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For DISCLOSE Before They Were Against It

The DISCLOSE 2012 Act is a simple and seemingly-unobjectionable proposal that would require outside groups spending money in elections to disclose their donors and help inform the American people as to who is trying to sway their votes. Yet the proposal faces a slim (read: zero) chance of passage in the Senate this week. It even had partisan support when it was introduced first introduced in 2010 as a response to the Supreme Court’s flawed Citizens United decision, and Republican support for general campaign-related expenditures dates back many years.

Not anymore. The Huffington Post notes that there are 14 Republican senators serving since 2000 who previously voted for disclosure, but today would rather protect the anonymity of wealthy special interests and corporations than shed light on the funders of today’s endless barrage of attack ads.

These Senators have been whipped into line by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (who was undoubtedly whipped into line by wealthy special interests and corporations who write big checks to Republicans, and would prefer to continue to do so in secret). Senator McConnell himself has flip-flopped on the issue:

Sen. McConnell in 2000: “Why would a little disclosure be better than a lot of disclosure?”

Sen. McConnell in 2012: “[Disclosure is] a cynical effort to muzzle critics of this administration and its allies in Congress.”

The Sunlight Foundation has put together a video “depicting” other Republicans’ contradictory statements on the DISCLOSE Act. Watch it here:

 

PFAW

Cliff Kincaid Endorses Movie Exposing Obama's 'Real Father'

Earlier this month we reported on an upcoming conference that seemed exceptionally crazy even by right-wing standards, as it plans to focus on the purported connections between Communism and Sharia law and the claim that Barack Obama’s real father is Frank Marshall Davis, the late civil rights activist and a friend of Obama’s grandfather. Conference organizer Cliff Kincaid, who also heads Accuracy In Media and America’s Survival, appeared on Secure Freedom Radio last week with Fred Grandy, the former Republican congressman and actor (‘Gopher’ from The Love Boat) who was filling in for host Frank Gaffney, to promote the summit and push the charge that Davis is Obama’s real father and still, even though he passed away in 1987, “has an influence over our President.” But this new Birther saga undermines the classical Birther conspiracy that Gaffney now pushes on Secure Freedom Radio, in which Obama’s mother travels with Obama, Sr. to Kenya (for some reason) to give birth.

Grandy: Another one of your panelists at your event next week is actually going to be trying to make the case that perhaps—and I’ve heard this rumor before—that Frank Marshall Davis was more than just a surrogate father to Barack Obama, he may well have been this guy’s real father and Barack Hussein Obama, Sr., to some degree, is merely a minor influence in this kid’s life. How much credibility do you put into that?

Kincaid: I put a lot into it now that I’ve seen Joel Gilbert’s film, it’s called Dreams from My Real Father. It’s an incredible film. He’s going to show excerpts, he’s going to talk about his research. He’s expanded upon what we and Paul Kengor have done and I think it deserves a fair hearing. Now, whether or not he was a real father or not, the fact is Frank Marshall Davis has an influence over our President and that’s the critical issue but if indeed if he was Obama’s real father and the comparison’s photos are striking then we’ve got even more of a mystery behind this guy in the Oval Office.

Obstruction to Election Spending Disclosure: Welcome to 2012 America

Today, Monday July 16th 2012, the U.S. Senate will vote on whether to end the filibuster of the DISCLOSE Act, and more likely than not, the effort to bring the popular bill to a final floor vote will fail. Yet the DISCLOSE Act is a bill so fundamentally logical and conspicuously necessary for the health of our democracy, it is mind boggling that even one U.S. Senator would dare to not support it - let alone label it so extreme that the Senate should not even be allowed to vote on it.

The bill is about transparency, and the American people’s right to know who’s funding the campaign ads that are flooding our airwaves and influencing our opinions.

Here’s a brief history on how we got here:

On January 21st, 2010, the Supreme Court issued its landmark ruling in Citizens United v. FEC, overturning key provisions of the McCain-Feingold Act, creating a new campaign finance system in which corporations and unions could use treasury funds to influence elections.

Three months later, the D.C. Court of appeals struck down federal law limiting contributions to entities engaged in independent expenditures in the case SpeechNOW v. FEC. To reach their decision, the lower court relied upon the rationale put forth in Citizens United, particularly that “independent expenditures … do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.” The Roberts Court declined to consider an appeal of the lower court’s ruling in SpeechNOW, and thus ushered in the era of the super PAC.

Yet anonymous spending was not supposed to be the result of these rulings.

In the opinion of Justice Kennedy, writing for eight of the nine justices on the Court, it was assumed that disclosure requirements were constitutionally permissible and would serve as a check in this new I.E. spending reality.

Kennedy wrote:

With the advent of the Internet, prompt disclosure of expenditures can provide shareholders and citizens with the information needed to hold corporations and elected officials accountable for their positions and supporters.

… citizens can see whether elected officials are ‘in the pocket’ of so-called moneyed interests.

… disclosure permits citizens and shareholders to react to the speech of corporate entities in a proper way. This transparency enables the electorate to make informed decisions and give proper weight to different speakers and messages.


But that transparency has not been codified into law.  At present, there is no law or statute that requires entities that make independent expenditures to disclose to the general public the identities of those who gave money to the entity specifically for political ads and other spending.

Following Citizens United in 2010, Congress came close to mandating disclosure when the House passed the DISCLOSE act. The bill had strong majority support in the Senate, so the Republicans filibustered it. Unfortunately, the effort to end the filibuster failed in the Senate by one vote. It died on the Senate floor with a 59 to 39 split on a cloture motion, presciently extending what historian Robert Caro wrote about the Senate of the late 1950’s to the present day, that “For almost a century, [the Senate] had not merely embodied but had empowered, with an immense power, the forces of conservatism and reaction in America.”

