Our Common Good


On March 11, 1993, Dr. David Gunn was shot three times in the back and killed outside his Pensacola, Florida clinic by an assassin who stepped out of a group of anti-abortion protesters. Days later, longtime Todd Akin associate Tim Dreste delivered a chilling message to St. Louis-area doctor Yogendra Shah. Dreste stood in front of his clinic with a sign that read “Dr. Shah, are you feeling under the Gunn?” – referring to the slain Florida doctor. We’ve obtained a short video recording of this infamous incident, which you can watch below. 

Dreste would later be convicted of extortion on the basis of this incident and others that followed. U.S. District Judge Robert E. Jones ruled in 1999 that Dreste “acted with malice…and with specific intent in threatening plaintiffs.”
Yet Todd Akin donated to Dreste’s long-shot campaign for the state house in October 1993, just months after Dreste threatened Dr. Shah. Very few others did so – Akin’s $200 contribution was Dreste’s 2nd largest individual contribution and made up 9% of his total donations.
Akin had known Dreste for the better part of a decade by then and would have known what he was supporting when he cut that check – the St. Louis Post-Dispatch later wrote:
Wearing a hat adorned with shotgun shells, Tim Dreste is a familiar sight among the anti-abortion protesters who regularly picket the Hope Clinic for Women in Granite City.
Dreste was the talk of the anti-abortion and abortion-rights camps when, after the murder in 1993 of Dr. David Gunn in Florida, he carried a sign asking, “Do You Feel Under the Gunn?”
Akin and Dreste were both involved in the Pro-Life Direct Action League in the late 80s. Dreste – under orders from Operation Rescue’s Randall Terry – broke away in September 1988 and formed a more radical group, Whole Life Ministries. The following month, Akin appeared at one of the group’s events and described Dreste’s foot soldiers as “freedom fighters.” Days later, Akin was elected for the first time to public office.
In 1989, Akin intervened on behalf of one of Dreste’s protesters who had been convicted of assaulting a clinic worker. When Dreste launched the Life Chain of St. Louis in 1990, Akin signed on as an endorser and attended the event through the 90s and beyond. And when Dreste helped form a new militia group in 1995 – the 1st Missouri Volunteers – Akin signed on to support them as well.
Given what happened in 1993 and 1994, it’s both deeply revealing and disturbing that Akin continued to work with and support Dreste. In April 1994, Dreste co-founded a radical new anti-abortion group – the American Coalition of Life Activists – and met with Paul Hill. On July 30th, Paul Hill murdered Dr. John Bayard Britton, who replaced Dr. Gunn in Pensacola, as well as Britton’s bodyguard.
Days later, Dreste appeared outside a St. Louis-area clinic with a sign reading “Abortionists 50 million, Babies 3.” He also contributed to Hill’s legal fund, told a clinic worker, “I’m John Hill, you know my brother Paul,” and tried to terrorize doctors by passing out “wanted” posters outside their homes and clinics (similar posters were distributed before Gunn and Britton were murdered). Through all of this, Akin remained loyal to Dreste.
To recap, Akin stuck with Dreste after he publicly threatened a doctor and condoned murder in 1993. And he stuck by his old protest buddy in 1995 even though the year before, Dreste:
  • co-founded a pro-violence anti-abortion group
  • met with a domestic terrorist who murdered two people three months later
  • condoned those murders and contributed to the killer’s legal fund
  • threatened doctors and clinic staff during his frequent protest appearances.
Akin sure is loyal! To be sure, Akin has tried his best to cover up his long ties to and support for Dreste. He’s openly lied about his history with the 1st Missouri Volunteers, and his campaign just wants to change the subject. But the truth is slowly coming out, including hisnumerous arrests (four at last count!) and name switcheroo to conceal them. But if you judge a man by his actions, not his press releases, Akin has remained loyal to the bitter end.
He reunited early last year with the people he protested (and was arrested) with in the 80s. He’s attended virtually every Life Chain event up until this year. And as we’ll show, he’s apparently still on good terms with convicted extortionist Tim Dreste.


