TBC: Morning Musing 4.7.15

I have 3 articles for your perusal this morning!

First, poor poor ALEC, but they probably should’ve thought it through:

ALEC Doesn’t Want To Be Known As A ‘Climate Denier’ Organization Anymore, And It’s Willing To Sue

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the secretive organization that brings together conservative politicians and major corporate interests, is out to correct the impression that it’s a “climate denier” organization by threatening to sue groups that refer to it as one. But after a string of abandoned sponsors, the expansive free-market group’s threat to sue Common Cause and the League of Conservation Voters appears to be more motivated by containing its public relations spiral, rather than reshaping its anti-climate and anti-clean energy agenda.

As the Washington Post reports, in recent weeks attorneys for ALEC sent letters to the two organizations asking them to immediately “cease making false statements” and “remove all false or misleading material” suggesting that ALEC does not believe that “human activity has and will continue to alter the atmosphere of the planet.”


The Battle for North Carolina

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

North Carolina Battleground State

Full transcript can be read here

First it was Wisconsin. Now it’s North Carolina that is redefining the term “battleground state.”  On one side:  a right-wing government enacting laws that are changing the face of the state. On the other:  citizen protesters who are fighting back against what they fear is a radical takeover. This crucible of conflict reflects how the battle for control of American politics is likely to be fought for the foreseeable future: not in Washington, DC, but state by state. [..]

At the heart of this conservative onslaught sits a businessman who is so wealthy and powerful that he is frequently described as the state’s own “Koch brother.” Art Pope, whose family fortune was made via a chain of discount stores, has poured tens of millions of dollars into a network of foundations and think tanks that advocate a wide range of conservative causes.  Pope is also a major funder of conservative political candidates in the state.

Pope’s most ardent opponent is the Reverend William Barber, head of the state chapter of the NAACP, who says the right-wing state government has produced “an avalanche of extremist policies that threaten health care, that threaten education [and] that threaten the poor.” Barber’s opposition to the legislature as well as the Pope alliance became a catalyst for the protest movement that became known around the country as “Moral Mondays.”

The Koch brothers aren’t the only ones who can guy a state.

State for Sale

by Jane Mayer October 10, 2011

In the spring of 2010, the conservative political strategist Ed Gillespie flew from Washington, D.C., to Raleigh, North Carolina, to spend a day laying the groundwork for REDMAP, a new project aimed at engineering a Republican takeover of state legislatures. Gillespie hoped to help his party get control of statehouses where congressional redistricting was pending, thereby leveraging victories in cheap local races into a means of shifting the balance of power in Washington. It was an ingenious plan, and Gillespie is a skilled tactician-he once ran the Republican National Committee-but REDMAP seemed like a long shot in North Carolina. Barack Obama carried the state in 2008 and remained popular. The Republicans hadn’t controlled both houses of the North Carolina General Assembly for more than a century. (“Not since General Sherman,” a state politico joked to me.) That day in Raleigh, though, Gillespie had lunch with an ideal ally: James Arthur (Art) Pope, the chairman and C.E.O. of Variety Wholesalers, a discount-store conglomerate. The Raleigh News and Observer had called Pope, a conservative multimillionaire, the Knight of the Right. The REDMAP project offered Pope a new way to spend his money.

That fall, in the remote western corner of the state, John Snow, a retired Democratic judge who had represented the district in the State Senate for three terms, found himself subjected to one political attack after another. Snow, who often voted with the Republicans, was considered one of the most conservative Democrats in the General Assembly, and his record reflected the views of his constituents. His Republican opponent, Jim Davis-an orthodontist loosely allied with the Tea Party-had minimal political experience, and Snow, a former college football star, was expected to be reëlected easily. Yet somehow Davis seemed to have almost unlimited money with which to assail Snow.[..]

Bob Phillips, the head of the North Carolina chapter of Common Cause, an organization that promotes campaign-finance reform, said that Snow’s loss signals a troubling trend in American politics. “John Snow raised a significant amount of money,” he said. “But it was exceeded by what outside groups spent in that race, mostly on commercials against John Snow.” Such lopsided campaigns will likely become more common, thanks to the Supreme Court, which, in a controversial ruling in January, 2010, struck down limits on corporate campaign spending. For the first time in more than a century, businesses and unions can spend unlimited sums to express support or opposition to candidates.

