Citizens United

ALEC’s Christmas Gift to All…

ALEC’s Christmas Gift to All…

by Bob Sloan

Below are links to many articles related to ALEC’s pursuit of oppressing votes, grabbing up all the public education dollars they can and in general advancing the conservative agenda through continuing meme…also included are letters and article opposing this agenda.  Many are letters to editors, opinion pieces by citizens now alerted to the presence and pursuits of ALEC and the SPN cabal…

Just let the sun shine on in

Now the Koch brothers are coming after my solar panels.

I had solar panels installed on the roof of our Washington, D.C. home this year. My household took advantage of a generous tax incentive from the District government and a creative leasing deal offered by the solar panel seller.

Our electric bills fell by at least a third. When people make this choice, the regional electric company grows less pressured to spend money to expand generating capacity and the installation business creates good local jobs. Customers who use solar energy also reduce carbon emissions.

What’s not to love?

According to the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative network better known as ALEC, our solar panels make us “free riders.” What?

ALEC Members won’t support democracy

It is fair to assume that America is host to an incredibly ignorant population who know very little about their government and how it affects their daily lives. That sad fact was exposed in a brilliant 2008 book revealing that only 20% of the population can name the three branches of government and 49% think a president has the authority to suspend the Constitution. However, the population’s ignorance of their government aside, it is highly probable that every American supports democracy; unless they are members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). To Americans aware of ALEC and its intent to create a corporate oligarchy and privatized government, it is not surprising that if ALEC members were asked to sign a pledge to support democracy, they would refuse, and that is precisely what happened in a little-reported story last week.

Last Thursday while ALEC was holding its annual meeting in Washington D.C., a group of working family activists, AFSCME, the Postal Workers union (APWU), AFT, and Jobs with Justice appeared at the meeting and asked ALEC members to sign a pledge “upholding the will of the people and support democracy, or leave their states.” The people at ALEC’s meeting did not sign the pledge and corporate-controlled media did not report the event because a revelation that an organization dedicated to serving corporate interests represented by the Republican Party refusing to support democracy would not play well with the public. In fact, for about 30 years ALEC has quietly been dismantling America’s democracy while hiding in the shadows, and it is just recently that a very tiny minority of the population even know ALEC exists.

(In the following article ALEC acolyte, Sterling Beard accuses Michigan’s AFL-CIO President, Karla Swift of plagiarizing material in an anti-ALEC op-ed.  As most know “Tool kits” are a standard ALEC tool used to put out information to their supporters and encouraging those individuals and organizations to use the material to advance the agenda on specific issues.  Now that the same tactic is being used by their adversaries, ALEC and the RW crowd want to cry foul and accuse folks of plagiarism.  

Here is one current example of ALEC’s use of a “Tool Kit”… “State Budget Reform Toolkit“which has been used and promoted by the Reason Foundation, Heartland Institute, promoted by various SPN or conservative sites such as “State Budget Solutions” and circulated in conservative media outlets such as Louisiana’s “Pelican Post“.  The PP article was written by Fergus Hodgson who is the capitol bureau reporter with the Pelican Institute for Public Policy. which is a state think tank member of SPN, which is a private sector member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The Pelican Institute also has ties to ALEC through its annual Policy Orientation for the Louisiana Legislature of which ALEC is a sponsor.[2] ALEC members have also sat on policy panels at the event.[3]

Though this “State Budget Reform Toolkit” was written by and for ALEC, I’ve yet to see any claims that the Pelican Institute, Heartland or Reason have been accused of plagiarizing ALEC’s materials.  This allegation is simply the “Pot calling the Kettle”…)

Michigan AFL-CIO President Plagiarizes Anti-ALEC Op-Ed from Left-Wing Group’s Materials

Michigan AFL-CIO president Karla Swift heavily plagiarized her recent op-ed against the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), lifting entire paragraphs from a “toolkit” created and distributed by the Center for Media and Democracy, a liberal nonprofit group that runs a website entirely devoted to trashing the group…

…Swift’s editorial lifts content from multiple sections of the anti-ALEC toolkit, copying several paragraphs verbatim. We have posted a copy of the toolkit here, with the plagiarized sections highlighted. In all, seven of the editorial’s twelve paragraphs are found in the toolkit. The editorial is part of the Detroit News’s “Labor Voices” feature, which has published pieces by Swift and three other labor leaders, including Teamsters president James Hoffa. The toolkit, dated December 2013, runs for 16 pages and encourages readers to “expose” the groups. 

Campaign finance: Support disclosure so we can follow the money

Yes, Montana Supreme Court Justice Mike McGrath, we need public disclosure of personal financial interest and those of their families.

Montana Supreme Court Justice James A. Rice, while a member of the Montana House of Representatives, was a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC is a corporate bill mill; it is not just a lobby or a front group. It is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wish list to benefit their bottom line.

A new study by the Center for Public Integrity shows that outside spending groups, including nonprofits that do not disclose their donors and state-level super PACs, are funneling more and more money into state Supreme Court races. Out-of-state influence likely helped decide recent races in North Carolina, Iowa and Mississippi.

Our View: Things go worse with Koch

Isaiah J. Poole, the author of an op-ed in Thursday’s Standard-Times, brought attention to a well-financed movement that aims to remove economic incentives to put solar panels on a homeowner’s roof. (“National View: Let the solar shine in.”)

It makes reference to a report from a British newspaper, The Guardian, which was covering a Washington, D.C., policy summit of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, in early December.

ALEC — which cleverly gets around lobbying rules by including right-wing members of Congress in its membership — “specializes in getting the right-wing agenda written into state laws,” according to Poole.

And according to The Guardian: “The group sponsored at least 77 energy bills in 34 states last year. The measures were aimed at opposing renewable energy standards, pushing through the Keystone XL pipeline project and barring oversight on fracking.”

Is Carbon Pricing a Diversion From the Real Story?

“One of the more solid tenets of Big Oil dogma has always been that carbon pricing, whether a straightforward tax or a market-based cap-and-trade system, is terrible and conservatives must stand in unison against it. Daily Caller reporter Michael Bastach, a former Koch Institute Intern, confirmed this recently: ‘This vote against a carbon tax in the (American Legislative Exchange Council) ALEC meeting in Chicago… comes after Republicans in both the House and the Senate voted unanimously against a carbon tax earlier this year’.”

Why Are the Franklin Center’s “Wisconsin Reporter” and “Watchdog.org” Attacking the John Doe?

The Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity (through its Wisconsin Reporter and Watchdog.org websites) has aggressively attacked the “John Doe” probe into possible campaign finance violations during Wisconsin’s 2011 and 2012 recall elections. Its outlets have also published new information about the apparent targets of the investigation, but they have omitted an important detail: Franklin Center has close ties to individuals and groups that may be caught up in the John Doe.

Franklin Center in Your StateThe only name associated with the investigation, Eric O’Keefe, helped launch the Franklin Center’s operations in 2009, and his Sam Adams Alliance group provided the majority of its startup budget; O’Keefe has spoken publicly about being subpoenaed in his capacity as director of Wisconsin Club for Growth. Franklin Center’sDirector of Special Projects John Connors, and the Executive Assistant to the President Claire Milbrandt, also have close ties to a group reportedly involved in the John Doe probe. Its former Director of Operations and General Counsel, James Skyles, worked with another group active in the Wisconsin recalls…

…Wisconsin Reporter launched its “Wisconsin’s Secret War” series in October, citing unnamed sources to reveal that Wisconsin Club for Growth, Americans for Prosperity, and Republican Governors Association had received subpoenas, and describing details about “after-hours visits to homes and offices” and prosecutors’ “demands for phone, email and other records.” Thanks to those unnamed sources, Wisconsin Reporter had a new platform, and used it to recast the John Doe investigation as “an abuse of prosecutorial powers” with “the apparent goal of bringing down Gov. Scott Walker.” The Walker campaign and 28 other groups also reportedly received subpoenas. 

Paid via Card, Workers Feel Sting of Fees

A growing number of American workers are confronting a frustrating predicament on payday: to get their wages, they must first pay a fee.

For these largely hourly workers, paper paychecks and even direct deposit have been replaced by prepaid cards issued by their employers. Employees can use these cards, which work like debit cards, at an A.T.M. to withdraw their pay…

…But in the overwhelming majority of cases, using the card involves a fee. And those fees can quickly add up: one provider, for example, charges $1.75 to make a withdrawal from most A.T.M.’s, $2.95 for a paper statement and $6 to replace a card. Some users even have to pay $7 inactivity fees for not using their cards.

These fees can take such a big bite out of paychecks that some employees end up making less than the minimum wage once the charges are taken into account, according to interviews with consumer lawyers, employees, and state and federal regulators.

This comes full circle to ALEC and it’s member, VISA.  As documents acquired and published by Common Cause show, ALEC “untabled” their model legislation titled “Electronic Pay Choice Act” in 2010 at the request of VISA representative, Paul Russinoff.  This legislation allows banks and credit card companies to realize huge profits off of fees generated by workers using these payroll debit cards….thus the reason VISA rushed to untable this potential model legislation at ALEC’s December 2010 meeting.  As the Times’ article demonstrates, the legislation is making its way across the country through the efforts of ALEC and their SPN partners in crime.

Once adopted by ALEC the bill passed the private sector unanimously, and passed the public sector with two dissenting votes. Visa also paid to sponsor a workshop at that meeting.  Similar legislation has become law in around a dozen states, according to some estimates.

ALEC’s payroll card legislation, Big banks attack low income workers

A growing number of American workers are no longer given paper paychecks, instead are receiving prepaid cards issued by their employers. Employees can use these cards at an A.T.M. or merchant to withdraw pay.  This may sound convenient but the workers must pay fees to access their pay, and those fees can add up and be very hard on people who earn minimum wage or just above.  Here is an example of such a payroll card in this case a “Citi Payroll card” offered byHome Depot, (https://corporate.homedepot.com/Associates/Pay/Documents/CitiPayrollCard.pdf)…

Burton (IN-ALEC) – Conflict of interest, Nah!

STATEHOUSE (Indianapolis) — The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has appointed State Representative Woody Burton (R-Whiteland) as co-chairman of the Financial Services Subcommittee. This subcommittee is an advisory body to the larger Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force.
ALEC works at the state level to advance the fundamental principles of free-market enterprise, limited government and federalism. This is done through a nonpartisan public-private partnership of America’s state legislators, members of the private sector and the general public.
“I feel honored to have been appointed to this position and I look forward to working with Paul Russinoff of Visa, who serves as the private sector co-chair,” said Rep. Burton. “This subcommittee is open to all members of the larger task force but typically, the members who are most interested and knowledgeable will attend.”
The Financial Services Subcommittee deals with matters related to the financial industry and insurance with the intent to design national legislation.Some of the issues they have covered in the past include the Dodd-Frank Act, homeowners’ insurance and mortgage licensing reciprocity. 
Rep. Burton is Chairman of the Financial Institutions Committee in the Indiana House of Representatives. He also serves on the Insurance Committee.  He introduces and sponsors the model legislation and another ALEC member moves to propose a resolution in support of “Payroll Cards:”
“Resolution in Support of Payroll Cards” – by Ms. Kate Viar, VISA
Motion to adopt the model resolution as amended; passed the public sector unanimously; passed the private sector unanimously; Resolution Passed.
and the model bill is adopted by the full ALEC membership and sent out to state after state…
Shortly after ALEC’s adoption of the Electronic Pay Choice Act we had it in Indiana.  One of the more insidious uses of this legislation in Indiana is that it has been applied to citizens receiving unemployment and similar state benefits.  Already receiving less than 70% of their former salaries, those on unemployment receive their benefits via VISA cards, with accounts set up through PNC bank.  Those without checking accounts must take their benefits via these cards – and pay the additional ATM and withdrawal fees to the bank and in many cases to the state for “transaction fees”.

