Mojo - September 2013

6 Risky Gun Storage Products Sold by the NRA

| Tue Oct. 1, 2013 3:38 PM EDT

This Sunday, the New York Times published an extensive report on children accidentally killed by guns. Most of the tragic examples cited involved kids (almost always boys) coming across an unsecured firearm. As Mother Jones has previously reported, owning a gun has been found to substantially increase the risk of accidental death. Studies have also found that 40 percent of homes with guns and kids have at least one unlocked firearm. And an experiment by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that one third of 8- to 12-year-old boys who find a handgun will pull the trigger.

Nevertheless, the National Rifle Association has fought efforts to require safer gun storage. On its website, it even sells various gun storage products that ensure easy access to loaded weapons—without safeguards to protect curious kids (or anyone else). Here are a few:

 

The NRA Minuteman Concealment Mantel Clock
The NRA Store claims that, "like our revolutionary heroes," this mahogany-stained working clock "conceals an underlying, defensive capability." Simply pulling back on the clock's magnetic front panel allows "quick access" to a gun up to 8 inches long, offering you a "heightened sense of security in your home."
 

NRA Diversion/Concealment Book Set
These hollowed-out book covers' "elegant spines blend seamlessly with other fine literature" and easily open to store handguns up to 10.5 inches long. They come in two colors: The red set comes with the titles Life and Liberty and The Framework of Freedom. The black set comes with Eternal Vigilance and Rendezvous with Destiny.
 

NRA Amendment II Peacemaker Wooden Box
With decorations "reminiscent of 19th century Western designs," this pine, birch, and poplar box features images of an American flag, three Peacemaker revolver, and the full text of the Second Amendment on a removable lid covering enough space for a real Peacemaker. The box is recommended for storing a flag, jewelry, documents, or "other items in need of old fashioned American protection" (hint, hint).
 

NRA Concealed Carry Day Planner
Featuring separate compartments for a handgun and a three-ring binder stocked with calendar pages, this tactical organizer also has lockable zippers—but a lock is not included.
 

NRA Under the Desk Holster
For those who need a firearm handy while checking email or paying bills, the NRA touts this desk holster as an "an easy way to inconspicuously keep your handgun at arm's length." The elastic holster is designed to "safely and securely" fit any size handgun.
 

Holster Mate
When combined with the NRA Slide Holster, the Holster Mate® allows you to slip your holster off your belt and onto a metal bracket that fits between your bed's mattress and box spring. A hook-and-loop backing is included to eliminate slippage.

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Government to Furlough Food Inspectors but Not Military Recruiters

| Mon Sep. 30, 2013 9:03 PM EDT

Now that Uncle Sam is about to run out of money, federal agencies will need to use their last pennies simply to keep America from falling apart. Food inspectors and pesticide regulators will stay home under the furlough plan, but fear not: Military recruiters will show up to work no matter what. Sure, your kids might die from eating tainted spinach, but they will have died in order to show that America does not give in to terrorists. Or whatever it is you call those ideologues and hostage-takers that the military fights. The point is, just remember that the military will be there for you during the budget apocalypse if you need a job, or want to watch some inspiring videos about jumping out of helicopters and hunting people with spear guns.

UPDATE: Below, readers point out a variety of reasons why furloughing military personnel is not as easy as furloughing civilian workers, which may help explain why Army recruiters are still working while food inspectors are not.

Trent Lott on Ted Cruz: "Cut His Legs Out From Under Him"

| Mon Sep. 30, 2013 5:26 PM EDT

Just as House Speaker John Boehner was concluding a brief press conference on Monday afternoon—declaring that House GOPers would once again send to the Senate a bill funding the government that would block Obamacare, practically ensuring a government shutdown—I bumped into former Republican Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, who now works at Patton Boggs, a powerhouse law and lobbying firm in Washington. Glad not to be part of the mess? I asked.

"I'm of two minds," Lott said. "I'd like to be in the arena and help work something out. But it's gotten too nasty and too mean these days. I couldn't work with these guys."

What do you think of how Boehner and the House Republicans are handling this?

"They've made their point," Lott huffed. "It's time to say enough and move on." Referring to the die-hard tea partiers in the House Republican caucus, he added, "These new guys don't care about making things work." Lott noted that in the mid-1990s, he warned then-Speaker Newt Gingrich not to force a government shutdown. "I knew it wouldn't be good for us," he said.

