C4

AFA Tries to Link JC Penney Credit Rating Drop to Ellen DeGeneres

The American Family Association’s women’s group OneMillionMoms is waging a campaign to convince JC Penney to fire Ellen DeGeneres as their spokesperson because DeGeneres is openly gay, predicting that the retailer “will be losing more than they’ll be gaining.” Today, OneNewsNow, which like OneMillionMoms is a branch of the AFA, posted an article today from the Associated Press which tried to link a drop in JC Penney’s credit rating to “‘gay’ activist Ellen DeGeneres”:

The American Family Association has a long history of exaggerating the impact of their boycott campaigns, even taking credit for a decline in Ford Motors sales by attacking the company’s “support [of] homosexual groups.” Plus, it is highly unlikely the Associated Press would include scare-quotes around the word ‘gay.’

Of course, the Associated Press story on JC Penney’s credit rating doesn’t mention DeGeneres at all:

The AFA’s distorted version of the DeGeneres story is yet another reason why one shouldn’t trust a news service which called champion sprinter Tyson Gay “Tyson Homosexual,” floated whether Satan is “the major factor” behind the purported power of homosexuals, and wondered if the Little Mommy Cuddle 'n Coo doll is “promoting Islam.”

Courts Matter: The Impact on Real People

February 21, 2012

Courts play a critical role for our nation and our communities.

  • All Americans count on being able to “get their day in court.”
  • Court delays damage small businesses, whether they are seeking to vindicate their rights as plaintiffs or to put a lawsuit behind them.
  • Courts – the infrastructure of justice – are just as important to the rule of law as roads and bridges are to transportation.  Without enough judges, that infrastructure is crumbling.
  • Making our courts fully functional is an issue of good government.

Federal judges are required to give priority to criminal cases over civil ones.  Since the number of criminal cases has surged over the past several years – a 70% increase in the past decade – judges are forced to delay the civil cases, often for years. This means long delays for Americans seeking justice in cases involving:

  • discrimination
  • civil rights
  • predatory lending practices
  • consumer fraud
  • immigrant rights
  • environment
  • government benefits
  • business contracts
  • mergers
  • copyright infringement

Many plaintiffs are forced into inadequate settlements and small businesses are pressured to make unnecessary settlements to end the expense and uncertainty of litigation.

  • Example:  In Colorado, Amy Bullock sued a truck manufacturer in 2008, saying a faulty design had caused her husband’s death.  The judge has delayed the trial twice to handle all his criminal cases, and now her trial won’t even start until March 2012 at the earliest.

A Serious Vacancy Crisis is Damaging the Federal Court System

Nearly 160 million people live in circuits or districts with a courtroom vacancy that could have been filled last year, if the Republicans were not preventing votes.  This is the longest period of historically high vacancy rates on the federal judiciary in the last 35 years.

There are now 20 nominees who have been approved by the Judiciary Committee who are waiting for a simple up-or-down vote from the Senate:

  • 18 were approved by the Judiciary Committee with very strong bipartisan support, and 13 were approved without any opposition at all.
  • 11 have been waiting for three months or more for a vote from the full Senate.
  • 10 are nominated to fill vacancies classified as judicial emergencies.
  • 15 of the 20 are women or people of color and one is an openly gay man.

George W. Bush’s judicial nominees received floor votes very soon after committee approval, on average:

  • Circuit court nominees: 30 days (Bush at this point in his term) vs. 135 days (Obama)
  • District court nominees: 23 days (Bush at this point in his term) vs. 91 days (Obama)
  • Both combined:  24 days (Bush at this point in his term) vs. 100 days (Obama)

Religious Right Hyperbole on Contraception Coverage Mandate goes into Overdrive

The extreme and hysterical arguments emanating from the Religious Right over the contraception mandate in insurance plans would continue to amuse if not for the fact that their pathetic arguments only trivialize actual cases of religious persecution. While speaking with American Family Association president Tim Wildmon, talk show host Janet Parshall claimed that the health care reform law shows that President Obama is “blinded by a doctrine of death” and is a “person whose heart is hardened.” She warned of an “erosion of free speech” and “an erosion of our practices” under the Obama administration:

Chuck Colson even told Jim Daly on Focus on the Family Radio that the contraception mandate may even lead government to dictate to churches on the doctrine of the Trinity:

Not to be outdone, Rob Schenck of the National Clergy Council compared the contraception insurance coverage mandate to Nazi Germany, saying that churches should prepare to follow the example of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was executed by the Nazi government for his involvement in the resistance movement and the plot to kill Adolf Hitler:

In recent days, Jewish rabbis have joined all Catholic bishops in the United States in expressing alarm over the President's "healthcare" mandates and other violations of the Constitution. The National Clergy Council deliberated for the last week on what it would do, consulting pastors, moral theologians, organizational executives and activists from around the US. As a result, the Reverend Rob Schenck, president of the Washington, DC based group, will begin the holy season of Lent 2012 by appealing to President Obama for answers with a "State of Emergency and Time for Speaking" declaration to be hand-delivered to the White House on Ash Wednesday morning, February 22, 2012.



