Mitt Romney

Romney Adviser John Bolton Warns the Obama Administration might 'Reinstitute Blasphemy Laws'

Former UN Ambassador John Bolton, who now serves as a foreign policy adviser to Mitt Romney, appears to be taking a page from Michele Bachmann with a new claim that the Obama administration is going to begin limiting free speech and expression to prohibit anti-Muslim rhetoric. While speaking to Frank Gaffney on Secure Freedom Radio, Bolton agreed with Gaffney that the State Department under Secretary Hillary Clinton is working with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to curtail the freedom of speech and begin “reinstitute blasphemy laws.” He even warned that there are people within the Obama administration who have hate speech laws “on their agenda” and made the absurd assertion that Secretary Clinton is opposed to the freedom of expression.


Bolton: I am very worried that under the Obama administration we are submitting to this claim that people have to temper their free speech rights to be respectful of what the OIC claims is the appropriate standard. Take the US embassy in Cairo’s first statement which apologize for this film as if appeasement was going to stop the mob from coming over the embassy’s wall, while it’s true that the Obama administration repudiated that statement honestly if you look carefully at what the President and particularly Secretary Clinton said since then they still are apologizing for this act, scurrilous though it might be, of an American private citizen. And it ties in directly — it’s a direct analytical predicate for the claim that it’s the movie that’s the whole problem with the riots and demonstrations in the Middle East. I think this is something that we need a broader public debate about because the notion that somehow we’re going to reinstitute blasphemy laws in the United States is something the overwhelming majority of Americans would react instinctively against.

Gaffney: Yet we are seeing as a result of something called the Istanbul process, which as you mentioned Secretary State Hillary Clinton has been involved, John Bolton, which produced last December a resolution in the Human Rights Council which is aimed at trying to prevent defamation of religions and goes beyond really what Mrs. Clinton has talked about in terms of ‘old fashioned peer pressure and shaming’ as instruments of suppressing free expression that offends Muslims. It seems uniquely geared towards Muslims by the way, I’ve not heard anybody saying we have to be impede people from being critical of Christians or Jews or Hindus or anybody else. But John Bolton to the extent to what we have been seeing elsewhere around the world, notably the prosecution of Geert Wilders in the Netherlands and Lars Hedegaard in Denmark and Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant in Canada to what amounts to hate speech. Do you think we’re on a track in this country, maybe under the guise of incitement, of a similar kind of constraint on freedom of expression if the Obama administration has its way?

Bolton: I think there are people who clearly have that on their agenda; I don’t see how we can blanket that reality. I do think that it comes in with a deceptively cautious approach to say ‘we just want people to be respectful,’ well fine that’s a decision each individual makes. But the whole point of our first amendment which I think distinguishes us from every other country around the world and is another example of American exceptionalism is that the government does not interfere with the content of speech, that is up to the political opinion of each speaker. That favorite liberal icon, Justice Brennan, in that famous iconic case New York Times v. Sullivan, said that debate in America should be uninhibited, robust and wide-open, and I say I stand with Justice Brennan and against Secretary Clinton on that point.

Gaffney: Amen.

Sex, Lies, and Bloodlust: What the Values Voter Summit Tells us About the Religious Right and the Republican Party

During this past weekend’s Values Voter Summit, the annual family reunion of the far right, RWW posted many memorable video highlights. What does it all tell us about the Religious Right and today’s Republican Party? First are foremost, Republican leaders are unwilling to distance themselves from the far-right fringes of their base, especially in an election year in which conservative evangelical voters are not tremendously excited about Mitt Romney. Romney took a pass this year, and it’s not hard to understand why. Last year, organizers maliciously put him on stage right before the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, who had ridiculed Romney’s Mormonism. A supporter of Texas Gov. Rick Perry denounced Mormonism as a cult, and the flap over Romney’s faith was the dominant story coming out of the gathering. It was much safer to let Paul Ryan represent the ticket this year, and to have other speakers like Rick Santorum and Rick Scarborough ensure evangelicals that voting for Romney was in fact a good thing. Romney did send a tepidly-received video, which seemed almost an afterthought. What is motivating these activists is not enthusiasm for Romney but their hostility toward the Obama administration.

Pat Robertson: Since 'We Don't Condone Wife-Beating These Days' Husband Should 'Move to Saudi Arabia' to Beat Her

Mitt Romney this weekend stumped alongside televangelist Pat Robertson, not minding Robertson’s legacy of incendiary, insensitive, heartless and apocalyptic rhetoric that has gotten him in trouble in the past. Apparently, Robertson’s own CBN has become aware of Robertson’s problematic statements, and may even be editing his controversial claims out of episode archives.

For example, today on the 700 Club’s “Bring It On” segment where viewers ask Robertson questions, one man wondered how he should go about repairing his marriage with a wife who “insults” him and once tried to attack him.

“Well, you could become a Muslim and you could beat her,” Robertson responded. “This man’s got to stand up to her and he can’t let her get away with this stuff,” Robertson continued, “I don’t think we condone wife-beating these days but something has got to be done.”

He later said the woman is a “rebellious child” and pondered if she has psychological problems. Robertson told the viewer that since he “can’t divorce her according to the Scripture, so I say: move to Saudi Arabia.”


However, if you watch the show as posted on CBN’s website, Robertson’s words towards the end of the program about Saudi Arabia and wife-beating were noticeably edited out.

Who's Ted Cruz? Getting to Know the Next Senator from the Tea Party

Cross-posted at AlterNet

The power center that Dick Armey and FreedomWorks have been aggressively building in the U.S. Senate around reigning extremist Jim DeMint will almost certainly welcome Ted Cruz in January. The Republican convention gave most Americans their first look at Cruz, who has become a Tea Party folk hero after crushing the establishment candidate, Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, in a bitterly contested primary.

Ted Cruz loves to portray his victory as an upwelling from the grassroots, as he did during his Tuesday night speech from the platform. “I have the honor of standing before you this evening for one reason, because thousands upon thousands of grassroots activists stood united, not for a candidate, but for the sake of restoring liberty.”

