Steve Scalise

Seriously? Republicans Target Birthright Citizenship Again?

This op-ed by Randy Borntager, Political Director of People For the American Way, was originally published at The Huffington Post.

After the vast majority of Republicans voted to shut down the Department of Homeland Security to oppose President Obama's immigration actions, and with Republicans blocking any hope of real immigration reform this Congress, it seems the anti-immigrant movement has instead decided to refocus its efforts on revoking the constitutional right to birthright citizenship.

Earlier this week, Republican Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana decided to introduce a birthright citizenship amendment to the bipartisan Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015. The amendment so far has just one cosponsor -- Sen. David Perdue of Georgia -- and it's unlikely that it will be included in the final bill, but this decision to tack an unconstitutional, anti-immigrant measure onto an important bill shows the priorities of Sen. Vitter and the Republican Party.

Sen. Vitter claims that his birthright citizenship amendment would help curb the issue of "birth tourism," recently in the news surrounding Chinese mothers coming to California -- often committing crimes in the process -- so their children can be born in the U.S. It would seem more sensible to tackle this issue through targeting the middlemen who NBC reports "pocketed hundreds of thousands of dollars tax-free," and the visa, tax, and marriage fraud that are often a key part of "birth tourism." Instead, Sen. Vitter and the many Republicans who support ending birthright citizenship are trying to use the issue as cover for their attacks on immigrants and attempts to revoke a core constitutional right.

The flaws of the conservative attacks on birthright citizenship have been well documented. First, it's blatantly unconstitutional. It's clear that the drafters of the 14th Amendment intended it to guarantee citizenship to everyone born in the U.S. The only exception -- in the words of one of the amendment drafter's, Sen. Jacob Howard -- is for people "who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the Government of the United States," as they are not, as the 14th Amendment requires, "subject to the jurisdiction" of the United States. Conservatives from Michael Gerson, a former George W. Bush adviser, to the anti-immigrant Lou Dobbs have viewed attempts to undermine birthright citizenship as unconstitutional.

It's also a terrible idea. Gerson wrote, "Anti-immigration activists often claim that their real concern is to prevent law breaking, not to exclude Hispanics. But revoking birthright citizenship would turn hundreds of thousands of infants into 'criminals'--arriving, not across a border, but crying in a hospital." The Migration Policy Institute also found that rather than decreasing the number of undocumented immigrants in America, as birthright citizenship activists claim, revoking the right would "likely increase dramatically" the number of people in the country without authorization, leading to the "establishment of a permanent class of unauthorized persons."

Sen. Vitter is not the only Republican promoting anti-immigrant bills instead of trying for real, bipartisan solutions on immigration. In January of this year, Rep. Steve King of Iowa re-introduced a bill aiming to repeal birthright citizenship. Sen. Rand Paul, Sen. Lindsey Graham, Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, Rep. Mike Coffman, and Rep. Joe Heck have all backed plans to revoke birthright citizenship in the past.

We need immigration reform. From improving the economy while reducing the deficit to ensuring that DREAMers and their families can live and work in the U.S. without fear of deportation, the benefits are endless. Not only have Republicans blocked comprehensive immigration reform when it had a real chance of passing, they're now trying yet again to bring up unconstitutional bills to drive their point home. That's not what responsible governing looks like, and for a party that says they're trying to attract more Latino support, they're certainly not shy about attacking immigrants for short-term political gain.

PFAW

David Duke: Steve Scalise 'Agreed With All Of My Ideas' But Needed To Get Elected

Last month, David Duke stopped by the white nationalist radio show “The Political Cesspool” to discuss his relationship with House Republican Whip Steve Scalise, who reportedly spoke at a 2002 gathering held by Duke’s European-American Unity and Rights Organization when he was a state lawmaker in Louisiana. Duke blamed the controversy on the supposed Jewish establishment, which he claimed controls the media and wants to throw “European-Americans” into gulags, and which he said sees Scalise as a potential threat down the road.

