PEOPLE FOR BLOG

Just How Many Americans is Mitt Romney “Not Concerned” With?

Mitt Romney told Soledad O’Brien this morning:


“I’m not concerned with the very poor. We have a safety net there,” Romney told CNN. “If it needs repair, I’ll fix it. I’m not concerned about the very rich, they’re doing just fine. I’m concerned about the very heart of the America, the 90 percent, 95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling.”


The trouble is, he’s running to be the president of a country where 46.2 million people are living below the poverty line – the highest level in nearly two decades. America is an aspirational culture – we assume that if we fall on hard times, we won’t have to stay that way. We like to think of ourselves as middle class, whether we’re struggling or exceptionally fortunate. But the reality is that the social safety net is now catching more Americans than it ever has.

And Romney is not, as he claims, concerned with keeping the safety net intact. A Center for American Progress analysis of his economic plan, for instance, found that his proposed budget cuts would necessarily result in draconian cuts to social services. Meanwhile, his tax plan would raise taxes on millions of middle class and low income families while handing an average of $150,000 to millionaires.

Romney’s trying to use the classic right-wing strategy of building resentment toward a faceless “poor” who rely on social services. But to the millions of Americans who have seen themselves or friends and family slip from middle class stability during the recession, his words might just ring hollow.
 

PFAW

Boykin Cuts and Runs from West Point Event after PFAW Exposes his Extremism

Retired Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, a former Army officer who now spends his time spreading Islamophobic propaganda and anti-government conspiracy theories, canceled his plans to speak at West Point last night after a veterans’ group expressed concern about his views. People For has been following Boykin’s career since his retirement from the military, and has caught him on tape expressing some of his most outrageous views, including that Islam “should not be protected under the First Amendment,” that there should be “no mosques in America,” and that President Obama is using his health care reform legislation to create a Hitler-style brownshirt army.

Boykin got into hot water about his scheduled West Point appearance shortly after provoking controversy in Maryland over his appearance at the Ocean City Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast. People For brought Boykin’s history of bigotry to the attention of Ocean City officials and called on them to disinvite Boykin. They didn’t, but the media attention on Boykin's appearance made for an uncomfortable situation for its organizers, and shed light on Boykin’s undeniable extremism.

Using People For’s research and building off the Ocean City controversy, last week the veterans’ group VoteVets called on West Point to revoke its invitation to Boykin, saying “his views are inconsistent with the values of the Army as an institution.VoteVets’ request was quickly joined by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation and dozens of West Point cadets, faculty and alumni.

The New York Times interviewed some of those who were concerned about Boykin’s speech, including a cadet concerned about the message the invitation would send to Muslim cadets, and People For senior fellow Peter Montgomery, who attended the Boykin event in Ocean City:


A fourth-year cadet at West Point, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he feared reprisals for breaking military discipline, said in a telephone interview before the cancellation was announced that “people are definitely talking about it here.”


“They’re inviting someone who’s openly criticizing a religion that is practiced on campus,” he said. “I know Muslim cadets here, and they are great, outstanding citizens, and this ex-general is saying they shouldn’t enjoy the same rights.”
The cadet asked, “Are we supposed to take leadership qualities and experience from this guy, to follow in his footsteps?”


A similar controversy erupted last week, in the days before General Boykin spoke at the mayor’s annual prayer breakfast in Ocean City, Md. The general made no inflammatory statements about Islam, instead describing how prayer had helped him through dangerous military operations.


But Peter Montgomery, a senior fellow at People for the American Way, a liberal advocacy group, said the West Point invitation was a mistake. West Point, Mr. Montgomery said, would have given “a platform to someone who is publicly identified with offensive comments about Muslims and about the commander in chief.”
 

 

PFAW

Reid Challenges Republicans on their Continued Obstruction of Nominees

In a speech on the Senate floor today, Majority Leader Harry Reid criticized Senate Republicans for neglecting their “constitutional obligation” to confirm presidential nominees. As People For’s Marge Baker wrote last week inUS News & World Report, unprecedented obstruction from Senate Republicans has led to a vacancy crisis in the federal courts and contributed to Americans’ loss of confidence in Congress.