It is certainly true that his impressive come-from-behind primary victory captured the fervor of anti-government Tea Party activists as well as conservative evangelicals that Cruz has been courting for years at religious right gatherings. But it wasn’t an act of spontaneous combustion. Pouring gasoline on the prairie fire were national right-wing super PACs and Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks. Club for Growth Action dropped millions into the race on Cruz’s behalf; Jim DeMint’s Tea Party-backing Senate Conservatives Fund also kicked in with seven-figure spending. (DeMint has since cut his formal ties to the group so that it could create a super PAC.) A FreedomWorks spokesperson said after Cruz’s primary that wins by candidates like Cruz would “force Romney to the right.”

Cruz also benefitted from endorsements by an impressive roster of right-wing figures. During the primary he bragged that he was the only candidate this year supported by all four of his favorite senators: DeMint, Mike Lee, Rand Paul, and Pat Toomey. he Cruz campaign used video of a Palin campaign visit for its GOTV efforts. After his primary win an excited Breitbart blogger quoted Sarah Palin’s celebration on Facebook. She wrote that Cruz's victory was a win "both for Ted and for the grassroots Tea Party movement," and that the “message of this race couldn't be clearer for the political establishment: the Tea Party is alive and well and we will not settle for business as usual. Now, it's on to November!”

While the media accurately describes Cruz as a darling of the Tea Party and its corporate backers, he also had strong backing from religious-right figures. Cruz has campaigned for support at the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit and the Freedom Federation’s Awakening conference, where he said “we are engaged in spiritual warfare every day.” James Dobson and David Barton are among the religious-right leaders who backed Cruz; Rick Santorum endorsed Cruz on Glenn Beck’s television show.

Cruz embodies Ralph Reed’s desire to merge the Tea Party and religious right. In his convention speech, Cruz talked about the Tea Party movement as a “Great Awakening” – a not-so-subtle shout-out to religious-right leaders who are calling for a spiritual great awakening that they believe will turn the nation back to God and its Christian roots. At Rick Santorum’s event on Wednesday afternoon, Cruz mocked media conversations about divisions between different “chunks” of Republicans, declaring the party united. “We’re all here because we believe in values and principles bigger than ourselves,” he said.

Another Romney Abortion Flip-Flop: No Exceptions for Health of the Mother

In an interview with CBS News on Monday, Mitt Romney said he disagreed with his own party’s support for criminalizing abortion without exceptions: “My position has been clear throughout this campaign; I’m in favor of abortion being legal in the case of rape and incest, and the health and life of the mother.”

Of course, Romney’s position on the legality of abortion has been anything but clear. Now his campaign denies that he supports allowing abortion when a woman’s health is in jeopardy, as he told reporter Scott Pelley. Instead, they say he only supports allowing abortion when a woman would die without one.

Marjorie Dannenfelser of Susan B. Anthony List, a major anti-choice group, in an interview with Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association insisted that the Romney campaign told her that Romney does not in fact believe in exceptions for the health of the mother, contradicting what he said in the Monday interview. If he did, Dannenfelser said, he would not have received the endorsement of her anti-choice organization.



New Ad Highlights Romney's Right-Wing Agenda for the Supreme Court

Taking over the Supreme Court is an obsession on the far right, and Mitt Romney is on course to do their bidding. Romney selected none other than Robert Bork to serve as his chief judicial advisor. 

Just last week Romney deflected a question about abortion by saying it would be decided by the Supreme Court. He neglected to mention that he’s committed to overturning Roe v. Wade by appointing right-wing judges.
A new ad out today from People For the American Way takes Romney to task for his misleading remarks and highlights his extreme agenda for the Supreme Court.

New TV Ad! "Mitt Romney's Supreme Court: Too Extreme For America"

Mitt Romney says that a woman's right to choose an abortion even in cases of rape and incest is a "decision that will be made by the Supreme Court." But Romney has promised Supreme Court Justices who would overturn Roe v Wade...

New TV Ad - "Mitt Romney's Supreme Court: Too Extreme For America"

Mitt Romney says that a woman's right to choose an abortion even in cases of rape and incest is a "decision that will be made by the Supreme Court." But Romney has promised Supreme Court Justices who would overturn Roe v Wade...

New Ad Holds Romney Accountable for His Anti-Woman Supreme Court Agenda

 Television Ad Running Tomorrow During RNC; Telebriefing to feature Actress Kathleen Turner, Constitutional Expert Jamie Raskin

A new ad released today by People For the American Way holds Governor Mitt Romney accountable for his extreme agenda for the Supreme Court, including his decision to name right-wing ideologue Robert Bork as his chief judicial advisor.

In an interview this week, Romney insisted that the right of a woman to have an abortion in cases of rape and incest would be decided by the Supreme Court. But Romney failed to mention his promise to appoint Judges who would drastically limit women’s rights.

In an ad released today and running in the Tampa area during the RNC, People For the American Way corrected the record.

Voice Over: Mitt Romney says that a woman’s right to choose an abortion even in cases of rape and incest isn’t up to him.

Romney: This is the decision that will be made by the Supreme Court.

Voice Over: But Romney has promised to appoint Supreme Court Justices who would overturn Roe v Wade. As his chief judicial advisor he chose Robert Bork, a man with a long record of hostility to women’s rights.

[On Screen: Bork Record: ruled that a corporation could force female employees to be sterilized or lose their jobs / says politicians can outlaw birth control / claims the promise of Equal Protection doesn’t apply to women]

Mitt Romney: Too extreme for women. Too extreme for America.

Voice Over: People For the American Way is responsible for the content of this advertising.

People For the American Way released a report on Romney’s selection of Bork earlier this year.

This morning, in conjunction with the release of the ad, PFAW will host a short telebriefing to review Romney’s agenda for the Court.

