The Soros Left Guns for ALEC
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Inspired by President Obama’s slash-and-burn tactics on his opponents, Democrats, radical labor, and left-liberal activists have begun full Saul Alinsky-Bill Ayres-style assaults on conservative and libertarian groups. Media Matters for America is the barking brigade leading the charge. A battalion in the war is another website called Color of Change.
Both have received major funding from leftist moneybags George Soros. As usual, Soros’s Open Society Foundations fund efforts to close debate. And the New York Times reported on May 7, “[M]ajor liberal donors including the financier George Soros are preparing to inject up to $100 million into independent groups to aid Democrats’ chances this fall.”
Media Matters is run by David Brock, the outed homosexual and former conservative journalist who hates his old political friends on the right. In February, the Daily Caller exposed Media Matters’ tight working relationship with the Obama White House, Brock’s erratic lifestyle, and what one witness called Brock’s “viciously mean” assaults on employees. And although he’s a major supporter of gun control, Brock employs a bodyguard who illegally carried a concealed firearm in Washington, D.C.
At the top of the left’s enemies list: the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). They’ve been one of my top sources in more than 35 years in journalism. Many times, a quick call under a deadline produced the needed perspective on a bill in the California legislature or a resolution by a city council. And their annual “Rich States, Poor States” ranking, produced with economist Arthur Laffer, provides crucial data on which states are friendly, and which are toxic, to business and job creation.
Most conservatives are concerned about the arguably more important issues of national tax policy or foreign relations. (Your local city council doesn’t have nuclear weapons.) But it’s really at the local level that key policies are set and political cadres are trained. It’s in the trenches of state and local government that ALEC has been so successful, ever since it was started in 1973 by conservative activists and reformist state legislators from both major parties.
Two of ALEC’s founders were great men, recently departed from us. Paul Weyrich was an unsung conservative hero who had a knack for starting conservative groups, including the Heritage Foundation and the Free Congress Foundation. Rep. Henry Hyde so enraged the left that actor Alec Baldwin shouted on a national TV show,
I’m thinking to myself if we were in other countries, we would all, right now, all of us together . . . would go down to Washington and . . . We would stone Henry Hyde to death, and we would go to [conservatives’] homes and we’d kill their wives and their children. We would kill their families.
Today, ALEC is facing a political stoning from the left. This year, Color of Change launched boycotts of ALEC’s corporate sponsors, beginning with the Coca-Cola Company. Coke was not “the real thing” this time: It chickened out and ended its funding. So did Pepsi, Mars, Kraft Foods, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Yum! Brands (Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut). (That provides a convenient excuse for me to boycott their high-fructose-corn-syrup-laden poisons.)
Other frightened sponsors included the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is just as well; the foundation’s main purpose is to spend Bill’s billions on population control, including abortion. Another was Intuit Inc., whose crummy finance software crashes my computer.
Why is the left upset? The chief reason is that ALEC has been especially effective in crafting “model legislation” that can be adapted to a specific state situation. About 200 ALEC-inspired state-level bills are passed each year across the country.
The February killing of black teenager Trayvon Martin by Hispanic insurance salesman George Zimmerman provided an excuse to attack ALEC. The group has helped many states write Stand Your Ground legislation—what Media Matters disingenuously brands as “Kill At Will laws.”
The Martin killing proved a rallying point for the left to bring up a long-dormant obsession: gun control. It also rankled the left that gun sales have soared under their beloved president. Some firearms enthusiasts have dubbed Obama “Salesman of the Year.” It’s about his only economic success story in three depressing years.
Gun control has been dormant for the left because, in the mid-1990’s, Bill Clinton and others determined that Democrats were losing elections because gun control turned off rural and blue-collar hunters, many of them lifelong Democrats, in such battleground states as Michigan, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Studies by such scholars as John Lott and David Kopel also provided conclusive evidence that, as the title of one of Lott’s books put it, More Guns, Less Crime.
But recent polls indicate that working-class whites—the main opponents of gun control—simply aren’t going to re-up with Obama, no matter what. So Democrats might as well go back to gun-grabbing, and the left put ALEC in the crosshairs.
Another ALEC outrage was its model law for voter-ID cards, passed in various forms by 30 states. As much as I dislike government snooping and controlling, I can see nothing wrong with the government requiring a government ID for a government election. If you don’t want to provide the ID and keep your privacy, then don’t register to vote.
The Obama Justice Department is working to overturn voter-ID laws in South Carolina and Texas. In a May 6 speech before the Detroit NAACP, Atty. Gen. Eric Holder mentioned his department’s involvement in the Trayvon Martin case, then implicitly linked it to voter ID by saying, “We’ve taken decisive action to vigorously [sic] enforce the 1965 Voting Rights Act, our nation’s most important civil rights statute, by challenging attempts to disenfranchise many of our fellow citizens.”
The real reason for attacking voter ID is to allow as much illicit voting as possible, especially by noncitizen immigrants. Practically all of those illicit votes would go to Obama and other Democrats. Of course, a picture ID is required to enter major government buildings, including the White House and Holder’s Department of Justice.
Another ALEC outrage was its provision of help to states writing laws to curb the immense powers of government-worker unions at a time when retirees’ pensions are busting state budgets. These aren’t private-sector union workers, who make something and must compete in the marketplace; these are government workers. In the November 2010 election, one lower-level union boss accidentally let the truth out. California School Employees Association Chapter 224 head Ronda Walen said of a local referendum, “This is our opportunity to elect our own bosses.”
That’s it. Who in the private sector gets to pick his own boss? No wonder governments have overspent, overborrowed, and overpromised, especially on worker pensions. And no wonder the unions, and close allies such as Media Matters, are boiling mad at ALEC.
Piling on to the assault, in April the misnamed activist organization Common Cause filed papers with the IRS demanding that ALEC’s nonprofit, tax-exempt status be pulled for alleged political advocacy. But what about Media Matters, a nonprofit as close to the White House as Ennis was to Jack on Brokeback Mountain?
Common Cause was a major force behind the farcical 1974 post-Watergate election “reforms,” which made campaign finance so complex that only professionals—or rich people—can run for office. Regular Joes no longer have a chance. And Common Cause now complains that elections are dominated by the rich and corporations!
There are many other assaults on ALEC from a left organized online like a teenage flash mob. The Daily Kos, the most popular leftist blog, is edited by Democratic activist Markos Moulitsas. It has called for abolishing ALEC because it has “contributed to the destruction of our democracy.” And National Public Radio, the taxpayer-funded Obama propaganda network, has run stories attacking ALEC.
Unfortunately but understandably, on April 17 David Frizzell, an Indiana state representative and ALEC’s national chairman, announced on behalf of its Legislative Board of Directors,
We are refocusing our commitment to free-market, limited government and pro-growth principles, and have made changes internally to reflect this renewed focus.
We are eliminating the ALEC Public Safety and Elections task force that dealt with non-economic issues, and reinvesting these resources in the task forces that focus on the economy.
In states without Stand Your Ground laws, you’re supposed to retreat as far as you can before you start firing in self-defense at your assailants. I hope that’s the case with ALEC—that they retreat, regroup, and soon reengage on issues that really are more important than just the economic ones. I hope they’re waiting for the Obama tyranny finally to be swept from the scene. Let ALEC’s wounds heal. We need them back in action at the front.
John C. Seiler, Jr., is managing editor of CalWatchDog.com.
This article first appeared in the July 2012 issue of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture.