Heritage foundation

Koch Brothers’ Plans for Their Upcoming GOP Donor Retreat Revealed

Koch Brothers’ Plans for Their Upcoming GOP Donor Retreat Revealed

From Mother Jones article “EXCLUSIVE: Read the Koch Brothers’ Plans for Their Upcoming GOP Donor Retreat” By l…

For more than a decade reports of attempts by the Brothers Koch – Charles and David – to assert their ideological branding upon American politics have been in the news. Founders or funders of nearly every ultra-conservative PAD or organization from the Tea Party to Americans for Prosperity, Americans for Tax Reform and dozens of other extreme organizations existing to advance conservatism, these two billionaires have spent hundreds of million in pursuit of that ideology.
 
Koch BrothersEvery year the Koch’s hold “donor retreats” where America’s wealthy conservative family representatives, Congressional members and corporatists are invited to attend.  At these meetings Charles and David issue marching orders for the coming year and in some cases set the agenda all the way to the next general election.  Attendees generously and individually throw millions of dollars into the pot to fund the activities and goals set by the Kochs.
Between 2010 and 2012 the billionaire brothers spent hundreds of millions of dollars in an attempt to defeat the re-election of President Obama and increase the GOP majority in the House of Representatives as well as secure a majority in the Senate.  They failed miserably in all three as the  President was re-elected and in the House Republicans actually lost seats to Democrats who continue to control the Senate.
Koch Industries has been a long time member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and in the late 90’s when ALEC was financially strapped and on the verge of disappearing, the Koch’s loaned ALEC a half million dollars to keep the organization alive and pursuing the conservative dogma ALEC is so well known for.  Since then the Kochs have supported ALEC’s initiatives such as voter suppression and voter ID legislation, deregulating the EPA and climate denial – to name just a handful of topics pursued jointly by the Kochs and ALEC.
Mother Jones reports:

“According to a previously unpublished preview of the April 28-29 gathering, the Kochs will unveil a new plan to recruit and train political candidates who will advance their free-market worldview. Another priority is improving the conservative movement’s outreach to “growing demographics” such as Latinos, young people, and women. The preview, obtained by Mother Jones, was emailed to attendees in March by Kevin Gentry, a top Koch aide. (A Koch spokeswoman did not respond to requests for comment about Gentry’s email.)”

“The Kochs and their acolytes believe it is their duty to stop what Charles Koch calls “the greatest assault on American freedom and prosperity in our lifetimes.” Hebegan a September 2010 letter (PDF) outlining plans for an upcoming donor retreat by asking, “If not us, who? If not now, when?” At the Vail retreat, Koch said the 2012 elections will be “the mother of all wars.”

In this informative article from MJ the entire memo sent out to those invited to attend the upcoming “Retreat” is provided to readers.  Read the full article and memo at Mother Jones -> HERE<-

 

 

ALEC and the Tories: A History (Part 1) – ALEC in Great Britain

ALEC and the Tories: A History (Part 1) – ALEC in Great Britain

flag of great britain

In my previous article I introduced the European members of ALEC the majority of whom come from the British Conservative Party, the ‘Tories‘ (from the Irish which roughly translates to ‘thieving bastards’).

This link between US and UK right wing lobbyists actually stretches back Institute of Economic Affairs - IEAdecades and indeed some groups in the US only exist to help fund UK lobbyists, an example being the American Friends of the IEA. The IEA, Institute for Economic Affairs, was founded in the 1950’s and, although I dislike quoting from Wikipedia,  their entry on its founder is particularly succinct:

Sir Antony Fisher (28 June 1915 – 8 July 1988) was a background player in the global rise of libertarian think-tanks during the second half of the twentieth century, founding the Institute of Economic Affairs and the Atlas Economic Research Foundation. Through Atlas, he helped establish up to 150 other think-tanks worldwide.

His successors seem to have carried on the family tradition and indeed have a direct line to the office of the UK’s Tory Prime Minster!

He was father to Linda Whetstone, who has been involved with many of Fisher’s think tanks, and grandfather to Rachel Whetstone, formerly Political Secretary to Conservative leader Michael Howard, now global head of communications and public policy for Google, who is married to David Cameron’s [former?] Director of Strategy Steve Hilton.

In looking at the specific ALEC links with UK Tories I will present a chronological timeline stretching back around a decade. Due to the amount of information presented comment has been kept to a minimum.

Note: many historical links may not work but are provided for information; the data has been extracted from local copies we hold.


2002 – International Freedom Exchange

ALEC is also working to promote closer working relations between America’s International Freedom Exchange (IFEX)state political leaders and their foreign counterparts. The underlying purpose is to build a better understanding of America’s political process and maintain an ongoing dialogue of how free-market societies are prepared to meet future challenges and the emerging global economy.

In 2002, ALEC staff held discussions with several international delegations, including British Members of the European Parliament, regional leaders of the Parliament of the Kyrgyz Republic, and representatives of the Kosovar Parliament. More recently, ALEC’s Michael Flynn held a briefing at an international conference on federalism sponsored by the German think tank, Friedrich Naumann. Future ALEC activities aim to bring emerging political leaders from other countries into this international freedom exchange.

In 2003, a delegation of European Members of Parliament will be meeting with American state lawmakers at ALEC’s Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.

 

2004 – Senator William G. Hewes III, ALEC National Chairman

Just as the White House and Congress gear up for their new electoral cycles, Europe is also at the start of a new 5 year phase. The new enlarged European Parliament is just finding its feet following June’s Europe-wide elections and she has already shown signs that she will fully flex her institutional muscles when needed. Soon the new European Commission of 25 will also take up a fresh term, with a new set of priorities and challenges.

One of the biggest challenges facing Europe is surely its very direction. The new Constitutional Treaty currently undergoing ratification in Member States is by no means a shoe-in and the EU will spend much of the next 18 months trying to establish its exact place on the world stage. Perhaps this is why EU-US relations have become schizophrenic of late. At times Europe and America have acted in complete harmony and presented a united front; At other times, our relationship has been overtly fractious. That is where legislators have a key role to play – in bringing forward a relationship based on co-operation and trust.

ALEC’s EU project is now well under way and we’ve found friends in the conservative delegations of Britain, Hungary and the Czech Republic. We hope to extend this further and establish an on-going dialogue with conservatives across the European Union.

Indeed, the new European Commission is also showing very welcome signs european commissionof pragmatism and collaboration. The EU’s incoming Commissioner for External Relations, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, says she wants a determined and decisive multilateral effort to fight international terrorism. She has also stressed that the EU must now show support for the broader political process in Iraq. This common-sense approach to the international scene is to be welcomed as a positive sign of things to come.

