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Saturday, February 27, 2016

Goodbye, MSNBC

Once a haven for those of us with a more progressive political mindset, MSNBC now seems to have capitulated to its corporate handlers. I suppose it was inevitable, but I mourn the passing of this last holdout in the mainstream media's race to the bottom. 

Today, we learned that yet another voice has been silenced. Melissa Harris-Perry released an e-mail message she wrote to her team on Friday.  (link)

Harris-Perry states: "I am not hungry for empty airtime. I care only about substantive, meaningful, and autonomous work." 

Guess what, MSNBC? There are millions of us who want to see a return to that kind of integrity in journalism. Millions who will not settle for the few crumbs that are being thrown our way in an attempt to keep the ratings up. Millions who have now touched that dial and tuned you out. Your "Lean Forward" meme has become a joke; you're becoming just like everybody else. 

I admire what Harris-Perry has done. I wish that more of her colleagues, many of whom I respected, many of whom have apparently bowed to MSNBC's directives, would do the same.

While I'd like to see another broadcaster fill the void that MSNBC has left, I don't believe that in our corporate-owned condition, this is even possible. Journalistic integrity has been shifted to the minor leagues, and those who have respect for the ones not afraid to speak truth - and the venues that encourage them to do so - have left. 

Endings are hard for me, so I've held out for awhile - but this latest move is my personal last-straw moment. 

(Rachel Maddow, I'll definitely miss you)

Goodbye, MSNBC. 

Relevant article links:

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Five Years Later: Reality Show Politics

It's been a long time coming, but today, I climb back onto my soapbox. God help us all :-).

In the years since 2011, when I first began this blog, Scott Walker has won two elections. President Obama was resoundingly re-elected. A do-nothing Congress has blocked his every effort, and continues to do so. Despite this, our country has continued to recover from a near-depression. My beloved Wisconsin has continued to devolve, as have all ALEC-controlled states. The spirit of the Wisconsin Uprising is still strong, which gives me hope that We Shall Overcome. Young people are beginning to pay attention and realize that the political system really does matter, that it impacts each one of us every day, that when they band together, their voices are POWERFUL.

On a personal level, I have lost two deep relationships, both breasts to cancer, my mind a couple of times, and several beloved friends and relatives. I've gained three more grandchildren and have another due in eight weeks. I live in a lakeside apartment with a happy little dog, a guinea pig, and a talking parrot for company. I am in a relationship with a good man.

Overall, again on a personal level, the joys have exceeded the sorrows. My life is in a pretty good place right now.
Enter Donald "You're Fired" Trump.

A year or so ago, I would never have believed that the Trump candidacy would have gained such a strong foothold. We are so much better than that, I thought. No reasonable person could support him, given his history of failure, his chameleon-like "principles", his hateful and divisive rhetoric, his childish bullying of anyone who dares to challenge him, his blatant narcissism. Or so, innocently, I thought.

Yet, like lemmings rushing to the sea, millions are following this man whose talking points lack any semblance of underlying substance. Millions of our fellow citizens are revealing a shocking (to me, at least) intolerance in a country that was built, at least in principle, on acceptance of diversity.

The more I struggle to understand this phenomenon, the less comprehensible it seems. I have come to the conclusion that it took a labyrinthine conglomeration of factors to create this heinous monstrosity. I seriously doubt that we will see an end to the mindless, heartless, immoral and authoritarian mentality that has overcome so many, at least in my lifetime. (Yes, I hope that I am wrong!)

We have become an international laughingstock. We have sown, and reaped, the disdain and hatred of those whose lives we have despised and destroyed both domestically and abroad. A Trump presidency - which is increasingly looking like a real possibility - would most certainly validate both of those sentiments toward our nation.

I hope and pray that it doesn't come to that.  And yet, if Trump actually gets elected, perhaps his supporters' eyes will be opened and we can get to work on the issues that truly matter: those related to how we as human beings can stop destroying our planet and one another.

Would a Trump presidency be a disaster? OF COURSE. Perhaps, though, that disaster would enable the crucial changes that the lesser evils we've fallen victim to have forestalled.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Letter to the Tea Party Republicans re: Jobs Plan

There is no doubt that the Tea Party Republicans want President Obama to fail. They will stop at NOTHING to ensure he is not re-elected. Here's an idea for 'em.

Dear GOP,

I have a challenge (dare?) for you.

You're insisting that the Democrats' job plan will fail, ruin our economy, cause those Job Creators to shut down en masse. You're spending millions to preach that sermon, and in some circles you have succeeded in convincing your constituency that you are speaking truth.

Why don't you just do it, then - sit back and let the Democrats fall on their faces?

