Rep. King Changes Position on Having Law Enforcement Officials Testify at ‘Radicalization’ Hearings

February 9, 2011, 3:12 pm | Posted by

Yesterday, Greg Sargent highlighted a New York Times piece in which Rep. Peter King revealed that he will not be having law enforcement officials testify on his hearings about the supposed “non-cooperation” of the Muslim community with authorities.

On Fox News this morning, though, King apparently changed his mind:

KING: I will have them on. That is, again, a totally phony charge. What I said in the New York Times is it’s hard to get active law enforcement professionals to come forward and say publicly what they say privately. But I will have law enforcement people testify.

Of course, it’s not actually hard to find law enforcement officials willing to speak publicly about this issue.

What does appear to be difficult is finding officials willing to testify to the false argument that Muslims don’t cooperate with law enforcement. If all of King’s sources get cold feet when asked to publicly defend their claims, maybe King should re-evaluate their credibility.

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Why H.R.3 is not common ground

February 8, 2011, 6:21 pm | Posted by

The Family Research Council has a pretty bad track record on sticking to the facts, especially when it comes to abortion in health care, so it should come as no surprise that their testimony on H.R.3, the misleadingly named “No-Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” contains glaring errors.

Perplexingly, FRC paints their support for H.R.3 as responding to President Obama’s call to seek common ground on abortion:

President Obama has urged Americans to find common ground on the controversial issue of abortion. Americans have come together, 67 percent of us, in what may be the only truly bi-partisan agreement possible: That whatever our differences on abortion, we can agree that the federal government should not subsidize it. This is the common ground on abortion in America. H.R. 3 would make that common ground statutory law.

This is preposterous for a number of reasons. First, by definition Common Ground consists of policies that address the root causes of abortion and enjoy broad support from pro-choice and pro-life people alike. Since H.R.3 opens up broad new restrictions on abortion access, including restricting abortion coverage in private plans, it does not have pro-choice support and therefore is not common ground.

Second, the “67 percent” statistic FRC cites does not pertain to H.R.3. Here is the Quinnipiac poll question FRC cites as backup:

Do you support or oppose allowing abortions to be paid for by public funds under a health care reform bill? (emphasis added).

Using public funds to pay for abortion is already banned by the Affordable Care Act and backed up by the executive order signed by President Obama. H.R.3 seeks to limit even private insurance premium dollars paying for abortions, which is not at all what the Quinnipiac question asked.

Finally, it’s more than a bit rich that FRC is now portraying itself as a champion of common ground given its track record of attacking key planks of the common ground platform, such as improved access to contraception, comprehensive sex education and more governmental support for pregnant women and families.

While FRC hypothesizes their position “may be the only truly bi-partisan agreement possible” they ignore polling like this:

Polling has shown that 80% of self identified “pro-lifers” agree women should have access to contraception. 77% of pro-lifers support the federal government’s Title X family planning program (the Ryan-DeLauro bill will increase funding to Title X).

In another poll*, voters were asked, “Should the federal government provide funding for birth control for low-income women” and 66% of evangelicals agreed. (42 percent strongly agreed compared to 30 percent who disagreed, 21 percent strongly disagreed.)

On the sex education side, Pew found that 66% of white evangelicals favor teaching students in public schools about birth control.

This is real common ground — commonsense policies supported by supermajorities of the American people that address the root causes of abortion and promote stronger and healthier families. And if FRC were as interested in helping the families they claim to represent as they are in stoking the flames of the culture wars, they would get behind it.

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A Thorn By Any Other Name

February 8, 2011, 9:34 am | Posted by

Thorn.jpgA little-noticed press release on Friday from the House Committee on Homeland Security (chaired by Rep. Peter King) included a big update to King’s upcoming hearings on “radicalization” in the Muslim-American community.

In the “Long-term Outlook” section, the release notes an important change in the description of the hearings:

In March, the Committee will convene the first in a series of hearings examining al Qaeda’s coordinated radicalization and recruitment of people within the American Muslim community.

It would be nice if this new focus on al Qaeda meant King was limiting his hearings to evidence-backed claims about particular terror incidents, but that seems unlikely. So far he has shown no signs that he intends to retract his allegations that radicalization is widespread amongst American Muslims or dis-invite witnesses who attack mainstream Muslim organizations as secret radicals.

In the absence of such changes, the new description seems nothing more than a cosmetic alteration that does not address the faith community’s serious concerns about the hearings.

(Photo by John Desjarlais –Flickr)

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Obama administration announces new faith advisory council

February 7, 2011, 1:00 pm | Posted by

On Friday afternoon the White House announced the new members of the White House Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships Advisory Council. Much like the initial council convened two years ago, the new group of advisors draws on prominent leaders of religious denominations, nonprofit organizations and congregations who have remarkable records of leadership and service:

  • Susan K. Stern, Special Advisor on Government Affairs to the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
  • Leith Anderson, President of the National Association of Evangelicals
  • Andrea Bazán, President of Triangle Community Foundation, a philanthropic organization dedicated to building a prosperous and culturally rich region across North Carolina
  • Angela Glover Blackwell, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Policy Link, a nonprofit organization that strives to advance economic and social equity
  • Brian Gallagher, and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of United Way Worldwide
  • Bishop Mark Hanson, Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)
  • Lynn Hybels, co-founder and Advocate for Global Engagement at Willow Creek Community Church
  • The Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church
  • Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, Executive Vice President of the Rabbinical Assembly, the international association of Conservative and Masorti Rabbis
  • Archbishop Demetrios Trakatellis, Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Church of America
  • Sister Marlene Weisenbeck, a member of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, and past president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR)
  • Reverend Elder Nancy L. Wilson, Moderator (Global Leader) for the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches

Additional members will be announced in near future. Full biographies of the new Advisory Council members are available here.

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Fact-check: Radicalism in American Mosques, ctd.

February 3, 2011, 7:04 pm | Posted by

Last week we tracked down Rep. King’s false claim that 80% of mosques are controlled by “radicals,” exposing it as having originated without evidence from a single, obscure scholar in a 1999 speech.

But our friends at Media Matters, doing what they do best, have released a comprehensive timeline of the appearance and evolution of this “zombie lie” over the last 10 years.

The report is both an impressive display of research and a telling insight into the “echo-chamber” of right-wing media. Having been introduced into the chamber, a falsehood like this finds its way to a broader audience of people inclined to believe and retell it, with each subsequent use only enhancing its perceived credibility.

This is particularly true of statements that speak to people’s deepest anxieties (like terrorism), confirming their existing biases and providing easy support for preferred political positions. Another prominent example is the infamous “death panel” myth that’s proven difficult to dispel since its humble appearance in a Sarah Palin tweet two years ago.

So it’s essential to firmly and consistently correct these statements whenever they appear. Big thanks to Media Matters for doing just that.

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