ALEC-The Unwelcome and Unregistered Elephant in the Room at NN2012 (I loved it!)

Reposted from Daily Kos blog by Bob Sloan.



Returned from Netroots 2012 convention in Rhode Island yesterday and spent today uploading videos and pictures to my Flikr account.  For the videos I’ve used the great ones provided by Netroots Nation.  I’ll share some of the pictures here for visitors to look at.

First I want to say again I thank those of you who voted for me in the Democracy For America Scholarship contest.  You made it possible for me to be one of the first selected to attend.  Through the scholarship I was able to network with thousands about ALEC and our work on DK and at ALTP and our website.  Thanks to DFA for offering such scholarships, the city of Providence, Mayor Angel Taveras and the staffs of DFA and Netroots for such a wonderful experience.  The staff worked hard and made the convention a success and all of us “scholars” welcome and made to feel at home.

Huge shout-back to the Center for Media and Democracy and Lisa Graves, Executive Director of CMD for Lisa’s shout-out to myself, Daily Kos and VLTP during her presentation at the “Whose Law Is It Anyway? ALEC’s Influence on State Legislatures and What We Can Do About It” as you’ll see at the above link.

I was fortunate to meet and speak to Markos at the DFA’s scholar’s luncheon at Trinity Brewhouse on Thursday:

Netroots 2012 Daiy Kos founder, Marcos Moulitsas attending DFA Scholarship lunch

and also to Jim Dean at the same luncheon (my apologies for the blur, camera setting was on still) on Indiana politics and ALEC:

Netroots 2012 Jim Dean speaking at DFA Luncheon

I was again able to speak with Marcos and a friend at the DK 10th Anniversary celebration on Saturday at the Whiskey Republic in Providence. An open bar and barely room to turn around without really liking your neighbors 🙂 but it was a great experience and a fine ending (for me) to the NN convention (left at 5:00 am yesterday for the return flight:

Marcos, Delia and I at Daily Kos 10th Anniversary Party in Providence.

where ALEC was a topic of conversation as well as Markos’ putting together the DK platform that is enabling progressives to go after ALEC:

Discussing issues with Marcos and another NN attendee at the DK Anniversay party at Whiskey Republic, Providence, RI. 6/9/2012

I was able to network with so many on the ALEC topic, received invites to radio and personal interviews (another shout out to “Talking Left’s”, radio personalities Danielle Guilday and Shane Farnan for their interview and broadcasting the discussion on ALEC).

As another Kossack (ramara) recently wrote, ALEC seemed to occupy an underlying theme at the NN convention – and he was right.

Nearly every; panel, training sessions, keynote speech and conversation one heard walking among the thousands in attendance,  had “ALEC” as a discussed topic and heard over and over again throughout the convention was unbelievable.  I use that term because just over a year ago we organized and put together the first ever public protest against ALEC in Cincy.  A bunch of would-be activists; students, workers and Kossacks – many who took part in the Vietnam, burn the bra and draft protests and demonstrations – came together and decided the word about ALEC had to go out if our democracy was to survive, made up the ranks of the organizers and speakers.

The fact that for this year’s Netroots Convention ALEC was the elephant in the room, ballrooms, exhibit halls and hallways was a testament to how large this “movement” has become and, as Lisa Graves informed during the ALEC Panel presentation…it all began right here on DK just over a year and a half ago.  It began with concerned Progressives who were willing to not look at our calling out ALEC as merely humorous shouts from “conspiracy theorists”.  When more, and more continued to read, research and understand the ALEC influence, the laughs gradually turned to grunts of “What the Hell” and “WTF?” as the news spread out from DK to other venues, blogs, Progressive media outlets, labor organizations and voters in general.

Since that first protest over twenty large corporations and foundations have left ALEC and over fifty legislators (Rep. and Dem. alike) have dumped ALEC.  The senseless murder of a young man, Trayvon Martin, in Florida helped broaden the discussion regarding the serious dangers ALEC represents to the public – to our very democratic system and beliefs.  Not enough…not enough members have dumped ALEC, too few corporations and lobbyists are willing to sever ties with an organization that has now become toxic to so many voters and consumers…not enough from those who have dumped ALEC to save their reputation (lawmakers) and to save their branding (corporations).  These individuals, elected to represent “we the people” owe a debt to us for their involvement in and enabling of ALEC…the corporations who dumped millions into ALEC’s coffers to fund their continuing attacks against the populace and their consumers, owe us a greater debt.  Both should be made to help fund our clean-up of “their” mess.  No free-rides, get-out-of-jail-free cards or other forgiving acts can erase what together these lawmakers and corporatists have done to our country.  I say we must make them help fund our pursuits of shutting down ALEC altogether.

As each announced their dumping of ALEC, corporations and lawmakers alike chose to proclaim “I/we didn’t know” about the agenda, the pursuits of suppressing voter rights, laws to put a bubble of protection around some and allow them to shoot to kill others upon a claim of “I was scared”, or laws to take protections and limit the rights of consumers.  We “didn’t know” does not suffice.  Corporate reps and lawmakers alike sat in those task forces and heard the proposed legislation, discussed the issues and voted on the final model legislation.  But okay, let’s take them at their word…they “didn’t know”.

So the question I have is, now that “you know” what is stopping you from joining us and helping to repair the damage you helped cause”?  Walmart, Amazon, Pepsi, Coca~Cola, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Yum Brands – and the rest of you – willingly participated in acts that have killed, maimed and helped crush the financial futures of millions of us, reduced our wages, tried to kill our Unions and steal our right to vote.  To leave us with this mess and walk away with those laws remaining intact, bringing you huge profits and benefits, is unacceptable.

The fact that State Farm, AT&T, Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly and hundreds more are willing to stay associated with a poisonous outfit such as ALEC is both a testament to the power and influence wielded by ALEC and the corporate willingness to take advantage of that power and influence to continue to enrich themselves.  Greed of the politicians – for power and influence over our political and democratic systems – and greed of the corporations to exploit both for increased profits.  Both earned at our expense.

VLTP is working on a project to take these truths – and a demand to help fund our efforts going forward to abolish ALEC – to the corporations and legislators dumping ALEC.  They cannot dodge responsibility by simply crawling out of the swamp and away.  We saw you, know who you are and are going to be coming to you for your help in setting the world back on its axis.  For those who remain loyal to ALEC, we know who you are and what you are continuing to do while you remain members of ALEC.  We know what to expect and all your ways of exploiting us and our system…we will not be so easily duped again.  As long as you stay we’re asking others to avoid your products, services and false claims of “doing nothing wrong” as we actively come for you through exposure and a large dose of sunlight.  Be forewarned…we are now awake, angered and we all vote…

Apologize for the brief rant, but can’t write without thinking about what they’ve managed to do to our politics, judicial and legislative systems without wanting to tear the keys from my keyboard.

Netroots 2012 was a huge success and ALEC was an underlying theme throughout.  So a huge Kossack shout-out to all the readers, followers and now “believers” in the existence and danger of ALEC and their Koch funded cabal.  I’m hoping that the work we do from now until the Netroots Nation convention in San Jose, CA. next June results in ALEC truly becoming no more than a sad footnote in America’s long history.  If successful it will be one hell of a party in San Jose…