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The Final Push: PFAW’s Latinos Vote! Get Out the Vote Efforts

In addition to PFAW’s efforts dating back to early 2015 to expose and counter the Right and get out the Latino vote this election, PFAW was on the ground in Pennsylvania and Arizona in the final days leading up to the election.

Saturday and Sunday, we focused on get out the vote efforts among Latino communities in Pennsylvania, a state where the Latino vote can be decisive. On Saturday, PFAW Director of Latinos Vote! Lizet Ocampo addressed voters and activists at a rally hosted by Make the Road Action in Allentown, PA focused on why Donald Trump and Senator Pat Toomey stand with Wall Street, not working families. Over 40 percent of Allentown residents are Latino, and nearby Reading is the only city in Pennsylvania with a majority Latino population.


Allenton, PA Get Out the Vote Rally

On Sunday, actress Lauren Velez (How to Get Away with Murder, Dexter, I Like It Like That) joined PFAW and local groups including NCLR Action and For Pennsylvania’s Future for door knocking and a canvass kickoff. Speakers addressed the anti-Latino, anti-immigrant agenda of Donald Trump and Pat Toomey and the importance of everyone getting out to vote.


Actress Lauren Velez, PFAW's Lizet Ocampo in Philadelphia, PA

Lauren Velez took a quick break from knocking doors for a Facebook Live interview with Latina Magazine about why she joined PFAW in Pennsylvania to get out the vote for Hillary Clinton and senate candidate Katie McGinty:


On Sunday night through Election Day, Lizet Ocampo joined PFAW’s team in Phoenix, Arizona. In addition to knocking on doors, our team joined a midnight canvass on Monday night, in which volunteers left flyers with essential election information at voters’ door. On Tuesday, Lizet joined Democracy Now! to analyze election results as they came in. While Hillary Clinton did not win the state, Phoenix’s virulently anti-immigrant sheriff Joe Arpiao was defeated, thanks to Latino voters rejecting his hateful rhetoric and unconstitutional actions.

In addition to these on-the-ground efforts as part of our Latinos Vote! program, PFAW had Spanish-language anti-Trump, anti-Republican TV, radio, and digital ads running in Nevada, Pennsylvania, Arizona, and North Carolina.

PFAW

Donald Trump’s Religious Bigotry Isn’t New, But It’s Still Dangerous

This piece originally appeared on the Huffington Post.

A disloyal religionA religion that mandates violenceA religion incompatible with freedomA religion intent on overthrowing the governmentA religion that’s not a religion but a political movement.

Such smears were used for years in American politics to attack Roman Catholics, and Catholic immigrants in particular. In the 19th century, rioters attacked Catholic churches and homes, and an entire political party was created based on the fear of a Catholic plot to undermine America. The Ku Klux Klan reorganized in the early 20th century in part by using anti-Catholicism to recruit members

While John F. Kennedy’s 1960 Houston speech on the separation of church and state and his subsequent election were seen as turning points, religious bigotry never went away in American politics; the targets simply shifted, as the very same attacks once hurled against Catholics are now being used to demonize and marginalize Muslims. 

This year, Donald Trump showed once again that religious bigotry remains an effective and destructive way for politicians to foment hate and win political power.

Muslims were among Trump’s top targets of scorn and ridicule in his successful presidential bid. He falsely claimed that Muslims took to the streets by the thousands to celebrate 9/11; declared that “Islam hates us”; repeated a debunked story about Muslims refusing to report the terrorists behind the San Bernardino attack; proposed banning all Muslims from entering the U.S.; considered a Muslim registry and databasebaselessly alleged that around one out of three Muslims were ready to go to war against the U.S.; and praised a general who he said massacred his Muslim detainees with bullets washed in pigs’ blood. 

Trump’s attacks against America’s Muslim community capitalized on existing anti-Muslim bigotry that has been diligently spread by a network of far-right groups. But he brought those bigoted ideas to a far wider audience, feeding anti-Muslim conspiracy theories directly into the national media. Unsurprisingly, his election has led to a spike in attacks against Muslim-Americans.

