and William Kayatta (First Circuit, waiting since April).  The fourth – Robert Bacharach – has been waiting “only” since June. Republicans defeated a cloture petition to end the filibuster of Bacharach’s nomination, even after his home-state Republican senator Tom Coburn said that such a move would be “stupid.” Not one of these nominees is opposed by their home state senators.  In fact, two – Maine’s Kayatta and Oklahoma’s Bacharach – come from states where those supportive senators are both Republicans.  All four nominees have received the highest possible evaluation of their qualifications by the ABA.  They simply are not controversial.  Their “problem” is that they are mainstream jurists nominated by President Obama.

Creative Obstruction

Filibusters and obstruction tactics on the Senate floor are the most visible types of Senate gridlock, but the GOP’s obstruction of President Obama’s first term judicial nominees went much deeper.

It started with the very process of finding potential nominees. President Obama has consulted extensively with home state senators to find qualified federal judicial nominees. But despite these efforts, a number of nominees are stuck in the Judiciary Committee awaiting hearings because the nominee’s home-state senators have refused to give their permission for the nomination to go forward. In committee jargon, these senators have not signed the “blue slip” signaling a formal go-ahead. 

For instance, the people of Georgia can thank their own senators for two long-open district court vacancies. In January 2011, President Obama nominated Linda T. Walker and V. Natasha Perdew Silas to fill two officially-designated emergency vacancies in Georgia’s Northern District. Sens. Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss opposed Silas but never said why. Nevertheless, that was enough to keep her from even getting a hearing before the Judiciary Committee. And since Silas’s nomination was linked to Walker’s, the Georgia senators’ machinations wrecked both nominations. Similarly, without giving a reason, Isakson and Chambliss have not submitted their blue slips for the undoubtedly qualified Jill Pryor for a Georgia-designated Eleventh Circuit seat, leaving her nomination in limbo for 10 months and counting.


In 2011, freshman Wisconsin senator Ron Johnson  refused to submit his blue slips when President Obama renominated a circuit and district court nominee who had not gotten votes in 2010. These were nominees who had been recommended  by a bipartisan commission, and no other newly elected senator that year blocked similar renominations in their state. As with Georgia’s district court nominations, these were returned to the White House, and the seats remain vacant and without nominees.

This summer Louisiana Sen. David Vitter blocked the committee from considering the nomination of Shelly Dick to a district court seat she’d been nominated to back in April, unilaterally deciding that the Judiciary Committee should not consider her nomination because it was too close to the presidential election. After Obama’s victory, Vitter relented, presenting her to the committee with his full support last month (but too late to be confirmed in 2012, as she should have been). In Nevada, Sen. Dean Heller has blocked a committee hearing on Elissa Cadish for reasons widely condemned as ludicrous: before the Supreme Court’s 2008 gun control decision in Heller, she correctly described to a newspaper what was then the state of Second Amendment law.

Unfortunately, even once nominees had a chance to testify before the Judiciary Committee, they were not free from stalling tactics. Ranking Member Chuck Grassley, like Ranking Member Jeff Sessions before him, took advantage of a rule allowing the minority party to postpone committee votes on nominees to stall all but five of the nominees the committee considered – a full 97% of the nominees that have come before the committee for a vote. These nominations were delayed anywhere between one and six weeks before heading to further delays on the Senate floor.

Empty Excuses

In attempting to defend the indefensible, Senate Republicans have been flaunting faulty statistics and nonsensical comparisons. Criticized last month for his consistent use of stalling tactics, Sen. Grassley claimed that the Senate had confirmed more nominees in President Obama's first term than in a “similar period” in Bush’s presidency. The “similar period” he referred to was in fact a “dissimilar period” – he cherry-picked numbers in order to compare President Obama’s first term with George W. Bush’s second term, in which the Senate confirmed fewer nominees simply because there were fewer vacancies to fill. And in any event, Bush’s second-term confirmed nominees, just like his first, got a floor vote on average far more quickly than Obama’s.