After a political setback in NC, ALEC retools assault on renewable energy

After turning back a political assault on its groundbreaking renewable energy law, North Carolina could soon be a proving ground for a new strategy in the corporate-led war on clean energy — this one targeting the fast-growing number of homeowners installing solar panels.

Like the last attack on the state’s renewables program, this one is led by the American Legislative Exchange Council, an influential group that brings together corporations and mostly Republican state lawmakers to advocate for business-friendly legislation — activity that has drawn charges of illegal lobbyingby the nonprofit. ALEC, whose corporate members include major coal and electric companies, has long fought environmental regulations and initiatives that encourage a shift to cleaner energy sources.

Nowhere has its efforts been more concerted in recent years than in North Carolina, which in 2007 became the first state in the coal-dependent Southeast to require investor-owned electric utilities to purchase or generate an increasing amount of energy from renewable sources…

PSC Again Hikes Georgia Power Rates, Declines on Solar Tax

ATLANTA — The Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) voted unanimously Tuesday, December 17, 2013, to approve a compromise agreement between Georgia Power and the PSC staff.

As previously reported by Atlanta Progressive News, Georgia Power’s original request was for a rate increase of 1.46 billion dollars.  The original request also included a newly proposed “solar tax,” a special tax on customers who have solar panels; as well as an increase in the guaranteed profit to Georgia Power.

The PSC agreement cut the amount of the increase by 573 million dollars.  Now, Georgia’s 2.4 million residential and business ratepayers will pay an increase of 873 million dollars over the next three years.

Enchanted Ad Outpaces FedEx’s Adoption of Eco-Friendly Vehicles (NOTE: Fed Ex, UPS and Verizon are longtime members of ALEC…)

The shipping giant’s “Enchanted Forest” ad came out at the end of 2011, a playful episode about its aspirational seamlessness with nature. How close are those cartoon images to the real world? Judging by the actual adoption of alternative fuel transportation, less than idyllic.

FedEx drew widespread praise a decade ago when it unveiled a hybrid electric delivery truck and said it could replace its 30,000 diesel-burning vehicles in 10 years. In its most recent annual report, the delivery giant said its fleet includes 360 hybrid-electric and 165 full-electric trucks, or less than 1 percent of the now-54,100 ground vehicles in its FedEx Express division.

Other major fleet operators, from UPS to Verizon, have slowed their hybrid-vehicle deployments as well. Total sales of medium- and heavy-duty trucks in North America powered by hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery electric technologies are projected to grow modestly from 1,800 vehicles in 2013 to nearly 13,000 in 2020, according to a report due out next month from Navigant Research…

League of Women voters to present program on ALEC, policy-making

The League of Women Voters of Central Yavapai County will present an educational opportunity on the American Legislative Exchange Council and Common Cause and their approaches to public policy making from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 4, at Las Fuentes Resort Village, 1035 Scott Drive in Prescott…

Southern Republicans Drag the Rest of the Nation Down by Doing the Kochs’ Bidding

Even though conservatives and right-wing extremists tout America as an exceptional nation, it is fairly common knowledge there is nothing about this country that is exceptional except it has more guns and gun deaths, highest incarceration rate, food insecurity on par with Indonesia, highest first day infant mortality rate, infrastructure behind every developed country in the world, 33rd in life expectancy, highest percentage of adult-onset diabetes, 2nd highest child poverty rate, and the highest proportion of low-wage workers in the developed world. It is true America is the richest nation on Earth, but by every other measure America is a third-world nation…

…This is the nation Republicans built with money from the Koch brothers’ and Americans for Prosperity, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute, Club for Growth, and Wall Street that have spent the better part of two decades achieving the Koch brothers’ “vision of a transformed America.” The result of their transformation is increasing millions of Americans either wallowing in poverty or stuck in a downward spiral with no expectation of ever achieving anything more than “working poor” status with no more hope than not dying homeless. Sadly, a segment of the population, those most likely drowning in poverty and living in the Southern United States expedited the conservative’s plan by voting for Republicans because they promise to fight for religious freedom, guns, and preserving their European ancestors’ dream of a Christian wonderland…

Quest to restrict union fees targets three additional states

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Buoyed by recent successes in the Midwest, conservatives and business groups are targeting at least three additional states for new efforts that could weaken labor unions by ending their ability to collect mandatory bargaining fees.

The latest efforts are focused on Missouri, Ohio and Oregon and — in a new twist — could put the issue before voters in 2014 instead of relying on potentially reluctant governors to enact laws passed by state legislators…

…Supporters of such laws contend employees shouldn’t be forced to pay fees to a union to get or keep a job. But unions contend the fees are fair because federal law requires them to represent all employees in a bargaining unit regardless of whether they join the union.

Most state right-to-work laws were enacted in the 1940s and 1950s. But businesses and conservative lawmakers, working through groups such as the American Legislative Exchange Council, have mounted a new push as union membership has dwindled and the competition for jobs has intensified among states.

Indiana in 2012 became the first state in more than a decade to enact a right-to-work law. The movement’s biggest victory came later that year, when Republicans in the traditional union stronghold of Michigan followed suit even though thousands of union protesters thronged the Capitol…

The State Policy Network’s Cozy Relationship With Big Tobacco

The State Policy Network (SPN), a web of right-wing “think tanks” in every state across the country, has close ties with the tobacco industry. When tobacco companies like Reynolds American or Altria/Philip Morris want to avoid tobacco taxes and health regulations, reports by SPN groups in many states can help inspire local resistance.

SPN, its member affiliates, and SPN-related entities such as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the Heritage Foundation, and the Cato Institute,  continued to receive funding from the tobacco industry that has continued through at least 2012, according to Altria/Phillip Morris documentsThe Nation journalist Lee Fang previously reported that SPN relied on funding from the tobacco industry throughout the 1990s, and in return assisted the tobacco industry “in packaging its resistance to tobacco taxes and health regulations as part of a ‘freedom agenda’ for conservatives.”

During SPN President Tracie Sharp’s tenure at the Cascade Policy Institute (CPI, anSPN affiliate) from 1991 to 1999, Philip Morris state lobbyists worked hand-in-handwith CPI to oppose tobacco taxes…

New Reports Expose a Hidden Conservative “Cabal” Masquerading as Think Tanks

New Reports Expose a Hidden Conservative “Cabal” Masquerading as Think Tanks

An Analysis by Bob Sloan

ALECExtremeRightWingCPS2001The above graphic charts the relationship(s) between dozens of extreme right-wing organizations, foundations, institutes, conservative owned companies and wealthy individuals working together to advance a pro-conservative agenda against a majority of Americans.  I used this graphic in May of 2011 in an effort of exposing the formation of a secretive “Cabal” dedicated to changing the way our democracy works.  Now other sources have revealed – and corroborate – the existence of such a cabal is in fact true…

Yesterday twelve new reports were jointly announced by CMD and ProgressNow research groups in a press release.  The findings of these comprehensive reports expose the involvement of a nefarious network operating under the umbrella of the State Policy Network (SPN), an $83 million web of right-wing “think tanks” embedded in every state across the country.  This network, operating under guidance from the Koch brothers, Charles and David, is responsible for many “spin-off” organizations and groups such as American’s for Prosperity, American’s for Tax Reform and the Tea Party.  Through their joint efforts our public school systems, healthcare, rights to vote, tort “reforms” and other key initiatives are funded and the conservative position on each advanced.  In effect this is a highly organized and influential network used to advance a political agenda expressing only one point of view.  Additionally nearly every member of this Cabal operates as a non-profit entity with tax exempt status, allowing the millions spent to be recouped as tax deductible “contributions” and/or operations. The goal sought is to allow a minority to gain and exert control and power over the majority.

For three plus years now VLTP, CMD and several other research groups have reported that through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the Koch brothers along with well known affluent and influential “families” such as the Waltons, (WalMart), Coors, Scaifes, DeVos’  and Bradleys have funded numerous organizations, institutes, think tanks and foundations to coordinate and advance a RW agenda against American workers, consumers and voters.  I have continuously referred to this network as “the Cabal”.  Websters defines a cabal thus: 

“1 :  the artifices and intrigues of a group of persons secretly united in a plot (as to overturn a government); also :  a group engaged in such artifices and intrigues”

Wikipedia provides perhaps the best description of a cabal – and it precisely describes this heretofore secret network…

“A cabal is a group of people united in some close design together, usually to promote their private views or interests in a churchstate, or other community, often by intrigue. Cabals are sometimes secret societies composed of a few designing persons, and at other times are manifestations of emergent behavior in society or governance on the part of a community of persons who have well established public affiliation or kinship. The term can also be used to refer to the designs of such persons or to the practical consequences of their emergent behavior, and also holds a general meaning of intrigue and conspiracy. The use of this term usually carries strong connotations of shadowy corners, back rooms and insidious influence. The term is frequently used in conspiracy theories…”

The founder of ALEC, Heritage Foundation, the Free Congress Foundation and co-founder of Christian Voice and the Moral Majority was Paul Weyrich who used initial funding provided by the Coors family to launch those RW organizations.  Previously we reported on Weyrich’s “manifesto” (written by Eric Heubeck) that was published by Weyrich’s Free Congress Foundation in 2001, titled; The Integration of Theory and Practice: A Program for the New Traditionalist Movement.  This document provides a literal written road map used by ultra-Conservatives to subvert democracy and wrest it from the hands of Americans.

A read of this disgusting but important document reveals that this is indeed the path used over the past 13 years that has totally changed the political atmosphere of the U.S. Prophetically, Heubeck and Weyrich describe their methodology as “dominionism”:

“According to TheocracyWatch, and the Anti-Defamation League, both Weyrich and his Free Congress Foundation were closely associated with Dominionism.[22][23]TheocracyWatch listed both as leading examples of “dominionism in action,” citing “a manifesto from Paul Weyrich’s Free Congress Foundation”, The Integration of Theory and Practice: A Program for the New Traditionalist Movement[24] “illuminates the tactics of the dominionist movement”.[22] TheocracyWatch, which calls it ‘Paul Weyrich’s Training Manual’ and others consider this manifesto a virtual playbook for how the “theocratic right” in American politics can get and keep power.[25] The Anti-Defamation League identified Weyrich and the Free Congress Foundation as part of an alliance of more than 50 of the most prominent conservative Christian leaders and organizations that threaten the separation of church and state.[23] Weyrich continued to reject allegations that he advocated theocracy, saying, “[T]his statement is breathtaking in its bigotry”,[26] and dismissed the claim that the Christian right wished to transform America into a theocracy.[27]Katherine Yurica wrote that Weyrich guided Eric Heubeck in writing The Integration of Theory and Practice, the Free Congress Foundation‘s strategic plan published in 2001 by the FCF,[28] which she says calls for the use of deception, misinformation and divisiveness to allow conservative evangelical Christian Republicans to gain and keep control of seats of power in the government of the United States.”

The above treatise has been more successful than even Weyrich could have predicted.  Today two key ALEC alumni sit atop the pinnacle of our House of Representatives – Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor.  From positions of nearly unlimited legislative power, these two men ensure that the wishes of the Cabal are carried out at the federal level.  Another 80 members of the House of Representatives are also ALEC alumni – as are 11 U,S, Senators.  We see the guidance of the Cabal in the behavior of ALEC affiliated lawmakers today on key initiatives: Senators – James Inhofe, Michael Enzi (R-WY), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), James Inhofe (R-OK), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Jerry Moran (R-KS),Jim Risch (R-ID), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Roger Wicker (R-MS).  Many of these Senators appear in the media daily, sent out to speak on behalf of the Cabal for or against issues important to Americans; healthcare, voter suppression, right to work, privatization of public schools and dozens more.  They represent the true face of disinformation. Nationally ALEC’s membership of elected state lawmakers number nearly 2,000 today and are used to disseminate legislation written and then pursued by the Cabal state by state.  Over the past decade or so ALEC’s influence has spread from states through the federal level and internationally to foreign governments.  Currently ALEC has more than 18 foreign elected officials holding full membership and sitting down alongside corporate representatives and state lawmakers to help craft legislation that later becomes the law in many U.S. states. Other devoted alumni now hold positions as Governors of many states: Ohio (Kasich), Wisconsin (Walker), Arizona (Brewer) and many former Governors were also alumni or acolytes of ALEC and the cabal, as reported in ALEC Alumni data compiled in 2002 :

Michigan Governor John Engler 1993 Thomas Jefferson Freedom Award Recipient Louisiana Governor Mike Foster Wyoming Governor Jim Geringer Arizona Governor Jane Dee Hull Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating 2000 Thomas Jefferson Freedom Award Recipient Colorado Governor Bill Owens New York Governor George Pataki Connecticut Governor John Rowland Past Governors Idaho Governor Phil Batt South Carolina Governor David Beasley Iowa Governor Terry Branstad ALEC Founding Member/1996 ALEC Pioneer Award Minnesota Governor Arne Carlson Illinois Governor Jim Edgar

This alumni list reveals that the first Homeland Security director, Tom Ridge was in fact an ALEC alum – as was Andrew Card who served as the White House chief of staff for the first five years of George W. Bush’s presidency. Additionally, as in Ohio, an active ALEC member, Representative Todd Snitchler was chosen by ALEC alum Governor Kasich as Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO).  In that capacity Snitchler immediately raised rates for electric power for two of ALEC’s corporate members, American Electric Power (AEP) and Duke Energy – only to have to revoke the rate increases two months later.  Just this week news from Ohio involving PUCO and AEP revealed the Commission refused to negotiate on behalf of an aluminum company with AEP to ease rates and keep the company in business.  Snitchler’s action caused the shuttering of Ormet Corp., an aluminum smelting giant along the Ohio River and the onetime largest customer of American Electric Power. About 1,000 workers — mostly unionized steelworkers — are out of work.  This development comes as no surprise to most after Governor Kasich’s pursuit of anti-union legislation a couple of years ago. Two weeks ago in Nevada, ALEC’s state Chair, Senator Barbara Cegasvke announced she will run for the office of Nevada’s Secretary of State in next year’s election.  With appointments and election wins through the backing of the Cabal, it now has a sprinkling of hundreds of alumni or members serving as lawmakers, holding key cabinet positions, chairmanships of state departments and agencies.  Each of these individuals pursue the mandates of the Cabal with regard to education, energy, state and federal regulations and contribute to the continued successes of this network.

Kudos to the hard work, research and connecting of the dots by CMD and ProgressNow’s team of researchers.  I know this report took a substantial amount of effort to ferret out the connections, track the exchange of money through tax exempt contributions and donations.  What their work reveals – quite clearly now – is that in America a truly “shadow government” operated by a minority faction is secretly operating at all levels.  Due to it’s secrecy this Cabal has enjoyed success after success  for two or more decades without the public ever knowing of it’s existence. Now that this existence has been made public, I hope American’s will realize how they have been duped by Cabal owned media outlets into accepting this network’s deception and misinformation as fact – and will take the steps necessary in their communities and at the polls to free us all from their talon-like grip.  The CMD/ProgressNow report findings clearly show the efforts of this network to permanently change important programs to all of us; education, healthcare, social security, medicare and operations such as the USPS – in search of control and through that control, enrichment of the families at the top of the SPN “food chain”.

U.S. Senate Holds Hearing on ALEC, Corporate Involvement and Stand Your Ground Laws

U.S. Senate Holds Hearing on ALEC, Corporate Involvement and Stand Your Ground Laws

Today the long awaited Senate hearing on Stand Your Ground laws and the involvement of the “bill mill”; American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in adopting, proposing and disseminating model legislation such as the SYG laws, was held in Washington.  This hearing is remarkable – not just because the Senate is holding discussions about this legislation which is now the law in many states – but because it is the first ever acknowledgement of the existence of ALEC and their legislative activities and influences by any government body.

Whether Congress realized it or not at the core of the “need” for this hearing, are the existence and acts of an organization that until recently has remained hidden from the view of government and citizens alike.  An organization that has had possibly the largest influence upon enactment of state and federal law since the mid 1970’s.  Creating laws that specifically benefit corporations and business interests to the detriment of the public and constituents of lawmakers owned by ALEC through loyal membership in that organization – and a “duty” to advance all legislation proposed by it.

_________________

ALEC’s corporate member representatives did not take part in the hearing and offered no testimony – but certain Senators seemingly “owned” by corporate money spoke on their behalf.  Chief among those speaking favorably for corporate interests and in favor of SYG laws?  GOP Senators Cruz, Graham and Gohmert.  Senator Cruz voiced his opinion that Senator Durbin’s request made of ALEC corporate members or supporters, to respond and state their position in support or opposition of ALEC’s Stand Your Ground model legislation…was nothing more than a witch hunt being used to “chill” the first amendment rights of corporations.  

(How far corporate person-hood has advanced since the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United.  Today corporations enjoy the same rights as human citizens…except for the ability to be held accountable, arrested, incarcerated and imprisoned for criminal acts committed behind a convenient corporate veil.)

Cruz voiced sympathy for the family of Trayvon Martin, who was killed by George Zimmerman in the highly publicized Florida case last year, then went on to proclaim that many organizations and others were using that case to advance arguments of “perceived” racial prejudice and for “political gain”.

However, Senator Durbin made clear that of the 140 corporate members contacted and asked if they supported or opposed ALEC’s SYG model legislation, only 1 responded in support of it.

The following excerpts are from the Center for Media and Democracy.  This was published by CMD today and due to the article’s relevance to this important issue should be read in its entirety…

CMD Submits Testimony to U.S. Senate on ALEC and “Stand Your Ground

by Lisa Graves, Executive Director, at the Center for Media and Democracy

Mr. Chairman, and Members of the Committee, my name is Lisa Graves, and I am the Executive Director of the Center for Media and Democracy, the publisher of PRWatch.org, ALECexposed.org, SourceWatch.org, and BanksterUSA.org. The organization I lead is a national investigative watchdog group based in Madison, Wisconsin, that has more than 150,000 supporters.

I previously served as the Chief Counsel for Nominations for the Chairman and then Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Patrick Leahy. I also served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Policy/Policy Development at the U.S. Department of Justice and as the Deputy Chief of the Article III Judges Division of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, in addition to other posts in the non-profit sector on national security issues.

I commend the Committee, and its Chairman, for holding this hearing to examine the deadly consequences of so-called “Stand Your Ground” (SYG) laws that have proliferated in the states since 2005, at the urging of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

SYG laws were peddled by the NRA and ALEC alongside bills to expand the number of people carrying concealed firearms, creating a volatile combination that puts more and more American children and adults at risk of being shot and killed. This Committee has held countless hearings over the years on both federal and state crime policies that affect the rights of Americans, and it is fitting that the Senate examine SYG and the organizations that have urged that SYG become binding law.

I am especially concerned about the activities of ALEC to push the NRA’s agenda into law because ALEC has routinely filed tax returns with the IRS claiming it engages in no lobbying, zero. Yet, ALEC and its agents have routinely bragged about getting SYG introduced and passed – the very definition of lobbying – while claiming to the IRS and the public that it spends not a single dollar on lobbying. Today, I will describe the evidence that shows that ALEC is no ordinary non-profit and the ways in which it has misled the public about the true nature of its activities.

I will also detail the role of the NRA in ALEC and ALEC’s role in pushing for SYG laws. I will also discuss the effect of the three main parts of that law, and how that law affected the initial treatment of George Zimmerman’s killing of Trayvon Martin; how it affected the trial; and how it may affect a civil suit.

In an accompanying appendix to the statement I am submitting for the record, I also describe the role of corporations, such as Koch Industries, and numerous other grantees of the Koch family fortune in advancing the ALEC corporate agenda, along with other aspects of ALEC’s legacy, such as efforts to make it harder for American citizens to vote, as well as its current legislative agenda…

…ALEC describes itself as the largest voluntary group of state legislators in the country, but it is really a corporate-financed lobby that facilitates getting special interest legislation into the hands of lawmakers from every state in the country. In the words of Bill Moyers, ALEC is “the most influential corporate-funded political force most of America has never heard of” as noted in the “United States of ALEC…”

…ALEC is the epitome of a pay-to-play operation that gives special interests special access, but the way it conducts its operations is very unusual and troubling. That is why ALEC is subject to no fewer than three separate tax fraud complaints to the IRS, with supporting evidence provided by four groups: Common Cause, Clergy Voice, the Voters Legislative Transparency Project, and my organization, CMD…

ALEC Is Subject to Three Complaints Alleging Tax Fraud

  1. ALEC is registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, which means that corporations can theoretically deduct the thousands of dollars they pay ALEC to get their legislative wish lists in the hands of lawmakers. ALEC has routinely told the IRS that it engages in zero lobbying, even though numerous communications have been obtained through open records requests and other sources that show ALEC asking for legislation to be introduced, urging that specific legislation be adopted, and taking credit when its legislation becomes law. ALEC is no “charity” – it is a lobby that has routinely boasted to its corporate members that each year nearly 1,000 ALEC bills are introduced in state legislatures and nearly 20% become law…
  2. A review of ALEC task forces by CMD revealed that almost all of the for-profit corporations that participate in ALEC task forces are represented by their registered lobbyists or are described by their employers as their “government affairs” staffer within the corporation’s internal lobbying shop. CMD and Common Cause have also obtained documents showing that corporations have secretly and routinely sponsored bills at ALEC Task Force meetings and then voted on those bills with legislators at ALEC meetings. Under ALEC’s published bylaws, its state legislative leaders are tasked with a “duty” to get ALEC bills “introduced,” and they do. Some ALEC corporations then lobby for them without disclosing they pre-voted on them.

ALEC has repeatedly claimed to the IRS that it spends no money on travel for federal or state officials, but CMD has extensively documented that these claims are also contrary to the evidence. DBA Press and CMD obtained a three-year spreadsheet of corporate funding for trips by lawmakers along with the names of every corporation that funded the trips and all of the lawmakers who took them…

 …VLTP’s Bob Sloan has filed an IRS whistleblower complaint against ALEC based primarily on its scholarship program. Clergy Voice also complained about ALEC’s non-disclosed lobbying and how donations bring lawmakers to meet with corporate lobbyists and ALEC meetings while giving the corporations a tax write-off.

Additionally, CMD and Common Cause recently submitted supplemental evidence to the IRS in support of the initial complaint filed by Common Cause’s Mr. Edgar after CMD launched ALECexposed in July 2013. The supplemental filing last month provided the IRS with numerous documents obtained by DBA Press, CMD, and Common Cause in a number of states that show that ALEC has spent a projected $2 million for lawmaker travel in recent years on the state “scholarship” travel alone – in addition to more sums for lawmaker travel via the ALEC task forces. CMD and Common Cause have also asked each state Attorney General to examine whether ALEC is operating in violation of state law.

ALEC’s Corporate Funders Were Well Known before this Hearing

Accordingly, it is astonishing ALEC and a small number of its legislators – many of whom get their trips to ALEC resort meetings paid for by corporations, whose identities are well known to them – are taking umbrage at this Committee for inquiring about ALEC’s legislative agenda and which corporations have bankrolled it. The lawmakers know who funds ALEC’s bill machine and their trips, but until we launched ALECexposed two years ago, the public was largely in the dark about these special interests and the one-stop shopping ALEC provides for corporations and trade groups to secretly advance the same cookie-cutter bills in nearly every state.

Despite the hoopla trumped up over Senator Durbin’s letter, quite frankly, every single for-profit and non-profit corporation this Committee asked about its support for ALEC and its long-standing gun agenda is a corporation that is publicly known to have funded ALEC or participated in its meetings about bills, based on the investigative research of CMD, along with others like Common Cause, DBA Press, VLTP, CAP, Greenpeace, bloggers at Daily Kos, and many, many ordinary citizen sleuths…

Please take the time to read the full CMD testimony provided to the U.S. Senate by Lisa Graves and CMD -> HERE <-

 

Latest ALEC Articles, Posts and Materials – For July 1-7

Latest ALEC Articles, Posts and Materials – For July 1-7

By Bob Sloan

ALEC and their supporters have been busy of late.  Click on the article headline to visit and read the entire article…

I apologize for the lapse of reporting on ALEC, but my health has been interfering with my work of late.  Will try and keep all our readers better informed going forward.

ALEC seeking new “Directors” for key positions as Director of Nonprofit and Corporate Relations and Director of Nonprofit and Corporate Alliances.

CMD Calls for Nebraska Ethics Investigation over ALEC Keystone “Academy” Junket

— by Nick Surgey and Brendan Fischer

The Center for Media and Democracy filed a complaint yesterday with the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission alleging that Nebraska Senator Jim Smith, a major proponent of the Keystone XL pipeline, failed to disclose significant travel expenses paid for by the Government of Alberta, Canada during Smith’s participation in an “Oil Sands Academy” organized by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The trip was sponsored by the operator of the Keystone XL pipeline, TransCanada, which may raise additional concerns under the ethics and lobbying code.

Smith and nine other ALEC legislators participated in the “academy” sponsored by TransCanada in Alberta, Canada last October, where they were shepherded around oil extraction facilities and rubbed shoulders with oil industry lobbyists. The Government of Alberta even chartered a flight during the tour to fly the participants to tar sand operations, which reportedly cost around $1,500 per legislator.

Fire Island Erupts Over Verizon’s Wireless Voice Link: New York AG Claims Verizon Violated Agreement

The future of telecommunications in the U.S. is being played out on the sandy beaches of Fire Island, NY. Forget about not being upgraded to fiber optic services. Customers are “extremely disappointed,” “horrified,” “very frustrated,” with “grave distress and dissatisfaction” about Verizon’s plan to stop fixing their phone lines and giving them an inferior wireless replacement, Voice Link, which can’t handle basic plain old telephone service, “POTs” services like fax, DSL or even reliable e911 service…

…In our previous article we highlighted how Verizon Voice Link’s deployment ties to Verizon and ATT’s plan to abandon whole areas of the U.S. and decline to repair the copper wiring, even after a storm. The phone companies and a group called the American Legislative Exchange Council, ALEC, created ‘model’ legislation that has been burning through the states, removing basic obligations, from quality of service requirements, state commission oversight to even removing “carrier of last resort,” where the company no longer has to provide basic services. 

On Independence Day, Fight for the Voting Rights That Secure Our Freedoms

This is our first Fourth of July in a generation where we are officially without the heart of the Voting Rights Act. When the U.S. Supreme Court gutted section 4 of the law, throwing out protections ranging from voter suppression tactics like gerrymandering maps to unduly burdensome ID laws to restrictions on early and absentee voting, the Court immediately disenfranchised Americans from sea to shining sea….

…North Carolina is not merely, as Rachel Maddow said, “conservatives gone wild” — it is no coincidence that the Supreme Court gutted the voting rights act and the North Carolina legislature moved to restrict human rights just days later:

It is no coincidence that those blocking voting rights are also blocking reproductive freedoms.
It is no coincidence that those blocking voting rights are also blocking same sex marriages.
It is no coincidence that those blocking voting rights are also blocking immigrants’ rights.
It is no coincidence that those blocking voting rights are also blocking workers’ rights.
It is no coincidence that those blocking voting rights are also blocking living wages.
It is no coincidence that those blocking voting rights are also blocking guns safety laws.
It is no coincidence that those blocking voting rights are also blocking polluter pay laws.
It is no coincidence that those blocking voting rights are also blocking consumer protections.

And it is definitely no coincidence that those blocking voting rights are also blocking Citizens United repeal. There is a clear line — drawn by conservatives at the Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council with a literal “wish list” and dozens of allies determined to limit voting rights in order to advance narrow interests.

LETTER: No way is Wisdom High a ‘D’

Most of us in Maine know that ideological beliefs drive Gov. LePage and his administration; one is the idea that public schools are failing our children and therefore must be eliminated. Public schools are failing our children and we now have the “proof” via these grades that that is the case.

Gov. LePage and Mr. Bowen take their guidance from a right wing conservative think tank called American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC has one agenda on education: Get rid of public schools so they can introduce their favorite agendas; privatize schools through school vouchers; create more charter schools; water down teacher licensing; support private schools using taxpayer funds; erode local control; create more home school regulations; encourage virtual schooling

Under the influence of ALEC

It seems that daily, we are provided with glimpses of how inane politics and policymaking can be. We need to look no further than our own legislators for amazing examples. While North Carolina faces real problems, state lawmakers have spent the time necessary to craft a bill that will protect food suppliers from lawsuits. Furthermore, these lawmakers have included a provision in the same bill that restricts municipalities from limiting the size of soft drinks.

In fact, the News and Observer of Raleigh reported on Friday that a Senate Judiciary Committee has approved a bill that would prevent people from suing food suppliers for making them fat. The same bill ensures that municipalities cannot limit the size of soda pop for sale. Known as the “Big Gulp” bill, this type of “oversight” clearly belies the ruling party’s claims of being opposed to big government intrusion.

Even worse, this bill makes our state legislature look like a pawn being directed to and fro by the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC claims that it provides model legislation for lawmakers nationwide as way to promote free market and conservative ideals. By several accounts, though, ALEC exists merely to serve the Republican Party and large corporations and their interests, often at the expense of the consumer. As details on the organization have come to light in recent months, it has lost some key financial backers, Coke and Pepsi among them – ironically.

ALEC, for those who may not be aware, is the group that has provided and promoted voter registration legislation that aims to restrict voter turnout. It also helped write Florida’s Stand Your Ground law.

According to Sen. Bob Rucho, a Mecklenburg County Republican, this “Big Gulp” legislation (put together by ALEC) would prevent “legal extortion.” Sadly, this piece of legislation appears to do nothing more than distract the state’s elected officials from governance, and distraction is something at which they have proved to be quite adept.

For the party that decries big government, this action is truly laughable. This is big government at its worst: It thwarts the public to the benefit of fat cat donors.

State legislators not asking for ALEC membership reimbursement

Remember that controversy from a few months ago, when the Legislature’s Executive Board decided to pay for membership dues of lawmakers belonging to the strongly business-oriented American Legislative Exchange Council?

At the time, Democratic legislators made clear they didn’t want memberships purchased for them. Democrats also paid for newspaper ads denouncing the use of public funds for ALEC dues because of the organization’s political stances and financial supporters.

Now another policy is in place. Maher directed the Legislative Research Council to pay for ALEC memberships only if legislators submit vouchers requesting reimbursement. The membership cost is $100 for a two-year term.

Here’s the kicker. So far, no legislator has requested ALEC membership reimbursement. That’s according to Jim Fry, executive director for the LRC, which is the Legislature’s professional, non-partisan staff.

When a Democratic legislator, Rep. Kathy Tyler of Big Stone City, said travel payments should be restricted to the organizations in which the Legislature is a member, a Republican legislator, Rep. Betty Olson of Prairie City, called for ALEC memberships to be provided for all legislators.

The board’s Republican majority adopted the policy to pay ALEC dues. That was the board’s April 23 meeting. The ALEC matter didn’t come up again at the two subsequent meetings May 13 and June 10. The board’s next meeting is set for Aug. 19.

The Court’s Ambivalence

As others observe elsewhere in this issue, our nation’s policy is advancing by degrees not just into a different future, but, it would seem, into two different futures, mutually exclusive in their intent.

The most obvious case in point resides with the Supreme Court, which in consecutive days in the last fortnight has laid waste to pretty much everybody’s conventional stereotypes. Was the court “conservative” or even reactionary when it cast into the litter bin of history Sections 4 and 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act? Was it “liberal” when, the very next day, it found in favor of plaintiffs in cases challenging Proposition 8 in California and the Defense of Marriage Act nationally?

The fact is that both judgments were 5-4 decisions which, taken together, say something about the essential ambivalence of the time. But let us do some hair-splitting of our own, by way of making sense of it all. The point of the voting rights decision, on the face of what the decision both said and implied, was that in those deep South states where the franchise was at issue for African Americans, there is no longer any problem worth taking advance precautions over.

Really? Then the court is agreeing with the American Legislative Exchange Council, the right-wing pressure group which has churned out a one-size-fits-all law requiring photo IDs for voting and sold it to the conservative legislatures in a growing number of states. So it’s “fraud” that’s being targeted and not poor folks, black folks, and older folks, the groups most likely to be without photo IDs. Sure.

Take it back from corporations

 Anyone who has been paying any attention at all knows that nation-less corporations and mega-wealthy individuals are destroying our democracy and killing our country. They choose our elected official of both parties by anointing candidates with money to buy expensive deceptive TV ads. They inundate our legislatures with slick lobbyists. They own and control our news resources. They write our laws through the corporate funded American Legislative Exchange Council. They exempt themselves from reasonable taxation and regulation. Rather than creating jobs they create their right to export our jobs. They intentionally screw government up and then call for everything to be privatized so they can make more money. It’s time for us to declare our independence from nation-less corporations and the mega-wealthy.
A constitutional amendment is required to keep wealth from dominating our democracy. Sixteen states have called for such an amendment. An initiative, a real people’s initiative, will be held in Washington state next year. Visit WAMEND.org and washclean.org for information about how you can help. We’ll need signature gatherers.

The ultra-wealthy and their nation-less, mindlessly profit-driven corporations are eating our democracy and our future. They are anything but patriotic. On Independence Day let’s, “Let ’em eat cake.”

ALEC related support and/or propaganda from Right Wing outlets:

Nixon failing to bolster Missouri’s economy

According to a recently released report by the American Legislative Exchange Council, the Show-Me state ranked 42nd in economic performance — over the past 10 years! We are ranked 47th in state gross domestic product, meaning we aren’t producing many goods.

As a result, we aren’t creating many jobs — that’s why our unemployment rate remains stagnant at 6.8 percent, nearly double Nebraska’s unemployment rate and substantially higher than many of our neighbors like Kansas, Iowa and Oklahoma.

This may explain why over the past three years, Missouri has suffered a net loss in migration as people leave for stronger economies.

Why are we in this mess? Gov. Jay Nixon refuses to lead and has taken zero initiative to grow the Show-Me State.

EPA Growth Knows No Limits

Simply put, the president is using Congressional inaction as a pretext for a climate policy power grab, and that is very troubling. Alas, it is only the latest development in a worrying accumulation of authority at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. A new American Legislative Exchange Council report, The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Assault on State Sovereignty, reveals that the agency has been systematically centralizing environmental protection by seizing rightful control from the states and replacing local community input with extreme environmental activists.

