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ALEC is the spawn of the John Birch Society (JBS). ALEC’s founders, Charles , David and William Koch, are not as outwardly crazy as the founder of the JBS, their father, and therefore are much more dangerous than their father’s organization ever was.
While the United States and the world is focused on the violence and Russian aggression in The Ukraine, and how to respond, much less attention has been given about a much more insidious clear and present danger within our country. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has been funding political election and legal campaigns at federal, state and local levels for 40 years. Once ALEC’s candidates are elected, they are invited to an annual meeting, where they are wined and dined extravagantly, and “educated” by representatives of right-wing foundations, corporations and industry sponsored trade associations, and current and former federal, state and local politicians. A brave young state legislator from Wisconsin, Democrat Chris Taylor, got herself invited to attend an ALEC conference, August 7-9, 2013, held in Chicago.
Ms. Taylor’s article in The Progressive Magazine, “I Caught A Glimpse of ALEC Nation” was very revealing:
“Until recently, ALEC members have been quietly working out of the public eye to develop their agenda so that when given the opportunity, they are ready to start creating an ALEC nation. That time has come. And they are ready.
As I sat in workshops, subcommittees and task forces on education, labor and employment, “federalism,” “tort reform,” energy, and the environment, I realized that ALEC had invaded Wisconsin in a far more comprehensive way than I had believed. Our state has become an ALEC petri dish in preparation for what they hope is an ALEC nation, where free market principles and freedom from government and regulations reign.”
ALEC is the next generation of the John Birch Society(JBS). Fred Koch, father of the Koch Brothers: Charles, David and William, was one of the John Birch Society’s founders. Fred Koch’s sons are the founders of ALEC. The JBS was formed, in part, as a response to the civil rights movement; believing that the movement was part of a vast plan for one world government and take over of the United States by “the Communists”, especially Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. (Yes, the Koch family is racist). Now deceased editor of the conservative magazine, “The National Review” and television talk show host, William F. Buckley, implored the Republican Party to dissolve any association with the JBS because it was “far removed from common sense”.
Even if you know about the Koch Brothers business interests, which are their main source of funding their political endeavors, such as ALEC, it’s 99.99% likely that you have their products in your home. Koch Industries is obsessed with secrecy, to the point that it discloses only an approximation of its annual revenue — $100 billion a year — and says nothing about its profits.
The most visible part of Koch Industries is its consumer brands, including Lycra fiber and Stainmaster carpet. Georgia- Pacific LLC, which Koch owns, makes Dixie cups, Brawny paper towels and Quilted Northern bath tissue. The less visible, but more damaging businesses are involved in the coal, natural gas and oil excavation industries. Yes, the Koch Brothers are BIG frackers and they could stand to make $100 Billion in profits from the U.S. implementation of the Keystone XL pipeline.
ALEC is not as publicly loony as is the JBS, is more tightly organized and prepared, and therefore, is much more insidious. Chris Taylor writes, “ I was really impressed by their infrastructure. I mean, we would never duplicate something like this on the left because, first of all, we would never take instructions from corporations, but the coordination that they have between these policy think tanks, the money and the legislators, in terms of just driving an agenda, it’s incredible. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
I was surprised to learn that my state, Massachusetts, has 3 current members of ALEC and that a former one, Patricia Walrath, was on my town’s Board of Selectman, and was representative of my district in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. I ‘ve met and voted for her. Had I known that she was a ember of ALEC, I would not have voted for her and would have campaigned assiduously against her. To find out which of your state’s legislators belong to ALEC, here’s the link:
These ALEC sponsored and paid trips for legislators are funded by corporations, which ALEC euphemistically calls “”Scholarships”. The corporations who were paying for legislators to attend the Chicago conference include:
“ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wish lists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC’s operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills”
The American Legislative Exchange Council’s website provides more details about how it develops “model legislation” for state legislatures:
In state legislatures around the country, constituents and groups foster ideas, participate in discussions and provide their points of view to lawmakers. This process is an important part of American Democracy.
The American Legislative Exchange Council is America’s largest nonpartisan, voluntary membership organization of state policymakers, bringing together nearly one-third of the country’s state legislators and hundreds of leading industry experts and policy analysts to share ideas and experiences with their counterparts around the country, evaluate how policies work in other states and learn from others’ challenges.
