Georgia

Video: The Worst Of The GOP's Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric

As President Obama prepares to announce the steps that he will take to provide temporary deportation relief for some undocumented immigrants, it’s important to remember why he’s taking this step. It’s not because Obama and Democrats refuse to work with Republicans to address pressing immigration problems. It’s because a small but influential segment of the Republican caucus refuses to do anything to fix the immigration system.

Today, we at People For the American Way joined with American Bridge to release a video highlighting the kind of rhetoric from congressional Republicans that has sunk any kind of attempt at bipartisan immigration reform.

Some of the examples of anti-immigrant rhetoric from GOP members of Congress will be familiar to RWW readers. And, sadly, we have plenty more where they came from.

How 2014's Elections Will Influence 2016's Voting Rights

Voters across the country trying to cast votes in Tuesday’s elections ran into hurdles erected by Republican legislatures, governors and secretaries of state. Along with mechanical glitches and human error — which occurred in states with leaders on both sides of the political spectrum — voters faced new laws and policies that made it harder to vote.

In Alabama, a last-minute decision by the attorney general barred people from using public housing IDs to vote. Voter ID laws in North Carolina and Texas sowed confusion. Georgia lost 40,000 voter registrations, mostly from minorities. In all, the group Election Protection reported receiving 18,000 calls on Election Day, many of them having to do with voter ID laws. The group noted that the flurry of calls represented “a nearly 40 percent increase from 13,000 calls received in 2010.”

In the presidential election year of 2016, it looks unlikely that those problems will subside — especially if Congress fails to restore the Voting Rights Act. The two states that had the closest vote tallies in the last presidential election — Florida and Ohio — will go into the presidential election year with Republicans controlling the offices of governor and secretary of state and holding majorities in their state legislatures.

In Florida, Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who won reelection yesterday, will be able to appoint a secretary of state and will enjoy the support of a veto-proof Republican majority in the state House.

In Ohio, controversial Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted won reelection on Tuesday, along with Gov. John Kasich. They’ll be able to work with a strengthened GOP majority in the state legislature.

In North Carolina, where a Republican legislature and governor have cracked down on voting rights, the GOP held onto its majority. Republican secretary of state candidates in the swing states of Colorado, Iowa and Nevada also won elections yesterday.

Two influential elections for voting rights also took place in states unlikely to be presidential swing states. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a national ringleader for advocates of restrictive voting laws, won reelection. In Arizona, which has been working with Kansas to defend their states' respective tough voting requirements, Republican candidate Michele Reagan also won her contest.

One exception to the trend is Pennsylvania, where Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, who backed a harsh voter ID law that has since been struck down in the courts, lost to voting rights supporter Tom Wolf. Although Wolf will contend with a Republican majority in the state legislature, he will be able to appoint a secretary of the commonwealth.

PFAW’s Dolores Huerta Energizes Latino Voters in Colorado and Georgia

With Election Day rapidly approaching, get-out-the-vote outreach is heating up in key states across the country. This week, civil rights legend and PFAW board member Dolores Huerta is busy getting out the vote. She’s on the ground with PFAW staff energizing Latino voters in two critical midterm states: Colorado and Georgia.

Yesterday Huerta spoke at two kick-off events in Colorado for local canvassers going door-to-door to get out the vote. The first event, hosted by NextGen Climate Colorado and PFAW, drew scores of enthusiastic canvassers ready to talk to voters about pressing environmental issues and turn people out to the polls.

Later in the day, she met with Latino volunteers and canvassers gearing up to do voter turnout work in their communities – critical work in a state where the Senate race is tight and every vote counts.

Today Huerta has headed to Georgia with other members of the PFAW team to meet with more local organizers, speak at a rally, and encourage local residents to cast their ballots on Tuesday.

As Huerta said yesterday:

The Latino vote can decide the election, as we have done in other states. We need to elect people who are going to protect us – to protect our health, our safety, and work to pass immigration reform. It’s up to each one of us. We need to contact our friends and families to make sure they vote.

Indeed, Latino voters may prove to be decisive in a number of tight races. In both Colorado and Georgia, as well as in four other states with close Senate races, the Latino portion of the electorate is larger than the polling margin between the candidates. PFAW will continue to be on the ground in these states, working to ensure that Latino voters are informed, engaged, and ready to cast a vote on Election Day.
 

PFAW

Jody Hice: Obama Administration Turning US Into Nazi Germany

Yesterday, we posted a clip of a 2011 radio program in which Jody Hice, a Republican favored to win retiring Rep. Paul Broun’s U.S. House seat in Georgia, opined that the U.S. public school system is reminiscent of Nazi Germany.