ALEC will welcome three MEPs to its States and Nations Policy Summit in Washington D.C. this December to discuss the latest aspects of the transatlantic relationship. We also hope to build a firm bridge across the Atlantic for our shared conservative ideas and I know that everyone at ALEC will do their best to welcome our European guests.


Note this phrase
: ‘a firm bridge across the Atlantic’.  In a future article the ‘Atlantic bridge’ will be discussed further.

 

Speech by Chris Heaton-Harris MEP – 2004 States and Nation Policy Summit,  Washington, D.C.

Mr Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen,

 Before I start may I just say thank you to ALEC for inviting me to this excellent conference. It is a great privilege for me to be here with my colleagues from the European Parliament: Martin Callanan, who, alas, returned to the UK last night and Roger Helmer, who I know many of you have met and listened to.

I am Chris Heaton-Harris and all three of us were re-elected for our second five year terms to the European Parliament back in June.

The European Parliament has 724 members from 25 countries representing 450m people and using 20 official languages. As you can imagine, it is a very complicated place….

…Now, I can’t claim to be an ALEC member or alumni; in fact it was only a http://na-saighneain.com/alec_uk.jpgcouple of years ago that I was introduced to this organisation and Jeffersonian principles. In the UK I’m pretty well known for my Conservative views – it seems to me that no matter where you are true Conservative will always stand for the same things:

  • To limit government
  • For lower taxes
  • For free trade and open markets
  • Individual freedom
  • Showing respect and taking personal responsibility.

 But I didn’t know these core values as Jeffersonian principles – to me these were Thatcherisms…

…And there’s worse yet to come… many of you will have heard of the European Constitution – and just by its name you might think, well this is a good thing.

But whereas your Constitution is a truly enduring historical document based on life, liberty and limiting government; ours is a socialist manifesto.

 Let me list some things it calls “fundamental rights”:

  • The freedom to form trade unions.
  • The right to collective bargaining and action.
  • The freedom to choose an occupation. (I want to be an astronaut and I’ll sue you if you don’t let me be one!)
  • The right to have fair and just working conditions.
  • The right to reconcile family and professional life.

And these rights will all be interpreted by our version of your Supreme Court – the EU’s Court of Justice….

But why should you all care about what’s happening over in Europe?   Surely, if Europe’s economy goes downhill it won’t effect America.

Well do remember that the EU is one of the biggest markets for American produced goods.

And also remember what Ronald Reagan once said in one of his radio commentaries back in the 70’s:   “we should always be wary and watch out for government’s communications grapevine. When one set of jungle drums is pounded by a group of bureaucrats” he said “another group of bureaucrats will be listening.”

That’s how regulation spreads: from you to us, like smoking bans, or from us to you! And trust me – those jungle drums are beating hard and fast in Europe.

To me the solution to all these problems I’ve outlined seems obvious – Europe needs Jeffersonian principles/Thatcherisms.

In fact we must really start by helping Europe’s Conservatives remember what being a Conservative is all about – and to do that I believe we need a role model.

And actually I think we have a ready-made role model here today in ALEC and all of you.

 You understand what Jeffersonian principles are all about and you deliver policy that makes them work and improves peoples’ lives.

 But alas, in Europe, we have no organisation like ALEC – and we really need one.

 That is why I am so glad you have started your international program – that will help us true believers out there fight the good fight.

 Over the past couple of years it has been really tough being a Conservative in Europe.   Coming here this week has been like taking a bottle of political Viagra – I feel completely re-energised!

 So I’d like to thank you all – for your friendship, your hospitality and your inspiration…

 

Roger Helmer – Speech to American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) –  Washington DC – December 1, 2004

 

Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen,

As always, it’s a huge pleasure for me, and my colleagues Chris Heaton-Harris and Martin Callanan, to be here with you at another ALEC Conference. I’d like especially to thank Duane Parde, and his fellow officers at ALEC, for the invitation, and I’d also like to thank ALEC staffer Sally McNamara for organising our programme. Sally previously spent five years working for Chris Heaton-Harris and me in the UK and Brussels, before coming to Washington.

In a world where globalisation is accelerating, and where we all face the common threat of terrorism, I believe that the transatlantic relationship, which has underpinned our security for all of my life-time, is becoming more, not less, important. I very much regret the apparent lack of commitment to this relationship from Brussels, with its constant sniping and posturing on transatlantic trade and security issues.

In these circumstances, it is crucial to maintain and strengthen links between conservative politicians and thinkers on both sides of the water. I believe that ALEC has a vital role to play in this dialogue, and this is why it is such a great pleasure, and privilege, for me and my colleagues to be here with you today….

…While we enjoy coming to Washington, we also do our best to maintain transatlantic relations in Brussels, and we always look forward to events organised by the American Chamber, which has a high reputation over there. Indeed I sometimes think they know more about what’s going on in the EU institutions than we do!

On Nov 17th we were guests at the American Chamber dinner in Strasbourg, where David Cote, the CEO of Honeywell, was the keynote speaker. I met a charming, tall, elderly Polish MEP, whom I had better not name…

…It is easy to ridicule, but dangerous to ignore the threat. There is a world of difference between the EU we have today, and the EU of the Constitution. Today, at least in theory, the EU is a Treaty-based organisation linking independent, democratic sovereign nations. Under the Constitution, it becomes for all practical purposes a country in its own right, with its own legal personality.

What do you call an organisation that has, or is putting in place, a Constitution, a currency, a central bank, a supreme court, a President, a Foreign Minister, an elected parliament, common external borders and tariffs, border guards, an army — not to mention a passport, a flag and an anthem?

Ladies and gentlemen, if it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck ….. !

And in that new country called Europe, the ancient nations of our continent will be little more than provinces.

Does this matter to America? You bet it does! Too many of the Chancelleries of Europe are animated by an endemic Anti-Americanism, heightened recently by the Iraq war. They speak of a euro currency, and EU armed forces, to “counter-balance US dominance”. They are developing their own Global Positioning System, Galileo, not because they need it — you make your own system available free of charge — but to assert their growing confidence as a global power. In doing so, they threaten the strategic balance, and the vital transatlantic flow of military and security intelligence.

My advice, which I have offered whenever I have been this side of the water, is that the US should know its friends in Europe, and work with them country-by-country, rather than seeking to deal with the EU as a single entity. I am delighted to see that this view is catching on in Washington, and I particularly commend the Heritage Foundation briefing paper of October 2004 by John C. Hulsman and Nile Gardiner, entitled “A Conservative Vision for US Policy Toward Europe”, which takes exactly this position.

I and my colleagues are convinced that the EU Constitution is a profound threat to the prosperity, the democracy and increasingly to the security of our country. But we also to believe that an assertive, unified, Constitution-based EU is not in America’s best interest either.

Our great task for the next couple of years is to campaign in the UK against ratification of the EU Constitution. We think we can win this battle, and we would be hugely encouraged to have your moral support in our campaign. Thank you.

