Susan Collins

Eagle Forum Rallies Anti-Immigrant Activists; Caller Suggests Shooting Senator

With immigration reform moving toward a vote in the Senate, anti-immigrant forces are ratcheting up their rhetoric.  On Wednesday night, Eagle Forum hosted an “emergency” phone briefing intended to spur grassroots lobbying by their activists.  It featured dire warnings about the Senate bill spelling doom for America, attacks on pro-reform Sen. Marco Rubio, and a joking suggestion that activists planning a visit to Sen. Susan Collins’ office “shoot her.”

Joining Eagle Forum’s Colleen Holcomb were Stephen Miller (standing in for his boss Sen. Jeff Sessions), Rosemary Jenks from anti-immigration Numbers USA, right-wing pundit Betsy McCaughey, and activist leaders from around the country. Also joining the call was the Heritage Foundation’s Robert Rector, whose much-maligned “study” of the costs of immigration reform has gained attention mostly for the views of its co-author, since forced to leave Heritage, that immigration policy should reflect his belief that Hispanics have lower IQs than the “white native” population of the U.S.

One notable feature of the call was anger at Sen. Marco Rubio, who not long ago was the darling of the Tea Party movement, but who is now vilified for his support of immigration reform.  Speakers on the Eagle Forum call expressed contempt for Rubio, saying he has been lying about the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” bill. 

Rosemary Jenks from Numbers USA called the current Senate bill “devastating for America” and worse than the immigration bill that was defeated in 2007.  “If this amnesty passes,” she warned, “that’s it for America.”  Jenks insisted there is no way to fix the bill. “There is no series of amendments that can make this bill palatable to the American people,” she said. “Kill it dead, now, because it is not savable.”  Jenks said it is important to keep the bill from passing in the Senate, because if it passes, and the House passes any kind of immigration legislation, the bills would go to conference where she said it would leave our future in the hands of President Obama, Harry Reid, and John Boehner.

Betsy McCaughey, a right-wing think-tanker and former Lt. Governor of New York, urged activists to point out sections of the bill that she said people will find “repulsive,” including provisions that she said would put “left-wing community organizations” in charge of assisting people applying for legal status. She said Rubio has not read the bill he is promoting.

Rector echoed that charge, saying Rubio “has no knowledge whatsoever” of what is in the bill.  Rector defended his calculation that the immigration reform bill would cost America $6 trillion over the next 50 years and accused the bill’s supporters of deceiving the American public about its costs.

Callers were urged to rely on resources from Numbers USA, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, and the Center for Immigration Studies, a trio of organizations that are, in the words of the Southern Poverty Law Center, “fruits of the same poisonous tree.”  According to the SPLC,  

“Together, FAIR, CIS, and Numbers USA form the core of the nativist lobby in America. In 2007, they were key players in derailing bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform that had been expected by many observers to pass. Today, these organizations are frequently treated as if they were legitimate, mainstream commentators on immigration. But the truth is that they were all conceived and birthed by a man who sees America under threat by non-white immigrants. And they have never strayed from their roots.”

The remarks about Sen. Collins came in response to a question from an activist looking for suggestions for an upcoming meeting with her district office.  “Yeah, shoot her,” came the response from a participant on the call.  Awkward laughter followed, along with a speaker’s suggestion that they “shoot her with data.”

FRC To "Endorse and Fund" Primary Challenges to Any Senator That Supports DADT Repeal

The other day we noted that members of the Freedom Federation had sent another letter to members of the Senate urging them to delay any vote on repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell until next year (when Republicans would have enough votes to kill any such effort).

Today, The Daily Caller printed a memo written by Freedom Federation founder Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel that was distributed to his Religious Right allies laying out the ten senators they intended to target: 

Senators need to know that they will be held accountable for how they vote on this issue.