In his weekly radio address on Saturday, President Obama specifically called out Utah Sen. Mike Lee, who after complaining about the slow speed of Senate confirmations is now threatening to block every one of the president’s nominees.


Here are Sen. Reid’s remarks:


Americans believe Congress is broken. And it’s no mystery why.
Political divisions in this chamber are so great they often prevent the Senate from performing even its most fundamental duties.


The divisions are so great they have prevented this body from confirming presidential nominees – our constitutional obligation.
These days, it’s no longer enough to be a qualified nominee.
It’s no longer enough to have bipartisan support.


And in the case of judicial nominees, it’s no longer enough to be reported unanimously out of committee.


Last year, my Republican colleagues blocked or delayed scores of outstanding nominees. Why? Because they want to defeat President Obama, who made those nominations. That’s their number one goal.


And at the end of last year, Republicans refused to allow votes on 16 judicial nominees who were reported out of committee unanimously.


Unfortunately, this year may bring more of the same. Already this year, some Republicans have gone to the floor and threatened to drag out the confirmation process for every nominee for the rest of the year.


This Republican obstructionism is supposedly retribution for President Obama’s recess appointment of Richard Cordray – an eminently qualified nominee – to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.


With a qualified leader at the helm, the Bureau will be able to effectively protect middle class families from the greed and excess of big Wall Street banks.


It will not impact smaller financial services firms that help Americans who don’t use banks. And it will not impact banks that deal fairly with consumers.


But it will serve as a watchdog against the kinds of abuses that nearly collapsed our financial system in 2008.
President Obama’s right to recess appoint Mr. Cordray is protected in the Constitution.


President Bush had the same right to make recess appointments – even though Democrats kept the Senate in pro forma session.


Bush didn’t exercise that right – or challenge the pro forma sessions in court – because Democrats worked with him to confirm hundreds of his nominees.


Unfortunately, Republicans have refused to work with President Obama as Democrats worked with President Bush.


Instead they are threatening political payback and more delays.
This brand of obstructionism is the reason Americans are disillusioned with Congress. They believe Congress can’t get anything done.


It will take collaboration between Democrats and Republicans to turn that perception around.


We should show the American people that with cooperation between our two parties, this body can accomplish great things.

 

PFAW

PFAW Panel Highlights: Constitutional Remedies to Overturn Citizens United

People For the American Way hosted a panel (entire video) on Capitol Hill as part of a month of action surrounding the second anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. The panel showcased the rapidly growing movement across the country to address the threat to our democracy from unrestrained corporate spending to influence our elections through a constitutional amendment. The American people have had enough of corporations and special interests holding the puppet strings in our democracy and are taking a stand in the halls of government – from city council and state legislative chambers to the halls of the U.S. Congress – by mobilizing our elected officials in support of amending the Constitution to ensure that “We the People” means all the people, not just the privileged few.

The panelists discussed the nationwide effort to restore the balance of power to the people and described their experiences in organizing toward and successfully advocating for resolutions to overturn Citizens United.

Senator Tom Udall described the necessity of bipartisan support on the path toward ratifying a constitutional amendment, noting that past campaign-finance reform efforts have enjoyed bipartisan support. Senator Udall acknowledged that when the people make their voices heard and build momentum, a constitutional amendment can become inevitable.

 

 

Colorado Common Cause activist Elena Nuñez discussed the grassroots enthusiasm behind stopping the flood of corporate influence in our elections. Time after time, noted Nuñez, local issues have been hijacked by out-of-state special interests, and activists are eager to organize around a constitutional amendment to stop the source of this problem.

 

 

Representative Keith Ellison described the court-led return to the “gilded age” and drew parallels to today’s progressive movement, concluding that a constitutional amendment is both possible and necessary to ensure that our government serves the people, not corporate special interests.

 

New York City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito described NYC’s determination to take a stand on the issue of money in politics and serve as an example for municipalities around the country. She described the significant campaign finance rules in place in New York, which serve to protect the people who would be disenfranchised simply because they lack the funds to compete with corporate lobbyists.