A Second-Term Focus on the Courts

One of the Senate’s key duties is to ensure the health of the nation’s judicial branch. But the Republican minority has increasingly ignored its duty to “advise and consent,” instead using judicial nominees as pawns in politically-motivated gridlock. This has resulted in a vacancy crisis that has left federal courts across the country understaffed and unable to provide swift access to individuals and businesses seeking their day in court. It has also meant that the right-wing ideology that President Bush required in his judicial nominees continues to dominate the federal courts.

Elections have consequences. The American people once again decisively chose President Obama as the person we want to be choosing our federal judges. He has made an effort to name fair jurists with broad bases of support and diverse backgrounds. Senate Republicans have a responsibility to take their “advise and consent” duties seriously, considering nominees on their merits and moving the confirmation process as efficiently as possible in order to ensure a court system that works for the Americans who depend on it.

President Obama has signaled that he will make judicial nominations a priority in his second term. The Senate must do better in the next four years to ensure that Americans have a federal court system that works.
 

How the NRA is Working with Senate Republicans to Block Judicial Nominees

The New York Times’ Linda Greenhouse has a great blog post up on the National Rifle Association’s little-known role in influencing Senate votes on federal judicial nominees. Greenhouse focuses on the NRA’s effort to scare Republican Senators away from voting for the Supreme Court nominations of Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan – neither of whom had any actual Second Amendment record – and its successful effort to frustrate the DC Circuit nomination of Caitlin Halligan, who had once represented the state of New York in a gun control case.

These are the most prominent examples of the NRA’s efforts to keep qualified judicial nominees off the federal bench without reason. But there are plenty more examples out there. One of the most appalling is that of Elissa Cadish, who President Obama nominated to fill a district court seat in Nevada back in February. The NRA immediately got to work to stop Cadish’s nomination. Why? One month before the Supreme Court’s Heller decision – in which it overturned decades of case law to state that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual’s right to own firearms – Cadish correctly answered a questionnaire about the current state of Second Amendment law. At the time, Cadish correctly stated that the law that she would follow as a district court judge did not include the individual right to bear firearms. After Heller, she clarified that she would of course follow current law, which now did include this right.

This was a sign of proper judicial restraint – district court judges are in the business of applying the law as interpreted by higher courts – but to the NRA it was an excuse to bring down a judicial nominee. The gun group strong-armed Nevada Sen. Dean Heller into opposing the nomination and that was that. Heller refused to give his permission for the Senate Judiciary Committee to even hold a hearing on Cadish (permission is traditionally required from both home-state senators), and her nomination foundered.

The NRA didn’t get involved with these judicial nominations because it had substantive reasons to oppose the nominees. It got involved because it is, in effect, a codependent wing of the Republican party. Greenhouse points out that it was Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell who reached out to the NRA about opposing Sotomayor, rather than the other way around. Senate Republicans want to stop President Obama from filling seats on the federal courts. They then used the NRA as a useful bludgeon to keep in line senators who might consider being reasonable. The NRA and the Republican leadership get what they want from this relationship. The rest of us get a gridlocked Senate, a vacancy crisis in the federal courts and nation awash in firearms.

PFAW

Thank You from PFAW Founder Norman Lear

Please take a moment to watch this end-of-the-year thank you message for you and all of PFAW's wonderful supporters around the world from PFAW founder Norman Lear:

year end donate

PFAW

'Prophets' Forecasted Romney Victory Until He Lost

Not only were many conservative leaders confidently predicting a comfortable Romney victory in last month’s elections but so were many Religious Right activists who cloaked the imminent Romney win in spiritual terms. Even the “Bible Code” pointed to a Romney presidency! Of course, President Obama ended up winning re-election and these predictions were quickly forgotten by those who made them.

But Rick Joyner is still perplexed that Romney lost given that all of his fellow “prophets” thought he’d win. In his “Word of the Week” bulletin, Joyner said he was “sorry that we did not do better in understanding this election” and wonders why he knew “a lot of prophetic people who fully expected Romney to win the election.”

