WASHINGTON – People For the American Way today praised President Obama for putting forward bold proposals to combat gun violence and urged Congress to quickly take action on the issue.
“Our dire situation requires bold action,” said Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way. “We’ve seen too many American lives lost to senseless gun violence. The president is correct to recognize that there is no one solution to this national blight, just as there is no one cause. We must take quick and meaningful action to prevent further tragedies by restricting access to weapons of war.”
“Gun violence is a threat to everyone in America, but it particularly plagues young African Americans,” added Minister Leslie Watson Malachi, Director of African American Religious Affairs at People For the American Way. “We are morally required to do everything we possibly can to keep our children safe and free from fear, whether they are in the classroom or playing on the streets in their neighborhood, whether they live in Newtown or in Chicago or in the District of Columbia. These proposals are an important step in the right direction.”
Sen. Rand Paul isn’t the only prominent Republican hanging out with birthers these days. Next month, RNC chairman Reince Preibus and Wisconson Sen. Ron Johnson will travel to Alabama to headline a dinner hosted by state GOP chairman Bill Armistead. Armistead raised eyebrows last year when he publicly recommended “Dreams From My Real Father,” a “documentary” that promotes the alternate birther theory that President Obama somehow inherited a Marxist worldview from his “real father” Frank Marshall Davis. Somewhat unbelievably, Armistead stated that he had “verified that it is factual, all of it.”
Interestingly, Priebus and Johnson will be stepping into the middle of a fight over whether Armistead will keep his job. (He faces a challenger backed by his longtime rival, state House Speaker Mike Hubbard.) Charles Dean at the Birmingham News reports that Priebus might be attending as a political favored to Armistead:
Some saw Tuesday's late announcement by Armistead that Priebus had accepted the invitation to attend the dinner as a sign that maybe Armistead had convinced the GOP national party chairman to support him.
Late last week Armistead announced that he was supporting Priebus for a second term as Republican Party Chairman. So far Priebus is unopposed for a second term but rumors have persisted for months that a challenger might step up.
UPDATE: The RNC tells the Birmingham News that Priebus is not taking sides in the party chairmanship race.
WASHINGTON – People For the American Way today commended President Obama for re-nominating the 33 federal judicial nominees the Senate failed to confirm in the last Congress, and urged the Senate to act quickly to confirm all 33.
“The president is sending a strong message to the new Senate about the importance of ending the judicial vacancy crisis,” said Marge Baker, Executive Vice President of People For the American Way. “It is imperative that the Senate work with the White House to confirm qualified nominees to our federal courts and put an end to the obstruction that has denied too many Americans timely access to justice. These nominees could and should have been confirmed last year. There is no excuse for delaying their confirmations any longer.”
One third of the 33 nominees that the president sent to the Senate were approved by the Judiciary Committee last year but were stalled by Republicans on the Senate floor. Others were awaiting hearings or votes in committee. One, D.C. Circuit nominee Caitlin Halligan, was first nominated by the president to fill a vacancy on this critically important court more than two years ago.
The nominations sent back to the Senate reflect President Obama’s efforts to bring diversity to the federal bench. 25 of the 33 nominees sent to the Senate today are women or people of color.
Karl Rove, whose American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS spent hundreds of millions of dollars attacking President Obama’s economic record without avail, has become something of a punching bag for a defeated and embittered Religious Right. Shortly after the election, Gary Bauer faulted Rove for focusing on the economy rather than on abortion rights and marriage equality and radio host Janet Mefferd expressed concern that “we didn’t even talk much about radical Islam.” A few days later, the American Family Association’s Sandy Rios even accused Rove of moderating the GOP’s previous focus on anti-gay policies.
Today, Joel Gilbert, director of the widely distributed anti-Obama movie “Dreams From My Real Father,” joined the pile-on. In an interview with Renew America’s Cliff Kincaid, Gilbert argued that Rove made a fatal mistake by focusing his attacks on the economy rather than on Gilbert’s theory that the president’s real father was communist organizer Frank Marshall Davis. "If Republicans had made Obama's Marxist agenda and personal background the main issues of the campaign, Americans would have had a much clearer understanding of the choice between American values and Marxism,” Gilbert said.
"I heard complaints from Rove's conservative donors four weeks in advance of the election," filmmaker Joel Gilbert told Accuracy in Media. "They kept asking, 'where is the money being spent?'" The questions intensified after Obama's victory and the Democrats achieved a larger 55-45 majority in the Senate.
