Yesterday the Senate rejected an international treaty to protect the rights of disabled people around the world—a treaty ratified by nations all over the planet. In case you ever wondered what “American exceptionalism” means, it evidently means that, alone among nations, we can reject common sense humane laws in order to maintain the paranoid fantasies of the craziest of our people.
Rick Santorum said the treaty could violate the rights of parents who homeschool disabled children. The treaty says that the disabled should have the same rights and freedoms as anyone else. I don’t know, but if there was an evil conspiracy to attack American homeschoolers, I think they would have chosen a different tactic to launch the assault. Republicans said the treaty could pose a threat to US sovereignty. If agreeing not to hassle disabled people poses a threat to US sovereignty, then all I can say is that US sovereignty must be hanging by a very thin thread. By the way, the treaty is modeled after our own “Americans with Disabilities Act.” So obviously, this was some backdoor way to try and introduce American law into America!
Bob Costas is standing by the comments he made about America’s obsession with guns. Costas stressed that he wasn’t calling for gun control, just for a candid conversation about guns. I can just see the gun nut bumper stickers now: “I’ll have a candid conversation about guns when they remove my cold, dead tongue from the buttocks of the NRA.” Costas said he was talking about “gun culture,” not gun control or the Second Amendment. Doesn’t he realize that the Founding Fathers wrote the Second Amendment specifically to foster a gun culture? Thomas Jefferson always envisioned a nation of yeoman farmers… armed to the teeth. How do you think that Benjamin Franklin ended up discovering electricity? He was trying to build a gun that shot lightning!
Costas asked for “one example of a professional athlete who by virtue of his having a gun, took a dangerous situation and turned it around for the better.” Well, Plaxico Burress accidentally shot himself in the thigh when his gun went off in his pocket at a nightclub. If Burress didn’t have that gun… his thigh would have gotten away.
SEE VIDEO: Paul Krugman telling it like it is on the GOP’s ‘vapor plan’ and the looming ‘austerity bomb’… http://www.randirhodes.com/main.html
Read more: http://www.randirhodes.com/main.html#ixzz2EL9fLklx
I used to be a serious Republican, moderate and business-oriented, who planned for a public-service career in Republican politics. But I am a Republican no longer.
There’s an old joke we Republicans used to tell that goes something like this: “If you’re young and not a Democrat, you’re heartless. If you grow up and you’re not a Republican, you’re stupid.” These days, my old friends and associates no doubt consider me the butt of that joke. But I look on my “stupidity” somewhat differently. After all, my real education only began when I was 30 years old.
This is the story of how in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and later in Iraq, I discovered that what I believed to be the full spectrum of reality was just a small slice of it and how that discovery knocked down my Republican worldview.
I always imagined that I was full of heart, but it turned out that I was oblivious. Like so many Republicans, I had assumed that society’s “losers” had somehow earned their desserts. As I came to recognize that poverty is not earned or chosen or deserved, and that our use of force is far less precise than I had believed, I realized with a shock that I had effectively viewed whole swaths of the country and the world as second-class people.
No longer oblivious, I couldn’t remain in today’s Republican Party, not unless I embraced an individualism that was even more heartless than the one I had previously accepted. The more I learned about reality, the more I started to care about people as people, and my values shifted. Had I always known what I know today, it would have been clear that there hasn’t been a place for me in the Republican Party since the Free Soil days of Abe Lincoln.
Where I Came From
I grew up in a rich, white suburb north of Chicago populated by moderate, business-oriented Republicans. Once upon a time, we would have been called Rockefeller Republicans . Today we would be called liberal Republicans or slurred by the Right as “Republicans In Name Only” (RINOs).
We believed in competition and the free market, in bootstraps and personal responsibility, in equality of opportunity, not outcomes. We were financial conservatives who wanted less government. We believed in noblesse oblige, for we saw ourselves as part of a natural aristocracy, even if we hadn’t been born into it. We sided with management over labor and saw unions as a scourge. We hated racism and loved Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., particularly his dream that his children would “live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” We worried about the rise of the Religious Right and its social-conservative litmus tests. We were tough on crime, tough on national enemies. We believed in business, full stop.
I intended to run for office on just such a platform someday. In the meantime, I founded the Republican club at my high school, knocked on doors and collected signatures with my father, volunteered on campaigns, socialized at fundraisers, and interned for Senator John McCain and Congressman Denny Hastert when he was House Majority Whip Tom DeLay’s chief deputy.
We went to mainstream colleges — the more elite the better — but lamented their domination by liberal professors, and I did my best to tune out their liberal views. I joined the Republican clubs and the Federalist Society, and I read the Wall Street Journal and the Economist rather the New York Times. George Will was a voice in the wilderness, Rush Limbaugh an occasional (sometimes guilty) pleasure.
Left Behind By the Party
In January 2001, I was one of thousands of Americans who braved the cold rain to attend and cheer George W. Bush’s inauguration. After eight years hating “Slick Willie,” it felt good to have a Republican back in the White House. But I knew that he wasn’t one of our guys. We had been McCain fans, and even if we liked the compassionate bit of Bush’s conservatism, we didn’t care for his religiosity or his social politics.
Bush won a lot of us over with his hawkish response to 9/11, but he lost me with the Iraq War. Weren’t we still busy in Afghanistan? I didn’t see the urgency.
By then, I was at the Justice Department, working in an office that handled litigation related to what was officially called the Global War on Terror (or GWOT). My office was tasked with opposing petitions for habeas corpus brought by Guantánamo detainees who claimed that they were being held indefinitely without charge. The government’s position struck me as an abdication of a core Republican value: protecting the “procedural” rights found in the Bill of Rights. Sure, habeas corpus had been waived in wartime before, but it seemed to me that waiving it here reduced us to the terrorists’ level. Besides, since acts of terrorism were crimes, why not prosecute them? I refused to work on those cases.
