NAACP

The Massive New Liberal Plan to Remake American Politics

A month after President Obama won reelection, America’s most powerful liberal groups met to plan their next moves. Here’s what they talked about.

It was the kind of meeting that conspiratorial conservative bloggers dream about.

A month after President Barack Obama won reelection, top brass from three dozen of the most powerful groups in liberal politics met at the headquarters of the National Education Association (NEA), a few blocks north of the White House. Brought together by the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Communication Workers of America (CWA), and the NAACP, the meeting was invite-only and off-the-record. Despite all the Democratic wins in November, a sense of outrage filled the room as labor officials, environmentalists, civil rights activists, immigration reformers, and a panoply of other progressive leaders discussed the challenges facing the left and what to do to beat back the deep-pocketed conservative movement… More →

Texas AG threatens to arrest monitors observing US election

The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe has monitored several previous elections in the US. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

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State Attorney General calls international group’s plan to watch for fairness at the polls ‘legally irrelevant in the United States’

The Texas attorney general, Greg Abbott, has threatened to arrest international election monitors invited by liberal groups to observe the conduct of next month’s presidential vote in states accused of attempting to disenfranchise minorities.

Abbott has written to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe warning that its monitors have no right to monitor the vote even though they have observed previous US elections.

“The OSCE’s representatives are not authorized by Texas law to enter a polling place. It may be a criminal offence for OSCE’s representatives to maintain a presence within 100 feet of a polling place’s entrance,” he said. “Failure to comply with these requirements could subject the OSCE’s representatives to criminal prosecution for violating state law.”

The OSCE is sending 44 observers to voting stations across the US at the request of various groups, including the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union, because of “an unprecedented and sophisticated level of coordination to restrict voting rights in our nation”. These include attempts by several states, including Texas, to introduce voter identification laws and other measures blocked by federal courts which have ruled they were motivated by racial discrimination.

Well, we’re finally regarded as a nation that cannot conduct honest democratic elections, as reported in this article from the Guardian U.K., and as essentially verified by conservatives’ reaction to this action by the OSCE.  Isn’t that something to be proud of.  Brought to you by the same Party that increased our deficit by getting our nation’s credit rating lowered.  There is a lot more to read in this article, so please click here to read it all.

Suppressing Votes By Law–Bill Moyers

this post jumps right in to the middle of a conversation regarding voter suppression and Photo ID laws.

KEESHA GASKINS: Again, our research shows us that African American voters, Latino voters, voters over 65, young people 18 to 24 are all in populations that lack this type of ID at rates well beyond the 11 percent of the general population.

BILL MOYERS: You have some startling statistics on your website. Of the states with the highest Hispanic population growth, seven have passed restrictive voting laws. Of the ten states with the highest black turnout, five have passed restrictive voting laws. Of the nine states covered by the Voting Rights Act, six passed restrictive voting laws.

You call it in your report the first rollback in voting rights since the Jim Crow era.

KEESHA GASKINS: Yes, and it is. I mean, when you look at the laws that were passed between 1865 and 1967, the laws that could be ascribed to, sort of, voting and voting rights, depending on how you count, were about 29 laws. In the last 18 months, 23 laws have passed in this country, in comparison between 18 months and that entire period. There has been a concerted effort to limit access to the polls during this period. And this is unprecedented since that time.

BILL MOYERS: Do you think that these efforts to select out certain voters, to discriminate against certain voters that one party or another might not like anything to do with race?

KEESHA GASKINS: It has to do with race because it’s clearly affecting voters of color in this country. The Department of Justice identified that, and pursuant to the Voting Rights Act said the laws in Texas, the laws in South Carolina were unfairly discriminatory. And so, whether or not it was the intention of those legislators to do so, the fact is these laws disproportionately impact voters based on race.

There is so much more to be read in this article, or you can watch the embedded video.  All you have to do is click here

AFL-CIO and Partners Announce Far-Reaching Voter Rights Campaign

The AFL-CIO today announced a far-reaching, multi-partner campaign to register voters, ensure they can cast their ballots without intimidation and follow through to make sure those votes are counted. Speaking at a press conference here in Washington, D.C., AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker said this campaign represents the union movement’s most aggressive push ever because “the attacks we are seeing on the right to vote are unprecedented”.