( Roger Helmer article for ALEC, September 2004)
helmer - 2004

from the aforementioned Martin Callanan, an article for ALEC, November 2004
callanan - 2004

 2004- 2005 Articles, Publications and Newsa list of ALEC articles from 2004 and early 2005

Having been recently appointed ALEC National Chairman, I am delighted to see our international relations project now moving full steam ahead. I have asked my immediate predecessor as National Chairman, Senator Billy Hewes, to Chair the ALEC Board of Director’s Committee on International Relations, while Ken Lane of DIAGEO will co-chair in a private sector capacity. These gentlemen enjoy my full support, and I believe that we have a strong a team to lead from the front & move forward with our international coalition-building.

Anyone who attended our States and Nation Policy Summit in Washington this month knows just how important it is to have friends across the Atlantic. Chris Heaton-Harris MEP delivered a remarkable speech, which directly addressed our principles. He asked for our help and mutual support – and ALEC is delighted to offer it. Not least because the threats posed by the European Constitution can easily be transported over here – the threats to free trade, free markets and individual liberty.

These debates about the future of Europe & its international status are increasingly relevant to America and to our companies who operate inside the EU. That is why I am so happy to see ALEC taking the lead in shaping the policy debate for the future of transatlantic relations.

 


LA State Senator Noble Ellington, ALEC Board of Directors

Think tanks have become somewhat part of the establishment in Washington. In fact, it would be fair to say that there’s a healthy amount of competition among DC’s thinkers; competition for the best people, for the best promotional tools and for the best access to the Nation’s policy makers. And there is little doubt in the conservative movement that this has been a good thing – that new think tanks have increased the strength of existing think tanks, attracting new activists and advancing “the movement”.

But what about Europe? Brussels has previously been marked by its very lack of free market think tanks, and its proliferation of EU funded “groups”. It is a fact that virtually all government funds which flow into lobbying/pressure groups go to leftist organizations. This fact underlies the damaging economic road the EU has chosen to go down in recent years, spurred by its “consultations” with these elite, quasi-independent interest groups.

But it seems that the conservatives are fighting back. On my recent trip to Brussels with ALEC, I attended a conference entitled Does the West Know Best, organized by The Stockholm Network. SN is a network of 120 market-oriented think tanks, working with Europe’s brightest policymakers and thinkers. Does the West Know Best examined the new EU member states’ more radical approaches to social and economic reform, such as flat taxation, the privatization of social security and moves towards more market-oriented health systems. I was awed to meet people from think tanks in places such as Croatia and Estonia, who have literally lived (or indeed still living) through the transition from communism to democracy. Their determination to pursue the ideals of the free market – regardless of the current political climate or pressure – amazed me. Newly elected Polish MEP Michal Kaminski frequently relays the story about how he learned about conservatism by listening to Mrs. Thatcher & President Reagan on the BBC World Service on a clandestine radio, hidden under his bed covers, for fear of the authorities.

Free market think tanks are now converging on Brussels, either directly or indirectly. The Center for New Europe, a non-profit, pro-market research foundation is headquartered in Brussels, popping up everywhere with its well-researched publications and arguments; SN’s Europe-wide network is rapidly developing into a formal arrangement of academics, policy practitioners, journalists and business people, exchanging market-oriented policy ideas and reform strategies right across the EU. The conservatives are seemingly back in Brussels. Lets hope for good.

 

ALEC News

Sally McNamara has been invited as a regular columnist for the London-based think tank, The Bruges Group. The Bruges Group is an independent all-party [exclusively Conservative Party] think tank, founded in February 1989 with the vision of a free trading, decentralized, deregulated and democratic Europe of nation-states.  Its inspiration was Margaret Thatcher’s Bruges speech in September 1988, in which she remarked that, “We have not successfully rolled back the frontiers of the state in Britain, only to see them re-imposed at a European level.”

(The Bruges Group can be found at http://brugesgroup.com)

 

ALEC NEWS

 

ALEC was privileged to host five conservative legislators from the European Parliament at a roundtable discussion on June 27th. Martin Callanan, Chris Heaton-Harris, Roger Helmer, Dan Hannan and Michal Tomasz Kaminski MEPs briefed ALEC members on a range of topics, including REACH, the draft European Constitution and the precautionary principle.

 ALEC’s Executive Director, Duane Parde, was invited to visit London last month in order to attend a gala dinner in honor of former Prime Minister, Lady Margaret Thatcher.  At the personal invitation of British Conservative MEP Chris Heaton-Harris, Mr. Parde met Mrs. Thatcher, who later addressed the dinner, speaking through an aide.

ALEC’s International Relations Project Director, Sally McNamara, attended the Heritage Foundation’s conference “Is the European Union in the Interests of the United States?” Speakers included Christopher Booker (journalist and editor, UK Daily Telegraph), Judge Robert H. Bork (Distinguished Fellow, Hudson Institute) and The Rt. Hon David Heathcoat-Amory MP (British parliamentarian). [Conservative Party, naturally]

ALEC’s Adam Smith Scholar Roger Helmer MEP produces a monthly e-update on his parliamentary activities, entitled Straight Talking on Europe. To receive Straight Talking, please email rhelmer@europarl.eu.int

ALEC NEWS

 ALEC was delighted to welcome Czech Republic MEP, Dr. Ivo Strejcek to its 32nd Annual Meeting in Grapevine, Texas. Dr. Strejcek spoke about the importance of the Transatlantic Relationship and the role of legislators in preserving the alliance. Christopher Horner, of the European Enterprise Institute, then spoke about the precautionary principle and the EU’s attempts to make it the international standard.

For copies of Dr. Strejcek or Mr. Horner’s PowerPoint presentations, please contact Sally McNamara – smcnamara@alec.org

 

ALEC NEWS

 As part of its International Relations Project, ALEC took a group of legislators and private sector members to Strasbourg and Prague last month, and met with leading members of the European public policy community to debate various issues on the current global agenda. In Strasbourg, we were hosted at both the European Parliament and the U.S. Consulate General; In Prague, we were hosted at the Czech Parliament, Senate and the American Embassy. We were personally welcomed by Consulate General Frankie Reed and His Excellency William Cabaniss in Strasbourg and Prague respectively.

For more details and a full report on this educational exchange, please contact Sally McNamara – smcnamara@alec.org

 

ALEC was privileged to attend the Autumn Strategy Meeting of the Transatlantic Policy Network in Washington D.C. this month. Entitled “The United States and the European Union: Working Together to Solve Global challenges”, TPN is a non-governmental, public-private network working for a stable, strong transatlantic partnership. Hosted at the Capitol, successful sessions were held on financial services, the digital economy and intellectual property rights.