On the campaign trail, Trump surrounded himself with anti-Muslim conspiracy theorists like Michael Flynn, who is now set to be his national security adviser, and Steve Bannon, whom he has named his top White House strategist.

Flynn, a board member of the anti-Islam group ACT for America, has described Islam as “a cancer” and “a political ideology” that “hides behind this notion of it being a religion.” If Islam isn’t a religion, activists like Flynn believe, then Muslims shouldn’t receive First Amendment protections.

On his Twitter page in August, Flynn posted a video that said “ISIS is practicing Islam to the letter.” He has tweeted that Muslim leaders must “declare their Islamic ideology sick.” “Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL,” he said in one tweet promoting a video that said Islam “wants 80% of humanity Enslaved or EXTERMINATED.” 

Before joining Trump’s team, Bannon ran the ultraconservative website Breitbart, which he boasted was the “platform for the Alt-Right,” a racist and xenophobic movement. Under Bannon’s leadership, Breitbart was dominated by stories about the purported dangers of Muslims, and promoted the Alt-Right narrative that the West is engaged in a civilizational war with the Islamic world.

This rhetoric, incidentally, plays into the very message that terrorist groups like ISIS are attempting to promote: that their version of Islam is the only true one and that they are engaged in a civilizational battle against the West. Mara Revkin and Ahmad Mhidi noted in Foreign Affairs over the summer that Trump’s rhetoric had the potential to be a valuable recruiting tool for these groups. Both ISIS and Al Qaeda celebrated Trump’s win by claiming that it validated their claim that the U.S. hates Muslims.

Even before his inauguration, Trump’s religious bigotry is wreaking real damage on America, undermining national security and giving the green light to a wave of assaults against Muslim-Americans.

Perhaps Trump can learn from Abraham Lincoln, a man he claims to admire, who called out as hypocrites politicians who claimed to believe in liberty while seeking to exclude Catholics and immigrants from fully taking part in American society.

Judging by his pick of advisers, however, it seems unlikely that President Trump will be that much different than the man we saw on the campaign trail, a man willing to sow divisions and ratchet up bigotry no matter the cost.

PFAW

First Win in a Trump Era: Georgia Rejects Anti-Muslim Bigotry

Following the shocking election results, hate, bigotry, and xenophobia are now on the rise again, and American Muslims, and those perceived to be Muslims, have become some of the first targets. President-elect Trump appears to be seriously considering a registry targeting Muslims in the United States and staffing his administration with anti-Muslim leaders. Last week, Republican state Representative Jason Spencer from Woodbine, GA, proposed legislation that would ban Muslim women from wearing the hijab or niqab (burqa) in public.

Fortunately, progressive leaders and policy makers did not sit idle; they decided to take action against attacks that degrade our American values. Georgia leaders took a stand against hate, including a minister in PFAW’s African American Ministers In Action network, the Reverend Dr. Merchuria Chase-Williams, who drafted a letter speaking out against the proposed bill and a member of YEO Action in the Georgia House, Rep. Keisha Waites, who released a statement against anti-Muslim bigotry.

On Thursday, only one day after Representative Spencer introduced the anti-hijab legislation, the bill was dropped. This victory is crucial because it shows that progressive lawmakers, community leaders, and the American people can stop the normalization of hate and bigotry. This could be considered the first real win in the Trump era, and it is a reminder to progressives from around the country that we must join forces against racism, divisiveness, and policies that undermine the core values of the United States: liberty, freedom of religion, and equal justice under the law.

PFAW has already been active in the fight to combat Islamophobia and will continue to do this work. For the past three months, in a coordinated effort between PFAW’s Young Elected Officials Network Action (YEO Action) and Local Progress, more than 500 elected officials from around the country have signed onto an open letter pledging to fight against hate and anti-Muslim bigotry. As part of this effort, nearly 40 school board and city council resolutions have been passed nationwide to denounce hate and protect American Muslims—an effort that U.S. Representative Keith Ellison has called “essential work” that “will strengthen our country and help protect the Constitutional rights of all Americans and immigrants to practice their faith and live dignified lives in our great country.”
 

PFAW

We Can’t Win a Fight We’re Not In

This piece originally appeared in the Huffington Post.