“Over the past several months, the AFL-CIO has been working with our affiliates to ensure that registered voters are able to cast their votes without intimidation and to ensure that their votes are counted,” Holt Baker said, with a focus on Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Nevada. Some of those partners joined Holt Baker today, including NAACP President Ben Jealous, National Council of La Raza’s Clarissa Martinez-De-Castro and Generational Alliance’s Carmen Berkley.

To read this news story in its entirety–highly recommended–please click here

Voter registration down among Hispanics, blacks

The number of black and Hispanic registered voters has fallen sharply since 2008, posing a serious challenge to the Obama campaign in an election that could turn on the participation of minority voters.

In the 2008 election, robust turnout among black and Latino voters is credited with putting Obama over the top in key swing states, including Virginia and New Mexico.

Voter rolls typically shrink in non-presidential election years and registrations among whites fell at roughly the same rate, but this is the first time in nearly four decades that the number of registered Hispanics has dropped significantly.

That figure fell 5 percent across the country, to about 11 million, according to the Census Bureau. But in some politically important swing states, the decline among Hispanics, who are considered critical in the 2012 presidential contest, is much higher: just over 28 percent in New Mexico, for example, and about 10 percent in Florida.

For blacks, whose registration numbers are down 7 percent nationwide, and Hispanics, the large decrease is attributed to the ailing economy, which forced many Americans to move in search of work or because of other financial upheaval.

For more on this disheartening trend, please click here

How Do You Fight Voter Suppression?

The single most effective way to fight voter suppression is to register to vote, and then vote on election day.

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) made news this week when they announced that they were discontinuing their Public Safety and Elections Task Force. This Task Force was responsible for the promotion of ‘model’ voter identification and stand-your-ground legislation that has recently been in the news. This announcement came after many organizations put pressure on corporations to withdraw their support from ALEC.

 This retreat by ALEC is an important step for organizations like the League that have worked so hard to protect voting rights and protect the public interest in many other areas.  We must still remain vigilant against special interest influence on our government and democracy which has too often been hidden from the public.

The League always encourages voters to stand their ground. Special interests cannot prevail when confronted by an informed and engaged electorate. In order to do this, Leagues across the country will continue to work hard registering and educating voters, while also seeking to improve our government and elections.

To this end, The Charlotte-Mecklenburg League of Women Voters will be on hand from 11AM-2PM on 5/12 at the ALEC Teach-In to register people to vote.  Please be sure to bring all materials that you will need to register.

And remember, those who will be 18 by election day in November can register to vote in the 5/8 Primaries.

To find out more about this vital organization, please click here

ALEC — Announces the End of the Public Safety and Elections Task Force – No Sighs of Relief Just Yet…

Under intense pressure from activists and organizations including VLTP and the Center for Media and Democracy, ALEC begins to crack internally as the shadowy organization has been drug into the light of day – with great difficulty.  Over the past few days twelve top corporate members/sponsors fled ALEC in haste as their brands became synonymous with ALEC’s political and legislative corruption.  This morning Blue Cross and Blue Shield is the latest corporation to sever all ties with ALEC.

Also this morning – and possibly in response to this latest defection by Blue Cross – ALEC quietly issued this statement in a press release:

ALEC Sharpens Focus on Jobs, Free Markets and Growth — Announces the End of the Task Force that Dealt with Non-Economic Issues

(Washington, D.C.) April 17, 2012—David Frizzell, Indiana State Representative and 2012 National Chairman of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), issued the following statement today on behalf of ALEC’s Legislative Board of Directors:

“Today we are redoubling our efforts on the economic front, a priority that has been the hallmark of our organization for decades. Fostering the exchange of pro-growth, solutions-oriented ideas is precisely why ALEC exists.

“To that end, our legislative board last week unanimously agreed to further our work on policies that will help spur innovation and competitiveness across the country.

“We are refocusing our commitment to free-market, limited government and pro-growth principles, and have made changes internally to reflect this renewed focus.

“We are eliminating the ALEC Public Safety and Elections task force that dealt with non-economic issues, and reinvesting these resources in the task forces that focus on the economy. The remaining budgetary and economic issues will be reassigned.