 

SALLY MCNAMARA, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS PROJECT DIRECTOR

As part of its annual exchange visits with European legislators, a bi-partisan, high-level ALEC delegation visited Strasbourg, France and Prague, Czech Republic last month.

Meeting in Strasbourg during the plenary session of the European Parliament, ALEC met with 20 European legislators, from several EU Member States and, in keeping with our non partisan philosophy, from differing Parliamentary parties. During this session, we were particularly proud to welcome Roger Helmer MEP as the first member of our new for international legislators membership program. Roger has served as ALEC’s Adam Smith Scholar for several years and will also attend our upcoming States and Nation Policy Summit in Washington D.C. next month. ALEC is delighted to continue this successful public policy exchange with Europe’s legislators.

ALEC’s Prague program was equally as exciting. It began with a series of meetings with representatives from the ODS Party, the Czech Republic’s conservative party and major opposition to the current left-wing government. We were welcomed by leading legislators, including Mirek Topolanek (Chairman of ODS) and Ivo Strejcek, Member of the European Parliament. Ivo addressed ALEC’s Annual Meeting in Texas earlier this year, and reminds us that the diversity and vibrancy of the European Parliament has been vastly enhanced with the inclusion of several hundred legislators from Eastern and Central Europe.

ALEC was also exceptionally privileged to be hosted at the American Embassy in Prague, to be personally welcomed by His Excellency, Ambassador William J. Cabaniss. In the spectacular surroundings of the Ambassador’s private residence, former Alabama State Legislator Mr. Cabaniss enthusiastically greeted ALEC and encouraged the continuance of deep bi-lateral relations between our two nations.

The ultimate mission of the international relations project is: “To foster a policy-based program for the promotion, exchange, and implementation of Jeffersonian principles at the international level.” With a varied program, meeting all levels of policy-makers, ALEC’s international visit successfully continues our dialogue with like-minded legislators, as well as establishing new working relationships throughout the international policy community.

 

DUANE PARDE – ALEC’s Executive Director

The tragedy of the terrorist bombings in London seem all too vivid this side of the Atlantic – and not just because of our own recent experiences; the ‘special relationship’ that defines Anglo-American relations means that we have a shared understanding that these attacks are attacks on the liberty and freedom we fight together for, at home and abroad. We know that the sympathies and resolve of the American people are with the British people right now then – just as they stood shoulder-to-shoulder with us in the wake of 9/11.

I visited London for the second time this June, to meet with conservative legislators from both Westminster and Brussels. Newly elected Conservative Party MPs Robert Goodwill and Peter Bone both talked about the domestic policy scene in England, including the problems of devolving power down from the national governmental level. Although the Conservatives are in a minority at a national level, they are in the majority at the local level. But in the absence of any sort of ALEC model, they often have trouble benchmarking conservative policies or sharing information. Chris Heaton-Harris MEP, who stood for local election several times before entering the European Parliament, believes that ALEC’s formula of sharing model legislation and meeting on a consistent basis to share best practice is one that British Conservatives should now start to imitate.

I also met with several British MEPs in London, including Michal Tomasz Kaminski (Poland) and Roger Helmer (UK and ALEC’s Adam Smith Scholar). With the emergence of strong ‘new” member states in the European Union, like Poland, they too are having trouble bringing together genuinely conservative legislators to form international alliances. Michal Kaminski talked extensively about how well organized the left is, and how they bring fresh impetus to their work across the world with mutual support and information-sharing; he too is keen to use the ALEC model to bring international leadership to the conservative movement.

The highlight of the trip though had to be a gala dinner hosted in honor of former Prime Minister, Lady Margaret Thatcher. Despite turning 80 this October, the Iron Lady is still an imposing figure on the world stage; and our brief meeting seems all the more poignant now as America and Britain once again fight together to preserve our way of life – just as she did with such conviction throughout the Cold War with President Reagan.

Our two countries have shared the greatest of triumphs and the greatest of tragedies over the years, from the beaches of Normandy to the deserts of Iraq. My visit to London highlighted to me that this alliance is one that we conservatives must fight to preserve. ALEC’s model of sharing information and promoting policies rooted firmly in our Jeffersonian principles is surely the best place to start then.

na-Saighneain

na-Saighneain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why are Prisoners Building Patriot Missiles?

Alarming? Sure. But it could also inform a larger debate currently underway in Washington.

Right now, federal prison inmates in correctional institutions across America are making parts for Patriot missiles.

patriot missileThey are paid $0.23 an hour to start, and can work their way up to a maximum of $1.15 to manufacture electronics that go into the propulsion, guidance, and targeting systems of Lockheed Martin’s (LMT) PAC-3 guided missile, originally made famous in the first Persian Gulf conflict.

Surprised? Me too.

Unicor, known as Federal Prison Industries until a 1977 re-branding, is a network of over 100 factories at 70 penitentiaries within the US; a self-sustaining, self-funding company owned wholly by the government, created by an act of Congress in 1934 to function as a rehabilitative tool to teach real-world work skills to federal inmates. Unicor’s mandate dictates that prison work programs not adversely affect private sector businesses.

It has always been fairly well known that prisoners make everything from street signs, park benches — and yes, license plates — to office furniture for federal agencies like the VA and DoD (this last example being to the continuing consternation of Representative Pete Hoekstra, R-Michigan, whose district is home to Steelcase (SCS), Herman Miller (MLHR), and Haworth), but the Bureau of Prisons’ PAC-3 missile program has gone largely unnoticed — until now.

F-16For the record, federal prisoners are making more than missile components. Inmates also make cable assemblies for the McDonnell Douglas/Boeing (BA) F-15, the General Dynamics/Lockheed Martin F-16, Bell/Textron’s (TXT) Cobra helicopter, as well as electro-optical equipment for the BAE Systems Bradley Fighting Vehicle’s laser rangefinder.

Despite repeated requests, Unicor would not disclose how many inmates are currently assigned to defense-related jobs, but public records show Unicor electronics factories located at no fewer than 14 federal correctional institutions.

Here’s how the work is described on Unicor’s website:

BRIGHT STAR '80“Unicor supplies numerous electronic components and services for guided missiles, including the Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC-3) missile. We assemble and distribute the Intermediate Frequency Processor (IFP) for the PAC-3s seeker. The IFP receives and filters radio-frequency signals that guide the missile toward its target.

“We are an important supplier of complex electrical harnesses that link initiators, primers and detonators in the guided missile warheads, and connect infrared, radar and electro-optical sensor data that provide essential threat discrimination in high-clutter environments.

“Our RF cable assemblies connect and control antenna mast groups that communicate with remote missile launching stations. We supply grounding cables and shielding to protect antenna arrays from electro-magnetic interference and pulses. In addition, Unicor produces and distributes testing and repair kits that help to ensure that guided missiles and other critical ordnance are deployment ready.”