Phillips argues that the Court’s decision, in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, has been a “game changer,” especially in the realm of state politics. In swing states like North Carolina-which the Democrats consider so important that they have scheduled their 2012 National Convention there-an individual donor, particularly one with access to corporate funds, can play a significant, and sometimes decisive, role. “We didn’t have that before 2010,” Phillips says. “Citizens United opened up the door. Now a candidate can literally be outspent by independent groups. We saw it in North Carolina, and a lot of the money was traced back to Art Pope.”

At Bill Moyers and Company, John Light and Laura Macomber give a synopsis of events in North Carolina:

In 2012, North Carolinians elected a Republican to the governor’s office. That same year, the Republican majority in the General Assembly – first elected in 2010 – grew to a supermajority. The result was that conservatives won the power to change state law dramatically – and over this last year, they used that power. The new legislation included ending benefits for the long-term unemployed; declining the Obamacare Medicaid extension; eliminating the earned-income tax credit; and passing what some observers call the worst voter suppression law in the country. In response, those critical of the right-wing legislative agenda united around protests at the state legislature on Mondays, part of a growing citizen movement that has come to be known as “Moral Mondays.” So far, the movement, however ambitious, has done little to slow the state’s Republican majority from pushing through its agenda.

But this story didn’t start on Election Day 2012 – its roots run deep. And a similar situation could unfold in any of America’s 50 states.

The writers also provide a reading list of articles that follow the money trail that paid for redistricting and the extreme right wing legislative agenda.

ALEC Made Easy: At the Point of a Gun

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Mark Fiore, a political cartoonist and animator has his character, Shoot-em-up Charlie, explain at the point of a gun how the American Legislative Exchange schemes with corporations (like Koch Industries), right wing organizations (read the NRA) and politicians (Bully NJ Gov Chris Christie) to pass legislation that favors their agenda and whittles away at individual rights.

Mark warns to view with caution, there are hoodies. 😉

Shoot-em-up Charlie Discovers ALEC

Coca-Cola, Facing Boycott, Cuts Ties With ALEC Over Voter ID Laws

Voter ID laws are quickly becoming a hot-button issue — and Coca-Cola is jumping back from the heat.

The soft-drink company has severed its ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, a conservative lobbying group that drafts legislation and sends it out to lawmakers. ALEC’s fingerprints have been found on bills and laws in a number of states, and the group’s opponents have grown resistant to what they call ALEC’s efforts to shape the legislative agenda in a way that harms minority and low-income voters.

For more information on ALEC and what they’re up to read ALEC Exposed.org

h/t twolf @ Dependable Renegade

ALEC Exposed – Prison Labor

Earlier this year, the Center for Media and Democracy released documents detailing some 800 model legislations crafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Included in those documents was the Prison Industries Act, legislation that had already been established in dozens of states across the country.

Like much of the model legislation created by ALEC, this bill is designed to help private corporations increase profits. In this case, those profits come from the use of prison labor. As Mike Elk and Bob Sloan wrote in The Nation, “prison labor for the private sector was legally barred for years, to avoid unfair competition with private companies.”

In addition to this legislation, ALEC crafted numerous pieces of legislation that resulted in harsher sentencing in the courts, meaning more prisoners and longer sentences. That, in turn, means more laborers off which to profit.

Progressives are Stupid if they don’t seize their opportunity to educate their Republican neighbors

Progressives are Stupid if they don’t seize their opportunity to educate their Republican neighbors about ALEC – here’s why

ALEC is horrendous, and I’m convinced that most all conservatives would be angry (if not furious) if they knew how private corporations – including foreign  corporations – secretly plot to screw the public for their own profit. Give a listen to this program on ProgressiveRadioNetwork for more info on ALEC, and/or check out diaries about ALEC on dailykos.com.

Although I frequent progressive blogs, I’ve only noticed stuff about ALEC relatively recently. That’s not too surprising – it looks like there’s been nothing on progressive website, before May 24, 2011. At the previous ALEC-on-dailykos link, above, the earliest diary is dated May 24, 2011, called Updated x 3 – Action Diary – 300,000 Activists Needed to Drive ALEC to the Light – Part 1 says,

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has come into public prominence in recent months primarily since Dr. William Cronon, a distingushed scholar at the University of Wisconsin – Madison published an essay Who’s Really Behind Recent Republican Legislation in Wiscosin and Elsewhere? (Hint: It Didn’t Start Here) on March 15, 2011, followed by an OP-ED in the New York Times titled Wisconsin’s Radical Break on March 21, 2011.




