Archive for ALEC

“This event is emblematic of how corporate money undermines our democracy"

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corporate money america

Why hasn't this big, corporate money, corporate influence event already been canceled, especially after this from the Los Angeles Times: "AT&T wields enormous power in Sacramento"?

No other single corporation has spent more trying to influence legislators in recent years. It dispenses millions in political donations and has an army of lobbyists. Bills it opposes are usually defeated.

Here's a press release that just came my way:

Sec. of State Candidate Cressman Urges Lawmakers to Cancel This Weekend’s “Speaker’s Cup” Pebble Beach Fundraiser

Lawmakers Get Schmoozed By Lobbyists, Corporate Titans

Senate cancelled similar fundraiser in wake of Sacramento scandals

Sacramento, CA –

California Secretary of State candidate Derek Cressman today blasted lawmakers attending the Speakers Cup Weekend in Pebble Beach this weekend, saying the golf-and-schmooze event embodied everything that is wrong with politics in a state where three lawmakers were recently suspended from the Senate for corruption.

Cressman today called on Assembly Speaker John Perez to cancel the event, just as Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg had recently cancelled a Senate golf fundraiser with corporate interests.

Cressman, who is running on a platform of transparency and reducing the influence of corporate money, said the Pebble Beach event was just a legal version of the bribery and influence-peddling in the Golden State that has made headline news across the country in recent months.

“This event is emblematic of how corporate money undermines our democracy,” said Cressman. “Corporations like AT&T use campaign contributions to elect corporate Democrats who then deliver legislation that boosts their profits at the expense of California consumers,” he said.

“Frankly, it seems AT&T has California by the calls.”

As an example, Cressman pointed to SB 1161, authored by Senator Alex Padilla to deregulate phone service provided over Internet lines. Consumer advocate Mark Toney of The Utility Reform Network called it “the most anti-consumer bill ever introduced in California.” AT&T likes the bill so much that it has made a similar version a “model bill” of the American Legislative Exchange Council, better known as ALEC. ALEC is an organization that connects state legislators with corporate and right wing organizations that is best known for promoting the Stand Your Ground law implicated in the Florida shooting of Trayvon Martin.

Senator Padilla has received at least $108,732 from telecommunication interests, including $43,395 from AT&T and it’s employees during his time in the Senate.

Overall, AT&T has given California legislators $2,336,468 since 2006.

Cressman wants to get corporate money out of California politics by overturning the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. FEC that struck down bans on corporate campaign spending under the reasoning that corporations should be considered people with constitutional rights. “AT&T is not a person and it shouldn’t be allowed to buy our elections,” said Cressman. He has led a national movement to place questions on the ballot giving voters the chance to call for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court. SB 1272, to be voted on in the California Senate Elections Committee on April 21st, would place such a measure on the statewide ballot in November.

AT&T has consistently been able to block legislation to remove monthly fees that it charges consumers to have an unlisted phone number, a basic privacy protection that reportedly nets telecom firms upwards of $50 million per year.

In another instance of telecommunications influence, just last week Senate bill SB962, which was sponsored by Senator Mark Leno in response to the high rate of stolen smartphones, would have forced electronics manufacturers to install a shut-off function in all smartphones failed in the state Senate. The so-called “kill switch” legislation would have required companies to manufacture smartphones with technology that would make them inoperable when not in the owner’s possession.

AT&T has lobbied heavily against the bill.

Note: Edited to correct error in original release.

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First evidence that ALEC effort to rebrand as being legislator-driven is “sham”

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ALEC general

ALEC is a topic I write about often. Allow me to refresh your memory:

ALEC  (American Legislative Exchange Council) is an organization of state legislators which favors federalism and conservative public policy solutions. They literally write legislation for Republican Congress members, who then do whatever they can to pass it. The Nation:

Of all the Kochs’ investments in right-wing organizations, ALEC provides some of the best returns: it gives the Kochs a way to make their brand of free-market fundamentalism legally binding.

Now that you have some background, here is some good reporting by Madison.com that should hopefully inspire you to vote (Koch-owned) Republicans out in November and get others to do the same. It involves Wisconsin Sen. Leah Vukmir, R-Wauwatosa who "voted on a policy allowing only lawmakers, and not lobbyists, to introduce model bills":

At the same meeting, she sponsored a model bill under the direction of a lobbying group, according to documents released Thursday following an open records lawsuit that cost state taxpayers $15,000 to settle.

Brendan Fischer, a lawyer for the liberal Center for Media and Democracy, which filed the lawsuit, said the more than 100 pages of documents provide the first evidence that an effort by the American Legislative Exchange Council to rebrand itself as being legislator-driven is “just a sham.”

“This demonstrates that ALEC is really a lobbyist-driven organization,” Fischer said. “The lobbyists are the ones calling the shots. The legislators are just following along.”