It turns out that’s not the only parallel he sees between America today and Hitler’s regime. In another 2011 program, Hice interviewed Kitty Werthmann, the octogenarian president of the South Dakota Eagle Forum who has spent decades warning that the U.S. is becoming like Nazi Germany, a message that coincidentally caught on in conservative circles about the time that Barack Obama was elected president.

Werthmann, who was a child in Austria when it was annexed by Hitler’s Germany, spent the program going through what she saw as the similarities between that regime and America today, which Hice was eager to agree with.

“The parallels as you’re talking are just incredible with what we are seeing in America,” he said, adding that “like a politician here in America,” Hitler “made all these wonderful promises” before transforming into the “monster you never saw coming.”

“And so, you’ve got the nationalized education, nationalized banking, nationalized press that you alluded to, the nationalized medical care,” Hice said later in the program. “It sounds like you were describing America. And the last thing that you mentioned was the gun control. It sounds like you were describing to us tomorrow’s newspaper here in America. Every one of these issues we’re facing right now.”

“That’s right, that’s why I’m so fearful, it’s going so fast,” Werthmann replied, before warning that Obama’s appointment of “czars” signals the end of democracy.

Georgia Congressional Candidate Jody Hice Doesn't Want Us Listening To His Radio Rants Anymore

This summer, we spent a couple of scintillating days listening the archives of a radio program hosted by Georgia pastor Jody Hice, who won the Republican primary for an open U.S. House seat and is now the favorite to replace outgoing Rep. Paul Broun.

From Hice, we learned that by accepting homosexuality, “we are enslaving and entrapping potentially hundreds of thousands of individuals in a lifestyle that frankly they are not,” that the Sandy Hook and Aurora gun massacres were the result of the separation of church and state, and that we ought to have our “antennas up” that blood moons coinciding with Jewish holidays could signal “world-changing events.”

Soon after we and other outlets started posting clips from Hice’s radio musings, the archives of his programs were removed from his show’s official YouTube page, leaving only a month or so of archived programs for public consumption. But we and others kept listening to Hice’s broadcasts as he posted new ones online, reporting on his views that, for instance, church-state separation causes violence and teen pregnancy and that “government has the responsibility to encourage religious belief.”

But it seems that Hice doesn’t want us listening to his radio show anymore. When we went to his YouTube page this morning to look for a new program, all of his archives had disappeared except for some short year-old broadcasts, and a list of recent programs on his website now leads to dead YouTube links.

We wonder why he’s suddely so shy.

Jody Hice: Secularism Is Turning Government Into God, Destroying America

As if we needed more proof that Rep. Paul Broun’s likely GOP replacement in the House, Georgia pastor and activist Jody Hice, will be just as enthusiastic a Christian-nation advocate as his predecessor, we stumbled across this clip from a 2011 broadcast of Hice’s radio show in which he laments that the separation of church and state is turning government into God and thereby destroying America:

“The more we remove God individually from our lives or culturally, the more secular we will become, which means that in place of God we’re going to set ourselves up or we will set up the state, the government, to fulfill the role of God,” Hice opined.

“That’s the only option is that’s what happens, and that precisely is why secularism is not, cannot, be neutral,” he continued. “Secularism, the belief system in itself, by doing away with God in turn sets itself up as God, either as an individual or as a government. That’s where we’re moving. And we are experiencing what we are experiencing in this country simply because of our continual drifting away from our Judeo-Christian principles, drifting away from our awareness and understanding and belief in God for so long that now we are reaping the consequences.”

Jody Hice: Public Schools Reminiscent Of Nazi Germany

Jody Hice, the GOP nominee for an open House seat in Georgia, said on his radio program in 2011 that “totalitarian” liberals have turned public schools into “camps for indoctrination,” a strategy he likened to Nazi Germany.

Hice launched into his commentary by citing a similar argument made by Chuck Norris in WorldNetDaily before adding his own spin to the issue.

Hice seems to imply that the very existence of public schools is a Nazi-like scheme, but that liberals in particular are trying to maintain their “clutch” on public schools in order to control “the minds of children” and raise money from teachers’ unions:

Obviously, if we have government — which is what the public school is — if we have government indoctrinating what students are learning, then we have a problem. This took place in Germany, friends. I’m not trying to say we are necessarily headed in that direction, but it is undeniable that one of the first things Hitler did was to grab, so to speak, the minds of the youth. And once he was able to instill in those young minds his own ideals and his own philosophy and that of the Nazi Party, then the rest of it was pretty much a piece of cake. It was a cakewalk to go through once you had the minds of the schoolchildren at every age level.

