Barack Obama

The Right to Vote Under Attack, 2012 Update

Here we detail, as of October 6, 2012, except where otherwise noted, the latest efforts across the country to suppress the vote, as well as some encouraging successes in expanding the franchise.

What Kind of Justice Will We Vote for On Election Day?

President Obama's Supreme Court Justices respect the words and the values of the Constitution and deeply understand the law's impact on everyday Americans.
PFAW

On Every Issue, Vote the Court

We are seeing increasing recognition of the Supreme Court as a central and critical issue in the presidential election.
PFAW

People For the American Way Expands Latino Vote Campaign to Colorado

Washington, DC -- With a week to go before Election Day, People For the American Way has announced that it is expanding its national Latino voter campaign to run Spanish-language TV ads in Colorado, where the presidential race remains tight and the votes of Latinos will be critical. PFAW's message will counter that of Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS, which recently began running Spanish-language TV ads in Colorado. 

"Karl Rove is telling lies to Latinos in Colorado, trying to hide Mitt Romney's extreme anti-immigrant record," said Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way. "We're making sure Latino voters in Colorado know the truth about Mitt Romney. He said he would veto the DREAM Act, if given the chance. His immigration plan is to copy the extreme anti-immigrant policies of Arizona and Alabama, attempting to force undocumented immigrants to 'self-deport.' He has embraced his party's anti-immigrant extremists, taking on Kris Kobach as an adviser. Romney's plans aren't real solutions -- they are dangerous gifts to the anti-immigrant Right."

The PFAW ad running in Colorado, "DREAM Act," can be viewed here.

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Far Right Poised to Reverse a Century of Progress with Romney's Court

Far right scholars are eager for a Romney victory, because his Supreme Court would turn their cramped vision of the Constitution into reality.
PFAW

PFAW Ad Campaign Reaches out to Latino Voters

This week, the White House made public President Obama’s endorsement interview with the Des Moines Register’s editorial board. In the interview, the president is frank about what he thinks could be the deciding factor in this election – the votes of Latinos:

The second thing I’m confident we’ll get done next year is immigration reform. And since this is off the record, I will just be very blunt. Should I win a second term, a big reason I will win a second term is because the Republican nominee and the Republican Party have so alienated the fastest-growing demographic group in the country, the Latino community. And this is a relatively new phenomenon. George Bush and Karl Rove were smart enough to understand the changing nature of America. And so I am fairly confident that they’re going to have a deep interest in getting that done. And I want to get it done because it’s the right thing to do and I've cared about this ever since I ran back in 2008.

The president is right that as the United States’ Latino population has grown in recent years, the GOP has increasingly pushed Latinos aside. While John McCain and George W. Bush both to some extent supported bipartisan efforts at comprehensive immigration reform, Mitt Romney has embraced some of his party’s most extreme anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies. He touted the endorsement of Kris Kobach, the man behind draconian anti-immigrant measures in Arizona and Alabama, then took Kobach on as an adviser. He said he would veto the DREAM Act if it were to be passed by Congress. He says his immigration strategy is to make the lives of immigrants so miserable that they are forced to “self-deport.” He endorsed Steve King, the Iowa congressman who has compared immigrants to “cattle” and “dogs.”

Unsurprisingly, Latino voters haven’t been responding well to Romney’s record. Bush won 40 percent of the Latino vote in 2004, and McCain won 31 percent in 2008. Romney is currently polling at 20 -25 percent among Latinos.

Earlier this month People For the American Way launched a 5-week, $1.2 million campaign to remind Latino voters about Mitt Romney’s policies. We’re running TV ads in four states (Ohio, Wisconsin, Virginia and Nevada), radio ads in five (with the addition of North Carolina), and operating a direct mail program. Here are the three of the TV ads that we’ve run so far. English translations are available in the description of each video on YouTube.

“Somos El 47%”
 

“DREAM Act”
 

“Taxes”
 

UPDATE: On October 29, we expanded the campaign to Colorado.