What:               Telebriefing on Romney’s Agenda for the Supreme Court and its Impact on Women
When:              Thursday, August 30, 2012
                          10:00 a.m.
Who:                 Michael Keegan, People For the American Way President
                          Jamie Raskin, PFAW Senior Fellow, MD State Senator and Professor at American University                           Washington College of Law
                          Kathleen Turner, Actress and PFAW Foundation Board Member
                          Marge Baker, Executive Vice President for Policy and Program, People For the American                                 Way

For call-in information, contact Miranda Blue at (202) 467-2335

6 Right-Wing Zealots and the Crazy Ideas Behind the Most Outrageous Republican Platform Ever

Note: this story is cross-posted at AlterNet.

The official 2012 Republican Party platform is a far-right fever dream, a compilation of pouting, posturing, and policies to meet just about every demand from the overlapping Religious Right, Tea Party, corporate, and neo-conservative wings of the GOP.  If moderates have any influence in today’s Republican Party, you wouldn’t know it by reading the platform.  Efforts by a few delegates to insert language favoring civil unions, comprehensive sex education, and voting rights for the District of Columbia, for example, were all shot down.  Making the rounds of right-wing pre-convention events on Sunday, Rep. Michele Bachmann gushed about the platform’s right-wing tilt, telling fired-up Tea Partiers that “the Tea Party has been all over that platform.”