As Rev. Schenck explains in the document, the action he and his committee have taken is inspired by the Nazi-era hero Dietrich Bonhoeffer, "the German pastor and martyr, who is an exemplar of what it means to hold to and to exercise one's religious, moral, and ethical convictions, even to the surrender of every other right, including the right to one's life." Bonhoeffer wrote on the "status confessionis," a time when churches must speak out. Schenck says in his letter this is such a time, "during which we must take extraordinary action to respectfully resist your decrees, state our deeply held and felt reasons for doing so, and call our coreligionists, and all people of conscience to stand with us." President Obama was publicly given a copy of a recent biography on Bonhoeffer by the author, Eric Metaxas, when Mr. Metaxas and the President shared a podium at the February 2 National Prayer Breakfast in Washington.

Mathew Staver of Liberty Counsel Action even likened the situation to the American Revolution:

Barack Obama is literally forcing insurance companies and self-insured religious organizations to provide contraceptives and abortifacients to Americans who want to pay for neither.

As I told you on Friday, President Obama has once again grossly overstepped the constitutional authority of his office. Thankfully, it appears that Americans have finally had enough.

Former Attorney General Edwin Meese, a leading member of President Ronald Reagan’s Cabinet, recently said the Obama administration is “…as close to a monarchy as there’s been since the days of George III.”

In reality, our situation today may be even worse than during the founding era since King George III merely TAXED the goods that inspired the Boston Tea Party. Even so great a despot as he did not imagine he could FORCE the colonials to BUY the stuff!

Every Child Deserves a Family

Half million children in the foster care system. 120,000 eligible for adoption. Every child deserves a family.
PFAW

Tony Perkins Urges Next President to 'Dial back the Decay' from Obama's 'Anti-Christian' Policies

Family Research Council president Tony Perkins today appeared on the American Family Association’s Financial Issues with Dan Celia, where he said that President Obama’s eventual Republican opponent must try to “dial back the decay” in the culture. Perkins, who has claimed in the past that Obama has a “disdain for Christianity” and demanded Christian supporters of the president “repent,” said that the administration has pushed “anti-family, anti-religious, anti-Christian policies,” most notably the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, which overturned the military’s ban on openly gay service members.

Perkins said Obama is “forcing open homosexuality on the military” which he said would lead to “not only cultural impacts upon this nation but from a national security standpoint it’s going to undermine our military.” While military leaders, including the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, endorsed the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, Perkins claimed that they actually opposed the repeal. Maybe Perkins was confusing real military leaders with himself, who said that the elected officials who voted to repeal the policy would have blood on their hands.

Watch:

Perkins: When we look historically at what has happened in elections we see that like in this administration where the push of anti-family, anti-religious, anti-Christian policies from this administration, and I know people are criticized for saying that, but the evidence is there. Historically what happens is when the Republicans are elected on the heels of an administration like this we see them babysitting the decline and not going back and retaking territory that has been lost in the culture.

For instance, let me talk about very solid issues here, the issue of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, forcing open homosexuality on the military, that is going to have very significant not only cultural impacts upon this nation but from a national security standpoint it’s going to undermine our military. That’s what the military leaders testified before Congress, that didn’t matter to Congress, they were pushing this through in the wee hours of the lame duck session of Congress. I guarantee you, normally, the Republicans when they’re re-elected, if they were to recapture the White House, they wouldn’t touch that, they would just say ‘we wouldn’t advance that anymore.’ I’m telling you we’re at a point where we got to dial back the decay, we’ve got have somebody that’s bold enough to come in and undo some of these radical policies from this administration.

Santorum Knocks Public Schools, But Sticks Taxpayers for Bill for Homeschooling

Rick Santorum raised eyebrows last week for making claims that he has been making for years, including his criticism of public schools. As the Los Angeles Times reported, Santorum called public schools “anachronistic” and compared them to factories:

In his remarks to the Ohio Christian Alliance, however, Santorum went further, seeming to attack the very idea of public education.

In the nation’s past, he said, “Most presidents homeschooled their children in the White House.…

Parents educated their children because it was their responsibility.”

“Yes, the government can help,” he continued, “but the idea that the federal government should be running schools, frankly much less that the state government should be running schools, is anachronistic.”

