Showing posts with label American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Show all posts
Showing posts with label American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Show all posts

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Republicans want a Constitutional Convention

Why wouldn't they? They control the White House, both houses of Congress, and the Governor's offices and legislatures in many of the states. Perfect opportunity to turn this country so far right the average citizen will be on the streets begging. But wait, there's some actual substance to their plans. Jeb Bush--you remember him--wants to pass term limits and a balanced budget amendment. So far, so good.

A liberal, Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig, got in the act saying now's a great time to undo the Citizens United ruling. Some other liberals, mostly gun control advocates like me, would like to see the 2nd Amendment re-interpreted to fit the 21st century, putting Wayne LaPierre and his NRA gun nuts in their place. There hasn't been a Constitutional Convention since the original one that gave us the Constitution we have. But the environment has never been so right for one party, and the rules for calling a convention are in the Constitution.

Two-thirds of the states have to petition Congress for the meeting, required by Article V of the Constitution. Beyond this stipulation, instructions are vague, which could make it near impossible to come to an agreement. What bothers me most is that the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) endorses the move and I am against anything they are in favor of. ALEC has only one purpose in mind, the promotion of corporations and industry. The consumer be damned.

Some lawmakers and constitutional experts aren't sure about dickering with the Constitution, especially in the environment of a convention. With the loose guidelines for conducting this sort of thing, we could end up with a disaster. But don't we sorta have that anyway now?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Which presidential candidate gets the most secret money?

In the past few years, particularly after the Supreme Court decision to open the door to unlimited contributions by corporations and unions, secret money has poured into presidential and congressional campaigns.  Following that decision in January of 2010, the President remarked that the high court had, "given a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics." 

President Obama
According to, Obama’s large individual contributions are 63.2%, Romney 82.6%.  From, Obama’s corporate donations are spread around pretty evenly between law, education, media, government, technology and finance.  But Romney comes in at 80% alone from finance with the remaining 20% spread between law, real estate and technology.  Obama has received no PAC contributions, Romney $901,524.

But the American public is fed up with this mystery cash going into political action committees (PACS) and other organizations that are formed specifically to raise millions of dollars to defeat the opposing candidate and who are also able to protect the identity of their donors.  They just may not take it anymore.  Already protesters have forced 38 corporations to cut ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), known as a corporate bill mill.

Following the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling, Congress did not act on a bill to require disclosure of the donors.  In Justice Anthony Kennedy’s opinion following the ruling, he and seven other Justices in agreeing with Citizens United also upheld disclosure rules and emphasized there should be transparency.  They even envisioned voters getting campaign information from laptops or smart phones.

Kennedy added, “Prompt disclosure of expenditures can provide shareholders and citizens with the information needed to hold corporations and elected officials accountable for their positions and supporters.”  Further, “This transparency enables the electorate to make informed decisions and give proper weight to different speakers and messages.”  Well, it hasn’t happened and isn’t likely to happen as long as the GOP control the House.

Mitt Romney
Undisclosed donor ads were less than 2% in 2006, jumping to 25% in 2008, 40% in 2010.  It is obvious that candidates along with corporations do not want the source of this new found gold mine to be revealed and that, in itself, should tell the public that something very wrong is going on.  Otherwise, why wouldn’t both sides be eager for the American people to know how a political campaign is being run and who is supporting who?

Mark Sherman said in the Huff Post, “More than 8 in 10 Americans in a poll by The Associated Press and the National Constitution Center support limits on the amount of money given to groups that are trying to influence U.S. elections.”  He also said, “The ringing endorsement of First Amendment freedoms matched the public's view of the Constitution as an enduring document, even as Americans hold the institutions of government, other than the military, in very low regard.”

In addition, the poll found that Americans want protection for minorities in elections, probably as a result of the voter ID laws passed in many states.  Sherman commented, “The laws mainly have been backed by Republican lawmakers who say they want to combat voter fraud. Democrats, citing academic studies that found there is very little voter fraud…”  In fact the laws appear to be just a hurdle to make it harder for those minorities voting Democrat.

Ah, the games politicians play.  The big question is just how long will John and Jane Q. Public put up with it?  Perhaps that’s a question we can answer in November.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

How does Lance Armstrong situation coincide with gun control?