So how does this end? Lott said he still was optimistic that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell could step in and negotiate a deal—maybe a short-term continuation of spending. (Not too long ago, I noted that the odds of a successful McConnell intervention were low.)

I asked Lott if his old GOP pals still serving in the Senate have lost control of their party. How do they feel about that? I inquired. Lott shook his head: "That Ted Cruz. They have to teach him something or cut his legs out from under him."

Cut his legs out? Yeah, Lott replied with a chuckle. He noted that when he was in the House in the 1980s he mounted a campaign against a fellow Republican who had challenged him for a leadership post. "Took me two years," he recalled. "But I got him. And he was out of the House." Recalling his vindictiveness and hardball politics, Lott chuckled once more. "Call me if you want more red meat," he said, before heading toward the car waiting for him.

Jennifer Hudson Promotes Obamacare, Impersonates Olivia Pope in New Funny or Die Video

| Mon Sep. 30, 2013 2:23 PM EDT

It's the first video from Funny or Die's new series of pro-Obamacare videos. The above two-minute segment, titled "Scandalous with Jennifer Hudson," is a playful spoof of Scandal, ABC's hit political-thriller series starring Kerry Washington. "I prefer covert scandal manager," Hudson says when people refer to her as a "fixer." But the main point of the video is to promote the benefits of Obamacare and to show viewers how to sign up. The sketch ends with this image, with the narrator encouraging you to visit the website:

On October 1, the Affordable Care Act's health insurance exchanges—in which uninsured Americans will be able to buy coverage using federal subsidies—open up for business. While conservative groups are emphasizing doom and government excess (this includes the Koch brothers-backed young-conservatives group Generation Opportunity, which recently released this creepy, sort of rapey anti-Obamacare ad), Funny or Die, Will Ferrell and Adam McKay's comedy site, has planned a short series of comedic celebrity web videos aimed at educating American twenty-somethings about the law.

In July, a cluster of Hollywood big-names attended a meeting at the White House to chat about how they could help spread the word about Obamacare. (President Obama swung by for roughly half an hour to mingle and hear some of their ideas.) The meeting was run by senior advisor Valerie Jarrett, who gave a presentation on health care reform and talked about pushing back against conservative memes surrounding the law. Here is Jarrett tweeting about Funny or Die's Scandal-themed PSA, using the hashtag "#GetCovered," a hashtag that appears in the video:

And here's the White House sharing it:

Hudson and Mike Farah, president of production and "ambassador of lifestyle," were both present at the July meeting. "We want to make the right amount of videos—ones that are smart and break through the clutter [and rhetoric]," Farah told Mother Jones. "If we can help make [signing up for Obamacare] a normal thing, something that isn't politicized, something that comes second nature to younger people (like putting your seatbelt on), that is something we'd want to do...It's not like one Funny or Die video can change the world—it'd be nice if it could! But people have to hear about this issue from all sorts of directions."

Funny or Die has generated and promoted Obamacare-related content before, including "The Mis-Informant" (starring Jack Black as a "professional mis-informant who gets paid a buttload of cash" to lie about Obamacare) and "Injured Americans Against Obamacare." The website pumps out a lot of political satire in general. Shortly after the 2008 election, it released the star-studded "Prop 8 - The Musical." More recently, Funny or Die produced a sketch warning of the dangers of sequestration, and worked with actress Alyssa Milano on her "sex tape" that turned out to be all about the bloodshed in Syria.

We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for September 30, 2013

Mon Sep. 30, 2013 12:20 PM EDT

Marines with 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, stand guard on the outside wall of the US Consulate in Herat, Afghanistan, Sept. 14, 2013. The Marines are currently guarding the US Consulate following the Sept. 13 attack which caused significant damage to the building's infrastructure and left six insurgents dead. US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Bobby J. Yarbrough.

Movie Mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg Raises $1 Million for Mitch McConnell's Democratic Foe

| Mon Sep. 30, 2013 10:17 AM EDT
Jeffrey Katzenberg.

Hollywood is betting big on Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democratic challenger to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

Jeffrey Katzenberg, the movie mogul and Democratic kingmaker, raised more than $1 million for Grimes at a recent fundraiser at the Spago restaurant in Beverly Hills, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Katzenberg, who marshaled more than $30 million to reelect President Obama, has trained his sights on the McConnell-Grimes race for 2014 election season.

In an email to potential donors sent earlier this month, Katzenberg said of the Kentucky Senate race, "There is no more important election being held next year in this country." Katzenberg wrote that he sees McConnell as an obstructionist who has crippled the US Senate and hurt the democratic process in Congress. "Alison is the antidote to McConnell and all he represents," Katzenberg wrote. "She can win, and she will win if she gets the support she needs."

Here's more on Katzenberg's fundraiser from the Hollywood Reporter:

As the event concluded shortly before 8 p.m. and the room emptied out, the studio head and his political adviser, Andy Spahn, lingered at a table chatting with the candidate. As Grimes made her own exit, she paused to thank lingering campaign staff members, who laughingly told her the effort “came from the top down,” a reference to the intense hands-on role Katzenberg took in orchestrating the visit.

Asked for names of donors, Katzenberg simply responded, "Everybody."

The total was particularly impressive since individual donors can contribute only $5,200 to a candidate for federal office.

One of the Hollywood insiders who sized Grimes up during the whirlwind visit told THR that—while there are no formal records kept–the $1 million total is thought to be a record for a single visit by a senatorial candidate raising money in the L.A. entertainment industry.

A knowledgeable source also told THR that Katzenberg is preparing to renew his strong support for Democratic Super PACs as a way to level the electoral playing field in Kentucky, where Republican independent expenditure committees are expected to spend major cash to secure McConnell’s reelection.

Grimes herself made a strong impression at the luncheon, cocktail event and private meetings she attended during a visit that began Wednesday and wrapped up Thursday night. "I spent some time talking with her," said one Hollywood supporter. "She's very smart, very attractive, very poised. She has a good story about her Kentucky roots and her life there. She is very serious. She really wants to win this.

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Need a New Stadium? Threaten to Move Here

| Sat Sep. 28, 2013 6:00 AM EDT

Nothing rips out a fan's heart quite like seeing a hometown team pack up and move to another city. (Or, as the case may be, not seeing a hometown team pack up and move to another city.) While there may be legitimate reasons for franchises to relocate—bankruptcy, low ticket sales, Jay-Z buying a stake—many recent threats to move have one common factor: stadium funding. If your local government decided against spending $400 million of public money to add a few more luxury boxes to Xtreme Cola Guzzle The Flavor® Memorial Arena, get ready to hear your team's owner talking a lot about the following cities. But which threats will have you back in your seat next season, and which will leave you crying into your Houston Oilers jersey? We've got you covered:

Los Angeles
LA has been the NFL's biggest bogeyman ever since the Raiders returned to Oakland in 1995. Most recently, in his push for a new stadium, Raiders owner Mark Davis said that Los Angeles is "always" on his mind. Miami Dolphins CEO Mike Dee raised the specter of relocating Perfectville to LA after Florida opted against giving the team $3 million a year for 30 years for stadium renovations. The City of Angels also looms over teams like the Rams, Jaguars, and Bills, and it served as a believable enough landing place to get Minnesota to agree to a $975 million deal to make sure the Vikings didn't leave. The threats aren't empty, though—LA has two proposed stadium sites that are "shovel ready" along with a massive media market without professional football. With no NFL expansion plans, it seems less a question of if a team will move there and more a question of when.
Relocation likelihood: 5/5 moving vans

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Toronto
The Buffalo Bills have played at least one home game in Toronto for the past few seasons, but they were able to convince the state and county to agree to a $271 million stadium renovation deal at the end of last year that comes with a 10-year lease (although the team can opt out relatively cheaply after seven). While the Bills enjoy a relatively large fan base in the area, Toronto officials could look elsewhere in the meantime, with Jacksonville and New Orleans getting special mentions. Whether it's the Bills, Jags, Saints, or another team who likes Scott Pilgrim enough to move, relocating a franchise to Toronto would be a lot easier than moving one to London. Let's just hope everyone on Twitter gets their "Are they gonna punt on third down?" CFL jokes out of the way quickly.
Relocation likelihood: 3/5 moving vans