He said it is an artifact of the Industrial Revolution, “when people came off the farms where they did homeschool or had a little neighborhood school, and into these big factories … called public schools.”

While industry has evolved, public schools remain stuck in the factory era, he said, “back in the age of Henry Ford. You get what we give you. One color, two models. It wouldn’t work for Henry Ford today, and it won’t work for America today.

Santorum has long opposed public education and in his 2005 book It Takes a Family marveled how “so many kids turn out to be fairly normal, considering the weird socialization they get in public schools.” In fact, public schools are consistently in the crosshairs of Religious Right activists, as seen in this anti-public education film made by Truth in Action Ministries:

While Santorum is an unapologetic opponent of public schools, or as he calls them, “government-run schools,” he has no problem making taxpayers cover the tab for his homeschooling. While a U.S. Senator, Santorum moved his family to Virginia but still stuck Pennsylvania taxpayers with the bill for his decision to have his children attend a cyber-school:

The Republican senator owns a home in Penn Hills, but lives in Leesburg, Va.

Penn Hills School District is paying $38,000 this year for five Santorum children to attend Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School based in Midland, Beaver County. The district has paid an additional $62,000 for his children to attend the school since 2001.



Penn Hills School District, which is required by state law to pay cyber charter tuition costs for students living in the district, is investigating whether Santorum is actually a resident.

A statement issued by Santorum's press office on Tuesday (yesterday) stated he had been in contact with the school district officials and is awaiting questions from them that he will answer to clarify his residency and the education of his children.



Santorum and his wife, Karen Garver Santorum, have owned the house at 111 Stephens Lane since 1997. They pay about $2,000 annually in property taxes to the district.

But records at the Allegheny County Election Office also show that the couple are not the only people claiming the home as their residence.

Bart and Alyssa DeLuca, both 25, are registered voters listed for the same address. They are not related to Penn Hills Mayor Anthony DeLuca or his father, state Rep. Tony DeLuca.

Alyssa, Karen Garver Santorum's niece, registered as a voter living at the Santorum house in September 2000. Then Bart registered with the election office in June 2001 by using the same address.

Santorum: 'You’re a Liberal Something, but You’re not a Christian'

Over the weekend, Rick Santorum made news when he attacked President Obama's "phony theology." Santorum clarified that he was talking about the president's environmental record and not his faith, insisting that he was not claiming that Obama was not a Christian.

But back in 2008, Santorum had a slightly different view, which he related during remarks he delivered at an Oxford Center for Religion and Public Life event on "The Press & People of Faith in Politics." 

During the Q&A following his speech, Santorum was repeatedly asked about Barack Obama's Christian faith, which he asserted was simply "an avenue for power" for Obama while claiming there was a "conscious disconnection" between Obama's proclamations of faith and his stances on public policy issues.

In fact, said Santorum, there really is no such thing as a "liberal Christian" at all and anyone who doesn't share his right-wing views doesn't really have any right to claim to be a Christian:

[I]s there such thing as a sincere liberal Christian, which says that we basically take this document and re-write it ourselves? Is that really Christian? That’s a bigger question for me. And the answer is, no, it’s not. I don’t think there is such a thing. To take what is plainly written and say that I don’t agree with that, therefore, I don’t have to pay attention to it, means you’re not what you say you are. You’re a liberal something, but you’re not a Christian. That’s sort of how I look at it.

When you go so far afield of that and take what is a salvation story and turn it into a liberation theology story, which is done in the Catholic world as well as in the evangelical world, you have abandoned Christendom, in my opinion. And you don’t have a right to claim it.

During the same Q&A, Santorum also complained about his treatment at the hands of the press when he was in office, claiming that he was constantly referred to as an "extremist" or "fundamentalist" or "zealot" simply because he stood in opposition to "sexual freedom":

And it’s just insidious. And it’s most of the time focused on the sexual issues. If you’re a hard-core free-market guy, they’re not going to call you “zealous”. They’re not going to call you “ultra-conservative”. They’re not going to do that to you.

It comes down to sex. That’s what it’s all about. It comes down to freedom, and it comes down to sex. If you have anything to with any of the sexual issues, and if you are on the wrong side of being able to do all of the sexual freedoms you want, you are a bad guy. And you’re dangerous because you are going to limit my freedom in an area that’s the most central to me. And that’s the way it’s looked at.

...

Woodstock is the great American orgy. This is who the Democratic Party has become. They have become the party of Woodstock. The prey upon our most basic primal lusts, and that’s sex. And the whole abortion culture, it’s not about life. It’s about sexual freedom. That’s what it’s about. Homosexuality. It’s about sexual freedom.