PFAW

Obama Talks About the Supreme Court

The president discusses the consequences if the next Supreme Court justices are chosen by Mitt Romney.
PFAW

PFAW Targets Female Voters in Ohio: Romney’s Supreme Court is Just Too Dangerous for Women

People For the American Way launched a campaign today aimed at making sure Ohio women understand the danger of a Supreme Court nominated by Mitt Romney. The campaign, which includes television, direct mail, Internet advertising and telephone calls, exposes the power that Romney’s Supreme Court justices would have to eliminate abortion rights and undermine the rights of women in the workplace.

The TV ad, “Mitt Romney’s Supreme Court: Too Extreme,” can be viewed here. Versions of the ad previously ran in Ohio and in Florida during the Republican National Convention.

“Mitt Romney too often tries to hide his extremism on issues including reproductive rights and equal pay,” said Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way. “But when it comes to his Supreme Court picks, he’s been clear: he’ll bow to the far right and deliver justices who would roll back the rights of women. A Romney presidency might only last four years, but his Supreme Court could threaten the rights of women for a lifetime.”

“Polling has made it indisputably clear that women, particularly women in Ohio, will be critical in deciding the outcome of this election,” said Marge Baker, Executive Vice President of People For the American Way. “We’re making sure that female voters have all the facts about the dangers of a Romney presidency.”

 

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Joel Gilbert Scoops NYT for Pulitzer but his Movie Continues to Turn Off Swing Voters

The New York Times today offers up the wide distribution of Joel Gilbert’s “Dreams From My Real Father” as a case study in “how secretive forces outside the presidential campaigns can sweep into battleground states days before the election.”

According to the Times, Republican strategist Frank Luntz, at the behest of unnamed conservative activists, focus-group tested Gilbert’s film this summer, along with Dinesh D’Souza’s “2016” and “The Hope and Change,” a Citizens United joint featuring interviews with disaffected Obama supporters.

“The Hope and the Change,” directed by Stephen K. Bannon and produced by Citizens United, the conservative political advocacy group, tested highest with focus groups and is running on local cable stations. It was shown here just before Monday’s debate.

Many conservatives also loved Mr. D’Souza’s film and wanted it to have wider distribution. It tested poorly, however, and Mr. Luntz warned his clients that it could undermine their cause.

Focus groups were revolted by “Dreams From My Real Father,” with its conspiracy theory paranoia and dubious evidence. It compares photos of the president and Mr. Davis, noting that they have similar noses and freckles. It also purports to have uncovered nude photos of Mr. Obama’s mother in a bondage magazine.

Mr. Luntz’s clients were not surprised. Their thinking was, “I want to know if it’s as bad as I think it is,” Mr. Luntz said.

The opinion of Luntz’s focus groups mirrors that of at least one Florida voter who got Gilbert’s movie in the mail and found it so disgusting he decided to vote for Obama.

Gilbert, for his part, remains convinced that he will come out with the upper hand, and perhaps beat out The New York Times for a Pulitzer:

Mr. Gilbert will not say where he received the money to distribute his movie — he claims to have sent out four million copies. “It’s a private company, so we don’t disclose who’s part of it,” he said. He also blamed the mainstream media for not looking deeper into the story he uncovered, telling The New York Times, “I hope you’re not angry or jealous that I beat you to it and might win the Pulitzer Prize.”

Joel Gilbert Swings a Florida Voter

Papers in Florida have been reporting recently on a curious DVD that has been turning up in mailboxes across the state. The video is none other than Joel Gilbert’s “Dreams From My Real Father,” a “documentary” narrated by a fictional Barack Obama claiming that Obama’s mother’s marriage to Barack Obama Sr. was a sham meant to cover up her relationship with labor activist and communist organizer Frank Marshall Davis, the president's "real father." Gilbert previously boasted that he sent the DVD to a million households across Ohio, but declines to divulge who is paying for his marketing campaign.

On Friday, Palm Beach’s WPTV reported that Gilbert’s film has managed to swing at least one Florida voter.