As it turns out, this practice has been hiding in plain sight for two decades; detailed in Unicor’s annual report each year, highlighted in its brochures, and explained in depth — although buried several pages deep — on Unicor.gov. The missile components made by prisoners are needles in haystacks of thousands of parts, often contracted and subcontracted out endlessly. The organization’s annual reports aren’t exactly making any New York Times best-seller lists, and the Unicor.gov website receives so few visitors, Quantcast, the Internet metrics firm, is unable to provide traffic data.

bradley fighting vehicleWith that in mind, the Unicor/Patriot missile connection took some of the top defense analysts in America by surprise. “It’s kind of mind-boggling and hair-raising to find out a major component of a national security system is being made in prisons,” says William Hartung, PhD, director of the Arms and Security Initiative at the New America Foundation, member of the Sustainable Defense Task Force, and author of Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex (Nation Books, 2010).

“For one thing, just the symbolism of it, God forbid, the global publicity — I don’t think using prison labor to build missiles reflects very well not just on Lockheed Martin, but on the United States,” he says. “We’re supposed to be a beacon of freedom and holding up the values of the free market. I can’t think of an example that contrasts that more starkly than doing this kind of thing.”

While sourcing components from prisons is perfectly legal, the idea makes Hartung more than a little uncomfortable.

“It just doesn’t smell right to me,” he continues. “It’s really on the cutting-edge of questionable practices. The fact that it does an end-run around organized labor is a problem. There’s no greater restriction on a worker’s rights than being stuck in prison.”

The actual logistical arrangement between Lockheed, Unicor, and the Pentagon is murky. In response to a request for details, Craig Vanbebber, of the Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control division, “did quite a bit of research into… FPI/Unicor’s role on the PAC-3 missile system,” and it “appears that they are a supplier to the US Government, not a direct supplier to Lockheed Martin.” However it shakes out in the Byzantine system of federal procurement, PAC-3s rely on systems made by prisoners.

Christopher Preble, PhD, a former commissioned officer in the US Navy, author of The Power Problem: How American Military Dominance Makes Us Less Safe, Less Prosperous and Less Free (Cornell University Press, 2009), and current director of Foreign Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, was also unaware that prisoners were being used to build weapons parts. For him, the practice raises questions about a much larger policy issue currently being fiercely debated in Washington, DC — that of maintaining the so-called “defense industrial base.”

As Preble explains, the defense industry insists keeping a highly-trained, highly-skilled workforce “warm” is vital to its very existence. But if prisoners are performing apparently vital, mission-critical tasks, it casts some doubt as to the supposed delicacy of the defense industrial base. It also may further the case that a large defense budget is, as former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich wrote in an August, 2010 editorial, “an insane way to keep Americans employed.”

It echoed many of the same points laid out by Preble and Hartung in a 2009 Washington Times op-ed, which argued, “The defense budget is not a jobs program, nor should it be. Decisions on how many Humvees to buy, or how many bases to refurbish, should rest on military necessity, not economic expedience subject to political chicanery. When military procurement becomes nothing more than a series of thinly veiled pork- barrel projects, it risks exposing our troops to unnecessary risks, and ultimately undermines our security.”

Preble says, “When you talk about reductions in defense spending — and I encounter this almost daily — you have a certain set of people with a vested interest in making the argument that there is a unique defense industrial base that will be destroyed if any funding is cut; that there will be structural damage, it will not rebuild, that it must be subsidized at extremely high cost, ad infinitum, or it will disappear forever. It comes up in the context, oftentimes, when a particular weapons system is nearing the end of its previously agreed-to production cycle.”

Hartung wonders if maintaining an “efficient” industrial base by keeping production levels high for systems we do not need now but one day might; isn’t, by definition, inefficient?

“How does one square building missile components using prison labor with the notion that you need to keep a large, very expensive workforce at the ready at all times,” he says. “Maybe this means you keep technical teams together, scientists, engineers working on R&D, but that the assembly process is perhaps more fungible. It calls into question the entire industrial base argument.”

Preble says the theory “never really sat well with me” and that “the global economy is such that US manufacturers have capitalized on our comparative advantages, which are design and marketing — the beginning of the process and the end of it, which is the hard part. Everything in the middle is where we don’t have that advantage, which is why things get made elsewhere.”

“You tend to assume that weapons manufacturing requires a certain set of specialized skills,” he says. “When I hear about PAC-3 components being built by prisoners, for a guy who was always skeptical about ‘preserving the industrial base,’ it certainly doesn’t do much to assuage my doubts. If anything, it feeds into them. If you can train inmates to put together wiring harnesses for Patriot missiles, you can probably train people to do other, related jobs — and fairly quickly. When you need people, you go get them.” John O. Noonan, defense policy advisor at the Foreign Policy Initiative and former US Air Force nuclear missile combat crew commander, sees little, if any, downside to procuring military hardware from prisons. He wrote in an email message:

“As long as proper security protocols are followed, [it] looks fine. If using prison labor helps keep defense systems costs down, with minimal security risk and a clean bill of ethical health, then more power to Lockheed and sub-contracting agencies.”

There is no lack of debate among the various interested parties on the ethics of prison labor; no consensus has ever been reached on what constitutes “ethical” regarding FPI since it opened for business almost 80 years ago.

Regarding cost, the current Unicor “Electronic Capabilities” brochure claims that the prison labor can reduce certain expenditures by as much as 40%. “These cost savings have saved the Navy more than a million dollars,” says one statement [PDF].

The security protocols Noonan mentions don’t bother the Heritage Foundation’s Mackenzie Eaglen, a policy expert with a focus on the defense industrial base and the size and structure of the nation’s armed forces.

“Building one piece of one part of one missile is not going to give away the nation’s crown jewels,” she says.

However, Eaglen dismisses the idea that the defense industry may be overplaying its need to avoid budget cuts by any means necessary.

“My assumption is, this program is confined to basic manufacturing. There’s a big difference between a highly-skilled worker and someone who inserts a widget,” she says.

In fact, it appears that prison labor capabilities are becoming, if anything, more and more advanced. Unicor literature points out:

  • Our in-house prototyping, engineering, manufacturing and distribution capabilities allow us to streamline the entire design-through-delivery process, providing highly integrated services and overall time and cost savings for our customers.
  • Our team of electrical engineers and technicians are skilled in Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and can produce production-ready designs and high-quality prototypes to exacting military and commercial specifications. We recently designed, prototyped and engineered specialized lighting kits for the Army and Air Force and land mine sweepers for use in the Middle East.
  • Our engineering services include developing mechanical designs and documentation, machining and fabrication requirements, and quality assurance specifications. Our leading-edge coordinate measuring systems allow us to perform fast, accurate tolerance-checking to ensure the precision of our prototyping services.

As the very definition of war continues to evolve, Chris Preble wonders how to even accurately define “the defense industry.”

“What exactly are we talking about in preserving our ‘unique’ industrial base,” Preble says. “What exactly is that set of unique skills that, as a matter of national security, we continue to subsidize and absolutely must maintain at all costs — including the opportunity cost — of dictating that certain people be employed in certain areas, short-circuiting the market for presumably long-term objectives?

“Our ability to design militarily relevant, even revolutionary, technologies is the best in the world. Does that make every engineering school in America part of the military industrial base? Michael Dell (DELL) and Bill Gates (MSFT) dropped out of college. Where in the value chain, or as they call it in the military, the ‘development cycle,’ do you draw the line?”

On a more philosophical level, Preble is concerned that all the panic over maintaining the defense industrial base indicates a deeper problem.

“Our strength as a country is our ingenuity, our dynamism,” he says. “I get the feeling that there is a sort of lack of confidence in America’s adaptability and flexibility. I worry about locking in to a certain concept, maintaining certain platforms, certain people, certain jobs, because we somehow know for certain that those pieces of metal and electronics will the determinant factor in warfare 20 years from now. We have no idea what will be happening in the world 20 years from now. I’m concerned that we will preclude what has always been our real strong suit — our ability to succeed.”

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written by Justin Rohrlich and posted on Minyanville at

http://www.minyanville.com/businessmarkets/articles/defense-industrial-base-defense-budget-defense/3/7/2011/id/33198

Minyanville

Richard Fink: The Koch Brothers’ Big Tobacco Man Behind the Kochtopus Curtain

Richard Fink has long been one of the Koch Brothers’ inner circle, playing the role of both political strategist and close confidante.
Richard FinkSome say the Koch Empire wouldn’t have been nearly as successful without Fink. Without him and his ideas, what is now pejoratively known as the “Kochtopus” probably would not have branched so far into research or political advocacy.
kochtopusBut relatively few people have heard of Richard Fink. And even fewer know of his connections to Big Tobacco – connections which may have influenced the creation and actions of Koch-funded front groups for decades to come.

With the Kochs’ support, Fink established the Mercatus Center in 1980, and then co-founded Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE) in 1984, where he served as President and CEO. Later, Fink helped found Americans for Prosperity to succeed CSE in 2004.

Fink sits on the board of the Institute for Humane Studies and is the former President of two Koch Family Foundations. Further, he has served as the Executive Vice-President of Koch Industries since 1989.

The Koch Brothers are best known as a key funder behind the climate denial machine and for their political attacks on President Barack Obama, as Jane Mayer exposed in her must-read New Yorker article.

The Kochs have donated over $25 million to front groups that attack climate science, create doubt and confusion among the public, and otherwise delay accountability for polluters.

Americans for Prosperity has campaigned against efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and amplified the “Climategate” attack on scientists, calling global warming the “biggest hoax the world has ever seen.”

But the Koch front groups’ involvement in the tobacco industry has gone largely unreported.

In 1999, the major tobacco companies were accused of a mass conspiracy to deceive the public about the dangers of smoking. The United States Department of Justice filed a racketeering lawsuit against major cigarette manufacturers, and sought $280 billion in penalties.

To combat this, Big Tobacco called on its allies for support – including the Mercatus Center and Citizens for a Sound Economy – both created by Richard Fink.

THE MOBILIZATION UNIVERSE

In a document called “Mobilization Universe,” as seen on the Tobacco Archives, Philip Morris laid out a plan to call on its allies. The goal: avert White House filing of the federal suit.

Its plan was to leverage third-party relationships to “oppose DOJ appropriations request for federal suit task force, oppose federal legislation enabling cause of action against the industry, and persuade the Administration and Senate and House Democrats of the political liability in a federal suit.”

Philip Morris laid out its key targets and key message points, examples of which include “Assumption of risk,” “Money grab,” and “Bad for Gore and Senate and House Democrats in 2000.” The document calls for third-party surrogates to write op-eds, LTEs and editorials, give speeches or testimonies, create policy reports, join coalitions, and provide access to policymakers, to name several.

CSE and the Mercatus Center were documented as allies several years before that, as well. In 1991, both CSE and Mercatus were part of a portfolio of organizations Philip Morris had cultivated to support its interests during a federal suit. Many other Koch-funded organizations were also included in this list, including the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation.

A HISTORY OF ALLIANCE

For several years, Fink acted on behalf of Big Tobacco using tactics laid out in their mobilization strategy – dating back from 1985, when he wrote federal representatives urging them to eliminate the US Tobacco Program. In a hand-signed letter, he wrote:

“Dear Representative: On behalf of the 220,000 members of Citizens for a Sound Economy, I urge you to consider the heavy costs of the U.S. tobacco program, and the enormous benefits to consumers and taxpayers which would result from the elimination of that program.”

The elimination of the tobacco tax bill would have lined the pockets of Big Tobacco CEOs, with less taxes and easier access for farmers to grow tobacco. Fink aligned not only himself but the entire membership of CSE with the interests of Big Tobacco.

In 1988, Fink wrote to the Surgeon General to express concern about the Interagency Committee on Smoking and Health’s inquiries into the subject of tobacco and U.S. trade policy. He warned that it would be unwise to suggest any foreign trade barriers, ending, “we hope that you will keep these thoughts in mind as your department discusses U.S. trade policy toward tobacco.” This letter was tracked down by the Checks & Balances Project in the Tobacco Archives, with an addendum from Samuel Chilcote – President of The Tobacco Institute – urging others to follow Fink’s lead and support.

For Fink’s efforts, Chilcote thanked Fink in a hand-signed letter on behalf of the tobacco industry, writing, “When an advisory body such as the Interagency Committee on Smoking and Health ventures into the field of U.S. trade policy, it is vitally important that the public record be balanced by the sound economic views and sensible business judgments that you provided.”

A LEGACY OF LOBBYING

In 1988, Fink testified on behalf of CSE to the National Economic Commission, urging them to avoid tax increases – increases that would have negatively impacted Big Tobacco’s profits.

Under Fink’s guidance, CSE participated in coalitions and partnered with other tobacco front groups, honing the dirty public relations tactics employed today by the Kochtopus Empire to delay action on combating climate change.

CSE joined the “Coalition for Fiscal Restraint” (COFIRE) in 1988, along with Koch Industries and Philip Morris. This is the only coalition in which Koch Industries represented itself as a corporation, rather than through its myriad front groups.

CSE also took part in “Get Government Off Our Back,” the front group created in 1994 by RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company to fight federal regulation of the tobacco industry. Its involvement in this group was kept in strict confidence until eventually made public via the Tobacco Archives. During this time, CSE was funded to the tune of at least $400,000 by the tobacco industry for its efforts to limit government regulation.