With the Abu Ghraib pictures , my disappointment turned to rage. The America I believed in didn’t torture people.
I couldn’t avoid GWOT work. I was forced to read reams of allegations of torture, sexual abuse, and cover-ups in our war zones to give the White House a heads-up in case any of made it into the news cycle.
I was so mad that I voted for Kerry out of spite.
How I Learned to Start Worrying
I might still have stuck it out as a frustrated liberal Republican, knowing that the wealthy business core of the party still pulled a few strings and people like Richard Lugar and Olympia Snowe remained in the Senate — if only because the idea of voting for Democrats by choice made me feel uncomfortable. (It would have been so… gauche.) Then came Hurricane Katrina. In New Orleans, I learned that it wasn’t just the Bush administration that was flawed but my worldview itself.
NOTE:Female voters, this election will be decided on turnout. We’ll be running posts from the past three and a half years to remind ourselves why we really do need to vote – and get our friends out too!
Once the Republicans have their way and eliminate abortion coverage from all insurance plans, you will have two choices — pay for abortions out of pocket in all circumstances, or pay a rider to ensure you have coverage just in case you need it.
Why would you need it? You know, in case you get pregnant via a rape. You should always plan ahead for that sort of thing, apparently. At least, so says one Kansas legislator when discussing banning insurance coverage of abortions in all cases, even rape.
Abortion rights supporters are skeptical, believing the bill’s backers want to cut off a way for women to cover the cost of terminating pregnancies.
And Rep. Barbara Bollier, a Mission Hills Republican who supports abortion rights, questioned whether women would buy abortion-only policies long before they have crisis or unwanted pregnancies or are rape victims.
During the House’s debate, Rep. Pete DeGraaf, a Mulvane Republican who supports the bill, told her: “We do need to plan ahead, don’t we, in life?”
Bollier asked him, “And so women need to plan ahead for issues that they have no control over with a pregnancy?”
DeGraaf drew groans of protest from some House members when he responded, “I have spare tire on my car.”
“I also have life insurance,” he added. “I have a lot of things that I plan ahead for.”
First, I’m just going to set aside the spare tire comment because — well, I can’t even respond to that.
But when it comes to life insurance being compared to paying monthly for insurance so you can have an abortion in case you get pregnant after a sexual assault, there is absolutely no comparison. Life insurance is something that you pay a premium for and, if you have an accident, your family receives money to recoup costs. An abortion rider would be something you pay for in order to, if you have an unwanted or nonviable pregnancy, terminate the pregnancy without it costing even more than if you didn’t have the coverage in the first place.
Now, taking just a moment to look at the overall picture of what is being discussed, it needs to be said clearly. A Republican just suggested a woman should have to “plan ahead” and obtain insurance in case she is raped. She should have a plan ready in case she is raped. I cannot repeat that enough — a Republican lawmaker believes that women should be planning for a future in which she is raped, just in case.
Who says there isn’t a war on women?
Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/lawmaker-says-women-should-plan-ahead-in-case-of-rape-since-he-carries-a-spare-tire.html#ixzz261SSW4pm
The great criticism of Mitt Romney, from both sides of the aisle, has always been that he doesn’t stand for anything. He’s a flip-flopper, they say, a lightweight, a cardboard opportunist who’ll say anything to get elected.
The critics couldn’t be more wrong. Mitt Romney is no tissue-paper man. He’s closer to being a revolutionary, a backward-world version of Che or Trotsky, with tweezed nostrils instead of a beard, a half-Windsor instead of a leather jerkin. His legendary flip-flops aren’t the lies of a bumbling opportunist – they’re the confident prevarications of a man untroubled by misleading the nonbeliever in pursuit of a single, all-consuming goal. Romney has a vision, and he’s trying for something big: We’ve just been too slow to sort out what it is, just as we’ve been slow to grasp the roots of the radical economic changes that have swept the country in the last generation.
The incredible untold story of the 2012 election so far is that Romney’s run has been a shimmering pearl of perfect political hypocrisy, which he’s somehow managed to keep hidden, even with thousands of cameras following his every move. And the drama of this rhetorical high-wire act was ratcheted up even further when Romney chose his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin – like himself, a self-righteously anal, thin-lipped, Whitest Kids U Know penny pincher who’d be honored to tell Oliver Twist there’s no more soup left. By selecting Ryan, Romney, the hard-charging, chameleonic champion of a disgraced-yet-defiant Wall Street, officially succeeded in moving the battle lines in the 2012 presidential race.
The deputy who arrested Kappheim said the man told him “he was very conservative, and his girlfriend was liberal and he felt he was going to have kill her.” Furthermore, he said he already made three attempts on the woman’s life.
The same deputy reported that documents found inside the woman’s apartment that belonged to Kappheim led him to suspect he was “obsessed” with Fox News and the GOP, and posed a threat to others.
This guy sounds like a real winner. Fox News: preying on the disturbed fantasies of the unwell since 1996.
TAMPA, FLA. — Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan may carry himself with an air of earnestness, but at his heart, he’s a liar. What other determination could one make after Ryan’s compendium of distortions and outright untruths, delivered Wednesday night to the Republican National Convention?
Whether falsely claiming that President Barack Obama was looting funding from Medicare to pay for health-care reform, blaming the president for the nation’s credit-rating downgrade that came about as an unprecedented refusal by congressional leaders to raise the debt ceiling (a maneuver Ryan helped to lead), or accusing his opponent of refusing to to implement the recommendations of a bipartisan commission on the debt whose final report Ryan voted against, the Wisconsin congressman proved himself willing to hoodwink the American people with a smile on his boyish face.