When Ron and Judy Cindrick received what was billed as "a must-watch DVD" in their mailbox, they decided to see what "Dreams from My Real Father" was all about.

Judy said what she saw shocked her.

"I was absolutely appalled when I began to watch this and they began to show pictures of Barack Obama's mother, his supposed mother, naked," she said.

Ron said watching the pseudo-documentary turns his stomach, and his vote. He believes the Obama conspiracy-type film has to be politically motivated.

"I am a registered Republican, and as of today, I will vote for Barack Obama after receiving this DVD," said Ron.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the film has also been showing up in mailboxes in Nevada and New Hampshire. In an interview with a Florida radio show on Saturday, Gilbert claimed a version of the film on Netflix Instant Play has been watched by 200,000 people.

Debate Exposes Importance of Supreme Court to Working Women

The discussion of Lilly Ledbetter highlights the threat to working women that Mitt Romney's Supreme Court would pose.
PFAW

Supreme Court to Hear Arizona Voting Rights Case

The Supreme Court announced today that it will hear a critical voting rights case next year. Arizona has appealed a 9th Circuit decision that barred the state from requiring proof of citizenship from those registering to vote via a federally-approved registration form. Current federal law allows voters to register via federal form instead of a state-specific form. Those opting to do so must swear under penalty of perjury that they are citizens. Arizona’s law, which is currently stayed, would require voters using that form to jump over an extra hurdle to register, requiring them to show proof of their citizenship, a provision disproportionately affecting low-income and minority voters.

The AP explains:

The ruling applies only to people who seek to register using the federal mail-in form. Arizona has its own form and an online system to register when renewing a driver's license. The court ruling did not affect proof of citizenship requirements using the state forms.

Arizona officials have said most people use those methods and the state form is what county officials give people to use to register. But voting rights advocates had hoped the 9th Circuit decision would make the federal mail-in card more popular because it's more convenient than mailing in a state form with a photocopy of proof of citizenship.

The mail-in card is particularly useful for voter registration drives, said Robert Kengle of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which is representing Native American and Hispanic groups in the case.

The conservative wing of the Supreme Court has been eager to challenge voting rights laws in recent years. In 2008, a 6-3 majority of the court upheld Indiana’s voter ID law, paving the way for suppressive voter ID measures throughout the country. The Court may also hear a challenge to section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires federal preclearance for voting rights changes in states and counties with a history of discrimination at the ballot box. Successful court challenges to discriminatory voting law changes this year have shown just how essential that provision still is.

While the composition of the Supreme Court is unlikely to change before these cases are heard, they underscore the importance of federal courts in this election. Not only are federal courts the final protection we have against discriminatory voter suppression laws, the makeup of these courts is on the line in the presidential election. Either Mitt Romney or President Obama could pick up to three Supreme Court Justices and dozens of federal court judges in the next term. Romney has promised to appoint Justices like Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, who have both signaled their hostility to voting rights. If he does, and the Court shifts farther to the right, we could see decades of progress for fair and free elections slip away.

PFAW

CitU Spending Overwhelmingly Benefits Romney

Since Labor Day, 70% of outside spending on the presidential race made possible by Citizens United has benefited Mitt Romney, according to a new analysis.
PFAW

Kengor: ‘I Feel Bad for Obama’ Because He Didn’t Have a ‘Wholesome, Norman Rockwell Upbringing’

Historian Paul Kengor has been doing a circuit of right-wing talk shows, promoting his new book, “The Communist” which ties President Obama to a childhood family friend, the labor activist and writer Frank Marshall Davis. Although Kengor refuses to comment on filmmaker Joel Gilbert’s hypothesis that Davis is actually the president’s biological father, he argues that a direct line can be drawn between Davis’ Communist writings and the president’s support of universal health care, advocacy for the middle class, and even his “Change” and “Forward” slogans.

In an interview with Janet Mefferd this week, Kengor painted Davis as a sinister and strange influence on the young Obama’s life. Echoing Mike Huckabee’s accusation that the president has a “different worldview” because he grew up with “madrassas” rather than “going to Boy Scouts,” Kengor marveled that Obama’s grandfather chose Davis as a mentor for his grandson rather than “a Boy Scout troop master, a little league coach.” Not only that, but Obama’s grandfather and Davis “would even smoke dope together.”

