Our Common Good

President Obama’s reelection prospects look better in recent polls, but organizers from both parties report growing evidence that new voter-outreach programs funded by conservative groups could give GOP nominee Mitt Romney an edge if the race is close.

In the key battleground states, Obama’s celebrated network of organizing experts and neighborhood captains is being challenged by a conservative coalition that includes the National Rifle Association, the billionaire-backed Americans for Prosperity and a newly muscular College Republicans organization with a $16 million budget

The conservative groups “are fully funded and ready for hand-to-hand combat,” said Steve Rosenthal, a Democratic organizer.

We cannot take anything for granted. After you register to vote, please check in with the local Democratic Party headquarters, the local Obama campaign or another active political group in your district to see how you can help.  If you have never helped with get out the vote activities, you’ll be surprised at how much fun it can be.

owsposters:

Connecting the Dots Between NRA Lobbying and the Batman Massacre
Download the high-def versions
Author’s note: Yes, I realize that an actual 100-round magazine extends much further down than the 30-round one in this image. Making the 100-round magazine to scale would have made the image very unwieldy. And yes, I also realize that a rifle shoots bullets; that the trigger only actuates the firing. Note how the title of this piece is Connecting the Dots Between NRA Lobbying and the Batman Massacre, not Technical Specifications of an AR-15.

owsposters:

Connecting the Dots Between NRA Lobbying and the Batman Massacre

Download the high-def versions

Author’s note: Yes, I realize that an actual 100-round magazine extends much further down than the 30-round one in this image. Making the 100-round magazine to scale would have made the image very unwieldy. And yes, I also realize that a rifle shoots bullets; that the trigger only actuates the firing. Note how the title of this piece is Connecting the Dots Between NRA Lobbying and the Batman Massacre, not Technical Specifications of an AR-15.

In a letter opposing the DISCLOSE Act of 2012 — a bill to allow citizens to know what corporations and wealthy donors are paying for the “independent expenditure” attack ads enabled by the 5-4 Citizens United ruling — the National Rifle Association (NRA) is warning Senators it will score the issue in its legislative scorecard for this Congress.

In a rare “scoop” for an editorial cartoonist today, Matt Bors skewered a little-known National Rifle Association (NRA) program that offers insurance to cover policy holders’ costs should they become embroiled in a legal battle after shooting someone in self-defense.

The insurance — technically endorsed by the NRA and administered by Lockton Affinity exclusively for NRA members — is available as a rider to the “excess personal liability” plan. Here’s how the website advertises the added coverage for self-defense (emphasis in the original):

What’s Covered:

• Provides coverage up to the limit selected for criminal and civil defense costs.

Cost of civil suit defense is provided in addition to the limit of liability for bodily injury and property damage.

Criminal Defense Reimbursement is provided for alleged criminal actions involving self-defense when you are acquitted of such criminal charges or the charges are dropped.

The basic liability plan costs either $47 or $67 annually, for coverage up to $100,000 or $250,000, respectively. Though the coverage amounts stay the same, a policy holder can add the self-defense insurance by paying $118 or $165 for the lesser coverage, or between $187 and $254 for the larger plan. (The discrepancies are due to the different prices for coverage on two different webpages from the insurer.)

motherjones:

This is an interactive map of Stand Your Ground laws across the country. We made to highlight our feature on the how the NRA and its allies helped spread the radical gun laws nationwide.

motherjones:

This is an interactive map of Stand Your Ground laws across the country. We made to highlight our feature on the how the NRA and its allies helped spread the radical gun laws nationwide.

justinspoliticalcorner:

Ted Nugent’s violent remarks at the NRA’s annual paranoia-fest triggered (pun intended) a new round in the always-good-for-cable debate over extreme rhetoric in the political discourse. The episode showed—no surprise—that GOP presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney was unwilling to condemn an out-of-bounds Obama-hater when his campaign released a mealy-mouthed response to the uproar, ignoring Nugent’s specific comments and noting that “Mitt Romney believes everyone needs to be civil.” And Nugent’s threatening words were nothing new; in 2007, he held up two machine guns at a concert and told Obama to “suck on my machine gun,” adding, “Hillary, you might want to ride one of these into the sunset, you worthless bitch.” But his latest rant, in which he denounced Obama’s “vile, evil America-hating administration,” was part of a never-ending Republican/conservative crusade to portray the president as not a true American. And it’s an effort that Romney has played footsie with.

