UPDATE: It appears that Calvin College will no longer be hosting the event.
The American Decency Association plans to host Kamal Saleem, who claims to be a former terrorist, at Calvin College as part of a tour of Michigan. Saleem’s story of working as a terrorist all over the globe has been thoroughly debunked, but he continues to be an idol of Religious Right groups. He even spoke at last year’s Values Voter Summit following Paul Ryan where he warned that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton plans to “shut down” churches and synagogues.
Saleem has argued that President Obama is a Muslim who is using Roe v. Wade “to bring Sharia law” to the U.S. He maintains that Obama wants to make sure that “Sharia law will be supreme in America” by working with “Hamas to import Muslim people to the United States” and “legalizing terrorism.” Saleem even claims that “there are many generals who swore to destroy the United States of America are generals in the United States [military]” and that an Islamic shadow government is secretly running the U.S. through the Obama family babysitter.
He spoke at Calvin College in 2007, where he met Professor Doug Howard, who went on to write an article for Christianity Today on the “bizarre” and fantastical claims that Saleem makes in his book, The Blood of Lambs.
Michelle Goldberg of The Daily Beast reports that “Saleem told me that Howard is an agent of the Muslim Brotherhood” and in an interview with Tim Murphy of Mother Jones, Saleem asserted that Howard supports radical Islam:
But Saleem didn't flinch. "He's related to a special group called the Muslim Brotherhood, and he works with them, he went to DC, he was with CAIR," he said.
I mentioned that Howard is a Christian, which makes him an odd fit for the Brotherhood.
"So? He's a professor of history. Islamic history professor, and he's writing on what? On Islamic history glory. So the group he's with, there are different groups. He rallied with them in DC, and he invited an Iranian radical to Calvin University. They spoke right there." That Iranian radical, it turns out, was Reza Aslan, who in addition to being an American citizen raised in the Bay Area, is famous mostly for suggesting that democracy is a useful weapon against terrorism.
("I don't know what to say! Maybe I should add that to my faculty web page," joked Howard in an email, adding that as part of his semester in DC, he took students to meet with the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, AIPAC, the Mennonites Central Committee, and, yes, one trip to a mosque.)
But now, Saleem is once again set to speak at a college which he believes is employing a Muslim Brotherhood agent who is part of an alliance between professors and terrorists.
Out of State Money Floods Contests in 2012
Washington, DC – Today People For the American Way Foundation unveiled new state-by-state fact sheets detailing outside spending in U.S. Senate and House races in 21 states. Each report analyzes the outside spending totals from Super PACs, dark money groups, and out-of-state spenders in the down ballot federal races from the 2012 election cycle. The fact sheets reveal that, on average, a majority of outside election money in these states came from Super PACs. And in every case, a vast majority came from organizations registered outside of the state.
The release of the “Outside Spending, Outsized Influence” reports coincide with the weekend marking Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and the third anniversary of Citizens United v. FEC to draw attention to the dual threats of voter suppression and unlimited corporate and special interest money in politics. The reports – a partnership between PFAWF and U.S. PIRG – are part of the Money Out/Voters In campaign. As part of that campaign, People For the American Way Foundation, its affiliate People For the American Way, and other organizers across the country are hosting “Day of Action” events in more than 76 cities in 33 states this weekend. Members of People For the American Way Foundation’s African American Ministers Leadership Council will be leading Money Out/Voters In events in Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Virginia.
“Last year’s elections were far and away the most expensive in history,” said People For the American Way Foundation Executive Vice President Marge Baker. “A major reason was the influx of outside, special interest spending in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. FEC decision. When big money floods our elections, it dwarfs the ability of individual Americans to have their voices heard. Just as important, when politicians push laws to suppress the vote, we turn back the clock on decades on progress to expand and improve our democracy. We need to pursue the full range of remedies to address the problem of too much money in politics, including amending the Constitution to overturn Citizens United, and we need to stand up against the growing threat of voter suppression. This weekend we are joining with allies across the country to call for a democracy that gets Money Out and Voters In.”
The states featured in the reports are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin.
For links to each report, please visit: http://www.pfaw.org/issues/outside-spending-outsized-influence-big-and-s...
For more information about the Money Out/Voters In campaign or the Days of Action, please visit: http://www.moneyout-votersin.org
Patrick Colbeck, the Michigan state senator who, along with state Rep. Mike Shirkey, was the driving force behind Michigan's anti-union "right to work" legislation, appeared on "WallBuilders Live" today where he, and David Barton, attributed the legislation's passage to "divine providence":
I had a great colleague in the state House, state Representative Mike Shirkey has been phenomenal, he's a phenomenal Christian.