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London
While Londoners prepare for a barn-burning matchup of winless teams, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has made no secret of his interest in putting a franchise across the pond. It's a nice bargaining chip for the league and its owners—as the St. Louis Rams tried to get the city to agree to a $700 million stadium deal, the NFL scheduled them for three years of London home games. This year, the Jacksonville Jaguars were scheduled for four straight London games, with the team's owner calling the Jaguars "the home team for London." The league is even pushing a fun club called the Union Jax. Despite these moves, there are plenty of obstacles to putting a franchise in the United Kingdom anytime soon, including huge travel times, players reluctant to move overseas, and the potential for incessant football/football jokes during broadcasts. (Not everyone is so pessimistic.) If a team moves to LA soon, expect London to make a nice new bogeyman.
Relocation likelihood: 2/5 moving vans

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BONUS NBA/NHL SITE: Seattle
Your favorite football team might be safe, but that doesn't mean your local basketball or hockey team is sticking around. Fans of the SuperSonics came tantalizingly close to regaining a franchise this year, only to see the Sacramento Kings stay put. The NBA, on the other hand, saw an extremely effective strategy for getting local officials to help pay for a $448 million new arena in downtown Sacramento. As teams like Milwaukee negotiate new stadium deals, expect threats to turn the team into the new Sonics to come early and often. Seattle also sits pretty as a large market without an NHL team, making the strategy just as useful for hockey owners. The Edmonton Oilers management team took a scouting trip out to Seattle after negotiations with Edmonton over a new arena got off to a rocky start. Both leagues have also discussed expansion, however, so it's possible the Emerald City could see new franchises without having to poach them.
Relocation likelihood: 4/5 moving vans

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Watch: Behind the NRA's Phony UN Conspiracy Theory

Fri Sep. 27, 2013 6:17 PM EDT

The National Rifle Association went on the attack this week over a landmark international arms treaty signed by the United States, claiming it will jeopardize Americans' right to bear arms and even lead to mass confiscation of their guns. Mother Jones senior editor Mark Follman spoke with MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell about how the influential gun lobby hypes misinformation to protect the $12 billion a year gun industry. Watch:

Read our full special report on gun laws and the rise of mass shootings in America.

Mark Follman is a senior editor at Mother Jones. Read more of his stories and follow him on Twitter.

California Passes Domestic Worker Bill of Rights, Sort Of

| Fri Sep. 27, 2013 4:36 PM EDT

Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law the California Domestic Worker Bill of Rights yesterday, making California only the third state in the country to adopt such legislation. But despite its celebration as a policy victory by advocates, the law might more aptly be called the California Domestic Worker Bill of Right, after it was watered down to only include overtime protections.

The law now reads that a domestic work employee "shall not be employed more than nine hours in any workday or more than 45 hours in any workweek unless the employee receives one and one-half times the employee's regular rate of pay" for all overtime hours worked. Hour protections are, without a doubt, an important gain for domestic workers, who "are prone to be overworked on a weekly and daily basis," according to Sarah Leberstein, an attorney at the National Employment Law Project.

WATCH: Another Prominent Conservative Connects Syria Conflict to Armageddon

| Fri Sep. 27, 2013 2:00 PM EDT

Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, a top executive at the influential Family Research Council, has joined the chorus of religious conservatives touting the Syrian conflict as a prelude to Armageddon. On Wednesday, Boykin appeared on Prophetic Perspectives on Current Events, a talk show hosted by dominionist preacher Rick Joyner (see the video above). The pair discussed a passage in Isaiah 17, which predicts Damascus will be reduced to "a ruinous heap."

"One of the scriptures that has never been fulfilled and has to be fulfilled before this age can end is that Damascus will be destroyed, never inhabited again," Joyner explained. "What in the world could cause a city to be destroyed and never inhabited again?" Boykin didn't hesitate. "One of the ways Damascus could be destroyed, never to be re-occupied, would be through a chemical attack," he replied. " So let's just take a scenario: The Free Syrian Army takes Damascus and Bashar al-Assad is in a desperate mode now….What would be his final act? Well it may very well be to unload all his chemical weapons on the population center there in Damascus. Destroy the city and destroy it in a way that he just kills maybe millions of people. But the byproduct is that he has residue there that could make Damascus uninhabitable and for a very long time."