It was to be expected, I suppose, given his status as the youthful ward of David Koch , the billionaire funder of Americans For Prosperity, the astroturf group that helped lift the Wisconsin congressman from relative obscurity to the lofty post of House Budget Committee chairman, where he has championed a set of ideas that could have been authored by Koch himself — ideas that fundamentally revolve around coddling the rich, crushing the poor and giving the shaft to the middle class.
It’s not really a set of ideas one can sell truthfully to the voters, most of whom belong to the classes at which you’re aiming the boot and the shaft. So, a little lying — or a lot — is required.
The selection of Paul Ryan was, in and of itself, a strong bit of circumstantial evidence that the Republican Party is now a wholly owned subsidiary of the Koch political enterprise. David Koch and his brother, Charles, you’ll recall, are the multibillionaire brothers who are the principal owners of Koch Industries, the second-largest privately-held corporation in the United States.
Through Americans For Prosperity and its allies, the Kochs have built the get-out-the-vote infrastructure for the American right, cobbling together the old network of evangelical churches with more broadly defined Tea Party groups. It’s a network to which the Republican presidential candidate desperately needs access if he’s to win in November, especially given a shrinking number of persuadable independent voters. And Paul Ryan dances perfectly to the Kochs’ tune, crafting economic plans that lower the taxes on the wealthy, cut social spending on the poor, and that would change Medicare into a virtually unrecognizable voucher program.
Striding to the convention podium with his gelled coif and boyish demeanor, Ryan looked more like a student council president than the prevaricating philosophical progeny of two of the greediest men on earth. But even as Ryan accused the Obama campaign of obscuring the president’s true agenda, Ryan mentioned not a word about his plans to voucherize Medicare — a plan that could cost seniors thousands of dollars more per year.
Lying to Obscure the Greed
In a move seemingly designed to taunt fact-checkers, Ryan reprised his claim that Obama broke a promise made during the 2008 presidential campaign to keep a General Motors plant open in Ryan’s hometown of Janesville, Wis., but instead was ultimately responsible for its closing. But the plant closed while George W. Bush was in office, and Obama never made such a promise. (As I write, PolitiFact has already rated this part of Ryan’s speech as false .)
Here’s a taste of just how blatant the lying got, from the prepared text of Ryan’s speech:
A lot of guys I went to high school with worked at that GM plant. Right there at that plant, candidate Obama said: “I believe that if our government is there to support you … this plant will be here for another hundred years.” That’s what he said in 2008.
Well, as it turned out, that plant didn’t last another year. It is locked up and empty to this day. And that’s how it is in so many towns today, where the recovery that was promised is nowhere in sight.
Mitt and I also go to different churches. But in any church, the best kind of preaching is done by example. And I’ve been watching that example. The man who will accept your nomination tomorrow is prayerful and faithful and honorable. Not only a defender of marriage, he offers an example of marriage at its best. Not only a fine businessman, he’s a fine man, worthy of leading this optimistic and good-hearted country.Our different faiths come together in the same moral creed. We believe that in every life there is goodness; for every person, there is hope. Each one of us was made for a reason, bearing the image and likeness of the Lord of Life.
MUST SEE!! This video Bernie Sanders explains how right wing propaganda rolls out talking points to keep audiences brainwashed, with three radio stations in every market spewing Limb-Beck hate talk and pundits talking this garbage on the TV no wonder Americans are so confused!
By Robert Greenwald and Jesse Lava
Just in time for the release of Brave New Foundation’s new film, Koch Brothers Exposed, Rush Limbaugh has thrown in with Charles and David Koch in their letter war with Obama campaign manager Jim Messina. No surprise there; Rush has made his fortune defending the rich and powerful against the 99%. But does Rush actually have a vested interest in the Koch brothers’ success?
The letter war started when Messina sent a fundraising letter saying the billionaire brothers bankroll “Tea Party extremism” and manipulate oil prices to buttress their energy business. The Kochs responded that Obama was treading on their “right to free speech.” (To them, I guess, being criticized by the president is tantamount to being arrested for sedition.) Team Obama shot back again, and here we are.
Rush has taken to the airwaves and lauded the Kochs. “This is how you do it,” he says. And on the surface, the reason for Rush’s apologetics is straightforward enough: he’s a man of the Right, and so are the Koch brothers. But below the surface of this defense lies a much more complex and insidious truth. The fact is that Rush needs the Kochs,and the Kochs need Rush.
Limbaugh is, fundamentally, a mouthpiece for conservative propaganda. He’s not a researcher. He’s not a grassroots organizer. He’s a mouthpiece. And where would he be without propaganda to spout? He has to get his ideas from somewhere. He can’t feed the right-wing echo chamber that’s hijacking our democracy if someone isn’t feeding him first. That’s where the Kochs come in.
The video we made with Sen. Bernie Sanders reveals the Kochs’ general method, whether Limbaugh is involved or not: fund an army of right-wing organizations so that politicians and pundits know exactly what to say:
Americans for Prosperity, the Heritage Foundation, the Federalist Society, Manhattan Institute: the list of Koch-backed groups goes on and on. And when such groups badmouth Social Security, say, or worker rights, that gives people like Limbaugh something to talk about.
The reverse is true too: without people like Rush — or, for that matter, Fox News’s Megyn Kelly and Laura Ingraham, who also just defended the Koch brothers against Obama — the Kochs could never spread their pro-corporate ideology as far and wide as they have. That’s why the Kochs provide the financial fuel that lets these people yap their trap. The propagandists need the funders, and vice versa.