The only explanation Joyner thought of was that while Christians were united against Obama like never before, they were just too afraid to vote for a Mormon.

Because the 2012 elections continue to be a source of confusion to many, we will address a couple of more lessons to learn from this to finish out this year. Then we will begin the New Year with possibly unprecedented opportunities to see our nation turn to the Lord for the greatest harvest in history.

I know a lot of prophetic people who fully expected Romney to win the election. Of those I communicated with about the election, I do not know of any who gave a prophecy that Romney would win, but it was an almost universal opinion. I did not even seek a word from the Lord about it myself because I felt that I already had His opinion. That was a huge presumption.

Bob Jones had an encounter with the Lord on January 16, 2012 in which the Lord asked him what he thought about having a Mormon for President. This was long before the Republican nomination had been decided, and Bob’s response was that he did not think very much of it. Bob held to that opinion until after the nomination was won by Romney, and then he believed that he must have been wrong and that Romney must be God’s choice. After the election, he realized how he had let his own opinions cancel out what the Lord was trying to show him in the first place.

Bob is the most seasoned and wise prophetic person I know, and in great wisdom, he embraced this correction. Even the greatest prophets still see in part and prophesy in part. We have had many prophetic words come true exactly as they were given, but we misinterpreted them until they were fulfilled. I still consider interpretation one of the greatest weaknesses in the prophetic ministry, but it was also this way throughout history, including biblical history. Even so, I believe we must do better with interpreting what we are being shown prophetically.

Some would interpret the question that Bob was asked by the Lord to mean that the Lord did not want a Mormon as President, but that is not what the Lord said either. In fact, the Lord did not say anything, but just asked a question. That question may have been the ultimate question that in fact decided the election. Maybe we should have spent far more attention trying to answer that question than we did. I’m not saying that it was, but it could have been. Romney could have been God’s choice, but I know many good Christians who did not vote because they said they could not vote for a Mormon.



This past election was too good of an opportunity to learn to sweep it under the rug. I feel that I have learned something profound almost every day since the election. Wisdom and understanding are worth much more than gold or silver. I am sorry that we did not do better in understanding this election, but I love the correction because of what I’m learning. If we learn our lessons from this, they could save us in far more crucial times to come. I hope this is helpful, and I have a bit more to share next week.

Or, maybe Romney really did win but Obama stole the election.

PFAW: Time Running Out for Senate Confirmation of Four Circuit Court Nominees

WASHINGTON – The Senate is leaving town for the Christmas holiday without holding confirmation votes on four federal appeals court nominees who have been waiting six to nine months for approval from the full Senate. These nominees – Third Circuit nominee Patty Shwartz of New Jersey, First Circuit nominee William Kayatta of Maine, Tenth Circuit nominee Robert Bacharach of Oklahoma and Federal Circuit nominee Richard Taranto – all have the backing of their home-state senators, Democratic and Republican. Senate Republicans have blocked Shwartz’s nomination for over nine months, Kayatta’s and Taranto’s for eight, and Bacharach’s for six.

Senate Republicans are, however, finally allowing votes on three long-delayed district court nominees, Matthew Brann and Malachy Mannion for the Middle District of Pennsylvania and Jon Tigar for the Northern District of California. All three will fill officially designated emergency vacancies. Brann will take over at a courthouse in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, which has not had a serving federal judge since July 2011. Yet all three have been delayed on the Senate floor for over four months.

“It’s bad enough that entirely uncontroversial trial court nominees like Brann, Mannion and Tigar are forced to wait months before the Senate will allow them to fill emergency vacancies,” said Marge Baker, Executive Vice President of People For the American Way. “Yet Senate Republicans have the audacity as they leave town to claim credit for finally doing something they should have done back in September. Meanwhile, key circuit court vacancies have been left unfilled, some for nearly three-quarters of a year, despite the absence of any substantive concerns about the nominees’ qualifications. The Senate’s role is to advise and consent, not to obstruct and delay. Senate Republicans should take this duty seriously and allow votes on all pending nominees before the end of the year.”

