On her radio program today, American Family Association government affairs director Sandy Rios fumed about Thad Cochran’s victory over Chris McDaniel in Mississippi’s runoff primary election, which she blamed on John McCain.
According to Rios, McCain embarked on a campaign — “and I know about this for personal reasons” — to “purge the Republican Party of conservative candidates” and “turn the Republican Party blue” following the 2008 election.
“He decided that Mark Kirk was his first pick,” Rios said.“Many of us in Illinois at the time, conservatives, knew that this was going to be a disaster.”
After reviewing several controversies that emerged during Kirk’s U.S. Senate campaign that she said showed he “was not an honest person,” Rios said that “we also knew that he was a closet homosexual.”
Back in 2010, while Kirk was running for the Senate, Rios wrote a column, “Do We Have a Right to Know If Candidates Are Gay?,” in which she demanded more media attention to rumors that Kirk is gay:
It’s not good enough for Congressman Mark Kirk to claim his “outing” “demeans the political process.” He should answer the following questions and Republicans and press must follow through to confirm or deny his answers:
1) Are you gay?
2) Have you been living with another homosexual Congressman?
3) Were you sued by another male staffer in John Porter’s office for sexual harassment?
Congressman Mark Kirk, please answer these questions. Republican leadership, if you are covering up things the public should know, stop or you will lose even more credibility with your base. And press? Do your job. Your duty is not to defend a lifestyle; it is to report the truth.
Last week, in advance of a Senate Judiciary Committee vote on six Arizona district court nominees, senior legislative counsel Paul Gordon asked if Arizona Senators Jeff Flake and John McCain would be able to convince their Republican colleagues to break what has become their practice of routinely delaying nominees’ votes. Since 2009, only five of President Obama’s judicial nominees had been allowed to have their committee votes cast without delay. Gordon urged the Senators to forgo this obstruction, especially given the enormous caseload in Arizona that is impeding the operation of the Arizona district court that has 6 of its 13 seats vacant.
Yesterday, in a departure from their practice, the Committee actually voted on the nominees. 91. 5 KJAZZ reported:
“The liberal advocacy group People for the American Way called this a step toward fixing the judicial vacancy rate in Arizona, but noted that there are 28 people awaiting confirmation ahead of these nominees.”
Executive vice president Marge Baker also commented on the turn of events in an interview with Cronkite News:
“It wasn’t sustainable to keep delaying this process, and it seems that Arizona senators finally heeded reason. Arizona has had a terrible judicial vacancy rate. This is an important step towards fixing it.”
This was a relief for the state of Arizona, as well as a nice change of pace for Senate Republicans. But as a judicial vacancy crisis continues in Arizona and across the country, the work is far from over.
Don Feder, the communications director for the World Congress of Families, is out with another anti-immigrant blog post, this time attacking immigration reform proponents like "Senator Juan" McCain for promoting the "loss of national identity" through immigration
In the blog post, posted in his capacity as a freelance "political/communications consultant" on the website GrasstopsUSA.com, Feder promotes the now-familiar line that Mitt Romney lost the 2012 election because he just wasn't conservative enough (or, in Feder's words, lacked "manly firmness"). In particular, FEder attacks McCain and GOP strategist Karl Rove for their support for immigration reform, which he claims will turn off "Main Street voters" who "care deeply about...loss of national identity."
"Rove isn't just wrong, he's wrong the way Napoleon was wrong when he invaded Russia," Feder writes. "Today, elections aren't won in the middle but on the fringes."
He contends that the Democratic base, or "fringe," constitutes "the ideological, the envious, public employees, angry, single women and the mooch brigade."
Last year, Feder wrote a virulently anti-immigrant blog post, in which he claimed that "the illegal immigrants swarming over our southern border are more akin to the pagan armies which regularly invaded the land of Israel and were repulsed by military force."
Although Feder has written these rants in his personal capacity, his railing against Latino immigrants would seemato conflict with his employer's goals of uniting "many national, ethnic, cultural, social and religious communities" in their anti-gay, anti-choice cause.
The Democrats took what should have been an advantage in a down economy and turned it into a negative. Romney was one of those rich Republicans (it's hard to be successful in business and not get rich) who didn't care about the little guy, they told us. Instead of a venture capitalist who had saved ailing businesses, he was a corporate corsair and tax-cheat who cannibalized companies and slashed jobs.
The middle class never bought this; Obama's base did. The message was aimed at mobilizing the ideological, the envious, public employees, angry, single women and the mooch brigade – the Democrats' core constituency. Romney's answer was not marked by manly firmness, "The president is a nice guy, but we just can't afford him for four more years," Mitt the Mild peeped. Republicans accepted the media line that voters hate negative campaigning and will punish the perps. Democrats didn't.