So pass the bill, if you are so convinced, as you claim to be, that this program will fail and expose the Obama administration for what it is! Then when, according to you, everything we hold dear implodes, you'll have the perfect setup to get your guys into power and prove that YOUR agenda is the key to the success of our country. Stop wasting so much time and money and energy on fighting it - it's going to fail, right? Let it happen!

You'll be able to pick up the pieces and build your version of the perfect society, a free and unregulated market. People will flock to your cause. The job-creators will be rolling out the red carpet to the unemployed millions. The next generation will sing your praises.

What are you waiting for? Pass it.The whole thing.

Oh, wait... could there be another agenda at work here? Is your real fear that it will SUCCEED?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Archived ALEC - '03 to '07 Selections


July 2006

Activists' Welcome Planned for ALEC

San Francisco Bay Area 19 Jul 2006 07:39 GMT

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is meeting in San Francisco from July 19th through 23rd. A Press Conference will be held in protest of ALEC on Thursday, July 20th, at 2 pm at the Marriott Hotel at 55 Fourth St., in downtown SF. ALEC is one of the nation's most powerful and least known corporate lobbies, and it is funded primarily by large corporations, industry groups, and conservative foundations. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales will be at a breakfast on Friday morning to discuss "immigration reform."
Date: August 2005

Cindy Sheehan, mother of a slain soldier in Iraq attempts to confront President Bush after he speaks at an ALEC gathering:

Sheehan's actions, she said, were sparked by President Bush's comments like those made last Wednesday in Grapevine to about 1,800 members of the American Legislative Exchange Council: "Our men and women who've lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan and in this war on terror have died in a noble cause and a selfless cause."

    "We all know by now that that's not true, and I want to ask George Bush, 'Why did my son die? What was the noble cause that he died for?'" said Sheehan. "I don't want [President Bush] to use my son's name or my family name to justify any more killing or to exploit my son's name, my son's sacrifice, or my son's honor to justify more killing. As a mother, why would I want one more mother to go through what I'm going through, Iraqi or American?

Date: August 2006

ALEC Conference Brings Increased Focus on Health Care
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a far-right conservative organization that advocates an agenda of right-wing legislation in key areas of state policy. The organization provides joint leadership  roles for a multitude of corporations and associations who “pay to play” in all levels of the organization and its task forces. Below is a summary of their annual conference in San Francisco by PFAWF State Legislative Programs Manager Ellie Collinson.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
ALEC’s 33rd Annual Conference included keynotes by noted school voucher advocate Milton Friedman, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, and U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. It featured 46 exhibitors from various trade associations, companies, and right-wing interest groups. Attendance hovered at 750-1,000 during convening sessions, but was notably sparse considering the location and election year cycle.
Workshop sessions focused a great deal on “Fair Share” health care, along with the Massachusetts, Vermont, and Maryland plans. There was a subcommittee work session, keynote speech, and task force session dedicated to school voucher programs–notably an autism-specific special needs voucher based on legislation passed this year in Ohio.
There were also four different workshop sessions dedicated to various aspects of environmental policy.
Immigration, another hot button issue for the left and the right, did not play a large role in the conference setting. I suspect there may be more discussion at ALEC’s States and Nation Policy Summit in Phoenix this December.
Immigration was addressed only in a workshop session; no pieces of model legislation were reviewed nor were any ALEC platforms discussed. In fact, the panelists were in significant disagreement with one another over policy approaches to the issue.

Date: September 2003

Unaccountable by Design: Corporate Tuition Tax Credit Schemes Drain Millions From States

Imagine two states having more than $220 million over three years to spend on
education. Rather than using this money to benefit public schools serving at-risk students, school
construction, or education improvement efforts through smaller classes or teacher development
programs, the states chose to funnel this money to a small percentage of students to be used
primarily at private and religious schools. Now imagine that state educational officials turned
over these funds with so little oversight or accountability that they could not even verify the
schools or students who benefited from the funding. This is no academic exercise, but rather a
public policy nightmare come true.
Faced with strong public opposition to publicly funded vouchers for private schools,
some years ago voucher advocates adopted a strategy of using tuition tax credits to accomplish
the same goal—the diversion of public funds to religious and other private schools. This strategy
has been pushed hard by groups such as the American Legislative Exchange Council, (ALEC),
which provides legislators with ready-made legislation on a range of topics including vouchers
and universal tuition tax credits.