In this wrenching week, I have been thinking about something my former boss Paul Wellstone liked to say: “You’ve got to start a fight to win a fight.”

An animated professor-turned-senator from Minnesota, Paul’s willingness to be confrontational, and his refusal to back down from a fight he believed in, was central to his political and organizing strategy. It’s a lesson that the progressive movement and everyone who holds dear the values of equal justice, democracy, and basic compassion can take to heart this week: we can’t win a fight we’re not in.In 2002, he took a risky stand when he announced his opposition to the Iraq Warduring a tight reelection campaign. I remember that day in our senate office. After his floor speech, our phones started ringing off the hook. He knew that his position might put his job at risk, but the majority of the calls turned out to be calls of support. “I don’t agree with you,” they said, “but I appreciate that you took a principled stand.”

In this election our country took a devastating blow, especially so for women and racial and religious minorities. Many of our fights going forward—from the Supreme Court to abortion rights to immigrant rights—will be uphill battles, to say the least. But principled stands in support of our values, in support of fundamental rights, in support of a country where everyone is safe from violence and hate: these are more important stances than ever. If we don’t show up, the fight has been lost before it started.

To be clear, this fight is unlike any I’ve seen in my lifetime. Our next president has made it known that he does not respect our democratic norms. He has incited violence against protesters, threatened to open up libel laws in order to go after journalists, proposed a ban on all Muslims, casually declared that he might not accept the results of our election. He made a man who promotes white nationalism and anti-Semitism his chief strategist in the White House. This is not business as usual: it is a crisis for our democracy and for our values.

But it also means that the work to protect those values took on a profound new importance overnight. We can’t win a fight we’re not in.

Paul put himself in the middle of a number of fights that seemed impossible, and which sometimes turned out to be doomed efforts. In the mid-1990s, as public assistance programs were being gutted and every other Senate Democrat running for reelection got on board with the cuts, Paul was resolute in his opposition. He told a journalist, “You could stick a gun to my head, and I’m not going to vote for a bill that will hurt children.” Despite the fact that most of his constituents favored the cuts, his numbers shot up in the polls.

 
 
PFAW

Ask Your Representative to Condemn Hate: Sample Script on Steve Bannon

This week president-elect Donald Trump decided to name Steve Bannon to a top White House position. Bannon is the former head of far-right outlet Breitbart News, which openly promoted white nationalism, misogyny, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism under Bannon’s leadership.

Neo-Nazis and white nationalists immediately celebrated the decision to elevate Bannon, and it is critical and urgent that people of conscience call our elected officials in Congress and urge them to speak out against hate by condemning Bannon’s new position.

Maybe you’ve never called your member of Congress before. That’s okay: now is a great time to start.

Here’s how it works. Call the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121. Tell them your senator's or representative’s name, and they will connect you to their office. (Don’t know who represents you? Look it up here.)

When someone from the office answers, tell them that it is unconscionable for a man who has promoted white nationalism and other hateful ideologies to be serving as a top White House official.

If you’re unsure of what to say, here is a sample script:

Hi, my name is _______ and I’m a constituent of Representative _______/ Senator _________. I’m calling because I’m concerned about Donald Trump naming Steve Bannon as his chief White House strategist. Bannon ran a website openly promoting white nationalism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and more. White supremacists and the American Nazi Party are publicly celebrating his appointment.

I’m calling to see if Rep. _________ / Senator ___________ plans to publicly condemn Trump’s choice to name Bannon to a top White House position?

[If there are any questions, reiterate your concerns.] Yes, please express to Rep. ______/ Sen. ________ that Bannon doesn’t represent our values, and that I am asking him/her to take a principled, public stand against this kind of hate.

Thanks for your time.

After you call, you can share this graphic online to urge your friends to do the same:

PFAW

The GOP's Planned Sabotage of the Supreme Court

Congress set nine as the number of seats on the Supreme Court. The GOP can't just unilaterally change number that through obstruction.
PFAW

Senator Ayotte's Real Record on Equal Pay for Women

Like with her obstruction of President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee and his other federal judges, Senator Ayotte has made clear that she won't do her job on a lot of things. Ensuring equal pay for equal work seems to be one of them.
PFAW

Pollster Tom Jensen Joins PFAW Telebriefing on the State of the Election

On Thursday People For the American Way hosted a member telebriefing on the current state of the 2016 election cycle to discuss the latest poll numbers and what PFAW is doing to engage in the election.

Public Policy Polling director Tom Jensen joined the call to share recent polling data on both the presidential contest and key Senate races, providing an overview of the 2016 landscape just over two weeks before the election. PFAW’s Drew Courtney, Marge Baker, and Laura Epstein outlined some of the highlights of PFAW’s work in 2016 on engaging Latino voters and making the Supreme Court a winning election issue.

You can listen to the full telebriefing here:

PFAW

Voter Suppression Is Not The Solution To Problems With Voter Registration

What we have is a system desperately in need of modernization. Some states have taken positive steps forward on voting rights, while others have failed or been unable to act, or even worse, have taken steps backward with new, potentially suppressive restrictions. Members of Congress have introduced federal legislation, which has yet to receive any meaningful attention from the Republican leadership – the failure to restore the Voting Rights Act being one of the worst cases.
PFAW

Trump Wants Another Scalia on the Supreme Court, Which Would Eviscerate LGBT Equality

Scalia's venomous, paranoid, divisive, & contemptuous dissents about LGBT equality were at times the judicial equivalent of a Trump campaign rally.
PFAW

Ayotte & Trump: All the Straws that Didn't Break the Camel's Back

Before the hot-mic news, NH Sen. Kelly Ayotte supported Trump despite his many assaults against equality, democracy, & liberty. She put party over country, time & time again.
PFAW

Demonstrators Send McCain Message That He Was "Too Little, Too Late" In Denouncing Trump

People For the American Way joined Planned Parenthood, ProgressNow, and other Arizona activists to send a clear message to Senator McCain: he jumped the Trump ship too little, too late.
PFAW

McCain's "Straight Talk" Exposes Real Reason for Blocking SCOTUS Nominee

McCain's been taking Arizonans for a ride on the Duplicity Express regarding his SCOTUS nominee obstruction.
PFAW

PFAW Members Speak Out Against Ayotte’s Plan to Write In Mike Pence

Members of People For the American Way protested Monday outside of U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte’s Manchester district office following her announcement that she plans to write in vice presidential nominee Mike Pence instead of voting for Donald Trump, in light of his comments about sexually assaulting women. While it’s high time that Sen. Ayotte acknowledged just how unacceptable a Trump presidency would be, a vote for Pence would be a vote for far-right policies devastating for women and the LGBT community.



“Ayotte’s withdrawal of support for Trump has much more to do with politics than principle,” said Linds Jakows, New Hampshire Campaign Organizer with People For the American Way. “Support for Mike Pence’s agenda is little better—a man who has spent his career attempting to redefine rape, eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood, and pass laws to legalize discrimination against LGBT people is also incredibly dangerous. A far better way for Ayotte to display the political independence she so often claims on the campaign trail would be to push obstructionists in her party to move forward on the nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.”

PFAW

Hundreds Rally to Tell Senate Republicans #DoYourJob

This week marked the start of a second consecutive term of the Supreme Court without a full roster of nine justices. For months, Senate Republicans have refused to hold a confirmation hearing—and, in some cases, to even meet with—President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Judge Merrick Garland, despite being considered to be perhaps the most qualified Supreme Court nominee in modern history. Members of both parties have applauded his judicious temperament, deep legal knowledge and fair-minded approach to dealing with difficult cases.

To mark the record-breaking 202 days since Garland’s nomination, PFAW and a cadre of allies assembled a crowd of more than 200 people to hold signs calling on Senate Republicans to do their job by holding a hearing and a vote. Speakers at the rally included organizational leaders, such as PFAW’s own executive vice president Marge Baker, as well as the lead plaintiff in the landmark 2015 marriage equality decision, Jim Obergefell. The bipartisan event also featured Republican voters who are fed up with the relentless obstructionism of their leaders in the Senate.  