We've also got what I call kind of a patchwork quilt that if any one of those patches would have came out of the quilt, this never would have happened. We had folks at the grassroots level, we had union members that were for us, we had business leaders that were for us, we had folks that had been in the political environment for quite some time, we lobbyists helping us. There were people all over the place and, reflecting upon everything that happened, if any one of those pieces - simple little pieces - would have disappeared and we wouldn't have had them, then it never would have passed.
So this is, we believe, knit together with some divine providence and when we pursued it, we pursued it with biblical principles. We had what we called the Philippians 4:8 Strategy that said focus on what's noble, true, excellent, and praiseworthy. Don't go off an do the usual political whack-a-mole when you find somebody who's not a hundred percent agreement with you; you go off and systematically work through them, make the values proposition for them and give them a reason to vote it and not against it.
On Nov. 6, Americans turned out in massive numbers to reelect President Obama, take away seats from Republicans in the House and the Senate, and pass progressive ballot measures throughout the country. But it seems that Republicans in Washington and in states across the country just didn't get the hint. Despite all the talk of post-election "soul-searching," there doesn't appear to be any self-examination going on among those currently clinging to their seats in Congress and state legislatures.
Just look at Michigan. Just weeks after the state legislature's Republicans took a drubbing from voters, who cut their majority in the state House from 18 to 8 despite recent Republican gerrymandering, the state's GOP leadership went on a right-wing rampage.
First, they passed a package of so-called "right to work" laws that are meant to politically weaken unions and have the side effect of financially weakening the middle class. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder was against "right to work" before he was for it, thanks to some powerful arm-twisting from corporate front groups.
Then, they got to work on some extreme anti-choice measures. One tries to force abortion clinics out of business by regulating them into the ground. It also places unnecessary burdens on women, including requiring them to prove they weren't "coerced" into seeking an abortion; prohibiting them from consulting with their doctor via videoconference; and requiring them to sign a death certificate and hold a funeral for the aborted fetus (this requirement, at least, has just been removed from the bill). Yet another bill would let doctors refuse to provide or employers refuse to cover any procedures they find immoral. This one isn't just about abortion - it could allow employers to refuse their employees insurance coverage for contraception, or even blood transfusions. Sounds familiar? The Blunt Amendment in the U.S. Senate - wildly unpopular except among the Senate GOP - would have done the same thing.
Anybody who was paying the least bit of attention to this year's elections would have noticed that two of the things voters find most repugnant about today's GOP is its blind allegiance to big corporations and its enthusiasm for regulating women's health.
Apparently the Republican Party wasn't paying attention. Or is just too beholden to the interests of the Corporate and Christian Right to care.
What's happening in Michigan is just a microcosm of the whole. In Ohio, immediately after an election shaped in part by the GOP's toxic attacks on women's health, Republican legislators got to work trying to defund Planned Parenthood. And in Washington, DC, Republican leaders are approaching fiscal cliff negotiations with the sole goal of protecting George W. Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy.
This isn't what I'd call "soul-searching."
Today Michigan members of People For the American Way Foundation’s Young Elected Officials Network condemned the anti-labor legislation Governor Rick Snyder signed into law on Tuesday.
State Representative Rashida Tlaib of Detroit, Michigan, a member of People For the American Way Foundation’s Young Elected Officials Network, said:
“Michigan is a state where more than one in six workers belongs to a union. The effects of this law will be far reaching, harming hard-working families across the state. Workers want good jobs, decent compensation, affordable benefits, and a good standard of living. A ‘right-to-work for less’ law would severely hurt our families by eroding their ability to bargain which could result in lower wages, and fewer benefits and less worker protections.
"These are real families – many of which are already facing tough decisions about how to make ends meet. Despite the protests of thousands of Michigan citizens, the state legislature and Gov. Snyder decided to go forward with the legislation. We are deeply concerned about this attack on workers’ rights and middle-class families.”
What was obvious to those gathered to speak out against the so-called “right to work” legislation was its damaging nature – its affront to workers’ ability to collectively bargain and its harm to middle-class families across the state.