Koch Brothers Exposed goes into detail on exactly how this echo chamber works. The reality is that corruption doesn’t happen mainly when a rich guy wangles a quid-pro-quo from a politician in a smoke-filled room. It happens when interests align so that powerful people have an incentive to stick up for each other and keep things just the way they are.
So are the Koch brothers funding Limbaugh? I’m not sure Rush has ever sent them an invoice. But he doesn’t have to. And that’s what’s so insidious about what the Kochs do.
Thanks goes to Pancho for submitting this excellent piece on ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council which is one of the most dangerous organizations driving the right wing to destroy America. The GOP is literally selling everything they possibly can to turn a profit including the educational system, police and fire departments, library’s, parks, post offices. You name it, the reason they hate government is because they see something they can profit from!!! Wake the hell up Republicon’s and Teabaggers, your party is destroying everything that made America a wonderful country.
Granted many Democrats are just as bad, but at least the whole damn party hasn’t taken an oath to Grover Norquist. The only oath your representative should be taking is to serve YOUR best interest, not to protect the tax’s of corporations and the wealthy. There’s plenty of information about ALEC on the left under the Rise of Fascism in America category, please educate yourself and wake up to the fact the Republicon party has accomplished nothing but huge deficits, wars and hate. That’s their track record.
If you plan on voting Republican next year you’re insane, because Ron Paul won’t get the nomination. Which leaves nothing but a bunch of game show contestants who are nothing but corporate shills. The really sick thing is you’re so brainwashed to hate Obama you’ll vote against your best interests and the interests of the nation.
Mr. Hodai was considered to be a persona non grata from the (Koch-funded ALEC) conference (management).”
Dec. 18, 2011
SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ.—There’s something rotten in the air. A muggy,
oniony, chemical smell that wafts over the lines of uniformed riot
police, paddy wagons and metal barriers that are holding back a
straggle of protesters waving slapdash placards reading “Shut Down
“Get back ma’am, for your own safety,” a courteous voice warns me.
“They’re gonna start pepper spraying.”
It’s a surreal touch at the lush, sprawling Westin Kierland Resort,
where the air is scented with fragrant flowering bushes and the
aromatic lotions of the spa.
But the protesters are at the gate, and inside, hundreds of state
legislators from all over the U.S., their wives and entourages are
meeting with corporate leaders for a three-day annual policy summit.
Or, to their banner-bearing foes, a cradle of “corporate profiteering
at the expense of our communities.”
“Today only,” blazons a sign hoisted by a silver-haired protester,
“Buy One Senator Get One Free!”
The target of this anger is the American Legislative Exchange Council,
or ALEC — a benign, user-friendly acronym that fits the friendly turf
of Scottsdale, where the grass is always greener and everything is for
your comfort and safety.
I’m here to learn more about this increasingly muscular organization,
formally an educational non-profit — and one that shuns the “L” word,
lobbyist. It puts state lawmakers together with representatives from
some of the country’s most powerful corporations to advance their
legislative agendas. And it’s the most influential organization the
majority of Americans have never heard of.
As the coming federal election sucks all the oxygen out of America’s
political room, it’s easy to ignore the power of the states, and the
changes that are quietly taking place across the country independent
of — and often hostile to — the federal government. But, for
understanding grassroots America, ALEC, here in God’s golf country, is
a good place to start.
In the words of its manifesto, “ALEC provides its public- and
private-sector members with a unique opportunity to work together to
develop policies and programs that effectively promote the
Jeffersonian principles of free markets, limited government,
federalism and individual liberty.”
And the success of its efforts is in little doubt.
By its own record, it has created an arsenal of about 800 “model”
bills, templates or blueprints for future laws. They are tabled about
1,000 times a year across the country; about one in five are passed.
Some 2,000 state legislators belong to the organization, the vast
majority of them Republican, in spite of its avowed non-partisan
membership. And with Republicans now controlling half of all state
governments, they pack an added punch.
To the protesters, and the growing number of media and
non-governmental organizations who study it closely, ALEC is a factory
for legislative bills that replicate across the 50 states, with the
aim of undercutting the public sector and the role of government and
promoting free-market policy at state level, where it often counts the
ALEC-backed provisions have opposed climate change legislation and
environmental regulation, stoked the effort to privatize prisons and
schools, pushed for rollbacks of workers’ rights, for limited voting
rights and tax breaks for the wealthy. The results, critics say, line
the pockets of corporations — a charge ALEC and its defenders insist
is misrepresenting its operating style.
“The benefits of ALEC are that you don’t have to walk through 50
different legislatures,” says Jeff Reed, an Indiana “school choice”
advocate who campaigns for developing alternatives to the public
school system. “You can share ideas with everyone in the same room.
But the people in the room are not in lockstep.”
But ALEC’s very success in advancing its policies has sparked a
backlash in states such as Ohio and Wisconsin, where police and
firefighters joined protests against anti-union legislation.
Recall campaigns have been launched to end the terms of conservative
lawmakers in several states. And the National Association for the
Advancement of Colored People petitioned the UN to protest restrictive
voting laws in 14 states, inspired, they say, by ALEC’s model
“When a company needs a state bill passed,” writes the
far-from-radical Bloomberg Businessweek, “the American Legislative
Exchange Council can get it done.”
ALEC officials routinely deny it, insisting that in this “laboratory
of democracy” lawmakers, not corporations, have the final word on the
bills that emerge for approval: if companies have a hand on the
legislative tiller, it is not the upper hand.