Within the next 48 hours be sure to communicate with your constituencies that the following ten Senators in the following states must be contacted, urging them to vote against overturning DADT:

Ben Nelson – Nebraska

Jon Tester – Montana

Kent Conrad – North Dakota

Joe Manchin – West Virginia

Jim Webb – Virginia

Claire McCaskill – Missouri

Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe – Maine

Scott Brown – Massachusetts

Lisa Murkowski – Alaska

These ten Senators need to get the clear message that each of them will have to choose which set of supporters they want in 2012 when they run for reelection. We need to make the choice very clear.

Today, the Family Research Council took it a step further and officially announced that they will "endorse and fund conservative primary challengers to any U.S. Senator who votes to overturn 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell' during the lame-duck session":

FRC Action PAC President Connie Mackey made the following comments:

“We are pledging today to endorse, and help fund, conservative primary challengers to any U.S. Senator who votes during the lame-duck session to overturn ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ FRC Action PAC will work to remove any U.S. Senator who would place liberal special interests ahead of the priorities of the American people.

“The U.S. Senate has twice rejected the overturn of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ Despite this, Majority Leader Harry Reid continues with his obsession while failing to address the essential responsibilities of the federal government. As three of the four service chiefs have made clear, the men and women of the Armed Forces who are engaged in fighting two wars should not be distracted by Congress using them to advance a liberal social agenda. Using the Senate’s time in the lame-duck session to pay back his liberal political base is simply absurd and demonstrates once again Senator Reid’s misplaced priorities. Members of the Senate should refuse to become accomplices in helping Harry Reid advance his agenda over the American people’s agenda,” concluded Mackey.

What was that I was just saying yesterday about FRC completely losing it over the prospect of seeing DADT repealed?

A Taste of What's To Come on ENDA

It was just last week that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act was introduced in the Senate, so the Religious Right campaign of screaming their heads off is just getting off the ground. 

But Robert Knight of Coral Ridge Ministries gives us a nice preview of the sort of hyperbolic nonsense we can expect to see:

On Aug. 5, the GOP's Maine kleptocrats, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, joined Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley and longtime sponsor Ted Kennedy in reintroducing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which we'll call the "gay quota bill" for short. ENDA is profoundly dangerous. It turns private sin into a public right and brings the force of government against morality itself. Any such law is a violation of our unalienable rights as proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence. To put it more simply, a statute that directly contradicts God's moral law is illegitimate. Laws embody and reflect morality, or they are not laws. They are tyranny. That's why so-called same-sex "marriage" laws are absurd and treacherous. Forcing citizens to accept a counterfeit as the real thing is an act of despotism.

ENDA adds not only "sexual orientation" but "gender identity" to federal workplace anti-discrimination law. Thus, it takes an ax to the idea that sexual behavior has a natural normalcy or any relation to morality. It falsely equates a changeable condition (sexual desire) with race and ethnicity. Worse, it turns traditional values into a form of bigotry punishable under the law.

First of all, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act already has a short-hand name: ENDA.  So we don't need your suggestion that it should be called the "gay quota bill" because a) that's false and b) it's longer than the one we already have.

And secondly, it looks like efforts to pass this legislation are going to run into the same sort of Religious Right lies that plagued the hate crimes legislation, with right-wing activists claiming that it will grant "special rights" to those in the LGBT community. 

Of course, that will raise the exact same problems as their efforts to make that claim about hate crimes legislation, considering that there are already a number of federal laws on the books that outlaw employment discrimination based on things like race, religion, gender, and disability: 

    • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin;

    • the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA), which protects men and women who perform substantially equal work in the same establishment from sex-based wage discrimination;

    • the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), which protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older;

    • Title I and Title V of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), which prohibit employment discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities in the private sector, and in state and local governments;

    • Sections 501 and 505 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibit discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities who work in the federal government

So, once again the Right will have to explain why gays shouldn't receive similar protections as say, Christians. 