In 1998, CSE lobbied against California’s Proposition 10, an amendment to raise tobacco taxes in the Sunshine State. Members of CSE wrote letters to legislators and put forth a pledge to vote no. Ultimately, the effort “went up in smoke” and Prop 10 passed.

In 2004, Citizens for a Sound Economy split into two groups, Americans for Prosperity (AFP) and FreedomWorks.

Richard Fink continued to lead Americans for Prosperity as President, and the tobacco lobbying efforts continue under the smoke of a new banner.

The most recent AFP pro-tobacco effort occurred this past summer, when it campaigned to oppose CA’s Proposition 29. If Prop 29 had passed, it would have increased tobacco taxes and directed the money raised from taxes towards cancer research – insidious given the Koch Brothers’ support for cancer research at places like MIT.

AFP, along with the tobacco industry, spent around $40 million to defeat Prop 29, mostly on anti-Prop 29 television ads.  During that campaign, AFP was also part of a broader coalition of tobacco and anti-tax groups. According to maplight.com, Philip Morris and RJ Reynolds bankrolled almost the entire campaign.

The arguments made against Prop 29 were very similar to those made by Citizens for a Sound Economy in 1998 when it unsuccessfully campaigned against CA Prop 10.

This was not AFP’s first attempt to shill for Big Tobacco.

In 2006 AFP campaigned to oppose tobacco tax increases in several different states – South Dakota, Texas, Kansas, and Indiana. For their work in South Dakota, AFP received money from US Smokeless Tobacco, Retail Tobacco Dealers of America, and Tobacco Warehouse of Rapid City. It also opposed taxes in Texas, Kansas, and Indiana. The following year, in 2007, AFP campaigned to oppose Texas’ smoking ban in indoor workplaces.

Finally, in 2009, AFP and Philip Morris were both asked to react to Virginia’s smoking ban, in an email from Karen Corriere of Altria Group, Inc. (the parent company of Philip Morris). Unsurprisingly, both voiced their opposition quickly. Americans for Prosperity reacted in full, hiring a company to make tens of thousands of calls to the offices of Virginia legislators, pressuring them to vote against the ban.

FISCAL TIES TO BIG TOBACCO

Throughout the years, the alliances were tied together in one of the most politically influential ways – money. The following is just a sample Big Tobacco’s money trail:

  • In 1987, Roger Ream – Vice President of CSE – wrote to the Tobacco Institute asking for funding. Given their alliance, it is likely they achieved their goal.
  • For its participation in the “Get Government Off Our Backs” (GGOOB) campaign, CSE received $400,000 in 1994 from RJ Reynolds and other tobacco corporations.
  • In 1996, CSE requested a funding increase of $500,000 from Philip Morris. Due to the handwritten “OK $500,000” at the top of the letter, this was almost definitely approved.
  • In 1999, Beth Stevens of CSE wrote to Kirk Blalock of Philip Morris requesting $100,000 in funds to support their efforts “to fight increased government spending, taxes, and regulation.”
  • In the late 90’s and early 2000’s, the Mercatus Center received public policy grants from Phillip Morris: $10,000 in 1999, and $20,000 in 2000. CSE received a total of $520,000 in 1999.
  • In 2000, in a memo to Philip Morris, CSE requested two million dollars to lead the opposition against tax increases and a Medicare suit to fund “big government” initiatives. The plan: “CSE will develop and run print, radio, and television advertising inside the Beltway and in targeted states. They will generate letters and phone calls to Congress from constituents. CSE will also educate Members of Congress and their staffs by preparing and distributing policy papers, conducting congressional education events, and meeting directly with offices.”

HOW DOES FINK TIE INTO ALL THIS?

Richard Fink first formed his alliance with Big Tobacco in 1985 when he urged legislators to eliminate the Tobacco program. But his value to the tobacco industry only increased with time, much like Dick Armey’s did at FreedomWorks.

As Fink gained more influence and power, his relationship with the tobacco industry tightened. When asking the Tobacco Institute for funding, Roger Ream of CSE wrote: “Recently, our president, Richard H. Fink, was appointed to the Consumer Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve and to the Department of Transportation’s Amtrak Privatization Commission. This further enhances CSE’s credibility and effectiveness on these issues.”

From the beginning, Fink’s position in the government was used as a selling point to earn funding support from Big Tobacco, exemplifying CSE’s ability to reduce taxes and fight government regulation.

Richard Fink came to the Koch brothers in 1977 to urge them to turn their libertarian ideals and love of “free markets” into political advocacy. In 2009, he advised them to do everything in their power to change the course of the 2012 election.

The Koch Brothers and their allies have funded attacks on climate science, attacked clean energy and stifled the green debate via an army of front groups. Lo and behold, they also worked with Big Tobacco to stop common-sense regulations and public health measures on smoking. In fact, fighting the tobacco file helped them to hone the playbook they would continue to use to fight against accountability for polluting the atmosphere, harming their workers and fenceline communities, and subverting participatory democracy.

Just as the severe health risks of tobacco are no longer up for debate, neither should be the reality of climate change, though the “Merchants of Doubt” shilling for a killing have – in a self-serving manner – maintained a façade of “controversy” over the issue for decades.

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This article is posted at The Checks and Balances Project  (Holding government officials, lobbyists and corporate management accountable to the public) and may be seen at http://checksandbalancesproject.org/2013/01/31/richard-fink-the-koch-brothers-big-tobacco-man-behind-the-kochtopus-curtain/

 

DeMint’s Bold Plan for Heritage: How to Lie More Effectively

Former Sen. Jim DeMint, hero to the overlapping Tea Party and Religious Right wings of the Republican Party, was kindly granted space by the Washington Post to tell us what he plans to do in his new job at the Heritage Foundation.

DeMint, a former ad man, promises to launch a “conservative revival” by figuring out how to do a better job selling conservative policies to the American public. That’s not exactly a big shift for the folks at Heritage, which is and always has been a giant marketing operation for right-wing “ideas.”

The most revealing thing in DeMint’s column is his use of a thoroughly debunked lie that Republicans tried to use against President Obama in last year’s campaign.  Says DeMint of President Obama, “He disabled welfare reform last year, when he took away the work requirements that were at the heart of that law’s success.”

That false claim earned politicians like Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum “Pants on Fire” ratings from Politifact and similar ratings from other fact checkers.  It’s a gross distortion of an Obama administration decision to give states more flexibility to come up with new ways to meet the law’s work requirements – something sought by Republican governors.  Even some Republicans, including one architect of welfare reform, called the charge false when the Romney campaign made it.

As we know from his climate change denialism, DeMint isn’t as concerned about truth as about creating his own reality — the way Fox News and the right-wing echo chamber have tried to do.  “One lesson I learned in marketing is that, for consumers and voters, perception is reality.”