Rove isn't just wrong, he's wrong the way Napoleon was wrong when he invaded Russia. Today, elections aren't won in the middle but on the fringes. It's not about who can appeal to so-called independents (most are aligned with one party or the other, but won't admit it) but who can best identify and mobilize their base. At this, Democrats are particularly adept and Republicans depressingly inept.
Supposedly, Romney lost Latinos with his silly self-deportation plan. But in 2008, Juan McCain, Senor Amnesty, got 31% of the Hispanic vote, compared to 28% for Mitt in 2012. If Romney had done as well – or as poorly – as McCain, he would have gotten four percentage points more (of 9% of the electorate) and the outcome, you do the math, would have been exactly the same.
This year, Wall Street Republicans are advising the party to get immigration off the table, to avoid further offending Hispanics.
If Republicans rabbits like Speaker John Boehner help the president to pass another amnesty, two things will happen: Hispanics will still vote overwhelming Democratic, based on their perceived economic interests. Hispanic households are twice as likely to benefit from a major welfare program as white families (40% versus 20%).
At the same time, Main Street voters – who care deeply about fairness (for taxpayers, workers and legal immigrants), loss of national identity, national security and the economic consequences of illegal immigration – will walk away from the GOP in disgust.
Recall Boehner's senseless attack on the Tea Parties (which made him Speaker) this fall. In a just-published interview in the News Republic, Senator Juan slammed the Tea Parties and called Fox News "schizophrenic." Coming from a man who's famous for his borderline psychotic temper, this must hurt.
After waging an unprecedented campaign of obstructionism against President Obama’s nominees, Republicans are now crying crocodile tears over a rules change that would end the filibuster on certain judicial nominees.
NBC News points out that Republicans are not blocking judicial nominees over “concerns about ideology or qualifications, but over the president’s ability to appoint ANYONE to these vacancies.” This unprecedented blockade leaves Democrats with few options, as dozens of nominees are left unable to receive a simple confirmation vote.
It’s even harder to be sympathetic to Senate Republicans when you remember that just a few years ago, many of the very same Republicans who are today filibustering President Obama’s nominees willy-nilly were vowing that they would never, ever filibuster judicial nominees. Some even declared that judicial filibusters were unconstitutional and un-American.
But that was before there was a Democrat in the White House.
We take a look back at some of the Senate’s most strident opponents of filibustering judicial nominees, turned master obstructers.
1. Mitch McConnell (KY)
“Any President’s judicial nominees should receive careful consideration. But after that debate, they deserve a simple up-or-down vote” (5/19/05).
“Let's get back to the way the Senate operated for over 200 years, up or down votes on the president's nominee, no matter who the president is, no matter who's in control of the Senate” (5/22/05).
2. John Cornyn (TX)
“[F]ilibusters of judicial nominations are uniquely offensive to our nation’s constitutional design” (6/4/03).
“[M]embers of this distinguished body have long and consistently obeyed an unwritten rule not to block the confirmation of judicial nominees by filibuster. But, this Senate tradition, this unwritten rule has now been broken and it is crucial that we find a way to ensure the rule won’t be broken in the future” (6/5/03).
3. Lamar Alexander (TN)
“If there is a Democratic President and I am in this body, and if he nominates a judge, I will never vote to deny a vote on that judge” (3/11/03).
“I would never filibuster any President's judicial nominee. Period” (6/9/05).
4. John McCain (AZ)
“I’ve always believed that [judicial nominees deserve yes-or-no votes]. There has to be extraordinary circumstances to vote against them. Elections have consequences” (6/18/13).
5. Chuck Grassley (IA)
“It would be a real constitutional crisis if we up the confirmation of judges from 51 to 60” (2/11/03).
“[W]e can’t find anywhere in the Constitution that says a supermajority is needed for confirmation” (5/8/05).
6. Saxby Chambliss (GA)
“I believe [filibustering judicial nominees] is in violation of the Constitution” (4/13/05).
7. Lindsey Graham (SC)
“I think filibustering judges will destroy the judiciary over time. I think it’s unconstitutional” (5/23/05).
8. Johnny Isakson (GA)
“I will vote to support a vote, up or down, on every nominee. Understanding that, were I in the minority party and the issues reversed, I would take exactly the same position because this document, our Constitution, does not equivocate” (5/19/05).