I do not know whether or not Lance Armstrong is guilty of doping charges.  He gave up his fight against the U.S Anti-Doping Agency which could mean he is tired of the struggle or maybe he’s guilty.  Michael Rosenberg of Sports Illustrated said: “Doping charges are serious, the evidence is significant and some credible people have accused Armstrong. (I mean, how much of a jerk would Armstrong have to be for this many people to want to frame him?)”

Lance Armstrong
But the meat of the SI article isn’t the fact that Armstrong might or might not have been using performance-enhancing drugs while winning his Tour de France races, but rather the fact that the public is apathetic about the fact.  One way or the other.  Rosenberg thinks this is the case.  And does it sound like a parallel to the same attitude against gun violence by Americans?  Only 45% were for more regulation of firearms, 50% against in a 2010 study by Pew Research.

But there are those of us who won’t give up on the issue and Sanjay Sanghoee is one of those writing in the Huff Post.  Described in some media as a “dispute,” Sanghoee says the Empire State Bldg. shooting was “barbarism and insanity.”  And he thinks many American gun owners use their guns to experience a “sense of control and power that only a firearm can impart.”  I agree and must add that in many cases a firearm is carried to replace or bolster a man’s masculinity.

Amy Sullivan in The New Republic states: “Barack Obama and Mitt Romney may not want to talk about gun control, but events are conspiring against them.”  Both have voiced their opposition to the mass shootings, apparently without a clue that something needs to be done right now.  And if they are aware, it’s all put on the backburner until after the November elections while many more are likely to be shot and killed before then.  In this respect, politics stink.   

But that's what the NRA told me to say
Sullivan adds a comment by Mitt Romney to Brian Williams of NBC News: “We can sometimes hope that just changing the law will make all bad things go away. It won’t.  Changing the heart of the American people may well be what’s essential, to improve the lots of the American people.”  To that Amy Sullivan replies “Poppycock.”  My opinion is that by the time Romney’s concept comes to fruition, hundreds of thousands more innocent people will be killed by guns.

But there are improvements in public attitudes toward gun control sounded by an August 2012 study by the Public Religion Research Institute.  In that poll, 52% favor stricter firearms regulation compared to 44% against.  However, this study was done following a series of recent mass shootings and is likely to mellow considerably after the shock wears off.  Support of gun control has dropped significantly since its high of 66% back in 2000.

The Institute for Economics and Peace has ranked states according to which are the most violent based on homicide, violent crime, incarceration rates, as well as the availability of firearms.  The top five are Louisiana (#1 20th year in a row), Tennessee, Nevada, Florida and Arizona.  Only one of these states, Arizona, experienced one of the recent mass killings; the Tucson massacre in Jan. of 2011 where 6 died, 13 wounded including former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords.

Not a surprise since Arizona has the loosest gun laws in the country; a state where anyone can buy a gun and carry it around anywhere they want to.  All because of a bunch of Republican misfits that let the National Rifle Assn. (NRA) and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) tell them every move to make.  It is this radical conservative culture that is killing thousands of innocent Americans each year, all because they love their guns more than human life.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

I was for voter ID before I was against it

OK, someone has already said that but I just found out it can actually happen.  It didn’t seem wrong to me to simply ask an individual if they were actually the person whose name was on the voting rolls.  If I have to prove who I am to get on an airplane, and I do, then why not when I vote?  But then I started checking into the demographics of those that would be affected most, plus reading a recent report of just how rare voter fraud is in the U.S.  Now I’m not sure either way.

Those most likely to be affected are the poor, minorities and elderly.  Is it a coincidence that much of this group would be most likely to vote for Democrats?  No it definitely is not just fate since the major force behind voter ID laws is Republican led.  As an example, according to Open Channel on NBC, the ultra conservative organization American Legislative Exchange Counsil (ALEC) has launched a “flurry” of voter ID bills.  So much for GOP credibility.

Let’s talk demographics starting with Hispanics.  The Latinos population represents 16.3%, based on the latest Census figures.  For a family of four, the poverty level is considered to be around $22,350 and that represents 13% of U.S. population.  The elderly defined as being age 65 plus number 13%.  This comes in at a grand total of 42.3% of the U.S. population.  Let’s assume the majority of these three groups would lean to voting for Democrats.