For years, conservatives have said (or implied) that Obama is not really one of us: He was born in Kenya, he’s a secret Muslim, he pals around with terrorists. They have also endeavored to attach this otherism to all Democrats. Ex-presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) accusedObama and his wife of holding “anti-American views” and called on the media to investigate Democratic members of Congress to determine if they were anti-American, too. Last week, Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), a tea party darling, declared that “there’s about 78 to 81 members of the Democratic Party that are members of the Communist Party.” After he was lambasted for uttering this absurd charge, he defiantly proclaimed that he did not regret his statement and reaffirmed his stance: “I’m not going to back down. I’m not going to be afraid about the fact that I called a spade a spade.” (House Speaker John Boehner said nothing about West’s derogatory and fact-free claim.)

Labeling anyone left of center a commie or traitor who hates America is a time-tested tradition of conservative politics that stretches back decades, from the Palmer Raids to the McCarthy era to Richard Nixon’s criminal administration to Ronald Reagan’s attempt to smear the anti-nuclear movement as a Moscow spin-off. Romney is too moderate (and too fearful of losing independent voters) to engage in DEFCON-1-level rhetorical nuking. But he has devised a way to speak to—and exploit—this sentiment without contracting cat-scratch fever.

“Obama the Apologizer” is not Romney’s only jab designed to depict the president as apart from the great American public. He repeatedly charges that Obama does not truly understand this nation or grasp that America is special. As if Obama were an outsider.

h/t: David Corn at Mother Jones

quickhits:

More evil than Big Tobacco by several orders of magnitude.

Raw Story:
According to Mother Jones reporter Andy Kroll, the role played by Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law in the shooting of African-American teen Trayvon Martin should be seen as an example of the outsized influence that the National Rifle Association wields in both state and national politics.
“This was an NRA effort from start to finish,” Kroll told Current TV’s The Young Turks. “It was a classic case study in how the NRA gets these bills passed at the state level. … This is an example of just how big and how sophisticated the NRA’s operation really is.”
Kroll noted that when the law was passed in 2005, the NRA, “provided tens of thousands of dollars to the dozens of lawmakers who pushed the bill through and who voted ‘yes’ on the bill.”
He pointed in particular to NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer as having been instrumental “in both drafting Florida’s Stand Your Ground law and then ramming it through the legislature down there.” Hammer was even standing right next to then-Governor Jeb Bush when the bill was signed into law.

Kroll’s article on the issue is here.
Let’s be extremely clear here; the NRA doesn’t exist to protect anyone’s rights, the NRA exists to sell guns. And it does that by grossly inflating fears about crime, creating a seige mentality and an atmosphere of paranoia. Seriously, why do you think that after every mass killing somewhere, there’s always some NRA flack or a Republican toady eager to blame everything on the fact that every last citizen isn’t armed?
As corporate lobbyists go, this is worse than Big Tobacco back in their heyday. Where tobacco company stooges were arguing that smoking wasn’t at all bad for you — while sitting on data that showed it was — Big Arms argues that more guns are a good thing, even when gun violence is the problem. This is akin to the tobacco lobbyist telling everyone to smoke more, because that’s the only thing saving you from cancer.
These are greedy, soulless people.

quickhits:

More evil than Big Tobacco by several orders of magnitude.

Raw Story:

According to Mother Jones reporter Andy Kroll, the role played by Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law in the shooting of African-American teen Trayvon Martin should be seen as an example of the outsized influence that the National Rifle Association wields in both state and national politics.

“This was an NRA effort from start to finish,” Kroll told Current TV’s The Young Turks. “It was a classic case study in how the NRA gets these bills passed at the state level. … This is an example of just how big and how sophisticated the NRA’s operation really is.”