REMINDER: If you are not registered to vote in Oklahoma, the deadline is October 12. If you are a Democratic Party member or otherwise lean left, YOU NEED TO REGISTER AND VOTE. Contact your county’s Election Board.

The Norman Transcript’s Joy Hampton:

State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax said that nearly 68,000 new voters have been registered in Oklahoma this year. Of those, more than two-thirds have registered Republican. Since Jan. 1, Oklahoma Republicans have added 45,094 voters, while Democrats have added just 6,940 voters.

“Today’s voter registration numbers echo what we have been saying since I became chairman in 2010,” OKGOP Chairman Matt Pinnell said. “The [Democratic] Party — both on a national and state level— has taken a hard-left turn and is not turning back. It is no coincidence that as the Oklahoma Democratic Party has taken positions increasingly at odds with Oklahoma voters, that voter registration is tilting even more Republican.”

Cleveland County [Norman is the seat of Cleveland County] Election Board Secretary Jim Williams said voter registration county-wide also has shown a transition toward more registered Republicans.

“We have a total of 146,150 registered voters,” Williams said. “Of those, 69,778 are Republicans, 56,009 are Democrats and we have 20,363 Independents.”


…Mr. Brown is appealing to an American narrative just as old as the one where Indians are noble and dark and on horseback, and just as divorced from the textured complexity of the American experience; one where the good guys are broad-chested and the villains twirl their mustaches; one where the only differences that are allowed are those that serve to reinforce American fantasies; one where Americans persist in eradicating problem Indians, so that they can wear our feathers.

Excellent New York Times article. So stoked to see stuff like this in the mainstream press!

The easiest way to lose an election is to assume your side will win.




COMPLACENCY KILLS! We have these treasonous, right-wing extremist nutbag Republicans down and it’s time to kick them in the teeth with the Mighty Will of The People, and by that I mean a net gain of 25 House Seats.



Democrats and progressives are making a concerted effort to rid Congress of some of its biggest tea party stars, the Republicans whom Democrats dream about defeating when they go to bed at night.

Interviews with Democrats, progressives and Republicans this week suggest their efforts aren’t likely to break through across the board but there’s a real chance Democrats will erase a couple of faces off the tea party Mt. Rushmore come November.

Rep. Joe Walsh - Illinois 08

Walsh is the liberals’ embodiment of the tea party freshman: brash, unpredictable and perhaps a little unhinged at times. He started out with an uphill climb after redistricting put him in a more Democratic district, and he didn’t do himself any favors when he decided to attack the war record of his Democratic opponent, Tammy Duckworth, who lost both legs in Iraq.

Polling has shown Duckworth with a significant lead, and progressives who’ve rallied around removing Walsh from office are feeling pretty confident. Republicans seem less so — The Hill reported Wednesday that the NRCC has not reserved any airtime to protect Walsh.

Rep. Steve King - Iowa 05

If Walsh is the progressive caricature of the tea party freshman, King is the progressives’ dream conservative veteran. Prone to eyebrow-raising statements and patron saint of causes liberals love to hate — like making English the official language — King is proudly incendiary. When Mitt Romney endorsed him on the trail in Iowa, Democrats went wild, stating that just standing near King made Romney more extreme.

King is facing Democratic nominee Christie Vilsack, wife of Obama Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, former Iowa first lady and big name in the Hawkeye State. Vilsack has proven an able fundraiser and she’s had an assist from progressive groups on the ground.

Rep. Michele Bachmann — Minnesota 06

Before she ran for president, Bachmann was a number one dream defeat for Democrats and progressives. When she ascended to the presidential stage this year she only made progressive disdain for her worse. Where to begin, they say when asked about her: Bachmann’s impromptu backing of anti-vaccination conspiracies or her crusade to rid the government of terrorist spieshidden in the U.S. government?

