Snark: to annoy or irritate

"Snark" has been in English language dictionaries since at least 1906, and Lewis Carroll used the word to describe a mythological animal in his poem, The Hunting of the Snark (1874). Most recently, the word has come to characterize snappish, sarcastic, or mean-spirited comments or actions directed at those who annoy or irritate us.

At first, this blog was just going be a place to gripe, but because it's more satisfying to take action than it is to merely complain, now most of the posts/reposts suggest ways to get involved in solving problems.


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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Dump DOMA

Dump DOMA


In 2008, PFAW started a campaign to repeal the discriminatory so-called "Defense of Marriage Act." Yesterday, that campaign got a major boost. 

President Obama yesterday ordered the Department of Justice to stop defending DOMA in court on the grounds that it is unconstitutional. And following the announcement, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California said that she would introduce legislation to repeal the law. This is nothing short of huge. 

Join our campaign to Dump DOMA by telling leaders in Washington to REPEAL this discriminatory law. 

President Obama opposes DOMA and has long acknowledged its discriminatory nature, but the explicit acknowledgement that it is unconstitutional and the decision not to defend the law signals a new era for the federal government's legal treatment of same-sex couples and the LGBT community as a whole. 

Please sign the petition and then help spread the word. 

-- Michael Keegan, President

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

American Nation-Wide Rally



What's been going on in Wisconsin is electric, and it's spreading. 



In states like Ohio, Florida and Indiana, right-wing governors and legislators are taking up similar measures to the one in Wisconsin to strip workers of their fundamental collective bargaining rights, and in those states, citizens have been taking to the streets to protest. In Indiana, Democratic lawmakers have repeated a move by the Democratic state senators in Wisconsin and have left the state to stop the legislature from moving forward with the proposal. 


There are indeed rallies going on all around the country this week. (Here's the latest list we have.
In addition, this Saturday, February 26, will be a NATIONAL day of rallies to stand up for the American Dream. 
We are supporting calls for rallies in every state capitol and every major city nationwide at Noon (12:00pm) local time in each state. 


We have THREE DAYS to pull these events together. That's why PFAW and our progressive allies are calling activists across the country just like you not only to attend these events, but to help organize them. 


If you or a group you belong to can organize an even for Saturday, please let us know atrallies@pfaw.org. Also use that address to let us know if you hear or read of similar events taking place this Saturday near you. 
And please "like" the Facebook group "I Support the Call for Nationwide Rallies to Protect the American Dream." 
You can check that page for more info on the events and the issue, as well as post info that you have about events there. 


Public workers are being vilified and blamed by the Right for a fiscal crisis created by corporate special interests that have defied regulation and accountability. The public employees didn't create this mess, and they, along with their unions, are willing to make the concessions in pensions and benefits that will save states money. But stripping workers of their rights to organize and bargain collectively doesn't save money, it only weakens workers' ability to stand up for their own interests -- something that's been on the Far Right's wish list for decades. 


The Right's unconscionable demonization of public workers is intended to turn the middle class against itself ... they want division -- union vs. non-union workers, private sector vs. public sector employees -- all while powerful corporate interests keep getting richer and are asked to share none of the sacrifice. 


This Saturday, you can show your solidarity with Wisconsin and with working families in every state ... This Saturday, you can be part of a real grassroots movement to stop the Right's all-out effort to kill the American Dream. 


Thanks for all you do. 
-- Ben Betz, Online Communications Manager 
P.S. Keep spreading the word about our statement of solidarity with the workers of Wisconsin.
Sign On      Facebook big blue share button