Given the Republican Party’s hard lurch to the right, which intensified after the election of Barack Obama, the “most conservative ever” platform is not terribly surprising. But it still didn’t just happen on its own.  Here are some of the people we can thank on the domestic policy front.
1. Bob McDonnell.   As platform committee chair, McDonnell made it clear he was not in the mood for any amendments to the draft language calling for a “Human Life Amendment” to the U.S. Constitution and legal recognition that the “unborn” are covered by the Fourteenth Amendment – “personhood” by another name.  McDonnell is in many ways the ideal right-wing governor: he ran as a fiscal conservative and governs like the Religious Right activist he has been since he laid out his own political platform in the guise of a master’s thesis at Pat Robertson’s Regent University. 
His thesis argued that feminists and working women were detrimental to the family, and that public policy should favor married couples over “cohabitators, homosexuals, or fornicators.”  When running for governor, McDonnell disavowed his thesis, but as a state legislator he pushed hard to turn those positions into policy.  As the Washington Post noted, “During his 14 years in the General Assembly, McDonnell pursued at least 10 of the policy goals he laid out in that research paper, including abortion restrictions, covenant marriage, school vouchers and tax policies to favor his view of the traditional family. In 2001, he voted against a resolution in support of ending wage discrimination between men and women.”  As governor, McDonnell signed the kind of mandatory ultrasound law that is praised in this year’s platform.  When his name was floated as a potential V.P. pick, Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood decried his “deeply troubling record on women’s health.”
2 Tony Perkins.  Perkins heads the Family Research Council, whose Values Voter Summit is the Religious Right’s most important annual conference, at which movement activists rub shoulders with Republican officials and candidates.  Perkins bragged in an email to his supporters how much influence he and his friend David Barton (see below) had on the platform.  Perkins was an active member of the platform committee, proposing language to oppose school-based health clinics that provide referrals for contraception or abortion, and arguing for the strongest possible anti-marriage equality language.  Perkins also introduced an amendment to the platform calling on the District of Columbia government to loosen its gun laws, which Perkins says still do not comply with recent Supreme Court rulings.
The media tends to treat Perkins, a telegenic former state legislator, as a reasonable voice of the Religious Right, but his record and his group’s positions prove otherwise.  Perkins has been aggressively exploiting the recent shooting at FRC headquarters to divert attention from the group’s extremism by claiming that the Southern Poverty Law Center was irresponsible in calling FRC a hate group.  Unfortunately for Perkins, the group’s record of promoting hatred toward LGBT people is well documented.  Perkins has even complained that the press and President Obama were being too hard on Uganda’s infamous “kill the gays” bill, which he described as an attempt to “uphold moral conduct.” It’s worth remembering that Perkins ran a 1996 campaign for Louisiana Senate candidate Woody Jenkins that paid $82,600 to David Duke for the Klan leader’s mailing list; the campaign was fined by the FEC for trying to cover it up.
3. David Barton.  Texas Republican activist and disgraced Christian-nation “historian” Barton has had a tough year, but Tampa has been good to him.  He was perhaps the most vocal member of the platform committee, and was a featured speaker at Sunday’s pre-convention “prayer rally.” During the platform committee’s final deliberations, Barton couldn’t seem to hear his own voice often enough.  He was the know-it-all nitpicker, piping up with various language changes, such as deleting a reference to the family as the “school of democracy” because families are not democracies.  He thought it was too passive to call Obamacare an “erosion of” the Constitution and thought it should be changed to an “attack on” the founding document.  He called for stronger anti-public education language and asserted that large school districts employ one administrator for every teacher.  He backed anti-abortion language, tossing out the claim that 127 medical studies over five decades say that abortion hurts women.  Progressives have been documenting Barton’s lies for years, but more recently conservative evangelical scholars have also been hammering  his claims about American history.  The critical chorus got so loud that Christian publishing powerhouse Thomas Nelson pulled Barton’s most recent book – which, ironically, purports to correct “lies” about Thomas Jefferson – from the shelves.  Of course, Barton has had plenty of practice at this sort of thing, from producing bogusdocumentaries designed to turn African Americans against the Democratic Party to pushing his religious and political ideology into Texas textbooks. Barton’s right-wing friends like Glenn Beck have rallied around him. And nothing seems to tarnish Barton with the GOP allies for whom he has proven politically useful over the years. 
4. Kris Kobach.  Kris Kobach wants to be your president one day; until now, he has gotten as far as Kansas Secretary of State.  He may be best known as the brains behind Arizona’s “show me your papers” law, and he successfully pushed for anti-immigrant language in the platform, including a call for the federal government to deny funds to universities that allow illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition – a plank that puts Kobach and the platform at odds with Kansas law.  Immigration is not Kobach’s only issue. He is an energizing force behind the Republican Party’s massive push for voter suppression laws around the country, and he led the effort to get language inserted into the platform calling on states to pass laws requiring proof of citizenship for voter registration.  He also pushed language aimed at the supposed threat to the Constitution and laws of the US from “Sharia law”; getting this language into the platform puts the GOP in position of endorsing a ludicrous far-right conspiracy theory.  Kobach hopes that will give activists a tool for pressuring more states to pass their own anti-Sharia laws.  In the platform committee, he backed Perkins’ efforts to maintain the strongest language against marriage equality.  Even an amendment to the marriage section saying that everyone should be treated “equally under the law” as long as they are not hurting anyone else, was shot down by Kobach.  Kobach also claims he won support for a provision to oppose any effort to limit how many bullets can go into a gun’s magazine.
5. James Bopp.  James Bopp is a Republican lawyer and delegate from Indiana whose client list is a Who’s Who of right-wing organizations, including National Right to Life and the National Organization for Marriage, which he has represented in its efforts to keep political donors secret.  As legal advisor to Citizens United, Bopp has led legal attacks on campaign finance laws and played a huge role in bringing us the world of unlimited right-wing cash flooding our elections.  Bopp chaired this year’s platform subcommittee on “restoring constitutional government,” which helps explain its strong anti-campaign finance reform language. 
Bopp is also an annoyingly petty partisan, having introduced a resolution in the Republican National Committee in 2009 urging the Democratic Party to change its name to the “Democrat Socialist Party.”  In this year’s platform committee, Bopp successfully pushed for the removal of language suggesting that residents of the District of Columbia might deserve some representation in Congress short of statehood.  His sneering comments, and his gloating fist-pump when the committee approved his resolution, have not won him any friends among DC residents – not that he cares.  He also spoke out against a young delegate’s proposal that the party recognize civil unions, which Bopp denounced as “counterfeit marriage.”  In spite of all these efforts, Bopp has been at the forefront of Romney campaign platform spin, arguing in the media that the platform language on abortion is not really a “no-exceptions” ban, in spite of its call for a Human Life Amendment and laws giving Fourteenth Amendment protections to the “unborn.” 
6. Dick Armey.  Former Republican insider Dick Armey now runs FreedomWorks, the Koch-backed, corporate-funded, Murdoch-promoted Tea Party astroturfing group – or, in their words, a “grassroots service center.” Armey has been a major force behind this year’s victories of Tea Party Senate challengers like Ted Cruz in Texas and Richard Mourdock in Indiana, both of whom knocked off “establishment” candidates – FreedomWorks also backed Rand Paul in Kentucky and Mike Lee in Utah in 2010.  As Alternet’s Adele Stan has reported, FreedomWorks’s goal is to build a cadre of far-right senators to create a “power center around Jim DeMint,” the Senate’s reigning Tea Party-Religious Right hero. 
To put Armey’s stamp on the platform, FreedomWorks created a “Freedom Platform” project, which enlisted Tea Party leaders to come up with proposed platform planks and encouraged activists to vote for them online. Then FreedomWorks pushed the party to include these planks in the official platform:
      Repeal Obamacare; Pursue Patient-Centered Care
      Stop the Tax Hikes
      Reverse Obama’s Spending Increases
      Scrap the Code; Replace It with a Flat Tax
      Pass a Balanced Budget Amendment
      Reject Cap and Trade
      Rein in the EPA
      Unleash America’s Vast Energy Potential
      Eliminate the Department of Education
      Reduce the Bloated Federal Workforce
      Curtail Excessive Federal Regulation
      Audit the Fed
An Ohio Tea Party Group, The Ohio Liberty Coalition, celebrated that 10 of 12 made it to the draft – everything but the flat tax and eliminating the Department of Education.  But FreedomWorks gave itself a more generous score, arguing for an 11.5 out of 12.  FreedomWorks vice president Dean Clancy said that the platform’s call for a “flatter” tax “opens the door to a Flat Tax” and said that they considered the education section of the platform a “partial victory” because it includes “a very strong endorsement of school choice, including vouchers.”
Honorable mention: Mitt Romney.  This is his year, his party, and his platform.  The entire Republican primary was essentially an exercise in Romney moving to the right to try to overcome resistance to his nomination from activists who distrusted his ideological authenticity.   The last thing the Romney campaign wanted was a fight with the base, like the one that happened in San Diego in 1996, when Ralph Reed and the Christian Coalition delighted in publicly humiliating nominee Robert Dole over   his suggestion that the GOP might temper its anti-abortion stance.  Romney signaled his intention to avoid a similar conflict when he named Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell to chair the platform committee. 
Keeping Everybody Happy
The new GOP platform reflects Romney’s desire to placate every aspect of the party’s base.  It also demonstrates both the continuingpower of the Religious Right within the GOP, as well as ongoing efforts to erase any distinctions between social conservatives and anti-government zealots, as demonstrated by Ralph Reed welcoming Grover Norquist to his Faith and Freedom coalition leadership luncheon on Sunday.

Samuel Rodriguez to Join 'Xenophobic' Sheriff Joe Arpaio at the Republican National Convention

The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference’s Samuel Rodriguez has been trying to push Latino voters to join the Republican Party while also begging the GOP to soften its hardline stance on immigration reform. But acting as a self-styled champion of immigrant rights while also boosting a party that is vociferously opposed to them ultimately creations tensions. It appears that for Rodriguez, helping the GOP is more important than opposing anti-immigrant policies and activists. Rodriguez is scheduled to share the spotlight at the Republican National Convention with none other than Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Rodriguez has previously described Arpaio as a “xenophobic person” and in February tweeted that “any candidate that seeks the endorsement of Sheriff Arpaio also seeks the rejection of the Hispanic community.”

Rodriguez also blasted SB 1070, Arizona’s harsh anti-immigrant law backed by Arpaio, as “xenophobic and nativist,” calling for a fast to protest the law and the creation of “a multi-ethnic firewall against the extremists in our nation.” “The Arizona Law stands as evidence that in 21st Century America, we may no longer be in the Desert of Segregation or the Egypt of Slavery but we just discovered there are Giants to be slain in the land of Promise,” his group proclaimed in a statement. “The Arizona Law is without a doubt, anti-Latino, anti-family, anti-immigrant, anti-Christian and unconstitutional.”

He later said that the Supreme Court didn’t go far enough in striking down the law’s “draconian measures” that “polarize and segregate our communities.”

Arpaio, who is being sued by the Justice Department for violating the civil rights of Hispanics (just one of his many scandals), will address an invitation-only audience at the Republican National Convention days after Rodriguez delivers a benediction.

Of course, Arpaio’s involvement in the convention should come as no surprise, as Arpaio was the co-chair of Mitt Romney’s 2008 Arizona campaign and served as a Romney surrogate. At the time, Romney said Arpaio was one of his “strong surrogates for our optimistic message of a stronger and safer Amreica” and was “gratified” to have his support.

Why is Mitt Romney Outraged at Todd Akin and Not at Paul Ryan?

Mitt Romney is outraged! He's insulted! He's offended!

Why? A Republican Senate candidate dared to state a position on choice that is exactly the same as that of Romney's own running mate.

Missouri Rep. Todd Akin is attracting plenty of attention for his bizarre and idiotic justification for refusing to allow rape victims to have abortions. But the extreme policy position behind those comments - a policy that is the GOP standard -- should be getting just as much attention.

Akin explained this weekend how rape victims shouldn't be allowed reproductive choice because they already have access to some mysterious anti-pregnancy control system: "First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."

Romney responded today in an interview with the National Review:

"Congressman's Akin comments on rape are insulting, inexcusable, and, frankly, wrong," Romney said. "Like millions of other Americans, we found them to be offensive."

"I have an entirely different view," Romney said. "What he said is entirely without merit and he should correct it."

What is Romney's "entirely different view"? That Rep. Akin doesn't have a basic understanding of the female anatomy that he's so interested in legislating? That Akin feels the need to draw a distinction between "legitimate rape" and "illegitimate rape"? That Akin thinks rape victims shouldn't be able to choose whether to carry their rapists' children?

Romney should start by directing his outrage at his own running mate. Rep. Paul Ryan not only opposes abortion rights for rape victims, he was a cosponsor of a so-called "personhood" amendment that would have classified abortion as first degree murder and outlawed common types of birth control. Ryan has also bought into the "legitimate rape" nonsense, cosponsoring legislation with Akin that would have limited federal services to victims of "forcible rape" - a deliberate attempt to write out some victims of date rape and statutory rape.

Romney himself has flirted with the "personhood" idea, telling Mike Huckabee during the primary that he'd "absolutely" support such a measure. When he was later confronted about the comment at a town hall meeting, it became clear that Romney had no idea how the process he wanted to legislate actually worked.

And Romney hasn't always been keen to stand up for the victims of rape. In a Republican debate in February, he actually got in an argument with Newt Gingrich over who was least in favor of requiring hospitals to provide emergency contraception to rape victims they were treating.

Now the Romney campaign is trying to distance itself from Akin by saying that "a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape." But Romney has also vowed to nominate Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade, returning to states the power to outlaw or allow abortion as they choose. If Romney and anti-choice activists get their wish from the Supreme Court, a Romney-Ryan administration would have no power to stop states from imposing whichever abortion bans they decide to impose. The promise to carve out an exception for rape victims is not a promise they would be able to keep.

The real scandal of Rep. Akin's comments isn't the faulty sex-ed he's teaching. Instead, his comments expose the anti-choice movement's skewed and condescending view of women. Akin can't accept that a woman who fits his definition of virtue - the victim of a "legitimate rape" - would also need to seek an abortion, and he has made up false science to support that assumption. But with or without the weird right-wing science, that same false distinction underlies all anti-choice policies - including those embraced by Romney and Ryan.

Romney can feign all the outrage he wants at Rep. Akin's misogynistic pseudo-science. But until he can draw a clear distinction between Akin's policies and his own, his protests will ring hollow.

This post originally appeared in the Huffington Post.


African American Ministers In Action: Romney-Ryan Agenda is ‘Dangerous for America’

People For the American Way’s African American Ministers in Action, a national coalition of African American pastors, spoke out today on Mitt Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan to be his running mate.

“Mitt Romney already had a dangerous agenda for America – especially Black America – and now he’s doubled down,” said Rev. Dr. Robert P. Shine, Vice-Chair of African American Ministers In Action. “Paul Ryan’s appalling budget proposal, if enacted, would strike an enormous blow to our social contract. It would absolve the very wealthiest of their obligations to give back to the country that supports them, while increasing the burdens on working people who are struggling to get by. It would rob from health care and food assistance and education to pay for tax cuts for billionaires. It would deny the least fortunate among us the opportunity to change their circumstances, while showering the most fortunate with tax cuts. These skewed priorities do not align with the teachings of Christ or with our highest American ideals.

“Like the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, we believe that Paul Ryan’s vision for American ‘fails to meet… moral criteria.’ Now, Mitt Romney, in an effort to pander to the farthest of the far right, has adopted Ryan’s flawed vision as his own. We can’t afford to have Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan in the White House.”


Religious Right Groups Laud Paul Ryan, Highlight Anti-Choice and Anti-Gay Voting Record

Conservative leaders hailed Mitt Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan, the far-right congressman, to be his running mate, emphasizing his opposition to LGBT and reproductive rights.

Concerned Women for America’s Penny Nance said that besides his one-time vote for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, she is excited “to pull back out my t-shirt from 2008 that says ‘Our VP is hotter than your VP!’”

Paul Ryan is a great choice. He has one little blip in that he voted for ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act) a long time ago but voted right on the marriage amendment and supports the unborn. Plus, I get to pull back out my t-shirt from 2008 that says ‘Our VP is hotter than your VP!’ Bonus.

Ralph Reed of the Faith and Freedom Coalition commended Ryan’s “100 percent pro-life and pro-family voting record.”