Bachmann faces her toughest congressional opponent in recent memory in Democrat Jim Graves, a wealthy businessman who made his fortune in the hotel business. Like Duckworth and Vilsack, Graves has help from progressives and the national party. Internal polling and Graves’ bio continues to give Democrats hope, though even usually optimistic progressive observers admit this is an unphill climb for the left. Bachmann’s as popular among elements of the hard right as she is detested among elements of the left, and she’s been able to leverage her national name to build up a large warchest. That said, the idea that Bachmann’s in real trouble this November is catching on among the mainstream media and Bachmann’s fundraising emails are starting to sound more desperate.

Rep. Allen West — Florida 18

In many ways, West is the male Bachmann. His national profile among conservatives is beyond reproach, while his standing among the left is something considerably short of that. Happiest in the spotlight, West is a tea party freshman who’s fond of comparing President Obama to a slave owner. Tea partiers absolutely love him, and there’s been talk that he could make a run for Senate down the road.

Progressives hope to put an end to his political rise before it starts by defeating him at the end of this first term. It looks like a tall order. Democrat Patrick Murphy, a young newcomer to politics who raised enough money to draw support from the national party, can still pull in the big names to help out in the high-profile race. Bill Clinton was in the district for Murphy just the other week. And Democrats and their allied super PACs are spending big, though the DCCC recently canceled a week of ads.

H/T: Evan McMorris-Santoro


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - New voting laws in 23 of the 50 states could keep more than 10 million Hispanic U.S. citizens from registering and voting, a new study said on Sunday, a number so large it could affect the outcome of the November 6 election.

The Latino community accounts for more than 10 percent of eligible voters nationally. But the share in some states is high enough that keeping Hispanic voters away from the polls could shift some hard-fought states from support for Democratic President Barack Obama and help his Republican rivalMitt Romney.

The new laws include purges of people suspected of not being citizens in 16 states that unfairly target Latinos, the civil rights group Advancement Project said in the study to be formally released on Monday.

Laws in effect in one state and pending in two others require proof of citizenship for voter registration. That imposes onerous and sometimes expensive documentation requirements on voters, especially targeting naturalized American citizens, many of whom are Latino, the liberal group said.

Nine states have passed restrictive photo identification laws that impose costs in time and money for millions of Latinos who are citizens but do not yet have the required identification, it said.

Republican-led state legislatures have passed most of the new laws since the party won sweeping victories in state and local elections in 2010. They say the laws are meant to prevent voter fraud; critics say they are designed to reduce turnout among groups that typically back Democrats.

Decades of study have found virtually no use of false identification in U.S. elections or voting by non-citizens. Activists say the bigger problem in the United States, where most elections see turnout of well under 60 percent, is that eligible Americans do not bother to vote.

h/t: Yahoo! News


House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) said Sunday that Democrats have a “very excellent chance” to retake the House majority in November, and characterized the day Republican Mitt Romney selected Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.) as his vice presidential running mate as a “pivotal” one in the campaign.

Democrats need to net 25 seats to win back the majority. Pelosi, whose served as House speaker during the last Congress in which Democrats were in the majority declined to say Sunday whether she would run for House Democratic leader if her party falls short of taking back the majority.

h/t: Sean Sullivan at WaPo’s The Fix


Michelle Obama is Queen. (x)

This gives me chills. 

Bet we have all reblogged this at least twice.

If you give up on the idea that your voice can make a difference, then other folks are going to fill the void—the lobbyists, the special interests, the people who are writing $10 million checks, the folks who are trying to keep people from voting, the politicians who want to tell you who you can marry, tell women they can’t have control over their own health care choices. Only you can make sure that doesn’t happen.
President Obama in St. Petersburg, FL today (via barackobama)

We learned about dignity and decency – that how hard you work matters more than how much you make…that helping others means more than just getting ahead yourself.

We learned about honesty and integrity – that the truth matters…that you don’t take shortcuts or play by your own set of rules…and success doesn’t count unless you earn it fair and square.

We learned about gratitude and humility – that so many people had a hand in our success, from the teachers who inspired us to the janitors who kept our school clean…and we were taught to value everyone’s contribution and treat everyone with respect.

