Thursday, August 22, 2013

NRA Must be Backpedaling This Week

Three unrelated news stories this week, two of them national and one here in Haywood County, NC, must have the NRA and its 2nd clause of the 2nd amendment crowd reeling a bit.

First, the local story. Seems 58-year old Dan Crawford, owner of Crawford's Pawn Shop in the Dellwood area of Haywood County, took some shots at his son, Jason, and Jason's girlfriend on Wednesday, August 21. The elder Crawford has been charged with attempted murder. I know this family, but I don't know whether Crawford's Pawn Shop sells firearms or whether the owner is a federally licensed firearms dealer, although internet listings call the shop "Crawford's Pawn and Guns."

In national news, there was the cold-blooded murder in Oklahoma of Australian college baseball player Christopher Young by 3 teenagers who were bored. In addition to vigorously prosecuting these three criminals, I hope that authorities vigorously pursue those who allowed these three to get their hands on a firearm.

Finally, there was the shooting at McNair Elementary School in suburban Atlanta. Because of the heroic actions of Antoinette Tuff, the school's bookkeeper, the shooter was taken into custody and no one was injured.

These three stories blow huge holes in the NRA narrative. First, the NRA and other pro-gun groups suggest that those who sell firearms, especially licensed firearms dealers, are implicitly trustworthy. Secondly, the NRA applauds and celebrates the proliferation of firearms, resisting any attempt to place restrictions on gun sales or transfers, allowing guns to end up in the hands of criminals. Finally, America's new heroine Ms. Tuff  silenced the myth perpetrated by Wayne LaPierre after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings that "the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

State Farm and ALEC

I have been a policyholder with State Farm for auto, life, and homeowners insurance since the day I started driving. My parents were State Farm policyholders. Even when I was in the Navy, and could have had a better deal with USAA or other companies, I stuck with State Farm because of reasonable rates and good service. I have never had an issue with a claim or other matter with State Farm agents over the years.

Recently I learned that State Farm is a corporate sponsor of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). I sent an email to my local agent expressing concern. He passed that up the chain, and forwarded me the following response:

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a nonpartisan forum of conservative state legislators and private enterprise interests who work together to develop model state legislation for a variety of subject matters. The organization has a commitment to limited government and free markets. More than 400 companies participate in ALEC. As a state-based regulated enterprise, State Farm began participating in ALEC many years ago to effectively ensure our voice was heard on insurance-related legislative issues with the potential to affect the interests of our policyholders.
State Farm customers, agents and employees come from all walks of life and represent diverse political views. We "participate" in many organizations representing varied viewpoints – to hear, firsthand, what legislation or regulation may be on the horizon, and then – to have our viewpoint heard. The organizations in which we participate run the gamut of the political spectrum. We participate, but do not support all of the positions or policies adopted by these organizations.
  • State Farm’s participation in ALEC is focused on insurance and related matters. We have had no involvement in other ALEC matters, including the development of model laws like “Stand Your Ground.”
  • It is our understanding the ALEC Public Safety and Elections Task Force that worked on the "Stand Your Ground" Act disbanded some time ago.
  • We are told the organization's legislators are focusing on the core mission of economic and job development and free market support – a decision State Farm supports.

Note in the above response all the non-specific weasel-like language in the above. The disclaimer that "We have had no involvement in other ALEC matters" is bullshit, as financial support for ALEC is de facto support for the ALEC agenda in its entirety. Phrases like "it is our understanding" and "we are told" are State Farm's attempt to deflect attention from ALEC's real agenda.

I have given my State Farm agent (an independent contractor as all State Farm agents are) a chance to convince the parent company to disassociate from ALEC before I pursue other insurance options.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Moral Monday Asheville

This afternoon I'll be joining family, friends, and what promises to be several thousand North Carolinians at Pack Square in downtown Asheville for Mountain Moral Monday. There we will be exercising our rights to speech and peaceable assembly, protesting against the actions over the past few months by the Republican-held North Carolina General Assembly and the Governor, Pat McCrory.

As with those who gathered in Philadelphia in the sweltering heat of summer in 1776, our list of grievances is long. H. Brandt Ayers, publisher of the Anniston Star in Alabama, and a part-time North Carolina resident, summed things up quite nicely in his recent column.

In a column in the Raleigh News & Observer, Chapel Hill resident William Gargan wrote: "It's not low taxes or state incentives that lure high-paying jobs to a location. It's the talent pool." Yet our radical republican legislature and governor are insistent on pursuing a "Lord, help the rich, the poor can still beg" approach to economic development.

And the Democracy North Carolina has published a quick and handy two-page summary of what many observers have called the most aggressive voter suppression legislation in the nation.

So I will be there, making sure the radical republicans in Raleigh know that there are those of us who believe in the decades-long history of business-friendly, moderately progressive government in the Tar Heel state.