Mitt Romney choosing Paul Ryan as his vice presidential nominee is an inspired, outstanding selection. Paul Ryan is a rare and exceptional public servant who combines the courage of his convictions with a sharp intellect and a winsome personality. I have known him since he worked for Jack Kemp at Empower America in the early 1990s, worked with him in passing sound budgets in the House, and am proud to count him as a friend. He is a person of devout Christian faith who has a 100 percent pro-life and pro-family voting record in his 14 years in Congress. He will excite and energize social conservatives, who will play a critical role in the outcome of the elections.

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council is proud that Ryan “believes that social, fiscal and national security conservatism is indivisible.”

Mitt Romney's selection of Paul Ryan shows that he is serious about getting America's fiscal house in order. Paul Ryan's voting record also suggests that he believes that social, fiscal and national security conservatism is indivisible. Paul Ryan's philosophy clearly includes the understanding that America's financial greatness is tied directly to its moral and cultural wholeness.

As a member of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, he has been a defender of religious expression in the public square. Paul Ryan has spoken out strongly against President Obama's abortion drug and contraception mandates as an affront to religious liberty. He has articulately described how the President's government takeover of health care has pushed aside our First Amendment right of religious freedom.

We look forward to hearing Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan speak at the upcoming Values Voter Summit so that the conservative grassroots will have an opportunity to hear more about their agenda on the critical issues facing our country including religious liberty, marriage, the sanctity of human life as well as fiscal responsibility and national security.

The Susan B. Anthony List’s Marjore Dannenfelser hailed Ryan’s rejection of a “culture war truce.”

“By selecting Congressman Ryan as his vice presidential running mate, Governor Romney demonstrates his commitment to protecting American women and unborn children,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of SBA List. “A longtime pro-life advocate and a strong fiscal conservative, Congressman Ryan has insisted that there can be no ‘truce’ when it comes to advancing the rights of the unborn and achieving fiscal responsibility. He has a pristine pro-life voting record and will be an asset to Governor Romney’s campaign.

“Pro-life voters are a key demographic and help secure victory in critical elections,” continued Dannenfelser. “The addition of a second strong pro-life leader to the ticket energizes the pro-life base – we are thrilled with this pick.”

The Catholic Association called Ryan an “excellent choice” since “he has been thoughtful and articulate in applying Catholic principles to the other challenges facing America.”

We believe Governor Romney has made an excellent choice. As a smart, serious Catholic, Congressman Ryan has been steadfast on issues of fundamental principle – defending religious liberty, life, and traditional marriage.

In addition, he has been thoughtful and articulate in applying Catholic principles to the other challenges facing America.

The American Center for Law and Justice’s David French noted Ryan’s opposition to reproductive rights.

In the next days and weeks, there will be a lot of attention on Paul Ryan’s economic expertise and experience with fiscal reform. He became famous in political circles for the “Ryan budget” and for his fearlessness and effectiveness in challenging President Obama in the midst of the Obamacare debate. But what many may not know is that Paul Ryan is a man completely committed to the cause of life.

Gary Bauer of the Campaign for Working Families is glad this “youthful, forward-looking ticket [is] reminding us that with the right choices America's best days are still ahead of us.”

Just moments ago, Governor Mitt Romney formally announced his selection of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan to be his vice presidential running mate. He made the announcement at a naval museum in Norfolk, Virginia, with the USS Wisconsin as his backdrop. This is a bold choice, and I am very excited about this pick!

The selection of Paul Ryan shows Governor Romney is serious about confronting the fiscal challenges facing our country. It shows the kind of talented and experienced team Governor Romney will put together that will work for American exceptionalism.

Ryan is a strong conservative. He is pro-life and believes in traditional marriage. Of course, what he is most known for is entitlement reform and stopping the growth of government. He's 42 with a young family.

So this will be a youthful, forward-looking ticket, reminding us that with the right choices America's best days are still ahead of us. It will be a stark contrast to Obama's failed tax and spend policies that are taking us down the dead-end road of European-style socialism. It's clear which presidential ticket is serious about making real change!

Mitt Romney Capitulates to the Right, Yet Again

Governor Mitt Romney today announced his selection of Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate. People For the American Way President Michael Keegan issued the following statement:

“Of all the things we’ve learned about Mitt Romney in this campaign, the most striking is his willingness to cave to the extreme Right at every opportunity. His selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate just underscores that.

“From his support of ‘personhood’ legislation that would criminalize some forms of birth control, to his crusade to gut Medicare, cut Pell Grants and protect subsidies for Big Oil, Paul Ryan is the ideal Vice President for the far Right. The fact that Ryan’s budget raises taxes on working families and slashes programs helping the middle class in order to give huge breaks to the rich is just par for the course.

“If there was any question that Mitt Romney’s campaign is catering to billionaires, there shouldn’t be anymore. This is the Koch brothers' dream ticket. But for ordinary Americans, the Romney-Ryan agenda would be a nightmare.”


People For Raises Awareness of the 'Romney Court' on Sotomayor Anniversary

PFAW Activists Rally Outside Romney Headquarters in Greentree, PA

Yesterday marked the 3rd anniversary of Sonia Sotomayor officially assuming her office as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. People for the American Way, in partnership with other progressive organizations including NARAL and the AFL-CIO, marked the occasion with activists on the ground in the key states of Ohio and Pennsylvania.

At a campaign event in Colorado yesterday, President Obama underscored the importance of the election for its impact on the future of the court.

Today is the three-year anniversary of Sonia Sotomayor taking her seat on the Supreme Court. Yesterday was the two-year anniversary of Elena Kagan taking her seat on the Supreme Court. So let's be very clear -- the next President could tip the balance of the Court in a way that turns back the clock for women and families for decades to come. The choice between going backward and moving forward has never been so clear.

People For president Michael Keegan also laid out the stakes in the Huffington Post.

President Obama’s decisions to nominate Justices Kagan and Sotomayor prove his commitment to selecting qualified jurists and building a more representative and inclusive court that respects the Constitution and the rights of every American. Mitt Romney’s decision to turn to ultra-conservative judge Robert Bork for judicial counsel is a clear signal that he would only appoint far-right figures to the Supreme Court, judges that are even further to the right than Samuel Alito and Antonin Scalia.