It is likewise just as dangerous what we are witnessing today. And it’s obvious that the liberals in this country are going to be fighting tooth and nail to protect the public school system from getting out from underneath their total, absolute, totalitarian control. If it gets out of their control, they not only lose the minds of the children in this country, but they also lose enormous financial resources, as the teachers’ unions are the number one biggest supporter politically to liberal ideology. So there’s a lot at stake for the liberals to continue their clutch on the public school system.

Later in the program, Hice elaborated on his concerns, citing a book lamenting “political correctness" on college campuses to warn that public schools are training students to “disdain America” and to defend homosexuality and “the green agendas.”

“What happens when our schools become just nothing other than liberal – or, soften it up a little, progressive – camps for indoctrination, which in essence is what they have become?” he asked.

He warned that schools are engaging in “the intentional training of students to dislike, to actually disdain America” and “encouraging students to freely experiment with all forms of sexuality, forcefully defend issues like abortion and homosexuality and also just encouraging students to become cultural advocates for political correctness, and there’s no tolerance for political incorrectness.”

“There’s the push for relativism, for globalization, for environmental agendas, the green agendas and tolerance for everybody,” he continued. “All of this stuff is now being pushed upon children in the public school system.”

PFAW Releases New Spanish-Language Ad Challenging Deal and Perdue in Georgia

Today People For the American Way released its most recent Spanish-language TV ad highlighting the troubling records of Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and GOP Senate candidate David Perdue on employment issues. The ad will air starting today in Atlanta. Two weeks ago, PFAW launched an ad challenging Deal and Perdue on their dangerous agendas on immigration, education, and the minimum wage.

“David Perdue says he’s proud of his record of outsourcing jobs, but firing thousands of workers is nothing to be proud of,” said Randy Borntrager, political director of People For the American Way. “Both Perdue and Deal have been on the wrong side of issues affecting working families across the state. We’re making sure Latino voters in Georgia know about the Republican candidates’ alarming right-wing records.”

The most recent census estimates show that people who identify as Hispanic or Latino now represent more than 9 percent of Georgia’s population. This growing community could very well play a major role in deciding who wins the state’s close elections.

This ad push is the latest step in People For the American Way’s multi-year, nationwide campaign to engage Latino voters in key states by shedding light on the agendas of GOP candidates on issues ranging from immigration to education to the environment. PFAW also recently began running Spanish-language ads in North Carolina and Colorado.

The script of the ad reads:

Sabemos lo que es ganarse la vida honradamente. Pero los republicanos tienen un concepto muy diferente.

David Perdue ha explotado y ha despedido a miles de trabajadores. Y que dijo al respecto? “I’m proud of it.”

Y gracias al gobernador Deal, Georgia tiene la tasa de desempleo mas alta del país.

Estos republicanos no comparten nuestros valores. Votemos contra ellos el 4 de noviembre.

VO Disclaimer:
People For the American Way es responsable por el contenido de este anuncio.

English translation:

We know the value of hard work. But Republicans have a very different view of ‘hard work.’

David Perdue has exploited workers and fired thousands. And what did he say about that? “I’m proud of it.”

And thanks to Governor Deal, Georgia has the highest unemployment rate in the nation.

These Republicans don’t share our values. That’s why we must vote against the Republicans on November 4th!

VO Disclaimer:
People For the American Way is responsible for the content of this advertising.

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Jody Hice: Houston Subpoena Flap Is The Anti-Gay Alamo

Georgia Republican congressional candidate Jody Hice devoted his most recent radio commentary to the controversy over subpoena’s served to a number of Houston pastors as part of litigation over the city’s recently enacted nondiscrimination ordinance.

Although city officials have been backing away from the subpoenas, attributing them to overly zealous pro-bono lawyers, the Religious Right has turned the incident into a cause celebre, and Hice is on board, declaring on his radio program that the Houston incident is “the new Alamo” for anti-gay activists.

“This is the battleground now over traditional family,” he said. “And what is going to occur over this development is that we are either going to see this in Houston, Texas, be the beginning of the end of the LGBT assault, if you will, on freedom to practice religion and of traditional family values being rightfully defended, or this is going to be a huge step toward the ultimate collapse of religious liberty in America.”

He warned listeners that if they don’t get involved in Houston, “one day the government is going to be knocking on the door of your pastor.”

“This is the first attempt in this country where we have a widespread attack on pastors in an entire region. And if it is not stopped here, we are in for a serious problem regarding the attacks of religious liberty in this country,” he said.