Gilbert, who directed the documentary "Dreams from My Real Father," about Obama's Marxist roots, notes that Rove had argued to conservative donors that the winning strategy for Republicans was to place ads focusing on the poor economy.
Gilbert's film, which was distributed to millions of voters and argued that Obama's real biological and ideological father was Communist Party USA propagandist Frank Marshall Davis, attempted to expose Obama's character and background. But Rove, Romney and Republican leaders did not want to raise these issues. In fact, Rove had argued that calling Obama a socialist or left-winger would backfire.
Gilbert argued that Obama was a pop-culture phenomenon with a high "likability" factor and that "Voters perceived Obama as a nice man with an inspiring family story." The right strategy, he says, was to expose Obama's Marxist views, the role of Frank Marshall Davis in molding Obama's political philosophy, and Obama's questionable statements about his own upbringing.
Gilbert says, "If Republicans had made Obama's Marxist agenda and personal background the main issues of the campaign, Americans would have had a much clearer understanding of the choice between American values and Marxism."
The Pew Research Center is out with a new analysis showing that the support of people under 30 was critical to President Obama’s reelection victory. Concerned Women For America’s Janice Crouse has a theory as to why, a theory that she bolsters with a quote from a “popular Amazon discussion.”
Why, then, did young voters overwhelmingly support President Obama? The short answer is: Demographics and Dependency.
Nearly 60% of young voters favor an activist government (compared to 44% of older voters). A sharp generational difference was noted in the racial and ethnic makeup of this year's voters. Seventy-six percent of voters 30 and older were white, with 12% black, 8% Latino and the rest falling under a number of other self-identifiers. Among young voters, 58% identified themselves as white, while 42% were either black, Latino or among another minority group. A popular Amazon discussion declared, "Young voters choose marijuana and government dependency over jobs and prosperity."
For the record, this thread of 15 comments appears to be the “popular Amazon discussion” at issue. (Apparently young voters are also interested in “bicycles and beards.”)
President Barack Obama posed an important question to families across the country yesterday: what does $2,000 mean to you?
In a speech on extending tax cuts for the middle class as the fiscal deadlines approach, President Obama emphasized the importance of this tax measure for everyday Americans:
“If Congress does nothing, every family in America will see their taxes automatically go up at the beginning of next year…A typical middle class family of four would see its income taxes go up by $2,200. $2,200 out of people’s pockets. That means less money for buying groceries, less money for filling prescriptions, less money for buying diapers. It means a tougher choice between paying the rent and paying tuition. And middle class families just can’t afford that right now.”
He made the case that extending tax cuts for the middle class would give families peace of mind and give those in Washington more time to work out a comprehensive fiscal plan “in a balanced way – including asking the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more so we can still invest in things like education and training in science and research.”
Earlier this month, People For the American Way – as well as PFAW’s African American Ministers in Action and People for the American Way Foundation’s Young Elected Officials and Young People For programs – joined more than 100 other organizations in calling for a budget agreement that prioritizes job creation, saving the safety net, stopping sequestration, and adding new revenue from corporations and the wealthiest earners.
Americans agree with this approach. A Washington Post-ABC poll released yesterday found that the majority (60%) of Americans support increasing taxes on the wealthy and that 67% oppose raising the age for Medicare coverage. As families across the country know, the solution to our fiscal problems cannot come from putting efficient systems like Medicare and Medicaid on the chopping block so that we can extend tax breaks for the richest Americans.
Beyond being bad for families, it’s bad for our national economy. As the Congressional Research Service found this fall, lower tax rates for the wealthy do not spur economic growth. Instead, as President Obama said today, “let’s approach this problem with the middle class in mind” – and make sure Congress isn’t taking money out of our national investments in health and education to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy.
Washington, DC – Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa today ignored the calls of national and home-state groups and delayed Judiciary Committee votes on five federal judicial nominees. Sen. Grassley, the committee’s ranking member, has routinely held back committee votes on judicial nominations for one, two, three, or even six weeks, usually without providing a reason. Ninety-seven percent of President Obama’s judicial nominees who have had committee votes scheduled have met with these delays, before confronting even greater obstruction on the Senate floor.
Yesterday, 16 Iowa and national groups sent Sen. Grassley a letter urging him to end these routine delays of judicial nominees, which have helped create a record vacancy crisis in the federal courts. In response, Grassley flaunted misleading statistics and failed to produce a reason why he has delayed nominees far more frequently than his predecessors.