It’s difficult to imagine a more conservative court than the one we have now, but that’s exactly what a Romney presidency would bring. With critical issues such as reproductive rights, voting rights, LGBT rights, campaign finance, and worker protections almost certain to come before the court next presidential term, stakes have never been higher.

For more on Mitt Romney’s dangerous vision for the Supreme Court, visit

Yesterday, PFAW avtivists were featured on Ohio Public Radio:



and Ohio Capital Blog:


A Sotomayor or a Bork? The Decision Is Ours in November

This post originally appeared in the Huffington Post.

Three years ago today, the first Supreme Court confirmation battle of Barack Obama's presidency came to an end. Justice Sonia Sotomayor took the oath of office on August 8, 2009, after enduring days of hearings at which she had been lambasted by Senate Republicans for such offenses as calling herself a "wise Latina" and acknowledging, like many male nominees before her, the shocking fact that her life experiences had shaped her perspective on the law.

In the three years since, I've been relieved to have Justice Sotomayor on the Court. I haven't agreed with all her decisions, but she has shown time and again that she understands how the Constitution protects our rights -- all of our rights. In 2010, she dissented to the Court's disastrous Citizens United decision, which twisted the law and Constitution to give corporations and the super wealthy dangerous influence over our elections. In 2011, she joined the four-justice minority that stood up for the rights of women Wal-Mart employees who were the victims of entrenched sex discrimination. This year, she was part of the narrow majority that upheld the Affordable Care Act, saving a clearly constitutional law that is already helping millions of Americans receive health care coverage.

Over and over again in the past years, the Supreme Court has split between two very different visions of the law and the Constitution. On one side, we have justices like Sotomayor who understand how the Constitution protects all of our rights in changing times. On the other side, we have right-wing justices like Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, who are determined to walk back American progress, turn their backs on the values enshrined in the Constitution, and ignore decades of our laws and history. On issues from voting rights to women's equality to environmental regulation, Americans' rights are being decided by the Supreme Court -- often by a single vote. Even the decision to uphold health care reform, in which Chief Justice John Roberts joined Sotomayor and the three other moderates on the court, would not have been as close as it was if the Court had not moved steadily to the right.

November's presidential election will be a turning point for the Supreme Court. The next president will likely have the chance to nominate at least one Supreme Court justice, setting the course of the Court for decades to come. President Obama has shown his priorities in his picks of Justice Sotomayor and Justice Elena Kagan.

Mitt Romney has a very different vision for the Supreme Court. Campaigning in Puerto Rico earlier this year, Romney bashed Sotomayor -- who also happens to be the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice and the Court's third woman ever. Instead, he says he'd pick more justices like Thomas, Alito and Antonin Scalia, the core of the right-wing bloc whose decisions are systematically rolling back Americans' hard-won rights. He used to say that he'd pick more Justices like Chief Justice Roberts, but changed his mind when Roberts ruled in favor of the health care reform plan similar to the one that Romney himself had helped pilot in Massachusetts.

So who would Romney pick for the Supreme Court? We've gotten a hint from his choice of former judge Robert Bork as his campaign's judicial advisor. Bork's brand of judicial extremism was so out of step with the mainstream that a bipartisan majority of the Senate rejected his nomination to the Supreme Court in 1987. Bork objected to the part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that desegregated lunch counters; he defended state laws banning birth control and "sodomy"; he was unabashedly in favor of censorship; he once ruled that a corporation could order its female employees to be sterilized or be fired. And, though it might not seem possible, since his confirmation battle Bork has gotten even more extreme.

Any justice appointed by Romney would likely fall in the footsteps of Bork in undermining workers' rights, eliminating civil rights protections, siding with corporations over the rights of individuals, threatening women's reproductive freedom, and rolling back basic LGBT rights. President Obama, on the other hand, has promised to pick more justices who share the constitutional values of Justice Sotomayor.

Three years into the term of Justice Sotomayor, the Court hangs in the balance. It's important that we all know the stakes.


President Obama: A Romney Court Could ‘Turn Back the Clock for Women and Families for Decades’

Speaking at a campaign event in Colorado today, President Obama laid out the crucial importance of the Supreme Court in November’s election:

Today is the three-year anniversary of Sonia Sotomayor taking her seat on the Supreme Court. Yesterday was the two-year anniversary of Elena Kagan taking her seat on the Supreme Court. So let's be very clear -- the next President could tip the balance of the Court in a way that turns back the clock for women and families for decades to come. The choice between going backward and moving forward has never been so clear.

The choice has never been so clear. In the Huffington Post today, People For president Michael Keegan lays out what’s at stake as we pick the man who will pick our next Supreme Court justices:

So who would Romney pick for the Supreme Court? We've gotten a hint from his choice of former judge Robert Bork as his campaign's judicial advisor. Bork's brand of judicial extremism was so out of step with the mainstream that a bipartisan majority of the Senate rejected his nomination to the Supreme Court in 1987. Bork objected to the part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that desegregated lunch counters; he defended state laws banning birth control and "sodomy"; he was unabashedly in favor of censorship; he once ruled that a corporation could order its female employees to be sterilized or be fired. And, though it might not seem possible, since his confirmation battle Bork has gotten even more extreme.

Any justice appointed by Romney would likely fall in the footsteps of Bork in undermining workers' rights, eliminating civil rights protections, siding with corporations over the rights of individuals, threatening women's reproductive freedom, and rolling back basic LGBT rights. President Obama, on the other hand, has promised to pick more justices who share the constitutional values of Justice Sotomayor.