According to 2008 election figures, there were 213,313,508 eligible voters representing 70.2% of the U.S population.  But only 132,653,958 voted in 2008 or just 43.6% of the population and 62.6% of eligible voters.  The question, of course, is just how much of the 42.3% above is represented in the 132,653,958 that voted in 2008, or better yet, not represented. 

The turnout rate for the voting age population in 2008 was 56.9% and we might wonder if some or all of the above profile are included.  In either case, voter ID laws could certainly only further discourage whatever number that was.

The hardest hit will be the minorities, particularly Hispanics in certain states.  Arrests through Arizona’s Maricopa County sweeps by Sheriff Joe Arpaio have put the fear of potential jail, at least harassment into even the legals in the state and nationwide, even though they have proof of legality.  USA Today reports, “Every year, 600,000 more Latinos become eligible voters, making them a potentially potent voting force.”  The problem is getting them to the polls.

And this will certainly change with the younger Latino generation that is on the way.  I say that by witnessing first-hand here in Arizona how these young undocumenteds are applying for President Obama’s Deferred Action Plan in large numbers.  Although they are illegal according to Arizona’s Gov. Jan Brewer, they are openly defying her executive order against giving them state benefits, including obtaining driver’s licenses to get to work.

Young Turks expose GOP support of voter ID is to win elections:

The stupid antics of Brewer and disgraced former State Senator Russell Pearce, including some in the state legislature, will come back to haunt the Arizona GOP in future years.  A Hispanic voting bloc large enough to vote these fanatics out of office can’t come soon enough for most progressives in the state.  Pew Research reported 6.6 million Latinos voted in 2010, adding that they expect a turnout of a record 12.2 million in November, which would be a 26% increase over 2008.

But when it comes to voter fraud, one of the primary reasons Republicans are pushing voter ID, a study has found that it is almost non-existent.  2,068 cases of alleged voter fraud were analyzed and only 10 cases of alleged in-person voter impersonation were found since 2000.  That’s less than one per year.  Based on 146 million U.S. registered voters, that comes out to one in every 15 million registered voters.  It would appear the GOP has no grounds for suspicion there.

Raging prejudice but it happens
Republican Mississippi state representative, Bill Denny, who sponsored his state’s voter ID law, said, “Whether you have proof of it or not, what in the heavens is wrong with showing an ID at polls?"  Here’s why.  The state has a black population of 37%, Hispanics 2.7%.  Total population is 2,983,922 so that means a full compliment eligible to vote would equal a total number of 1,184,617 that could throw Denny and other bigots like him out of office in November.

The answer is education before enacting voter ID laws.  We must educate the population on just how important is to register and vote in all elections.  Using activists reaching the poor and elderly, and in the black and Latino communities, to get the word out that to expect representation of their needs, they must go to the polls and elect those who believe what they believe.  And most of all, we must take the fear out of voting for minorities.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Who’s for? Who’s against? Gun control

It looks like gun violence has finally gotten the attention of the two presidential candidates.  Barack Obama told an African-American group in New Orleans on July 26, that we’re lax in the control of weapons and wants to work with lawmakers to rectify this.  Mitt Romney, in the perfect National Rifle Assn. (NRA) profile, said changing laws on the issue wouldn’t prevent future incidents like the Aurora, Colo. movie shooting where 12 died and 58 were injured.

Obama and Romney on gun control
First of all, the President should be infuriated over gun violence; along with the Aurora massacre, his hometown of Chicago is currently going through the worst episodes in decades, almost exclusively within the black community.  He wasn’t.  Romney’s lame answer comes from cow-towing to the gun lobby for the votes of gun nuts.  He even mistakenly said many of the weapons used by James Holmes were obtained illegally.  They were all legal, including the ammunition.

The New Trajectory blog does an excellent job of covering the “semi-switch” in President Obama’s views on gun control with quotes from his speech.  Baldr Odinson ends by challenging the President now to turn those words into action, echoing a question many of us have about what the next steps of The White House will be.

So who’s for and who is against gun control?  You will be surprised at some that are in favor and others who aren’t.

  • Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), has already prepared a bill to limit the sale of high-capacity magazines like the one used by James Holmes when he killed 12 and injured 58 in the Aurora, Colo. movie theatre.

  • Arch conservative Bill Kristol said that people do have a right to handguns and hunting rifles but doesn’t think they have the right to assault rifles.

  • House Rep. Kevin McCarthy, number three Republican from California, sounds open to discussions on gun control but wants to have more facts first.