The group’s 300-strong corporate members include some of the most
high-profile in America: among them AT&T, Wal-Mart, GlaxoSmithKline,
UPS, Pfizer, Bayer, Verizon, and Koch Industries — headed by the
Kansas-based billionaire brothers nicknamed “the Kochtopus” for their
wide-ranging financial and ideological influence.
Outside the wire, the protesters are growing weary, and police have
peeled off their sci-fi gas masks.
“We’ve arrested five,” mutters a close-cropped plainclothes man to his
phone, as I’m warned again not to venture beyond the barrier. Earlier,
an Arizona reporter narrowly escaped arrest for disobeying orders.
As the protesters begin to disperse, a stocky dark-skinned man stays
behind to harangue the police: “You and me, bro, we’re all part of the
99 per cent. ALEC is the 1 per cent. D’you get it, bro? Who are you
protecting here?” The front line cops glance at each other uneasily,
“I was taking pictures and I stepped into a line between the police
and protesters,” Ezra Kaplan, a 23-year-old student activist, tells me
later. “The police moved in and I was trapped.”
Seventeen hours after he was thrown to the ground and arrested, Kaplan
says, he was released and his knapsack returned — “but not my camera,
which was worth $1,000.”
Like many of the protesters, he was drawn to this site by a conviction
that the political system is broken, and ALEC part of the wrecking
“You know that painting The Scream?” asks 51-year-old Diane D’Angelo,
another activist and protester. “That’s what it’s like for me most
“I work, but I’m here for my friends who don’t have proper jobs or
health insurance. I know of some who have committed suicide in this
recession, but there’s no interest in people like them. Members of
ALEC seem to have forgotten what the Constitution means. They make
their own legislation.”
Inside the hotel’s vast conference wing all is calm and bright, in
spite of the numerous vigilant security guards. Here, in a parallel
universe of bonhomie, the men and women in suits who are liaising over
morning lattes are the 99 per cent, and the Occupiers, out of sight
and mind, the 1 per cent. It’s not the percentages, but the placement
that counts here.
Conference tables are strewn with soberly titled reports by right-wing
think tanks allied with ALEC: the Heritage Foundation, the Goldwater
Institute, the Franklin Center, the Tax Foundation and more.
They explain how poor states can become richer by cutting taxes, how
retiree health benefits can be reined in, how “school choice” can
create private alternatives to education. The evils of “Obamacare” are
laid out, along with articles inveighing against federal waste. An
anti-abortion group, Americans United for Life, hands out a model
legislation guide to “changing laws to protect human life, state by
“I heard there was some kind of protest out there,” says a portly man
with a jovial smile, who lines up alongside me to pick up ALEC
credentials, handily strung on an Arizona Association of Realtors
lanyard. “I guess those guys just don’t have anything better to do.
They’d be further ahead if they’d go out and get a job.”
The conversation ends abruptly as I’m handed my badge with the
radioactive label “Media.”
But in spite of reports of the group’s secrecy and antipathy to the
media, my application has been rapidly processed, and response to my
interview requests from its diligent young communications director,
Kaitlyn Buss, prompt and polite. And although some critics were
refused entry, a reporter from a Phoenix paper, who has written
sharply unflattering stories on ALEC, was admitted without question.
“There’s a big disconnect between what (the protesters) think happens
here and what’s outlined in our publications,” maintains Jonathan
Williams, one of ALEC’s senior strategists. “They think we’re a
secretive organization — but how do they know that? How do they know
“We have it on our website, very clearly, where our meetings are, what
our publications are. I write op-eds in the national press that are
open to everybody.”
Williams, an affable, articulate tax wizard who calls himself a
“centre-right kind of guy,” says ALEC’s agenda is much misunderstood.
Far from being a cheek-by-jowl elite of lawmakers and lobbyists —
“crusaders” who aim to shrink government to the size where they can
drown it in the bathtub — it creates “the best agenda for taxpayers at
large to create jobs and increase the overall standard of living
throughout the United States regardless of income group. At the end of
the day the best form of welfare is giving everybody a job.”
At a price.
The price includes doing away with the “ever-increasing federal
environmental and energy regulations” that are in ALEC’s crosshairs.
So are obtrusive unions, workers’ rights, and public pensions and
retiree benefits that are threatening states with “generational
Taxing the rich is no solution to the economic dilemma, Williams
assures me. It’s a lose-lose to “demonize business.” Slap on the taxes
and “they’ll only move somewhere else” and take the jobs with them. In
a globalized world, nobody is safe. Competitiveness is the key.
Keeping jobs in America is vital — but China is just around the
Thomas Jefferson, Ronald Reagan and the Constitution. As lunch is
served in the cavernous ballroom, homage is paid to ALEC’s holy
trinity by an enthusiastic audience that is predominantly white and
over 40. Darker-skinned people carry the trays, an echo of 1787.
“Our patron saint, Thomas Jefferson, said that ‘my reading of history
convinces me that most (bad) government results from too much
government,’” intones a host, to resounding applause. “How true that
The Founding Fathers are dear to ALEC because they speak of a simpler
time when the federal government didn’t get in the way of the states,
or taxation and regulation in the way of progress. A time when “these”
United States took precedence over “this” U.S. of today.
“We’d like to see a shift of power,” William Howell, the gentlemanly,
silver-haired speaker of the house in Virginia, explains to me later:
“It would restore the states’ powers that (the federal government) has
Howell is ALEC’s federalism expert and a prominent backer of a
constitutional amendment to repeal federal laws to which two-thirds of
states object. Federal health-care legislation, for instance, should
be barred because “if the federal government can require you to buy a
product (i.e. health insurance) it can do anything.”
