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Thursday, January 31, 2013

3 Republicans Who Emphasized Rush Limbaugh's Role In 2007 Immigration Reform Effort


ZACHARY PLEAT/Media Matters For America:

Rush Limbaugh attacked President Obama for his comments  on Limbaugh's influence over Republican lawmakers. But in 2007, Republicans on both sides of the immigration reform debate highlighted Limbaugh's influence on Republican attitudes towards the bill, which they eventually defeated.
After the president told The New Republic that it's easier to pass bipartisan legislation if a Republican lawmaker "isn't "punished on Fox News or by Rush Limbaugh for working with a Democrat on a bill of common interest," Limbaugh responded by saying that Obama was "trying to goad [him] into saying something extreme." But Limbaugh soon proved the president's point by declaring that it was up to him to stop the new comprehensive immigration reform effort anddebating the issue with one of its sponsors, Republican Senator Marco Rubio.
Obama isn't the only one who has pointed out Limbaugh's ability to persuade Republican lawmakers from cooperating with Democrats on bipartisan legislation -- several Republicans singled Limbaugh out for his role in the previous attempt to pass comprehensive immigration reform in 2007.
Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), who opposed immigration reform in 2007, touted Limbaugh's role in its defeat,saying that right-wing talk radio was "a big factor" in opposing the bill and that the Senate was trying to pass it "before Rush Limbaugh could tell the American people what was in it."
Republican supporters of the bill also called out Limbaugh's influence. A May 27, 2007, Los Angeles Timesarticle reported that then-Senator Mel Martinez (R-FL) "directed his criticism squarely at Limbaugh" when he said: "He has emotion on his side, but I think I have logic on mine." And on May 16, 2007, President George W. Bush's White House Press Secretary Tony Snow -- who had previously guest hosted Limbaugh's show during his talk radio career -- appeared as a guest on The Rush Limbaugh Show to sell the radio host on comprehensive immigration reform:
LIMBAUGH: [O]ne of the things happening in the Senate right now that's of extreme interest to people in the White House and out is this immigration bill, and I've heard a couple of things about it and I want you to tell me if what I'm hearing is right or wrong. One thing is that the Senate's trying to push this thing through without senators having a chance to read the whole thing. It's 600 pages. They're trying to move a procedural vote forward to get a vote going without debate on this much, because there's so much in it that is confusing and, I mean, 600 pages is a lot of things, and a lot of people are upset that anybody would sign a bill that they haven't read, even though that's more common than people know.
SNOW: (laughs) Well, a couple things first. We're still in negotiations on this. But the fact is, folks are going to have time to read this, and they're going to have time to look at the fine print. The other thing is, you gotta keep in mind one of the guys who's leading the charge on the Senate side is Jon Kyl, who himself has been skeptical of immigration reform in some senses. So I think for conservatives, they ought to feel a certain level of comfort that a guy who has been with them -- and let's face it, Jon Kyl is not the kind of guy who ever backs away from principle. So this is the kind of thing that ought to be inspiring confidence.

WaPo's Problem Isn't Rubin's Partisanship, It's Her Dishonesty


SIMON MALOY/Media Matters For America:


A teapot tempest erupted today after Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) citedWashington Post political blogger Jennifer Rubin by name today at Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel's Senate confirmation hearing. Postassociate editor and senior correspondent Rajiv Chandrasekaran tweeted, "I hate it when senators refer to WP opinion blogger posts as articles. [Rubin] is NOT a WaPo reporter," which prompted Buzzfeed to proclaimthat a "civil war" had broken out at the Post over "the newspaper's reputation for fairness and neutrality." This misses the point of what makes Rubin so problematic for the Post: it's not that she's conservative, or even that she's opinionated. She's dishonest, often flagrantly so, and that dishonesty tarnishes Washington Post's reputation.
Rubin, who essentially served as the Romney campaign's in-house blogger for the Washington Post during the 2012 presidential campaign, has recently led the charge against Hagel's nomination.
Here's a not-at-all exhaustive list of outright lies, misrepresentations, and self-contradictions Rubin has spun while speaking or writing on the Post's behalf:
Rubin invented the idea that State Department personnel in Washington, D.C., watched real-time video of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, a claim later debunked by Washington Post media writer Erik Wemple.
Rubin claimed in September 2012 that President Obama had not released a corporate tax plan. Obama released his corporate tax plan in February of that year, and Rubin criticized it at the time.
Rubin lied about President Obama's remarks in the Rose Garden the day after the Benghazi attack, saying the president did not use the term "acts of terror" in "the same paragraph with Benghazi." Obama's next sentence after saying "acts of terror" was about the four Americans killed in the attack.
Rubin wrote that the Tax Policy Center's critique of Mitt Romney's tax plan couldn't be trusted because the group is "left-leaning" and "very partisan." Ten months earlier she'd hyped the group as "independent" when it critiqued one of Romney's primary opponents.
Rubin claimed that the 2009 stimulus package contained no funding for "shovel-ready defense jobs." The stimulus allocated several billion dollars for military "construction" projects and "operations and maintenance."
She invented criticisms of Obama's second-term Cabinet nominees. She cleaned up George W. Bush's terrorism record by saying 9-11 didn't count. She alternated between describing Romney's tax proposals ashighly detailed and lacking detail, depending on which would better allow her to flack for them. And, of course, there's Rubin's post-election tacit admission that pretty much everything she'd written during the 2012 campaign about Mitt Romney's campaign was misleading spin.
Rubin discredits herself and the Washington Post not by leaning to the right, but by lying, over and over, again and again.
UPDATE: Mother Jones' Adam Serwer highlights another Rubin whopper. During the campaign she railed against Obama for not having an immigration plan: "Where is Obama's solution?" That plan was readily available on the White House website.

Mother: She was Hadiya,she was just special


Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


If this doesn't move you then I don't know what to tell you.

President making progress on 2nd term agenda


Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Virginia Republican revives the 47% argument in new book


/Politics Nation
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, the likely Republican nominee for governor, will release a book next month that includes what many are calling the new 47% argument of 2013.
In the new book, “The Last Line of Defense: The New Fight for American Liberty,” Cuccinelli argues that ”bad politicians set out to grow government” to “make people dependent on government.”
The reasoning is strikingly similar to Romney, who was caught on camera last fall complaining of the “47% of the people who will vote for the president no matter what” because they “are dependent upon government” and “believe that they are victims.”
Romney also said at the time he would “never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
In the excerpts published by the Washington Post Cuccinelli does not go that far, instead accusing the politicians who choose to expand government services of nefarious motives.
In one excerpt he writes, “Sometimes bad politicians set out to grow government in order to increase their own power and influence. This phenomenon doesn’t just happen in Washington; it happens at all levels of government. The amazing thing is that they often grow government without protest from citizens, and sometimes they even get buy-in from citizens—at least from the ones getting the goodies.”
“One of their favorite ways to increase their power is by creating programs that dispense subsidized government benefits, such as Medicare,  Social Security,  and outright welfare (Medicaid, food stamps, subsidized housing, and the like),” he writes. “These programs make people dependent on government. And once people are dependent, they feel they can’t afford to have the programs taken away, no matter how inefficient, poorly run, or costly to the rest of society.”
“Citizens will vote for those politicians who promise more benefits each year, rather than the fiscally responsible politicians who try to point out that such programs are unsustainable and will eventually bankrupt the states or the nation.”
Cuccinelli even criticizes those within his own party, calling out George W. Bush for his support of Medicare Part D. “It was the largest entitlement program program in forty years, and it was created under Republican president George W. Bush and passed by a Republican-controlled House and Republican-controlled Senate in 2003,” he writes. “While there may have been some good intentions involved, this was George W. Bush using taxpayer dollars to buy seniors’ votes for his 2004 reelection campaign, pure and simple. And the Republicans in Congress generall y went right along with it.”
Romney’s now infamous comments about the 47% are widely seen as one of the major factors contributing to his loss. A poll taken about a month before election day found a majority of Americans had a negative reaction to the comments.
Texas GOP Senator Ted Cruz pointed to the 47% line as major reason that Romney lost the Latino vote by such a wide margin.
“You want to know why Barack Obama won 71% of the Hispanic vote? Tone on immigration contributed, but I think far more important was ’47%,’” Cruz said at an event a few weeks after the election, although polling shows that Romney’s numbers with Latino voters didn’t change drastically after the comments.
This new book includes the latest in a series of controversial statements from Cuccinnelli since announcing his campaign for governor. Earlier this month he said that catholics should be willing to be arrested in order to protest the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act, even comparing that issue to the civil rights protests of Martin Luther King.
Recent polling shows Cuccinelli is statistically tied with his likely Democratic rival in the 2013 Governor’s race, Terry McAuliffe. Many speculate that Republican Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling may enter the race as an Independent.