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Monday, February 21, 2011

Thank the Wisconsin 14


A message from CREDO Action:
Amazing. Inspiring. This is what people power can do.
When Republican Governor Scott Walker attacked state workers and threatened to call out the National Guard if they protested, it sparked a popular uprising in Wisconsin. And now the extreme proposal to take collective bargaining rights away from public employees is temporarily blocked as a result of mass protests.
Tens of thousands of people — including members of CREDO Action — have been out in the streets and in the Rotunda in Madison, Wisconsin. Students and citizens are protesting in solidarity with nurses, teachers and workers.
And the people are not alone. Instead of caving to the opposition, their elected representatives are fighting with them. In fact, Democratic state senators boldly left the state in order to deny Republicans the quorum they need to pass Governor Walker's radical anti-worker, anti-union bill. As long as every Democratic state senator refuses to go to the capitol, a vote cannot be held.
Wisconsin state Senator Chris Larson, who is one of the senators in hiding, laid out the stakes in an open letter and asked for our support:
The ability to organize and get fair treatment are qualities that built our country... If this bill moves forward in Wisconsin, rights in all America we have grown to take for granted will no longer be so reliable... If this passes here, it will pass in your state... It is an unprecedented attack on workers, their communities and our tradition of working with labor to move our state forward... I am seeking your support for the fight ahead of us.
Larson, and his fellow Democratic senators, are literally working to evade capture by state police in order to prevent this radical attack on public workers. He's asked for our support.
Too often our elected representatives refuse to lead. But Wisconsin is proving that big things can happen when our elected officials work together with committed activists and fight back.
All 14 Democratic state senators are holed up outside the reach of the State Troopers who are working on orders of the Governor to forcibly return them to the capitol. If even one Democratic state senator is returned to the capitol, Republicans will be able to pass Gov. Walker's bill. Not only that, but Republicans are organizing recall efforts to throw them out of office. The Wisconsin 14 need to hear encouragement from progressives nationwide. Let's show them resounding support for their actions.
Our teachers, nurses and other public workers wouldn't have the chance to fight for their rights without the bravery of these Wisconsin state senators. I'm proud to have grown up in Wisconsin. I received an excellent education from its public schools and was raised in a working-class community that valued the contributions of every citizen. Wisconsin would not be the great state it is without the work of thousands of people who have dedicated their lives to public service.
Thank you for taking action in solidarity with the uprising in Wisconsin.
Mark Anthony Dingbaum, Campaign Manager CREDO Action from Working Assets
P.S.: SEIU has a list of solidarity actions planned for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in 21 states. For a list of actions compiled by SEIU and to RSVP, click here.

P.P.S.: Special thanks to the worker who took our order Saturday afternoon at Ian's Pizza on State Street in Madison, Wisconsin. When we asked if he could deliver pizzas to the protesters on behalf of CREDO Action members, he replied, "Hell, yeah!"

Friday, February 18, 2011

Republican War on Women



The Pence Amendment, barring all federal funding to Planned Parenthood has just passed the House by a vote of 240 to 185. Now, it goes to the Senate.
The new Republican leadership has no concern for women's health care and are willing to score political points with their base at the expense of women. Please contact your Senator immediately and all of next week.
Please reply to the e-mails of Planned Parenthood, of NARAL, of NOW, and of every other group you hear from. Collectively, we are determined to get tens of thousands of e-mails into the Senate by the end of next week. This is it!
Basic healthcare for millions of women is dependent on Planned Parenthood services. If the Pence amendment passes in the final Continuing Resolution, millions of women will lose access to Planned Parenthood contraceptive and health care services, including STD/HIV testing and treatment, breast exams, and preventive cancer screenings. We cannot let the Republican leadership get away with this.
This amendment would ban any payments to Planned Parenthood for any reason. Even payments that are akin to insurance reimbursements will be prohibited, including, for example, reimbursement to Planned Parenthood for services provided through Medicaid for low-income women's health care. Ultimately this amendment prevents women from going to their chosen health care provider.
If the feminists of this country cannot stop this outrage, who can? But they must hear from you now.
The Pence amendment is only one of the assaults on women and children in the Republican Continuing Resolution, which also includes cuts to teen pregnancy prevention programs, cuts to Head Start and child care programs, complete elimination of Title X family planning programs serving low-income women, massive cuts in nutrition aid for children under 5 years and pregnant women, cuts to prenatal care programs, and cuts to assistance for the elderly poor, who are predominantly women.
For women's lives,
Ellie Smeal Signature
Eleanor Smeal
President
Feminist Majority
1600 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 801, Arlington, VA 22209 | 703.522.2214 | femmaj@feminist.org

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Boehner's Wrong Answer


A message from Democracy for America:
Talking Points Memo reports that at a press conference Tuesday  morning, Speaker John Boehner was asked a rather obvious question based on this point:
If House Republicans succeed in cutting tens of billions of dollars in discretionary spending over the next six months, some of the most immediate victims will be federal employees, many of whose jobs will be slashed as their agencies pare back.
You know what his answer was?
"So be it."
Yup, that's right. If the Republican budget cuts cost Americans their jobs, the Republican response is "so be it."

It's time for progressives to offer a real alternative. America needs to know what we stand for, what makes Democrats different from Republicans, and our vision for moving America forward.