All of the things are about sexual freedom, and they hate to be called on them. They try to somehow or other tie this to the Founding Father’s vision of liberty, which is bizarre. It’s ridiculous.

Santorum and the 'Green Dragon': Faith-Based Attacks on Environmentalism Nothing New from the Religious Right

Republican presidential frontrunner Rick Santorum raised a lot of eyebrows this weekend when he attacked environmentalism as anti-Biblical and said that President Obama has a “phony theology” that sides with “radical environmentalists” over the Bible. While it was remarkable to hear these theories coming from a major presidential candidate, the theories themselves are nothing new. Instead, Santorum was drawing from a dual line of attack on environmentalists and progressive people of faith that has recently come into wide use among the Religious Right.

In 2010, People For the American Way looked at the concerted right-wing effort to frame environmentalism as anti-Biblical in a Right Wing Watch: In Focus report, The ‘Green Dragon’ Slayers: How the Religious Right and the Corporate Right are Joining Forces to Fight Environmental Protection . The report took its title from a right-wing “documentary” called “Resisting the Green Dragon,” which featured major Religious Right figures including the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer and faux historian David Barton. Kyle put together a highlight reel:

 

The Religious Right’s relatively new antipathy to environmentalism is largely the result of the hard work of E. Calvin Beisner, a purveyor of dominion theology and the leader of The Cornwall Alliance, a group with financial ties to the oil industry. The Cornwall Alliance’s sole purpose is to convince the Religious Right to buy into the Corporate Right’s climate change denialism and help them demonize environmentalists. The RWW report details the growing partnership:

In the last decade, as evangelical Christian leaders increasingly became involved in conservation , “creation care” and taking action against global climate change , the alarms went up in corporate America that many traditional members of the conservative coalition were becoming advocates for environmental protection. To counter the rise of the faith-based environmentalist Evangelical Climate Initiative, the Interfaith Stewardship Alliance emerged. The ISA, propped up by business interests including Exxon Mobil , has peddled misleading and false claims to make the case that climate change is a myth. In 2007, the ISA was renamed the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation and became more belligerent and zealous in its anti-environmental activities.

The Cornwall Alliance is led by E. Calvin Beisner, who believes that since God granted humans “dominion” over the earth, humans have a right to exploit all natural resources. As Randall Balmer writes in Thy Kingdom Come, Beisner “asserts that God has placed all of nature at the disposal of humanity.” Balmer quotes Beisner’s own summary of his dominion theology: “All of our acquisitive activities should be undertaken with the purpose of extending godly rule, or dominion.” As Balmer notes, “the combination of dominion theology from the Religious Right and the wise use ideology of corporate and business interests has created a powerful coalition to oppose environmental protection.”

According to a report by Think Progress , the Cornwall Alliance is a front group for the shadowy James Partnership. Both the James Partnership and the Cornwall Alliance are closely linked to the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), an anti-environmental group that is “funded by at least $542,000 from ExxonMobil, $60,500 from Chevron, and $1,280,000 from Scaife family foundations, which are rooted in wealth from Gulf Oil and steel interests.” CFACT is also part of a climate change denialist network funded by the ExxonMobil-financed Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Beisner is a CFACT board member and an “adjunct fellow” of the Acton Institute , which is primarily funded by groups like ExxonMobil, the Scaife foundations and the Koch brothers. Beisner is also an adviser to the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, which is financed by the oil-backed Earthart Foundation , the Koch brothers, and ExxonMobil.

In fact, Beisner is not a scientist and has no scientific credentials. Despite claiming to be an authority on energy and environmental issues, he received his Ph.D. in Scottish History.

Beisner has been extraordinarily successful in convincing the Religious Right that environmentalism presents a threat to Christianity. Earlier this month, he told Fischer that the EPA is violating the separation of church and state by helping to promote the upcoming film version of “The Lorax.” Why? Because he claims that environmentalism is itself a religion. This is rhetoric that Santorum, in saying that Obama’s theology is influenced by “radical environmentalists,” has swallowed whole.

Also active in the effort to recruit the Religious Right to the Corporate Right’s view of environmentalism has been David Barton, self-proclaimed historian and all-purpose fake expert. In 2010, he appeared on the Glenn Beck show along with Beisner explain that environmentalists want us to “live in fear”:

Barton -- who is no more a historian than Beisner is a scientist – is a widely influential figure in the Right, cited by prominent figures including Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann and Mike Huckabee, and who has even been invited to testify before the Senate about climate change.

Santorum’s remarks were so shocking because this is the first time they have been heard on the national political stage – but his talking points on environmentalism and progressive faith have already been polished and accepted as gospel by the movement the Religious Right.