Kroll noted that when the law was passed in 2005, the NRA, “provided tens of thousands of dollars to the dozens of lawmakers who pushed the bill through and who voted ‘yes’ on the bill.”

He pointed in particular to NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer as having been instrumental “in both drafting Florida’s Stand Your Ground law and then ramming it through the legislature down there.” Hammer was even standing right next to then-Governor Jeb Bush when the bill was signed into law.

Kroll’s article on the issue is here.

Let’s be extremely clear here; the NRA doesn’t exist to protect anyone’s rights, the NRA exists to sell guns. And it does that by grossly inflating fears about crime, creating a seige mentality and an atmosphere of paranoia. Seriously, why do you think that after every mass killing somewhere, there’s always some NRA flack or a Republican toady eager to blame everything on the fact that every last citizen isn’t armed?

As corporate lobbyists go, this is worse than Big Tobacco back in their heyday. Where tobacco company stooges were arguing that smoking wasn’t at all bad for you — while sitting on data that showed it was — Big Arms argues that more guns are a good thing, even when gun violence is the problem. This is akin to the tobacco lobbyist telling everyone to smoke more, because that’s the only thing saving you from cancer.

These are greedy, soulless people.

Less well known is that the NRA has also helped ALEC spread other conservative laws that have nothing to do with gun rights.

ALEC drafts and shares model bills with state legislators to promote corporation-friendly and conservative social policy.

A watchdog group called the Center for Media and Democracy first documented the NRA’s role in these bills with ALEC.

An NRA lobbyist, Tara Mica, helped shepherd a model bill that requires voters to show a photo ID at the polls. Many conservatives have pushed voter ID laws to prevent election fraud. Many liberals say these laws inhibit voting by minorities.

Mica also helped preside over ALEC’s passage of the model bill that became the basis of Arizona’s immigration law. That’s the law that requires police to arrest anyone who cannot prove when asked that they entered the United States legally.

destroythegop:

Here’s some more info & links to spread the word about ALEC’s mission to turn our Representative Democracy into Theocratic Feudalism…
American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a corporate front-group that represents the interests of big-name corporations by drafting legislation for state lawmakers. ALEC, which has the support of conservative heavy-hitters like Koch Industries, Walmart, and ExxonMobil, has written close to 800 model bills as templates for legislators on a wide range of issues.
ALEC Exposed
ALEC Exposed: The Koch Connection, The Nation Magazine
ALEC Funding, PRWatch
American Legislative Exchange Council, SourceWatch
Climate Denial Report on ALEC and Exxon Funding for ALEC, Greenpeace
Governing the Nation from the Statehouses, Progressive States Network
Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing, Common Cause
ALEC: The Voice of Corporate Special Interests In State Legislatures, People for the American Way
Corporate America’s Trojan Horse in the States,Defenders of Wildlife / Natural Resources Defense Council
ALEC Behind Voter Disenfranchisement Efforts, Center for American Progress
Ghostwriting the Law for Corporate America: American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)
The American Association for Justice Report on ALEC (PDF) May 2010
The Corporations Funding The Annual Meeting of ALEC Think Progress
and the piece de resistance… 
Idiot Florida Legislator Leaves ALEC Mission Statement in Bill She Introduced Think Progress

destroythegop:

Here’s some more info & links to spread the word about ALEC’s mission to turn our Representative Democracy into Theocratic Feudalism…

American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a corporate front-group that represents the interests of big-name corporations by drafting legislation for state lawmakers. ALEC, which has the support of conservative heavy-hitters like Koch Industries, Walmart, and ExxonMobil, has written close to 800 model bills as templates for legislators on a wide range of issues.