 

ALEC & Corporate Tort Reform Efforts Surface in Federal Court Decision

ALEC & Corporate Tort Reform Efforts Surface in Federal Court Decision

Featured photo credit: Tim Meko/For the Center for Public Integrity

By Bob Sloan

Recently a federal case involving gross physical abuse, discrimination and underpayment of wages to 32 mentally disabled workers who suffered such abuse and discrimination at the hands of their employer, was decided by a jury in favor of the workers.  The jury awarded $240 million in actual and punitive damages.  Following that judgment another federal judge has reduced that award to a total of $1.6 million.

In an article about this case, written by Chris Young for the Center for Public Integrity, Young identifies two key factors that resulted in the huge reduction in the amount of the award.  First the American’s with Disabilities Act has caps that limit the amount of damages.

“Under the act, compensatory and punitive damages are capped at $50,000 for companies like Henry’s that employ between 14 and 101 employees.”

Secondly, the judge who reduced the award, U.S. District Judge Charles R. Wolle of the Southern District of Iowa is a frequent attendee of pro-corporate seminars and is considered to be “corporate friendly.”

“An Iowa federal judge who frequently attends business-friendly judicial education conferences slashed a landmark $240 million verdict to $1.6 million for 32 mentally disabled workers who suffered abuse and discrimination at the hands of their employer.”

In fact in a related story by Young, Judge Wolfe is one of the top attendees of conservative “junkets” paid for by the likes of the Koch Family Foundations and organized by the Koch funded George Mason University:

“The most-traveled judges, according to reports filed online by the judges, were U.S. District Judge Charles R. Wolle of the Southern District of Iowa and Chief Judge Thomas B. Bennett of the Northern District of Alabama Bankruptcy Court. Each reported attending nine seminars.

“Wolle is a “senior status” judge, meaning he is semi-retired. He did not respond to requests for comment.”

The reduction of the initial jury award by Judge Wolfe appears on the surface to be legally required under existing ADA rules and legislative restrictions.  The judge’s hands were “tied” by the law setting a limit on what those disabled workers could receive.  A larger and more important question is – who is responsible for tying the hands of our judiciary?

When we look beyond the law and investigate why such “caps” are in place, we find that in most cases pro-corporate and anti-consumer laws known as tort laws, originate within and are spread by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).  ALEC claims to have 2,000 elected state lawmakers as members and close to 100 sitting U.S. Congressmen and women are ALEC alumni.  This legislative membership is sponsored, funded and works in concert with more than 350 corporations.

One of ALEC’s key initiatives over the past two decades has been the pursuit of “tort reform” legislation that limits the ability of consumers to recover damages inflicted by defective products, negligence, medical malpractice or corporate malfeasance.  In fact, ALEC and their corporate partners have developed and distributed dozens and dozens of model legislative tort reform “bills” and many of these have been successfully passed and now serve as the “law of the land” regarding consumer and worker rights.

Last year VLTP published several articles related to the ALEC/Koch Cabal’s involvement in unduly influencing our state and federal judiciaries.  This influence included the filing of Amicus briefs (friend of the court) in important cases involving key topics important to corporate interests; tort reform, second amendment gun rights, taxation, EPA and environmental issues and telecommunication laws.

Additional influence involves “training” seminars sponsored and paid for by conservative funded think tanks, corporations and foundations such as the Koch Family Foundation(s) and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.  Federal judges are treated to all expense paid junkets to plush resorts where they attend seminars focusing upon the ALEC/Koch agenda of limited government, free-markets and federalism.

Other sponsors of these events include federal judges themselves who help fund these conservative training sessions for new judicial appointees to enhance their knowledge and skills in complex areas of the law – from a conservative POV. The main or core corporate funding comes from:

  • The Searle Freedom Trust
  • ExxonMobil Corp.
  • Shell Oil Co.
  • Pfizer Inc.
  • State Farm Insurance
  • Dow Chemical Co.
  • AT&T Inc.
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce 

All of these companies and organization have one thing in commonality: they are all either ALEC members, former members or supporters of ALEC and representatives of most even now sit upon ALEC’s Private Enterprise Advisory Council.

The Center for Public Integrity identifies the same companies, foundations and family names involved that VLTP identified over a year ago…and ABC reported on over a decade ago.  Since 2000 states have implemented law after law written by corporate interests, adopted by ALEC and supported by legislators working on behalf of ALEC instead of the rights of their constituents.

In 2001 ABC’s 20/20 presented an expose titled “Junkets for Judges” which can be found on YouTube in a two part presentation.  Here is a link to part one.  Though the 20/20 expose concentrated upon George Mason University’s involvement in providing these trips for our judges,we found several additional universities and private, non-profit organizations participating in these efforts at both the state and federal level.  All but one are provided by conservative organizations, foundations or schools:

•    George Mason University(Law and Economics Center – LEC)   (Recipient of Koch funding totaling $20,297,143 from 1986-2006 ), Earhart Foundation, JM Olin Foundation.
•    Foundation for Research on Economics and Environment (FREE).  Funded by ExxonMobil, GE Foundation, Koch Family Foundation  ($1,305,500 through 2006), JM Olin Foundation, Earhart Foundation and Castle Rock Foundation (Coors). ($65,000 in 2009) and the Claude Lambe Foundation ($1,540,000).
•    Northwestern Law Judicial Education Program (funded by many key ALEC members, including Koch)
•    Liberty Fund providing judicial conferences and seminars to/for Judges.
•    Federalist Society  (Koch funded   $1,437,200 through 2006)
•    Aspen Institute (Koch funded  $1,115,000 through 2006 with David Koch on the BOD).
•    University of Kansas, Law and Organizational Economics Center (LOEC) begun in 1995 by Henry Butler  with a $1,000,000 grant from the Fred and Mary Koch Foundation (see section on Henry Butler below).
•    International Judicial Academy which provides seminars for judges on the International level.

These seminars are a way for ALEC’s corporate members and contributors to assist the cabal’s pursuit of influencing judges to render pro-corporate decisions on important issues and cases.  Another concern is the fact that one or more of our sitting Supreme Court Justices have attended seminars organized or held by these groups and openly favor corporate interests – as witnessed by the decision in Citizens United.

This latest case involving the ADA and 32 mentally disabled workers being cruelly treated by their employer, the outcome of the ALEC/Koch cabal’s pursuit of writing our laws is high-lighted.  Telling our judges how to rule in individual cases through the use of amicus briefs after wining and dining them at plush resorts and indoctrinating them in conservative based ideology – has been successful for the cabal.

Today this cabal is busy privatizing the USPS, public schools, buying up newspapers and media outlets.  No doubt as more and more legal challenges erupt from these activities pursuing control of the media, labor, wages and upcoming model legislation, our courts will be tasked with determining the legality of those pursuits.  Already courts are now busy deciding key cases involving voter ID laws, immigration laws, second amendment challenges and the legality of new laws privatizing our schools.

With friendly judges, cooperating lawmakers and greedy corporations working hand in hand, American consumers, voters and workers are completely compromised.  Unless and until Americans say enough is enough this will continue with corporate owners, investors and politicians reaping the rewards at our expense.  Please join us in abolishing this cabal and returning our country to a country of the people – instead of a growing corporatocracy…

Spring Summit Conference Draws Protesters that Outnumber ALEC Members

Spring Summit Conference Draws Protesters that Outnumber ALEC Members

By Bob Sloan

ALEC Ok 3

Every Spring the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) holds a meeting where their legislative and corporate members are wined and dined and commingle as they develop model legislation intended to provide financial or polictal benefits to corporations.  Model bills are proposed, discussed and voted upon by state lawmakers and their private sector corporate counterparts.  If adopted by the full membership, these policies and models are then sent back to individual states and proposed as new laws for those states – and if passed, will apply to you and I.

This year at the annual ALEC Spring Summit conference held in Oklahoma City , it appeared that for possibly the second time in as many years, protesters, workers and marchers outnumbered corporate and legislative ALEC members in attendance.

The day’s events were organized and planned by the Teamsters, AFLCIO and International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF).  Activists and workers carrying signs provided by ALEC Exposed.org and others bearing handwritten placards joined with the union workers marching and chanting in front of the ALEC meeting place.  Though the crowd of protesters were as vocal about telling ALEC it was not okay to be in OK, they were not unruly or obstructed by police as had been the case at previous ALEC protests.

In Phoenix in November 2011 hundreds of protesters showed up to demonstrate, march and inform the public about ALEC.  Police cordoned off the Kierland Westin resort where the ALEC event was being held, refusing entrance to non-ALEC members or registered hotel guests.  Yesterday there was a police presence in OK City but it was minimal and marchers were able to surround the entrance to the Renaissance Hotel and Cox Convention Center.  No police were blocking the entrance or offering to spray protesters as they did in Phoenix – and before that in a New Orleans ALEC protest.

Outside the entrance to Cox Convention Center, a few ALEC members were standing watching the protesters march by on the sidewalk.  As they watched they smiled and some took pictures or video of the marchers passing by – with one ALEC attendee making faces at the crowd and at the media.  Of course, he had his name badge turned around so no one knew who he was or what outfit he represented.  Could have been a state lawmaker, for that matter.

ALEC Ok 4

One person wearing an ALEC “Private Sector Member” badge, was identified as “Dave”.AFP Com Dir on Right 2

When approached by a news reporter and asked if he was an ALEC member, the man was silent then when the reporter focused the camera on the man’s badge, saying “Your badge says you’re the communications and policy director with American’s For Prosperity…” the man at first tried to deny that, saying “No, I’m not.”  When the reporter asked him “What is the Communications and Policy Director for AFP doing here today,” Dave responded, “Oh, right now I’m just standing here.”

This was an important moment in a day of importance…American’s for Prosperity has previously not been identified as being a member of ALEC.  ALEC Exposed.org does not have AFP listed as a non-profit ALEC member…yet this man’s badge (though the video is shaky) clearly identifies him as an ALEC Private Sector Member and further identifies the organization he represents as AFP.

AFP was founded with the support of David H. Koch and Charles G. Koch, both of Koch Industries.[, and they are represented upon ALEC’s Private Enterprise Board (now called the Private Enterprise Advisory Council) by Mike Morgan of Koch Companies Public Sector, LLC

A full video of the day’s events was livestreamed over the internet and can be found at the AFLCIO site here.  The above confrontation between “Dave” and the media reporter occurs at between 49 and 52 minutes into the video.

All of us here at VLTP send out a heartfelt thanks to the organizers, unions, businesses and individuals who participated in yesterday’s events.  We need much more of this and hopefully as ALEC makes plans for their upcoming Annual Conference in Chicago in early August, a larger contingent will be on hand to again provide ALEC and all of their attending members – a great big Chicago “welcome”.

Below are some screen shots from the protest march yesterday… The first shows “Dave” with the sidekick that made faces at the reporter’s camera and had his name badge hidden.

AFP Com Dir on Right    ALEC Ok 2    ALEC Ok 1

ALEC: Pursuing Universal Stewardship – Part II: Exploring That “Special Relationship” – Atlantic Bridge and Patroness, Lady Thatcher

ALEC: Pursuing Universal Stewardship – Part II: Exploring That “Special Relationship” – Atlantic Bridge and Patroness, Lady Thatcher

VLTP Special Report logo

By Susan Kraykowski

In part I, we barely scratched the surface of ALEC’s involvement overseas – most especially in the United Kingdom. It is time to delve a bit deeper into what is called the Atlantic Bridge and its works and ways. Full disclosure: the project officially known as Atlantic Bridge is now defunct, due to scandal in the UK and subsequent legal action. That doesn’t mean that ALEC isn’t still active on both sides of the Atlantic, as we will see.

