Sunday, August 28, 2005

#10 Ralph Neas

According to Goldberg, Neas, President of the People for the American Way, is screwing up America, because he opposes the Boy Scouts' antigay agenda and because he worked against the nomination of Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court. Goldberg particularly focussed on PAW's opposition to Bush's appeals court nominee, Charles Pickering. Actually, what Goldberg hates the most is that unlike most liberal lobby groups Neas' PAW has been pretty effective in an overwhelmingly conservative regime. One measure of such effectiveness is the way that clueless Democratic politicians find their spine when Neas pushes them.

Ralph Neas, President of PAW, came to PAW after an unsuccessful run for Congress from Maryland. From 1981 through 1995, he served as Executive Director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), the nation's oldest and largest coalition. During that time, landmark laws enacted included the Civil Rights Act of 1991, the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1988, the 1988 Fair Housing Act Amendments, the Japanese American Civil Liberties Act, and the 1982 Voting Rights Act Extension. Senator Edward Kennedy, in a 1995 Senate floor statement, described Ralph as the "101st Senator for Civil Rights."

In 1987, he chaired the successful bipartisan effort by the 300-organization Block Bork Coalition to defeat the confirmation of Robert Bork to the U.S. Supreme Court. For his successful efforts, Ralph was named ABC's "Person of the Week."

As President of People For the American Way and People For the American Way Foundation since 2000, Ralph has increased the members and supporters of People For from 300,000 to more than 750,000 and fought a series of largely ineffective battles against conservative legislation like the Patriot Act and the Bush tax cuts.

His organization's website, asserts special pride in how relentlessly the right wing attacks him, nonetheless, for his effectiveness, especially the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, where he has been personally criticized more than 50 times.

He has been honored by organizations representing the spectrum of issues to which he's devoted his career, including the Hubert H. Humphrey Civil Rights Award from LCCR; the Benjamin Hooks "Keeper of the Flame" Award from the national NAACP; the Flag Bearer Award from Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays; the Public Service Achievement Award from Common Cause; the Kennedy Lifetime Achievement Award from the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund; the Isaiah Award for the Pursuit of Justice from the American Jewish Committee; the Edison Uno Memorial Civil Rights Award from the Japanese-American Citizens' League; the University of Chicago Alumni Public Service Citation; "Citizen of the Year" from the Guillian-Barre Syndrome Foundation International; named one of Vanity Fair’s Best Stewards of the environment (2004); and the “National Good Guy Award” from the National Women's Political Caucus.

Goldberg's elevation of Neas to top ten reflects a larger issue: that the right cannot tolerate any limits on their absolute power whatsoever. From Goldberg 77's point of view, Neas and PFAW have done very little to defeat the overwhelmingly conservative dominance of every meaningful agency of American life, including its special target, the judiciary. When liberals try to exercise power, conservatives react as if their car talked. "Drive to work? Not on your life! Today, we're going to the beach."


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