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Pastor: 9/11 and CT School Shooting were 'Gracious' Acts of God's Judgment

Pastor Bill Elliff of the Arkansas-based The Summit Church and the Religious Right group OneCry appeared on AFA Today with host Buster Wilson this week where he explained that the September 11 attacks and the elementary shooting in Newtown, Connecticut were “gracious” acts of divine punishment. He said that God allowed the two tragedies to occur because of “our humanistic pride” and secular government in order to “bring us to our senses and bring us back to him.”

Wilson was positively dumbfounded as to why people would be offended by such rhetoric and similar language by AFA spokesman Bryan Fischer, who said that God refused to stop the school shooting because he’s a “gentleman,” and Elliff worried the U.S. is going the way of the Roman and British empires.

Wilson: I have never seen the vitriol that has been unleashed against us, some of us here at this ministry, since we’ve been publicly saying: you know what one of the problems is for the last fifty years we’ve been saying to God we don’t want you, there’s a wall of separation between us, and the place you’ve seen that amplified most has been in the public schools. We have received just unbelievable vitriol for saying that, seeing it as too simplistic, one person wrote ‘this is 2013, are we still wrestling over Creationism?’ We are in a changing, almost post-Christian America is what it seems like at time, what’s gonna happen if we don’t turn back to the Lord and see great revival brought about?

Elliff: I think what’s going to happen is what’s happened to every society before us who has not turned back. I was thinking the other day probably in Rome they thought ‘this could never happen to us’ and England in its prime they said ‘this could never happen to us.’ There is something about our humanistic pride that causes us to think, we could never go down as a nation.



Elliff: I’ve often thought about 9/11 and what happened there. God doesn’t cause evil, he didn’t cause the shooting the other day. But when we say, ‘Lord we can live life without you,’ then he says, ‘okay, I’ll let you feel that.’

Wilson: Let you get a taste of it.

Elliff: I thought at 9/11 what happened was God’s protective hand was removed and we felt what pure evil is like. We felt that this last week. That was pure evil, it’s the devil who has come to steal, kill and destroy. He’d just as soon kill a baby or a child in the womb as anything else. God allows that moment, we’re pressing the issue by turning from him, but he allows that moment to bring us to our senses and say, ‘God we desperately need you.’ So really it’s gracious. The pain that comes, the judgment that has really come by our turning away from the Lord is a merciful thing that God does to bring us to our senses and bring us back to him.

Elliff explained that the shooting was a sign of God’s discipline as “judgment comes to a nation it is God saying, wake up, you have walked away from me and I have loved you and I have so much desire to protect you but when you walk away you forfeit that.”

Elliff: We look at what has happened recently here in the school shooting and the so many things that have happened in the past few years. If we put all of those in biblical context and surround it with the Scripture we would come to different conclusions about what was happening. I was thinking the other day that God has instituted pain in our body, you know when you get a rusty nail that goes up to the sole of your foot that’s a real good thing that you feel pain because it causes you to make an adjustment. God’s judgment is like that. It’s a loving God saying to us when judgment comes to a nation it is God saying, wake up, you have walked away from me and I have loved you and I have so much desire to protect you but when you walk away you forfeit that.

WND Floats Armed Resistance to Obama Administration

Earlier this week, WorldNetDaily columnist and regular Fox News guest Erik Rush tweeted a video arguing that President Obama orchestrated the Sandy Hook and Aurora, Colorado shootings in order to cover-up a massive government scandal, forcibly disarm Americans, put people in concentration camps and start a civil war. Of course the conspiracy theory is complete nonsense, but Rush doesn’t think so.

Today in WND, Rush effectively suggested that people should begin an armed revolt against the government: “There are also Americans – some misguided, some ideologues – who work every day of the week in the cause of compromising our liberties,” Rush writes, “I suppose suggesting that we shoot them wouldn’t be taken very well – although that is precisely what it came down to 236 years ago.”