ALEC has operated since 1973 clearly out of the spotlight, and in fact, has always attempted to run under the radar of American politics and American media.  Its full membership list is hidden from the public, its “Model Legislation” is hidden from the public, its corporate sponsors are not disclosed, in short, it operates as a shadow government, writing hundreds of bills that are introduced in all 50 state legislatures with a success rate of close to 20 per cent.

Since ALEC hides in the shadows, wants to remain a background player, despite its huge influence, and its primary activity of writing corporate sponsored legislation to be introduced in 50 legislatures, usually to the detriment of the voters that the legislative members were elected to represent, I and many other Americans have decided that this secrecy must end.

This diary is the first of a series that all take the form of Action Diaries, and with some advice from fellow bloggers concerned about the ALEC onslaught of union busting, prison privatization, hostility to public education with legislation around the country intended to weaken teacher unions and the institution of Public Education itself throgh vouchers and charter schools, for profit schools, Voter ID Laws which are really Democratic Voter Suppression laws (passed in some states, introduced in at least 38 states), anti-environmental legislation, anti-regulation of all kinds of businesses, the list goes on, and the goals of this group are radical. …..

Since “ALEC hides in the shadows, wants to remain a background player”, I assumed that knowledge about ALEC would be suppressed on conservative websites. So, to verify (or disprove, as the case may be) this idea, I just did a quick search at MichelleMalkin.com, RushLimbaugh.com, and (Sean) Hannity.com. I used the search string “American Legislative Exchange Council”, not ALEC, since there were lots of Alec Baldwin hits and since I assumed that the ALEC acronym would be spelled out, at least once, in any article that went into it.

Basically, there is no mention of ALEC as a suspicious entity, which betrays the public interest. ALEC is mostly just mentioned as the source of a quote. Moreover, it’s rarely mentioned at all (even in passing). Below are the hit counts:

michellemalkin.com:    2 hits

RushLimaugh.com 4 hits

Hannity.com  4 hits

Only one of the links explained what ALEC is, in any detail, and this was by a member of the Hannity forum, on page 7 of a forum thread, not by Hannity or his staff.


ALEC is a big enough scandal, IMO, that progressives should use it as a first strike weapon in the information war. I have posted some diaries in the past few months about how to get  progressive memes into public mind in general, and thus go far beyond “blogging to the choir”.

Here are some of them:

Wanted: Republicans who plan to sell off CA and NY, to pay the national debt which is about progressives targetting Republican primaries as progressive candidates, which is particularly important and logical in uber-red districts. Exposing ALEC is a topic that these progressive Republicans would be concerned about – who are expecting to lose, but educate in the process.

Going after Grover Norquist’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge , in which I suggested another progressive pillar for the progressive crashers of Republican primaries, to embrace.

Status Quo Busters: How FDL+DK+DU progressives can ‘cross the beams’ and revolutionize politics  The vast majority of progressive blog content, some of it very high quality, never gets much beyond the blog community. Here I suggest leveraging the blog community to print out prepared condensed and edited versions of blog extracts, which can be handed out, left in public places, etc.

Conyers spills the beans on Obama & SS & jobs bill; call for WH protests: The updates discuss using a show business techique (“democracy carolling”) to put a smile on people’s faces before you place a pamphlet in their hand.

How squeegees can help save America, and your sanity – going beyond blogging to the choir: Putting a smile on people’s face before you put a pamphlet in their hand.

How teachers could make Rush Limbaugh’s head explode, but chronically fail to  Pamphleting kids after school is sort of a no-brainer in a suburb…

FDL vs. Rush Limbaugh vs. Michelle Malkin vs. Ann Coulter Websites compared wrt spreading their messages beyond their readership DailyKos and FDL diaries cannot be printed out, nicely formatted, without the comments. Which is not a good way for these websites to encourage propagating their content to the ‘unblogged masses’, at no cost to themselves. DailyKos has a ‘Share’ widget, which allows you to easily email a diary to a friend, but FDL does not have this.

Go figure….

Immigrants For Sale

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Prisons for profits, with our tax dollars

Immigrants For Sale

Immigrants are for sale in this country. Sold to private prison corporations who are locking them up for obscene profits!

Here are the top 3 things YOU need to know about the Private Prison money scheme:

The victims: Private prisons don’t care about who they lock up. At a rate of $200 per immigrant a night at their prisons, this is a money making scheme that destroys families and lives.