FRC Warns Starbucks Could Wreck the Economy by Supporting Marriage Equality

Family Research Council vice president Rob Schwarzwalder yesterday called for a boycott of Starbucks and warned that the company may be endangering the country’s economic health by supporting marriage equality in Washington. “By supporting a movement that would further vitiate the already weakened family unit,” Schwarzwalder writes, “[Starbucks CEO Howard] Schultz is tacitly but actively advocating the continued erosion of the institution – the two-parent, heterosexual, traditional and complementary family unit – without which no economy or society generally can thrive.”

It’s difficult to see how ensuring that gays and lesbians have the right to marry would “vitiate the already weakened family unit” and consequently damage the economy, as studies show that marriage equality is actually a boon to the economy. Researchers have also found the legalizing same-sex marriage does not impact the divorce rate of married opposite-sex couples. But according to Schwarzwalder, marriage equality has “dangerous implications for individuals, families, and culture.”

My home state of Washington has produced some of America’s leading corporations and entrepreneurs: Microsoft and Bill Gates; the Nordstrom, Boeing and Weyerhaeuser families and their eponymously named companies; the Eddie Bauer sporting goods empire; and the nearly omnipresent Starbucks (almost 11,000 stores worldwide). Starbucks emerged in the 1970s at Seattle’s Pike Place Market. One of my sisters bought me a bag of cocoa powder from this location more than three decades ago; if I still had it, it likely would fetch a nice collector’s price.

For many years, I’ve enjoyed going to Starbucks, becoming acquainted with any number of “baristas” and drinking enough of its variously flavored beverages that “grande” characterizes my waistline as much as the size of a given drink. Even when traveling in the Middle East, the taste of a frappuccino has been a welcome reminder that one can go home again. And I’ve always been glad to go into a place that, in some ways, still reminds me of home (there’s a reason Starbucks’ interiors usually are muted; it’s a Pacific Northwest thing).

With Microsoft and several other major firms, Starbucks last month endorsed the effort of some of the Evergreen State’s leading politicians to enact homosexual “marriage.” Although this initiative passed in the state legislature and was signed into law by departing Gov. Christine Gregoire, it likely will be on the state ballot in November.

What is a bit maddening, given Starbucks’ strident advocacy for the redefinition of marriage, is CEO Howard Schultz’s claim that he is non-political. As he said just a few days ago, ”I have no interest in public office … I have only one interest, and that is I want the country to be on the right track.”



To Schultz’s credit, he authored a pledge, now signed by a fairly large group of CEOs, in which they promise, “I join my fellow concerned Americans in pledging to withhold any further campaign contributions to elected members of Congress and the President until a fair, bipartisan deal is reached that sets our nation on stronger long-term fiscal footing.”

This is admirable, and no doubt motivated by a patriotic desire to see the U.S. once again become the engine of economic growth that, for so many decades, it has been. Yet the key to a strong economy is a strong family – a family composed of a father, a mother, and children. The hard data prove it. By supporting a movement that would further vitiate the already weakened family unit, Schultz is tacitly but actively advocating the continued erosion of the institution – the two-parent, heterosexual, traditional and complementary family unit – without which no economy or society generally can thrive.

Additionally, Schultz’s decrying of divisiveness rings a bit hollow when he plunges his company feet-first into the culture wars. The effort to redefine marriage to include same-sex partners is a radical social innovation, one fraught with dangerous implications for individuals, families, and culture. Claiming to be post-political and then allowing one’s chief corporate spokesperson to say that same-sex “marriage” is “is core to who we are and what we value as a company” are assertions that don’t quite add up.

Colbert, Chris Hayes Discuss Santorum’s Attacks on Mainline Protestants

A panel on MSNBC’s Up with Chris Hayes on Saturday discussed a speech, first unearthed by PFAW's Right Wing Watch, in which Rick Santorum says that Satan is systematically destroying America and that mainline Protestantism is now “gone from Christianity.”

Watch the segment here:
 

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

Stephen Colbert also offered his take on Santorum’s comments last night, starting at the 3:00 minute mark:

The Colbert Report Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Indecision 2012 - Rick Santorum's Energy War Alarm
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog Video Archive

Marriage Equality in New Jersey: With or Without Chris Christie

Yesterday, the New Jersey Assembly joined with the State Senate and passed a bill endorsing same-sex marriage in a 42 to 33 vote. If marriage equality becomes law, New Jersey will become the eighth state to destroy what the Assembly speaker called one of the “last legalized barriers to equal rights.”