Rush, who hoped that a Romney administration would imprison liberals and journalists, like in the conspiracy video warns that the Obama administration is using the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, to “divert attention from its own abject criminality,” crack down on gun ownership, do away with the Constitution and require “compulsory periodic assessments of citizens by government psychologists.”

Within hours of the first reports of the heinous massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., last week, it was evident that members of the gun-control lobby, dedicated leftist organizations and elements of the press were finding the circumstances of this crime simply delicious. I say that because of the alacrity with which they immediately initiated email barrages to their mailing lists and the shamelessly biased reporting of the shootings in the context of a need for swift and sweeping changes to America’s firearms laws.



In an address advertised as intending to console residents of Newtown on Dec. 16 (I suppose one could call it a “consolation address”), President Obama furtively telegraphed his intention to advance gun-control legislation through more of his subtle tyranny. Like so many instances in the past, Obama peremptorily (though erroneously) circumscribed the problem, then alluded to more “fundamental transformation” being required to solve it, whether this involves the wholesale subordination of industrial sectors to the government, unconstitutional legislation, or dark-of-the-night, unpublicized executive orders.

In Obamaspeak, “We have to change” simply means we must be willing to pitch the Constitution, capitalism, notions of liberty and traditional values as Obama sees fit. In an effort to squeeze as much popular political capital from the Sandy Hook tragedy as possible, the administration sent an email late Monday directing supporters to the president’s weekend speech online, in which he promised to take action to prevent mass shootings.

There were also donation link buttons on the page with the video and Obama’s pledge, which gives rise to a visual of vultures picking flesh from the carcasses of dead first-graders. It also bears mentioning here that the Newtown massacre has presented the Obama administration with a stellar opportunity to divert attention from its own abject criminality.

Of course, Obama’s sympathies, like those of anti-gun lobbyists and liberals in general, ostensibly have their genesis in our safety. Everyone wants to feel safe, of course. Don’t you want your children to be safe? Progressives want guns out of citizens’ hands so they feel safe when they circumvent or otherwise subvert the Bill of Rights.



It is of the utmost importance that Americans become aware of the dedicated efforts that are being made to transform us from citizens into subjects, and that we are already at war. This is a war we have not seen the likes of previously and that will challenge notions of war for centuries to come. Even if we did not have the Second Amendment to stand on, I would still support gun rights, because guns are not the issue – power is. Next will come edged weapons control, then blunt weapons control, then compulsory periodic assessments of citizens by government psychologists.

There are millions of Americans for whom “it can’t happen here” has been well-inculcated into their worldview; these have been conditioned to operate at the basest of intellectual levels. They are also the ones who will blindly obey any laws enacted by government, whether these imperceptibly erode their liberties, or require their reporting neighbors to secret police.

There are also Americans – some misguided, some ideologues – who work every day of the week in the cause of compromising our liberties. They are just as dangerous and criminal as those who would stifle any of the liberties contained in the Bill of Rights.

I suppose suggesting that we shoot them wouldn’t be taken very well – although that is precisely what it came down to 236 years ago.

WND: Jews Leading the War on Christmas

WorldNetDaily columnist Burt Prelutsky claims that the supposed War on Christmas is the fault of “my fellow Jews” who intend to “pull off their own version of the Spanish Inquisition, forcing Christians to either deny their faith and convert to agnosticism or suffer the consequences.”

“When it comes to pushing the multicultural, anti-Christian agenda, you find Jewish judges, Jewish journalists and the largely Jewish funded ACLU at the forefront,” he writes, “anti-Semitism is no longer a problem in society; it’s been replaced by a rampant anti-Christianity.”

Prelutsky goes on to attack Jewish Americans for not showing enough support for the Republican Party and not being grateful that America is “a Christian nation.”

That has changed, as you may have noticed. And I lay a great deal of the blame at the feet of my fellow Jews. When it comes to pushing the multicultural, anti-Christian agenda, you find Jewish judges, Jewish journalists and the largely Jewish funded ACLU at the forefront. What makes them even more obnoxious is that, by and large, the Jews who are leading the crusade against what is, we should never forget, a national holiday, are secular. So it’s not even a question of their religion being shortchanged; they hate their own, as well. They’re the pinheads who pretend that “separation of church and state” appears in the Constitution.