  • Another House Rep., an Oregon Democrat, feels the U.S. has given up on gun control.

  • Sen. Barbara Boxer from California says that Congress must pass sensible gun legislation.

  • Former Democratic Sen. from Connecticut, Christopher Dodd, called for more restrictions on guns and questions why Americans should be able to buy assault weapons.

  • Mitt Romney, of course, has put his support firmly behind the 2nd Amendment, a move no doubt orchestrated by wacky Wayne LaPierre of the NRA, and thinks new gun laws would not have made any difference in the Aurora tragedy.

  • New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has challenged and chastised both presidential contenders on not coming out stronger for gun control.  He comments: “I can tell you I don’t think there’s any other developed country in the world that has remotely the problem we have.

  • California Sen. Dianne Feinstein wants to have a “sane” discussion on gun control and ban assault weapons.

  • Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) is in favor of a ban against large capacity ammunition clips.

  • Fox TV’s ultra-conservative Bill O’Reilly called for Congress to pass a law requiring the registration of all "heavy" weapons to be reported to the FBI because it "makes sense.”

  • Lauren Fox in US News said, there is no evidence to indicate that any existing gun law would have prevented James Holmes from doing what he did in Aurora, Colo.

  • House Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) wants President Obama to go around Congress using his executive authority to enact better gun laws.  Her husband was killed in the
    1993 Long Island Rail Road
    shooting massacre.

  • Michael Moore, Academy Award winning filmmaker’s statement says it all: "We have to see that we're a part of each other, and we have to take care of each other. The reason why they have universal health care in Canada and Britain, these other places? Because they believe if one suffers, everybody suffers," he tells the "Piers Morgan Tonight" host. "That is not our mentality, our mentality is 'I got mine, you get yours, and the hell with everybody else.'" 
Great statements on gun control by Michael Moore:

    Jason Alexander
  • Jason Alexander of Seinfeld fame tweeted that he believes there should be some kind of gun control in the U.S. so that not just any “Joe Schmoe” could walk into a Walmart and purchase a weapon.

  • And it should be noted with interest that just days following the Aurora massacre, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) gathered in Salt Lake City behind closed doors to formally continue their support for the ownership and sale of assault weapons.  Read more here about the participating companies you should boycott.

  • And last, but certainly not least, there is Barack Obama’s views on gun control which have mellowed significantly since he was a Senator from Illinois.  The President must get reelected; another GOP administration in the White House and control of Congress would lead to a disaster for the U.S. in my mind.  If Obama is cooling it until his reelection in November, after which he plans to lower the boom on the NRA and pass gun control, that’s fine with me.  Only if.

It would appear that we have accumulated more than a modicum of support for gun control following the bloodbath in Aurora, Colo., which in itself is a tragedy that this issue continues to be forced into the forefront by the killing and injuring of innocent individuals.  All because of NRA head Wayne LaPierre and his leadership of lackeys and a fear-mongering reign over the organization’s membership.  But maybe this is the year and we should all be ready.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

NRA member’s “Obama assassination joke” shows the insanity of this organization

Pres. Lincoln's assassination
At the recent NRA meeting in St. Louis, a reporter had the luxury of witnessing first-hand just what a bunch of morons make up at least a portion of the membership of the National Rifle Assn. (NRA).  Alexander Zaitchik, writing for Media Maters for America, was on an airport shuttle bus when this idiot, who is an attorney by the way, dropped the bomb:

“What do Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, and Barack Obama have in common?"  The answer, "Nothing. Yet."

Gun wacko Wayne LaPierre

According to Zaitchik, the quote came from a professional Second Amendment extremist named Stephen Burke, who is a buddy of Wayne LaPierre, Exec. V.P. and CEO of the NRA.  In his day job “Burke specializes in getting guns into the hands of ex-cons whose licenses have been revoked or downgraded for criminal activity.”  A shining example of the NRA’s mission to put guns in the hands of everyone, no matter their background, allowing them to carry them anywhere.

What is chilling about this group of gun worshippers is the fact that most of the shuttle bus erupted in laughter, except for the “soft-spoken” father from Long Island who was going to the convention with his teenage daughter; he just looked out the window, “embarrassed.”  Yes, there are NRA members who believe in moderation and don’t wish to participate in the lunacy of these double-digit red necks.  They are apparently few, however.  Pathetic!