“While we recognize there are other critical, non-economic issues that are vitally important to millions of Americans, we believe we must concentrate on initiatives that spur competitiveness and innovation and put more Americans back to work.

“Our free-market, limited government, pro-growth policies are the reason ALEC enjoys the support of legislators on both sides of the aisle and in all 50 states. ALEC members are interested in solutions that put the American economy back on track. This is our mission, and it is what distinguishes us.”

This Public Safety task force is the one used in the recent spread of; anti-immigrant legislation (SB 1070 in AZ. and other states), the current spate of voter ID bills and earlier bills such as prison privatization, prison industries, minimum mandatory sentencing and truth in sentencing (85% completion of sentence imposed) as well as the now infamous stand your ground (kill at will) legislation in Florida and more than 20 other states.  This same task force has been used to coordinate redistricting legislation on behalf of the GOP for years.  This ALEC body has been used to incarcerate millions and disallow their right to vote upon release or completion of probation or parole – and has been working overtime to disenfranchise millions more in 2012 and beyond through unnecessary voter ID model legislation written by ALEC and proposed, enacted and passed in many states already.

Eliminating this one branch of the organization does not mean all the legislation they’ve sent out to the states is going to be withdrawn, laws already on the books and being used to drive mass incarceration and exploitation through privatization of prisons and prison industries will remain as a testament both to ALEC’s successful influence and as a testament to their corruption.  Neither is erased by eliminating the original source for the legislation and exploitation.  Trayvon Martin’s life will not be restored, millions will not be miraculously released from our jails and prisons and corporations will not withdraw from prison industry operations and exploitation of slave labor.

The disbanding of this one task force does however mark the beginning of what most hope is an internal implosion that will eliminate ALEC altogether.  The announcement that ALEC is, “redoubling our efforts on the economic front, a priority that has been the hallmark of our organization for decades. Fostering the exchange of pro-growth, solutions-oriented ideas is precisely why ALEC exists“, does not bode well for America’s economy and jobs.

The statement that they will focus on jobs and the economy at this moment in the battle against ALEC, serves as both an acknowledgement of ALEC’s participation in actions we’ve long complained of and an admission of their guilt for those acts.  Additionally it serves as a warning to us that they intend to double-down on the war waged against economic reform and the pursuit of jobs.  These issues are now controlled nationally rather in the separate states by ALEC’s alumni/members in the U.S. Congress.  VLTP has been trying to emphasize this fact for many months now.  While ALEC and their critics alike continue to deny that the organization is involved with U.S. federal laws and policies, our research clearly refutes that denial.

VLTP knows ALEC’s influence within our Congress is immense and their alumni have been obstructing any real attempts at true economic reforms since the 2010 election.  Through ALEC the states have been taking their cues from Congress on these critical issues and causing obstruction and obfuscation of the arguments. When ALEC says it will focus on
jobs & the economy, it is not a good thing for you, your family, your job, your community or our national economy.

In fact the U.S. House has been directed by two key ALEC members; House Speaker, John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.  As the videos linked to below demonstrate, once Boehner and Cantor advanced from state legislatures to Congress, they remained loyal and subservient to ALEC and their agenda.  If you take a few moments and listen to the speeches given by both in their presentations in 2009 you’ll get a grasp of their continued commitment to ALEC and Conservative policies.

Under their direction and that of 89 other House members and 9 Senators who are loyal ALEC alumni, we’ve been shown a snapshot of what the future of our Congress will be should they continue to hold a House and gain a Senate majority in the future. For this reason we must not be swayed by one press announcement served up in the way of appeasement.

ALEC is an American disease that has been infecting all segments of our society and simply carving off one piece of that diseased carcass does not provide a cure.  The cure is a total elimination of the cancerous mass that is ALEC.

We’ve managed to expose the manipulations that for decades had been hidden away behind closed doors in dark smoke filled chambers deep within ALEC – and behind tight security at luxury resorts.  Joint corporate and legislative maneuvering, negotiations and crafting of pro-corporate profitization laws for all Americans to live by have been exposed to the light of day shining through ever widening cracks.  I fear that ultimately we’ve now driven these men and their hidden agenda from those rooms and forced them into a much smaller, much darker, better hidden “closet” in the corner.  From there they will surely continue their agenda, feeling safer for the lack of attention and public focus.

