Renowned xenophobes Reps. Steve King and Michele Bachmann have announced a trip to the U.S.-Mexico border today as part of their offensive offensive against President Obama’s action on immigration. Ever the moderate, Bachmann warned of “millions of unskilled, illiterate, foreign nationals coming into the United States who can’t speak the English language.” While King, who’s proposed a legal change to prevent the issuing of new visas, defended his obstructionist stance with a mature “we can do anything we want to.” After Speaker John Boehner’s five minute press conference on the matter this morning, Bachmann and King are effectively left as the de facto spokespeople for the Republican Party, driving their narrative and policy direction on the matter.Read more after the jump.
Politicians & Pundits: Steve King
Ahead of President Obama’s immigration reform announcement today, American Bridge and People For the American Way are releasing a new video highlighting the continued offensive rhetoric from Congressional Republicans against immigrants and immigration reform.
“While Democrats have offered repeated olive branches to pass balanced, bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform, Republicans have refused to take action. Instead, Republicans have shown their true colors by spending their time playing obstructionist games and making distasteful comments about immigrants in this country,” said American Bridge Vice President Eddie Vale.
“Time and again, Republicans have resorted to offensive, dehumanizing rhetoric about the Latino community,” said People For the American Way President Michael Keegan. “Instead of listening to the majority of Americans and working to fix our broken immigration system, GOP leaders continue to cater to their anti-Latino, anti-immigrant base.”Read more after the jump.
One year after major Supreme Court decisions on the Voting Rights Act and the Defense of Marriage Act, conservative leaders are still denying equal rights for all Americans by failing to address the issues raised by these cases.
After the Supreme Court struck down a critical provision of the Voting Rights Act, or VRA, there has been little appetite among conservatives in Congress to fix the sections of the law that have been almost universally considered the most successful part of the landmark civil rights legislation. The VRA enjoyed bipartisan support when it was reauthorized in 2006; House Speaker John Boehner said at the time that the law had been “an effective tool in protecting a right that is fundamental to our democracy.” However, in the face of extreme opposition from the Tea Party, conservatives have either questioned the need for a legislative fix or ignored the issue entirely.
Sadly, the inaction on this issue – which has led to the passage of voter suppression laws in several states – is almost certainly politically motivated. As Paul Weyrich, founder of the Heritage Foundation and the American Legislative Exchange Council, bluntly stated in 1980, “our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.” In fact, analysis has shown that election fraud, particularly the in-person voter impersonation that supposedly prompted tougher voter ID laws, is virtually non-existent. In addition, the voters who are disproportionately affected by voter ID laws – the poor, students, Africans Americans and Hispanics – all tend to vote for Democrats.Read more after the jump.
Today, the Supreme Court will hear a new challenge to the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage requirement. Two companies are arguing that obligating businesses to provide insurance plans that cover contraceptive services free of charge intrudes on their owners’ religious rights. A victory for the companies could open the door for any private for-profit employer to interfere with its employees’ health care on the basis of the employers’ personal beliefs.
In this case, the plaintiffs are challenging commonsense public policy. The costs associated with birth control interfere with women’s ability to use it consistently and effectively, leading to higher numbers of unintended pregnancies. That leads to more abortions and negative outcomes for mothers, babies, and families who do go through with an unplanned birth.
Allowing women to plan their pregnancies yields healthier babies, more stable families, and better economic and social outlooks for women. There’s also evidence that covering contraceptives saves insurance companies, employers, and taxpayers money; one study suggested that unintended pregnancies cost taxpayers $11 billion each year.
Yet leading conservative politicians and right-wing groups insist on slapping a scarlet letter on contraceptive care, painting this sound health care policy as a question of religious intrusion. According to Rep. Steve King (R-IA), for example, “preventing babies from being born is not medicine.” And Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) insists that the controversy over women’s access to contraception “is not about women’s rights or contraception, this is about the religious liberties that our country has always cherished.” However, these Republican critics are out-of-step with the mainstream. Polling shows that 99 percent of women – including most Catholic women – have used birth control, and most women approve of the contraceptive coverage rule.Read more after the jump.
Earlier this month, the Senate affirmed that all Americans deserve basic civil rights in the workplace regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity by passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
Backed by a large majority of voters who believe it should be illegal to fire somebody because they are gay, 64 senators – including 10 Republicans – came together in support of the bill, which social conservatives have bitterly opposed since it was first introduced in the 1990s. Now, the only thing standing in the way of long-overdue protections for LGBT workers is House Speaker John Boehner, who has declared his opposition and signaled that he may not even allow a vote on it.
Boehner has justified his stance by falsely suggesting that any workplace discrimination is already illegal, but past statements by many members of his party reveal another factor at play: the homophobia and bigotry of extreme House Republicans. Among other ugly views, conservative House members have described homosexuality as “personal enslavement,” compared being gay to “somebody who has love for an animal,” and warned that LGBT rights are “a threat to the nation’s survival.”
The choice for Boehner is clear. He can listen to the American people and recognize that everybody deserves equal rights in the workplace, or he can acquiesce to the far right and turn the people’s House into a House of Hate.Read more after the jump.
In May 2010, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) justified anti-LGBT discrimination, saying:
Read more after the jump.
And he said, ‘let me ask you a question.’ ‘Am I heterosexual or am I homosexual?’ And they looked him up and down, actually they should have know, but they said, ‘We don’t know.’ And he said, ‘Exactly, my point. If you don’t project it, if you don’t advertise it, how would anyone know to discriminate against you?’ And that’s at the basis of this. So if people wear their sexuality on their sleeve and then they want to bring litigation against someone that they would point their finger at and say ‘you discriminate.’ …This is the homosexual lobby taking it out on the rest of society and they are demanding affirmation for their lifestyle, that’s at the bottom of this.