Join me in calling on Democrats to fight for a progressive budget that has no cuts to vital programs, invests in jobs, and makes the rich and corporations pay their fair share. 

ADD YOUR NAME NOW 

The budget fight is just beginning and it's going to be a big one. Republicans are claiming they'll shut the government down if they don't get their way. They're willing to cost even more Americans their jobs -- just so Republicans can make a political point in an attempt to hold Obama hostage.

What Republicans don't understand is if Democrats stand together, we'll win this fight.

The majority of America is on our side.
1) NO CUTS TO VITAL PROGRAMS
Americans don't want cuts to programs like Social Security, Medicare, and others that keep seniors out of poverty and helps the struggling middle class.

Republicans are even going after the WIC program which provides supplemental food, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk. Are they serious? I guess, if more babies die in America because of lack of food, John Boehner's response will be "So be it." 
2) INVEST IN JOBS
Americans want strategic investments in jobs and job creation because and getting more people back to work is actually the best way to reduce the deficit. The President said it best when he unveiled his suggested investments in job creation earlier this week:

"We also have a responsibility to invest in those things that are absolutely critical to preparing our people and our Nation for the economic competition of our time. We do this by investing in and reforming education and job training so that all Americans have the skills necessary to compete in the global economy. We do this by encouraging American innovation and investing in research and development -- especially in the job-creating industries of tomorrow such as clean energy. We do this by rebuilding America's infrastructure so that U.S. companies can ship their products and ideas from every corner in America to anywhere in the world."
3) EVERYONE PAYS THEIR FAIR SHARE
Middle class Americans and the poor are sick of carrying all the weight when Washington talks about "shared sacrifice." It's time to make sure that every American pays their fair share and that means repealing the tax cuts for the rich and ending big business subsidies to industries already making millions in net profits.

We must fight to end government subsidies to companies who like Exxon/Mobil have record breaking profits while paying next to nothing in corporate taxes.

ADD YOUR NAME TODAY 

This will be a fight and we won't get everything we want -- but we absolutely must fight. Because win or lose, Americans must see Democrats fighting for them in Washington.

It's time to stand up and expose Republicans for caring more about defeating Obama than creating jobs. And if exposing Republicans for who they are costs Speaker John Boehner his job, then so be it.

Thank you for everything you do,

-Charles Chamberlain, Political Director
Democracy for America

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Defend Planned Parenthood Today


IDAHO RESIDENTS: Representative Mike Simpson's telephone number is listed below.


A message from MoveOn.org:
The House of Representatives could vote TODAY to strip all federal funding from Planned Parenthood health centers.1  
If this happens, the consequences will be devastating. Planned Parenthood serves 5 million people annually—in fact, one in five American women will visit Planned Parenthood in her lifetime. And six in 10 patients who receive care at a women's health center like Planned Parenthood consider it their primary source of health care.2 
This isn't funding for abortions—it's to give women access to basic health care. Funding for cancer screenings, HIV testing, birth control, and more is in danger of being cut.3 
Every member of Congress needs to hear from voters who support Planned Parenthood right away—can you call Rep. Simpson today? Tell him to vote "no" on the amendment to strip Planned Parenthood's funding. 
Idaho residents, here's the number to call:
Representative Mike Simpson
Phone: 202-225-5531
Progressives in Congress are fighting back. Representative Barbara Lee, among a group of Democrats leading the charge against Republican efforts to cut family planning funding, said "This is a war on women. They're trying to inject their politics and their religion into local family planning."4
But facing a concerted right-wing attack, Planned Parenthood is in real danger—and we need to speak out, now. Thanks for all you do.
–Kat, Eli, Carrie, Stephen, and the rest of the team
Sources:
1. "Dems vow Planned Parenthood fight," Politico, February 15, 2011
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0211/49556.html
2. "Who We Are," Planned Parenthood website, accessed February 15, 2011
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=205967&id=26130-18623853-O3yiArx&t=5
"Next Steps for America's Family Planning Program," The Guttmacher Institute, 2009
http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/NextSteps.pdf (PDF)
3. "Planned Parenthood Action Center," Planned Parenthood website, access February 15, 2011
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=206092&id=26130-18623853-O3yiArx&t=6
4. "Dems vow Planned Parenthood fight," Politico, February 15, 2011
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0211/49556.html
Want to support our work? We're entirely funded by our 5 million members—no corporate contributions, no big checks from CEOs. And our tiny staff ensures that small contributions go a long way. Chip in here.

PAID FOR BY MOVEON.ORG POLITICAL ACTION, http://pol.moveon.org/. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Judicial Nominee Log-Jam


Obstruction Ahead sign
A message from PFAW: 
Yesterday, the Senate struck an agreement to confirm three of the president's judicial nominees. A good start, but Americans are in desperate need of more, and speedy, action by the Senate to perform one if its simplest and most essential tasks: ensuring the fairness and basic functionality of the federal judiciary.
Even after yesterday's long-awaited confirmations, 99 vacancies on the federal bench remain. There are additional nominees already on the Senate calendar and more expected to be reported out of the Judiciary Committee next week. 
Please help us keep the pressure on Senate Leadership to bring these nominees to the floor without delay.
Newspapers are starting to take note of a deepening crisis plaguing the federal judiciary -- under President Obama, the Senate has refused to confirm judicial nominees at even close to the rate at which federal judges are retiring. The unprecedented political obstruction of judicial nominations over the past two years by Senate Republicans is costing countless Americans access to justice.
At the end of the last Congress, a whopping 43 judicial nominees were sent back to the president. But with the new agreement between the parties to break the logjam, we need to keep pressure on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to bring the president's nominees to a vote right away. The judicial crisis must be addressed, and if Republicans insist on obstructing, they should at least be forced to do so publicly. 
Send the message to Senator Reid now that Americans demand access to justice and an immediate fix to the broken judicial branch.
Even Chief Justice John Roberts has recognized the crisis and urged the Senate to move quickly and fill vacancies.
Washington Post article just today notes:
Arizona has declared a judicial emergency, extending the deadline to put defendants on trial. The three judges in Tucson, the site of last month's shooting rampage, are handling about 1,200 criminal cases apiece ...
In central Illinois, three of the four judgeships remain vacant after two of President Obama's nominees did not get a vote on the Senate floor. 
Chief Judge Michael McCuskey said he is commuting 90 miles between Urbana and Springfield and relying on two 81-year-old "senior" judges to fill the gap. "I had a heart attack six years ago, and my cardiologist told me recently, 'You need to reduce your stress,'" he said. "I told him only the U.S. Senate can reduce my stress."
There are some beneficiaries to this judicial crisis. Years-long delays in resolving civil cases like discrimination claims, corporate disputes and other lawsuits probably sit just fine with certain corporate special interests ... but ordinary Americans are paying the price. 
Join our petition now.  The recent agreement with Senate Republicans to move previously stalled and new judicial nominees is an essential first step in addressing the current vacancy crisis on the federal courts. 
I strongly urge you to take up all of the President's nominees as they are reported out of the Judiciary Committee without delay. Every day that this vacancy crisis persists is a day that countless Americans are denied access to justice and the basic protections of their fundamental rights afforded to them by a fair and functioning judicial branch.
petition button
In the coming days and weeks, we'll let you know more ways you can help keep the pressure on the Senate to move judicial nominations.
With a divided Congress and not much legislative progress expected these next two years, one thing the Senate can do is make sure we make progress on the judicial and other nominations which have been so egregiously obstructed for the last two years. Thank you for your activism and ongoing dedication to the American Way.
Sincerely,
Diallo Brooks, Director of Field and Mobilization

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Clarence Thomas: Recuse Yourself


Take action!A message from CREDO Action:
A case challenging the constitutionality of the health care reform bill passed by Congress is headed to the Supreme Court, and Justice Clarence Thomas has a supreme ethical conflict.
It's been widely reported that the Thomas family has financial ties to the conservative organizations leading the campaign to bring down our new health care law — the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Rep. Anthony Weiner and 73 other members of Congress have signed a letter detailing the appearance of ethical conflict and asking Justice Thomas to recuse himself from deliberations on the constitutionality of health care reform.
We're asking you to sign a companion letter that Rep. Weiner — a champion of progressive issues — will deliver to the Supreme Court along with the letter signed by members of Congress.
The letter to Justice Thomas reads:
As an Associate Justice, you are entrusted with the responsibility to exercise the highest degree of discretion and impartiality when deciding a case. We join Rep. Anthony Weiner and other members of Congress in writing to note our surprise at recent revelations of your financial ties to leading organizations dedicated to lobbying against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. We write today to respectfully ask that you maintain the integrity of this court and recuse yourself from any deliberations on the constitutionality of this act.