Idaho lawmaker: Obamacare is like ‘Jews boarding the trains to concentration camps’


By David Edwards/Raw Story
A Republican lawmaker in Idaho is defending her comparison of President Barack Obama’s health care reform law to the Holocaust because private insurance companies were like “the Jews boarding the trains to concentration camps” and that the federal governor would eventually “pull the trigger” to destroy them.
In an email sent to supporters and messages posted on Twitter last week, state Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll warned that a health care exchange proposed by Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter (R) was “replacing capitalism with socialism.”
“The insurance companies are creating their own tombs,” Nuxoll wrote in the letter obtained by The Spokesman-Review. “Much like the Jews boarding the trains to concentration camps, private insurers are used by the feds to put the system in place because the federal government has no way to set up the exchange.”

“Several years from now, the federal government will want nothing to do with private insurance companies, ” she warned. “The feds will have a national system of health insurance and they will pull the trigger on the insurance companies.”
On Wednesday, Nuxoll told The Spokesman-Review that she just wanted “people to hear the truth and to be aware that what is being presented before us is a socialistic program… There is no disrespect for any group or people with the analogy.”
“I felt badly for the Jews – it wasn’t just Jews, but Jews, and Christians, and Catholics, and priests,” she said to explain her comparison. “My thing was they didn’t know what was going on. The insurance companies are not realizing what’s going to end up in their demise.”
The Idaho Senate Commerce and Human Resources Committee on Tuesday unanimously approved legislation to create the health insurance exchange.
After Obama was re-elected on last year, Nuxoll suggested in a tweet that Republicans should stage an electoral college boycott to deny him a second term.
Constitutional scholar David Adler told the Idaho Statesmen that the idea that Obama could technically be denied re-election if the 17 states that voted for Mitt Romney boycotted the electoral college was a “really a strange and bizarre fantasy.”
Adler said that the whole idea was bogus because it was “a radical, revolutionary proposal that has no basis in federal law or the architecture of the Constitution.”

Glenn Beck talks Ted Nugent down: Waco cultists were ‘really nice guys’