 

Representative Ted Deutch described the toxic political atmosphere created by the Super PAC fueled ads made possible by Citizens United, and that a constitutional amendment is the only way to prevent the corrosive effects of a government beholden to corporate special interests instead of the people’s interests.

 

 

Maryland State Senator and People For the American Way senior fellow Jamie Raskin discussed the consequences of the Citizens United decision as a shift away from the core principle of democracy “by, of and for the people.” The decision, Senator Raskin noted, brings radical changes to the nature of our democratic system, interpretations of constitutional law and even our imperils our economic system by incentivizing “vulture capitalism” or “crony capitalism.”

 

 

PFAW

President Condemns Obstruction of Judicial Nominations in His Weekly Address

In his weekly address this morning, President Obama followed up on his State of the Union theme of restoring the middle class in a time of unprecedented income inequality. A fair judicial system is a vital component of that effort, and the president condemned Senate Republicans who would sabotage our nation's courts. He specifically criticized Sen. Mike Lee of Utah:

Just two days ago, a senator from Utah promised to obstruct every single American I appoint to a judgeship or public service position – unless I fire the consumer watchdog I put in place to protect the American people from financial schemes or malpractice.

For the most part, it's not that this senator thinks these nominees are unqualified. In fact, all of the judicial nominees being blocked have bipartisan support. And almost 90 percent have unanimous support from the Judiciary Committee.

Sen. Lee's anger at President Obama for protecting the 99% from the untrammeled power of the 1% is no surprise. But it's also nothing new for Senate Republicans, as noted in this U.S. News and World Report article by People For's Marge Baker. Sen. Lee is only coming up with a new excuse to continue doing what Senate Republicans have been doing since Obama became president: obstruct the confirmation of judges who will run courtrooms where the 99% and the 1% stand equal before the law.

PFAW

There Is a Judicial Confirmation Crisis, and the GOP Is Causing It

In an op-ed in U.S. News & World Report today, People For's Marge Baker commends the president for mentioning the judicial nominations crisis in his State of the Union address, but says he wasn't telling the whole story:

In Tuesday night's State of the Union Address, President Obama called on the Senate to "put an end" to the unprecedented obstruction of his judicial and executive branch nominees, insisting that "neither party has been blameless in these tactics." He was right to call out the problem, but he was wrong that it's a bipartisan issue. It's fine for the president to be magnanimous, but the fact is only one party has systematically held hostage even the most basic tasks of governing in the hopes of making minor political gains. And that party is not the president's.


The nominations crisis that we face today exists largely because it can easily fly under the radar—and the GOP politicians behind it know that. This Republican Congress's intransigence has caused harm beyond the very public battles over the debt ceiling and tax cuts for millionaires. Under the unglamorous cover of judicial and executive branch confirmations, the Senate GOP has launched a campaign of strategic obstruction to prevent parts of the federal government from functioning at all.


This became clear in the relatively public battle to confirm Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Senate Republicans admitted they had no problem with Cordray himself. Instead, all but two stated in a letter to the president that they would refuse to confirm him unless the new, congressionally created agency he was nominated to head was first substantially weakened. It was an unprincipled attempt to legislate via the Senate's power of advice and consent, which the president rightly sidestepped by installing Cordray with a recess appointment.


But the Cordray nomination was just the tip of the iceberg. With far less public attention, the GOP has been decimating the nation's courts, causing the judicial branch to face a historic vacancy crisis and Americans seeking their day in court to face unconscionable delays. This crisis is largely due to the chronic inaction of the Senate, which has been crippled by the Republican minority's abuse of the chamber's rules to block even consensus nominees from getting a yes-or-no vote.
 

Read the whole op-ed here.

 

PFAW

FINAL PUSH: Online March for Trust Women Week!

There are now over 100,000 participants in the Online March for Trust Women Week. We’re making our final push today. Please join now!

Today, as we celebrate the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, women’s reproductive freedom and health are still under attack.