To learn more about Mitt Romney's dangerous vision for the Supreme Court, visit



Romney Met Thursday with Top Anti-Muslim Activist and Leading Backers of Bachmann Witch Hunt

On Friday, Mitt Romney declined to condemn Rep. Michele Bachmann’s witch hunt against Muslim Americans in the federal government, breaking with GOP leaders like Senator John McCain and Speaker John Boehner. He said that “those are not things that are part of my campaign.” If that’s the case, then why did Romney hold a closed-door meeting the evening before with high-profile supporters of Bachmann’s effort, including Jerry Boykin, a leading figure in the anti-Muslim movement?
As Politico reported, Romney met privately on Thursday evening in Denver with a select group of right-wing activists. Of the four participants named by Politico, three are outspoken proponents of Bachmann’s witch hunt. Gary Bauer and James Dobson wrote to John Boehner to praise Bachmann’s “good judgment, undeniable courage, and great patriotism” for “bravely demanding answers to matters essential to the safety of the American people and our Armed Forces.” Meanwhile, Boykin signed on to a separate letter expressing “strong support for congressional efforts to illuminate and address the danger posed by influence operations mounted by the Muslim Brotherhood against government agencies.” He also claimed that “Huma [Abedin] is not the only person who has penetrated our government” and wondered aloud if President Obama is a Muslim Brotherhood member.
Boykin, however, is more than just a cheerleader for Bachmann – he’s a leading force behind the effort to drive Muslim Americans out of public life. Boykin recently became the Executive Vice President of the Family Research Council, but he’s best known as the lieutenant general who was rebuked by President Bush in 2003 and Defense Department investigators in 2004 for aggressively attacking Islam – in uniform – in the midst of two wars and an expansive anti-terrorism effort in the Middle East and South Asia.
Now retired, Boykin is on a mission to save the country from Sharia law and Islamic infiltration, which he sees lurking in every shadow and around every corner. His rhetoric is often bigoted, and he regularly traffics in wild-eyed conspiracy theories – like the one about Obama creating a Hitler-style militia to force Marxism on the American people or the one about international bankers plotting to form a Marxist, global government. (Don’t just take my word for it, see below for links to some of Boykin’s bizarre and disturbing pronouncements.)
Boykin, who last made headlines in January when he withdrew from speaking at West Point under pressure from cadets, faculty and outside groups, has argued that Muslims are not protected by the First Amendment and that there should be no mosques in America. In 2010, he joined forces with Frank Gaffney, president of the Center for Security Policy, and other anti-Muslim activists to form the so-called Team B II. The real Team B was an analysis commissioned by the CIA in the 70s of the threats posed to the US by the Soviet Union. Team B II, co-led by Boykin, presented itself as performing a similar analysis of “an even more insidious ideological threat: the totalitarian socio-political doctrine that Islam calls shariah.”
The group issued a report in September 2010, “Shariah: The Threat to America,” which won praise from Bachmann and Rep. Trent Franks, who appeared with Gaffney at a press conference announcing the report. Among the key findings of the report was that the Muslim Brotherhood “has succeeded in penetrating our educational, legal and political systems, as well as top levels of government, intelligence, the media, and U.S. military, virtually paralyzing our ability to respond effectively.”
Nearly two years later, Bachmann, Franks and three colleagues fired off letters to federal inspectors general alleging infiltration by the Muslim Brotherhood and requesting an investigation. The second paragraph of their letter, which fingered Huma Abedin, cited a series of web videos by the Center for Security Policy. The videos, available at, are narrated by Gaffney and lean heavily on Boykin’s Team B II report.
Remarkably, the efforts described above have spilled into Egyptian politics, with unfortunate consequences. As the New York Times reported in mid-July, many opponents of the Muslim Brotherhood, citing statements by Bachmann, Boykin, and Gaffney falsely believe that “the Obama administration harbors a secret, pro-Islamist agenda” and may have even “plotted to install the Islamist party’s presidential candidate in office.” As a result, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s motorcade “was pelted with shoes and tomatoes by Egyptian protesters” motivated by conspiracy theories that “originated with American conservatives.” With Egypt on the brink, nonsense like this only serves to undermine American diplomacy, just as his comments years earlier in uniform undermined American efforts to win hearts and minds abroad and likely put soldiers at increased risk.
Does Romney really think Boykin is an appropriate person to meet with? Did the meeting participants discuss Bachmann’s efforts with him? This is serious stuff that Romney should have to address. It was easy enough for him to sidestep the Bachmann question earlier, but given his meeting the evening before, he needs to be asked anew about Bachmann and Boykin.
As promised, here are some highlights of Boykin's conspiracy-mongering and Muslim-bashing:
“We have incrementally moved towards Marxism and now I think it's at an accelerated pace. ...
One of the things that Hitler did was he established the Brownshirts. ... Well, in the lead-up to the election, during the campaigns, our current president said very openly, and you can find it on YouTube, if I am elected President, I will have a national civilian security force that is as large as and as powerful as the US military.
For what? Why do you need a national civilian security force?
Now most people say, well we haven't seen any signs of the administration doing that. Until you go back and read what nobody in Washington read, and that's the health care legislation that lays out a provision for the commissioning of officers to work directly for the President in time of a national emergency.
Now what would bring about a national emergency? An economic collapse, a terrorist attack, a natural disaster - we talked about all those things here - which would then allow for martial law. The foundation has been laid.”
“We need to recognize that Islam itself is not just a religion - it is a totalitarian way of life. It's a legal system, sharia law; it's a financial system; it's a moral code; it's a political system; it's a military system. It should not be protected under the First Amendment, particularly given that those following the dictates of the Quran are under an obligation to destroy our Constitution and replace it with sharia law.”
“No mosques in America. Islam is a totalitarian way of life; it’s not just a religion. … But Islam, we need to think Sharia, it is not just a religion it is a totalitarian way of life. A mosque is an embassy for Islam and they recognize only a global caliphate, not the sanctity or sovereignty of the United States.”

"If you look at Hitler, one of the most disgusting things I hear is for people to call Hitler the extreme Right. The absolute opposite was true. It was the National Socialist Party. He was an extraordinarily off the scale leftist. 

But many Jews in America, for example, can't identify with the Republican Party because they're called the party of the Right, when in fact nothing could be further from the truth."


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