Because of the Supreme Court vacancy, in recent months a number of critical issues have been left unresolved. Cases pertaining to immigration, affirmative action, and reproductive health have been left hamstrung by a deadlocked court, with cases being sent back down to lower courts because of the inability to break a tie. With the highest judicial body in the United States unable to resolve issues that affect millions of Americans, now more than ever people must tell Republican members of the Senate to #DoYourJob. 

PFAW

PFAW and Allies Call Attention to Sen. Ayotte’s Obstruction of Other Federal Judicial Nominees

Members of People For the American Way and Granite State Progress delivered 92 empty chairs to U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte’s Nashua district office yesterday to symbolize the seats on the federal courts left vacant by Republican obstruction of the president’s judicial nominees. This event took place on the first day of the U.S. Supreme Court’s new term as part of a nationwide Day of Action to call attention to the dozens of unfilled vacancies on the federal courts.



When it comes to partisan filibustering of judicial nominees, Sen. Ayotte has consistently taken her marching orders from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. She was a willing partner in Republican efforts to filibuster highly qualified nominees to fill circuit and district court vacancies. In late 2013, she even followed McConnell’s party edict to filibuster all three of President Obama’s D.C. Circuit nominees. Senate Republicans admitted that this was not based on any nominee’s qualifications—they argued that Obama should not be able to fill any of the three vacancies on the 11-member court. It was a transparent effort to keep the D.C. Circuit with a majority of very conservative judges.  And since Ayotte’s party took over the Senate last year, the number of judicial vacancies has doubled, while the number of those designated emergencies has tripled.



“Now that the Senate is out for recess through the election and the Supreme Court is beginning a new session, it’s official: Sen. Kelly Ayotte hasn’t only aided some of the most far-right Republicans in the Senate by refusing to move forward with hearings and a vote to fill the Supreme Court vacancy, but she’s also stood with obstructionist Republicans in refusing to take action on other federal judicial nominations,” said Linds Jakows, NH Campaign Organizer with People For the American Way. “This is especially troubling since she tries so hard to brand herself as ‘bipartisan and independent.’ She clearly hasn’t listened to voters who know that obstructing justice on the highest courts and paving the way for Trump’s extreme shortlist is neither independent nor bipartisan.”

PFAW

Unpacking that debate...

Millions of Americans, and frankly people all around the world, are anxiously asking the very same question today, “So, what did you think?!"

There’s much to unpack -- too much for one email, but here’s a partial recap, with some thoughts from our perspective.

Donald Trump and the Right Wing have been hammering the issue for the last year, but for all of their baseless attacks on Hillary Clinton’s stamina, it was clear that he was the only person on that stage with a stamina issue. As the night wore on, Trump went farther and farther off the rails, stumbling awkwardly to defend his record of Birtherism, his refusal to release his tax returns, and his support for unconstitutional and discriminatory policies.

Trump doubled down on previous insults he’s hurled at women, Latinos, and African Americans. And it was painfully obvious how ill-prepared he was to offer any coherent explanation of foreign policy, economic policy, and even his own actions.

PFAW’s Right Wing Watch:
20 Lies Donald Trump Told At The First Presidential Debate>>

In stark contrast, despite the very high bar set for her, Secretary Clinton simply nailed it. She offered a brilliant takedown of Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns, listing the possible things that he might be hiding. She beat Trump at his own game by trumping him not just on substance, but on style. And she beat the sexist double standard that had TV news reporters talking almost exclusively about how her demeanor was going to determine her performance. If you watched the debate, you saw that she was the only candidate with the competence, stamina, temperament, and experience to answer the tough questions and do the tough job of president. And, Donald, maybe it is you who should try to smile more.

Clinton also called Trump out for his racist and sexist attacks on former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, whom he labeled “Miss Housekeeping” because she is Latina and referred to as “Miss Piggy” for gaining weight after she won her title. On the Fox and Friends morning show this morning, Trump kept digging himself in deeper, angrily criticizing Ms. Machado for being difficult primarly because, yes, she put on weight. At PFAW, we were honored to work with Alicia in our Latinos Vote! campaign, highlighting her personal story and connection with one of the uglier sides of Donald Trump. Alicia is clearly Trump’s worst nightmare: a Latina who has become a US citizen so that she can vote against him. 

Moderator Lester Holt, though not perfect, did an admirable job under challenging circumstances in getting out of the way to let voters see who the candidates really are. And he provided some basic, but important, real-time fact checking. It was important that he called out Trump on crucial points like: Trump’s persistent promotion of the racist Birther conspiracy theory against President Obama; Trump’s insistence that “stop and frisk” laws were not unconstitutional; and Trump’s dishonest assertion that being under IRS audit is what’s keeping him from releasing his tax returns.

Trump’s answers on the Birther topic were among the most bizarre and offensive of the night. Trump portrayed his leading the Birther conspiracy, a racist attack on the legitimacy of our first black president, as a great public service to the nation. Not only did he fail to apologize for promoting this racist myth, he insisted that he had succeeded where Secretary Clinton had failed: in getting President Obama to release his birth certificate -- something Clinton never tried to do. He dodged the questions about his promoting Birtherism for years after the birth certificate was produced, attempting to rewrite history on the fly, and then he proudly repeated this incoherent nonsense in post-debate interviews, again bragging about how he got the birth certificate that Clinton could never get. Art of the Deal! 

Now, for what was one of the most telling and insightful parts of the debate -- something that disappointingly has not gotten a lot of attention from press and commentators -- we have this brief exchange, amidst a flailing attack-filled rant by Trump:

CLINTON: I have a feeling that by, the end of this evening, I'm going to be blamed for everything that's ever happened.

TRUMP: Why not?

Trump was dead serious… serious in his suggestion that one of the most irrational notions imaginable -- blaming one person for all of the world’s ills -- was actually a valid thing to do … at least when it comes to Hillary Clinton.

And that really says it all. Hate is the language of Trump’s “movement,” and Hillary is now the number one person -- without rival, now that President Obama is no longer running for office -- who conservative America loves to hate.

There has been a seemingly endless amount of time spent trying to crack the code of the Trump supporter, trying to analyze the electorate in a way that makes sense of his support and the fact that this is an incredibly competitive race for president (and that Trump could win).

Surely there has to be some legitimate grievance or issue that he speaks to, that appeals to such a huge number of voters! They can’t all be bigoted, or that easily manipulated by fear of crime, terrorism, and changing demographics … can they?

Well, the truth is that Trump doesn’t appeal to people on actual issues. And, of course, not all of his supporters are bigots. What many have in common though is that they have become addicted, in a way, to hating Hillary Clinton.

Hate for Hillary and the no-holds-barred attacks on her that have no foundation in any truth whatsoever have been legitimized and made OK for people to engage in … and far too many people enjoy engaging in the hate -- people who have spent years watching Fox News, listening to right-wing talk radio, or reading “Alt-Right” websites like Breitbart.com. If you want a sense of it, just visit our RightWingWatch.org now, or any day of the week.

The attacks go far beyond believability and logic. They shun basic decency. But the right-wing airwaves and the Facebook feeds of conservative Americans are nonetheless teeming with them.

Trump connects with these people first on their common animosity towards Clinton. He endears himself to them by attacking her in ways they find both entertaining and self-validating. And then, after he’s earned their trust by showing that he is “one of them,” he can say anything, act any way, and he will be forgiven for it, the way a friend or family member might be forgiven for an offensive remark … you’ll say you don’t agree with the person on that point, but you’re not going to disown him (or, in this case, not vote for him).

So, after last night, we have reason to celebrate Secretary Clinton’s clear debate victory, and we have much more ammunition against Trump, who again showed himself to be ridiculously unqualified. We also need to face the possibility that while Trump may not have picked up many voters last night, sadly, he probably didn’t lose many either. 

Trump’s performance -- which was aimed squarely at his right-wing base -- offered yet another disturbing insight into the state of American politics and the right-wing movement. Just think about how empowered this right-wing movement will be after the election, whether they win or lose, because of the rise of Trumpism. 