That's what we in the bloggy biz call a big oopsie. And it's about time someone went very public about how legislators are nothing more than puppets with people like the Koch brothers pulling the strings. I mean other than Harry Reid:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

In one email, Christie Herrera, vice president of policy for the Florida-based Foundation for Government Accountability, a conservative think tank with a registered lobbyist, wrote to Vukmir and three other legislators from other states thanking them for sponsoring a resolution opposing the expansion of state Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act and coaching them on what to say.

More details here.

Kochtopus

Speaking of legal issues, here are a couple of good Progressive lawyers, should you ever need one: Barry Scheck and Seth Price. We have a complete list of those we like to occasionally recommend at the bottom of our right sidebar.

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Group finds that ALEC falsified signatures on "stand your ground" letter to Sen. Dick Durbin

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alec

We've posted about ALEC a lot here at TPC. For example:

ALEC  (American Legislative Exchange Council) is an organization of state legislators which favors federalism and conservative public policy solutions. They literally write legislation for Republican Congress members, who then do whatever they can to pass it. The Nation:

Of all the Kochs’ investments in right-wing organizations, ALEC provides some of the best returns: it gives the Kochs a way to make their brand of free-market fundamentalism legally binding.

And as ALEC Exposed explains:

ALEC bills would privatize public education, crush teacher’s unions, and push American universities to the right. Among other things, these bills make education a private commodity rather than a public good, and reverse America’s modern innovation of promoting learning and civic virtue through public schools staffed with professional teachers for children from all backgrounds.

Now we have this, via Think Progress:

This week, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) sent Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) a letter that claimed the Senator’s investigation into ALEC’s involvement “Stand Your Ground” laws was a form of “intimidation.” The letter was supposed to have carried the clout of about 300 state legislators who signed onto it, but, according to an investigation by progressive group by ProgressNow, many of the signatures on that letter were falsified or duplicated. [...]

The group said it was signed by 293 elected officials. But, ProgressNow found, 55 of the signatures are “blatantly invalid.”

ALEC itself is "blatantly invalid," yet it still dictates legislation on behalf of Corporate America. Let's hope this tarnishes ALEC's image and helps more people to become aware of how they operate, eventually leading to its undoing.

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Reality TV and Reality Law Creation. Fact vs. Fiction.

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Congressional bill

Okay, we all understand how a bill becomes law. A bill is proposed  either by the president or a congressperson. If it makes it through congressional committee, it goes to the floor for a vote. From there assuming it passes, it goes to  the President for signature. If he signs it, we have a new law -- unless the Judicial branch finds it unconstitutional. If the president vetoes it, the house and senate get another shot at it -- needing 2/3 majority to override the veto. Boom. You have it. Reality of bill passage.

That's how it's drawn up, anyway, according to the Constitution. But how does it really work?

Real Housewifes

Like with reality TV, you're told something's real, you see it, and you're expected to buy it as reality. Horsepuckey. The truth is the subjects involved are put in scripted/planned situations and these featured characters are told how to react and what to react to. Sorry to burst your bubble but those Housewives of Beverly Hills aren't really housewives. And those Jersey Shore kids aren't just happening on the outrageous drunken adventures on their own. And Househunters shows start with a couple already buying a house and after they close escrow,  they're shown two others houses and they fake interest. I'm not trying to dispel truths you may wish to believe, but thats how these shows are done. They're plotted, scripted and produced. I know because I've worked on them.

So now that we understand reality, let's put a bill under the same eye of scrutiny. Let's take this creating a law as described above, and get down to brass tacks. Examine the real nitty-gritty. And what better way to do it than with animation?  What follows below is how a bill is really passed today, the hoops and rings of fire that must be jumped through. When the framers of the Constitution drew up our guidelines, they didn't know about lobbyists -- though undoubtedly they must have existed. Maybe even agreement on the Constitution itself came down to some backroom horse and slave trading. So with a h/t to Lucian Dixon, here's something to chew on:

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#Trayvon Martin Stood His Ground and Got Murdered for It: So Did Native Americans

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native americans homeland security fighting terrorism via Marsmet471

Your Daily Dose of BuzzFlash at Truthout, via my pal Mark Karlin:

Because the "Stand Your Ground" law is all about race. Thom Hartmann has best described this in articles in Truthout that historically tie cruel and often murderous white militias that pursued runaway slaves to the current Florida law (which has also been enacted in other states). The first column "The Second Amendment was Ratified to Preserve Slavery"...begins with essential historical perspective:

The real reason the Second Amendment was ratified, and why it says "State" instead of "Country" (the Framers knew the difference - see the 10th Amendment), was to preserve the slave patrol militias in the southern states, which was necessary to get Virginia's vote. Founders Patrick Henry, George Mason, and James Madison were totally clear on that . . . and we all should be too....

After a detailed historical recounting of the Second Amendment compromise to placate the slave holding states, Hartmann concludes:

Little did Madison realize that one day in the future weapons-manufacturing corporations, newly defined as "persons" by a Supreme Court some have called dysfunctional, would use his slave patrol militia amendment to protect their "right" to manufacture and sell assault weapons used to murder schoolchildren.