Earlier in the program, Hice alleged that the subpoenas — which were related to a lawsuit over the validity of petition signatures — were in fact part of a scheme by Houston’s openly lesbian mayor to find sermons that she “might deem to be offensive or whatever” and bring charges against pastors for preaching from the Bible.

“They may be actually trying to bring legal charges against these pastors for sharing with their congregants scriptural passages,” he guessed.

PFAW’s Spanish-Language TV Ad Challenges Deal and Perdue in Georgia

Today People For the American Way launched its latest Spanish-language TV ad, this one challenging Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and Senate candidate David Perdue on their dangerous agendas on education, minimum wage, workers’ rights, and immigration reform. The ad will air starting today in Atlanta. (An English translation of the ad is available below.)

“Governor Deal and David Perdue are both too extreme for Georgia,” said Carlos Sanchez, Coordinator of Political Campaigns at People For the American Way. “They’ve both positioned themselves against policies that support and empower working families, including Latinos. They want to slash support for education, make it harder to obtain health care, and keep wages low. We’re going to make sure Latino voters know about their track record and agenda.”

This ad is the latest in PFAW’s campaign to highlight the extreme views of GOP candidates for Latino voters in key states. Georgia’s growing Latino population, which increased by more than 110 percent since 2000, can have a major impact in this close election. Latinos now represent more than 9 percent of the state’s population.

This is the third ad of the election in PFAW’s multi-state Spanish language campaign. Earlier this cycle, PFAW launched ads challenging Perdue as well as North Carolina senate candidate Thom Tillis on his own extreme views.

The script of the ad reads:

¡Los republicanos de Georgia quieren destruir nuestro futuro!

El gobernador Deal no quiere que nuestros DREAMers vayan a las mejores universidades y votó para negarle la ciudadanía a niños inmigrantes nacidos aquí.

Y el candidato para el senado David Perdue, también está en contra nosotros. ¡No quiere aumentar el sueldo mínimo!

Tenemos que votar contra estos republicanos, para lograr un futuro mejor.

VO DISCLAIMER:
People For the American Way es responsable por el contenido de este anuncio.


English translation:

Georgia Republicans want to destroy our future.

Governor Nathan Deal wants to prevent our DREAMers from attending the top colleges, and he’s voted to deny citizenship to immigrant children born here.

And the candidate for Senate, David Perdue is also against us.  He doesn’t want to increase the minimum wage!

We must vote against these Republicans to achieve a better future.

VO DISCLAIMER:
People For the American Way is responsible for the content of this advertising.

People For the American Way, a national group protecting civil rights and civil liberties, has worked in multiple local, state, and federal campaigns to engage Latino voters.

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Jody Hice: 'Who Could Possibly Be Offended' By School-Sponsored Prayer?

On his radio show earlier this week, Georgia Republican congressional candidate Jody Hice discussed the Tennessee cheerleading team that, in an effort to avoid legal action, replaced its traditional reading of a prayer over a loudspeaker with a moment of silence for individual prayer before games.

“We have a majority of people who want to have a prayer before a ballgame and yet we are rapidly becoming a society where the minority rule,” Hice lamented, adding, “If you’re in the majority in a situation like this, the minority rules. I don’t believe that is the intent of our Constitution.”

“Who could possibly be offended” by a school-sponsored sectarian prayer, Hice asked, recalling that in his school athletic years a prayer was read before every game and “I don’t recall anyone on either side of our competition every being taken off in an ambulance to the hospital.”

GOP Congressional Candidate Refuses To Debate At 'Suspect Venue' Of Islamic Community Center

Corrected

Jim Galloway at the Atlanta Journal Constitution offers a roundup of the drama surrounding a congressional debate this week between Democratic Rep. John Barrow of Georgia and his Republican challenger Rick Allen, which included a last-minute venue change because Allen refused to debate at the “suspect venue” of an Augusta-area Islamic community center.

The debate, sponsored by the Islamic Society of Augusta in conjunction with a local newspaper, was scheduled to take place in the 800-seat community center, until Allen’s campaign refused to go there, calling it a “suspect venue” and attacking Barrow for “standing shoulder to shoulder” with a “Muslim cleric” (the man organizing the event was actually a doctor).

So, Galloway explains, the debate was moved to a smaller location (to the annoyance of some would-be attendees who were turned away), but the drama didn’t end there, as the chair of the Columbia County GOP “made every attempt to avoid” the 73-year-old Egyptian-American doctor who had arranged the debate and refused to shake his hand. This, Galeas later explained, was not because of the doctor’s religion but because he specializes in high-risk pregnancies, which can sometimes end in abortion.