But the dirty little secret in America is that in spite of the occasional over-publicized rants by the likes of Mel Gibson and Michael Richards, anti-Semitism is no longer a problem in society; it’s been replaced by a rampant anti-Christianity. For example, much of the hatred spewed towards George W. Bush had far less to do with his policies than it did with his religion. As you may have noticed, they haven’t called Barack Obama any bad names even though he’s kept Gitmo open, extended the Patriot Act and even used drones to kill American citizens. Could it be because they understand that he only attended church in order to get his political career off the ground?

These Jewish bigots voiced no concern when Bill Clinton or John Kerry made a big production out of showing up at black Baptist churches or posing with Rev. Jesse Jackson because, again, they understand that’s just politics. They only object to politicians attending church for religious reasons.

My fellow Jews, who often have the survival of Israel heading the list of their concerns when it comes to electing a president, only gave 26 percent of their vote to Bush and roughly 30 percent to Mitt Romney, even though they were clearly far friendlier toward Israel than John Kerry or Barack Obama.



It is the ACLU, which is largely funded by Jews and has a legal department that is almost exclusively Jewish, that is leading the attack against Christianity in America. It is they who have conned far too many people into believing that when the First Amendment states that Congress is prohibited from establishing a state religion, what it really means is that a Christmas wreath can’t be placed on City Hall. They also cynically ignore the part that prohibits Congress from “abridging the free exercise” of religion.



I am getting the idea that these self-righteous secular Jews won’t be happy until they pull off their own version of the Spanish Inquisition, forcing Christians to either deny their faith and convert to agnosticism or suffer the consequences.



This is a Christian nation, my friends. And all of us are fortunate it is one, and that so many millions of Americans have seen fit to live up to the highest precepts of their religion. It should never be forgotten that, in the main, it was Christian soldiers who fought and died to defeat Nazi Germany and who liberated the concentration camps.

Speaking as a member of a minority group – and one of the smaller ones at that – I say it behooves those of us who don’t accept Jesus Christ as our savior to show some gratitude to those who do, and to start respecting the values and traditions of the overwhelming majority of our fellow citizens, just as we keep insisting that they respect ours.

Ted Nugent Blames CT Shooting on 'Politically Correct Culture'

After attacking Bob Costas for criticizing America’s gun culture, Ted Nugent is blaming America’s purportedly “politically correct culture” for the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. In an op-ed for the far-right Washington Times, Nugent said that the shooting occurred because of the country’s “’anything goes’ value system” which “vilifies, condemns and mocks traditional societal values and customs at every opportunity.”

Some blabbermouths already are using the Connecticut school massacre to promote their anti-gun agenda even though more gun laws won’t prevent a psychotic from getting a gun and killing us.



Like an iceberg, we only periodically see the psychotic manifestation, the tip of our shattered culture, but what lies just beneath the surface is a gigantic cultural cancer that is rotting America from within.

The ugly and dangerous truth is that we live in an embarrassing, politically correct culture that exalts and rejoices in the bizarre; aggressively promotes an “anything goes” value system; and vilifies, condemns and mocks traditional societal values and customs at every opportunity.

We’ve embraced a culture of contempt that attacks the very institutions that make for a healthy and strong society, and then we’re shocked when it spirals out of control. The only thing I’m shocked about is that anybody is shocked.

More laws and more restrictions won’t fix our culture. The problem we face is much deeper and more insidious. What ails us is a spiritual bankruptcy of cultural values that actually matter. More laws and restrictions can’t cure that.

Until we admit what’s at the heart of the matter, we will continue to put a Band-Aid on gaping wounds and try to convince ourselves we’ve done something meaningful.

As with most things, the cure to this mess begins and ends with the family. Traditional family values have been under siege for decades by our culture of contempt. In the absence of a solid family, the whole thing slowly unravels and rots.