By Stephen C. Webster/Raw Story
In an interview aired Wednesday, former Fox News conspiracy host Glenn Beck seemed to talk National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent down from staging some kind of armed revolt against the government, urging that the Waco cultists were “really nice guys,” but “you want your day in court.”
Nugent called into Beck’s radio show Wednesday for a chance at clearing the record over his comments at a recent gun show appearance,  when he was caught on camera saying that he and some “buddies” were ready for another fight along the lines of the revolutionary-era Battle of Concord, famous for the “shot heard ’round the world” that kicked off the war for independence.
The Detroit native and longtime southern rocker said he recently spent time with CNN reporter Deb Feyerick, who he said mostly just asked him “gushy and positive” questions. But he was bothered when she touched on “questions about an armed revolution building steam across the interland.”
“I squinted at her and said, I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Nugent insisted. “I know there might be someone talking about that, but I hang out with some pretty wild eyed guys and I’ve never heard a hint of any reference to an armed revolution. We’re going to have a revolution at the voting booth.”
He instead blamed New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) for causing “some people” to become “very frustrated and angry,”leading them to say “something that hinted at” armed revolt. But he insisted, again, “we’re going to vote the bad guys out of office as soon as possible.” He also insisted that every time Feyerick touched on that subject, “I made sure I mentioned that if you argue with me, you would be taking the side of the devil.”
The wide-ranging conversation then turned to the media and how awful they are, and suddenly Beck announces that he has “officially given up” on the GOP. “I don’t… I don’t care for them at all anymore,” he said. “They won’t get a dime. I will campaign against people giving them any money.”
“Isn’t that a shame, Glenn?” Nugent reacted. “I agree,  but it’s a shame. We have to work to fix that. Yeah.”
Beck said that he does not think the party is “fixable,” and instead proposed to Nugent that they form their own separatist group, based upon “principles” instead of just the desire to win. Nugent was on board immediately. “I concur,” he said. “I concur the time has never been more obvious than right now.”
Then the conversation shifted into a more sinister tone, with Beck seeming to discourage the possibility of any future incidents like the standoff at Ruby Ridge in 1992 that left a white separatist family dead — giving impetus to Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, who cited the massacre as part of his motivation for killing 168 people.
“People have to know, don’t stand off,” Beck said. “Do not do that. You call this number and somebody in an attorney firm will come and represent you because you want your day in court. You want your day in court.”
“I think you’re absolutely correct,” Nugent said. “And that positive sense, that common sense is alive and well in hundreds of sheriffs and sheriff departments in this country that are standing up to this government and the federal government with their constitutional violating Second Amendment infringement. So, I think there is a growing pulse. But you’re right about that. If you attempt to stand up to what’s right, you will be shot and killed.”
Beck closed the interview by blaming the Clinton administration for the massacre in Waco as well, insisting that the local sheriff thought the  Branch Davidian cultists, who stockpiled hundreds of guns and hundreds of thousands of rounds of ammunition, were actually just a bunch of “really nice guys.”
“If the federal government would have gone to the sheriff, they sheriff probably could have gotten that all done without killing all of the families,” he said.
“I believe that,” Nugent replied.
This video is from “The Blaze TV,” aired Wednesday, January 30, 2013.


Conservative Former SNL Star Victoria Jackson Deletes ‘White History Month’ Article


by Tommy Christopher/Mediaite 
Former Saturday Night Live star and current conservative celebrity Victoria Jackson has made a second career as a mascot for deranged opposition to President Barack Obama thatincludes calls for secession, statistical analyses of the white baby population, and comparing America to The Big Bopper on Election Night, but it looks like restraint has finally gotten the better of her. Wonkette’s Rebecca Schoenkopf called Jackson out earlier today for posting an article suggesting that the persecuted, underrepresented White Christian Male needs some scale-balancing, asking “Why is there a Black History Month but not a White History Month?”
Jackson also featured a video that lists “Things To Thank White People For,” which curiously did not include Baywatch (but does include “recorded music”  without noting that black people invented all of the good recorded music)  and listed some white accomplishments, on her own, for the ungrateful non-whites who control everything:
Just for the record, white men invented rockets, space travel,  airplanes, the automobile, the English language, the U.S.A., most medical advances, electricity, television, telescope, microscope, Ivy League Universities, the computer,  the Internet, and on and on. I think white men should be praised and respected. White Christian Conservative Men especially, should be loved and adored. They were the backbone and originators of the greatest nation on earth. We need more of them now.
I’m pretty sure that rockets were invented by Chinese people, and Ivy League Universities aren’t really inventions, and the first man to give his life for this country was black, and since black people did help out with that whole syphilis thing, maybe medical advances aren’t a fair example, but point taken. White people rule. That is the point, isn’t it?
She went on to invoke the timeless mystery that has befuddled loud drunk guys at bars, named Imnotta Racistbut, <"href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_History_Month">since 1976:
I wrote a uke(lele) song called “White Men Are Good” and sang it at a comedy club about 4 years ago. I could feel the audience tense up. Why? Why is there a Black History Month but not a White History Month? Now, that the white race is becoming a minority in America, perhaps we need to make…say, January, White History Month.
Since Wonkette’s piece went up, however, Jackson has apparently deleted the article. Some might see this deletion as an indication of consciousness of guilt, but I have another theory. From theGoogle cache of Victoria Jackson’s White History Month:
Find a white, middle-aged Christian man today and hug him. And then, encourage him and your white Christian sons to stand up, be leaders again, and save our country from the God-hating communists like Alec Baldwin and Obama.
I think Jackson must have gotten a flood of emails complaints from white, middle-aged Christian men asking her to stop her minions from hugging them all day. That’s gotta get old real fast, and there are only a few hours of enjoyment left in White History Month.