The players were U.S. Rep. John Barrow, the Augusta Democrat, and Republican challenger Rick Allen, a local businessman. The only thing that separated the two candidates was air, a few issues, and a stenciled, paper sign denoting the sponsor of the event: The Islamic Society of Augusta.

…But the venue was changed from the 800-seat Islamic Community Center to a much smaller government venue.

One of the two parties involved was uncomfortable in such a place of worship, Augusta Chronicle president Dana Atkins explained to local talk radio host Austin Rhodes of WGAC (580AM). “It was the Rick Allen campaign headquarters,” Atkins said, when pressed.

“Barrow’s obviously close association with the head of the Islamic Center is his affair, but it does make this a suspect venue for us,” is the line that stood out in an Allen campaign press release.

Nonetheless, the debate limped forward. Then came Saturday afternoon, and — just as the crowd began gathering — the Hand Shake Incident.

The event organizer was 73-year-old Dr. [Hossam] Fadel, an Egyptian-American and now-retired physician recruited to Augusta in 1975 by the Medical College of Georgia. Also in the room was Dewey Galeas, chairman of the Columbia County GOP.

“I made every attempt to avoid the man. I walked by (Fadel), acknowledged him, thanked him for his hospitality, and then I walked on,” Galeas later said.

Fadel pursued and offered Galeas his hand. The county GOP chairman refused. Galeas said it wasn’t Fadel’s Muslim religion that motivated the slight, but his own “deep religious conviction over abortion.”

To explain: Fadel was brought to Augusta to establish a new specialty at the medical school called maternal fetal medicine. It concerns the management of high-risk pregnancies, which do not always end well.

Fadel declined to speak of the incident, except to say that Galeas later emailed him an apology, which he has accepted.

….

But it was the final question that was the likely focus of the crowd: How will you help other members of Congress understand that not all Muslims are terrorists?

“I think I do it by example, by treating every law-abiding citizen alike. That’s what the Framers intended. That’s what we should do,” Barrow said, reminding the audience that it wasn’t his idea to move the debate.

“I think that John Barrow should be asked the question, ‘Why he insisted that the debate be in the Islamic Center?’” Allen replied. “The idea behind this is, we want to make everybody feel welcome at every facility, okay?”

As for the tension between Muslims and their fellow Americans, Allen had this recommendation: “What I want, from everyone who is a citizen in this country, is to speak out – and to speak out heartily – against [ISIS]. That’s what I want to see from every religion. We must stop this radicalism,” he said.

The Islamic Society of Augusta has, in fact, already done so.

Correction: This post originally misstated the politician who reportedly refused to shake the event organizer's hand. It was Columbia County GOP chairmain Dewey Galeas, not Rick Allen.

Jody Hice: 'Hypocritical' Obama 'Attacking Us Here In America While Trying To Defend Others Around The World'

GOP congressional candidate Jody Hice of Georgia took to his radio program this week to attack President Obama for “giving the appearance of a willingness to defend religious liberties” in the Middle East merely for “political advantage,” while “fighting against religious freedom here” through the HHS contraception coverage mandate.

“Our same administration is attacking us here in America while trying to defend others around the world,” Hice lamented.

 

Mike Boggs' Record Catches Up to Him

This post was originally published at the Huffington Post.

This is a good day for Americans who care about our federal courts. According to press reports, Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy has said that Georgia federal district court nominee Mike Boggs lacks majority support on the committee and that he should withdraw. The New York Times calls the nomination "dead."

Federal judicial nominees routinely - and appropriately - assure senators that their personal feelings and political positions will play no role in their judicial decisions. But this particular nominee did exactly the opposite when running for election as a state judge in 2004. That's when then-Rep. Boggs told voters at a judicial candidates' forum, "I am proud of my record. You don't have to guess where I stand - I oppose same-sex marriages. I supported and authored the Child Protection Act to protect children from predators. I have a record that tells you exactly what I stand for."

This connection - that Boggs himself made - between how he would approach judging cases to his views as a legislator on the legal issues that would be before him as a judge, compelled the Senate Judiciary Committee to examine Boggs' legislative record.

And what a disturbing record that was: He sought to amend the state constitution to forever lock gays and lesbians out of the promise of equality and to prohibit the Georgia legislature from ever extending marriage rights to gays and lesbians. He supported anti-choice legislation and even voted for a bill amendment that would have put abortion providers' lives at risk. He voted in support of having the Confederate battle symbol incorporated into the state flag. He sought to use the power of government to promote religion, church-state separation notwithstanding.