In a pivotal moment, New Jersey lawmakers did more than stand up for the institution of marriage; they chose to begin legally recognizing and protecting the civil rights of every resident of their state. They showed that no matter who one loves, the state should not limit the ability to fully commit to that person. As Newark Assemblywoman Cleopatra G. Tucker put it, “I came to the conclusion that the people sent me here from my district, here to protect what’s right…To protect the rights of everyone.”

Unfortunately, Governor Chris Christie has sworn to veto the new legislation, insisting that the legislature subject the basic civil rights of their fellow citizens to a referendum.

Proponents of marriage equality are not accepting this alternative, and are preparing to form even stronger coalitions to override Gov. Christie’s impending veto. Polls indicate growing support for same-sex marriage among voters, a trend that will likely continue over the next two years, providing the support the legislature needs to override the veto.

New Jersey’s legislature made history by passing a marriage equality bill. Governor Christie should do the same by signing it into law.

PFAW

Senate GOP Backs Down on Judicial Obstruction, Confirms Furman

The Senate today confirmed Jesse Furman to sit on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, over five months after his nomination was approved unanimously by the Judiciary Committee. The vote came after the GOP quietly ended its five-month filibuster of Furman’s nomination, which was all but unheard of for an unopposed district court nominee.

President Obama’s judicial nominees have waited an average of 91 days for an up-or-down vote from the Senate after being approved by the Judiciary Committee. For President Bush’s nominees at this point in his presidency, the average wait was 23 days. The Senate GOP was roundly criticized last week for obstructing the nomination of Circuit Court nominee Adalberto Jordan, who was confirmed in a 94-5 vote after four months of delay.

“Americans across the board are fed up with Republicans in Congress,” said Marge Baker of People For the American Way. “Watching the Senate GOP’s charade around judicial nominees, there’s no wonder why. Republicans in the Senate filibustered Adalberto Jordan, a consensus pick for a judicial emergency on the 11th Circuit and the first Cuban American on the court, for four months – and once their filibuster was broken, stalled him for two more days for absolutely no reason. Then, they filibustered Jesse Furman, an unopposed district court nominee who has been waiting over five months for a vote, but at the last minute backed down.

“The GOP backed down under pressure from Americans who expect better of their elected officials. Republicans in the Senate should stop the obstruction charade altogether and allow up-or-down votes on the remaining 20 nominees on the calendar.”

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People For the American Way Supports the Every Child Deserves a Family Act (ECDFA) (S. 1770)

Laws and policies that discriminate against otherwise qualified parents are failing the half million children in the foster care system. We write urging your support and cosponsorship of the Every Child Deserves a Family Act (ECDFA).

Aspirin as the New Birth Control: The GOP War on Women Reaches New Lows

Last year, right-wing lawmakers attempted to defund the entire $317 million federal family program and tried to redefine "rape." Well, the War on Women's Health is back -- and now it's a flat-out, all-out War on Women.
PFAW

What the Anti-Birth Control Movement is Really About

99 percent of American women who have ever been sexually active have used birth control.

65 percent of Americans think that insurance plans should have to cover contraception.

Yet the leaders of the GOP, in an effort to make it harder for women to obtain birth control, have sided with a splinter faction of the Right that wants to allow any employer to prevent any employee from privately obtaining contraception coverage from their insurance provider.

Why are they so out of touch? Why have the leaders of a major party staked out a position on contraception to the right of 57 percent of American Catholics and an even greater percentage of the population as a whole?

Here’s a picture of a panel gathered by the House GOP for a hearing about the issue:

And here’s major Rick Santorum supporter Foster Friess explaining today why he just doesn’t understand why women need birth control:

 

In Virginia yesterday, the state House GOP pushed through a bill mandating that women seeking abortions undergo a medically unnecessary vaginal probe without their consent. The governor, a top contender for the GOP vice presidential nomination, has said he will sign it.

This is no longer about religious liberty for institutions that preach against contraception. This isn’t about women’s safety. This is about who gets to make the decisions controlling women’s bodies.

And for the GOP right now, that isn’t women.

Photo: Planned Parenthood

PFAW

50 Organizations Present Letter to Congress Requesting Hearings on Constitutional Amendment to Overturn Citizens United

CONTACT: Justin Greenberg, PFAW at (202) 467-4999 / media@pfaw.org or Dorry Samuels, Public Citizen at (202) 588-7742 / dsamuels@citizen.org

WASHINGTON – Reflecting the millions of Americans concerned about the undue influence wielded by corporations and wealthy special interests in our democracy, 50 organizations have jointly signed and presented a letter to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees requesting hearings to explore constitutional remedies to overturn the Supreme Court’s flawed decision in Citizens United v. FEC and related cases. This letter follows over 350 events in 49 states – from teach-ins to courthouse protests – organized by many of signing groups to call attention to the negative effects of Citizens United on the second anniversary of the decision.