Howell’s vision for America is “50 thriving states. A much more
limited federal and state government.” A vision devoutly wished by
many of the legislative and corporate members here.
That is the Constitutional way, says Howell, the sort of favourite
uncle you would invite to a family dinner. “The Constitution was
authored by Virginians and we take great pride in it. It’s flexible
enough for 300 million people as it was for 13 million.”
Born in 1973, to a group of conservative state lawmakers and policy
wonks, ALEC can’t claim the provenance of the Founding Fathers. But
after a modest beginning during President Richard Nixon’s term, and a
slow ascendancy, it became a resounding hit in recent years, backed by
Now thousands of the elect and the elected head for its conferences,
the latter assisted by ALEC’s “scholarship” funds. Some join the nine
task forces and legislative boards that create template bills,
alongside similar bodies set up for their corporate counterparts. The
final vote, ALEC says, has no input from the corporations. (Critics,
unsurprisingly, say otherwise. “Through ALEC, behind closed doors,
corporations hand state legislators the changes to the law they desire
that directly benefit their bottom line,” says the watchdog Center for
Media and Democracy.)
For Howell, and other lawmakers here, belonging to ALEC is a shortcut
to effective, winnable legislation.
“If I flew to Las Vegas I wouldn’t know anybody,” he explains. “We
have 50 laboratories to find out what they’ve all been doing. ALEC
provides a meeting point, and the distinguishing feature is they’re
very interested in liberty and the free market.”
The air of Scottsdale is free too, of pepper spray. I stroll back to
my room in the nearby Westin Kierland Villas complex, along the
manicured golf course and the limpid pond on which float a family of
Overhead three helicopters hover. One breaks away and seems to shadow
my path. After the years I have spent in conflict zones helicopters
are not a good omen. I squint into the dazzling blue sky and wave. The
chopper wheels back and lazily retreats. Later, that night I fall into
a fitful sleep, pursued by a dark helicopter that always outflanks me.
There’s something happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear. . .
Back at the conference, a workshop on pension reform is winding up a
lengthy discussion of a proposed Public Pension Accounting
Responsibility Act. The act would force legislators to “tell the
truth” about state pensions, which ALEC supporters claim are
undermining (if not collapsing) state finances.
As the audience files out for a coffee break, I stay behind and wait
for the Fiscal Policy Reform Working Group to begin. It will drill
down on one the hottest issues in Washington, tax reform, and review a
model bill on opposing state bailouts by the federal government.
A friendly voice greets me: Kaitlyn Buss.
“I hope you’re enjoying the conference,” she says. “But I’m afraid
you’ll have to leave the room.”
“But I’ve just sat through another working group. Why is this one different?”
“Some are open, others aren’t. It’s just the rules.”
Night falls, and the tiny sports bar in the hotel basement is crowded.
A ruddy-faced man jumps to his feet, sweating, as touchdowns are
scored on the big screen. He volleys the results at a huddle of young
women who seem barely aware of the action.
Nor am I. I’m talking to a fellow hotel guest, Beau Hodai, a
journalist from the left-wing magazine In These Times who has written
probing articles on ALEC. Unlike me, he hasn’t enjoyed its
co-operation and credentials. His calls have gone unanswered, and he
has been turned back by the police and guards who firewall the
The noise level in the bar rises and so do I. As I say goodnight, Beau
is summoned by hotel security and herded away toward the elevator by
uniformed police. Why? In Slobodan Milosevic’s Serbia, I was evicted
from my hotel by machine-gun-toting militias as the Kosovo war began.
But in America. . . ?
As I stand staring, two cops flank me: Do I know this man? Who is he?
Beau has disappeared now. Will anything I say be used against him? I
square my shoulders and think of my British mother: “How dare you ask
me such a question? Is this a morality charge? Are hotel guests of the
opposite sex forbidden to speak in a bar? Is this Iran or the land of
We face off, not blinking. The questions continue. At last the
inquisitors give in. “Ma’am, you’re free to go.”
They are pointing me toward the lobby, and the front door. On cue, the
helpful young man at the bell desk calls the hotel shuttle to convey
me to the Villas.
At 11 p.m., some 45 minutes later, I call Beau’s number. He is now in
another hotel, his stay at the Westin Kierland terminated abruptly.
“They said they were throwing me out and that they would escort me to
the room to get my belongings,” he tells me. “I had to leave right
then and there — or be arrested.” Off-duty police, it appears, were
moonlighting as security for the conference, but no less determined to
do their duty as they saw it.
(Back in Toronto I reach the hotel’s managing director, Bruce Lang, by
phone and am told, “Mr. Hodai was considered to be a persona non grata
from the conference.” But he adds, “not by the hotel, not by the
police. . . He clearly presented a threat to the conference, based on
his history.”) That would be the threat of investigative journalism?
In the Phoenix airport I move through the tanned, jostling holiday
crowd toward the Air Canada gate.
What just happened here? I board the plane and settle back to watch
the Arizona landscape disappear. The dry, dusty beige and the achingly
lush green. The baronial resorts and the desert shacks. The conference
too has dispersed, and the hotel resumed the even tenor of its ways.
Business as usual. And I think of ALEC and the Constitution it
The First Amendment.
“Congress shall make no law. . . abridging the freedom of speech, or
of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to
petition the Government for redress of grievances.”
The 99 per cent, and the 1 per cent. A nation divided under God.
Aloha to my Friends and Conservative readers!
Please take time to watch this very important short documentary on the radicalization of the Republican and Libertarian right wing. This should help people better understand the 30 year plan being implemented behind the scenes since Reagan took office and a plan that’s now coming to fruition. A small group of billionaires are all tied in with the same group that also owns mass media – our messenger – so that the right-wing conservatives have been controlling the message for so long that most Americans are like a frog in a boiling pot and haven’t been aware of the slow insidious shift to the far right end of the political spectrum.