9. James Inhofe (OK)
“This outrageous grab for power by the Senate minority is wrong and contrary to our oath to support and defend the Constitution” (3/11/03).
10. Mike Crapo (ID)
“[T]he Constitution requires the Senate to hold up-or-down votes on all nominees” (5/25/05).
11 . Richard Shelby (AL)
“Why not allow the President to do his job of selecting judicial nominees and let us do our job in confirming or denying them? Principles of fairness call for it and the Constitution requires it” (11/12/03).
12. Orrin Hatch (UT)*
Filibustering judicial nominees is “unfair, dangerous, partisan, and unconstitutional” (1/12/05).
*Hatch claims he still opposes filibusters of judicial nominees and often votes “present” instead of “no” on cloture votes. But as Drew noted: “Because ending a filibuster requires 60 ‘yes’ votes, voting ‘present’ is identical to voting ‘no.’ Hatch’s decision to vote ‘present’ is an affirmative decision to continue the filibuster.”
Dissatisfaction with “establishment” Republicans has been a consistent theme at this year’s Values Voter Summit, and it reached new heights at a Saturday morning breakfast session hosted by the Heritage Foundation and its more overtly political arm, Heritage Action.
Sen. John McCain has been a favored punching bag, no doubt for having had the temerity to criticize the “Teavangelical” favorite son, Ted Cruz. An audience member asked whether Heritage was planning to do something to take out South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, referred to by the questioner as “John McCain’s lapdog.” Heritage Action Chief Operating Officer Tim Chapman said that Heritage Action has “steered clear” of primaries since its bread and butter is working on Capitol Hill, but said the group’s materials are often used in primaries, and he praised the work of groups like Club for Growth and the Senate Conservatives Fund.
Regarding Graham, Chapman told the questioner “I am with you” and said he would like to see some “good accountability" applied to Graham. He said he hoped one of the conservative members of the South Carolina House delegation might step up to take on Graham. Chapman slammed Republicans in Congress as “close to failing," saying the average Republican score on the group's congressional scorecard is only 67 percent, something that has "rankled a few feathers on Capitol Hill."
Chapman complained that Republican leaders were preparing to cave to Obama in the current standoff: “As we speak, Republican leaders are speaking to the White House and they are cutting a deal and I promise you the deal is going to be total garbage.”
“We are at the point right now where we are seeing a complete cleavage away from the Republican Party of the conservative movement,” he said. “You are going to see massive upheaval in the next election on all fronts…We have an opportunity to take over the party and it will be in the next election cycle.”
Louie Gohmert is angry with John McCain for making the factual statement that Republican lawmakers caused the government shutdown. He’s so angry, in fact, that he told Values Voter Summit attendees today that McCain “supported Al Qaeda.”
We look forward to when Gohmert will accuse McCain of supporting terrorism to his face.
Cliff Kincaid of America’s Survival, who recently led the “Lenin and Sharia” conference on the supposed links between Communism and radical Islamists, today joined Frank Gaffney on Secure Freedom Radio to once again defend Michele Bachmann’s anti-Muslim witch hunt. But before they could get to that, the two attacked conservative activist Grover Norquist, whom Gaffney has consistently demonized as a Muslim Brotherhood agent. Gaffney said that his ten part “Muslim Brotherhood in America” course proves that Norquist and his Brotherhood allies are copying the “kind of subversive, clandestine operations that the Communists ran in their heyday in this country”:
Gaffney: Cliff Kincaid, one of the things that jumps out at you as you look at this material in the course and Grover’s friends in the Islamist Brotherhood infrastructure in the United States is how closely it seems to track, almost maps perfectly really, to the kind of subversive, clandestine operations that the Communists ran in their heyday in this country. You’ve developed a tremendous expertise on that subject and I wonder what particularly in your own program about Lenin and Sharia, did you find much evidence of the connection being more than coincidental there?
Kincaid: We did, Frank. This is where Grover’s conduct leaves me almost speechless. I mean here’s a guy who did recognize during the Reagan years the Communist threat and who now seemingly can’t see that we’re up against a global Islamic terrorist threat operating through front groups. That’s exactly what the Communists did.