Thatcher and ReaganMuch was made in the press about former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s friendship with former President Ronald Reagan. At the time – and even to America’s liberal Democrats – that seemed innocuous. “So what?”, we thought, “They share political goals as well as some kind of personal chemistry. It isn’t the first time in history that leaders of governments have formed personal ties. What harm can friendly leaders of allied governments do in the long run?”

Not that one advocates unfriendly allies – far from it! – but in this case, the answer turns out, thirty-odd years on, to be: plenty!

First of all, is the aspect of enshrining Reagan’s and Thatcher’s papers, policies and memorabilia in learning centers, which sponsor exchange programs between the interns of both countries for the purposes of study and indoctrination. Americans tend to honor past presidents with “Presidential Libraries” – at least since Hoover’s time. That custom isn’t followed in the UK but Margaret Thatcher will have her very own memorial library, very soon. Interestingly, most of the funding for it has already been raised in the United States.

Patrick Hennessy, Political Editor for The Telegraph discusses this in his article of April 14, 2013. Note the names of the members of the fundraising organizations and the party youth organizations in England and the United States. These same names crop up again and again in different contexts: heading different organizations, as speakers for various gatherings, and in other fundraising and legislative capacities. Their relationships are complicated and interconnected. It will take a few articles to sort through them.

For instance, one Donal Blaney, who heads something called the Young Britons Foundation – and calls it “a Tory madrasa…for radicalizing young Tories” (Britons, apparently, having much less political sensitivity to such terminology than Americans) – is delightedly behind the fundraising for the Thatcher Library, and is also in cahoots with such BlaneyAmerican fundraising experts as Karl Rove and Newt Gingrich on the project [pic of Donal Blaney and Karl Rove]. Just to tie up this example with a neat bow, the Prime Minister, David Cameron is on board with the Library project, according to Patrick Hennessy, who links him to foreign fundraisers in this way: “…John Howard, the former Australian prime minister, Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House of Representatives in the US, Fred Ryan, President Reagan’s chief of staff and Karl Rove, who performed the same role for President George W Bush.”

It gets worse. Donal Blaney is CEO of Conservative Way Forward, which is the entity actually in charge of the fundraising for the Thatcher Library. Note the address at the bottom of the page, at Griffin Law in Kent, England. If one follows that link, through a couple of Dropbox ™ sites, one eventually arrives here:

Griffin pic

This is Griffin Law’s US Office – which also happens to share the same address as William J. McCarthy & Associates. Who does McCarthy & Associates advertise as their clients? Here is a partial list: American Council for Immigration Reform, Americans for Free Speech, Americans for Sovereignty (Council for America), Center for Law and Accountability, Center for the Defense of Freedom, Children’s Mercy Fund, Christian Action Network, Citizens United, Coming Home Foundation, Conservative Victory Fund, Draft Sarah Now!, Federation for American Immigration Reform, Human Events/Eagle Publishing, International Anglican Federation, National Republican Congressional Committee, National Republican Senatorial Committee, National Right to Work Foundation, Republican National Committee, State Department Watch, Senate Conservatives Fund, Tea Party Veterans, The American Sentinel (Penguin Group), The Dave Bossie Investigative Report (Breitbart Columnist), The Minuteman Project, This Nation, The Tea Party, The Tea Party Campaign with Dr. Jerome Corsi, Young Americans for Freedom (Young America’s Foundation).

Here is a picture of Donal Blaney and Margaret Thatcher taken at a Young America’s Foundation event

blaney and thatcher

Are we beginning to be afraid…very afraid? Good! More in the next installment.

Daily Report on Activities, Legislation and Initiatives of the ALEC/Koch Cabal

Daily Report on Activities, Legislation and Initiatives of the ALEC/Koch Cabal

alec for dummies (2)

by Bob Sloan

Today there are numerous articles on ALEC and many of their legislative pursuits in states like South Dakota, Michigan, North Carolina. and elsewhere.  In order to keep readers with an interest in ALEC up to date on stories related to ALEC, we’re posting this page with brief descriptions of ALEC activities and links to the articles or material(s).

Included in this update are links to measures or articles published by ALEC itself, showing their take on issues.

South Dakota approves paying legislators’ ALEC dues

“The Republican-dominated board decided the state treasury should pay for the $100, two-year memberships for all 105 South Dakota lawmakers and for unlimited out-of-state trips to ALEC meetings by legislators who are members of ALEC committees.”

Lisa Graves Updates Us on ALEC

“Lisa Graves: ALEC is urging its members to no longer use the acronym. In a note to ALEC legislators and private sector members, ALEC’s spokesman said: “You may have noticed we are limiting the use of the acronym ‘ALEC.’ Over the past year, the word ‘ALEC’ has been used to conjure up images of a distant, mysterious, Washington alphabet organization of unknown intentions,” which he says could not be further from the truth, adding that “the organization has refocused on the words ‘Exchange’ and ‘Council’ to emphasize our goal of a broad exchange of ideas to make government work better and more efficiently.” This re-branding is a classic PR technique. Big Tobacco used it to try to distance some of its brands with negative consumer users.”

House panel turns out light on effort to end renewable energy subsidies

RALEIGH, N.C. — A western North Carolina lawmaker received a stinging defeat Wednesday as his own committee voted down his proposal to freeze and repeal the state’s renewable energy standards.”

Rep. Hager is a known ALEC member and ending renewable energy subsidies is a pet model bill of ALEC.

 

BREAKING: North Carolina legislators reject ALEC’s fossil fuel funded attack on clean energy

 

“ALEC has zero model bills to repeal incentives for coal, oil or gas companies, and rolling back state renewable energy incentives is one of ALEC’s national priorities for the next couple years. ALEC’s energy company members like Koch Industries, ExxonMobil, Duke Energy, and Peabody coal are hungry for a anti-renewable trophy after suffering a defeat in Kansas and now North Carolina.

“While ALEC’s anti-RPS bill was voted down in North Carolina today, ALEC legislators in Ohio are working to introduce a similar bill, comparing the renewable incentives to Joseph Stalin’s five year plan.

Progress Missouri to release updated ALEC Exposed report Thursday (link unavailable at this time)

JEFFERSON CITY – Progress Missouri will release a detailed research report
Thursday exposing the influence of the American Legislative Exchange
Council (ALEC) in the Missouri Capitol. Through ALEC, corporations hand
Missouri legislators wish lists in the form of “model” legislation that
often directly benefit their bottom line at the expense of Missouri
families. Behind closed doors, numerous ALEC model bills are crafted by
corporations, for corporations. Elected officials who are members of ALEC
then bring their model legislation back to Missouri, where they claim them
as their own ideas and important public policy innovations without
disclosing that corporations crafted and pre-voted on the bills at
closed-door meetings with legislators who are part of ALEC.

The report will be made available formally at 1:00 pm on today, April
25th in House Hearing Room 7. Sean Soendker Nicholson of Progress
Missouri will moderate a short panel discussion featuring Representative
Kevin McManus; Trish Medina, worker & UFCW member; Carol
Weatherford, retired teacher; and Mike Diel of the Sierra Club. The panel discussion will
begin after the screening of the documentary “United States of ALEC,”
narrated by Bill Moyers.

HOME RULE HYPOCRITES – new group website from Florida

“ALEC and its legislative members have been responsible for some of Florida’s most anti-middle class legislation, and have been linked to HB 655 and SB 726. Even though they have ties to this legislation that completely blocks home rule and local control regarding employee benefits and protections, ALEC has been making the following statements via social media: “One size does not fit all. We should keep things local.” Rep. Precourt is the Chair of the ALEC Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force in Florida and Sen. Simmons has either attended at least one ALEC conference since 2010 and/or paid membership dues at least once from 2010-12 (ALEC in Florida Report).*

Creatures of the Dark: Wisconsin GOP Caught Deleting Records, Again

“As the federal court ruled on Wisconsin’s maps in February of 2012, the Center for Media and Democracy (publishers of PRwatch.org) revealed that the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) had invitedlegislators to redistricting conference calls, based on emails obtained through earlier open records requests to Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald.

“The emails CMD obtained were not released to the lawyers challenging the maps. But they should have been. This failure to release all redistricting-related documents opened a new round of legal wrangling, with the court questioning what other documents Republican legislators and their lawyers had kept secret. Additional documents that should have been produced were found when Democrats took control of the state senate after the July 2012 recall elections and obtained access to the Republican redistricting file.”

Editorial: Keep backroom dealings out of the classroom

 

“It’s worth noting that the American Legislative Exchange Council, a Koch-brothers-related group that creates “model legislation” promoting a radical, anti-regulatory and anti-tax agenda, is a fan of the voucher system.

“The group, which allows corporate interests to weigh in on model legislation before it’s approved by public officials, has several voucher bills available on its website.

 

“We’ll be interested to see whether any legislation that emerges from the skunk group mirrors ALEC’s work.”

 

Tribune Company Scribes: Koch Brothers Purchase Could Turn Papers Into “Conservative Mouthpiece”

“New reports that the politically conservative Koch brothers are interested in buying the Tribune Company’s eight regional newspapers — which include the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune — are sparking concerns from newspaper staff members that attempts to influence the editorial process in favor of their far-right political views may follow.”

The Koch Brothers and their company, Koch Industries are long time supporters of ALEC.  Koch Companies Public Sector, LLC holds a seat upon ALEC’s Private Enterprise Advisory Council (formerly ALEC’s “Private Enterprise Board of Directors).

Related – 

Ruppert Murdoch, Ayn Rand and A Sociopathic Economy

“To succeed you must “produce.” For Murdoch, distributive justice is the natural outcome of these purely commercial transactions.  He quotes Arthur Brooks at the American Enterprise Institute who defines fairness as, “… the universal opportunity to enjoy earned success”. The key words here being “earned success.” Accordingly, producers are entitled to all they earn because if their product wasn’t successful, consumers are free to not buy their product. This would be a cruel argument to make in the presence of an elderly person having to choose between buying food or medicine.  Nevertheless, in this view every sale in a free market system automatically results in a fair distribution of wealth. No other social factors should apply.  In fact, to take from producers what they’ve earned to support the lives of less successful or non-producing human beings is immoral, in Murdoch’s view.

On Earth Day, ALEC Bemoans “Somber” Environmentalists

 

 

“The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which is centrally involved with pushing environmentally destructive legislation on behalf of the fossil fuel industry, today complained that “Earth Day has been a largely somber event” when it should be “a celebration of the wonderful achievements humankind has made in cleaning and greening the planet,” wrote Todd Wynn, ALEC Energy, Environment, and Agriculture Task Force Director.

 

“So why so sad all you greens? Don’t you appreciate how far we have come with ALEC’s help?”

– ALEC PUBLISHED ARTICLES –

Disinformation abounds in these articles published by ALEC at their “American Legislator” blog…

 

Myth of the Day: Income Distribution is Increasingly Inequitable

 

“One of the most prevalent claims, voiced particularly loudly by progressive groups, is that the United States has become a nation of have’s and have-not’s.  Progressives rely heavily on graphs like the one below to show that the top earners in America have enjoyed greater and greater wealth, while the lower and middle classes have been left behind.  In Tax Myths Debunked, Drs. Fruits and Pozdena take on this misconception directly.”

Don’t Just Tax the Internet, Reform Taxes

 

 

“Later today, the Senate is expected to begin consideration of a proposal that would give states long-sought authority to require out-of-state retailers to collect taxes on online purchases. Although proponents have pitched this proposal as an important reform to promote tax fairness and economic growth, we have been struck by how little actual tax reform the proposal would accomplish.”