Yet disclosure should not be a conservative issue or a liberal issue. This is a democratic issue, with the fundamentals of our democracy at stake. In 2012 America however, Republican political partisanship and hunger for power at all costs have taken precedent over the need for reform; and Republican Senate leadership is holding firm. Issues vital to the health of our democracy - whether they be voting rights or campaign finance rules - are now warped into partisan issues.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and opponents of the DISCLOSE act are desperate to find ways to discredit it and justify their unjustifiable opposition.

Take for example, McConnell’s piece in the USA Today, "Disclose Act is un-American," where he writes:

The Supreme Court, in Citizens United v. the FEC, correctly ruled that Congress may not ban political speech based on the identity of the speaker. (sic)

The Disclose Act would make this and any future administration's ability to punish and intimidate its political enemies even easier. It is the Democrats' attempt to get around the court by compelling certain targeted groups to disclose the names of their donors, while excluding others, such as unions, from doing the same.

While Senator McConnell cries out "un-American" and "unions" to scare his base - like Senator McCarthy once cried out "communists" on the Senate floor - the facts are irrefutable. Under the bill’s provisions, unions are treated equally to for-profit corporations. Case closed.

Furthermore, supporting the DISCLOSE Act is not a political power grab; however to reject it is, since the majority of the undisclosed money is benefiting the Republican party. So it goes for the bill’s opponents. Take reality and turn it on its head.

McConnell then declares:

This bill calls for government-compelled disclosure of contributions to all grassroots groups, which is far more dangerous than its proponents admit.

The Supreme Court addressed this issue in 1958 in NAACP v. Alabama, ruling that forced disclosure of the NAACP's member lists by Alabama would discourage people from freely associating with a cause or group.

Once again, McConnell has to obfuscate the truth to hide the fact that he has no real argument.

The bill requires organizations (corporations, unions, super PACs, non-profits) to report within 24 hours of making an election expenditure of $10,000 or more. Donors that give $10,000 or more to the organization would be made public, unless they specify that their contributions to the organization cannot be used for election spending. The idea that every grassroots group will have to turn in their membership lists to the evil federal government is a scare tactic, and unsubstantiated.

The bill is designed to remove the added layer of anonymity ‘speakers’ are currently hiding behind by donating to nondescript (c)(4) and (c)(6) organizations that – unlike for-profit corporations, advocacy groups, and unions – do not operate in the public sphere, and whose purpose generally is unknown to the public.

One would imagine that halting this egregious process would be a quick fix. But one would also imagine the same for voting on judicial nominations, or extending the debt ceiling, or allowing Americans to cast a vote on Election Day. Unfortunately, that’s not how 2012 America functions.

The most unbelievable part of McConnell’s and Republican obstruction is that this DISCLOSE act is a watered-down version of its original. The 2010 provisions that would have required funders to “Stand By Their Ads” has been removed, as have the prohibition on electoral advocacy participation by corporations that received TARP funds. The bill will not be effective until 2013, so would not even affect this election cycle. But in the end, it’s definitely a step in the right direction and should be a no brainer for any elected official committed to the integrity of our elections.

Yet we are bound to hear the absurd cry of “union carve-out” tonight on the Senate floor when the bill is debated, and all the other diversionary arguments. The obstructionists need straw men, since without them, there could only be silence.

PFAW

Tony Perkins Pushes Bizarre Student Loan Conspiracy

In 2010, Congress codified the Affordable Care Act by passing the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, which included an amended version of the health care reform bill along with student loan reform. Before passing the act, banks served as middlemen between the government and students seeking loans for higher education, but the reform law cuts out the middleman and created a system of direct loans, saving taxpayers billions of dollars. Seemingly unable to come up with an argument against a system that is more beneficial to taxpayers and fairer to students, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins today warned, without any evidence at all, that the government is trying to use student loan reform to pressure Christian colleges to “provide coverage for abortions, sterilizations, or sex changes” and “advance the agenda of the Left by excluding” students attending Christian schools from the loan program:

King Solomon said - much study is wearisome to the flesh maybe that explains the connection between college loans and healthcare. Hello, this is Tony Perkins with the Family Research Council in Washington. Many people were puzzled to learn that student loans in America had been commandeered by the federal government. Even stranger was that the takeover was a part of the huge 2,700 page health care takeover known as Obamacare. What are student loans to do with nationalizing health care? Well, quite a bit if you think about it. Look down the road ten years. Imagine you want to send your son or daughter to a small Christian college that does not provide coverage for abortions, sterilizations, or sex changes. Will such institutions be approved for students who attend who are using federal loans? The takeover of student loans is just one more way to advance the agenda of the Left by excluding others. It is not studying that is so wearisome - it is the relentless push of the Left that's truly wearisome.

Sandy Rios: Child Abuse is tied to 'Homosexual Recruitment'

Sandy Rios of the American Family Association last week discussed Louis Freeh’s report on the Penn State child abuse scandal, and like countless other anti-gay activists, tied child abuse to homosexuality, a claim dismissed by groups like the American Psychological Association but commonplace on the far-right fringe. While likening the Penn State scandal to child abuse found in the Catholic Church, Rios said that Catholic seminaries were “just festering with homosexual activism” and “homosexual recruitment,” leading to child molestation:

I think that the point I want to make with this is this sounds stunning, it sounds a little bit like the priest scandal, doesn’t it? Where all of this stuff went on, where Catholic seminaries, it was just festering with homosexual activism—homosexual recruitment, I should say. A priest just turning the other way or engaging in it and not doing anything about it. So you might say, ‘well that’s shocking,’ but I think this is typical.