What may have been less obvious to some were the bills’ connections to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a one-stop shop for corporations looking to get special-interest legislation introduced. Funded by the likes of Exxon Mobil and Charles Koch, ALEC promotes “model bills” for state legislatures on a number of issues. As People For the American Way’s Right Wing Watch explained in an “In Focus” report on ALEC:
ALEC propagates a wide range of “model legislation” that seeks to make it more difficult for people to hold corporations accountable in court; gut the rights and protections of workers and consumers; encumber health care reform; privatize and weaken the public education system; provide business tax cuts and corporate welfare; privatize and cut public services; erode regulations and environmental laws; create unnecessary voter ID requirements; endorse Citizens United; diminish campaign finance reform; and permit greater corporate influence in elections.
One type of “model legislation” ALEC puts forward is a model “Right to Work” Act. And as the Center for Media and Democracy points out, Michigan’s bills included almost identical language to ALEC’s model bill. This is extremely troubling – not only for the many families in Michigan that will be affected, but also for our democratic process in general.
Because as the same Right Wing Watch report notes:
Americans are increasingly recognizing and speaking out against the disproportionate power of corporations in shaping public policy and steering politicians, and ALEC is a prime example of how Corporate America is able to buy even more power and clout in government. Rather than serve the public interest, ALEC champions the agenda of corporations which are willing to pay for access to legislators and the opportunity to write their very own legislation…. ALEC represents an alarming risk to the credibility of the political process and threatens to greatly diminish the confidence and influence ordinary people have in government.
Michigan members of People For the American Way Foundation’s African American Ministers Leadership Council spoke out today against so-called “Right to Work” legislation that was signed today by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder.
Rev. Frank Raines III of Farmington Hills, a member of the African American Ministers Leadership Council, said:
“Our state has a long and proud history of a strong middle class backed by a strong labor movement. This so-called ‘Right to Work’ legislation is nothing but a politically-motivated attempt to weaken the labor movement at the expense of working people. As faith leaders, we feel it is our duty to stand up for those who are the most vulnerable, those who work hard to care for their families, those who band together for fair wages and fair treatment. We’re disappointed that our legislature and governor have chosen to stand instead with big corporate interests out for political gain.”
Oakland County Commissioner Dave Woodward of Pontiac, Michigan – a member of our affiliate People For the American Way Foundation’s Young Elected Officials Network – stood up against Michigan’s new anti-labor law in a statement yesterday. PFAW is proud of the work of young elected officials to protect workers’ rights and stand up for the middle class by speaking out against this damaging bill.
Woodward’s statement reads:
Oakland County Commissioner Dave Woodward, a member of People For the American Way Foundation’s Young Elected Officials Network, states that the so-called “right to work” law would harm workers, unions, and everyday citizens across the state. “You can't grow the middle class by weakening their very ability to earn a fair wage,” said Woodward.
“With their proposed ‘Right to Work for Less’ Law, Governor Snyder and his anti-worker Republicans have signaled their new Jobs Plan---workers need to earn less,” Woodward continued. “This law will make it harder for workers to bargain for decent pay and benefits, making it harder, in turn, for them to support their families.”
Washington, DC – The Senate today confirmed Gershwin Drain, a nominee to fill a long-standing emergency vacancy in the Eastern District of Michigan. The 55 to 41 vote came on the heels of the Senate GOP’s unprecedented refusal to confirm even consensus appeals court nominees until after the presidential election. While Senate Republicans claim to be cooperating on filling district court vacancies, they are doing so grudgingly and inefficiently, allowing no more than one vote a week. As a result, the backlog of pending nominees has gotten larger and larger. Drain, nominated to fill an emergency vacancy that has been open for three and a half years, was forced to wait over four months after committee approval for his long overdue vote on the Senate floor.
There are 74 district judgeships currently or about to become vacant and 18 qualified nominees waiting for votes on the Senate floor. Ten of these would fill judicial emergencies. Most have been waiting for a vote since June or earlier; four of them since April. As the Senate prepares to leave for its August recess, there is no reason not to vote on all these long-pending nominees.
“There is no way that Gershwin Drain should have had to wait four months simply for an up-or-down vote from the Senate,” said Paul Gordon of People For the American Way. “Senate Republicans have already announced they’ll filibuster all remaining appeals court nominees, even those without opposition, even those strongly supported by members of their own party. Now, they’re making the confirmation process for the 18 remaining district court nominees painfully slow. There are more than 60 vacancies in district courts around the country that need to be filled immediately, with another dozen about to open up. The Senate GOP should start doing its job and let the President and Senate fill them in a timely manner.”