Zaitchik cautioned, though, that parents who want to shield their children from this kind of low class humor should keep them away from NRA conventions.  He added, “The group's leadership has in recent years expertly cultivated a very profitable hatred and paranoia among its membership.”  We all know that the use of hate and fear-mongering has a distinct appeal to conservatives.  And it keeps the NRA coffers full from the dull-witted among its members.

NRA 2012 convention

At the convention, NRA members and their leaders described President Obama as an “enemy of freedom,” with the same old tired phrase that he wants to take away all their guns.  This bunch of deadbeats will be after the President in November, but it’s not clear if his GOP rival, probably Mitt Romney, will be their saving grace.  Romney has vacillated on his support of gun control since he was the Massachusetts Gov., and wasn’t a surefire at the NRA convention.

But did you know that the NRA was almost bankrupt in the mid-1990s?  Considering the donations of only two gun manufacturers at this year’s convention, Ruger and MidWayUSA, who gave up $8 million, that’s hard to understand.   And in 2007, one of its former lobbyists, Richard Feldman, “…described the organization as a "cynical, mercenary political cult."  Zaitchik is more conciliatory of the group today, but I say it hasn’t changed.  Nada.

 The NRA’s official battle cry for November is “All In.”  Zaitchik says it works when you consider the group’s extreme, even “insane” interpretation of the 2nd Amendment.  The organization has gone on the offense in recent years which is plainly obvious in the states of Arizona and Florida.  Arizona has the loosest gun laws in the country allowing guns in bars by owners who had no background checks.  And Florida passed the original “Stand Your Ground” law.

The NRA has as its steadfast partner the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in passing its absurd gun laws.  ALEC is a pro-business, anti-consumer group composed of U.S. corporations and state legislators that pass legislation designed for the profits of American companies while leaving consumers to fend for themselves.  In many cases the legislation is passed by states verbatim of what ALEC proposes. 

"Shoot-em-up Charlie" cartoon of the NRA and ALEC

But currently the NRA is focused on a federal bill to allow gun owners to carry nationwide, according to their state’s laws.  As an example, under this proposed law, a gun totin’ cowboy from Arizona with no background check, nor any training in firearms whatever, could carry his or her handgun to any U.S. state, no matter what the state’s gun laws say.  It’s another of the NRA’s licenses to kill. 

Thirty years ago there were discussions of a national handgun ban.  Today we’re talking about universal right to carry, brags the NRA’s Chris Cox.  Will this conglomeration of misfits still be bragging when some of their own are killed by the guns they want everywhere?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Largest auto and home insurer STATE FARM refuses to dump ALEC

Think State Farm Insurance is “Like a Good Neighbor,” as the slogan brags in their advertising?  Think again.  They are a part of the largest anti-consumer group in the country and even after numerous requests from its customers and pro-consumer groups State Farm says it will not budge in its support of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).  They continue to maintain both their membership and leadership in the organization.

SF VP Louise Perrin said, "(O)ur work with ALEC is limited to research projects for use by public officials considering matters that impact the affordability and accessibility of insurance," according to the Center for Media and Democracy who has been bird dogging ALEC for some time now.  My interpretation of Perrin’s remark is that SF works with ALEC to wring every dollar out of their policyholders with limited coverage in return.

CMD states that Corporations like State Farm pay a hefty amount to participate in ALEC’s business-favored programs, somewhere around $50,000—plus additional money to serve on specific task forces—some of which is spent to promote NRA causes like the “stand your ground” law that has been deemed responsible for the killing of teen ager Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman. 

ALEC was also involved in the creation of and passing of Arizona’s anti-immigration law, SB-1070.  They have been active in passing voter ID legislation that confuses and discourages the poor and ethnic groups to vote.  ALEC wants to privatize the prison system and education across the country when it has been proven that the public system is just as sufficient and less-expensive.

So just remember, every time you pay your premiums for auto and/or homeowner insurance to State Farm, a portion is going to ALEC to support pro-corporate legislation that puts the consumer at the bottom of the priority list.  And some of these may be bills that reflect just the opposite of what you believe on the issue.  ALEC’s control over conservative Republican state legislators is now legend; in many cases they pass ALEC legislation word for word.