Naturally, AFA’s Dianne Gramley and Liberty Counsel’s Matt Barber also linked gays to child abuse in the wake of the Freeh report:

Through all this we cannot ignore the fact that Jerry Sandusky's victims were all young boys. We can't ignore the homosexual aspect of this," Gramley offers. "And through Graham Spanier's tenure as president, he has brought more and more homosexual-oriented programming and events to the campus than ever before."

Adds Barber: "There also is an element of political correctness run amok here," he explains. "Anytime homosexuality is involved -- even though in this case it's a homosexual predator preying on children -- people seem to have this innate fear that they are going to be crushed by the sexual anarchist lobby if they speak out against it." Yet Barber says it is a fact that percentage-wise more sexual crimes are committed against children by homosexuals than by heterosexuals.

Linda Harvey: LGBT-Inclusive Schools Facilitate Child Abuse

Leave it to Mission America president Linda Harvey to claim that LGBT-inclusive Gay Straight Alliances and anti-bullying programs are creating a child abuse epidemic in public schools. “The unreported molestations facilitated daily by the ‘gay’ lobby’s insistence on access to children must surely dwarf anything done by Jerry Sandusky,” Harvey writes in World Net Daily, arguing that educators and gay rights advocates are “grooming” children “to become victims of homosexual pedophilia” and sending an “engraved invitation” to “untold numbers of pedophiles and pederasts”:

An investigative report has found that Penn State President Graham Spanier, head football coach Joe Paterno and others at Penn State turned a blind eye for years to Jerry Sandusky’s molestation of boys.

They were not the perpetrators, but their cover-up allowed Sandusky’s assaults to continue. When grown-ups who are in a position to prevent predatory behavior fail to do so, the message to the victims is, “This must be OK with them.” That further betrayal adds to bodily assault, the rape of the spirit.

Yet we have turned a blind eye to the same betrayal happening every day to thousands of children in our schools and communities. We should be outraged at the routine “grooming” of children in our schools to become victims of homosexual pedophilia. How are our kids being blithely set up to accept victimization when it happens?



So, the engraved invitation has been sent to untold numbers of pedophiles and pederasts. School “non-discrimination” policies on “sexual orientation” keep that door open and all protectors of children at arm’s length. The National Education Association has numerous policies supporting the “safe” (read: unchallenged) expression of homosexual behavior by children in schools. These are often pushed by its “GLBT” Teachers’ Caucus.

Schools feel the increasing presence, whether they like it or not, of advocacy groups like the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, or GLSEN, and the Human Rights Campaign. The newest campaigns of both these groups is to reach elementary students. If we cooperate, it’s easy for some children to become targets.

Adults may approach them, and they won’t realize it’s not only outrageous, but illegal. It may be a coach or assistant coach. It may be the college student who was the invited speaker at your school’s “gay-straight alliance” meeting. It may be a 24 year old you met as a 12 year old when your school’s homosexual club marched in the town’s pride parade, carrying the school banner to support “LGBT” youth.



And we complain about Penn State? The unreported molestations facilitated daily by the “gay” lobby’s insistence on access to children must surely dwarf anything done by Jerry Sandusky, horrific as his actions were.



As bad as heterosexual molestation is, it isn’t being packaged as the natural outgrowth of a “right,” an element of “social justice.” Same-sex molestation has always been easier to facilitate in venues for children, since children and adults of the same sex do sometimes use the same restrooms, go on camp outs and – as we saw with Sandusky – shower in the same facilities. Access is easier, and the blind eye we are turning due to the repositioning of truth by the “gay” lobby is making the risk greater than ever.

Gary Bauer: Gay Marriage Stands in the Way of Reducing Crime in Chicago

On Wednesday, Gary Bauer of the Campaign for Working Families attempted to tie the Obama administration’s support for gay rights…to violent crime. Bauer said that the escalating crime rate in the city of Chicago is due to children growing up in fatherless homes, which he maintained is a result of Democratic policies that have “made it comfortable for many women to not have husbands in the home” and even same-sex marriage. “Obama and the Democrats have embraced the radical idea of men marrying other men,” Bauer sneered, “How is that going to help the black family?”

I'd like to go to Chicago for a second. I about fell out of my chair watching a recent CBS interview with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. He was lamenting the values, or lack of values, of Chicago's gang culture, as nearly three hundred people have been killed in Chicago this year, many of them little kids. That's higher casualties than we're suffering in Afghanistan. Here's what Mayor Rahm Emanuel said:

"It is about values. As I said then [referring to when a 7-year-old girl was shot and killed last month], who raised you? How were you raised? And I don't buy this case where people say they don't have values. They do have values. They have the wrong values. Don't come near the kids -- don't touch them."

Well, thanks for speaking up Mr. Mayor, you're asking the right questions, but sadly you can't come up with the right answers. Certainly these kids aren't getting their values from their fathers because they don't have fathers in their households. For the past fifty years, Rahm Emanuel's party, the Democratic Party, has made it comfortable for many women to not have husbands in the home. Now Obama and the Democrats have embraced the radical idea of men marrying other men! How is that going to help the black family?

When Emanuel worked in the Clinton White House, the response to gang violence, do you remember this, was midnight basketball programs. It didn't work, midnight basketball programs don't replace fathers. And, of course, it was around that time when Democrats and their media allies did their best to convince us that values really didn't matter. Even the disgusting values demonstrated in the Oval Office with a White House intern.