 

 

 

Earth Day: You have got to admit it is getting better. A little better all the time!

“Although there will always be areas for improvement, environmental quality in this country has improved significantly. Technological improvements, increases in wealth that have enabled greater consumer demand for cleaner products and services, and sensible regulations that protect property rights have helped lead the United States to have some of the cleanest air and water in the world.” 

Comments of support for the Keystone XL Pipeline needed by Monday, April 22, 2013

 

“The Task Force on International Relations has concluded that ultimate approval for the pipeline is in the national interest, for the following reasons:

 

  • The Keystone XL Pipeline is environmentally sound.  According to the Environmental Impact Statement released by the U.S. Department of State in 2011, “the Keystone XL Pipeline will have a degree of safety over any other typically constructed pipeline under current code and a degree of safety along the entire length of the pipeline system similar to that which is required in High Consequence Areas;”

  • construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline would add less than 1 percent of additional pipeline to America’s current 180,000 miles of pipeline;

  • transporting Canadian oil via pipeline is significantly less risky than other modes of transport, such as rail;

  • Canada will continue to develop Alberta’s oil sands with or without the Keystone XL, but construction of the Keystone XL will result in thousands of American jobs;

  • the Province of Alberta has proven itself a responsible steward of the environment, restoring Boreal forests to their original condition once oil sands mining operations in an area are completed; and

  • the Keystone XL pipeline will also transport oil from the Bakken fields of North Dakota, facilitating the already strong economic growth there.”

 

Detroit’s Dictatorship…

Detroit’s Dictatorship…

By Dr. Publico – Repost from American tribune

The corporate criminals now ruling Detroit hardly bother disguising their intent any longer. For them it’s open class war and most of the victims are clueless as to the source of their social and political impoverishment.

William-Livingstone-House-0051-300x231

From time to time, as capital-corporatism is confronted with its own Ponzi-like profiteering, these privateers either accept a compromise from their unbridled predatory practice or seek to place the full burden of their theft on the “lower” classes. Today, they’re going for the Full Monte…again.

Without information (public education and an independent media) class consciousness of corporatist predation is mixed.

Six corporations own and control over 90% of the media. Their overall strategy is eminently successful at convincing and confusing the role between gov’t and business, two entirely different enterprises with vastly different goals. There’s always been systemic tension between democratic and corporate rule.

The fact of such tyranny is nothing new to human relations; alpha-male/sociopathic rule has plagued humankind from the beginning of civilization; it comes with the territory.

What worked for our hominid forebears in primeval conditions is applied today to the privileged role of a ruling elite over the rest of humankind. As Pogo discovered: “We’ve met the enemy and he is us” (assuming of course that by “us” one includes an infected or cancerous appendage).

Republican-Tea-Party-300x206An anthropologist would observe that while class rule has served a survival and socio-technological role in human socio-political development, such relations are increasingly becoming the problem, not the solution.

Heretofore, such systems met their destiny thru either self-destruction in competition with other systems (usually the more predatory one winning), or thru resistance and revolution by those being exploited. Competition having been all but foreclosed by corporate-state power, I’d guess only revolution or our mutual self-destruction remains.

In any event, if fascist-corporatism “wins,” it will destroy the planet thru its own systemic dynamics, there being little left to stop it. As the super-technology of science is being increasingly exploited around the world to privatize war for corporate profit and rule, all that tech comes home to control its own populations.

What’s left of the nation’s neo-liberal leadership still believes that appeasing these sociopaths is a viable strategy (assuming that they’re not simply junior partners). The corporatist strategy remains demand, demand, demand. They know that appeasers will ALWAYS capitulate “a little bit.”

Obama’s history shows that his end-strategy to power-conflict resolution has been to always side with corporate conservatives, assuming the continued support of his own liberal base (figuring: Where else can they go?).19GpOb.SlMa_.911-2-300x238

As a thought experiment, one might wonder what he would do should his opposition demand that he be castrated (which, metaphorically, is the case).

After his initial shock, what would be his position? Negotiate for an inch? Hey, ‘Bam, here’s a pregnant idea: How ’bout just a quarter inch…off the back endThe Boehner might go for that

I recall when Reagan & Company were making demands of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua back in ’89, the revolutionaries agreed. Caught off guard, Reagan then added more demands. The Sandinistas agreed again.

This went on for some time with the Sandinistas always agreeing (in order to end the murderous US Contra-War against their people). Finally, in frustration, when the media asked Reagan’s representative what would they accept, he replied, “They could all go shoot themselves!”

There is no way to appease sociopaths, nor their psychopathic goals. To them, every compromise is simply another step in their strategy. How many more millions must be sacrificed?

Welcome to Detroit, the current front-line in the Class War:

In March of 2013, Governor Rick Snyder (R-MI) appointed corporate lawyer Kevyn Orr as “Emergency Financial Manager” (EFM) to act as overseer for Detroit. Orr was given full dictatorial powers over the entire city, including the elected Mayor and City Council.

Proof (should one need it) that no longer do corporateers intend to allow their “disaster capitalism” to be ameliorated a la FDR or even satiated with neo-liberal “bailouts.” They want it all. Massa has come home to roost

Their counter-revolutionary strategy includes shifting the weight of their Ponzi-like economic schemes to the masses by breaking labor contracts, slashing services, selling off public assets and, should they choose, disincorporatizing the city itself (as prelude to all gov’t).

In other words, they intend to impoverish the mass of population to the level of third-world wage-slavery and privatize every aspect of commerce. Gov’t–after it’s been drowned in their proverbial bathtub–will then only serve corporate edicts.

This is the world they envision, and this is the world they’re well on the way to creating. Detroit is only the latest stage in that quest.

Not to be outdone by the governor, Detroit’s Mayor Bing also appointed Kevyn Orr’s “former” mega-law firm, Jones Day, to represent Detroit in this charade. EFM Orr, needless to point out, controls Bing’s continued salary.

Even Hollywood would find the hypocrisy of this scenario simply too fantastic to use in a script. A corporate governor appoints a corporate lawyer to rule Detroit, while his corporate law firm (which also represents Detroit’s corporate creditors) to be Detroit’s “restructuring counsel.”

Justice...-300x152Of course, all of these profiteers and quislings believe that in the New Detroit the “trains will run on time” and the citizens will behave more profitably under corporatism for its creditors. The demise of its mass of population is simply “the cost of doing business.”

Is money the “measure of all things”? Corporateers and their conservative schutzstaffel (shock-forces; Klan, Tea Party and other Joe Malarkey followers) believe so, albeit, many for racist and other motivations (thus further serving corporatism).

For the moment, Orr & Company are biding their time. Soon enough the Great Property Grab and looting of what remains of the public treasury will commence.

Us natives, relegated to oblivion by a parasitic economic system, will pass quietly into the night…or perhaps not…

(Special thanks to Detroit’s senior activist-attorney Tom Stephens for some of this material. My use of it is of course my own responsibility.)

Dr. Publico

Keystone XL Pipeline Reeks of Koch

Keystone XL Pipeline Reeks of Koch

For the public, the entire Keystone XL (KXL) streamliner is washing down easier with a confidential Big Gulp of Koch.

“The too-billionaire Koch brothers, Charles and David, usually get what they want, but never what they deserve.” — Gaea

People who breathe the atmosphere, drink water, eat food, are hostages of an increasingly haywire, engineered climate…that’s us, and at the swipe of Obama’s pen, we have a fresh Kochmare coming on-line.

Misinformation, disinformation, emotional manipulation and Kochspeak are railroading us toward the most dangerous diluted bitumen (DilBit) pipeline ever to sell out vital American resources to benefit so few—not to mention the global atmospheric carbon bomb.

How do we stand to gain from KXL?

The greatest known “public benefit” from KXL will be higher gasoline prices. [1]

KXL’s sheer potential for destruction winds along a bleak and tarry road to deliver hell for the unborn, at a “profit”. From melting bitumen out of the ground using vast amounts of natural gas and fresh water…to dilution with natural gas liquids so the DilBit can be squeezed through a pipeline impaling our heartlands…to filthiest of refining leading to a guaranteed crescendo of environmental disaster. At least in scope, it’s all similar to the sheer profit potential for psychopaths with pockets deep enough for politicos to dive in from the high board and wallow around under the thumb of Koch.

Our system of resource allocation is fatally broken (Kochen). Instead of capitol investment in energy with a future, billions are sucked into the deadest of ends—the blackest of fossil-energy black holes…bitumen. [2]

The dominating Koch agenda seems a ruthless assurance that every child not born into wealth like David and Charles has a nightmare future—if they have a future at all. Could there be a more disgusting example of hubris than Kochs cloaking one of their political-subversion fronts as: “Coalition for our Children’s Future”?

Regarding various breeds of euphemism…Kochism virtually defines “sinister”.

Kochspeak In Action

Whenever corporate profit most degrades the biosphere, Koch-brother tentacles are usually winding around nearby—professionally-cloaked, but there’s the smell.

That smell…biocidal mélange of gas, oil, bitumen, diluted bitumen, refining and shipping, industrial chemicals, paper and pulp mills, chemical fertilizer, corporate “Free $peach!” and politicos up to their hairlines in campaign contributions…. Incredible stench, victim discretion beyond advisories.

Spearheading recent Koch-and-dagger denial is the pronouncement that Keystone XL “oil sands” pipeline has “…nothing to do with any of our businesses”. For people paying attention, that might seem much like Santa Claus announcing that Christmas has nothing to do with any of his businesses.

Rep. Henry Waxman of California is the ranking Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Energy and Power Subcommittee.  Declarations by Koch Industries officials, to the tune of KXL has “…nothing to do with any of our businesses”—a song and dance sharpening Waxman’s focus on the guarded KXL Koch connection.

(Editor’s note:  you can watch this confrontation a recorded from C-SPAN2 by clicking here and you really should witness this as a written description does not do this justice.   It is at the Senate Energy and Commerce Committee Meeting 2.1.12.  Members making opening statements on the Obama administration’s decision to deny permission to deny permission to continue with plans to build the Keystone XL Pipeline.  A very partisan committee hearing—apples talking at oranges and vice versa.

Upton comments about Canada building a pipeline toward shipping to China.  But Koch has a refinery in MN that could be refurbished just as they have to refurbish a refinery in Corpus Christi.  So why is the pipeline even necessary?  Because from Corpus Cristi the oil can be loaded into supertankers for shipping the tar sands oil overseas.

Waxman-Whitfield confrontation at Senate Hearing
The Henry Waxman vs. Ed Whitfield battle begins in earnest 17:22 into the C-SPAN2 video, when Waxman starts quoting facts.  You have to watch this to believe it.  This is our government, and that’s very distrubing.)

Waxman sent a letter to Reps. Fred Upton (R-Michigan, Energy and Commerce committee chairman) and Ed Whitfield (R-Kentucky, Energy and Power subcommittee chairman), urging them to seek Koch Industries documents that Waxman’s staff had been denied.

Upton and Whitfield were dancing to the Koch campaign-contribution rag, busy ramming a bill through congress to force an Obama administration decision on KXL by November 1, 2011. The bill passed in the House, but passed away in the Senate.

Stomping on the face of public interest…for such Orwellian aggression, the language of Kochspeak is money, and political intrigue. The 2010 landmark ruling by Supreme Court of the United States in Citizens United -vs- Federal Election Commission [3] maximized the volume of Kochspeak.

According to the L.A. Times, the largest single donor to members of the Energy and Commerce Committee in the 2010 money miasma called “election” was Koch Industries and their employees. $20,000 of that went to Fred Upton, reliable Koch asset also spearheading efforts to block the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new rules regarding greenhouse gas emissions.