Funny thing, while conservatives yell and scream about socialism and communism taking root under Obama, why don’t they recognize the fascism that already has a stranglehold on our democracy from the right wing. Ahhh maybe they haven’t been taught that fascism is when corporations have control of the reigns of power in government. This time it’s been bought and it’s exactly what’s been going on for 30 years with the Koch brothers cabal, as fascism has taken firm hold of the GOP and Republican right wing of American politics.
Honestly, the venomous hatred toward Obama isn’t unprecedented in the modern era American politics. They called Clinton a rapist, a murderer and all kinds of things. Right now all of the hatred toward Obama is a product of Koch brothers money and their grab for power, it’s probably also fueled with racism too. Yes, Obama has been a disappointment in many respects but our democracy and the government that represents is broke. The right wing has promised to destroy him by destroying America, by preventing anything good from happening that would turn the economy in the right direction. Like a JOBS BILL!!! For Gods sake people need to wake up to the manipulation from the Republicons and the fact they haven’t done one good thing for this country in 30 years!! They play politics real good, but the right wing doesn’t have a clue how to govern while representing the best interests of the people, the party #1 in betraying the public trust. Hell each time they leave office they leave the country in a deficit, but democrats leave it in a surplus.
Factually speaking 100% of Republicans and about 40% of Democrats are completely sold out to corporate interests, all they care about is your vote and you as an individual can go to hell for all they’re concerned. Oh and if they can find a way to shake you or you’re dying grandmother down for money, they’ll stand in line for that.
Waking up means educating yourself with facts, this isn’t about anything personal or “us vs them”. We’re all going through are own paradigm shift right now, a process that’s re-orienting our point of perspective so that we may all move forward together in unity – as opposed to the division that was forced on us long ago. It’s about understanding and taking the side of the truth whether we like it or not, because it’s the right thing to do.
Also take time to learn about ALEC how they’re selling your public service job to the highest bidder and have designed cookie cutter legislation, made state politicians sign oaths to abide by them – and if they don’t abide they will be primaried and voted out in the next election. And you can even research out these personal threats from Grover Norquist to do so.
Al Jazeera English narrator: Money has always played a key role in American politics. But is it now distorting the democractic process? That is the charge made against Charles and David Koch. With a year to go until the presidential election, could the koch brother’s fortune put a radical right [winger] into the white house?
If you understand the meaning of the last paragraph, then you will probably agree that American’s live in an armed madhouse. The Republicons have set it up so regardless what Obama does, he can’t win and in turn they’ve been sabotaging America in this way since 2008, then turning right around and blaming Obama for it.
How can anyone ever in good conscious vote for right wing politicians who are intentionally and purposefully destroying this country, people who have proven time and again they lie every time they open their mouths and can’t be trusted? Because they listen to people like Limbaugh, Beck and Hannity who take sport in watching American’s suffer, watching this hate game they created destroy lives from coast to coast. These people are paid corporate shills who make millions of dollars lying to Americans, for the very same corporate interests turning the US into a third world country. Wake up, the LimBecks and air heads at Fox fake news are lying to you and laughing all the way to the bank.
Please understand I’m not attacking right wing voters who are misinformed, my degree is in broadcasting and my first professional position 20 years ago was at a talk news radio station, so I understand how media works. I understand where it came from and how mass media news deteriorated into the pathetic state it’s in today, my only intention is to help people understand the insanity taking place in media and politics. The two are strange bedfellows which I’ve spent a great deal of time trying to understand how both arena’s operate so as to pass the knowledge on to you.
But, I am attacking the leadership of the GOP and their masters: The banks, transnational corporations and military industrial complex who they answer to. Nothing in the constitution mentions these entities, so why are they neglecting best interests of their own constituents in favor of these crooks?
Americans must choose while they still can
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
The right wing complains constantly about the Welfare State and there is a kernel of truthiness in what they’re saying. Two dollars of every ten that makes up the average American’s income is some form of government benefit be it unemployment, social security, food stamps or disability payments. The fact is that after 30 years of falling wages and the theft of middle class wealth there are simply a large number of the formally middle class around (also know as poor people).
The percentage of income that comes from government benefits would be far less if incomes reflected real productivity as well there would be a smaller need for benefits if Americans received their due for their work. But as the super rich receive an ever larger portion of the national income they don’t use their money to “create jobs” but rather to buy up assets and take them out of production. Efficiency of scale means less people making good wages and moving into the roles of the working poor. Jobs that are outsourced contribute nothing to our economy and reduce the money available to pay those who do work.
Then there are people like Mitt Romney that simply crate up factories and ship them to China. In fact the few large-scale steel construction projects that are being built in the US are being fabricated in China and shipped here to be installed by Chinese workers on American soil. The American officials authorizing these projects don’t have much choice as even if they could get away with politically or legally having a “buy American” policy there simply are no large American steel companies that they can buy from.
The next big emerging problem is that with no real economic recovery we have no choice but to keep providing money to the large segment of newly poor Americans or face the economic consequences. Funding for extended unemployment will stop December 31 and a couple of million people will fall from being merely poor to desperately poor. Throw in the cuts Republicans want to make to other programs as well as to the government payroll and this will cause the economy to go right off the cliff in 2012.