And once again, they'll fail to do that because they have no reason other than claims that God hates gays and therefore it should be okay to discriminate against them, leading to pieces like Knight's where the Right is reduced to bellowing that any "statute that directly contradicts God's moral law is illegitimate."

Right Wing Round-Up

  • John Nichols reports that during the debate over the economic stimulus legislation Karl Rove and key congressional Republicans -- led by Maine Senator Susan Collins -- aggressively attacked the $900 million included for preparation for a possible pandemic which, given the sudden rise of swine flu, seems awfully short-sighted.
  • Pam notes that Rick Warren continues his anti-gay ways by addressing a gathering of Episcopalians from churches that broke away from the national Episcopal Church over the acceptance of gay clergy.
  • On RH Reality Check, Debra Taylor recounts how "teaching about intolerance in my high school Ethics class in a small town in Oklahoma lead to a real life lesson for my students when I was forced to resign for insubordination" for trying to teach The Laramie Project.
  • Steve Benen tells NOM's Maggie Gallagher that she should have quit while she was behind.
  • TPM reports that the DCCC it taking on the massive task of debunking Rep. Michelle Bachmann's incessant lies via a newly unveiled website - and Bachmann is already using it in a new fundraising pitch.
  • Doug Kendall and Simon Lazarus write in The American Prospect that "The judicial-nomination wars are back ... [and] conservatives are primed for a fight over even the most moderate nominees" and the authors worry that "the White House is reluctantly entering this fray with a less-than-fully-baked game plan that could simultaneously undermine the president's chances to change the direction of the federal courts and stall his broader agenda."
  • Finally, in honor of my earlier post on my past experience with the John Birch Society, I give you this:

Sometimes You Just Have to Scratch Your Head and Wonder

I honestly had no intention of continuing to cover the ludicrous “controversy” regarding the supposedly “anti-Christian” provision in the stimulus legislation, but it keeps popping up on right-wing websites and so I feel obligated to keep futilely trying to knock it down. 

For instance, here is Jonathan Falwell writing on WorldNetDaily, who cites this provision as proof that “public religious expression is increasingly in the crosshairs of our government”:

On Thursday, I spoke with Mathew Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel and dean of the Liberty University School of Law about this issue. During our conversation, he stated in part that the so-called stimulus bill may lead to the banning of religious activity from public facilities, with public schools possibly being forced to expel after-hours Bible clubs and weekend religious services in order to access these government funds. This would have a chilling effect on religious ministries and church-planting organizations of all stripes, including new church plants being sent out from Thomas Road Baptist Church and Liberty University.

Sometimes you just have to scratch your head and wonder if our lawmakers have even a basic understanding of our nation's rich history of religious freedom.

First of all, stop listening to Mat Staver because he’s wrong.  And secondly, sometimes you just have to scratch your head and wonder if anybody on the Right has even a basic understanding of how to read legislation because, if they did, they’d know that everything they are saying is outright false.

The Family Research Council also made another mention of this provision in its most recent “Washington Update”:

Although Republicans have tried to strip some excess from the stimulus, Democrats had a small victory of their own yesterday, defeating Sen. Jim DeMint's (R-S.C.) amendment to ban religious discrimination from the bill by a 43-54 vote. Only Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) deserted the GOP to side with her liberal pals in opposing the provision.

Actually, two Republicans senators voted against it: Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins. Sometimes you just have to scratch your head and wonder if anybody on the Right has even a basic understanding of how to read a roll call vote.

Then finally, there’s Jay Sekulow, who got this whole thing started in the first place, declaring that he and the ACLJ intend to file suit immediately after President Obama signs it and proclaiming that they intend to spend years fighting it, if necessary:

"Well, not only is it disappointing, it's almost a throwback to litigation that we conducted in the 1980s that we won unanimously at the Supreme Court," he says. "And I feel like this particular legislation pokes the finger in the eye of people who take religious faith seriously.
 
Jay Sekulow (Amer. Ctr. for Law & Policy)"It's discriminatory in its application, unconstitutional as it's written, [and] unfortunately it's going to take four or five years for it to be litigated all the way through," Sekulow adds.
 