Duke said that he consistently won “over 60 percent of the popular vote in [Scalise’s] congressional district” in his various campaigns for elected office, and therefore people who condemn Scalise “for meeting with me or voting for me, they are condemning the people of Louisiana.”

Referencing Scalise’s reported 1999 statement that he was “like David Duke without the baggage,” Duke said the congressman “agreed with all of my ideas, but my God, you got to be able to get elected.”

“They think anybody out there who agrees with my ideas, they will destroy them, it’s not going to help you to run like a rabbit with the tail between your legs,” Duke said. “Now he’s really going to be careful, he’s not going to do anything.”

Duke added: “They’re just afraid Scalise is really like me underneath and he may someday be their enemy because just about everybody in my district understands the real power behind the throne in this country, they understand the real ethnic racism that runs this nation and controls our foreign policy.”

Duke, of course, was referring to the “Zionists” whom he claims control both political parties.

“The real problem in America is racism,” Duke said. “Now, that sounds funny coming from David Duke; the problem is racism, there is a racism that rules America, but it’s not white racism, it is what you can just plainly say is Jewish racism, Jewish supremacism. They have literally taken over our Hollywood media, our news media, our entertainment media, our music media.”

Claiming that the supposed Jewish “control of the media” has made African Americans more violent, Duke went on to describe Nicki Minaj as “the most obscene individual, degraded individual, filthy individual I’ve ever heard in my life. I think she’s pretty much rivaled, though, by Miley Cyrus, who is unfortunately one of our own.”

Duke warned that “Jewish power” is sowing political conflict and using mass immigration to throw America into civil war by “getting rid of the people who were the vast majority of America, even though we’re fading fast, that is European-Americans.”

“There is no other question” than “the Jewish question,” Duke continued, alleging that Jews who control all segments of influence will turn America into a “Bolshevik state.”

“We’re moving towards Bolshevism, we’re moving towards tyranny. Every day we’re losing our rights and it’s the same as what happened in the Soviet Union and the day will come when they’ll haul millions of us out to the gulags and die,” he said. “Unless we stand up and defeat them.”

Fundraiser for Steve “David Duke Without the Baggage” Scalise Met with Protestors

PFAW members and other local activists lined the sidewalk outside of the National Republican Club Tuesday afternoon to protest a fundraiser event for House Majority Whip Steve Scalise.

Scalise, who was elected Majority Whip by his Republican colleagues back in June, has come under fire recently after it came to light that in 2002, he gave a speech to a white supremacist group affiliated with former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. Scalise even has referred to himself as “David Duke without the baggage.”

Incredibly, even after these revelations, the Republican caucus—including Speaker John Boehner – is standing by Scalise. And Scalise certainly doesn’t seem to think this scandal is reason to slow down his fundraising efforts, as evidenced by the meeting his team held with donors on Tuesday, where PFAW members joined protestors from other organizations including Color of Change and Jewish advocacy group Bend the Arc.

It’s hard to believe that the GOP, which has struggled so much to reach minority voters, isn’t distancing itself from party leadership with ties to white supremacists. Republicans need to be held accountable – we need to ask our Republican representatives in Congress whether, in 2015, they are brave enough to take a stand against racism.

Thousands of PFAW members have already signed the petition calling on Speaker Boehner to remove Scalise from his leadership position. Add your name now.


Photo via The Hill

PFAW

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise: David Duke Without the Baggage

The Republican Party never ceases to amaze me. For a party whose problems with minorities are well documented, you would think the GOP would be sensitive to anything that could further erode their reputation among this growing population. Yet after learning that the new House Majority Whip Steve Scalise gave a speech to a white supremacist organization led by former Ku Klux Klan leader, David Duke, Speaker Boehner and the rest of the Republican Party are standing by their man.

Let me just say that again. The # 3 Republican in the House of Representatives gave a speech to a white supremacists group in 2002 led by a former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard! Rep. Scalise even described himself as “David Duke without the baggage.”