A U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, (D) Wisconsin, comments on ALEC:
CMD says, “State Farm's participation on ALEC's insurance committee has put the insurer in a position to benefit from several major pieces of insurance industry model legislation.”  This includes the Consumer Choice Motor Vehicle Insurance Act.  The Act, “lowers the minimum amount that insurance companies typically must insure motorists for under state law in auto accidents.”  Further, “the law can mean lower payouts for insurance companies, yielding higher profits.”

BINGO!  State Farm is interested in its profitability over the quality of coverage it provides for its policyholders.

CMD adds, “The lower minimum coverage can also mean that consumers who thought they had insurance for serious accidents do not have enough to cover the injured parties.”  It happened in Wisconsin where ALEC worshipper Governor Scott Walker signed legislation that “…reduced the state's minimum coverage for auto liability insurance by half.”  This is a secret collusion between corporations and state legislators led by ALEC with the consumer always on the losing end.

CMD reports on other ALEC-sponsored auto insurance bills that leave consumers holding the bag:

  • The After Market Crash Parts Act, which leads to lower costs for insurers transferring “…the risk to policy holders that after-market replacement parts might be inferior to the manufacturer's part.”

  • Create an industry-controlled registry of insured motorists for states to identify motorists who flout mandatory insurance laws (a model law which effectively creates the same kind of public-private partnership in mandated auto insurance that many ALEC members would oppose when it comes to health insurance).

  • Restrict or prohibit non-economic damages (such as pain and suffering) if an individual in a car accident did not have insurance* -- an industry effort to ratchet up the sale of policies.

  • Prohibit state governments from being involved in the private insurance market (a theoretical proposition that may be a preemptive strike against policy makers who have considered taxing gas to cover uninsured motorists).

Other companies on the Fortune 500 list with State Farm have dumped ALEC.  They are McDonald’s, Coca Cola and Kraft.  Currently a total of 10 consumer-oriented companies have cut the cord with ALEC, and CMD forecasts more will follow.

Now I am not suggesting that you drop your State Farm insurance and switch to another company because casualty insurance today is such a tediously technical issue and you need a company track record.  And also, if you have the kind of agent I do, you wouldn’t part with him or her for anything.  Just call Bob Lapinski at State Farm (309) 735-8621, and tell him to get out of ALEC now.

You can see a series of my posts on ALEC here.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The NRA’s sinister roll outside gun rights lobbying

Think the National Rifle Assn. (NRA) only concerns itself with the right for anyone to buy a gun, no matter what their background is, and carry it anywhere in the U.S. they want to?  Think again.  This duplicitous organization, in its crusade to convince a bunch of brain-washed gun worshippers the 2nd Amendment gives them the right to do anything they choose with firearms, has an underlying reason for constantly appealing to members’ pocketbooks.

The NRA does hit up its members for donations that these gun chumps easily give up to keep them armed to the hilt, but there is a method in their madness.  The NRA wants to go big time in the lobbying of conservative causes.

Grover Norquist
 They are hooked up with one of the most ultra-conservative lobbying groups in the country, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), who dreams up legislation that is pro-business and anti-consumer, then takes it to dim-witted, mostly GOP state legislators throughout the U.S. who often pass the legislation verbatim.  A good example is the “stand your ground” law that is responsible for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Florida by George Zimmerman.

The NRA actually brought this proposed law to ALEC, who first got it passed in Florida and subsequently 20+ other states.  But the bullets hit the fan this past week when four of ALEC’s corporate sponsors dumped them, no doubt over the “stand your ground” law and the Trayvon Martin killing.  The companies were Coca Cola, Pepsico, Kraft and Intuit and according to some there may be more. 

Thanks to the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), ALEC is finally being exposed for the conspiracy it is.  You can see all the action at their site ALEC Exposed.

The CMD has also documented the NRA’s participation in other conservative legislation that has nothing to do with gun rights.  NRA lobbyist Tara Mica was instrumental in developing and coordinating the bill for voter ID that inhibits voting by the poor, ethnic groups and minorities.  Mica was also responsible for participating in the preparation of the model legislation that eventually became Arizona’s anti-immigration law, SB-1070. 