Later, Gaffney claimed that John McCain and John Boehner, who along with many other Republicans denounced Bachmann’s witch hunt, were “sort of parroting the Muslim Brotherhood line” by defending Huma Abedin from Bachmann’s attacks. Kincaid recommended the House restore the Internal Security Committee, which was originally called the House Un-American Activities Committee, and said that neither Abedin nor President Obama could pass a background check:
Gaffney: They’re not simply imitating what the Communists did, the Communists trained them in how to run what the Brotherhood calls civilization jihad. As you know this is not necessarily terrorism, at least at the moment it’s a pre-violent form of creating the conditions of the battlefield that will enable the violent kind of jihad ultimately to be very successful. Cliff, one other thing that I’m struck by that seems to be an important parallel and it brings us back to the Grover Norquist element here; we’ve also been hearing of course from John McCain and Speaker of the House John Boehner lately, among others, sort of parroting the Muslim Brotherhood line on a number of issues, notably the revelations that the deputy chief of staff to the Secretary of State, Huma Abedin, has extensive personal as well as family ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Give us a sense of how this is a throwback to the earlier revelations, among others, by J. Edgar Hoover of what the Communists have done on the other side.
Kincaid: You would think that somebody like a McCain who is of course a war hero who came out of the Hanoi Hilton would understand the similarities between what the Communists have tried to do to us and now what the global Islamists are effectively doing to us. Yet we noticed, Frank, a couple years ago that he seemed to go haywire on this whole thing, after warning about the Muslim Brotherhood he suddenly shows in Washington at an event honoring Al Jazeera and then he shows up making these comments on the Senate Floor in criticism of the conservative members of the House who have raised concerns about security problems at the State Department and other agencies.
This is something that requires frankly the Congress to take a harder look; I wish we could go beyond just asking the inspectors general to look at this problem. We have long at America’s Survival advocated the return of the House and the Senate, but they can do it in the House, of the House Internal Security Committee to issue subpoenas, to bring in and require testimony from these people, to get to the bottom of it in public hearings as to the security problems in the State Department. Who gave Huma Abedin a security clearance? Does she in fact have one? We don’t even know that. I do know that I’ve taken a look at the standard form 86, 127 pages long that she was supposed to fill out and if she had filled it out, and let’s face it even the President couldn’t pass a basic background check, but if she had filled it out truthfully she wouldn’t be in that position today.
Gaffney: Amen, Cliff Kincaid, you are as always a great, great authority on these issues.
Washington, DC – As Mitt Romney leaves on a six-day international trip meant to bolster his foreign policy credentials, People For the American Way is calling on him to reject recent comments by his own foreign policy adviser, John Bolton.
Yesterday during an interview with anti-Muslim activist Frank Gaffney, Bolton defended Rep. Michele Bachmann’s ongoing McCarthy-esque attacks on Muslim-Americans serving in the U.S. government. Bolton’s comments, first reported by PFAW’s Right Wing Watch, place him at odds with prominent Republicans including Sen. John McCain and House Speaker John Boehner, who have both repudiated Bachmann’s unfounded allegations about “deep penetration” of the U.S. government by the Muslim Brotherhood and her targeting of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s aide Huma Abedin.
“Mitt Romney is traveling to Europe to prove that he has the foreign policy chops to be President,” said Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way. “But first he needs to deal with a foreign policy problem of his own right here at home. Five members of Congress, led by Rep. Michele Bachmann, are targeting Muslim-American public servants in an old-fashioned witch hunt. Their dangerous and unfounded accusations are resonating halfway across around the world and undermining American diplomacy in the Middle East at a critical moment.
“Top Republicans like Speaker Boehner and Senator McCain have denounced Bachmann’s ‘dangerous’ efforts, and even her former campaign manager ripped her ‘outrageous and false charges,’” said Keegan. “Now one of Romney’s top foreign policy advisers is backing Bachmann’s witch hunt, but Romney hasn’t said a word.
“If Romney can't stand up to Michele Bachmann at home, how could he ever be a world leader?” asked Keegan. “Bachmann’s witch hunt is endangering the lives and livelihoods of hard-working Americans while undermining diplomacy abroad. Romney needs to take a stand on this basic issue at home or his foreign policy trip will be a failure before it ever gets going.”
# # #
Earlier this week, People For the American Way called on Boehner to remove Bachmann from the House Intelligence Committee, where she is privy to sensitive national security information.
To: Interested Parties
From: Marge Baker, People For the American Way
Date: May 4, 2012
Subject: Behind the Scenes, Silent Obstruction of Judicial Nominees
Senate Republicans’ systematic obstruction of President Obama’s nominees to the federal courts is by now well known. The President’s confirmed nominees have on average waited four times as long between committee approval and a vote from the full Senate than did George W. Bush’s nominees at this point in his term. The vast majority of these, once the GOP’s obstruction options are exhausted, are confirmed overwhelmingly.