Hannity Explodes After Being Confronted By ThinkProgress About Previous Offer To Be Waterboarded For Charity


By Scott Keyes/Think Progress
Fox News host Sean Hannity is so adamant that waterboarding is not torture that he once offered to be waterboarded at a charity event and donate the proceeds to soldiers’ families. Four years later, a yet-to-be-waterboarded Hannity did not take kindly to being called out about it on his own radio show.
On April 22, 2009, Charles Grodin appearedon Hannity’s Fox News show and asked Hannity, if he doesn’t believe waterboarding is torture, would he agree to be waterboarded. “Sure,” Hannity said. “I’ll do it for charity. I’ll let you do it. I’ll do it for the troops’ families.” But four years later, Hannity has yet to follow through on his offer.
When ThinkProgress brought up the matter at the beginning of an appearance on his radio show on Wednesday, Hannity’s displeasure was palpable. “I’m not getting into your five-year-old issue,” Hannity grumbled. We pressed on when he was planning to hold the event, the Fox host lost it. “Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me, excuse me. I get to ask the questions on the program,” Hannity said:
SCOTT KEYES: Before we get started I wanted to say one quick thing. Back in April 2009, you’d made a very generous offer. To prove that it’s not torture, you agreed  on your television show to be waterboarded for charity and to donate the proceeds to the troops’ families.
HANNITY: I said Charles Grodin could do it.
KEYES: Now I know you’re an honorable guy Sean, when are you planning to hold the event?
HANNITY: You’re obviously taping this. I’m not getting into your five-year-old issue. Here I am bringing you on the program and give you an opportunity to give your pretty radical left-wing point of view, that’s kind of the way you treat me. But that’s all right.
KEYES: Sean, I’m just curious because you don’t think this is torture.
HANNITY: Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me, excuse me. I get to ask the questions on the program.
Listen to it:
Hannity gave no indication that he was planning to follow through on his promise to be waterboarded for charity.
Immediately following the show, Hannity was so incensed that he personally called ThinkProgress to complain. He accused ThinkProgress of being “fixated” on the matter, baffled that we brought up an issue that he said hasn’t been news for years. After we respectfully disagreed and explained that it was disingenuous for him to offer to be waterboarded in order to prove that it’s not torture, only not to follow through on the offer, Hannity sighed, “what you’re doing here is really stupid.” He insisted, though, that it wasn’t a sensitive subject.
Waterboarding is still an extremely important, and undercovered, story today. It still exists, it’s still torture, and the only American who’s been sentenced to prison over the matter is a former CIA agent and vocal torture opponent who spoke out about the practice. Waterboarding is now part of the mainstream with the help of defenders like Hannity who insist that it’s not actually torture.
NewsHounds and Reddit have kept a running tally of how long it’s been since Hannity first offered to be waterboarded for charity. January 30 marked 1,379 days since Hannity reneged the promise.

