Updates from the Young Elected Officials (YEO) Network
Check out the January YEO Network Frontline News to see how Young Elected Officials are leading on anti-bullying initiatives and to find out about the most recent YEO Policy Acadamy about foreclosure and neighborhood stabilization.
This month held the first anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. FEC. Activists around the country gathered to protest the decision that lifted restrictions on corporate influence in elections and to call for a constitutional amendment to reverse it. People For the American Way joined with allies to deliver over 750,000 petitions to Congress calling for a constitutional amendment.
Poll after poll has shown that Americans -- regardless of political affiliation, race, gender, or geography -- want corporations to have less influence in elections, and strongly disagree with the Supreme Court's precedent-shattering decision to give them more.
By allowing corporations to spend freely and without accountability, Citizens United helped to make the 2010 elections some of the most expensive, dishonest and secretive in American history. The American people are fed up with elections where money matters more than ideas, and where the size of your bank account determines the scope of your power.
People For the American Way depends upon the support of dedicated Americans like you.
Please renew your membership for 2011 to help us counter the Far Right.
Reading Between the Lines: The Tea Party's Real Constitutional Philosophy
Despite all the hype, the Tea Party is not a "populist," "libertarian" or "constitutionalist" movement. Rather, it is a movement of grassroots frustration that has been co-opted by wealthy corporate interests to fight against the historic victories of Populism, against the key movements for civil liberties and civil rights, and against modern constitutional principles, argues a new report by Jamie Raskin of People For the American Way.
Raskin, a Senior Fellow at People For the American Way, is also a Maryland State Senator and a professor of constitutional law at American University's Washington college of Law.
Beck's Attacks Bring Death Threats to a 78-Year-Old Woman
Glenn Beck's latest conspiracy theory target is a 78-year-old professor who, 45 years ago, published an article with her husband which posited that people overwhelming the welfare rolls could put enough stress on the system that it would force the need for certain reforms to help the poor.
The result? City University of New York professor and longtime advocate for the poor and working class, Frances Fox Piven has been receiving repeated death threats on online message boards and has personally received angry and violent emails.
Beck has chosen to escalate these attacks even after the sad instance of political violence we recently experienced -- and are still recovering from -- in Arizona. Amidst calls to bring an end to incendiary, violence-causing rhetoric, Beck is doubling down, and if his network and advertisers simply sit back and watch, they must be held accountable for any violence this rhetoric may reap.
PFAW and our allies are calling on major Fox News advertisers -- JP Morgan Chase & Co; GEICO (Berkshire Hathaway); Zurich Financial; Chrysler; Direct Holdings Americas, Inc (Time-Life); GlaxoSmithKline; AstraZeneca; Lilly Corporate Center; BP; The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc -- to stop supporting Fox's reckless programming with their advertising dollars.
For the Smithsonian's Sake, Clough Should Step Down
In 1846, Congress established the Smithsonian Institution with the intent to create, in the words of its founder, an "establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men." Its leaders have the responsibility to defend that legacy.
In making the decision to remove a controversial work of art from one of the Smithsonian's museums, and bungling the institution's response since its removal, Smithsonian Secretary Wayne Clough has shown that he cannot adequately uphold the mission and the legacy of this American institution.
The Smithsonian deserves a leader with the courage and dedication to fight for the art, history, science, and diversity of ideas that it houses.
And be on the lookout for a Right Wing Watch In Focus report on the Smithsonian censorship controversy coming soon.
Health Care Reform Repeal: Bought and Paid for by Citizens United
It is no secret that the health insurance industry spent tens of millions of dollars in its effort to prevent comprehensive health care reform from becoming law. But the insurance industry and its allies did not give up their fight against health care reform when the Affordable Care Act became law. In fact, empowered by the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, corporate-backed groups intent on the repeal of the health care reform law spent an enormous amount of money to help defeat vulnerable supporters of reform and elect candidates who vowed to repeal it. How much?
President Obama Sends Judicial Nominations Back to the Senate
President Obama renominated 42 judicial nominees whose confirmations were blocked by Senate Republicans last year. The President has nominated outstanding scholars and jurists. Many of these nominees were approved by the Judiciary Committee in the last Congress and it is clear that they have the judgment and respect for the law to be outstanding judges.