“So I tell people, I honestly feel bad for Obama. This wasn’t exactly a wholesome, Norman Rockwell upbringing,” he added.

Kengor: In 1970, Stanley Dunham was looking for a black male father figure, mentor, role model for his grandson because the father was gone. So, right there, Janet, you or I, we have sons, grandsons, we’d probably pick as a mentor a boy scout troop master, a little league coach.

Mefferd: Yeah, someone upstanding.

Kengor: I mean, to think that you’d pick a card-carrying member of Communist Party USA, called to Washington to testify on his quote-unquote Soviet activities by the Democratic-run Senate Judiciary Committee, is kind of remarkable and kind of revealing.

Mefferd: Sure.

Kengor: But that’s who Stanley Dunham picked. And Stanley Dunham and Frank Marshall Davis were real close. They’d play cards together, Scrabble, drink together. One person named Donna Weatherly Williams, who was there when Dunham introduced Obama to Davis in 1970, says that Davis and Dunham would even smoke dope together.

Mefferd: Oh boy.

Kengor: And, I mean, here you’ve got, at that point Frank Marshall Davis would have been about 65 years old. So I tell people, I honestly feel bad for Obama. This wasn’t exactly a wholesome, Norman Rockwell upbringing.

Mefferd: No, awfully dysfunctional.

Kengor: Very dysfunctional, very.

Later, Kengor revisited the right-wing meme that President Obama somehow hates Winston Churchill because he removed George W. Bush’s bust of Churchill when he redecorated the Oval Office. This hatred of Churchill, according to Kengor, could very well have been instilled by a drunken rant of Frank Marshall Davis:

Kengor: If you would have asked me five years ago, or anybody in America five years ago, name one American who doesn’t like Winston Churchill…

Mefferd: Now we know!

Kengor: Nobody, yeah. Then suddenly in January 2009, well we have one: Obama. And now we know of another: Obama’s mentor. And actually, I should add, as a Cold War historian, I did know of Americans who didn’t like Churchill. It was members of Communist Party USA and the Daily Worker. So Davis was towing the Soviet line, the Communist Party line. Does this mean that Obama doesn’t like Churchill because of Davis? I can’t say that for sure, but I mean these guys met many times together, at least over a dozen times together, and late evenings. And you know Davis was always very political, always talking about politics, drank a lot, could be very incendiary in his comments. And I’m sure that Obama must have heard a few diatribes against Winston Churchill by Frank Marshall Davis.

 

Kengor: Obama 'Change' Platform Appeared 'Almost Verbatim' in Frank Marshall Davis Column

Grove City College historian Paul Kengor had the good fortune this year to release “The Communist,” his biography of President Obama’s early mentor Frank Marshall Davis, just as director Joel Gilbert started promoting “Dreams From My Real Father,” a mysteriously well-funded film claiming that Davis was in fact Obama’s biological father. Gilbert has not only helped boost interest in Kengor’s object of study, he has succeeded in making Kengor by far the most reasonable person on the Right’s Frank Marshall Davis beat.

In an interview with Phyllis Schlafly on Eagle Forum Radio this week, Kengor declined to comment on the veracity of Gilbert’s “real father” hypothesis. But like Gilbert, Kengor is convinced that Davis was a bigger influence on Obama’s thinking than the mainstream media will admit. One example, he told Schlafly, are Obama’s 2008 campaign slogan of “Change” and his 2012 slogan of “Forward,” in which he sees “remarkable” similarities with Davis’ writing. He points to a 1946 column by Davis which contains “almost verbatim the Obama platform for 2008”:



Schlafly: I want to be clear about this, Paul. Nobody’s saying President Obama is a Communist, but there’s no question about the man who had the biggest influence on his life, Frank Marshall Davis. He was a real, honest to goodness Communist who had a membership card issued by the Communist Party. And in those days, a certain number of people actually did that. But today, when you read and hear Obama’s speeches, it’s kind of like it’s an echo of the many things that Frank Marshall Davis wrote in communist publications. What are some of those, and do they remind you of Frank Marshall Davis and you kind of think those are wordings that, goals that kind of hung around in his subconscious for years?