Hagel Takes On McCain: Calls Iraq War ‘Most Fundamentally Bad, Dangerous Decision Since Vietnam’

I'm still mad that I lost to that tall nergo Kenyan socialist.
By Hayes Brown/Think Progress

The confirmation hearing of former Sen. Chuck Hagel to take on the role of Secretary of Defense — already sure to be testy — heated up with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) pointedly asking Hagel to justify his stance on the Iraq War.
McCain, an ardent supporter of the Iraq War from the start, began his questioning of Hagel by asking about the latter’s past statements regarding the so-called “surge” of forces into Iraq in 2007. Hagel, by then a vocal critic of the war, came out strongly against adding additional troops to the conflict soon after the policy’s announcement — just like President Obama, Vice President Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had — calling it “the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam.”
Hagel didn’t back away from previous statements, saying “Senator, I stand by them, because I made them.” When McCain continued to push Hagel, refusing to allow him to offer a nuanced response to the question of the surge, the Nebraska Republican shot back, noting that the surge tactic took place in the wider context of the most “dangerous decision since Vietnam”:
MCCAIN: Are you going to answer the question? Were you right or wrong? That’s a straightforward question. Answer whether you are right or wrong and then you are free to elaborate.
HAGEL: I’m not going to give you a yes or no answer.
MCCAIN: Let the record show he refuses to answer the question. Please go ahead.
[...]
HAGEL: I’m not going to give you a yes or no. It’s far more complicated than that. I will defer that judgment to history. As to the comment I made about the most dangerous foreign policy decision since Vietnam, that was about not just the surge, but the overall war of choice going into Iraq. That particular decision made on the surge, but more to the point, our war in Iraq, I think was the most fundamentally bad, dangerous decision since Vietnam.
Watch their exchange here:
“Aside from the cost that occurred to blood and treasure, what that did to take our focus off of Afghanistan, which in fact was the original and real focus of the national threat to this country. Iraq was not. I always tried to frame all of the different issues before I made a decision on anything,” Hagel continued. Hagel’s response is a continuation of his previous assertions that the war in Iraq is one of the “great blunders” of American history.
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) picked up on Hagel’s critique in his questioning, referring to Iraq as a war that never should have taken place. “I always ask the question is this going to be worth the sacrifice, because there will be sacrifice,” Hagel said in response. “In the surge in Iraq, we lost almost 1200 dead Americans and thousands of wounded. Was it required? Was it necessary?” Over four thousand Americans total lost their lives during the Iraq War.

Hagel is also in the right, of course, that the surge can’t be viewed as the only cause for a reduction of violence in Iraq. CAP Senior Fellow Larry Korb and Policy Analyst Matt Duss today published an op-ed in Politico making clear that Hagel’s stance on Iraq was essentially correct:
While historians will of course continue to debate the actual impact that the addition of 20,000 U.S. troops made on the war’s outcome, a rough consensus has developed that recognizes that while the addition of troops did make some positive impact, it did so mainly by facilitating events that were already underway, such as the revolt by Sunnis in Anbar province against al-Qaeda and the decision by Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr to stand down his Mahdi Army militia.
The argument between McCain and Hagel marks the latest low point in a relationship between two previously close friends. In 2000, during his first run at the presidency, McCain cited Hagelas a potential Secretary of Defense should he take the White House.

Virginia Lawmakers Approve Bill Forcing Universities To Fund Student Groups That Discriminate