It will be our considerable job to follow them, throw open the doors to the empty chambers and seek them out by shining the same light of truth through the keyhole and under the edge of their closeted meetings until finally they flee from sight and rather than seek another dark crevice to hide in, disband altogether.

We are working on bringing that eventuality to a reality even as this is being written.  Serious and experienced researchers have been pouring over documents, links, pictures and other important materials.  There is much, much more to the ALEC saga and story that is known but has not been released yet.  More facts and information to show the depth of corruption practiced by ALEC and the network they are a part of; organizations, think tanks, foundations, corporations and individuals all working behind a curtain of secrecy to change the face of democracy and turn our government over to the highest bidder.  Right now the top bidder is the Koch brothers, Charles and David with their massive wealth, influence and total control over dozens of Tea Party lawmakers elected by Koch money in 2010.  Add the Tea Party legislators to the state and federal ALEC alumni and members…and you realize the job is far from over.

This picture represents the attitude, personae and total lack of respect or regard ALEC has for our democracy, the office of President and Americans in general: 

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is an ALEC Alum and has implemented every possible piece of ALEC written legislation in her state since taking office.  She serves as a key enabler of ALEC through SB 1070, expanding prison privatization, reductions in corporate taxes, voter id laws to disenfranchise, privatization of education, long distance learning, school vouchers, tort “reform”…anything that crosses her desk with ALEC’s DNA upon it is immediately signed and the citizens of Arizona be damned as she bows on behalf of Arizona’s citizens to ALEC’s will and influence.

FL State Rep. Dennis Baxley, Sponsor of ‘Right to Kill’ Law, Also Proud Racialist, Vote Suppressor

By Brad Friedman

It turns out that Republican Florida state Rep. Dennis Baxley is far more odious than we realized when, last December, we described him as, among other things, “reprehensible”, “anti-American” and “democracy-hating”.

It appears we were way too kind.

Baxley, it seems, was the chief, NRA-funded sponsor behind Florida’s 2005 “Stand Your Ground” law — better described as a “Right to Kill” law — the first of many similar ALEC-templated bills to be passed by Republicans in states across the country, allowing for what opponents had warned at the time, would result in “racially motivated killings.”

To read the rest of this blog, which contains a video by Rachel Maddow and also an interview with Dennis Baxley, please click here.

VLTP Statement in Response to ALEC’s “Press Release” on Corporate Members

By Bob Sloan, VLTP Executive Director

Today ALEC released a statement concerning the ongoing pursuit by VLTP and other organizations urging companies and corporations with memberships to ALEC or financially supporting them to leave ALEC.  As anticipated this campaign is having a huge impact upon the shadowy conservative organization as first Pepsi then Coke, Intuit, McDonald’s, the Gates Foundation and today Wendy’s announced they were severing all ties to ALEC.  Since last Friday that makes six gone and approximately another 300 to go.

Here are key issues mentioned in the “Statement by ALEC on the Coordinated Intimidation Campaign Against Its Members” response issued by ALEC’s Executive Director, Ron Scheberle:

“ALEC is an organization that supports pro-growth, pro-jobs policies and the vigorous exchange of ideas between the public and private sector to develop state based solutions. Today, we find ourselves the focus of a well-funded, expertly coordinated intimidation campaign.

“Our members join ALEC because we connect state legislators with other state legislators and with job-creators in their states. They join because we support pro-business policies that promote innovation and spur local and national competitiveness. They’re ALEC members because they’re more interested in solutions than rhetoric.

“Our members join ALEC because we connect state legislators with other state legislators and with job-creators…

Job Creators…a term we’ve been hearing since George Bush uttered it during his presidency when he initiated his “tax cuts”.  This has become a buzz word meaning “US” differentiating the employers, the affluent, business owners, CEO’s, hedge fund managers, bankers and influential conservative politicians from “THEM” the working class who lack all of the above.