With passage of the bill with the restrictions in place, how might colleges and universities be affected? "We're going to look at filing an application for a stay of this provision, trying to get it declared unconstitutional through a restraining order," he shares.
 
Sekulow plans to file suit the day after President Obama signs the bill.

Does the ACLJ really intend to file suit and spend years in court based on nothing more than its own intentional misreading of this provision? Sometimes I just have to scratch my head and wonder if this is all a plot to drive me completely insane.

Right Wing Zombie Lies Fail in Senate

Hopefully, this will be the end of this ridiculous saga, as Sen. DeMint's absurd effort to get this provision stripped from the stimulus legislation has failed by a vote of 54-43.

With the exception of Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, every Republican voted for it ... and they were joined by Democrats Evan Bayh, Kent Conrad, Byron Dorgan, Ben Nelson and, of course, Joe Lieberman:

Throwing the Right Overboard to Save the GOP?

Yesterday, I noted that Tony Perkins was declaring Sarah Palin the "future of the [Republican] Party."  You know who will probably not become the future of the Republican Party?  Christine Todd Whitman, at least if the Religious Right has anything to say about it, because she says that Palin and people like Perkins are exactly what is causing the GOP to lose:

Following the conventional wisdom of the past two presidential elections, McCain tried mightily to assuage the Republican Party's social-fundamentalist wing. His selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, whose social views are entirely aligned with that wing, as his running mate was clearly meant to demonstrate his commitment to that bloc. Yet while his choice did comfort those voters, it made many others uncomfortable.

Palin has many attractive qualities as a candidate. Being prepared to become president at a moment's notice was not obviously among them this year. Her selection cost the ticket support among those moderate voters who saw it as a cynical sop to social fundamentalists, reinforcing the impression that they control the party, with the party's consent.

In the wake of the Democrats' landslide victory, and despite all evidence to the contrary, many in the GOP are arguing that John McCain was defeated because the social fundamentalists wouldn't support him. They seem to be suffering from a political strain of Stockholm syndrome. They are identifying with the interests of their political captors and ignoring the views of the larger electorate. This has cost the Republican Party the votes of millions of people who don't find a willingness to acquiesce to hostage-takers a positive trait in potential leaders.

Unless the Republican Party ends its self-imposed captivity to social fundamentalists, it will spend a long time in the political wilderness. On Nov. 4, the American people very clearly rejected the politics of demonization and division. It's long past time for the GOP to do the same.

You know who else probably won't become the future of the GOP? Susan Collins, Lamar Alexander, or Peter King:

As Congressional Republicans lick their political wounds and try to figure out how to bounce back in 2010 and beyond, they might want to consult with Susan Collins, Lamar Alexander and Peter T. King.

Senator Collins, Senator Alexander and Representative King were among Republicans who defied the odds in a terrible year for their colleagues. Their re-elections provide a possible road map for how the party can succeed in a challenging political environment. The answer, the three veteran politicians agreed, is not to become a more conservative, combative party focused on narrow partisan issues.

“What doesn’t work is drawing a harsh ideological line in the sand,” said Ms. Collins, of Maine, who early in the year was a top Democratic target for defeat but ended up winning 61 percent of the vote while Senator Barack Obama received 58 percent in the presidential race in her state.

“We make a mistake if we are going to make our entire appeal rural and outside the Northeast and outside the Rust Belt,” said Mr. King, of New York, who easily won re-election in a region shedding Republicans at a precipitous rate.

“We can stand around and talk about our principles, but we have to put them into actions that most people agree with,” said Mr. Alexander, of Tennessee, a self-described conservative who was able to attract African-American voters.

As much as I would love to see the GOP dump the Religious Right, I don't have much faith that it will actually happen.  In fact, the best chance the party had to do so was with John McCain, but instead of standing by his infamous "agents of intolerance" remark, the "maverick" utterly caved and capitulated to the Right.