Given his 2004 assurance that his legislative record showed how he would rule as a judge, senators could certainly presume that Boggs has a severely cramped view of constitutional Equal Protection, reproductive rights, and church-state separation. LGBT people, religious minorities, African Americans, and women could not be assured that their basic rights would be recognized and fully protected in his courtroom.

To make things worse, his efforts to explain away his record to the Judiciary Committee raised questions about his candor.

For instance, at his hearing, he assured both Senators Mazie Hirono and Chris Coons that statements he made in 2004 while expressing his opposition to marriage equality about "the dangers that we face with respect to activist judges" were views he held as a legislator, not as a judge. Yet he sounded quite different as recently as November 2011, having been a judge for nearly seven years. At that time, Boggs was promoting himself to a different audience, the Judicial Nominating Commission of Georgia, which was considering recommending to the governor his appointment as a state appeals court judge. When asked then how to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the legal system, Boggs cited as the problem "judges who abrogated their constitutionally created authority" and "judicial decisions that have ignored and violated the basic tenets of the judiciary."

At his Senate confirmation hearings just a few years later, Sen. Coons asked Boggs to name three or four examples of cases that he'd had in mind when he expressed those concerns in 2011. Boggs admitted that as a legislator in 2004, he considered cases recognizing marriage equality as a state constitutional right as fitting this category, but didn't say what cases he'd had in mind in 2011. In her written follow-up questions, Sen. Dianne Feinstein asked Boggs if he could name any decisions that he believed abrogated the judiciary's constitutionally created authority (using his words). He responded that he could not recall any cases that he had been thinking of at the time.

Yeah, right. Based on what Boggs told the state Commission, he viewed this as extremely serious, going to the very legitimacy of the courts. Yet just a few years later, even after being given additional time to think about it, he could not recall even one case that he'd had in mind. One could be forgiven for believing instead that he actually had in mind the same cases he'd referred to in 2004, and that he was telling the commissioners - and ultimately, Georgia's governor - what he thought they wanted to hear.

His efforts to explain away his votes endangering abortion providers and supporting the Confederate battle symbol were equally not believable, and apparently they were not believed by a majority of committee members. Good for them.

Boggs' disturbing record showed he was unqualified for the federal bench. Today's news shows that a majority of the Judiciary Committee agrees.

PFAW

Jody Hice: Separation Of Church And State Caused Gang Violence, Teen Pregnancy

On his radio program yesterday, Georgia GOP U.S. House nominee Jody Hice blamed court decisions barring school-sponsored prayer and the display of religious texts in public buildings for a “downward slide” in America, including low test scores, gang violence, drugs, teenage pregnancy and “promiscuity.”

“[A]s we have removed prayer and Bible and our Christian heritage from our public school, what has been the counter consequence?” he asked. “Has behavior increased or decreased? Has education gotten better or worse? Have our overall citizenship, our citizenry, have we become a better place to live or a worse place to live? Is there more drugs or less? More gang violence or less? More teenage pregnancy or less? More promiscuity or less?”

“Folks, across the board we have suffered,” he concluded.

In fact, teen pregnancy rates have been falling steadily over the past two decades as has the rate of sexual activity among teens, and in 2011 violent crime in the U.S. fell to the lowest rate in 40 years, a trend that has persisted. But somehow we don’t think Hice meant to credit the separation of church and state for these positive trends.

So we had in 1952 a clear understanding of the role of religion in our public life, even in our schools. Then shortly thereafter we had the beginning of a reinterpretation of the First Amendment, a reinterpretation of separation of church and state as it applies to the public school system.

And wow, have we been on a downward slide ever since. Removing prayer, then removing the Bible, then removing religious documents such as the Ten Commandments, which of course has led to the removal of other symbols and so forth, and then removal of benedictions and invocations at any kind of school event or activity.

And I just want to ask you, what kind of behavior, as we have removed prayer and Bible and our Christian heritage from our public school, what has been the counter consequence? Has behavior increased or decreased? Has education gotten better or worse? Have our overall citizenship, our citizenry, have we become a better place to live or a worse place to live? Is there more drugs or less? More gang violence or less? More teenage pregnancy or less? More promiscuity or less? What has happened in our society as we have removed our religious heritage from being taught, from even being allowed in our public schools?

Folks, across the board we have suffered. Education scores have gone down, violence and crime has gone up and we are witnessing more and more of the consequence of those decisions.

Jody Hice, GOP House Candidate, Claims Gay People Have 'No Rights That Are Missing'

Georgia pastor and activist Jody Hice, who is now the GOP nominee to fill Rep. Paul Broun’s U.S. House seat, explained on an episode of his radio program posted today that LGBT people aren’t asking for equal rights because “gay people have the same rights as everybody else.”