We have been speaking the truth about ALEC for more than a year now.  We have always referred to ALEC as a well-funded anti-democratic corporatist shadow government, operating and hiding behind the classification of a charity to advance a corporatocracy to replace our democratically-styled government.  Now that those organizations involved in chasing after ALEC have begun to have an impact, ALEC responds that what we’re doing is a “well funded and expertly Coordinated Intimidation Campaign.”  This is simply not true.  Our efforts have only recently become somewhat coordinated and we have never been well funded.  VLTP applied for a grant from the Soros’ operated OSI Foundation to help fund our efforts of going after ALEC.  We were denied.  We have sought financial support from other Progressive organizations – and have not received one dime from them.  In two years of our work we remain funded through the contributions and donations of our members – who are all middle class working Americans.  There is a working group of organizations now pursuing ALEC and their members.  VLTP has been a part of that effort in that we are a research arm of that group.  Members of VLTP have been researching and documenting ALEC’s activities for nearly a decade now and we freely provided that research to members of the working group.  We contributed material to the joint CMD and Nation ALEC Exposed project and we’ve organized and participated in three ANTI-ALEC Protests last year in Cincinnati, New Orleans and Phoenix.  Others in the working group do not wish to participate in protests, rallies or marches.  We disagree and do these on our own – or have so far.  We think what we do is important to the overall effort.

What ALEC has been doing for nearly 40 years now, results in every single American experiencing some form of suffering through a; loss of the privilege to vote, imprisonment, loss of a job, lower wages if they do have a job, government deregulation on securities, banking and our environment, replacement of public education by private for-profit companies, risk of loss of life due to laws such as the “Stand Your Ground” legislation and lack of access to affordable healthcare.  Yes, each of these are ALEC based initiatives they have pursued and managed to implement in our states and at the federal level over the past three decades.

While ALEC and their corporate and legislative members were crafting and implementing these laws in favor of their corporate cronies – and exploiting Americans in the process – they described their activities as advancing; “Jeffersonian Principles,  limited government, free markets, federalism, and individual liberty.”  In reality they were exploiting all of us with each new law, increases in product and service costs to consumers and limiting our ability to recover damages from malpractice, asbestos contamination or defective products.  They have worked to program our judiciary through seminars given by their corporate benefactors and members, providing them with lavish all expense paid vacations.

ALEC has served as the voice and face of the 1% for years.  They have worked hard to transfer wealth to the upper class from the middle and lower classes and that is now a reality observable all around us.  They have been successful and that success has attracted huge foundations, companies and influential individuals to participate in the ALEC agenda.  Everyone wants to be on the winning team, and ALEC has been winning since it began in 1973.

ALEC is evil, dangerous to democracy and the American way of life.  Coke, Pepsi, Intuit and the other companies withdrawing from ALEC knew this and joined anyway, aiding and abetting their activities and exploitation.  We know they were aware of what they were doing when at the first exposure of belonging to ALEC, they publicly withdrew their support and membership in an attempt to avoid the full exposure they know is about to come out about them.  By leaving ALEC these companies hope to avoid any real cost for the laws they helped write that earned them millions out of the pool of tax dollars and from us, their consumers.

Yes, ALEC has to go and go quickly.  To that end VLTP is planning a protest, march, rally and teach-in event in Charlotte, NC for the week of May 6-12 while ALEC is holding their Spring Summit there at the Westin Resort.  In order to make this a successful event, we need financial assistance.  I would ask those who want to help us achieve this success provide that help through donations to VLTP.  Unlike ALEC we are a true 501 (C)(3) operating without corporate donations or financing, so all donations and contributions to VLTP are tax deductible.  Please click on the donate link above to contribute via PayPal, Debit or Credit card or contact us at Donate@vltp.net for larger contributions. No amount is too small – or too large.

We rely upon our readers and supporters to continue our work and we desperately need your help to abolish ALEC and repeal the terrible and oppressive laws they’ve gotten passed in every state.  Right now we’re working hard to fully expose ALEC’s efforts to privatize the United States Postal Service.  Please help us fight for the USPS.

 

Teamsters President: “Public is right to be skeptical of ALEC”

From the Detroit News, by James P. Hoffa

“Working Americans scored a big victory last week when four corporations withdrew their membership from a secretive group called the American Legislative Exchange Council. Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Kraft Foods and Intuit listened to their customers and quit ALEC. I hope their example is followed soon by the rest of ALEC’s members — both the corporations that fund it and the state politicians influenced by it.

CONTINUE READING AT THE Detroit News—>