The fact is that values do matter. There is no government program dreamed up by Bill Clinton or Barack Obama or Rahm Emanuel that can make up for the breakdown of the family. And this election be about more than just about economics.

A Romney Supreme Court – The Dream of Corporate Special Interests

For the mega-corporations and wealthy ideologues bankrolling Romney's campaign, a Romney-nominated Supreme Court would be a dream come true.
PFAW

Desperate Religious Right Activists Say Military is Endangered by Having Service Members Share Barracks with Gay Soldiers

Ron Crews, the executive director of the Chaplains Alliance for Religious Liberty and a former Republican politician, appeared alongside Family Research Council president Tony Perkins today on Washington Watch Weekly to push back against reports showing that only a small number of chaplains say they have been negatively impacted by the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. While the Religious Right’s prediction that the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell would have catastrophic consequences on the military and national security contradicts nearly all of the evidence, Crews insisted that President Obama and his appointees are “turning our military into a social experiment to promote the cause of the homosexual agenda in this country” at “the expense ultimately of what our military is intended to do and that is to provide for the protection of this country, to defend this nation.” Later, Crews said that the military may experience a significant decline in “retention and recruitment” because parents will not want their children to serve in a “two-man barrack, a two person barrack, where they may be placed with a homosexual soldier.”

Perkins: The Department of Defense is kind of suppressing these differing views, only kind of giving a platform to those who are embracing this new policy, where do you think that pressure is coming from within the Department of Defense?

Crews: It’s coming from the very top. The senior leaders of the military are all presidential appointees, the senior attorney, Jeh Johnson, of the military is a presidential appointee. So these senior leaders fall in line with the president and his policy, who is turning our military into a social experiment, I believe, at the expense ultimately of what our military is intended to do and that is to provide for the protection of this country, to defend this nation. The current administration is turning our military into a social experiment to promote the cause of the homosexual agenda in this country. I am very concerned about the direction that the current administration has been leading our military over the last couple of years.



Crews: The jury is still out. I’m concerned about long-term retention and recruitment. How many moms and dads are going to want their children to go into a military where their son or daughter may be in a barrack that they have no control over, in a two-man barrack, a two person barrack, where they may be placed with a homosexual soldier and they have no recourse, so we’re concerned.

Reverend William Owens’ Offensive Anti-Gay Politics

Reverend William (Bill) Owens is the founder and president of a tiny outfit that goes by the name of the Coalition of African-American Pastors. The group’s sole reason for existing appears to be attacking African-American leaders and organizations from the right. Among other things, Owens thinks a man having sex with another man is like a man having sex with a dog. He also thinks that people become gay because they were molested as kids. But more on that later. 

Yesterday in Houston, Owens held a press conference outside the NAACP annual convention to attack the group for endorsing marriage equality. Back in May, Owens generated some press by attacking President Obama, likewise for endorsing marriage equality.
 
I wasn’t surprised then, to learn that Owens is affiliated with the National Organization for Marriage, whose internal planning documents talk of the need to “drive a wedge between gays and blacks.” Owens was once a heroic civil rights leader in Nashville, but these days it’s hard to know – apart from NOM – who or what Owens’ constituency is. For instance, Owens is a collecting signatures for an anti-marriage equality pledge at 100000signatures4marriage.com (that’s with a 1 with 5 zeros). But he wrote in a May 31 letter that “over one thousand” people had signed (so close, just 99% more to go!).
 
And just last week, the African Methodist Episcopal Church took exception with a Coalition of African-American Pastors press release that claimed that both organizations would call on black pastors to “withhold support from President Obama because of his ongoing disrespect for the views of many of us in the black church.” Bishop Carolyn Tyler Guidry, chair of AME’s Commission on Social Action, said that “contrary to the report, neither the AME Church nor its leadership is involved with or partnering with the Coalition of African-American Pastors.” Oops.
 
Owens, it must be said, is a true believer and comes by his anti-gay wedge politics honestly (although NOM is likely providing some financial backing). At the May press conference where he attacked Obama, Owens belied his own ignorance and homophobia. He equated gay sex with bestiality and said that homosexuality is caused by, and spreads through, molestation. You can listen to highlights of the full event here:
 
A few months ago, the Commercial Appeal carried an article with a young man’s picture in it. He was charged with having sex with a dog. Now I wonder was that his civil right? Will we go down that road where whatever we choose to do, we’ll call it our civil rights? Well if it’s a civil right for a man to marry man, and a woman to marry woman, what’s the difference of a man deciding he wants to have sex with a dog? […]
 
When people that you don’t know they’re homosexuals, and they get caught into something, they will tell you it was early childhood that they were molested. Sometimes by a family member, sometimes by their father, or sometimes by a friend. It starts in early childhood. […] Homosexuality spreads because somebody abused children.
With views like these, it’s little wonder that Owens is struggling to convince people that he, not the NAACP and Obama, is on the side of justice.

 

Representative Ellison Responds to Republican Islamophobia

Sharia law and the Muslim Brotherhood are coming! Clearly that idea is ridiculous. Not even Rep. Michelle Bachmann believes that. She believes they are already here! On June 13, Bachmann, along with fellow Republican congressmen Trent Franks, Louie Gohmert, Thomas Rooney, and Lynn Westmoreland, sent a letter to the Inspectors General of the Departments of State, Justice, and Homeland Security, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, claiming that the Muslim Brotherhood has “operatives” within the US government. The letter attempts to link Muslim governmental officials to the Muslim Brotherhood and defames a number of American Muslim organizations.

Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, responded to the egregious accusations in an open letter today. Ellison points out that Bachmann and her allies took many of their claims from MuslimBrotherhoodinAmerica.com, a website run by anti-Muslim activist Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy. Gaffney has a history of making unsubstantiated claims about Muslims, a number of which Ellison lists in his letter. For instance, Gaffney has claimed that Muslim Americans who run for office do so to wage “stealth jihad” and has “accused New Jersey Governor Chris Christie of ‘corruption’ and ‘treason’ for appointing a Muslim lawyer to be a judge.” At the end of the letter, Ellison requests a list of all the sources Bachmann used to make these serious claims and asks that if the sources turn out to not be credible that the names of all accused be publicly cleared.

It would be nice if Ellison’s letter put an end to the fear tactics and Islamophobic statements that have become far too common in the Republican Party, but that’s sadly unlikely. Republicans, whose main focus is clearly the economy, somehow seem to find a new Sharia threat each election year. Has it really been two years since we first heard about the Park 51 Muslim Community Center?

PFAW

Lawrence O'Donnell Pokes Fun at AFA's Buster Wilson for Mulling Google Boycott

On Tuesday we reported on the denunciation of Google’s new pro-gay rights initiative, Legalize Love, by the American Family Association’s Buster Wilson. Wilson floated the idea of boycotting the company since the AFA already boycotts other companies that sponsor gay pride parades and hire gay spokespeople.

Naturally, Wilson reacted with a hysterical tirade on Twitter, accusing Right Wing Watch of “lying” and posting an “edited video” that took “my words out of the context” (here is the AFA’s video, judge for yourself). He never explained how we manipulated his words, but he did block us on Twitter.

But Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC’s The Last Word yesterday played the video from the AFA’s own (Google-owned) YouTube account, which Wilson must also think took him out of context, and delved into the AFA’s miserable record of boycott campaigns against companies like Home Depot. “It turns out after thinking about testing the meat [of his convictions] for a day, Buster Wilson is now afraid of how temptation the meat is for even the religious right-wing fanatics of the American Family Association,” O’Donnell continued, noting that Wilson tried to walk back his remarks later on his blog, “poor, poor Buster.”

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

DISCLOSE Act to Get Senate Vote

Next week, the Senate will vote on the DISCLOSE Act, which would bring much needed transparency to the corporate and special interest money that allows the wealthiest few to take over our airways and coöpt our elections. Since the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, corporations have been able to spend freely from their treasuries to overpower the voice of the American people.

While a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United or a change to the composition of the Supreme Court are the only ways to completely reverse that decision, the DISCLOSE Act is a strong step in the right direction.

It’s not a new idea. First introduced in 2010 in response to Citizens United, the bill would require groups airing election ads to disclose the source of the money. Because ads can be misleading, it is essential to for voters to know who is behind them in order to properly evaluate the constant inundation of political messages. It is a simple step to increase transparency in our elections.

Of course, the GOP blocked it.

Republicans in Congress weren’t always opposed to disclosure. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell once said, way back in 2000, “Why would a little disclosure be better than a lot of disclosure?” Yet after Citizens United, he’s dramatically changed his tune, calling disclousre “a cynical effort to muzzle critics of this administration and its allies in Congress.”

The Republicans’ change in tune isn’t surprising, considering that outside spending overwhelmingly favors the GOP.

PFAW

Tea Party Activist Warns Gay Marriage is a Big Government Plot

Doug Mainwaring of the National Capital Tea Party Patriots took to the Washington Times today to ridicule Rep. Barney Frank’s recent same-sex wedding, asserting that marriage equality for gays and lesbians is an effort by the left to enlarge the role of government. “For them, it’s not about homosexual rights, nor is it about equality, fairness or freedom,” Mainwaring writes. “It is about the weakening of the two most hallowed structures of civil society - family and faith - which often stand in the way of government making further inroads into our lives.”

He said that Rep. Frank’s wedding was “skewering the very concept of marriage” and represented a “mockery, a parody, a staggering caricature of the most fundamental and towering of American Institutions.” Mainwaring concluded that same-sex marriage is nothing but a “joke” to the left and just another sign “of the contempt our liberal establishment harbors for Main Street America.”

Most Americans - yes, even those who may have a divorce in their past, view marriage as something sacred. It’s a solemn moment of commitment before God or, if not God, in front of their families and the community. Clearly, the intelligentsia in attendance were not most Americans.

An irreverent display, this was a scene from a cheesy comedy movie, skewering the very concept of marriage. No one would mistake this for a solemn moment when two souls are joined together for eternity. Instead, it was an absurd frolic, an “Alice in Wonderland” moment.

The politicos and pundits who aggressively promote same-sex marriage, many of whom were present at this event, have revealed something about themselves they perhaps didn’t intend to show: Same-sex marriage is a joke to them. It’s nothing more than political opportunism, straight from the liberal Democrats’ timeworn, dog-eared playbook - an attempt to corral and cordon off yet another minority group for the Democrats, adding yet another square to their patchwork AstroTurf quilt.

Putting their personal seal of approval on this act of contempt toward marriage by virtue of their attendance were House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, former Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kerry and House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer.

Mr. Frank’s vows are emblematic of the problem with the same-sex marriage lobby in this country: For them, it’s not about homosexual rights, nor is it about equality, fairness or freedom. It is about the weakening of the two most hallowed structures of civil society - family and faith - which often stand in the way of government making further inroads into our lives. The ideal world for liberals would be one where we all became like “Julia” on BarackObama.com - individuals deprived of the influence and support of family and faith. In that way, government can more easily have its way with us.