The appearance of a conflict of interest merits recusal under federal law. From what we have already seen, the line between your impartiality and you and your wife's financial stake in the overturn of health care reform is blurred. Your spouse is advertising herself as a lobbyist who has "experience and connections" and appeals to clients who want a particular decision — they want to overturn health care reform. Moreover, your failure to disclose Ginni Thomas's receipt of $686,589 from the Heritage Foundation, a prominent opponent of health care reform, between 2003 and 2007 has raised great concern.

This is not the first case where your impartiality was in question. As Common Cause points out, you "participated in secretive political strategy sessions, perhaps while the case was pending, with corporate leaders whose political aims were advanced by the [5-4] decision" on the Citizens United case. Your spouse also received an undisclosed salary paid for by undisclosed donors as CEO of Liberty Central, a 501(c)(4) organization that stood to benefit from the decision and played an active role in the 2010 elections.

Given these facts, there is a strong conflict between the Thomas household's financial gain through your spouse's activities and your role as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. We urge you to recuse yourself from this case. If the US Supreme Court's decision is to be viewed as legitimate by the American people, this is the only correct path.

We appreciate your thoughtful consideration of this request.
Thomas failed to disclose that his wife Ginni Thomas received a total of $686,589 in compensation from the Heritage Foundation.1 Furthermore his wife is currently advertising herself as a lobbyist who has "experience and connections" to conservative groups who have an explicit agenda to overturn health care reform — by repeal in the Congress or overturning the law in the courts.2
Justice Thomas is no stranger to questions of ethics. Along with Justice Antonin Scalia he attended meetings organized by the secretive, Tea Party-funding billionaire Koch brothers. The Koch brothers have been key players in rewriting the political landscape after the Citizens United Supreme Court decision unleashed the floodgates of corporate money in federal politics.3 And Thomas' wife has received an undisclosed salary paid for by undisclosed donors as CEO of Liberty Central, a 501(c)(4) organization that was formed to take advantage of Citizens United rules and to play an active role in the 2010 elections.
Unlike other members of the federal judiciary, Supreme Court Justices have no specific code of ethics to which they may be held accountable. But there is a clear appearance of a conflict of interest between his wife's clear financial stake in overturning the health care law and Justice Thomas' personal duty to exhibit the highest degree of discretion and impartiality. To protect the honor of the highest court in the land, Thomas must recuse himself from deliberations on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Sincerely--Becky Bond, Political Director 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Patriot Act Opposition

A bit of good news from Democracy for America:
Late last night, Republicans in Congress attempted to jam a renewal of several of the most controversial provisions of the Patriot Act through the House of Representatives. Since the days of George W. Bush, Republicans and even some Democrats have supported these unconstitutional attacks on our personal liberties that have allowed our own government to spy on Americans without a warrant.

However, this time, the members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus stopped them. That's right, progressives in Congress stood strong and their colleagues in the House followed their lead -- including most Democrats and even two dozen Republicans. It's important that -- even as the Republicans control the House --  under the leadership of Raul Grijalva and Keith Ellison, Progressive Caucus Members are building coalitions across party lines to get the people's business done.
Please thank the members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus right now and encourage them to continue to stand strong if Speaker Boehner tries again.

Let me be clear, if the members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus had not fought so hard or showed real leadership, the vote could have easily gone the other way. Republicans were only seven votes shy of renewal. But the fight is probably not over; 
Republicans are already vowing to try again.

This is our chance to make sure every member of the Progressive Caucus knows when they stand up and fight, we take notice. When Democrats act like Democrats and defend our personal liberties, we have their back. And perhaps most importantly, if this comes up for a vote again, we're depending on them to not back down.

After you add your name, we'll personally deliver your thank you to every Democrat who voted to defeat renewal, so that they know exactly where we stand.
Add your name right now and thank the members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus for standing up.

At Democracy for America, we believe that strong national security does not have to come at the expense of our liberty or our values. Last night, progressive members of Congress stood up and fought for what we believe. They proved that when they stand strong together for our shared values, their colleagues will follow. They proved that when House Democrats stand united, they can win even though Republicans control the gavel.

Let's thank them for having the courage to act and ask them to never back down.Thank you for everything you do.