Ignoring the groups' call, at a hearing today, Grassley postponed committee votes on four federal district court nominees and one nominee for the Court of International Trade. Three of the nominees would fill emergency vacancies. It has been more than two months since the committee heard testimony from the nominees and had the chance to ask follow-up questions.
“Sen. Grassley has chosen to put petty partisan politics over the wellbeing of our federal courts and the wishes of his constituents,” said Marge Baker, Executive Vice President of People For the American Way. “Because they take place in committee, Grassley’s delaying tactics usually go under the radar, but that does not make them any less harmful. Grassley and his party are delaying these nominees just for the sake of delay. At a time when federal courts are struggling to meet the needs of Americans, that is simply irresponsible.”
Washington, DC – People For the American Way today commended President Obama for nominating three qualified Pennsylvanians to seats on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The three nominees, Nitza I. Quiñones Alejandro, Luis Felipe Restrepo, and Jeffrey L. Schmehl, continue the gender and ethnic diversity that President Obama has brought to the federal courts. Two of the three are of Hispanic heritage, and one, Quiñones, would become the first openly gay Hispanic federal judge. Notably, the professional diversity of these nominees is also significant. Restrepo’s and Schmehl’s professional careers include time as public defenders and Quiñones’s background includes work with a community legal services program.
“These nominees are emblematic of the president’s commitment to nominating qualified, diverse nominees to the federal bench,” said Marge Baker of People For the American Way. “They are also a sign of the president’s commitment to solving the vacancy crisis in our federal courts without delay. One week after his reelection, the president nominated seven Americans to fill district and circuit court vacancies. Today, he has taken an important step in tackling the longstanding vacancy crisis in Pennsylvania.”
Pennsylvania’s federal courts currently have eight vacancies. Two nominees for seats considered “judicial emergencies” have been waiting over four months for confirmation votes from the Senate, despite the stated support of their home-state senators.
“It took far too long for Quiñones, Restrepo and Schmehl to be nominated for long-vacant seats on Pennsylvania’s courts, through the process set up by Senators Casey and Toomey,” added Baker. “And there are still three vacancies on the Eastern District yet to be filled. It is critical that the senators act expeditiously to send recommendations to the White House for these three remaining seats so that Pennsylvanians have access to fully functioning federal courts. It is also taking far too long for the Senate to confirm the two pending Pennsylvania Middle District nominees, because of obstruction by Senate Republicans. Sen. Toomey must stand up to his Republican leadership and urge them to allow confirmation votes on the 19 nominees who have spent as long as eight months languishing on the Senate floor.”
Washington, DC – People For the American Way commended President Obama for putting forward seven nominees for seats on federal district courts today, and urged the Senate to promptly consider the 19 nominees currently awaiting floor votes.
“By nominating this slate of highly qualified nominees just one week after his reelection, the president has signaled that the federal courts will be a priority in his second term,” said Marge Baker, Executive Vice President of People For the American Way. “Now it’s the Senate’s turn to show that they’re serious about ending the vacancy crisis in the courts. They can start by voting on the 19 judicial nominees awaiting votes in the lame duck session.”
The Senate could easily confirm all 19 nominees awaiting Senate votes before the end of the lame duck session. In December 2010, the Senate confirmed 19 judges in less than a week. In November 2002, the Senate confirmed 20 judges in less than a week, including 18 on a single day.
During President Obama’s first term, Senate Republicans abused the filibuster to stall votes on even uncontroversial judicial nominees, contributing to a record vacancy crisis in the federal courts. While President Obama has nominated federal judges at a similar pace as President George W. Bush did in his first term, only 78 percent of his nominees have been confirmed, compared to 89 percent of Bush’s nominees. On average, President Obama’s judicial nominees have been forced to wait three times as long between committee approval and a Senate vote as did nominees in President Bush’s first term.
Washington, DC – People For the American Way Executive Vice President Marge Baker released the following statement in reaction to President Obama’s remarks today on the fiscal showdown:
“President Obama has offered a strong vision for solving our fiscal problems and moving our economy in a way that is true to our values and right for our future.
“Republicans in Congress have offered a plan that will hurt the economy and create even more hardship for those who are already struggling to get by. We know that austerity won’t put anyone back to work. Instead, it will cripple job creation and reverse the recovery. Republicans plan to raise new revenue by stealing from working families by ending important tax breaks while letting the wealthy off the hook. This vision, based on the faulty principles of Romney-Ryan economics, was rejected roundly at the ballot box and must be rejected on Capitol Hill.