What is less well known – and largely hidden in behind-the-scenes Senate procedure – is that this systematic obstruction often begins long before a nominee has been sent from the Judiciary Committee to the Senate floor. In fact, Senate Republicans are routinely using procedural tactics to delay the consideration and approval of the President’s judicial nominees by the Judiciary Committee.
This silent obstruction adds another layer of gridlock to an already gridlocked process – and it does so away from the spotlight of the media and the scrutiny of constituents.
Pre-Committee: Withholding Blue Slips
Under procedures adopted by Chairman Leahy as a bipartisan courtesy to his fellow senators, the Judiciary Committee does not consider a judicial nominee until both of that nominee’s home-state senators have submitted a “blue slip” allowing the nominee to move forward. The submission of a blue slip does not imply support of the nominee – merely that the nomination should be considered by the Judiciary Committee.
Despite the serious implications of withholding a blue slip, senators can do so without giving a reason and even without a public announcement – making it impossible to know how often the practice occurs. But several recent incidents that have been publicized show just how willing some GOP senators are to prevent unquestionably qualified and mainstream nominees from even reaching a Senate hearing.
In Arizona, a two-year-old emergency vacancy remains unfilled despite the existence of a well-qualified nominee who has been waiting since June 2011 for a Senate hearing. Rosemary Márquez, President Obama’s nominee to the District Court based out of Tucson, was rated unanimously qualified by the American Bar Association and has the support of a large cross-section of Arizona’s legal community. But Sens. McCain and Kyl have held up Márquez’s nomination for ten months by refusing to submit blue slips to the Judiciary Committee.
Márquez is not alone. In February, the President nominated Elissa Cadish, a state district court judge in Nevada, to fill an empty seat on the U.S. District Court. Cadish is widely recognized as being qualified for the federal bench, including by a unanimous panel of the American Bar Association. But Sen. Dean Heller is withholding his blue slip anyway and thus blocking the Judiciary Committee from even considering her nomination.
Heller’s objection to Cadish is this: one month before the Supreme Court overturned decades of case law to hold that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms, Cadish stated – accurately – that then-current case law did not recognize such a right. For a nominee for a lower federal court, who is expected to rely on Supreme Court precedent rather than create her own, it was a statement of fact, one that four members of the United States Supreme Court agreed with just a few weeks later. For Heller, it disqualifies her from even being considered for a federal judgeship.
Similarly, Eleventh Circuit nominee Jill Pryor is being kept from a Senate hearing by home-state Republican senators who have already acknowledged that she is qualified for a federal judgeship but want her in a different seat – one on the U.S. District Court. Georgia senators Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson have said that they’re fine with Pryor being a federal judge. Pryor’s skills and experience aren’t in doubt: she’s received a host of awards for her work in the courtroom and has been a leader in Georgia’s legal community. The senators’ beef is simply that they have someone else in mind for the Circuit Court seat the president nominated her to, and they seem willing to keep an emergency vacancy unfilled until they get their way.
All of these nominations are being held hostage by Republican senators who are silently filibustering them by refusing to consent to the Judiciary Committee’s even holding hearings on their merits.
In Committee: No-Shows and Routine Delays
Twice this year, Republicans on the Judiciary Committee have prevented nominees from moving forward by simply not showing up at committee hearings and preventing a quorum. These “boycotts” kept the committee from holding votes on nominees who had already had hearings before the committee, further delaying already delayed nominations.
The walk-outs provided a more public accent to what was already routine obstruction by Judiciary Republicans. Committee rules allow the minority party to delay votes on nominees by requesting a one-week holdover, a provision designed to permit members who have questions about a particular nominee to get those questions answered. Under President Bush, such holdover requests were occasionally made to consider particular questions about particular nominees. Under President Obama, Republicans on the Judiciary Committee have used this tactic routinely, holding over all but five of more than 150 nominees.
Senate Republicans have been using nearly every procedural tactic at their disposal to stall President Obama’s judicial nominees at every step in the nominations process. Very few of these maneuvers come with explanations, and those that do are often blown far out of proportion.
The result has been a record vacancy crisis in the federal courts, inexcusable delays for Americans seeking justice, and eroded trust in gridlocked Congress.
Media contact: Miranda Blue, (202) 467-4999, firstname.lastname@example.org
Today, in a 63-33 vote, the Senate broke a filibuster of the nomination of John McConnell to serve as a district court judge in Rhode Island. The attempted obstruction of a district court nominee was a top priority for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which spent enormous lobbying resources on sinking McConnell’s nomination. The Chamber objected to McConnell’s work as a public interest lawyer in Rhode Island, where he took on lead paint manufacturers and tobacco companies on behalf of consumers.