By Zack Ford/Think Progress
The Virginia House of Delegates voted 80-19 today to approve HB1617, a bill that would invite any religious or political university student group to discriminate as they please and still require the campus to providing them funding and access to campus facilities. This would make LGBT students particularly vulnerable to discrimination because universities’ protections for sexual orientation are not enforceable under Virginia law. Under this bill, though, even a KKK chapter could hypothetically form, use campus resources, and openly discriminate against non-white and non-Christian students on campus.
Here’s the text of the bill:
To the extent allowed by state and federal law:
1. A religious or political student organization may determine that ordering the organization’s internal affairs, selecting the organization’s leaders and members, defining the organization’s doctrines, and resolving the organization’s disputes are in furtherance of the organization’s religious or political mission and that only persons committed to that mission should conduct such activities; and
2. No public institution of higher education that has granted recognition of and access to any student organization or group shall discriminate against any such student organization or group that exercises its rights pursuant to subdivision 1.
On most college campuses, student organizations must maintain a constitution that conforms to the university’s procedures, including its nondiscrimination policies. For example, James Madison University requires that all organizations obey the “policies, rules, regulations, and standards of the university,” such as its nondiscrimination policy, which includes sexual orientation. The College of William & Mary offers similar protections and requires student groups be open to all students.
Such policies are key because student organizations receive funding and use campus resources (like meeting spaces) that are funded by fees that all students pay; thus, all students deserve equal access to those campus clubs. Nondiscrimination policies have become a source of contention for conservative Christian student groups, like at Tennessee’s Vanderbilt Universityand New York’s University of Buffalo, who wish to exclude gay students from membership. In the 2010 case Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, the U.S. Supreme Court narrowly answeredthis question in favor of nondiscrimination policies, ruling that “all-comers” policies are viewpoint neutral, and thus are no more unfair to Christian groups than any other student groups.
Conservatives have argued, however that nondiscrimination policies allow for “hostile takeovers“ — in which students with opposing views infiltrate and assume power in the organization — but there’s no evidence to suggest that this is plausible, let alone that it ever happened. Members of an organization are still allowed to vote for their group’s leaders, even with discriminatory intent, if all students remain eligible. Any student group that can’t persist on its own merits probably doesn’t warrant use of student fees in the first place.
All 19 votes against the bill were cast by Democrats. It now advances to the Senate for committee consideration.

O'Reilly Argues With Both Colin Powell And The Facts On Voter Suppression And Voter Fraud