The Center for American Progress released a report on Tuesday which underscores the growth in population of the people white supremacist organizations despise. At the heart of the report was the question of whether the Republican party could begin to make inroads with voters of color in order to compete in presidential elections. I am going to go out on a limb here and say that if recent actions are any indication, it’s not looking likely.

People For the American Way and our friends at American Bridge released a Spanish-language ad Monday​ highlighting Scalise’s actions and reminding Latino voters what the Republican party is really all about. The web ad will run in Virginia and Colorado. Read more about the ad here, and check it out below:

PFAW

Demand that Speaker Boehner relieve Rep. Scalise of his leadership position!

Majority Whip Steve Scalise's 2002 address to a white supremacist group requires that he be relieved of his top leadership role.

Right Wing Round-Up - 12/30/14

Steve Scalise Hails Louisiana Anti-Marriage Equality Ruling

Rep. Steve Scalise praised a federal judge for upholding his home state of Louisiana’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, telling the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins yesterday that the ruling “was an important win for marriage today.”

“I was the lead author of the bill that put a constitutional amendment on the ballot back in 2004,” the House GOP whip said on the FRC’s “Washington Watch.”

Perkins agreed: “A big win for Louisiana but also a big win for the nation in that it has, I think, slowed down this train of activist decisions.”

Mike Johnson of the Religious Right group Freedom Guard, who Scalise called “a great warrior on our behalf,” later told Perkins that anti-gay activists are “standing on the right side of millennia of history” and that no one in their right mind could disagree with the judge’s ruling: “His opinion was so well-written and well-reasoned that no person can objectively read this and disagree.”

Johnson defended the state’s marriage ban in court as the state attorney general’s special counsel.

Steve Scalise: Obama Is Too Busy Changing Redskins' Name To Fight ISIS

House GOP whip Steve Scalise said in an interview on “Washington Watch” yesterday that President Obama is too busy trying to change the name of the Washington Redskins to focus on bombing ISIS.

“One person asked me about this foolishness where the president is trying to change the name of the Washington Redskins. And it is a sad state of affairs for our commander-in-chief that we know what President Obama’s plan is for the name of the Washington Redskins — he wants to change it, we know his plan — but we don’t know what his plan is to deal with a major threat to American national security,” Scalise told the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins.

“I think it’s just indicative of the lack of focus and priorities that this president’s had, that he won’t lay out that plan but we know what some of his other plans are that have nothing to do with the problems facing this country.”

The Louisiana congressman called on Obama to state clearly that he wants to “take out” ISIS — which, in fact, the president has said repeatedly — and to learn from Ronald Reagan’s simple foreign policy agenda: “We win, they lose.”

He also agreed with Perkins that Obama isn’t concerned about ISIS because he is just a “community organizer.”

Right Wing Round-Up - 3/25/14

Scalise: Reagan Reagan Reagan Reagan Reagan

CPAC wouldn’t be complete without unceasing, perpetual praise of Ronald Reagan, and a great example of that today was how Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) managed to fit in as many mentions of Ronald Reagan as he possibly could during his closing remarks in a panel on conservative approaches to income inequality.

Scalise, who chairs the right-wing House Republican Study Committee, said that Republicans should model themselves on Reagan since he made America great, “brought down the Soviet Union” and was simply the best ever.

Reagan’s supreme Americanness, Scalise explained, caused the left to “revile” him “because of how he transformed this country in such a great way.”

Scalise added that unlike Reagan, President Obama “apologizes for American exceptionalism” while Secretary of State John Kerry is “drinking merlot and singing let’s all be friends.”

Religious Right Will Cheer Tea Party Extremism at Values Voter Summit

Boehner threatens the global economy w/ default, the Tea Party shutdown continues & a new Supreme Court term could do harm to campaign finance, reproductive choice & church-state separation...perfect week for the Values Voter Summit!

Civil Rights Groups Urge GOP Leaders to Skip Values Voter Summit

This weekend, Religious Right leaders and GOP politicians will gather in Washington for the Values Voter Summit, an annual event that highlights the cozy relationship between Republican elected officials and extreme right-wing groups.