The players: CCA (Corrections Corporation of America), The Geo Group and Management and Training corporations-combined these private prisons currently profit more than $5 billion a year.

The money: These private prisons have spent over $20 million lobbying state legislators to make sure they get state anti-immigrant laws approved and ensure access to more immigrant inmates.

Exposing The Immigrants For Sale Scheme

Georgia is the latest state to pass an anti-immigrant bill like SB1070, with Governor Deal having signed it on Friday. Georgia is ALSO home to the largest private prison in the country.

It’s hardly a secret that private prison corporations like Corrections Corporation of America and The GEO group, along with right-wing lobbying group ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) and a few pocketed state legislators like Russell Pearce in Arizona, have been at it-deliberately promoting and designing laws aimed at incarcerating immigrants and turning the prison system into an incredibly lucrative business.

Just last year the private prison industry secured close to $5 billion through state and government elicited contracts of which an increasing percentage is attributed to migrant detention facilities and bed spaces. An NPR report outlined how CCA aims to translate the anti-immigrant rhetoric and political void into a long-lasting cash drive-believing that immigrants will provide a fresh influx of ‘guests’ in their less then onerous ‘hotel’ cells. Even worse, CCA founder Tomas Beasly once called his scheme ‘more profitable’ than selling burgers or cars-a clear indication that any sense of justice in the prison industry will be forever trumped by cash flows and profit margins.

It is clear that for CCA, along with the GEO Group and Management and Training, immigrants are a product-one that is for sale to the highest vendor. They view locked-up immigrants as the next big share jump, stock option, bonus incentive, or any other motive that tickles their multi-billion dollar fancy. They have no shame admitting so-every year the private prison industry gets together for a major convention to essentially design strategies that will fill the more then 150,000 bed spaces they currently own.

Recall For AZ Russell Pearce Gains Momentum: 18K Signatures – Twice What Is Needed

We’ve been tracking the recall campaign against Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce, author of SB1070, because he insisted on playing his nativist fiddle in the Senate while Arizona’s economy burned to the ground. It probably hasn’t helped that he’s become belligerent whenever anyone brings up his role in the Fiesta Bowl scandal, either.

Of course, Greta Van Susteren knew better than to ask Pearce any such tough questions last night on her Fox show. She mostly lobbed out the news of the day – the fact that the people leading the recall had filed more than twice what they needed, some 18,000 signatures – and let him swing away.

But Pearce looked scared, and he should be:

In a celebratory display of unprecedented organization, a bipartisan group of activists poured into the Arizona secretary of state’s office yesterday with more than 18,300 signatures to demand the recall of State Senate president Russell Pearce. The filing of the petitions marked the culmination of a campaign that has defied expectations, and a watershed moment for the beleaguered state. Once the state and Maricopa County recorders verify the legal requirement of 7,756 signatures from the traditionally conservative and Mormon-founded Mesa district, Pearce, who is considered by many as the de facto governor and motivating force behind the state’s notorious blitz of extremist policies on education, health, guns and immigration, will become the first State Senate president in American history to be recalled.

h/t Crooks & Liars

Exposing ALEC

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

No, it’s not an Alec Baldwin expose. This is about The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) who “owns” and “runs” the US and state governments.

Democracy for Sale?

Andrew Gillum, Director of Leadership Programs at People for the American Way Foundation, joins The Last Word to discuss a Republican group more powerful than the Koch brothers.

From People for the American Way

ALEC: The Voice of Corporate Special Interests In State Legislatures

When state legislators across the nation introduce similar or identical bills designed to boost corporate power and profits, reduce workers rights, limit corporate accountability for pollution, or restrict voting by minorities, odds are good that the legislation was not written by a state lawmaker but by corporate lobbyists working through the American Legislative Exchange Council.  ALEC is a one-stop shop for corporations looking to identify friendly state legislators and work with them to get special-interest legislation introduced. It’s win-win for corporations, their lobbyists, and right-wing legislators. But the big losers are citizens whose rights and interests are sold off to the highest bidder.

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) was founded in 1973 by Paul Weyrich, who helped build a nationwide right-wing political infrastructure following the reelection of Richard Nixon. In the same year, he helped establish the Heritage Foundation, now one of the most prominent right-wing policy institutes in the country. One year later, Weyrich founded the Committee for the Survival of a Free Congress, the predecessor of the Free Congress Foundation. In 1979, he co-founded and coined the Moral Majority with Jerry Falwell, and in 1981 he helped establish the ultraconservative Council on National Policy.