Until the GOP can nominate a presidential candidate who openly eschews the Religious Right and still wins the election or the Right gets a dream nominee, someone like Rick Santorum or Sarah Palin, who makes the right-wing agenda the centerpiece of their campaign and then gets utterly destroyed at the polls, the Religious Right and the Republican Party are going to be stuck with each other for the foreseeable future, whether they like it or not.

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Susan Collins Posts Archive

Peter Montgomery, Thursday 05/30/2013, 12:56pm
With immigration reform moving toward a vote in the Senate, anti-immigrant forces are ratcheting up their rhetoric.  On Wednesday night, Eagle Forum hosted an “emergency” phone briefing intended to spur grassroots lobbying by their activists.  It featured dire warnings about the Senate bill spelling doom for America, attacks on pro-reform Sen. Marco Rubio, and a joking suggestion that activists planning a visit to Sen. Susan Collins’ office “shoot her.” Joining Eagle Forum’s Colleen Holcomb were Stephen Miller (standing in for his boss Sen. Jeff... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Friday 12/17/2010, 2:22pm
The other day we noted that members of the Freedom Federation had sent another letter to members of the Senate urging them to delay any vote on repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell until next year (when Republicans would have enough votes to kill any such effort). Today, The Daily Caller printed a memo written by Freedom Federation founder Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel that was distributed to his Religious Right allies laying out the ten senators they intended to target:  Senators need to know that they will be held accountable for how they vote on this issue. Within the next 48 hours be... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 08/11/2009, 2:29pm
It was just last week that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act was introduced in the Senate, so the Religious Right campaign of screaming their heads off is just getting off the ground. But Robert Knight of Coral Ridge Ministries gives us a nice preview of the sort of hyperbolic nonsense we can expect to see:On Aug. 5, the GOP's Maine kleptocrats, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, joined Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley and longtime sponsor Ted Kennedy in reintroducing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which we'll call the "gay quota bill" for short. ENDA is profoundly... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 04/27/2009, 4:38pm
John Nichols reports that during the debate over the economic stimulus legislation Karl Rove and key congressional Republicans -- led by Maine Senator Susan Collins -- aggressively attacked the $900 million included for preparation for a possible pandemic which, given the sudden rise of swine flu, seems awfully short-sighted.Pam notes that Rick Warren continues his anti-gay ways by addressing a gathering of Episcopalians from churches that broke away from the national Episcopal Church over the acceptance of gay clergy.On RH Reality Check, Debra Taylor recounts how "teaching about... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 02/09/2009, 11:05am
I honestly had no intention of continuing to cover the ludicrous “controversy” regarding the supposedly “anti-Christian” provision in the stimulus legislation, but it keeps popping up on right-wing websites and so I feel obligated to keep futilely trying to knock it down.  For instance, here is Jonathan Falwell writing on WorldNetDaily, who cites this provision as proof that “public religious expression is increasingly in the crosshairs of our government”: On Thursday, I spoke with Mathew Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel and dean of the... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 02/05/2009, 7:12pm
Hopefully, this will be the end of this ridiculous saga, as Sen. DeMint's absurd effort to get this provision stripped from the stimulus legislation has failed by a vote of 54-43.With the exception of Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, every Republican voted for it ... and they were joined by Democrats Evan Bayh, Kent Conrad, Byron Dorgan, Ben Nelson and, of course, Joe Lieberman: MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Friday 11/14/2008, 10:36am
Yesterday, I noted that Tony Perkins was declaring Sarah Palin the "future of the [Republican] Party."  You know who will probably not become the future of the Republican Party?  Christine Todd Whitman, at least if the Religious Right has anything to say about it, because she says that Palin and people like Perkins are exactly what is causing the GOP to lose:Following the conventional wisdom of the past two presidential elections, McCain tried mightily to assuage the Republican Party's social-fundamentalist wing. His selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin,... MORE >