The New York Times wrote, “Ms. Pelosi said at the reception on Saturday that it was appropriate that a landmark same-sex wedding take place around the Fourth of July. ‘It’s about expanding freedom.’ “

Far from a cherished milestone in the advancement of American freedom, the Frank-Ready wedding was a mockery, a parody, a staggering caricature of the most fundamental and towering of American Institutions.

If this is how Washington’s political class views marriage, we should run - not walk - from its counsels.

The boisterous laughter and snickers among the 300 gathered guests evoked by Mr. Frank’s frivolous vows were a display of the contempt our liberal establishment harbors for Main Street America.

Editorial Memo: In Fight over Maine Judicial Nominee, a Perfect Storm of Senate Dysfunction

To: Editorial boards and journalists
From: Marge Baker, Executive Vice President, People For the American Way
Subject: In Fight over Maine Judicial Nominee, a Perfect Storm of Senate Dysfunction
Date: July 12, 2012

How far will Senate Republicans go to obstruct government business in the final months before the presidential election? The fight over a noncontroversial Maine judicial nominee, which is coming to a head this week, shows just how far.

The struggle to confirm Maine’s William Kayatta to the First Circuit Court of Appeals is a perfect illustration of the Senate GOP’s commitment to obstruct all progress that might in any way help President Obama – even if it means throwing members of their own caucus under the bus. Maine’s Republican senators both strongly support Kayatta’s nomination. He was approved overwhelmingly by a bipartisan majority of the Senate Judiciary Committee. (The only no votes were from Utah Sen. Mike Lee, who is voting against all nominees in protest of President Obama’s recess appointments and Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, who objected to Kayatta’s role on an ABA panel that had the nerve to find Elena Kagan “qualified” for the Supreme Court).Yet his nomination has been waiting on the Senate calendar since April 19. And if Kayatta is not confirmed before the Senate leaves for its summer recess, the seat he’s been nominated to fill could be left open for more than a year.

What should be a fairly straight-forward job for the Senate has turned into an election year struggle of wills – at the cost of Americans who rely on fully functioning courts and a Congress that does its job.

Here’s how it happened.

Last month, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell took the extraordinary step of announcing that Republicans would block all votes on all circuit court nominees between now and Election Day. This wasn’t welcome news to some Senate Republicans who have circuit court nominees who they are eager to put on the bench in their states. William Kayatta from Maine has the backing of Senators Snowe and Collins, and Robert Bacharach from Oklahoma has the support of Senators Coburn and Inhofe. Snowe and Collins have said they would support cloture to end the filibuster of Kayatta. Collins said in a statement that “It simply isn’t fair that Bill [Kayatta], who would be a superb judge, now appears to be caught up in election year politics. “ Coburn was more blunt, publicly stating, “I think it’s stupid.”

At the same time, Senate Republicans announced that they would continue to allow votes on district court nominees -- as if that were some great concession on their part instead of a basic part of their job. But it turns out that even that one bare promise was an empty one: For the past two months, the confirmation of judicial nominees has slowed to virtually a standstill, with an average of less than one vote per week.

This week, for example, Senate Republicans have allowed just one judicial confirmation vote: on a district court nominee in Tennessee. In fact, over the past eight weeks there have been only seven confirmations, of five district and two circuit court nominees. Both circuit court confirmations required a cloture vote to overcome Republican filibusters, after which the decidedly noncontroversial nominees were easily confirmed – one even by voice vote.

By contrast, during the same period preceding George W. Bush’s reelection campaign, the Senate confirmed nearly four times as many judges: 25 (20 district and five circuit). Under the “regular order” established during the Bush administration, the Senate should be holding at least three to four confirmation votes each week. Failing to move at that pace will mean that the Senate simply won’t be able to keep pace with the nominees being reported by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Kayatta is now one of 18 highly qualified pending nominees who have been approved by the Judiciary Committee and who have been waiting for a simple up-or-down vote from the Senate. These are not controversial picks: 15 were approved by the Judiciary Committee with strong bipartisan support, and ten have been waiting for a floor vote since April or earlier.

The filibuster of Kayatta, who has been waiting since April 19 for a Senate vote despite enthusiastic support from his Republican home-state senators, is a perfect illustration of this mindless obstruction.

Kayatta is extraordinarily well qualified to be a circuit court judge

  • An ABA panel unanimously found him well qualified, its highest possible evaluation.
  • He has more than 30 years’ experience as a law firm attorney (and partner since 1986) specializing in complex civil litigation at both the trial and appellate levels.
  • He is a recognized legal leader in Maine: He has served as chairman of the Maine Professional Ethics Commission, chairman of the Maine Board of Bar Examiners, and president of the Maine Bar Association.
  • He has argued two cases in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • In 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court appointed him a Special Master in a water rights case of original jurisdiction. This is a powerful indication of the Court's confidence in his legal abilities.
  • Throughout his career, he has maintained a substantial pro bono practice. In 2010, he received an award from the Maine Bar Foundation for pro bono service on behalf of low-income Mainers. He has also received awards from the Disability Rights Center of Maine, the Maine Equal Justice Partners, and the Maine Children’s Alliance for his pro bono representation of disabled Maine children.


Delaying a vote until after the election will harm people throughout New England

  • With only five active judgeships, the First Circuit has the fewest judges of any circuit. As a result, any vacancy there is felt most acutely.
  • The senior judge who Kayatta would replace has agreed to carry a full caseload only until September. If the confirmation vote is delayed until after the election, that judge’s cases will have to be divided up among the current judges this September, only to be reallocated yet again a few months later once Kayatta is confirmed.