The event is hosted by the Family Research Council, a group with a long record of pushing false anti-gay propaganda. And one of the event’s major sponsors is the American Family Association, whose extreme right-wing views are expressed on a daily basis by its spokesman Bryan Fischer.

On Friday, People For the American Way joined with the Southern Poverty Law Center, Faithful America, GLAAD, the Human Rights Campaign, the NAACP and the National Council of La Raza to send a letter to every public official scheduled to speak at this year’s Values Voter Summit, urging them to withdraw from the event.

Among the scheduled speakers are Sens. Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Tim Scott and Reps. Paul Ryan, Randy Forbes, Michele Bachmann, Jim Bridenstine, Louie Gohmert, Jim Jordan, Steve King, Steve Scalise and Scott Turner.

The letter [pdf] reads in part:

We understand that you’ve been invited to speak at the upcoming Values Voter Summit being held in Washington, D.C., from Oct. 11-13. Given the demonizing lies about the LGBT community spread by the host, the Family Research Council (FRC), and another major sponsor of the event, the American Family Association (AFA), we urge you to not lend the prestige of your office to the summit.

The FRC has amassed an extensive record of vilifying gays and lesbians with falsehoods – portraying them as sick, evil, incestuous, violent, perverted, and a danger to the nation.  Perhaps its most insidious claim is that gay men molest children at a far higher rate than heterosexual men – a claim refuted by all credible scientific authorities, including the American Psychological Association. Yet the FRC has continued to smear gays and lesbians by claiming  that pedophilia, in the words of FRC President Tony Perkins, “is a homosexual problem.”

Perkins also says the “It Gets Better” campaign, an initiative designed to give LGBT students hope for a better tomorrow, is “disgusting” and part of a “concerted effort” to “recruit” children into the gay “lifestyle.” One senior FRC official has even argued that homosexuality should be illegal.

The AFA’s Bryan Fischer, who serves as the group’s spokesman and director of issue analysis, frequently blames homosexuality for the Holocaust and Nazi Party: “Homosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and 6 million dead Jews.” He also promotes the views of the American architect of the “Kill the Gays” bill in Uganda.

Demonizing the LGBT community has consequences. As FBI data demonstrate, it is one of the groups most likely to be victimized by violent hate crimes. Defaming them publicly day after day – as the FRC and the AFA do – only throws fuel on the fire.

The bigotry of the FRC and the AFA is not limited to gays and lesbians. Fischer, for example, has said that African Americans “rut like rabbits” and argued that women should be kicked out of politics and the military. He’s also stated that Hispanics are “socialists by nature”  and come here to “plunder” our country. The FRC’s executive vice president, Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, has said Jews must be converted to Christianity and has argued that “Islam is not a religion and does not deserve First Amendment protections” – a statement that is antithetical to American ideals.

In 2011, we urged Mitt Romney not to share a stage with the extremists, and particularly Fischer, at that year’s Values Voter Summit. Although Romney still attended, he also made a point of calling out Fischer’s “poisonous language." This year, Fischer was noticeably not listed as a speaker at the summit, although his employer remains a sponsor.
 

Congressmen Scalise and Gohmert Fall for Debunked Fox News Story on Supposed Plan to Court Martial Christians

Fox News correspondent Todd Starnes likes to report on culture war issues and frequently highlights examples of supposed anti-Christian persecution. He plucks the examples from Religious Right media outlets, which then turn around and point to Starnes’ Fox News stories for validation.

Fox example, one recent Starnes story alleged that a New York school was forcing girls to kiss each other as part of an anti-bullying seminar. But the ‘forced lesbianism’ story was baseless [PDF], and the school superintendent had to write to Starnes to urge him to, you know, report stories accurately [PDF].