Kengor: They do, Phyllis, they remind me very much so of Frank Marshall Davis. And I have to say, as a scholar, I can’t say that, ‘Well, Obama said A and that’s because Davis believes in B.’ But, well, you look at these things and they’re remarkably similar. The constant use of class warfare, of class rhetoric. Some of these seem to be beyond the sort of standard similarities that you would see, just because Obama and Davis are both on the left. I’ll give you just another example. Obama, of course, ran under the mantra of ‘Change’ in 2008, ‘Hope and Change.’ Well, the very first column that Frank Marshall Davis wrote for the Chicago Star…

Schlafly: A Communist paper.

Kengor: Yes, a Communist paper. This is the kick-off column, and he wrote a piece, this was July 6, 1946, and it was called “Those Radicals of ’76.” And in that column, Frank Marshall Davis talked about the importance of advancing, quote, ‘fundamental change,’ unquote, in America. America needs to be ‘transformed through fundamental changed.’ And that’s almost verbatim the Obama platform for 2008. And Obama’s 2012 campaign slogan, which is simply, ‘Forward,’ I found on the front page of the Chicago Star, very top, right below the masthead, Frank Marshall Davis using that same slogan. One of them says, ‘Bravely Forward!” exclamation mark. So, could this just be a coincidence? Yeah, sure I guess it’s possible that it’s a coincidence. But you look at all the long list and the rhetoric and you look at that and you say, ‘Well, it seems like it might be more than just a coincidence.’

‘Dreams From My Real Father’ Director’s New Project: Obama’s Secret Muslim Wedding Ring

WorldNetDaily’s intrepid birther Jerome Corsi is out with a new report today, in which he uncovers that President Obama’s wedding band is actually inscribed with the Arabic for “There is no god except Allah.”

Corsi’s source for this revelation? None other than all-purpose anti-Obama conspiracy theorist Joel Gilbert. Gilbert has recently achieved some success with his film “Dreams From My Real Father,” in which he claims that the president’s real father was labor activist and communist organizer Frank Marshall Davis. The film is currently being sent to households around Ohio, with the help of an undisclosed source of funding, and recently received the enthusiastic endorsement of the chairman of the Alabama Republican Party. Gilbert, apparently, believes that Obama is not only a hard-core Marxist, but also a secret Muslim:


"Dreams from My Real Father” producer Joel Gilbert, an Arabic speaker and an expert on the Middle East, was the first to conclude that Obama’s ring, reportedly from Indonesia, bore an Islamic inscription



Filmmaker Joel Gilbert, an expert on Islamic history, noted Obama wore the ring during his high-profile speech in Cairo on June 4, 2009, in the first months of his presidency.

“Now we have a new context for what Obama meant when he told the Islamic audience in Cairo that he has ‘known Islam on three continents,” Gilbert said. “He also told the Cairo audience that he considered it part of his responsibility as president of the United States ‘to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.’ All religious Muslims are by definition required to defend Islam.”

Before he turned his attention to the president’s supposed Communist genetics, Gilbert directed a number of Bob Dylan documentaries and “Atomic Jihad,” a film accusing President Obama of appeasing Iran.

Corsi has previously speculated that the same ring, which the president has been pictured wearing before his marriage to Michelle Obama, is proof that he was once married to his male Pakistani roommate.

Toobin Asks Candidates to 'Take a Stand' on Supreme Court. They Already Have.

On CNN’s website today, legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin laments out how small a role the Supreme Court has played in the presidential election so far. He writes:

With a little more than a month to go, it's not too late to ask the candidates to take a stand on their plans for the court. The president has already had two appointments, and he named Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. But what does Obama, a former law professor, think about the court? Does he believe in a "living" Constitution, whose meaning evolves over time? Or does he believe, like Justices Scalia and Thomas, that the meaning of the document was fixed when it was ratified, in the 18th century.

