Republican Congressman Tom Reed is running to represent the newly created 23rd district in upstate New York, which covers much of the Finger Lakes and Southern Tier. He has a strong ally in WYSL, a right-wing talk radio station near Rochester that broadcasts throughout much of the district. On the one hand, it’s great to have friends who run a big radio station:
But Reed’s radio buddies caused trouble for him on Friday when they repeatedly ridiculed the Asian ancestry of Reed’s opponent Nate Shinagawa, a Democratic county legislator and hospital administrator from Ithaca. Shinagawa is a third-generation Japanese America whose grandfather was interned in California during World War II, only to enlist in the Marines upon release.
But that stuff doesn’t matter to WYSL host Bill Nojay and owner Bob Savage. They think Shinagawa has a funny name and must not be from around these parts. Here’s what Nojay, Savage, and a producer had to say about Shinagawa last Friday:
Nojay: Now you should be impressed that I know how to pronounce Shinagawa. Shinagawa ready to face Reed. He’s the guy who won the Democrat primary. He hails from the People’s Republic.
Producer: He’s gonna lose, just because of his name.
Nojay: Now that’s not a particularly nice thing to say.
Savage (in a stereotypical, derogatory Asian voice): Xenophobic. Xenophobic.
As the three go on talking about how “Shinagawa is going to lose” and “hasn’t done anything with his life,” a song begins playing in the background – it’s the 1963 hit song “Sukiyaki” by Japanese crooner Kyu Sakamoto. With the song mocking Shinagawa playing in the background, Nojay and his producer reveal just how tight they are with Reed:
Nojay: If I made a contribution to Reed’s campaign, I wonder if I can get a refund. He doesn’t need the money anymore … Whoop, I shouldn’t have said that. He’s gonna get mad at me.
Producer: You’re gonna be getting a phone call.
Nojay: Alright. Send money now to Tom Reed’s campaign, he’ll make good use of it. Reed’s a great candidate. He does need our help.
You can listen to their segment below. Note that Nojay’s comment about the “People’s Republic” refers to Ithaca and is one of the few things from the segment that isn’t racist. The “People’s Republic” moniker is a popular, if lame, trope of conservatives who like to put down various college towns – especially Berkeley – as being out of touch with real America.
Nojay isn’t just a right-wing talker on WYSL, he’s also a candidate in the GOP primary for a newly drawn seat in the New York Assembly. When he and Savage realized on Monday that not everyone was laughing along with their racist jokes, they decided to play dumb and deny everything. I’ll have more on their cowardly, and implausible, denials shortly, but it’s important not to lose focus on Reed.
Reed hasn’t just appeared multiple times on Nojay’s show. He (or his campaign) is apparently in close contact with Nojay, who used his show to solicit funds for Reed’s campaign. And he had praise heaped upon him at the same time his radio buddies were mocking his opponent’s Asian ancestry.
Reed can’t just excuse himself from this controversy. He has a responsibility to publicly call out his buddies and say that their racism has no place in American politics.
[Right Wing Watch is a project of People For the American Way, whose affiliated PAC has endorsed Shinagawa]
Once upon a time, there was a right-wing group called The Judicial Confirmation Network that was created "to ensure that the confirmation process for all judicial nominees is fair and that every nominee sent to the full Senate receives an up or down vote."
Such a mission made sense back during the George W. Bush administration, when the group was founded ... but didn't work so well when Barack Obama was elected and suddenly the organization was fighting to ensure that his nominees didn't get confirmed.
Eventually, the JCN realized that it couldn't keep calling itself the Judicial Confirmation Network if it was actively working to prevent the confirmation of judges, so the name was changed to the Judicial Crisis Network and the group likewise wrote up a new mission statement.
Eventually, the original founders left, with Executive Director Gary Marx signing on with Ralph Reed's Faith and Freedom Coalition and Chief Counsel Wendy Long stepping down in order to "devote her time to her family and other causes."
Among those "other causes" to which Long is dedicating herself is a run for the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in November.
The Susan B. Anthony List, the influential pro-life organization, offered an early and enthusiastic endorsement for Republican Senate candidate Wendy Long this morning.