Kayatta has earned strong bipartisan support

  • He has the support of President Obama and both of Maine’s Republican senators.
  • The Judiciary Committee approved his nomination with only two no votes.
  • This is exactly the kind of destructive partisan recklessness that has driven Sen. Snowe to retire and which will make it harder for a Republican to be elected as her replacement.


On both the circuit and the district court level, Republicans are needlessly blocking votes on eminently qualified, consensus nominees whose only “flaw” seems to be that they were nominated by President Obama. It’s time Senators rolled up their sleeves and did the business of the country they were sent to office to do.

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Conservative Activists Demand NAACP Abandon Gay Rights Support, Just as Martin Luther King Jr. Would Have Wanted

A group of anti-gay pastors is heading to Houston to hold a press conference outside of the NAACP’s convention today, protesting the organization’s decision to endorse marriage equality. The Coalition of African American Pastors is led by William Owens, a Memphis preacher who has been a consistent advocate on behalf of state constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage and is a founding member of the anti-gay Arlington Group. Owens launched a new coalition, 100,000 Signatures for Marriage, to stop the “hijacking of the civil rights movement by homosexuals, bisexuals and gender-confused people” and to “speak out against President Obama’s support for this destructive agenda,” and is now alleging that Obama is snubbing African Americans for not speaking at the NAACP convention even though he held a gay pride event:

"He can have the gay pride celebration in the White House, he can have Lady Gaga in the White House, and he's in the White House today because of the civil rights movement and the price that was paid for civil rights," said the Rev. William Owens, the president of the Coalition of African-American Pastors, a group that opposes Obama's gay marriage stance. "He has met with the Latinos; he meets with everything except for the people who put him where he is."

He told the Christian Post today that he is going to the NAACP convention not only to protest Obama but also attack the group’s position on marriage equality, saying that the NAACP is abandoning “its roots” and must do what “Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., called on us to do,” which according to Owens is to oppose gay rights:

"We are calling on the NAACP, a beloved organization in our eyes, to reclaim its mission. The black church founded the NAACP, and it is not the organization for the advancement of gays and lesbians – whatever the merits of that movement. Return to your roots and stand with the black church on marriage. The black church in our eyes remains the conscience of America.

"To the board of NAACP we say, 'Do not worry about the money, God will provide.' Stand with the Church and the Bible and the natural law, as our brother with whom we marched, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., called on us to do."

The coalition demanded on July 3 that President Obama meet with the group to address his stance on same-sex marriage. So far, the White House has refused to acknowledge the group's request but leaders say they plan to "turn up the heat" by asking black Christians to sit on the sidelines for the time being.

"We have requested a meeting with President Obama and until he meets with us, we are going to ask black Christians to withhold their support until he personally hears our concerns," Owens, told The Christian Post in a recent interview.

"More than anything, this is an issue of biblical principles and President Obama is carrying our nation down a dangerous road. Many African Americans were once proud of our president but now many are ashamed of his actions."

Owens added, "You have to stand on the Word of God regardless of your race or political affiliation. If the president is serious about his faith then why would he not meet with men of faith of his own race?"

Rep. Tom Reed's Racist Friends Ridicule His Opponent's Asian Ancestry (VIDEO)

Republican Congressman Tom Reed is running to represent the newly created 23rd district in upstate New York, which covers much of the Finger Lakes and Southern Tier. He has a strong ally in WYSL, a right-wing talk radio station near Rochester that broadcasts throughout much of the district. On the one hand, it’s great to have friends who run a big radio station:

But Reed’s radio buddies caused trouble for him on Friday when they repeatedly ridiculed the Asian ancestry of Reed’s opponent Nate Shinagawa, a Democratic county legislator and hospital administrator from Ithaca. Shinagawa is a third-generation Japanese America whose grandfather was interned in California during World War II, only to enlist in the Marines upon release.

But that stuff doesn’t matter to WYSL host Bill Nojay and owner Bob Savage. They think Shinagawa has a funny name and must not be from around these parts. Here’s what Nojay, Savage, and a producer had to say about Shinagawa last Friday:
Nojay: Now you should be impressed that I know how to pronounce Shinagawa. Shinagawa ready to face Reed. He’s the guy who won the Democrat primary. He hails from the People’s Republic.
Producer: He’s gonna lose, just because of his name.
Nojay: Now that’s not a particularly nice thing to say.
Savage (in a stereotypical, derogatory Asian voice): Xenophobic. Xenophobic.
As the three go on talking about how “Shinagawa is going to lose” and “hasn’t done anything with his life,” a song begins playing in the background – it’s the 1963 hit song “Sukiyaki” by Japanese crooner Kyu Sakamoto. With the song mocking Shinagawa playing in the background, Nojay and his producer reveal just how tight they are with Reed:
Nojay: If I made a contribution to Reed’s campaign, I wonder if I can get a refund. He doesn’t need the money anymore … Whoop, I shouldn’t have said that. He’s gonna get mad at me.
Producer: You’re gonna be getting a phone call.
Nojay: Alright. Send money now to Tom Reed’s campaign, he’ll make good use of it. Reed’s a great candidate. He does need our help.
You can listen to their segment below. Note that Nojay’s comment about the “People’s Republic” refers to Ithaca and is one of the few things from the segment that isn’t racist. The “People’s Republic” moniker is a popular, if lame, trope of conservatives who like to put down various college towns – especially Berkeley – as being out of touch with real America.
 