In another instance of shoddy journalism, Starnes claimed that the military was deliberately blocking access to a Southern Baptist website as part of a “Christian cleansing” of the armed forces by the Obama administration. Well, as it turns out, the website was automatically blocked over malware issues and the Southern Baptist Convention’s own director of information systems acknowledged that malware on the SBC website, not any anti-Christian animus in the military, was responsible for the mishap.

So it came as no surprise to learn that a new Starnes column about the military getting ready to court martial Christians, since picked up by organizations like the Family Research Council, was also completely groundless.

Starnes contends that Obama administration officials are working with church-state separation activists to begin kicking Christians out of the military and cracking down on their religious freedom.

As Warren Throckmorton points out, the Defense Department guidelines on proselytizing and religious bias that has so enraged Starnes and others was actually put in place in 2008 during the Bush administration and the language clearly “draws a distinction between simply speaking about one’s faith and coercion.” Throckmorton also notes that Starnes twisted a statement from a Pentagon spokesman “to make it seem as though the outcome of religious proselytizing cases would be court martial.”

The Tennessean and Stars and Stripes have also debunked the story, but don’t tell Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), who in an interview with Starnes said that Obama is trying to make Christian service members leave their faith:

“Under President Obama’s military you are no longer allowed to share your faith,” he said – noting that the policy is putting Christians in a tough position. “Do you follow President Obama or do you follow God and the teachings of Jesus?”

“That’s pretty tough when your commander in chief puts you on the horn for that dilemma,” he added.

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) similarly told Tony Perkins on Washington Watch earlier this week called the story “yet another attack on religious liberty that we’ve seen from the Obama administration.”

Perkins: The idea that members of the military who share their faith, directly or indirectly, could be potentially court martialed, is this stunning or what?

Scalise: It’s frightening and shocking. Unfortunately it is yet another attack on religious liberty that we’ve seen from the Obama administration and it’s just been an endless assault from so many different angles. Of course it comes off the heels of the FDA approving the morning-after pill. There are just so many things that this administration is doing that go against a lot of the Christian beliefs that this country was founded upon and I think it really needs to be pushed back hard on.

While the victimhood narrative of oppressed white straight evangelicals is beloved by the Religious Right and trumpeted by Fox News, conservative activists may want to at least try to find real incidents of persecution and real journalists if they want people to ever believe them.

Steve Scalise at CPAC: Climate Change Is a Myth Because Obama Was Cold at the Inauguration

At CPAC today, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) argued that climate change is a myth and doesn’t need to be addressed, noting that President Obama was cold during the inauguration.

“He talked about global warming at his inauguration, I found it ironic that the President was wearing a trench coat it was so cold but he’s talking about global warming,” Scalise said.

He also noted that a snow storm later cancelled a congressional hearing on climate change, “you can’t make this stuff up.”

Of course, climate change is actually leading to more incidences of blizzards and winter still tends to be cold.

Rep. Scalise: Obama Is Attacking Freedom, History Has Redeemed Bush Tax Cuts

Congressman Steve Scalise (R-LA) appeared on Washington Watch with Family Research Council president Tony Perkins yesterday to discuss the State of the Union address where he pushed the standard right-wing canards that President Obama is leading an attack on freedom and trying to exploit “tragedies that he uses to his own benefit.”

Perkins: There’s not been an administration that’s been more hostile to our first freedom, our fundamental right of the freedom of speech and the freedom of religion.

Scalise: Right, look, just go in order. Right after that, he’s gone after freedom of speech and religion, now in that same speech he is going after our second amendment rights, our freedom to defend ourselves by having the ability to own guns for law-abiding citizens. All of these things he talked about, these tragedies that he uses to his own benefit, none of them would have been prevented by his own gun control measures, it just takes away the rights of law-abiding citizens.

Responding to Rep. Steny Hoyer’s insistence that Congress let the Bush tax cuts expire, Scalise falsely claimed that the tax cuts raised revenue and led to an economic boom.