Conservative Historian Warns Obama and Democrats are 'Much More Radical' than Marxists

Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafy brought on conservative historian Don Critchlow, who wrote a fawning biography of Schlafly, as her guest on Saturday’s Eagle Forum Live to promote his new book, Takeover: How the Left’s Quest for Social Justice Corrupted Liberalism. He told Schlafly that President Obama and today’s Democratic Party have a “more insidious” and “much more radical agenda, actually, than what the old communists were talking about,” as they plan to take away “real rights” and “control the way we live.”

Schlafly: When Barack Obama was running for President he bragged, he said that he wanted to ‘fundamentally transform America,’ what do you think he really wants to transform?

Critchlow: I think he wants to transform the way Americans live. I think what this transformation is is a clear cut agenda to extend the federal government into all parts of our lives. What’s happened, Phyllis, is that we’ve seen the steady erosion of real rights in America today. This is a very insidious agenda that has been imposed upon us and too many Americans are going along with it.



Critchlow: I think the takeover of the Democratic Party, the new progressives were not communists per se. The old communists, the old Marxists were concerned with issues of production. This is a much more radical agenda, actually, than what the old communists were talking about. The new progressives want to control consumption. That’s the point of takeover — that they want to control — it’s more insidious because they’re going to control the way we live as opposed to just nationalizing a few industries as the old socialists and communists wanted.

Critchlow also didn’t rebuff one caller’s theory that Obama will soon nationalize pension plans in order to take the money from seniors after the death panels have them killed, saying that government will begin “extending its control over all kinds of things that we just can’t envision.”

Caller: One of the things that President Obama is talking about a lot right now is nationalizing the pension funds, he wants to take over all the private pension funds and have the government control them and I think give the people who should have received their pension funds give them a month annuity instead. I figure this is designed to mesh with Obamacare in the following way: sooner or later somebody getting this money that’s retired will have a medical problem, they’ll need to go see a doctor and when they go see a doctor under Obamacare they’ll be sent to the death panel and the death panel will have them euthanized and ten the government will grab up all their money and have the rest of their money, they will have only gotten tiny bit of the pension money they were saving up for and the government will have all their money. So I wanted to ask if he figures I’m right on my speculation on this point?

Critchlow: Well what we’re going to see in this financial crisis that we’re experiencing, government extending its control over all kinds of things that we just can’t envision. Obamacare is an unaffordable and cockamamie plan that now the Supreme Court has ruled is constitutional. So we’re going to see this full blown agenda being fulfilled as this crisis worsens.

Sen. Inouye’s Civil Rights Legacy

Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, President Pro Tempore of the Senate, passed away yesterday at the age of 88, having represented the people of Hawaii in either the House or Senate as long as it has been a state. Inouye was elected to the Senate nine times, serving nearly 50 years. Taking office the year before the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Inouye was a leader in half a century of civil rights battles in the Senate. John Nichols of The Nation details Inouye’s role in some of those battles:

The last sitting senator who joined the epic struggles to pass the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, he led the fight for the Americans with Disabilities Act and was a key sponsor of the constitutional amendment to extend voting rights to 18-to-20-year-olds.

Inouye battled for reparations for Japanese-Americans who were interned in government compounds during World War II. And he was a passionate defender of the right to dissent. Indeed, the ACLU recalls, “Senator Inouye fought every iteration of proposed constitutional amendments to ban flag desecration—support that was particularly meaningful to the defense of free speech because of his military service.”

Inouye was one of the handful of senators who rejected the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act in the 1990s and he emerged as one of the earliest and most determined backers of marriage equality in the Senate, asking: “How can we call ourselves the land of the free, if we do not permit people who love one another to get married?”

When the debate over whether gays and lesbians serving in the military arose, Inouye declared as a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient: “In every war we have had men and women of different sexual orientation who have stood in harm’s way and given their lives for their country. I fought alongside gay men during World War II, many of them were killed in combat. Are we to suggest that because of their sexual orientation they are not heroes?”

Sen. Inouye represented the best of American values. This country will miss him.

 

PFAW
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