“Let’s just suppose a gay person comes up to you and says something like, ‘Why shouldn’t I have the same rights as everybody else? Why can I not marry the person I love?’” Hice said.

“Well what rights are we talking about?” he asked, before implying that gay people can simply marry someone of the opposite sex: “Gay people have the same rights as everybody else. There are no rights that are missing. They have the same rights as anyone. We are Americans and we all have the same rights.”

“People have been loving one another as companions and so forth for a long, long time and they have been giving care to one another for a long, long time without calling every instance of love and mutual care, without calling that marriage. But now all of a sudden we have the demand to fundamentally redefine the world marriage,” he continued.

Later in the program he likened same-sex marriage bans to prohibitions against bigamy and incest, saying that when it comes to marriage, “homosexuals, gay people, have exactly the same right as heterosexuals have.”

“Homosexuals have the right to be married but what they are demanding, in reality, is that marriage be redefined to suit them,” he said.

“We already have marriage laws that prevent people from marrying the person they love,” he said, citing people who want to marry their siblings.

PFAW Memo: Senate Needs to Confirm Pending Judicial Nominees

To: Interested Parties
From: Paul Gordon, Senior Legislative Counsel, People For the American Way
Date: September 15, 2014
Subject: Senate Needs to Confirm Pending Judicial Nominees

There is probably little more than a week before the Senate goes out on recess until after the election. One of the most important – and undoubtedly quickest and easiest – things it can do before then is confirm 16 judicial nominees, most of whom have overwhelming bipartisan support.
                                                                                      
One of the most important responsibilities of the United States Senate is to maintain a functioning federal court system. District courts are the backbone of the American judicial system. They are where people turn when they feel their rights have been violated. “Having your day in court” is an essential part of the American ideal. But that ideal cannot be met if we don’t have enough judges to make it happen. Even if every vacancy in the country were filled tomorrow, it wouldn’t be enough: The Judicial Conference of the United States – the entity responsible for assessing the federal courts’ ability to effectively manage their caseloads – has urged Congress to create an additional 85 district court judgeships. So when an existing vacancy can be filled with a qualified nominee, it ought to be done with dispatch.

Right now, nominees for 16 such vacancies can be confirmed within the next few days. Seven of these were fully vetted and approved by the Judiciary Committee and have been waiting for a floor vote since June or July. Of these seven, all but one of them advanced without any opposition. Four alone are from Georgia: nominees who have the unanimous support of the Judiciary Committee’s Democratic and Republican senators. There are no more questions to ask of these nominees, except when they will be allowed to take up their judicial responsibilities and fill empty courtrooms in Georgia, New York, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.

The remaining nine were scheduled for a committee vote last week, having had their confirmation hearings back in July. They have been nominated for judgeships in Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Missouri, Connecticut, and New Jersey. Four of them – nearly half – would serve in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, a state with so many vacancies that it alone accounts for 15% of the nation’s total, but Chairman Leahy was forced by the GOP to delay the vote. Republicans gave no reason for the delay, but they rarely do: Since President Obama took office, Republicans have exercised the right of the minority party to have a committee vote “held over” (delayed) by at least a week without cause for nearly all of his judicial nominees, part of their overall mechanism of obstruction. Fortunately, they are expected to get their overdue committee approval later this week.

There remains plenty of time to confirm all 16 nominees before the Senate goes out for its pre-election recess next week.

The fact that we are heading into an election is no reason not to hold these confirmation votes. In fact, in September of 2008, a presidential election year – and the twilight of George W. Bush’s presidency, no less – Democrats rushed several of his nominees through to make sure they got confirmed before recess (and before his presidency ended). Ten of Bush’s district court nominees were confirmed just one day after being approved by the Judiciary Committee. All ten had had their committee hearings earlier that same month – in some cases, during that same week. The confirmation votes took hardly any time at all, since all ten were considered and confirmed as a bloc by unanimous consent.

Interestingly, three of those 2008 nominees were from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, where four of the current 16 nominees could be serving by next week, if given the chance.

Republicans still have a chance to demonstrate that they can prioritize the functioning of the U.S. court system over their own partisan interests. But it seems unlikely. Since last year, the GOP has insisted that no judicial nominee, despite their bipartisan support, advance on the Senate floor without time-consuming cloture votes and roll-call confirmation votes. And it isn’t just the roll-call votes that take time (although each one can take nearly an hour). Without unanimous consent to waive the chamber’s time requirements, cloture votes cannot be held until two days after cloture petitions are filed, and each confirmation vote requires at least an hour of needless “post-cloture debate” even after the filibuster is broken.