“In this week’s election, Americans spoke loudly and clearly for a fiscal policy that creates jobs from the ground up, gives everyone a fair chance, and expects everyone to pay their fair share. President Obama has a mandate from the American people, and Congress must respect it.”
To: Interested Parties
From: Michael Keegan, President, People For the American Way
Date: November 7, 2012
Re: PFAW and the Latino Vote
It was always clear that Latino voters would be a crucial voting bloc in this year’s campaign. Yet many pundits, analysts and Republican politicians continually downplayed and undersold the potential impact of Latino voters using a variety of excuses: turnout will be low; Latinos will come around to Republican ideas on job creation; Latinos weren't paying attention to the Republican primary debates; maybe right-wing social issues might somehow become appealing by November. While we’re still poring over the election returns, it’s clear that, if anything, the impact of Latino voters’ support for progressive candidates exceeded almost everyone's expectations.
With an eye towards expanding the progressive base as well as immediate electoral impact, this year People For the American Way undertook a first of its kind, comprehensive plan to get out the vote and communicate with Latino voters in six key swing states about Mitt Romney’s dangerous agenda, as well as the GOP’s extreme and offensive rhetoric about the Latino community. With a combination of Spanish language television ads, Spanish language radio ads, internet ads and direct mail in both English and Spanish (see links below), we reached out to voters in two states with large Latino populations--Nevada and Colorado--as well as four other states where rapid population growth has put Latinos in a position to play kingmaker in a close race--Ohio, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Virginia.
These states represented crucial battlegrounds in the presidential election and in some cases (Ohio, Nevada, Wisconsin and Virginia) were also home to important Senate races.
The results were easy to see. In Colorado, where PFAW’s program had a significant footprint, 74% of Latinos supported the President, compared to only 61% four years ago. That increase offset a sizable decline in support from Anglo voters. Nationwide, Latino turnout also increased, with important increases in key states like Nevada, where the Latino share of the electorate increased four points—with a 45 point margin, 69 to 24%, for President Obama.
In states with smaller Latino populations, Latinos routinely delivered lopsided support to the President. In Virginia, the President won the Latino vote by 32 points (64-33%), in North Carolina by 31 (65-34%), and in Wisconsin by 37 (67-30%). In Virginia and Wisconsin in particular, Latino support also propelled Democratic Senate Candidates to victory—Tammy Baldwin won Latinos by 29 points (63-34%) while Tim Kaine won by 24 (62-38%).
The impact of the Latino vote, however, can’t be measured only in the results it yields in a single election, and history has shown that when Republicans alienate Latino voters they suffer the consequences for years. In 1994, California Governor Pete Wilson hitched his reelection campaign to the controversial, anti-immigrant Proposition 187. His gambit was successful in the short term—the governor was reelected and the initiative passed—but disastrous in the long run. By demonizing Latinos repeatedly on the campaign trail, Wilson permanently alienated the state’s fastest growing group. Since that time, Republicans have been rendered for the foreseeable future a permanent minority party in the state. In 1996 the first election after 187, Bill Clinton became the first Democratic presidential nominee in decades to win a clear majority in the state, and since then no other Democratic nominee has failed to do the same. Wilson’s exploitation effectively destroyed the GOP’s future in California.
In many key swing states, the Latino population is growing at a stunning pace, turning GOP bastions into swing states and swing states eventually into solid blue states. In Virginia, for instance, Latinos currently account for 7.9% of the population but have grown 91% in the last decade. Perhaps it is not a coincidence that in 2008 Virginia supported a Democrat for President for the first time since 1964 and did the same yesterday. In Wisconsin, Latinos account for 5.9% of the population, but have grown 74% in the same period. Perhaps most impressively, Latinos make up 8.4% of North Carolina’s population, but have grown a stunning 111% in ten years. None of these trends are likely to slow any time soon. If Latino power is the leading demographic story of 2012, it’s only a precursor to the impacts the nation will see in four, eight or twelve years.
This doesn’t bode well for Republican candidates in the future, nor can the GOP sidestep this challenge simply by toning down the rhetoric, focusing on social issues they hope will divide or reversing the party’s rigid opposition to meaningful immigration reform. It’s clear that the Republican dogma that any government action constitutes a giveaway that need to be eliminated runs counter to many of the concerns of the Latino community.
Until Republicans rethink their approach to government from the ground up and overcome their temptation to demonize Latinos and immigrants for short term gain, this toxic mix will lead the GOP to many future deserved defeats at the polls.
You can see samples of PFAW’s work below.