Koch Industries’ response to Rep. Waxman’s interference included:

“As we explained to Representative Waxman’s staff, we have no financial interest in the project (KXL). Given these facts, we are confused about why Koch is being singled out and inserted into these discussions.”

An L.A. Times op-ed by Michael Brume, executive director of the Sierra Club, describes KXL as being backed by the Koch brothers. Koch officials demanded a “correction”, insisting to L.A. Times editors that: “Koch is not involved in the Keystone Pipeline project in any way as we have stated publicly and has been widely acknowledged. This is not a matter of opinion since there are no facts to the contrary.”

(editor’s note:  I thought I would add this screen shot from Koch Industries’ Discovery Magazine, an in-house production.  Just seemed so appropriate.)

Koch Industries - Discovery Mag - Flint Hills Resources

The shibboleth, “…we have no financial stake in the pipeline” is clearly revealed as classic Kochspeak by a form submitted to Canada’s National Energy Board in 2009 by Koch’s Flint Hills Resources Canada. (Flint Hills) “…is among Canada’s largest crude oil purchasers, shippers and exporters. Consequently, Flint Hills has a direct and substantial interest in the application” (for the pipeline under consideration). That pipeline, approved in 2010, is Canada’s 327-mile portion of KXL.

Responding to a Reuters article titled: Koch Subsidiary Told Regulators It Has ‘Direct and Substantial Interest’ in Keystone XL…Koch representatives assured Reuters that Koch has no interest in Keystone XL—even whined about media bias; meanwhile, Koch Industries was spending millions upgrading its Corpus Christi refinery to handle more DilBit….

Realistically, if the Kochs were “…not involved in the Keystone Pipeline project in any way”, why all the denial?  Considering Koch style, denial seems solid admission that Kochs are positioned to make a killing from KXL, after getting a toehold in Canadian bitumen fifty years ago.

Koch Style

Investigator and author extraordinaire Greg Palast relates this precious episode of Koch style from over twenty years ago:

Charles Koch had a contract to glean oil from the Osage Indian Reservation with a “stripper well”. Secret tape recordings of a Koch Industries top executive document Charles demanding drivers of oil tankers to secretly siphon a few dollars worth of oil from every private tank on the Osage Reservation fed by stripper well. The FBI filmed oil thefts with hidden cameras, recorded Koch’s childish giggling over ripping off Native Americans. Koch even snickered about the question of why a multi-billionaire would steal petty amounts of oil from destitute Osage…and in purest Koch style, replied:

“I want my fair share—and that’s all of it.”

The Justice Department, armed with exhaustive evidence, indicted Koch Industries for “Crime on an Indian Reservation”, and racketeering; major prison-time criminality.

Charles Koch simply stroked a couple of senators in his pockets (Bob Dole of Kansas, Republican majority leader; Oklahoma’s Don Nickles)…and the federal prosecutor handling the case was fired. Case closed (giggle).

Koch Style runs in the family. It was Bill Koch, younger brother of Charles and David, that ratted on his brothers…leading to an open-and-shut case for anyone not above the law.

Bill had been promised a cut of what, in addition to petty theft from personal tanks on the Osage Reservation, turned out to be hundreds of millions in oil stolen from Native lands. But brothers Charles and David reneged on the deal, cut Bill out of profits that hardly register in Koch-level crime. So Bill squealed.

Actual steel pipe in KXL is probably free of Koch-Industries fingerprints; refining, shipping and export is where Kochs have set themselves up for KXL windfall.

Kochs already import and refine 25% of Alberta Death Ooze (ADO) pumped into the US. KXL will increase import by over 500,000 barrels per day. Once again, Kochs’ “…we have no financial interest in the project” seems like Kochspin admission of deep involvement with KXL.

Since Koch Industries Inc. (Mother Hydra to a snarl of subsidiary tentacles) is mostly owned by Charles and David Koch, their operations are mostly private (the second-largest privately-held U.S. corporation is Koch Industries). Kochs parlay secrecy with the flair of billionaires who pilfer from impoverished Native Americans…billionaires who consider their fair share to be, “…all of it.”

One thing not secret: Koch Brothers are President Obama’s bitterest political enemies. Often considered architects of the dirty-energy paradigm, Kochs are enemies of anything to do with clean energy. After all, in Kochworld, clean energy is simply potential for filthy lucre, denied. Fossil energy offers nothing filthier than bitumen, the proverbial “bottom of the barrel”.

The entire energy-from-bitumen industry has very effectively perception-managed the public into shrugging off bitumen as “crude oil”. Inculcation of DilBit being “oil” is relentless. Mainstream media (MSM) has been issued progressive, evolving euphemisms to disguise even the massive Alberta bitumen deposits as “oil”. Success at public conditioning was reflected last week in an Associated Press article titled:

Obama disputes jobs on Keystone XL line

Counting the worm-term “Keystone XL oil pipeline” from the first sentence, the word “oil” is used five times. Not a peep about tar, bitumen, DilBit. The article also quotes a draft environmental report released by the State Department this March:

“…no significant environmental impact to most resources along the proposed pipeline route.”

That’s right, they said “most”. Sinister omen, anyone?

Definition from Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition:

Bitumen 1: an asphalt of Asia Minor used in ancient times as a cement and mortar 2: any of various mixtures of hydrocarbons (as tar) often together with their nonmetallic derivatives that are obtained as residues after heat-refining natural substances (as petroleum); specif: such a mixture soluble in carbon disulfide

Among bitumen euphemisms foisted upon the public by MSM, there’s been a whiff of truth; “Alberta tar sands”, or simply, “tar sands” for instance. But Koch-furthering of ADO has tarred and feathered truth.

Diluted Bitumen (DilBit) is NOT Oil Ask the IRS—lone public entity to which bitumen pushers don’t try to pawn off DilBit as oil.

The oil industry pays an eight-cents-per-barrel tax on crude oil produced in or imported to the US; proceeds are earmarked for the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund that covers cleanup costs for oil spills.

In 2011, at the request of a company whose identity is kept secret (smell that smell?), an exemption was made that frees DilBit from this tax—an exemption potentially worth over $60 million annually when KXL is on-line. The secret company insisted that “oil” from Canada’s tar sands is so different (chemistry, behavior, how it’s produced) that it should not be considered crude oil.

Deception and KXL go together like rum and Koch.

Texas is where KXL DilBit will be refined for the global market. Texas, and federal statutory codes, define crude oil as “liquid hydrocarbons extracted from the Earth at atmospheric temperatures”. That certainly excludes bitumen.

As if raw bitumen (almost a solid) isn’t bad enough, the stuff must be diluted with up to 50% natural gas condensates (proprietary liquids called diluents) into an abrasive, sulfurous brew that abrades and rots steel pipeline. DilBit. And no matter where you look, DilBit only gets worse. The biocidal brew must be heated to 160-degrees Fahrenheit to reduce viscosity enough that it can be squeezed through pipeline at 1,440 pounds per square inch (PSI). So, DilBit pipelines don’t leak, they erupt!

The most expensive “oil spill” in US history which, according to EPA, “…permanently polluted thirty miles of Michigan’s Kalamazoo River”—that was “The Marshall Spill” [4], a certain sneak preview what might ultimately finish off DilBit pipelines.

The Bitter End Light sweet crude oil is the cream of petroleum. Globally, the cream has been largely skimmed off, leading to higher profits from lower grades (light sour, heavy sweet, heavy sour)…until bitumen itself has become marginally profitable. Lowest sulfur content is “sweet”, higher sulfur is “sour”, with bitumen being the sourest of all, as well as heaviest. And the term, “profitable” has many dynamics, many interpretations, many costs deferred….

A scale to measure profit in exploitation of petroleum resources is Energy Returned On Investment (EROI); how much energy is gained for how much energy invested. Crude oil has a high EROI, averaging out to about 25:1 (25 units of energy gained from 1 unit of energy invested).

Bitumen pushers shill about ADO having an EROI as high as 5:1 when surface mined. ADO from deeper, mined by steam injection, averages less than 3:1, they say. But when transportation, refining, and other economic costs are factored in, ADO might barely make an EROI of 1:1…not counting “unforeseen” disasters such as the Marshall Spill, or anything else non-economic.

Besides ADO having a zombie EROI…there’s the carbon problem. Climatologists talk about “…game over for the climate” if the Alberta ‘tar sands’ are fully exploited.

EPA estimates that ADO has a “well-to-tank” carbon footprint 82% greater than oil. Canadian bitumen deposits could contain twice as much carbon dioxide as we’ve unleashed so far upon the biosphere in our entire history of using oil.

ADO for energy seems about the worst idea ever to divert billions of dollars from investment in new energies—if not one of the worst ideas in the history of…civilization. When it comes to fossil energy, could there be a bitterer end than bitumen?

In a shocking moment of candor, TransCanada even said of their own baby, (Keystone XL pipeline) would be “…a boon for corporate profits, but a burden for American consumers.” [5]

President Obama has a monster tar baby on his hands. Sure seems like, potentially at least, it would be difficult to convince people that a DilBit pipeline through the heart of their nation is in the public’s best interests. Environmental catastrophe risked for largely foreign corporate profits from a product destined for the global market and expected to increase domestic gasoline prices, tough sell. Illusions of public benefits such as jobs are mostly that, illusions.

And if Obama permits KXL he will handing his bitterest political enemies a tremendous victory. Kochs have declared war on Obama, like to call him Saddam Hussein. [6]

Among the best things Obama might ever say about America—especially describing our energy future:

“Without further ADO.”

Problem is, whether on not the 1,375-mile US leg of KXL will go on-line no longer appears to be question of “if”…only, “when”. Kochs usually get what they want. That means our last line of defense against threats of Canadian bitumen could be the inevitable disaster of DilBit itself.

The main question could involve how much environmental damage, how many lives lost or ruined, and how much stealing from the future will we roll over for? How much kicking in the face will we endure before fighting to make more humane the answer to the question: Is corporate profit more important than Life on Earth?

Power never concedes anything without a fight. Will we ever muster the focus and courage to take the fight directly to such as too-billionaire psychopaths for which their fair share equals, “…all of it”—and that includes the future of life on Earth?

For more information regarding Dilbit, ADO, and illusions of KXL public “benefits”, please see:  Keystone XL: DilBit Through the Heartland by clicking here.

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Footnotes:

[1] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/22/report-keystone-xl-gas-prices_n_1536227.html

[2] https://www.google.com/search?q=alberta+tar+sands+raw+bitumen&hl=en&client=firefox-a&hs=rII&tbo=d&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=qsbjUJH0KMeeiAKfvoHADw&ved=0CAoQ_AUoAA&biw=734&bih=457

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizens_United_v._Federal_Election_Commission

[4] http://insideclimatenews.org/news/20120626/dilbit-diluted-bitumen-enbridge-kalamazoo-river-marshall-michigan-oil-spill-6b-pipeline-epa

[5] http://sierraclub.typepad.com/compass/2012/09/transcanada-keystone-toxic-tarsands-flip-flops.html

[6] https://www.google.com/search?q=kochs%27+war+on+obama&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a#hl=en&client=firefox-a&hs=2f9&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&q=koch%27s%27+war+on+obama&spell=1&sa=X&psj=1&ei=WbpMUbqBB-HniAKw5oCoDg&ved=0CDAQBSgA&fp=1&biw=734&bih=468&bav=on.2,or.r_cp.r_qf.&cad=b&sei=bDxOUaqNM4LQiwLuo4CgCA
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This article is written by Rand  Clifford and is posted at
http://www.veteranstoday.com/2013/03/23/keystone-xl-pipeline-reeks-of-koch/
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