Legislators receive academic research and policy analysis from industry experts who actually work with the issues, processes and problem-solving strategies upon which they vote, returning more informed and better prepared to serve the needs of their communities.
You can sign up for membership at their site, if you are so right-wing inclined.
By the way, New Hampshire, Scott Brown is your problem now and he has had his hands in the Koch Brothers’ pockets since he was first running for the Senate in Massachusetts. Brown is joined by Speaker of the House, John Boehner; former Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld; and Senators Jon Kyl of Arizona and James Infofe of Oklahoma as members of ALEC. For a partial list of ALEC members, please visit: http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=ALEC_Politicians
ALEC also hides behind front groups with innocuous and patriotically virtuous sounding names, like “Americans for Prosperity”, “The Heartland Institute”, and “American Tradition Institute” or state and local political action groups, like “Kansas Policy Institute”. Oh, and a little national political group known as the Tea (Taxed Enough Already) Party. The guise of all Koch Brothers activities is to reduce the size of the Federal Government and reduce income and other taxes. The huge budget shortfalls that New Jersey and Kansas are now facing are based upon the legislative work of ALEC. While they may be all about the money, the scope of the Koch Brothers interests, through ALEC, are much, much larger.
What makes ALEC and its political members extremely pernicious, and a clear and present danger, is that they have now gone far beyond sponsoring legislation favorable to their interests. They are now trying to nullify and not enforce existing laws that they do not like. The Kansas State legislature recently passed unconstitutional legislation to that effect.
The following quote is from “The Economist” magazine about Kansas’ recent attempt at federal law nullification:
LET’S say you consider America’s federal gun-control laws to be uniquely dangerous instruments of government oppression. You think the second amendment gives citizens the right to buy, carry, transport and sell pretty much any weapon they like. What do you do? If you’re a Kansas state legislator, you and your governor decide to enact the Second Amendment Protection Act: Any act, law, treaty, order, rule or regulation of the government of the United States which violates the second amendment to the constitution of the United States is null, void and unenforceable in the state of Kansas.
One might wonder why the second amendment needs protecting by Kansas’s politicians. The Supreme Court has been defending it robustly in recent years, with two cases giving wide scope to individual gun-ownership rights. But Kansans insist on more: exempting themselves from laws like the Gun Free School Zones Act and the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. And there’s more: S.B. No. 102 makes it a felony for federal agents to attempt to do their job within the state of Kansas:
So, if a white supremacist group in Kansas decides to take over a town, like what recently happened in North Dakota, and then decides to use that as a base to take over the Kansas Government through stockpiling of arms, any action by the Federal Government agencies to stop them is illegal? Or you believe the United States Government should not own property in your state and therefore, you don’t have to pay grazing fees for your cattle? I don’t think so.
The ALEC agenda of public policy issues to assert its will is long and threatening to the United States’ democracy, its public institutions and the health and safety of us all. This agenda includes:
• Passing anti-gun control and Stand Your Ground laws
• Weakening and eventually abolishing Social Security and other “entitlement” programs
• Eliminating all forms of women’s reproductive rights
• Stopping efforts to develop and enforce environmental safety, climate change laws and regulations
• Hindering development and usage of alternative forms of energy and deny climate change science
• Developing and implementing voter suppression laws
• Eliminating public education at elementary, high school and college levels
• Reversing health care reform, especially The Affordable Health Care Act
Add to that list, the possible impeachment of President Barack Obama, whose election is taken as a personal affront to all that the Koch Brothers believe is best for their America. If you are female, non-white, middle or lower class, and/or liberal/progressive, you are the Koch Brothers’ and ALEC’s enemy. You are the clear and present danger to their plans for political, energy and business dominance.
In Tom Clancy’s book, “Clear and Present Danger” , the President says:
“These drug cartels represent a clear and present danger to the security of the United States.”
Yes, the drug cartels are dangerous, too. But not as dangerous to the security and future of the United States as the Koch Brothers are.
Before I forget, “Unhappy 40th Birthday ALEC.” I hope you have no more.