The Tea Party Congress has moved aggressively to shut down women's access to reproductive health care and deny women the basic right to choose by targeting their health insurance and key healthcare providers, most notably, Planned Parenthood. In the states, a movement is afoot to make abortions illegal by conferring the status of “personhood” on embryos, and various state legislatures have taken up bills that would erect insurmountable barriers to women exercising their right to choose.

People For the American Way is proud to be partnering with the Silver Ribbon Campaign and an extremely broad coalition of organizations to promote the Virtual March celebrating Trust Women Week.

It is imperative that we begin 2012 with a powerful event that builds solidarity and momentum for reproductive health, rights and justice.

Join the Virtual March now and send your views to Congress and other elected officials where key decisions are pending about reproductive health, rights and justice.

You'll see your actions on an online map where you can also see who else is joining you, nearby and nationwide.

Choose from messages like:
  • “I trust women and I vote”
  • “Reproductive rights are human rights”
  • “We are the 99%. Fix the economy, and stop the war on women”
  • And more.
Join the march now and then help spread the word!

You can find out more about Trust Women Week at http://oursilverribbon.org.

Thank you for standing up for women’s rights and against right-wing attacks on reproductive freedom.
PFAW

An op-ed in CNN by the American Sustainable Business Council’s David Brodwin describes how the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United is pro-business – but only pro-mega-multinational-corporation-with-huge-cash-reserves-to-spend-on-political-ads-and-lobbying-business.

Citizens United, which opened the floodgates for corporations to spend unregulated, unrestricted and undisclosed amounts for political purposes is not very popular among the real engine of the American economy, according to a recent poll that found that 66% of small business owners thought the decision was “mostly bad” or “somewhat bad.”

The ASBC highlights some of the main reasons why the Citizens United ruling created an unfair advantage for wealthy special interests:

First, allowing unlimited money into politics allows the past to hold the future hostage. Companies (and individuals who own them) with sufficient resources to sway elections often represent the industries and companies of the past, rather than the industries and companies that are creating the future…

Second, allowing unlimited money in politics allows the big to achieve an unfair advantage over the small. This is ironic in light of the huge role small business plays in creating private sector jobs in America, even as some large corporations act as net destroyers of American jobs, when outsourcing and offshoring are factored in…

Third, allowing unlimited money in politics allows companies to collect IOUs for special favors from presidential candidates -- particularly as a result of contributions made early in the election season, when a few million dollars can swing the result in a small state like New Hampshire.

 

The bottom line is that Citizens United is an affront to free and open competition, stacks the deck in favor of the mega corporations that don’t really drive the American economy, and above all, is a direct assault on the democratic process.

 

Elected officials agree:

Rep. Keith Ellison

 

Maryland State Senator Jamie Raskin

PFAW

Baltimore Sun Calls Out Ocean City Officials for Bolstering Jerry Boykin's Bigotry

Cross-posted on Right Wing Watch

The Baltimore Sun is insisting that the mayor and city councilmen of Ocean City, Maryland end their silence about Jerry Boykin, the keynote speaker at tomorrow’s Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast, whose radical anti-Muslim views have led to an outpouring of protests. As we’ve documented on Right Wing Watch, Boykin has a long history of bigoted and preposterous rhetoric, including accusing President Obama of trying to create a personal “Brownshirt” army, calling on mosques to be banned in the US and demanding that Muslims lose their First Amendment rights. However, the mayor’s office denied that Boykin has said anything controversial “in recent appearances.”

The Sun’s editorial demands the mayor state publicly what he thinks about Boykin’s “repugnant” claims and “paranoid worldview” by “stating that religious bigotry has no place in a family resort town whose economy depends on making people of all races, religions and creeds feel welcome.” “They need to make clear whether they agree with Mr. Boykin’s views,” the Sun writes, “they need to do it immediately and they need to do it publicly”:

For 20 years, the annual Mayor's Prayer Breakfast in Ocean City has been a generally quiet affair. But this year the event's sponsors invited as guest speaker a former high-ranking Pentagon official notorious for his characterization of Muslims as godless idol-worshipers and terrorist fanatics. Ocean City's mayor and council members received hundreds of emails urging them to shun the event, scheduled for this morning, rather than appear to endorse such views. But they need to go further, by clearly stating that religious bigotry has no place in a family resort town whose economy depends on making people of all races, religions and creeds feel welcome.

Army Lt. Gen. William "Jerry" Boykin, who retired in 2007 to become a speaker on the evangelical Christian lecture circuit, is certainly no stranger to controversy. In 2003 he was reprimanded by President George W. Bush for violating numerous Army regulations after he described a 1993 battle against a Muslim warlord in Somalia by saying, "I knew my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol." As president, Mr. Bush had taken great pains to emphasize that the U.S. was at war not with Islam, but with terrorists who had perverted its tenets. General Boykin's comment played right into the hands of enemy propagandists eager to paint America's war against terror as a war against Muslims.

General Boykin extremist views also got him into trouble when the Army discovered he was giving unauthorized speeches at evangelical church functions while serving as deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence and war-fighting. Yet that didn't stop him from later suggesting that Muslims didn't deserve protection under the First Amendment's freedom of religion clause because "those following the dictates of the Koran have an obligation to destroy our constitution and replace it with Sharia law." He once even accused President Obama of setting up a "Hitler-style" militia to force socialism on America, whatever that means.

It should have been obvious to the organizers of the prayer breakfast that Mr. Boykin's appearance in Ocean City would be source of contention. Though the event has no official connection to the town and the mayor's presence there is purely ceremonial, it cannot have escaped the event's sponsors that the mere fact they had invited such a controversial figure would reflect poorly on the town. That's not only because Mr. Boykin's views are repugnant but because his high-profile presence among Ocean City's officials virtually guaranteed they would be called on to repudiate his ideas, lest they give the impression they agree with his paranoid world-view.

Make no mistake: This is not an issue of freedom of speech or of any of the constitution's protections for religious expression that Mr. Boykin seems so eager to deny to those who don't share his own Christian faith. Mr. Boykin has every right to say whatever outrageously offensive and hateful things about Muslims pop into his head, and the private organizers of an Ocean City prayer breakfast have the right to invite him to speak. Likewise, Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan and the town council can attend the breakfast if they so choose. What they cannot do, however, is pretend that their presence there won't reflect badly on them and the resort town they lead. They need to make clear whether they agree with Mr. Boykin's views, they need to do it immediately and they need to do it publicly.
PFAW

UPDATE: Online March for Trust Women Week!

PFAW has made a very strong showing among the more than 80,000 people who have already joined the Online March for Trust Women Week. If you haven’t yet, please join now!

Today, as we celebrate the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, women’s reproductive freedom and health are still under attack.

The Tea Party Congress has moved aggressively to shut down women's access to reproductive health care and deny women the basic right to choose by targeting their health insurance and key healthcare providers, most notably, Planned Parenthood. In the states, a movement is afoot to make abortions illegal by conferring the status of “personhood” on embryos, and various state legislatures have taken up bills that would erect insurmountable barriers to women exercising their right to choose.

People For the American Way is proud to be partnering with the Silver Ribbon Campaign and an extremely broad coalition of organizations to promote the Virtual March celebrating Trust Women Week.

It is imperative that we begin 2012 with a powerful event that builds solidarity and momentum for reproductive health, rights and justice.

Join the Virtual March now and send your views to Congress and other elected officials where key decisions are pending about reproductive health, rights and justice.

You'll see your actions on an online map where you can also see who else is joining you, nearby and nationwide.

Choose from messages like:
  • “I trust women and I vote”
  • “Reproductive rights are human rights”
  • “We are the 99%. Fix the economy, and stop the war on women”
  • And more.
Join the march now and then help spread the word!

You can find out more about Trust Women Week at http://oursilverribbon.org.

Thank you for standing up for women’s rights and against right-wing attacks on reproductive freedom.
PFAW

What a Difference 18 Years Makes

Sometimes it’s hard to see what it means to make change. Last week OutServe brought us a notable exception.

Not long ago, this video could not have been made. It’s because so many people worked so hard over the past 18 years to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell that this issue could be raised so openly from within the armed forces. And all of our work on It Gets Better and safe schools will be better for it.

PFAW

Stop School Bullying this GSA Day!

Following the increased media attention paid to bullying-related suicides in 2010, Senator Al Franken took a strong stand on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students and those who are perceived to be LGBT. His Student Non-Discrimination Act (S. 555) protects them from school-based discrimination, much like Title IX does for gender discrimination, and much like other areas of law do for various protected classes. It recognizes bullying and harassment as discrimination, and it provides both for remedies against discrimination and incentives for schools to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Today, Senator Franken has an important video announcement for you regarding S. 555.

On the occasion of GSA Day 2012, when we celebrate the work of Gay-Straight Alliances that bringing lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and straight allied people together to stop bullying, homophobia, transphobia and hate, PFAW has called on you to be part of the solution.

Below are some quick talking points (more detailed talking points here) you can use in your call and to help promote awareness about the bill.
  • Celebrate Gay-Straight Alliance Day by supporting and cosponsoring the Student Non-Discrimination Act.
  • Bullying and harassment are forms of discrimination, but federal civil rights statutes leave LGBT students, and those who are perceived to be LGBT, unprotected.
  • Bullying and harassment in schools is a pervasive national problem.
  • Both Americans overall and education professionals in particular recognize the problem and support congressional action.
  • When students lose their sense of safety, they lose their access to quality education.
  • As Congress works to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, it should address the bullying and harassment problem.
  • This isn’t just a question of education. It’s a matter of life and death.
Please call your senators now: Capitol Switchboard - (202) 224-3121

You can let us know how your call went with our online call report form.

More than one third of the Senate already supports the Student Non-Discrimination Act. You can check for your senators on the list here and if one or both of your senators are on it, please make your call a “thank you” call.

PFAW

Pressure Increases on Ocean City Officials to Drop Boykin

Cross-posted on Right Wing Watch

With Jerry Boykin set to keynote the Mayor’s Prayer breakfast in Ocean City, Maryland on Thursday, pressure is increasing on city officials to drop the controversial speaker. Boykin routinely spouts extremist views, including calling for the U.S. to ban mosques and strip Muslims of their First Amendment rights. People For the American Way sent a letter to members of the city council and mayor Rick Meehan asking them to rescind Boykin’s invitation, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Auburn Theological Seminary, the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Standing on the Side of Love campaign and Faith in Public Life have also raised questions about Boykin’s appearance.

The mayor has so far stood by Boykin, absurdly claiming that “Boykin has not said anything controversial in his recent public appearances.” Boykin, however, recently maintained that the Council of Foreign Relations and George Soros are creating a global Marxist government. He has also claimed that President Obama is using the health care reform law to build a Marxist dictatorship with a personal “Brownshirt” army. Boykin himself bragged, “I am intolerant,” and demanded Christians “go on the offensive” against Islam.

ABC Baltimore covered the controversy surrounding Boykin last night, including Boykin’s record of religious bigotry:

The Baltimore Sun also looked into Boykin’s appearance, noting that he was reprimanded during the Bush administration for making speeches in uniform in which he claimed that the U.S. military is involved in a religious war against Islam:

Michael Keegan, president of People for the American Way, said his group wants the mayor to refuse to attend to the event, or to force the organizer to revoke Boykin's invitation. More than 700 people have emailed Meehan and town officials since Monday through a tool on its website to protest the gathering, according to the group, which says its mission is to advocate for equality, free speech and freedom of religion.

"Ocean City works hard to maintain its reputation as a family-friendly destination open to all-comers," Keegan said in a statement. "An official endorsement of Jerry Boykin would send the wrong message about what the city stands for."

Boykin did not respond to requests for an interview. He travels the country for speaking engagements and was near Charleston, S.C., earlier this month to introduce GOP presidential contender Rick Santorum aboard the U.S.S. Yorktown.



Boykin was rebuked by President George W. Bush in 2003 after Boykin publicly described a U.S. Army battle against a Muslim warlord in Somalia in 1993, saying: "I knew my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol." He also gave unauthorized speeches at evangelical church functions while serving as deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence and war-fighting. The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations has said Boykin has a "long, shameful history of extreme and bigoted views."