The question the NRA members might want to ask themselves at this point is just how much of their membership dues are being used for this non-gun lobbying.  Unless a majority of the enrollment are bigots who also are in favor of this same philosophy,
Karl Malone

Josh Horwitz, head of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV), says the NRA's role with ALEC cements his view that the NRA is really a base for the conservative movement.  Further, "People think the NRA is just a gun group. It's really not," he commented.  You might want to click on CSGV’s website, “Meet the,” where you can check out the group, particularly its leadership.  People like: 

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, and David Keene, former chairman of the American Conservative Union, Robert Brown, creator of Soldier of Fortune magazine, rock guitarist Ted Nugent, former NBA star Karl Malone, Chuck Norris, Oliver North and Tom Selleck.

Tom Selleck
 Robert Spitzer, a political scientist at the State University of New York at Cortland and at Cornell University, who has studied and written about the NRA for decades, talks of other non-gun issues in which the NRA has become involved.  As an example, the NRA fought hard against campaign finance reform in the days of McCain-Feingold. "They were taking a very much free-enterprise, government-hands-off-the-campaign-process (approach),"

Finally, Spitzer said that the NRA has its work cut out for it, because gun ownership is on the decline in America.  Now that’s the best news we’ve had in a long time.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Corporate stampede to dump ALEC – Do your part today

Unfortunately it took the death of Trayvon Martin in Florida at the hands of George Zimmerman to convince at least some of the corporate world just how despicable the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is.  When the National Rifle Assn. (NRA) brought the “stand your ground” law to the them, it was originally passed in 2005 in Florida, later being passed by 20-something other states.  The law’s efficacy is being questioned nationwide.

This is all the result of the dedicated reporting of the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) on ALEC’s activities in an expose that finally put this reprehensible organization in the spotlight, drawing attention to its lobbying efforts on the state level that favor big business at the expense of the consumer.  The very consumer that supports these large corporations that also support ALEC.  Well the tide has turned and they are dropping like flies.

It was announced late last Thursday that Coca Cola and Pepsico had dumped ALEC, then on Friday Kraft and Intuit decided to bail.  No doubt more are on the way and this list will need to be updated regularly today.  But there were holdouts, some you deal with every day, and you should know who they are (below), and I will show you later how you can add your voice to the referendum.

Wal-Mart refused to withdraw its support of ALEC claiming, "Our membership in any organization does not affirm our agreement with each policy created by the broader group."  Not good enough and you should let the retailer know by your future shopping habits.

According to Reuters, due to “political risk,” Pfizer, Reynolds American, Altria/Philip Morris and non-board ALEC member Procter & Gamble refuse to leave ALEC.  Customers of these companies should decide whether they want to leave them.

Exxon Mobil and British alcohol firm Diageo (makers of Smirnoff products and Johnnie Walker whisky) declined to comment.

Pfizer drugs

Pfizer, the world largest drug manufacturer, said, "We don't agree with every ALEC position, but we participate in ALEC's healthcare forums because state legislators that are the members in ALEC, they make decisions that impact our business and the country's business every day."  Not added is the fact that state lawmakers pass the laws dictated by ALEC, unfavorable to drug users.

Reynolds (Camel cigarettes) said ALEC provides "a valuable forum for sharing of ideas and fostering better understanding of a broad range of both legislative and business issues."  In other words, we let them do our dirty work.

Others who weren’t talking when this was posted are Bayer, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, AT&T, State Farm, plus others.

Now this may all change during the day, adding more dropouts, and you can check the progress of this issue by going to CMD’s site, ALEC Exposed.  And in case you aren’t mad enough yet to participate, here are a few priority items on ALEC’s agenda:

  • Suppress voting by students, the poor and ethnic minorities through restrictive Voter ID laws.

  • Push climate change denial and restrict protections for our environment.

  • Undermine public schools by using tax dollars to subsidize for-profit schools.

  • Limit consumers' rights and the basic right of workers to organize.

  • And privatize and ration Medicare and Social Security, as well as other government services.

Get the scoop on ALEC below from a U.S. Representative:

So now that you are mad enough, here are some sites to visit where you can learn more about the antics of ALEC.  First check out the ALEC Corporations that are involved in this conspiracy and you will see a wide array of the U.S. corporate world.  It’s alphabetized for easy reference.  Next, find your state lawmakers that do just what ALEC mandates and tell them to stop this practice and start representing the people or you will vote them out of office.

Now that you are fully armed with information, you are ready to take action on your own.  Go to CMD’s Dump ALEC site and you can send your own letter to corporate America that says you are sick and tired of these underhanded methods to undermine your rights as a consumer and a customer.  You’ll feel better and it will help CMD in its fight to oust ALEC.  Do it today!