SERGIO MUNOZ/Media Matters for America

In an interview with former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly ignored key legal problems for photo voter ID laws under the Voting Rights Act and dismissed concerns of voter suppression, claiming in-person voter fraud was a problem.
On the January 29 edition of the O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly hosted Powell to discuss "racial politics," voter suppression, and voter fraud, but failed to provide important context, including any mention of a crucial Voting Rights Act case set to be argued before the Supreme Court on February 27. In part, this case will turn on the historic civil rights law's efficacy at preventing the type of race-based voter suppression Powell described.
The problem that recent photo voter ID laws purport to address - voter fraud committed in person - is "virtually non-existent." Nevertheless, in the past two years, state Republican legislators and right-wing allies have aggressively pushed such laws that add another identification requirement for voting, even though voter identification is already required across the country. Under the Voting Rights Act, federal courts have recently confirmed that new voter ID laws in jurisdictions with a history of voter suppression have a prohibited effect on African-American and Hispanic voters.
O'Reilly refused to acknowledge any of these facts in his interview with Powell, even as Powell tried to explain them to him:
POWELL: One more point.
O'REILLY: All right. Go ahead, go ahead.
POWELL: You can't have policies that try to make it harder for minorities to vote. I think one of the most terrible things that happened in the past election season is when we had a number of states that were going out of their way, claiming there was outright fraud, when there really wasn't any fraud to be of concern to us.
But we were doing things to -- making it more difficult for those people to vote.
O'REILLY: I want to get very micro on this.
POWELL: Well, but you're --
O'REILLY: Voter ID -- wait, wait, wait.
POWELL: Go ahead.
O'REILLY: The voter ID, you object to showing an identification card when you vote?
POWELL: No. Of course not.
O'REILLY: Well, that's all the Republican Party wants. That's all they wanted is the voter ID.
POWELL: I object to putting in place additional levels of voter ID that --
O'REILLY: One, show one.
POWELL: -- disenfranchise, disenfranchise those of our fellow citizens. I want to see a Republican Party that, rather than trying to make it more difficult to vote and restricting the number of days and hours you can vote, a Republican Party that says we want everybody to vote and we're going to give you a reason to vote for us.
O'REILLY: All right. But I don't --I don't know if asking for an ID is trying to restrict the vote -- I mean, I'm sorry. You should be able to prove who you are before you cast a ballot.
POWELL: No, you should be able to prove who you are when you register to vote. And when you make the proper registration and identify yourself, you shouldn't have to go to some higher level which is going to restrict some.
O'REILLY: But surely you know how fraud is committed. I mean Boston, in Chicago, you register and then you show up and it's not you.
POWELL: I have not seen any study that says fraud is a problem of such significance that these kinds of procedures were in place. And I'm glad to see that Governor Scott in Florida has recently said he is turning this back over to his -- his local communities to handle.
O'REILLY: All right. I just think showing an ID to vote is the bare minimum.
O'Reilly's effort to discuss the topic in "micro" contained multiple inaccuracies and completely ignored the recent and relevant challenge to the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder. For example, O'Reilly seems to be under the misimpression that "all the Republican party" wanted this past election cycle was "an identification card when you vote." Powell tried to correct him by noting the new voter ID laws were actually "additional levels" of already-required documentation. As detailed by the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, it was precisely these redundant and unnecessary "additional levels" of identification which made this initiative pushed by state Republicans so troubling:
Currently, every state in America requires voters to prove their identities before receiving a ballot; different states require different levels of proof.  Legislators in states across the country are now promoting bills that would require voters to meet more stringent documentation requirements before voting--including presenting photo identification at the polls on Election Day in order to cast a ballot. While the details of the proposals vary, these bills all would deny the right to vote to some or all citizens who are unable to produce a photo ID.  Studies show that as many as 11 percent of United States citizens--mostly older, low-income, and minority citizens--do not have government-issued photo IDs.
As of last year, ten states have new "unprecedented" voter ID laws. In-person voter fraud of the type O'Reilly describes has been repeatedly shown to be a fabricated problem to justify the "solution" of government-issued photo voter IDs mandated under the recent legislation. State Republicans are beginning to admit these types of laws are purely a prohibited race-based voter suppression tactic, as Powell argued during his O'Reilly Factor appearance. O'Reilly did not mention these documented admissions.
O'Reilly also notably left out the fact that federal review has documented this phenomenon through the "pre-clearance" process under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which forbids jurisdictions with a history of impermissible racial discrimination - such as states in the South - from enacting changes in election practices without approval. As election law expert Professor Rick Hasen recently explained, these are the examples of illegal voter suppression that O'Reilly was searching for:
Like many other states with Republican majority legislatures acting over the last few years, South Carolina adopted a tough photo identification law before the 2012 election. The state's Republican legislature likely acted out of the belief that such laws would marginally depress Democratic turnout and help Republicans at the polls. Controversy over voter ID laws also motivates the Republican base to turn out to vote. (What voter ID laws don't do is prevent a lot of real voter fraud, though that's the rationale their supporters cite.)
The U.S. Department of Justice blocked South Carolina's voter ID requirement under Section 5. The process sounds technical, but it's important. Nine full states and parts of other states with a history of racial discrimination in voting must get approval from either the Department of Justice or a three-judge court in Washington, D.C. before making any changes in their voting practices and procedures--from changes as small as moving a polling location to as large as enacting a new redistricting plan. 
[...]
Voter ID laws have also passed outside the South in recent years, in states such as Indiana and Kansas. Because Section 5 doesn't apply there, no federal law prevents the voter ID requirements from going into effect, though some state courts have blocked them for other reasons. By contrast, because of Section 5, South Carolina's law automatically went on hold until it was softened. Texas, meanwhile, lost a bid to impose an even stricter voter ID requirement enacted in 2011.
Because GOP legislation of this sort is not going away, other media outlets are reporting on the clear and important link behind recent voter ID laws and the Voting Rights Act's prohibition of certain voter suppression that discriminates on the basis of race. In the coming weeks before the Supreme Court hears oral arguments on the "pre-clearance" requirements of the Voting Rights Act, hopefully O'Reilly will finish the conversation he started with Powell and include this crucial context.