Scalise: You know they are just living in some kind of parallel universe that doesn’t mesh with reality. You know I’ll just give you one point that he mentioned there Tony right out the box, he said, ‘oh we didn’t pay for the Bush tax cuts.’ Maybe Steny Hoyer needs to go back and look at the history, back in 2003 when those tax cuts took full effect the federal government actually took in forty percent more revenue, it actually brought in more money to the federal treasury to cut taxes because people had more money in their pockets and the economy took off in 2003. Go look at the history of this.

Of course, the economy didn’t “take off” after the Bush tax cuts passed. In fact, under President Bush the country had an exceptionally anemic recovery.

Scalise’s assertion about tax revenues also reveals that the congressman himself hasn’t taken a “look at the history of this.”

Citing data from the Congressional Budget Office, the Annenberg Public Policy Center concluded that the Bush tax policy “had a total negative effect on revenue growth,” and former Bush economist Alan Viard of the right-wing American Enterprise Institute said that there is “no dispute” among economists that “federal revenue is lower today than it would have been without the tax cuts.”

Former Reagan economist Bruce Bartlett also determined that “revenue as a share of G.D.P. was lower every year of the Bush presidency than it was in 2000,” citing this helpful chart:

source: Congressional Budget Office.

“Perhaps the whole point of the apparent Republican disinformation effort to deny that the Bush tax cuts reduced federal revenue is to make the reverse argument next year,” Bartlett writes, “allowing them to expire will not raise revenue.”

Rep. Steve Scalise Says Republicans Were the Real Winners of the 2012 Election

Apparently, Republicans were the big winner of the 2012 election! Or so says Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), who on Friday told Family Research Council president Tony Perkins that conservatives in the House won a “mandate” in 2012.

“I think if you look at the country, even in the results of this election, we’re still a center-right nation,” Scalise said in the interview, “the House and the House conservatives did win and we’re there with a mandate to fight for the values that we believe in."

That’s right, losing the White House by a 332-206 electoral vote margin, losing seats in the U.S. Senate and losing the popular vote in House elections, all equals a GOP mandate. In fact, the House GOP may have lost its majority if it wasn’t for partisan gerrymandering.

While it may seem that only a fringe Republican completely detached from reality would interpret the 2012 election as a GOP victory, Rep. Scalise is the incoming chairman of the ultraconservative and influential Republican Study Committee.

Perkins, who hosted a morbid webcast the day following the election, agreed with Scalise’s fanciful election analysis, which comes as no surprise as FRC vice president Tom McClusky signed an equally delusional letter arguing that House Republicans received an electoral mandate.

Perkins: I would argue that the House of Representatives today is probably one of the most conservative Houses in modern times.

Scalise: I think if you look at the membership of the House and especially the RSC, as you mentioned we’re the largest caucus in all of Congress, we represent over 165 members of Congress that are in the RSC, it’s two-thirds of the House Republican majority. So you could say we’re a majority of the majority. But I think more importantly if you look at the reach across the country, RSC members, just looking at members of the Republican Study Committee, we represent over 100 million people. So when you talk about the view of the nation and what was a mandate coming out of this election, the fact that over 100 million people are represented by elected an conservative — conservatives to represent them — says that there’s a mandate to push for conservative values and to fight for the things that we believe in and that will actually solve the great problems facing this country.

Perkins: That’s a significant bloc of votes.



Scalise: You know, with probably one of the most radical liberal presidents that we’ve had in our history, I think people are counting on us to be that only line of defense and to fight to make sure that number one that we still push conservative solutions. I think if you look at the country, even in the results of this election, we’re still a center-right nation. When you have conservatives that run as conservatives, typically we win, most of our members got re-elected and if you look at the new members, thirty-five new members are coming in on the Republican side and all but four of them have joined the RSC and they ran as a very difficult climate as conservatives and they won. We shouldn’t be ashamed of or shy away from our principles, we’re disappointed in many things that came out of the election, but we ought to be proud of the fact that people sent us in the House back to be a check and a balance and not act like we got defeated because the House and the House conservatives did win and we’re there with a mandate to fight for the values that we believe in.
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