Even Chief Justice John Roberts recognizes the danger of further delay in confirming well-qualified judges and has urged for the process to be expedited. Hopefully a bipartisan commission, announced this month to help address the problem, will have an impact.
Hundreds in California Protest Corporate Influence in Elections at Koch Brothers' Retreat
In the year since the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. FEC, there has been new scrutiny on the increasingly cozy relationship between corporate funders of elections and national policy makers. Exemplifying that relationship have been the Koch brothers, billionaires whose dollars have helped to fund right-wing organizations and campaigns for years, and who were behind one of the most powerful outside groups in the 2010 elections, Americans For Prosperity. The brothers also hold twice-yearly meetings of influential donors, pundits, and politicians—past guests have included Glenn Beck, Sens. Jim Demint and Tom Coburn, and even Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas (both of whom were in the Citizens United majority).
Last weekend, Young People For (YP4) held its National Summit in Washington, DC. The Summit was a major success and served as a pivot point for the YP4 Fellowship program. For the first several months of the program, we had focused on building each of the Fellows' individual capacity to create change. Last weekend, we asked the Fellows to get to work and create a sustainable, community-driven plan to create change that lasts -- the Blueprint for Social Justice. With guidance and training from YP4 staff, alumni and partners, Fellows have begun to draft these intentional action plans, and are working with other community stakeholders right now to finalize their Blueprints.
To implement these Blueprints, we'll provide one-on-one coaching, technical assistance and to a few outstanding Fellows, grants to support their work on campus and in their communities.
As we work with the current class of Fellows on their Blueprints, we're continuing to recruit for the next class. We depend on a network of alumni, partners and friends of the program to help us identify the newest generation of progressive leaders for the YP4 Fellowship. If you know an outstanding college-age leader, please nominate him or her to be a Fellow today! Applications are due no later than Monday, February 14.
Young People For is a program of People For the American Way Foundation.
Jacobs: Birds Are Dying Because of DADT Repeal
Cindy Jacobs of Generals International posted a video prompted by the fact that, as a prophet, people have been asking her about the meaning behind the recent rash of bird deaths ... to which she replied that it might be due to the fact that America is violating God's prohibition on homosexuality with support for gay marriage and the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Do yourself a favor and take a moment to watch this video, which has been viewed nearly 300,000 times on YouTube.
Denouncing Violent Rhetoric, the Sheriff Gets it Right
The massacre in Tucson on Saturday rightfully shook all of us -- regardless of our political leanings -- to the core. When faced with an assassination attempt and a mass murder, political affiliations don't and shouldn't matter. In the aftermath of the shooting spree that left six dead, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords critically injured, and 13 others wounded, Republicans and Democrats alike have stated clearly and repeatedly that violence has no place in our democracy. Unfortunately, not all have been so quick to denounce a corollary problem: the increased presence and acceptance of calls to violence in our political debate.
Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, a legitimate voice of reason, became the center of a curious political firestorm after discussing frankly in a news conference Saturday the violent political climate that surrounded Jared Lee Loughner's assassination attempt, saying, "I think it's time as a country that we need to do a little soul searching" ...
One Year After Citizens United, Right-Wing Demands Even More Corporate Money and Less Transparency in Politics
As Americans remember the one year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United with calls for action to limit corporate influence in politics and reverse the Court’s reckless decision, pro-corporate activists and their Republican allies in Congress seek to further erode corporate accountability and transparency.
Roles of Justices Scalia and Thomas in Citizens United Under Scrutiny
Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas raised eyebrows and ethics questions late last year when they attended a conference sponsored by Charles and David Koch, the billionaire brothers who head Koch Industries. A comprehensive expose from The New Yorker reported on the Koch Brother’s immense financial and ideological ties to right-wing and pro-corporate groups, and the Koch-sponsored event that Scalia and Thomas attended was held “to review strategies for combating the multitude of public policies that threaten to destroy America as we know it."