Obama appears to be beating the Republicans over the debt ceiling but he can’t defy gravity and the Republicans have already pushed the country off the cliff. We’re just standing in mid-air like a cartoon coyote and at the end of the year we will have no choice but to look down. Already people who could spend money aren’t because of uncertainty. I don’t mean corporate uncertainty, they are certain about what they are doing, except for retailers corporate profits are at all time highs and their bank accounts are incredibly fat. I mean the real creators of jobs, people who buy things. Everybody from the welfare recipient who simply doesn’t have money to spend to the middle aged person who heard Obama say he might agree to raise the age of Medicare still higher and simply stops spending money out of fear he won‘t be able to pay the doctor.
But is Obama the Coyote or the Road Runner? The day of reckoning is now pegged at August 2nd and Obama said today that the benefit checks like Social Security and for payments for Veterans that are due the very next day WILL NOT be forth coming without an agreement. The hard math is that 44% of the current budget authorized by Congress comes from borrowed money. The popular lie in the corporate media is that money comes from China but I’ve yet to see a Government check payable in Yuans, the borrowed money really comes from rich Americans and their corporations who pay no taxes.
Obama must, according to the 14th Amendment pay the debts of the United States “without question” so that means 50% of the spending of the non-debt obligations authorized by Congress cannot be met without further borrowing. Obama could take the 14th Amendment that to mean he must “spend” the money authorized by Congress and ignore the debt ceiling but he seems to take the meaning to be he must now choose what debt obligations to meet and what people to leave destitute.
If Obama were to meet the debt payments and the entitlement obligations of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the alike, then the rest of the Government would cease to function. Soldiers, FBI agents, Border Patrol, CDC doctors, VA personnel and the like will go without pay for awhile but at some point reality must hit home. Mitch McConnell says no deal is possible with the current President of the United States. He must seriously believe that the government will simply live off the land like Sherman’s Army for the next 18 months? Will they loot and pillage towns selected by zip code in a lottery? I personally prefer singling out red states for utter devastation.
In fact Republican Senate Minority Leader McConnell has a uniquely political solution that tops anything Republicans have come up with so far. He would support a resolution that authorizes Obama to raise the debt ceiling unilaterally so that Congress plays no role in it and technically condemns it. Obama will uphold the Constitution, carry out the will of Congress, save The Republic and the world economy but Republicans will condemn him for it in the very authorization do the deed. Only in a madhouse, or in America, or are the two that the same thing? Americans must choose while they still can. www.prairie2.com
Politics in America has gone bat crap crazy and way to the extreme, now it’s exhibiting very frightening characteristics that are beginning to resemble fanatic cults. The right wing has been using peoples feelings of uncertainty, anger and fear to incite angry emotions and get people to believe in things they normally wouldn’t consider. They use talking points and two word soundbites to mislead and misinform the public and now they’re going so far as to use oaths and pledges to bamboozle the public. This is not the conservative party of my grandfathers day, which wasn’t bad – I was born and raised Republican. Unfortunately over the years, times have changed and the GOP has gone off the deep end in it’s fervor to beat Obama at any cost, even at the risk of America’s destruction.
Instead of helping people focus on the issues, they’re signing oaths and pledges that have nothing in order of providing solutions to America’s problems. It’s really time to wake up because oaths and pledges are what cults use to indoctrinate victims. When I heard about this new Oath by the right wing I had to pinch myself, what they have an oath now? Geez politics is getting just a bit too surreal when the Republicon’s create oaths to sign and pledge their….what, obedience?!
This is insane, the link below is to the Marriage Vow oath Michelle Bachman , Rick Santorum and others have signed – just another distraction from the real issues plaguing America. Republicon’s love bright shiny objects in one hand to distract voters, while the other hand picks their pocket…
Yesterday one of my readers got upset because I posted something relating to politics, well if you read the title this blog is called “2012 The Awakening” and it’s purpose is to help others awaken to the truth about the world they live in. Most people in America, right and left, aren’t well educated in government or who owns media and how it operates. They don’t understand whats happening, they see loss of freedom, rights and jobs; a declining economy and they’re looking for someone to blame. The politicians, especially the right wing has worked overtime to divide the country and they know most people don’t understand how government works, so they use that against us to their advantage.
The right wing owns the media, hence the message and have literally let the wolf into the chicken coop by selling government out to corporations. Democrats aren’t much better, but at least they still represent the public to a greater degree than the GOP. The real problem is we have got to get corporate money out of government to fix the system, what we don’t need are a bunch of fanatic wackodoodles who are nothing but corporate shills, running the country.
They advocate here for “robust breeding”, what this bigoted, racist document really means is they want white people to make as many babies as possible. Because basically they’re losing voters with increasing black and Hispanic populations, so they’re encouraging their constituency to have “monogamous, heterosexual” sex. They’re also capitalists who want more consumers to profit off of and are attempting to eliminate child labor laws so they can have plentiful cheap labor.
Check this out, and be sure to read between the lines. Then tell me, is this something that political party’s should be involved in or if it sounds more like a cult to you. What’s amazing is there’s nothing in here about creating jobs, building infrastructure, creating revenues, reducing defense spending and bringing our troops home…hmmm, all kinds of solutions to our real problems seem absent.
And the biggest adulterer of all has get in the action too, Newt!
All of the above information is courtesy of the Randi Rhodes show, who brought this oath to our attention today. Randi’s one of the most well informed, down to earth women in talk radio. She’s really done her homework, she also lived in Washington DC, knows the players and how the politics game works. Randi’s one of us, always on the side of the working people and she’s is also an expert on media and why the news is dead and mass media can’t be relied on for the truth.
Very entertaining to listen to, she’s been compared to Howard Stern meets Joan Rivers and I encourage everyone to give her two weeks of your time, doubt you will walk away without learning a lot. Most people really don’t understand government, history and how it all works, but they sure have strong opinions on how it all should work.