“There could not be a more clear contrast between longtime pro-life leader Wendy Long and EMILY’s List poster child Senator [Kirsten] Gillibrand,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, the group's president, in a statement ... “From her days as a Hill staffer to her time at Americans United for Life and her work on behalf of Supreme Court Justices who practice judicial restraint, Wendy has constantly been engaged in the fight for adherence to the Constitution and the right to Life laid out in the Declaration of Independence,” Dannenfelser said in the statement. “We look forward to having her back on Capitol Hill and adding to the number of pro-life women in the Senate.”
In her statement, Dannenfelser echoed Long's earlier criticism of Gillibrand for accusing Republicans of waging a "war on women."
“Wendy understands that the only ‘war on women’ is the one being waged against women of faith and conscience by the Obama administration and their allies in Congress and the abortion lobby. She has boldly called on Senator Gillibrand to end the assault on Life, conscience, and religious liberty.”
Jennifer Roback Morse of the National Organization for Marriage’s Ruth Institute appeared on Breakpoint with Chuck Colson this week where she accused the “gay lobby” of “having an absolutely corrupting impact on the whole political process.” She claimed that the gay lobby, along with “rich, Republican, Wall Street guys,” have been able to “buy state legislators” in order to win their votes for marriage equality. “So all of these legislators across the country, it’s like they’re salivating over all this money they might get if they vote the way the gay lobby wants them to,” Morse said, “the gay lobby has figured out that they cannot win a voter referendum, they have never won a voter referendum, it’s easier to buy state legislators than it is to try to buy off a whole population.”
The National Organization for Marriage, of course, repeatedlypledges to spend millions of dollars raised from a handful of out-of-state donors in order to finance the campaigns of any legislator who opposes the legalization of same-sex marriage and support any challenger to a marriage equality supporter, but apparently Morse doesn’t consider the same efforts from her own group “rank political corruption.”
Morse: In a way most ominously something that happened earlier this year is the New York state legislature voted to redefine marriage and the reason I say that one was so ominous is because it was Republican votes that did that and it was rich, Republican, Wall Street guys who came in with a lot of money and said ‘we want to get this done’ and basically they dangled money in front of swing voters, state legislators, and said ‘we’re going to put money into your re-election campaign if you vote the way we want you to.’ Now I’m not just saying that, they wrote about that in the New York Times, they wrote about it in the New York Times, they bragged about it, and to me if that’s not political corruption, I don’t know what it is. I mean, that’s just rank political corruption. So all of these legislators across the country, it’s like they’re salivating over all this money they might get if they vote the way the gay lobby wants them to, so it’s having an absolutely corrupting impact on the whole political process. The gay lobby has figured out that they cannot win a voter referendum, they have never won a voter referendum, it’s easier to buy state legislators than it is to try to buy off a whole population, and that’s where they are, and that’s what’s going on around the country.
People For the American Way Foundation’s Young Elected Officials Network supports the work of over 600 young, progressive elected officials around the country. One of them, 24-year-old Ithaca, New York mayor Svante Myrick told his story on NBC’s Rock Center last night:
After meeting Monday night, the Town Board of Ledyard, NY has failed to address the Ledyard Town Clerk’s refusal to fulfill her lawful obligations and sign marriage licenses for same-sex couples. The meeting was held after People For the American Way Foundation, working with the law firm Proskauer Rose, LLP, sent a letter to the town supervisor demanding that the town clerk be directed to certify the marriages of same-sex couples or to resign. Additionally, People For the American Way Foundation has launched a petition calling on the clerk to do her job according to the law or else resign.
People For the American Way Foundation and Proskauer Rose, LLP, a global law firm, sent a letter this weekend to the Ledyard Town Board, demanding that the town’s clerk fulfill her legal duty to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples -- something she has yet refused to do.
In a welcome move for equality, the New York Senate passed a bill granting full marriage equality to all New Yorkers. The legislation makes New York the sixth and largest state where same-sex couples can marry.
Tuesday's electoral returns offered a mixed bag of results. A few bright spots managed to appear among some disappointing defeats, and politicians from both parties should consider them carefully before making rash, and perhaps costly, conclusions.