We have a ton of work to do -- as progressives and as a country. But make no mistake, we’re up to the task. And continuing to call out the lies and extremism is never futile, because it’s only when we give up that the Donald Trumps of the world and their right-wing allies win.

PFAW

Down The Racist Rabbit Hole With Donald Trump

This piece originally appeared on the Huffington Post.

Today, Donald Trump pretended to end a lie and, in the process, told more lies.

After years of being a leading proponent of the racist “birther” movement, ignoring all actual evidence in order to raise questions about the first African-American president’s legitimacy, Trump today declared that he no longer believes that President Obama was born overseas.

First, Trump promised the press that he would address the birther issue in a press conference at his new hotel in Washington this morning. Then he made them sit through a parade of fawning endorsers before finally spending 30 seconds addressing his birtherism. Trump at last told the truth that Obama “was born in the United States, period.” But he couldn’t help packaging this rare truth with more lies, ludicrously, unbelievably claiming: “Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy. I finished it.”

Trump claims he “finished” the birther myth by causing President Obama to publicly release his long-form birth certificate in 2011, but he himself continued to enthusiastically promote the myth for years afterward, saying as recently as this January that he would write a very successful (of course) book on his “own theory” about the president’s birth.

And even if Trump had stopped being a birther in 2011, that doesn’t mean he could take credit for “finishing” a myth that he himself had helped create. Obama would never have had to go as far as to make his long-form birth certificate public if Trump hadn’t helped create an alternative universe dominated by the lie that the president’s citizenship was in doubt.

In fact, this is a pattern that Trump has followed many times.

Take Hillary Clinton’s recent bout of pneumonia. A reasonable reading of Clinton’s situation would be this: Clinton, a woman who is used to working long hours in demanding jobs, got sick and decided to power through that illness in order to get her work done.

But Trump and his allies had spent months building an alternative universe in which Clinton was hiding some sort of mysterious infirmity. In Trump World, that meant that Clinton was hiding some deep dark secret illness for nefarious reasons. When Clinton fell ill, the press held her to the standards of Trump World rather than the real world, portraying her as secretive and shady for failing to announce to the world that she had caught a common illness.

Trump has done the same thing with his lies about having opposed the Iraq War and his lies about his constantly changing position on the issue of abortion. He tells whatever version of events he thinks will be convenient at the time and everyone, including his fellow candidates, are suddenly supposed to live in whatever new reality he’s created.

Trump pretended that a racist conspiracy theory was true when it would help him get attention and win the support of the GOP’s fringe. Now he’s pretending that his hands are clean and that it was his opponent who was dredging up racist myths for the past five years. Trump wants us to accept whatever convenient new reality he’s concocted at any given time. The media has to stop being played by his rules.

PFAW

Sen. Elizabeth Warren Talks With PFAW Members About Judicial Nominations

Yesterday, Massachusetts senator and progressive hero Elizabeth Warren joined PFAW’s Michael Keegan and Marge Baker on a member telebriefing to discuss GOP senators’ unprecedented obstruction of judicial nominations at all levels, including their refusal to give fair consideration to President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee.

Sen. Warren noted on the call that Senate Republicans are now “setting new records for obstruction.” She suggested that they “might want to pull a copy of the Constitution out and take a look,” since the document is “crystal clear” about the Senate’s responsibility to confirm or reject the judges the president nominates. Instead, Warren said, GOP senators are trying to hold the Supreme Court seat open for a President Trump so that he can nominate judges who will bend the laws to suit their interests and the interests of their powerful friends.

Sen. Warren encouraged PFAW members and supporters to ask their senators why they won’t do their jobs and to keep up the pressure. “People For the American Way has done a fantastic job of putting pressure on Senate Republicans to give these judges timely consideration and an up-or-down vote,” she said. “This is a tough fight, but you don't get what you don't fight for.”

Marge Baker reviewed the work that PFAW is doing to make sure Republicans are held accountable at the ballot box on Election Day, including on-the-ground organizing targeting senators who have refused to do their jobs and PFAW’s massive Latinos Vote! campaign, designed to make sure Latino voters are ready to help deliver a progressive victory in November.

You can listen to a recording of the call here:

PFAW