Michelle Obama, speaking at the Democratic National Convention. (via pantslessprogressive)

The Hustler publisher has taken out full-page ads in the Washington Post and USA Today announcing the proposal

he nation’s largest business lobby is showcasing bold ambitions this year in an effort to build on gains made in the 2010 midterms, when at least $33 million of Chamber advertising helped push the nation dramatically rightward. The group began placing ads in swing districts as early as November 2011. Since then, it has rolled out a campaign aimed at influencing at least fifty House and eight Senate races, and according to Politico it has set a goal of $100 million in spending for this electoral cycle.

Watchdog groups believe the strategy in 2012 is similar to that of 2010: the Chamber goes into a district, blitzes it with attack ads to soften up the opposition and then steps back to let other deep-pocket groups come in. The intent is to force Democrats to play defense across the board, thus spreading their resources thin. According to the liberal online publication ThinkProgress, twenty of the twenty-one ads the Chamber released in May were hostile to Democratic candidates.


The organization is maintaining its longstanding policy of not officially taking sides in presidential elections. But even though it has not directly funded anti-Obama or pro-Romney ads, that doesn’t mean its leaders wouldn’t dearly love to oust Obama. Robert Weissman, president of the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, says the Chamber hopes to influence the presidential election indirectly—by shaping the contours of the public debate in the months leading up to election day and by bringing conservative voters to the polls.

It is also reportedly coordinating with the top conservative Super PACs to craft a unified message and spending strategy. US Chamber Watch has documented a series of meetings between the Chamber’s counsel and GOP strategists dating back to 2009, when they conceived the notion of creating American Crossroads, the Super PAC headed by Karl Rove. Since then, the watchdog group believes, the Chamber has been holding regular meetings with Crossroads, which claims that it will be able to bring $300 million to the 2012 election fight, and with Koch brothers–backed organizations (including Americans for Prosperity), which have bandied about the figure of $400 million as their target. Further evidence of cross-pollination: Chamber strategist Scott Reed previously worked for the GOP, and former Chamber counsel Steven Law is president of Crossroads GPS, the Rove-affiliated 501(c)(4) “social welfare organization.”

According to the Washington Post, the key players in this alliance have been meeting every couple of weeks to strategize. In May, Mike Allen and Jim Vandehei reported in Politico that the Chamber, Crossroads, Americans for Prosperity and the conservative Congressional Leadership Fund had joined together in a pledge to raise an unprecedented $1 billion to influence the upcoming elections.

Long, important read…. 


Accepting his party’s renomination for president at the Democratic National Convention Thursday night, Barack Obama zeroed in on the top policy goals he will seek to accomplish in a second term.

The Obama campaign issued a white paper sketching out — in some areas ambiguously — the policy prescriptions for a total of nine ambitious goals, three of which the document prioritized.

1) Create one million manufacturing jobs over the next four years

Obama aims to accomplish this by pushing for comprehensive tax reform that includes lower rates on domestic manufacturers and an additional credit for businesses that return jobs to the United States. The plan would enhance job training by investing in community colleges and aid for students. The money spent would be recovered by closing tax loopholes elsewhere.

2) Cut oil imports in half by 2020

Obama’s new energy policy would enhance oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic by easing up the leasing and review process. It involves doubling fuel efficiency standards, expanding the use of ethanol and biofuels and promoting clean energy sources — although the policy paper was light on how.

“If you choose this path,” the president said, “we can cut our oil imports in half by 2020 and support more than 600,000 new jobs in natural gas alone.”

“And yes, my plan will continue to reduce the carbon pollution that is heating our planet - because climate change is not a hoax.”

3) Halve the growth of college tuition costs over the next decade

Obama says he’ll push to cut the skyrocketing rate of growth of college tuition in half over 10 years — a highly ambitious goal. His administration aims to accomplish this by creating a “Race to the Top-like initiative” to reward states that find ways to reduce tuition costs, promote recognition of transfer credits and strip funding from colleges that “cannot or will not offer students a good value and an affordable price.”

h/t: Sahil Kapur at TPM