Maybe reporters should start referring to Heritage as a “perception tank.”

this article was re-posted from Right Wing Watch, a publication of People For the American Way at
http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/demint-s-bold-plan-heritage-how-lie-more-effectively

by Peter Montgomery

Inside The Koch Empire: How The Brothers Plan To Reshape America–article and video

…”Charles’ many critics on the left–including the President of the United States–accuse him of accumulating too much power and using it to promote his own economic interests through a network of secretive organizations they call the “Kochtopus.” Ironically, the Koch brothers believe they’re fighting against power, at least in the political realm. For the Kochs the real power is central government, which can tax entire industries into oblivion, force a citizen to buy health insurance and bring mighty corporations like Koch Industries to heel.”

…”The November elections–which David, in a separate interview shortly after the results were finalized, termed “bitterly disappointing”–seem to confirm Charles’ last point. Not even the Koch brothers, who spent tens of millions of dollars during this election cycle (they won’t disclose the exact amount) funding direct political contributions and issue-driven “nonprofits,” could coerce voters to back their candidates. Mitt Romney’s loss was a huge blow to them, both in terms of likely policy outcomes and personal reputation.

“But those who think the brothers, older and chastened, will now fade away don’t understand the Kochs. Not a bit. Obama’s victory was just a blip on a master plan measured in decades, not election cycles. “We raised a lot of money and mobilized an awful lot of people, and we lost, plain and simple,” says David. “We’re going to study what worked, what didn’t work, and improve our efforts in the future. We’re not going to roll over and play dead.”

To read the entire expose at Forbes–A MUST READ–please click here.

To watch the video The Inside Story of the Koch Empire, where Forbes Magazine editor Randall Lane joins Martin Bashir to discuss his magazine’s latest cover story and interview with Charles and David Koch – and what the brothers may have up their sleeves for 2014, 2013, and beyond, please click here

Meet the Cabal’s Climate Denial Machine

Actually, in the Media Matters article, it’s named Meet The Climate Change Denial Machine.  But as you read through this you will recognize the common thread that runs through this article–members of what we have been calling “The Cabal”.  The ALEC/Koch/Radical Right Cabal and how they create and use their Echo Chamber to push their ideology.  Media Matters has identified the key players in the Echo Chamber in this excellent report..

Meet The Climate Denial Machine

Blog ››› ››› JILL FITZSIMMONS

Despite the overwhelming consensus among climate experts that human activity is contributing to rising global temperatures, 66 percent of Americans incorrectly believe there is “a lot of disagreement among scientists about whether or not global warming is happening.” The conservative media has fueled this confusion by distorting scientific research, hyping faux-scandals, and giving voice to groups funded by industries that have a financial interest in blocking action on climate change. Meanwhile, mainstream media outlets have shied away from the “controversy” over climate change and have failed to press U.S. policymakers on how they will address this global threat. When climate change is discussed, mainstream outlets sometimes strive for a false balance that elevates marginal voices and enables them to sow doubt about the science even in the face of mounting evidence.

Here, Media Matters looks at how conservative media outlets give industry-funded “experts” a platform, creating a polarized misunderstanding of climate science.

  • Heartland Institute And James Taylor
  • Competitive Enterprise Institute
  • Chris Horner And The American Tradition Institute
  • Manhattan Institute And Robert Bryce
  • Heritage Foundation
  • Cato Institute And Patrick Michaels
  • American Enterprise Institute
  • Marc Morano
  • Anthony Watts
  • Steve Milloy
  • Joe Bastardi
  • Matt Ridley
  • Larry Bell

Heartland Institute And James Taylor
More →

NEA: Anatomy of the Far Right

This is actually an old article I ran across today – from 1998.  The same year Hillary Clinton spoke up about the “vast right-wing conspiracy”.  Published in the conservative Washington Times, the article heaped a lot of scorn on the NEA’s findings But that is not the object of this post…

                                            [note:  “the fold” is in tribute to the writers at the Daily Kos who have been working as a true grassroots movement to expose ALEC]

The NEA report maintains that choking off NEA funding is not an end in itself, “but that the conservative movement considers it “a critical step in achieving its broader aims, a state-by-state assault on public education.”

The report, prepared by NEA researchers led by political
consultant Robert Watson, lists not only such high-profile groups as Heritage and Cato, but also focuses on lesser known organizations that help coordinate state and national conservative strategies, including the Council for National Policy, the American Legislative Exchange Council and the State Policy Network.

The study began in January when the California Teachers Association asked for help fighting Proposition 226, NEA
spokeswoman Kathleen Lyons said. Mr. Watson was hired as project leader for the NEA research effort. By the time Proposition 226 was defeated, the NEA “had compiled a lot of information and … saw it would be useful to a lot of our state and local affiliates,” Miss Lyons said, and decided to prepare a full report for nationwide distribution.

Miss Lyons did a great service documenting what she found back in 1998.  Please check out the infographic that was made from the NEA studies–and then compare it with information that Bob Sloan has researched and published about “The Cabal” here and on the Daily Kos.  Or from some excellent articles we have reposted on this site from Truthout or ALECexposed/Sourcewarch.

You can see the infographic if  you will please click hereShould you print it, be sure to use at least 8.5×14″ paper so that you will be able to read everything very clearly.

The NEA’s work in 1998 was eerily prescient and well assembled as you will see.  You can read the report if you will please click here.  (The link in the article to the report is dead, but here it is from the Archive.)

And if you will please click here you will see that the tenor of conservative comments has not changed since 1998 either.  This is either “extremely” (get the pun?) disturbing, or comedy worthy of George Carlin.

Voter Protection or Voter Suppression? 8min – VIDEO

This video looks at the voter protection bills that have
been proposed in over 40 states. On the surface these
laws seem logical, but as we dig into the reasoning and
people who created them, we see that they are being
pushed in the name of voter suppression.

And “All roads lead to ALEC”.

To watch this very informative video, please click here

The charts shown in this video are shown in our photo gallery.

ALEC Now Sponsoring Overtly Political Events with the RSC

GOP’s corporate front group

The revolving door between Capital Hill, the lobbying sector, and corporate jobs is out of control. Unaccountable corporate lobbyists write laws, draft budgets, and create policies that protect personal and business interests.

…But perhaps it is no surprise that the federal Republicans and ALEC have finally gotten a room, and that it’s at the Heritage Foundation. Republicans and ALEC have long held similar beliefs and worked together on the state level. President Bush and other top Republican leaders have spoken to ALEC. The group, which used to be a nonpartisan corporate front group, happy to advance legislation to either party, as long as it served its corporate backers, has increasingly become the state-based arm of the Republican Party’s progressively more conservative legislative agenda.

To read all of this extensive and in-depth report, please click here