Santorum: It's "Common Sense" That We Should Not "Defy Nature" By Letting Gays Get Married or Adopt
CNS News posted a nearly two hour long interview with Rick Santorum conducted by CNS News editor-in-chief Terry Jeffrey which covered a wide range of issues, including Santorum's opposition to giving gays the right to marry or adopt children, saying it is "common sense" that we should not "defy nature" just because "a certain group of people want to be affirmed by society."
Santorum also declared that he finds it "almost remarkable" that a black man like President Obama would support a woman's right to choose and say "we are going to decide who are people and who are not people."
Lou Engle Prays that Ellen DeGeneres Will Be "Converted"
Lou Engle preached at an event called "Winter Ramp" in Chattanooga, TN during which he prayed that Ellen DeGeneres would be "converted" so that God could use her to "change the minds of the masses" and that the current generation could be made to understand the homosexuality is not acceptable.
As Navy Chaplain, Klingenschmitt Performed Gay Exorcism on Rape Victim
In a previous post, we highlighted a clip from David Pakman's recent interview with Gordon Klingenschmitt in which Klingenschmitt related how he had performed an exorcism on a lesbian soldier when he was a chaplain in the Navy.
It turns out that just last month, Klingenschmitt told the same story to Peter LaBarbera, with the added detail that the woman had come to him for counseling because she had been raped.
Porter Now Reworking 1980s Hits To Outlaw Abortion in Ohio
Almost a year after almost completely disappearing from public Religious Right activism following her May Day Prayer Rally debacle, Janet Porter of Faith 2 Action had resurfaced in her home state of Ohio and had gotten back to her anti-choice roots and was now pushing something called "The Heartbeat Bill" that would make it illegal to have an abortion once a heartbeat has been detected.
Over the weekend Porter addressed a local anti-choice rally and uploaded a new video explaining the Ohio effort.
Is the Tea Party-era GOP having its first big family feud? The movement's disciples and many of the leaders they empowered will gather in February at the annual Reagan-worshiping Conservative Political Action Conference. In the shadow of the Gipper, the uneasy alliance of pro-corporate, antigovernment deregulators and Religious Right moralists has already begun to bicker.
Wyoming May Follow Oklahoma and Consider Sharia Law Ban
Apparently, Sharia law is such a creeping threat to Wyoming that a Republican state legislator wants to make the “Equality State” consider a constitutional amendment barring judges from considering Islamic and international law. In November, Oklahomans passed a similar amendment, which was later blocked by a federal judge over its suspect constitutional grounds.
Tea Party group: “There can be no civil discourse.”
The violence in Tucson ignited a national discussion on the far right’s violent rhetoric against elected officials and candidates who do not subscribe to their ideology. "Second Amendment solutions" rather than First Amendment ones should never be seen as legitimate ways to express opposition to a democratically elected government.
But instead of taking this event as a reminder of how important responsible debate is to our nation, some groups are claiming they’ve given up on it completely.
Cue the Violins: Inanimate Corporations Have Feelings, Too
In a case involving the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the nation's corporate giants are asking the Supreme Court to rule that they have a right to "personal privacy" just as people do. If the Corporate Court ignores the ordinary meaning of the term "personal privacy" and grants corporations their wish to have the same rights as people, as in Citizens United, corporations will be able to block the news media and government watchdogs from accessing important government records that corporations would prefer remain hidden.
Thomas and Scalia, the Commerce Clause, and the Healthcare Law
Justices Clarence Thomas, joined by Justice Antonin Scalia, issued an interesting dissent yesterday to the Supreme Court's decision not to hear a challenge to a federal law making it a federal crime for a convicted felon to buy, own, or possess body armor (such as a bullet-proof vest) that had ever been sold in interstate or international commerce, even if the felon himself did not obtain it through interstate or international commerce. Congress passed the law as an exercise of the power granted it by the Constitution's Commerce Clause.
Rand Paul: "My Goal Is To Make DeMint Look Like a Moderate"
During the last election, it seemed that just about every Republican running for office was eager to wrap themselves in the mantle of the Tea Party ... but now that the election is over, it doesn't seem that members of Congress are particularly eager to keep on carrying it.