Friday, April 6, 2012

The ALEC conspiracy broadens

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has been called a “bill churning mill” primarily due to the fact that, of the nearly 1,000 bills it presents to state lawmakers each year, 20 percent become law.  Some of them verbatim, right out of ALEC’s factory.  Marvin Meadors writing for the Huff Post likens it to the “evil law firm” in the movie The Devil’s Advocate, a 1997 film in which a lawyer finds out his new boss is Lucifer himself.

I can see how the Koch brothers, David and Charles, would be considered the devil reincarnated by consumers because everything these two concoct ends up flying in the face of the average American citizen.  Things like the “stand your ground” laws (Castle Doctrine), voter id laws, voucher programs for private schools that dilute public education, anti environmental bills, anti-immigration legislation, anti-worker laws, and the list goes on.

But the Koch brothers aren’t in this alone; their cronies are some of the largest corporations in the U.S., all of which depend on the very consumers ALEC laws are designed to oppose.  Companies like Wal-Mart, Kraft, State Farm, Exxon/Mobil, Verizon, AT&T, Bayer, GlaxoSmithKline, not to mention Koch Industries and there are more.  These back-stabbers are joined by over 2,000 of your state legislators who pretty much do just what ALEC tells them to.

And then there is the National Rifle Assn., which brought the “stand your ground” law to ALEC, who along with the NRA got it passed in Florida in 2005, which then went on to another twenty-something states.  It is the basis on which George Zimmerman shot and killed black teen ager Trayvon Martin in Florida recently, and the possible answer to why justifiable homicides are increasing at an alarming rate in the states that have passed this law.    

ALEC was actually founded by conservative Paul Weyrich, also the founder of the Heritage Foundation to defy liberal think tanks.  He was one of the earliest to marry conservatives to evangelicals, joining Jerry Falwell to found the Moral Majority.  Weyrich actually said: “I don't want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of the people.  He continues, “As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”

His underlying meaning, above, becomes quite clear when you consider the voter-id laws that ALEC is proposing under the guise of stopping voter fraud that are actually meant to discourage voting by the poor and ethnic minorities. 

But there is probably nothing more profound in ALEC’s privatization efforts than its crusade to turn America’s prisons into private enterprise.  Its model legislation has been responsible for an explosion in prison population.  Laws like “three strikes,” mandatory minimum sentencing laws, and “truth in sentencing” that does away with or limits parole.  As crime fell dramatically in the 1990s, the prison population grew by a half-million inmates, as just one example.     

Gov. Brewer fills private prisons

And where do we go for the most glaring examples of ALEC’s privatization of prisons?  Why Arizona of course.  I did a post on this in February, “Private prisons another example of big business exploiting states,” which related the conspiracy going on between Gov. Jan Brewer’s office, Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the Republican state legislators to bring in companies like Corrections Corp. of America (CCA), and guarantee to keep their cells filled for profit.

But there is a darker side that the state doesn’t talk about because it completely refutes Arizona’s original reason for going this route.  It was to save money, which it hasn’t.  A report released in February reveals that the state overpaid its private prisons by $10 million between 2008 and 2010.  And what they received in return was unacceptable including malfunctioning alarm systems, fences with holes in them, inept staffs plus other problems.

In total there were 157 serious security failings across five facilities.  There were some 28 riots, a figure that cannot be confirmed since the prison administration attempted to hide the evidence.  And just this past Tuesday, Arizona’s Dept. of Corrections awarded a $349 million three-year contract to privatize health care for inmates, costing $5 million more than the state paid in 2011.

These are your tax-paying dollars folks, and ALEC makes the U.S. Congress’ pork barrel politics look like kids stuff.  The question is not if, but rather when, ALEC will come up with a new state program to privatize.  How about parks?  Now that’s a possibility.  Fence them all in and charge admission.  But the state must find ways to force more people into the parks for maximum profit of let’s say a company like “Private Parks of America.”

Absurd?  Not at all.  And if progressives don’t get busy on both the national and state levels and dump these conservative lawmakers that worship big business, this country is in for a shock some day when corporations will occupy the White House and the Congress, not individuals.

BREAKING NEWS: Just announced that Coca Cola and Pepsico have severed their ties with ALEC due to pressure from special interest groups.  More on this later. 

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