--Arshad Hasan, Executive Director
Democracy for America

Democracy for America relies on you and the people-power of more than one million members to fund the grassroots organizing and training that delivers progressive change on the issues that matter. Please Contribute Today and support our mission.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Coat-Hanger Mentality


A Message from MoveOn.org:
After a huge public outcry, Republicans are back-pedaling from an outrageous attempt to redefine rape.
But the GOP attacks on women's health continue, including a bill that would allow hospitals to let a pregnant woman die rather than perform a life-saving abortion.
And there's more. Another bill would effectively prevent women from using their own money to purchase insurance that includes abortion coverage in the new insurance exchanges, among other things. Rep. Carolyn Maloney called it "the deepest attack on a woman's right to choose in my lifetime."
We need to act right away. Can you sign the petition telling Congress to oppose Republican attacks on a woman's right to choose?
A compiled petition with your individual comment will be presented to your Senators and Representative.

Sign the Petition

Full petition text:
"Stop the GOP war on women's health. Letting a pregnant woman die on the hospital steps is reprehensible. This and all attempts to erode a woman's right to choose must stop."
*Your Name:
*E-mail:
Your Street Address:  
City:
State:*Zip:
Your message to your Senators and Representative: (optional)

After you click the button below, we'll send your name, address, and comment to your Senators and Representative.

(see privacy policy below)

The Smithsonian & The Up-Tight Right

A Message from PFAW:
The Battle over the Smithsonian and the Right's New Culture Wars

Last week, protester marched on the National Mall to demand that the Smithsonian's Board of Regents dismiss Smithsonian Secretary Wayne Clough for his role in removing a work of art from one of the institution's museums and his continual bungling of the institution's response in the two months since its removal. Although one Smithsonian regent openly implied that removing the art was a mistake, the board ultimately declined to rebuke Clough, effectively closing the door on the possibility of undoing the damage done by the censorship. But the bigger fight that the Smithsonian debate represented--over the efforts of a small and vocal group on the Right to define American values for us all--is just beginning.

As the newly empowered House GOP gears up to start culture wars on issues from reproductive rights for women to religious freedom for American Muslims, there's an important lesson to be learned from what happened this winter at the Smithsonian. Institutions and individuals will continue to come under attack from the Right's powerful extremist-to-media-to-politician echo chamber. But, as the Smithsonian's experience showed once again, there is little to be gained by caving in to this loud and usually dishonest bullying. Clough's attempt at compromise--instantly removing a work of art from an important exhibit--only drew louder threats to censor the exhibit as a whole, while causing some of the Smithsonian's strongest supporters to lose trust in the institution. Despite what most might hope, the Right is not going to stop its culture war campaigns anytime soon. The only thing the rest of us can do is aggressively tell the truth, unapologetically stand on principle, and refuse to back down.

In a report last year, People For the American Way profiled what we call "the new McCarthyism"--a type of demagoguery that hinges on the idea that America and all it stands for is being destroyed by enemies within. This new McCarthyism--in full display in the paranoid tirades of Glenn Beck, in the widespread fear that President Obama is an un-American imposter--has a new foothold in Congress, where Rep. Peter King plans to hold hearings investigating American Muslims and prominent lawmakers spread myths about immigrant "anchor babies" in order to replace real efforts at immigration reform with unfounded fears about immigrants. The House GOP's fit over "anti-Christian" and -gasp!--gay art in the Smithsonian was a small but powerful example of this dynamic in action. GOP leaders, encouraged by far-right activists, created a narrow definition of what it means to be truly American--straight and a certain type of Christian--and in doing so framed the rest of us as impostors. 

The Right's so-called "culture wars" are more than just a sideline distraction--even manufactured controversies can do real harm. The Smithsonian controversy was a flashy and media-ready story, but it set the tone for the many manufactured battles to come. In coming months, we must be ready to step up and make just as strong a defense of women's health organizations; of American Muslims; ofgays and lesbians; of judicial nominees; of science and history; and yes, of our national museums. Not all of these issues are as exciting and easily categorized as that of censorship in our nation's capital. But it will be just as important that we all stand up to attempts to narrow the definition of what it means to be American. 

It's disappointing that the Smithsonian's secretary and board were so quick to give in to the Right's demagoguery and bluster. Clough's succumbing to censorship left a stain on his record at the head of the Smithsonian and unfortunately seems to have damaged the credibility of the institution. Cloughs's two months of virtual silence followed by the board's effective endorsement of his action have only made it worse. But the Smithsonian's decision is not the final word on the power of the Right's new-found zeal for culture wars. Instead, it's a reminder of how important it is to stand up to those who, in attempting to root out an imaginary enemy within, threaten the vibrant diversity and individual liberties of our democracy.
--Michael Keegan
People for the American Way
Published in The Huffington Post