ALEC Exposed

ALEC Exposed: The Koch Connection, The Nation Magazine

ALEC Funding, PRWatch

American Legislative Exchange Council, SourceWatch

Climate Denial Report on ALEC and Exxon Funding for ALEC, Greenpeace

Governing the Nation from the Statehouses, Progressive States Network

Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing, Common Cause

ALEC: The Voice of Corporate Special Interests In State Legislatures, People for the American Way

Corporate America’s Trojan Horse in the States,
Defenders of Wildlife / Natural Resources Defense Council

ALEC Behind Voter Disenfranchisement Efforts, Center for American Progress

Ghostwriting the Law for Corporate America: American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)

The American Association for Justice Report on ALEC (PDF) May 2010

The Corporations Funding The Annual Meeting of ALEC Think Progress

and the piece de resistance…

Idiot Florida Legislator Leaves ALEC Mission Statement in Bill She Introduced Think Progress

Among the voices absent from the national debate over Florida’s law are those of the major corporations and industry groups who provide the bulk of the funding for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the shadowy right-wing organization that adopted Florida’s statute as a model for states around the country. 

But the bigger story here is the alliance of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)–a secretive, corporate-sponsored clearing house for ideas that are dopey enough to be purchased by the pound–and the arms-dealer front group known as the National Rifle Association (NRA). A marriage made in Hades to pass legislation that seemingly anyone with any background in law enforcement or understanding of this nation’s history knew would lead to a predictable outcome: “racially motivated killings.”

Because, you see, this is not a bug, but a feature. Both ALEC and the NRA exist to support the whims and wants of privileged and largely white members of society, while disenfranchising, impoverishing and even allowing the Trayvon Martins of our society to be gunned down in cold blood. Racism is at their very core.

ALEC is behind a nationwide push to take voting rights away from African Americans and any other group that doesn’t largely vote for creepily religious, corporate Republicans advocating wish-list items such as a Creationist, Halliburton-constructed lunar colony or the deregulation of melamine and morphine-based infant formula.

As writer Ari Berman pointed out in a piece called “The GOP’s War On Voting,” there’s been “a systematic campaign orchestrated by the American Legislative Exchange Council – and funded in part by David and Charles Koch, the billionaire brothers who bankrolled the Tea Party – 38 states…this year designed to impede voters at every step of the electoral process.” Who are we talking about here? “Millions of students, minorities, immigrants, ex-convicts and the elderly,” according to Berman, or people you might hesitate to call the “Santorum demographic.”

These very same ALECites have been (coincidentally, or course), pushing for tort reform bills in states throughout the country, which have been proven again and again to disproportionately hurt the poor and minorities while protecting corporate bottom lines. Meanwhile, “racial issues” and stereotyping have been used by ALEC to push for tort reform, the very same play on white fear that is the literal pitch of the NRA to convince anyone, no matter how unstable or criminally-inclined, to buy more guns.

[…]

Trayvon Martin is not the exception. He is the rule. The collateral damage of a quite open and obvious agenda for anyone willing to take a look.

The legislation apparently preventing the successful prosecution of Trayvon Martin’s killer, George Zimmerman, was reportedly adopted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as model legislation that the shadowy group has spent years promoting across the country — with the help of their allies in the National Rifle Association.

[…]

Florida’s statute on the use of force in self-defense is virtually identical to Section 1 of ALEC’s Castle Doctrine Act model legislation as posted on the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD). According to CMD, the model bill was adopted by ALEC’s Civil Justice Task in August 2005 — just a few short months after it passed the Florida legislature — and approved by its board of directors the following month.

Since the 2005 passage of Florida’s law, similar statutes have been passed in 16 other states. This was no accident. In a 2008 interview with NRA News, ALEC resident fellow Michael Hough explained how his organization works with the NRA to push similar legislation through its network of conservative state legislators:

HOUGH: We are a very pro-Second Amendment organization. In fact, last session, I’ll get off-topic here real quick, but some of the things that we were pushing in states was the Castle Doctrine. We worked with the NRA on that, that’s one of our model bills that we have states introduce.

NRA got what it paid for. According to a 2002 report from Defenders of Wildlife and the Natural Resources Defense Council, the NRA is “a longtime funder of ALEC.” The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) reports that the gun lobby group was a “Vice-Chairman” level sponsor of ALEC’s 2011 annual conference, and that an NRA operative was “the co-chair of ALEC’s Public Safety and Elections Task Force for a number of years, until the Spring of 2011.”

(via The ALEC Connection to Trayvon Martin Slaying)