By the same token, what kind of justices would Romney appoint? Who are his judicial role models? Romney has praised Chief Justice John Roberts, but is the candidate still a fan even after the chief voted to uphold the ACA?

No one is asking these questions. But there are few more important things to know about our current and future presidents.

Toobin is absolutely right that the candidates’ plans for the Supreme Court deserve a lot more air time than they’re getting. But he’s wrong to suggest that we know nothing about what President Obama and Governor Romney have in mind for the Court.

President Obama has already picked two Supreme Court justices. Both, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, have been strong moderates, balancing out the retro extremism of Justices Scalia and Thomas. When female Wal-Mart employees wanted to band together to sue their employer for pay discrimination, Sotomayor and Kagan stood on the side of the women’s rights, while Scalia and Thomas twisted the law to side with the corporation. When Justices Thomas and Scalia ruled that a woman harmed by a generic drug couldn’t sue the drug’s manufacturer in state court, Justices Sotomayor and Kagan stood up for the rights of the consumer.

Mitt Romney obviously hasn’t had a chance to pick a Supreme Court justice yet, but he’s given us a pretty good idea of who he would choose if given the opportunity. On his website, Romney promises to “nominate judges in the mold of Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito.” After the Supreme Court’s ruling in the health care reform case, Romney announced he had changed his mind about Roberts, who declined to destroy the law while still writing a stunningly retrogressive opinion redefining the Commerce Clause.

And, of course, Romney sent a clear signal to his conservative base when he tapped Robert Bork to advise him on legal and judicial issues. Bork’s record, and what he signals about Romney’s position on the Supreme Court, is chilling:

Romney’s indicated that he would want the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. He’s even attacked the premise of Griswold v. Connecticut, the decision that prohibited states from outlawing birth control by establishing a right to privacy.

Yes, the candidates should be made to answer more questions about their plans for the Supreme Court and the lower federal courts. But there’s a lot that we already know.

(For more, check out PFAW’s website RomneyCourt.com.)

PFAW

Michelle Obama is an 'Anti-American Extremist,' Says Popular Birther Filmmaker

We ordinarily wouldn’t really pay attention to Joel Gilbert, a Bob Dylan enthusiast who also dabbles in anti-Obama conspiracy theories, most recently making a film that alleges that the president’s real father is labor activist and communist party organizer Frank Marshall Davis.

But when Bill Armistead, the chairman of the Alabama Republican Party, started promoting Gilbert’s movie, “Dreams from My Real Father,” and when news surfaced that Gilbert was sending thousands of copies of his movie gratis to households in swing states and that conservative groups were holding showings, we thought we should start keeping track of him.

Gilbert has a spiel that he repeats pretty much word for word on media appearances, but once in a while he comes up with something new (for instance when he said that the Aurora movie theater shooting could very well have been an Obama administration inside job).

In an interview with Iowa radio host Steve Deace yesterday, Gilbert asserted that the president is “comfortable around anti-American extremists” – including Michelle Obama. He also elaborated on his theory that Obama is “attempting to turn the entire United States into this one-party system by doubling the food stamp rolls, putting everybody on government healthcare, making illegals legal.”

Obama is comfortable around anti-American extremists, people that are anti-American – Bill Ayers, Michelle Obama, dare I say. These are the people that he feels comfortable with and they’re comfortable with him. Obama’s policies mirror this classic Marxist indoctrination that he received and reinforced his entire life by joining the Midwest Academy, his relationship with Bill Ayers and his family for 25, 30 years, as well as Bernadine Dorn, and this entire rat’s nest of Marxist ideologues that came out of Chicago and transformed their, took their little one-party ideology from Chicago and are attempting to turn the entire United States into this one-party system by doubling the food stamp rolls, putting everybody on government healthcare, making illegals legal. Their intent, it’s all about keeping power and creating a one-party state that they can never have to give up power.

 

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