the Nation

Framed: How Redefining Direct Democracy as Anti-Democratic Won Wisconsin

Now that the dust has settled following last Tuesday’s Wisconsin recall election, the most remarkable line of spin to have gained traction is the notion that Scott Walker won in large part because Wisconsinites did not like direct democracy…

Unfortunately for those who seek actual answers, it is wrong.

Or to be more precise, the anti-recall sentiment was manufactured by a very smart, very effective and very expensive campaign by Governor Walker and his allies…

….In addition to the ads, and a $5 million direct-mail push, the governor used dozens of appearances on television programs to drive home the anti-recall theme: “A minority of voters will get to force a new election in Wisconsin…costing millions of dollars to the taxpayers this spring,” Walker griped during a CNBC appearance last November. That appearance also saw him suggest he would win “because every week, every day, every week, every month that goes by, our numbers get better because our story gets out.”

That’s exactly what happened.

To read this analysis by John Nichols, please click here

More Evidence Private Prisons Don’t Work

A recent report dismantles claims by private prison industry and its backers—including the extremist American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)—that private prisons are a better deal than publicly run facilities.

Prison Bed Profiteers: How Corporations Are Reshaping Criminal Justice in the U.S.,” from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD), demonstrates that many common claims of private prison companies have been repeatedly disproven and the private model often survives off low-paid, poorly trained staff, which can lead to compromised levels of safety for staff and inmates, as well as the general public.

The report also explores the influence private prison companies exert over criminal justice policymaking and the industry’s overall lack of transparency. Two of ALEC’s major sponsors are Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and the GEO Group (formerly Wackenhut Security), the largest private prison firms in the country.

Says Chris Harney, a senior researcher at NCCD:

Since we know private prisons aren’t going away in the near future, we sought insight from experts about substantive ways to slow expansion and improve implementation, operation and oversight. A critical part of this effort is encouraging lawmakers and jurisdictions to consider other options that have been shown to be viable, particularly promoting alternatives to incarceration and, when choosing privatization, demanding stronger contracting and monitoring.

ALEC has helped lead the charge to privatize prisons by writing model legislation for its right-wing state legislature members to push in their states.

ALEC has helped lead the charge to privatize prisons by writing model legislation for its right-wing state legislature members to push in their states. Read more from this 2011 investigation by The Nation and the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD).

On Friday, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) and the legislature’s top Republican leaders announced they reached a deal on a state budget for next year that includes transferring $50 million from funds intended to help homeowners facing foreclosure to the private prison industry. Worse, some Republican legislators want to “save money” by removing auditing and oversight from private prison contractors. 

In February, a scheme to privatize Florida’s prisons was stopped after a huge public outcry led by Florida working families, community and civil rights groups. The plan was backed by extremist Gov. Rick Scott (R), GEO and ALEC.

An InTheseTimes investigation last summer revealed that ALEC arranged secret meetings between Arizona’s state legislators and CCA to draft what became S.B. 1070, Arizona’s notorious immigration law, to keep CCA prisons flush with immigrant detainees. ALEC has proven expertly capable of devising endless ways to help private corporations benefit from the country’s massive prison population.

Also, an AFSCME report last year followed the money from the major private prison corporations to the lawmakers pushing lucrative prison privatization contracts in several states.

According to “Making a Killing: How Prison Corporations Are Profiting from Campaign Contributions and Putting Taxpayers at Risk,” each election cycle the three largest private prison companies—CCA, GEO and the Management & Training Corporation pour hundreds of thousands of dollars into the campaigns of governors, state legislators and judges, in the hopes of advancing their political agenda—establishing more private prisons and reducing the number of public ones.

There are numerous links to various reports in this article.  To read this entire article, please click hereand be sure to open all of the links in the article.

Occupy Our Homes Faces Off With US Marshals in Washington

Occupy Our Homes engaged in a dramatic faceoff this morning with US Marshals and local police in northeast Washington D.C., less than a mile from the US Capitol building. About thirty Occupiers arrived at the home of Dawn Butler around 8 am, in the 900 block of Maryland Ave NE, to block a looming eviction—and what followed left one Occupier and one US Marshal in the hospital.

Butler doesn’t own the home, but has rented it since 2006. Her landlord fell behind on her mortgage payments while sick with cancer, and the property was foreclosed on—but D.C. law says tenants have the first right of purchase on a home where the landlord loses the title. Butler claims she has repeatedly tried to buy the home but has been repeatedly ignored or thwarted by JP Morgan Chase and a local foreclosure firm.

To read about this fracas, and watch the embedded video, please click here

Trayvon Martin Killing Draws Hundreds to Protest Stand Your Ground Laws

From Policymic – article on the DC Protest against the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) by numerous progressive, activist and civil rights groups and individuals for their involvement in the creation of the “Castle Doctrine” or stand your ground law.  ALEC has also been identified as the creator of the “Voter ID” legislation now being enacted nationwide to disenfranchise million in this and subsequent election cycles.

From the Article:     “A diverse coalition of advocacy organizations, watchdog groups, activists, and national leaders stood in front of ALEC’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., to protest the “Kill at Will” legislation, which was written by ALEC corporate member the National Rifle Association (NRA). The groups protesting at the event included the National Urban League, the NAACP, ColorOfChange, the AFL-CIO, SEIU, ProgressNow, the Center for Media and Democracy/ALECexposed.org, Common Cause, People For the American Way, ProgressNow, Presente, Public Campaign, UltraViolet, Faith in Public Life, the National Council of Churches, USAction, Moveon.org, and others…”

Read full article here...