If the Citizens United “documentary” on Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe looks like a right-wing hack job, don’t be surprised. The group, known primarily for the Supreme Court decision that helped pave the way for the proliferation of outside spending in elections, has churned out viciously dishonest propaganda for years.
The very film that spawned the landmark campaign finance case was a transparent attempt to trash Hillary Clinton during the 2008 primary by calling her a “congenital liar” and “the closest thing we have in America to a European socialist” – and it isn’t even the most inflammatory Citizens United production in recent years. “Celsius 41.11,” a response to Fahrenheit 9/11, juxtaposed images of Hitler, 9/11, and dead children with Michael Moore, John Kerry, and anti-war protesters. The group’s 2008 Obama hit job claimed that Obama “thinks infanticide is acceptable.” And “America At Risk,” Newt Gingrich’s Islamophobic film warning that a “war will go on until the entire world either embraces Islam or submits to Islamic rule,” was also a Citizens United Production.
That kind of incendiary rhetoric is the norm for Citizens United and its leaders, co-founder Floyd Brown and president David Bossie, whose resumes are full of panned ad campaigns and electoral strategies. Brown was behind the behind the infamous 1988 “Willie Horton” ad, which exploited racial fears by linking crimes committed by Horton, who is African-American, to a program authorized by Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis when he was governor of Massachusetts. Two decades later, Brown was still putting together controversial ads, including a 2008 spot drawing a connection between then-candidate Obama and Chicago gang murders. He also authored a “vicious” book on Bill Clinton, accusing the Democrat of “promoting witchcraft and fostering blasphemy,” in which Brown gave special thanks to segregationist and White Citizens Council leader Jim Johnson.
Bossie has been president of the organization since 2001, a position he assumed after nearly a decade as the group’s director of political affairs, during which time he relentlessly sought to undermine President Clinton. A former investigator for the House Oversight Committee, Bossie was dismissed in 1998 after releasing transcripts of phone calls that had been edited to implicate Hillary Clinton in a scandal at her former law firm. Together, Brown and Bossie co-authored Prince Albert, a 192-page hit job on Al Gore.
In addition to its films and ad campaigns, Citizens United consistently lends financial support to extreme right-wing candidates through its political action committee. Among the recipients of Citizen United contributions in recent years are Reps. Michele Bachmann, Allen West, Steve King, and Todd Akin. Furthermore, one of Citizens United’s affiliates has endorsed McAuliffe’s opponent, Ken Cuccinelli, and given him over $100,000 since 2008 – not including the cost to produce Citizens United’s anti-McAuliffe movie.Read more after the jump.
When the Supreme Court struck down a key section of the Voting Rights Act and kicked it back to Congress, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives handed the first hearing on the matter off to the Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice. That means the next incarnation of the law that finally dismantled the most tenacious statutes and practices interfering with African Americans’ right to vote will be shaped by a team of right-wing legislators who are not only skeptical of key provisions of the law but who also routinely support new attempts at voter suppression.
The Voting Rights Act was last reauthorized in 2006, earning unanimous Senate support and “ayes” from an impressive 390 House members. Although the 33 members who voted against reauthorization were all Republicans, passage was overwhelmingly bipartisan; at the time, the White House and both houses of Congress were controlled by Republicans. Troublingly, however, two of those “nay” votes now sit on the subcommittee tasked with reexamining the VRA — including Chairman Trent Franks (R-AZ). He and other members of the subcommittee have also been reliable proponents of voter ID laws and other measures designed to make voting more difficult.Read more after the jump.
As supporters of comprehensive immigration reform, Bridge Project commends the Senate for overcoming the political dysfunction that has become typical of Congress to overwhelmingly pass a bipartisan bill. Despite the right-wing naysayers who have been actively working against compromise, the Senate-approved mix of border security measures and a path to citizenship represents an encouraging step forward for immigration policy. Now it is up to the leadership in the House to reject the voices of extremism in their caucus and follow the Senate’s bipartisan path.
In the lower chamber, conservative leaders on the issue have long embraced extreme positions and attempted to score political points at the expense of immigrants. Some representatives are openly hostile to immigration reform and have demonstrated more interest in stoking divisions than moving the country forward.
And a history of support for harsh immigration policies is not the only cause for concern. Several key conservatives have also accepted campaign contributions from anti-immigrant donors, including some with connections to Southern Poverty Law Center-designated hate groups.Read more after the jump.
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) has announced that she will not seek another term in the House of Representatives. However, the former presidential candidate’s legacy of extreme statements, paranoid conspiracy theories, and ideological witch hunts will live on through the right-wing members of Congress who will continue to champion her views.
Bachmann Called For A Media Investigation Into Whether Members Of Congress Are “Pro-America Or Anti-America.” During an interview on MSNBC’s Hardball, Michele Bachmann said, “What I would say — what I would say is that the news media should do a penetrating expose and take a look. I wish they would. I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out, are they pro-America or anti-America? I think people would love to see an expose like that.” [MSNBC, Hardball, 10/17/08]
- Steve King Called Joe McCarthy “A Hero” And Said He Would Support Something “Along the Lines Of the House Un-American Activities Committee.” In an interview with Right Side News, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) was asked, whether he would support “resurrection of the Congressional internal security committees along the lines of the House Un-American Activities Committee.” King replied, “I would. Something similar. If we called it the House Un-American Activities Committee, that would be lighting up the history of McCarthy in a way that wouldn’t be necessary, although I am often quoted as saying McCarthy was a hero for America. He was. He was right far more times than he was wrong. It is a historical fact. But I would submit a different committee name so that we don’t have to deal with the history, and move forward. I think that is a good process and I would support it.” [Right Side News, 10/5/10]