If Republicans successfully prevent votes this month, the earliest the courtrooms will see some relief will be in a potential lame duck session.  That means another two month wait until clearly qualified nominees are  able to take their seats in courtrooms around the country.  There is simply no good reason for such delay.
 

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Infighting Among Anti-Choice Groups Intensifies With Personhood Trademark Feud

The effort of hardline “personhood” groups to break free of an anti-choice movement they see as too compromising is hitting a roadblock as the two major groups advocating fetal personhood are now feuding with each other .

The conservative website Z Politics printed an email this week from Personhood USA, the group that brought radical “personhood” initiatives to states like Colorado and Mississippi, announcing that it has cut ties with a new group, the National Personhood Alliance (NPA), which was founded this year by the disgruntled former Georgia chapter of the National Right to Life Committee. NPA hoped to bring together activists who believe that the strategy of groups such as NRLC to chip away at abortion rights doesn't go far enough, pledging to instead enact personhood laws that would give legal rights to zygotes.

Personhood USA initially supported the new group, as did its national spokeswoman Rebecca Kiessling, and Z Politics reports that NPA’s founder, Dan Becker, “initially gained support from Personhood USA by suggesting that the two groups work alongside one another as counterparts.” In fact, NPA is billing its first convention next month as “the founding coalition of two new national groups seeking to give voice to the pro-life battle of the 21st century.”

But the good feelings apparently didn’t last long, as Personhood USA is now accusing Becker and NPA of “trying to replace Personhood USA by using our structures and Intellectual property” — including copying its logo — and “violating Personhood USA’s trademark of Personhood.” (For what it’s worth, the only official “personhood” trademark we could find in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s database belongs to Becker’s group).

Personhood USA’s email also hints at possible legal action.

After much prayer and deliberation, the Personhood USA board is deeply sadden to inform you, that Personhood USA will not be participating in the new National Personhood Alliance.

From everything Dan Becker had told us about his vision of NPA while he was in our employment. We had great hopes that it would be a complement to the Personhood movement, a counterpart to Personhood USA. Instead it appears that National Personhood Alliance is trying to replace Personhood USA by using our structures and Intellectual property.

NPA has incorporated in Georgia as a 501c4 under the name “Personhood Inc.” and will be doing business as “Personhood”, Violating Personhood USA’s trademark of Personhood. In addition, the emails and documents we have seen indicate that they intended to use our logos, branding, and intellectual property.

One of the main concerns here is duplication of focus and confusion among all grassroots supporters.

When we contacted Dan and asked that NPA stop using our logos and name, he agreed to stop using our logos and to allow us to preview any new logos before they are implemented, but he has refused to un-incorporate Personhood Inc. and suggested we enter into arbitration.

We have worked for years developing our branding. We are known as Personhood, PersonhoodUSA, Personhood Education, Personhood PAC & have invested in promoting Personhood(insert your state). We do not want to fight over a name, but we do feel if a separate virtually identical organization is started it will hurt the movement.

We want to honor God and protect all innocent life. We want to see the movement grow and branch off in new directions. We want abortion to be abolished. We want to fight abortion, not each other.

All we ask of NPA is to create it’s own logos, names, and branding without using ours, and ask that they keep NPA as it was presented to us: a separate organization with unique purpose created to build the movement. Not a divisive, confusing organization meant to compete with Personhood USA.

Jody Hice Calls On Congress To Ban 'Discrimination' Against Those Who Practice Anti-Gay Discrimination

Last month, President Obama signed an executive order banning anti-gay discrimination by companies that receive federal contracts and Jody Hice, the right-wing radio host who is the GOP nominee for an open House seat from Georgia, is none too pleased about it, saying on his radio program last month that Obama is thumbing his nose at the First Amendment and calling on Congress to pass legislation prohibiting the federal government from "discriminating" against Christians who want to discriminate against gays.

Citing the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby ruling, Hice said that Obama's decision to sign this executive order "is almost like a thumbing of the nose of the president at the U.S. Supreme Court, at our First Amendment, at our unalienable rights ... How else do you look at this but a thumbing of those nose of our administration at our First Amendment and our Supreme Court at the same time."

Hice went on to call upon Congress to repeal Obama's executive order by passing legislation that would "clearly prohibit our government from itself discriminating against any individual or any group or organization, whether nonprofit or for profit, it doesn't matter, to prevent the government from discriminating based on the beliefs about marriage and sexuality."

"Our government, our system, absolutely should be prohibited from discriminating against these types of groups," Hice declared. "Our government should not be allowed to use these things to penalize individuals and groups for not adjusting their philosophies to political correct ideas":

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