 
Nojay isn’t just a right-wing talker on WYSL, he’s also a candidate in the GOP primary for a newly drawn seat in the New York Assembly. When he and Savage realized on Monday that not everyone was laughing along with their racist jokes, they decided to play dumb and deny everything. I’ll have more on their cowardly, and implausible, denials shortly, but it’s important not to lose focus on Reed.
 
Reed hasn’t just appeared multiple times on Nojay’s show. He (or his campaign) is apparently in close contact with Nojay, who used his show to solicit funds for Reed’s campaign. And he had praise heaped upon him at the same time his radio buddies were mocking his opponent’s Asian ancestry.
 
Reed can’t just excuse himself from this controversy. He has a responsibility to publicly call out his buddies and say that their racism has no place in American politics.
 
[Right Wing Watch is a project of People For the American Way, whose affiliated PAC has endorsed Shinagawa]
 

Questionable Ethics In Issa'a Zeal to Score Political Points

Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA) has been targeting the Obama administration since his earliest days as chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and recently he’s been waging a political witch hunt against Attorney General Eric Holder surrounding the Fast and Furious gunrunning operation. In the course of the investigation, Rep. Issa requested documents which the AG was prohibited by law from releasing, and for that, Rep. Issa successfully campaigned to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress.

Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed an ethics complaint with both the Office of Congressional Ethics and the Department of Justice, alleging that in his zeal to embarrass the Obama Administration, Rep. Issa may in fact have violated House ethics rules as well as federal wiretap laws.

According to CREW:

Rather than releasing the warrant application to the media directly, which would clearly have been prosecutable, Rep. Issa inserted the information into the Congressional Record. This way, he shielded his otherwise illegal conduct behind the Speech or Debate Clause of the Constitution. Evidence also suggests Rep. Issa or his staff may have directed reporters to the Congressional Record to ensure the information contained in the leaked warrant application was discovered and further publicized. Such actions, which could constitute “republication” of the material, might not be subject to the same constitutional protections.

CREW also argues that there is precedent for holding Rep. Issa accountable for his potential violation of the wiretap statute, and that a refusal to do so would bring even more discredit to the House leadership than Rep. Issa’s botched and politically-motivated Fast and Furious investigation already has.

PFAW

Glenn Beck Calls in the Religious Right Calvary for Pre-Restoring Love Meeting

One of the most telling features of Glenn Beck’s 2010 Restoring Honor rally were the overtly religious themes of the rally, along with the launching of a Black Robe Regiment filled with right-wing leaders. The day before Beck’s latest really, Restoring Love, Beck and David Barton are hosting a who’s who of Religious Right activists for a “Christian Leadership Conference” called Under God: Indivisible, including some of the most prominent anti-gay preachers, activists and televangelists in the country:

David Barton

Tony Perkins

Ralph Reed

  • Led the Christian Coalition alongside Pat Robertson but left following reports of financial misconduct, now heads the Faith and Freedom Coalition.
  • Alleges that America “lost its way” by helping the poor, putting liberty in “danger.”

John Hagee

James Robison

Rick Scarborough

Harry Jackson

  • Alleges that gay rights supporters are recreating the “times of Hitler” and are leading a “Satanic plot” against the black family.
  • Asserts that gay rights will “bring us under” just like the iceberg that hit the Titanic.

Jim Garlow

Richard Land

Ken Hutcherson

  • Hoped to lead an anti-gay marriage rally that would be a “spiritual bomb” comparable to the 2004 terrorist attack in Madrid, Spain.
  • Wants the “promotion” of homosexuality banned just like “sugar and fatty foods in schools” since it is “dangerous and unnatural.”

Kenneth Copeland

  • Contends God didn’t create gay people just like “He didn’t create anybody to be a murderer, He condemned murder; he didn’t create anybody a homosexual, ’cause He condemned homosexuality.”

Aryeh Spero

Romney Continues to Refuse Financial Transparency

A New York Times editorial published yesterday takes aim at Mitt Romney’s continued obfuscation regarding his tax returns. Shirking a precedent embraced by previous presidential candidates, including his father, George Romney, the GOP nominee has yet to fully disclose the extent of his foreign investments and tax havens.

“Mr. Romney has resisted all demands for more disclosure, leading to growing criticism from Democrats that he is trying to hide his fortune and his tax schemes from the public. Given the troubling suspicions about his finances, he needs to release many more returns and quickly open his books to full scrutiny.

The 2010 tax return showed that the blind trust held by his wife, Ann, included a $3 million Swiss bank account that had not been properly reported on previous financial disclosure statements. (The account was closed by the trust manager in 2010 who feared it might become embarrassing for the campaign. He was right.) It also showed that Mr. Romney had used a complex offshore tax shelter, known as a blocker corporation, to shield the investments in his I.R.A. from paying an obscure business tax.

The use of that technique by wealthy taxpayers and institutions, long been blasted by Congressional tax experts as abusive, costs the treasury $1 billion a decade.”

Romney’s pattern of dishonesty extends beyond his personal finances. He has yet to fully explain the terms upon which he parted with the Bain Capital, the private equity firm he helped create. Although he claims he left the firm in 1999, just last month “his trust reported receiving a $2 million payment from Bain as part of unpaid earnings from his work there”. (New York Times) Recent reporting by AP and Vanity Fair raise even more questions about the millions that Romney has stashed away in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.

President Obama has recently returned from a bus tour under the banner of “Betting on America” – placing trust and reinvesting in American industry. The contrast with Mitt Romney couldn’t be clearer.

Romney’s campaign slogan is “Believe in America”, but an apt subtitle may as well be…”but invest somewhere else.”

PFAW
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