Meehan did not respond to a request for an interview. Spokeswoman Abbott said the mayor was tied up in budget meetings Tuesday.

Meehan is hopeful that Boykin's remarks will be respectful, Abbott said.

"We have been assured that remarks made will not be divisive or inflammatory remarks," she said. "He wants to allow the speaker to have his say, and we have been given no indication that the topic will be anything but inspirational."

The breakfast's organizer, Bruce Spangler, did not return a call for comment. Spangler, however, told The Dispatch newspaper in Ocean City earlier this month that he was excited about Boykin's appearance, calling Boykin an expert on Islamic history and saying his "testimony" would be too exciting to miss.

"This country was founded on biblical values, and we are getting away from that," Spangler told The Dispatch.
PFAW

President Sheds Light on Judicial Nominations Crisis, Urges End to Senate Obstruction

In his State of the Union address last night, President Obama addressed the unprecedented Senate obstruction of judicial and executive branch nominees and urged senators to end the nominations gridlock.

Since Obama became president, the Senate GOP has conducted a steady campaign of obstruction against even entirely uncontroversial judicial and executive nominees. The statistics are unmistakable. Under President Bush, circuit court nominees waiting an average of 30 days for a vote from the full Senate after approval from the Judiciary Committee. Under President Obama, they have waited an average of 137 days. And district court nominees, who have traditionally been quickly and easily confirmed except under the most extraordinary circumstances have waited an average of 90 days for a Senate vote, compared to just 22 days under President Bush. The result has been a historic vacancy crisis in the federal courts, with over ten percent of seats vacant or soon to be vacant.

PFAW’s Marge Baker issued a statement last night echoing the president’s call for an end to the obstruction:

“President Obama is right to call for an end to such irresponsible and politically-motivated obstruction of his nominees,” said Marge Baker of People For the American Way. “For too long, the GOP has gotten away with its destructive agenda of obstruction, which has left more than 1 out of 10 federal judgeships vacant and resulted in unconscionable delays for Americans seeking their day in court. Laws exist to protect all of us, and courts are where the 99% and the 1% stand as equals. But even the best of laws don’t count for much if there aren’t enough judges to enforce them. Republicans in the Senate must start doing the job the American people hired them to do. The American courts are no place for partisan politics.”

We hope that the Senate takes the message to heart.
 

PFAW

Video from PFAW Panel: Constitutional Remedies to Overturning Citizens United

People For the American Way’s Marge Baker moderated a panel discussion on Capitol Hill about the necessity of a constitutional amendment to address out-of-control corporate spending on elections made possible by Citizens United. A rapidly growing constellation of elected leaders, grass roots organizations and by a 48 point margin Americans believe that deep-pocketed corporations should not be able to overpower the will of the American people. Supporters of constitutional remedies to restore the balance of power to the people have reached a “movement moment”: ten constitutional amendments have been introduced in the 112th Congress, and dozens of state and local resolutions opposing the decision have been adopted in towns, cities and states across the country.

Marge Baker, Executive Vice President of People For the American Way, was joined by Senator Tom Udall, Representative Ted Deutch, Representative Keith Ellison, Maryland State Senator Jamie Raskin, New York City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito and Colorado Activist Elena Nuñez for the discussion.

 

“Money, lobbyists and special interests have too much influence and we’ve got to get control of it.” –Sen. Tom Udall

“At this moment, we have to amend the constitution to clarify that for-profit corporations cannot spend their money, every dollar of which they raised for commercial purposes, to influence the outcome of elections.”–Rep. Ted Deutch

“I introduced my constitutional amendment because I believe America should be a democracy, not a plutocracy.” –Rep. Keith Ellison

“This is not an anti-business thing. We want corporations to thrive, but we don’t want them to govern.” –Maryland State Senator Jamie Raskin

“Money can drown out our voices…we have to take it out of the court’s hands and give it back to the people – and now is the time to do it.” –NYC Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito

“Once people understood that there was something we could do, that a constitutional amendment was a way to regain the people’s voice…people really gravitated to it.” –Elena Nuñez, Colorado Common Cause

PFAW