So Trayvon Martin is dead because he followed the letter of the racist ALEC-NRA "license to murder law" and protected himself against an unstoppable, insatiable deadly force: George Zimmerman. But "Stand Your Ground" laws aren't meant to give blacks the same rights as non-blacks; quite the opposite, they are, as they did in the case of George Zimmerman, meant to give whites (or half-whites in this case) the right to pursue blacks with impunity.

Historically, if we go back to the founding and expansion of what is now the United States, if there had been a legal entity existing at that time, Native Americans (as the illustration for this article points out) would have been entitled to stand their ground against the colonizers from Europe who were stealing their land and massacring them.

We would be subject to Native American law right now if indigenous tribes had had the right to stand their ground as European conquerors expanded westward, creating what is now the United States.

There would have been no development of the Southern tyranny and abomination of slavery, which imported Africans as property and the source of wealth for aristocratic plantation owners.

There would have likely, ironically, been no "Stand Your Ground" laws aimed at de facto allowing the murder of non-whites as BuzzFlash at Truthout wrote about in a July 6 column, "It's Not Just George Zimmerman on Trail, It's America's Acceptance of Killing 'the Other'."

(Photo: marsmet471)

Please read the entire post here.

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Education dean at Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison: ALEC is still at it. Goal: Privatize, "eliminate school districts, boards"

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ALEC general

Julie Underwood, dean of the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is giving everyone a heads-up about the American Legislative Exchange Council’s national network of corporate members and conservative legislators. They are "pro-free market" and would love to privatize education... and everything else, for that matter.

It’s an organization of state legislators that favors federalism and conservative public policy solutions. They literally write legislation for Republican Congress members, who then do whatever they can to pass it. The Nation:

Of all the Kochs’ investments in right-wing organizations, ALEC provides some of the best returns: it gives the Kochs a way to make their brand of free-market fundamentalism legally binding.

Our previous posts on this vile group can be found here (scroll).

Per the Cap Times, Underwood said this:

The ALEC goal to eliminate school districts and school boards is a bit shocking — but the idea is to make every school, public and private, independent through vouchers for all students. By providing all funding to parents rather than school districts, there is no need for local coordination, control or oversight,” she writes in the magazine of the Wisconsin Association of School Boards.

And we've all seen how well a lack of oversight works.

As Underwood put it, when ALEC threatens public education, they threaten every child who wants to “become an active citizen, capable of participating in our democratic process.”

ALEC dictates legislation and Republicans call that democracy while calling President Obama a dictator.

huh wha dizzy

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ALEC, meat/poultry industries, state bills target farm animal abuse videos revealing calves skinned alive, cows suffocated

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animal cruelty stop the abuse

My brother just emailed me a link from Seattlepi.com that made my stomach turn. Then again, animal cruelty, like all torture, always does, but the abuses in this story are especially egregious. I want those responsible for these atrocities-- and those abetting them-- to be exposed and for the entire article to be more widely read, so I hope you'll share:

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — An undercover video that showed California cows struggling to stand as they were prodded to slaughter by forklifts led to the largest meat recall in U.S. history. In Vermont, a video of veal calves skinned alive and tossed like sacks of potatoes ended with the plant's closure and criminal convictions.

Now in a pushback led by the meat and poultry industries, state legislators across the country are introducing laws making it harder for animal welfare advocates to investigate cruelty and food safety cases.

Some bills make it illegal to take photographs at a farming operation. Others make it a crime for someone such as an animal welfare advocate to lie on an application to get a job at a plant.

Here's my brother's comment:

Such "laws" are clearly a corruption of the intent of our legal system. And I wonder why more news organizations haven't jumped on this story.

Maybe if we spread the word (tweet, post, write letters to the editor), the news media will get the hint. Or maybe their negligence has something to do with ALEC's influence:

Formal opposition to the California bill comes from the ASPCA, the Teamsters, the HSUS and dozens of others. They say these attempts by the agriculture industry to stop investigations are a part of a nationwide agenda set by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative think tank backed by business interests.

ALEC has labeled those who interfere with animal operations "terrorists," though a spokesman said he wishes now that the organization had called its legislation the "Freedom to Farm Act" rather than the "Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act."

You all remember ALEC, right? It's an organization of state legislators that favors federalism and conservative public policy solutions. They literally write legislation for Republican Congress members, who then do whatever they can to pass it. The Nation:

Of all the Kochs’ investments in right-wing organizations, ALEC provides some of the best returns: it gives the Kochs a way to make their brand of free-market fundamentalism legally binding.

The videos in question were shot, for the most part, by undercover operatives who got hired by the meat processors and who were tenacious and gutsy enough to reveal shockingly gruesome footage of scenes like "a worker standing on a downed dairy cow's nostrils to suffocate it and others repeatedly shot in the head."

If that bothers you as much as it bothers me, you'll feel compelled to get this report around as quickly as possible.

animal cruelty don't be sorry do something

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