“In Citizens United, the Court ruled that corporations are guaranteed the same free speech rights as real people to influence elections, thereby ruling that governmental restrictions on corporate spending to influence elections are invalid and unconstitutional,” the letter reads. While disclosure legislation may mitigate some of the damage of this decision, “Only amending the Constitution can fully secure the American people’s authority to regulate corporate influence in our elections and restore our democracy.”

“Americans have become increasingly distressed at the toxic effects of unrestrained corporate and special interest money that is influencing our political system,” and are demanding action from our elected representatives. So far in the 112th Congress, 13 constitutional amendment resolutions have been introduced, and dozens more have been passed at the state and local level. “As activists have mobilized and protested across the country,” the letter states, “it is time for Congress to explore in earnest the range of resolutions that have been introduced to undo the harmful effects of the Court’s decision,” and advance “the critical debate about how the Constitution should be amended to return our democracy to the people.”

Signatories to the letter include People For the American Way, Public Citizen, Common Cause, Communications Workers of America, MoveOn.org, Free Speech For People, Move to Amend, Public Campaign, Greenpeace and African American Ministers In Action. Please follow the links to the full letters to the House and Senate.

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UPDATE: Stop School Bullying this GSA Day!

As you know, PFAW recently celebrated GSA Day 2012 and the work of Gay-Straight Alliances that bring lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and straight allied people together to stop bullying, homophobia, transphobia and hate, and we called on you to be part of the solution.
PFAW

Hold House hearings on amending the Constitution to remedy Citizens United

February 14, 2012

The Honorable Lamar Smith, Chairman
The Honorable John Conyers, Ranking Member
House Committee on the Judiciary
2138 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Trent Franks, Chairman
The Honorable Jerrold Nadler, Ranking Member
House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution
H2-362 Ford House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairmen Smith and Franks and Ranking Members Conyers and Nadler:

We are writing to request that the House Judiciary Committee hold hearings this year on the need to amend the Constitution to remedy the damage done to our nation by the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and related cases. That decision, along with prior and subsequent cases, have unleashed a flood of corporate and special interest money that threatens to undermine the integrity of our elections and our democracy.

In Citizens United, the Court ruled that corporations are guaranteed the same free speech rights as real people to influence elections, thereby ruling that governmental restrictions on corporate spending to influence elections are invalid and unconstitutional. As to that astounding principle, Justice Stevens noted in his dissent that the framers “had little trouble distinguishing corporations from human beings, and when they constitutionalized the right to free speech in the First Amendment, it was the free speech of individual Americans that they had in mind.”

Congress may pass legislation to try to mitigate the effects of this decision, for example to provide for public disclosure of election expenditures. But such measures, while beneficial, cannot undo the harm done by the Court in Citizens United v. FEC. Only amending the Constitution can fully secure the American people’s authority to regulate corporate influence in our elections and restore our democracy.

So far in the 112th Congress, there have been 13 constitutional amendment resolutions about this issue introduced in the House and Senate. While these resolutions vary in scope and approach, they all were introduced because of the growing realization that the problems created by Citizens United and related decisions are so immense and so fundamental that they can only be addressed through constitutional remedies.

Americans have become increasingly distressed at the toxic effects of unrestrained corporate and special interest money that is influencing our political system. Fully 92% of the American people believe that the extent of corporate influence on our political system is a problem. Just one month after the Citizens United decision, polling revealed that eighty percent of Americans opposed the ruling.

As activists have mobilized and protested across the country on the occasion of the second anniversary of the Court’s decision, and as city and county councils and state legislatures take up and pass resolutions calling for amending the Constitution to reverse Citizens United, it is time for Congress to explore in earnest the range of resolutions that have been introduced to undo the harmful effects of the Court’s decision.

We urge you to use this session of the 112th Congress to advance the very healthy and critical debate about how the Constitution should be amended to return our democracy to the people.

Sincerely,

350.org
A New Way Forward
African American Ministers in Action
Alliance for Democracy
Americans for Democratic Action
Backbone Campaign
Campaign for America's Future
Center for Biological Diversity
Center for Environmental Health
CivicSponsor
Codepink
Coffee Party
Common Cause
Communications Workers of America
Consumer Action
Consumer Watchdog
Democrats.com
Earthworks
East Bay Citizens for Action
Ethical Markets
Food Empowerment Project
Free Speech for People
Friends of the Earth
Greenpeace
Indiana Alliance for Democracy
Institute for Policy Studies - Global Economy Project
International Forum on Globalization
Liberty Tree Foundation for the Democratic Revolution
Main Street Alliance
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Move to Amend
MoveOn
National Education Association
Oil Change International
People For the American Way
Pesticide Action Network North America
Public Campaign
Public Citizen
Rebuild the Dream
Roots Action
Story of Stuff
Sum of Us
The Other 98%
U.S. PIRG
United Republic
We the People Campaign
Where's Our Money
Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Wolf PAC
Working Families Win

cc: House Judiciary Committee, Members

Senate GOP Continues to Obstruct First Cuban American 11th Circuit Nominee

The Senate today voted 89-5 to end a GOP filibuster of the nomination of Adalberto José Jordán to sit on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, only to be met with another shameless Republican delaying tactic. Despite the overwhelming vote in favor of ending the filibuster on Jordán, one GOP senator invoked a “post-cloture period,” which will force the Senate to wait another 30 hours before taking a final vote on the nomination.

Once he is confirmed, Jordán will become the first Cuban American to sit on the 11th Circuit, which has jurisdiction over Florida, Georgia and Alabama.

Jordán, who has been a federal district court judge in Florida since 1999, has the full support of his home-state senators, Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Marco Rubio, and was approved unanimously by Democrats and Republicans on the Judiciary Committee. An ABA panel unanimously gave him its highest rating of “well qualified.” Yet despite unquestioned qualifications and overwhelming bipartisan support, Jordán was forced to wait four months for a vote after he was approved without objection by the Judiciary Committee.

“No wonder Americans think Washington is broken,” said Marge Baker of People For the American Way. “The Senate GOP, presented with an impeccably qualified nominee for a judicial vacancy that desperately needs to be filled, insisted on trying to block the nomination. They chose to filibuster for four months a nominee to whom they had no objection, and then, even after an overwhelming vote to end the filibuster, added another needless delay.

“In filibustering Jordán’s historic nomination all these months, the GOP is pointedly ignoring the glowing endorsement of one of its own members, Sen. Marco Rubio, and the support of Florida’s Cuban American community, for whom this nomination is a historic first. This is a party that is putting gridlock above all else – and the American people are noticing. Now it is time for the Senate to put obstruction aside and confirm Jordán and the other 17 highly qualified nominees who have cleared the committee and are awaiting a vote.”

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Why is the Senate GOP Filibustering the First Cuban American Nominee to the Eleventh Circuit Court, Florida’s Adalberto José Jordán?

To: Interested Parties

From: Marge Baker, People For the American Way

Date: February 10, 2012

Re: Why is the Senate GOP Filibustering the First Cuban American Nominee to the Eleventh Circuit Court, Florida’s Adalberto José Jordán?

Florida District Court Judge Adalberto José Jordán has been waiting four months for the U.S. Senate to approve his nomination to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. On Monday, the Senate will hold a vote to break the Republican filibuster of Jordán’s nomination, a step that is traditionally taken only when the minority party has significant objections to the nominee’s qualifications.

So why is the GOP filibustering Jordán?

They have stated no reason, which leads to the natural conclusion that stalling Jordán’s nomination is just part of their larger effort to create gridlock in Washington. In the process, they have kept a highly-qualified jurist – one who is wholeheartedly supported by both Florida senators, including GOP Sen. Marco Rubio – from becoming the Eleventh Circuit’s first Cuban American judge and filling an urgent vacancy in the federal courts.

In October, Sen. Rubio praised Jordán to the Judiciary Committee, saying, "I think his experience and his resume will speak for itself. ... As a community, we're very proud of Judge Jordán's nomination and we look forward to his appointment."

Jordán immigrated from Cuba when he was six and is the quintessential American success story. After graduating from the University of Miami Law School, Jordán clerked for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and became a federal prosecutor. Since 1999, he has served ably as a federal district court judge in Miami, where he has presided over nearly 200 trials on a wide range of civil and criminal matters.

He received the highest possible rating from the American Bar Association and the Judiciary Committee members who reviewed his record agreed, voting unanimously to advance his nomination.

If confirmed, Jordán would become the first Cuban American to sit on the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Florida, Georgia and Alabama. What’s more, the Eleventh Circuit desperately needs this vacancy filled, so much so that the Administrative Office of the United States Court has formally declared it a judicial emergency. In other words, there are so many cases and so few judges that Floridians, Georgians and Alabamans are facing unnecessary delays as they seek their day in court.

Jordán’s nomination has been languishing on the Senate floor since October 13. That was four months ago. Republicans have absolutely no excuse for this latest obstruction and should allow a simple up-or-down vote on his nomination, as well as the 17 others still awaiting votes.

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