(Read more at link above)

Date: March 2006

Wall Street Journal (Joi Preciphs): States Take On Minimum Wage
Across U.S., Activists Push Ballot Measures To Lift Workers' Pay

Activists from Nevada to Ohio are working to increase the minimum wage in their states, aiming to join 18 others that have set hourly pay higher than the federal rate of $5.15. The moves come as President Bush and congressional leaders remain opposed to federal legislation that would lift the minimum wage for the first time since 1997. But advocates hope the state campaigns will strengthen the hand of the few Republican members of Congress who back a higher minimum wage -- and become a ballot issue that helps Democrats pick up seats in certain swing states during elections this November. Business groups are picking their battles with the campaigns they are choosing to fight at the state and local level, says Michael Keegan of the American Legislative Exchange Council, a right-leaning group that organizes against "living wage" campaigns. Some groups have launched legal challenges to various living-wage ordinances cities have imposed, while others have lobbied state lawmakers to propose pre-emptive legislation barring municipalities from setting the higher wage floors.


Date: Captured May 2007, references legislation introduced in Texas in 2003

The “Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act” introduced in Texas in February 2003, promoted by the pressure groups U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance and American Legislative Exchange Council, would increase penalties for organizations participating in activities “with an intent to influence a governmental entity or the public to take a specific action”, defining as animal rights or ecological terrorist organizations “[t]wo or more persons organized for the purpose of supporting any politically motivated activity intended to obstruct or deter any person from participating in an activity involving animals or natural resources.” The bill would also create Internet sites similar to those which register child molesters by name, address, and photo identification.2

Left undefined, words such as “influence” can range the gamut from educational leaflets to armed resistance; “deter” could range from speaking out against something to kidnapping. So who is to decide where the vegan cookie will crumble? The government? Law enforcement? Should we allow government officials to divvy out our Constitutional rights depending on their random definitions of “influence” and “deter”?

Date: May 2005

(This article discusses how ALEC legislation strips LOCAL government of rights to enact legislation/ordinances)
Who is behind this strategy of state pre-emption?

State legislators who support large-scale industrial agriculture, and are often funded by associated business interests are introducing these pre-emption bills. Farm Bureau chapters in the various states are key supporters. The bills represent a back-door, stealth strategy to override protective local measures around GMOs.

The industry proposal for a “Biotechnology state uniformity resolution” was first introduced at a May 2004 forum sponsored by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC claims over 2000 state legislators as members and has more than 300 corporate sponsors, according to People for the American Way (see Resources). The organization has its origins in the efforts of political strategist and fundraiser Paul Weyrich to rebuild a Republican power base at the federal and state levels in the aftermath of Watergate. Other recent measures supported by ALEC include efforts to deregulate electric utilities, override local pesticide laws, repeal minimum wage laws, limit class action lawsuits and privatize public pensions.

The tobacco industry has mounted similar efforts in recent years to circumvent local ordinances restricting youth access to cigarettes as well as smoking in restaurants, bars, and workplaces. Ironically, many of the interests now promoting state pre-emption have vociferously opposed federal regulations designed to pre-empt weaker state laws.

Date: December 2003

US: Profiting from Incarceration

Perhaps most controversial is CCA's close ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC is a powerful force in the promotion of the conservative policy agenda among state legislators. One of its major functions is writing model bills that advance conservative principles and working with its members to have these bills introduced. CCA has been a corporate member and a major contributor to ALEC and a member of its Criminal Justice Task Force. CCA executives have co-chaired the Task Force over many years. As a result of the model bills developed by the Task Force, ALEC claims credit for the widespread adoption of Truth in Sentencing and Three Strikes/Habitual Offender legislation. Through its support of ALEC, CCA is helping to create greater demand for its services as a result of changes in state policies that keep more people behind bars for longer periods.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The ALEC Daily - A Few ALEC Links From 8/22-23 2011

Overview of ALEC:

Good writeup by Robert Sloan regarding ALEC's public education agenda:

Which Michigan legislators are using taxpayer funds for their ALEC memberships?

Interesting and promising: the Common Cause ALEC document is available on the Montana/Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council site!

Great article: Elite Privilege and the Prison-Industrial Complex:
 Awesome to see the word getting out all over! A rural Virginia area gets educated:

MS. Magazine article:

Exxon Mobil Daily Report apparently has articles about ALEC. Mere mortals can't get to them. Hmmm. Perhaps someone could assist with this?

Viewing ALEC as a Political Party (I love this blog!)

Friday, August 19, 2011

A Sampling: 24 Hours of ALEC

ALEC's influence in TN,0,2446712.story

The REAL cost of private prisons

Unfortunately, this link is for "subscribers only"... but does mention in preview retired MN Republican Sen. Pat Pariseau.

If you are interested in boycotting ALEC corporate members' products (I personally confess to mixed feelings about this), here's one list:

A video from a NC TV segment, mostly relating to tort reform, but applies to EVERY state: