A few months before I left my job in the insurance industry in 2008, I was working on a "white paper" to try to persuade people -- especially lawmakers and candidates running for office that year -- that the problem of the uninsured in this country was not a big deal.
After trying to have children, but finding themselves unable, Madison, Wisconsin resident Chris Bering and his wife were hoping to adopt. But then Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker proposed a radical overhaul of public employee collective bargaining rights. Although the battle over the Walker proposal took place in the depths of winter, August 25th marked the first day that the payroll changes took effect for Wisconsin workers. The cutbacks will force public workers to change their daily spending habits and for many -- their vision of their future. As a public employee, Bering has estimated the family will see about a $400 decrease per month. The cuts mean that he and his wife are now unsure whether they can financially support a child and their dream of adoption may be put on hold.
Saturday marks the commencement of the Tar Sands Action, which will take place in front of the White House.
The 1,980-mile pipeline is slated to transport the dirtiest oil in the world from Alberta's tar sands down to southeast Texas. The pipeline's route overlaps with the Ogallala Aquifer, which supplies 82 percent of the people that live within the aquifer's boundary their drinking water. It would also snake through the Nebraska Sand Hills, which is a vital wetland ecosystem, containing a diverse array of plant and animal life.
As they sometimes say in the South, it's all about taking care of bid'ness.
But don't tell that to the group of 100 or so protesters, who on Friday afternoon marched on the Marriott hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana (NOLA), where corporate lobbyists were voting with state lawmakers on "model" legislation at the American Legislative Exchange Council's (ALEC) 38th Annual Meeting.
The protest, organized in part by Louisiana State University's Student Labor Action Project, the Defend Ohio Campaign, and activists from across the country, began at the Hale Boggs Federal Building in downtown NOLA. That same day, members of the local community also gathered to celebrate the conviction of five police officers on charges stemming from the notorious Danziger Bridge case. A federal jury found the officers guilty of civil rights violations in the shootings of unarmed citizens.
On August 3, the national Common Cause office released a study of the American Legislative Exchange Council's political clout titled, "Legislating Under the Influence: Money, Power, and the American Legislative Exchange Council" (pdf). The study examines the campaign contributions from corporations, political action committees, executives and employees associated with the 22 companies represented on ALEC's "Private Enterprise Board." Common Cause found that through the efforts and largesse of global firms like Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola, Koch Industries, AT&T, Altria (the parent company of cigarette maker Philip Morris) and Exxon Mobil, ALEC has quietly managed to turn itself into a powerful force in all 50 state capitols.
(Editor's note: The Center is deeply grateful for all the research into ALEC politicians underway, especially by Daily KOS bloggers, and we are offering the tips today in light of the many questions people have asked about how to help with this research.) The Center for Media and Democracy recently unveiled a trove of "model" bills voted on behind closed doors by corporations and politicians through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Many of these bills and provisions have been introduced in state houses across the country without any mention of the ALEC connection and have become legally binding. In addition to the analysis of the more than 800 pieces legislation on "ALECexposed," CMD released a list of lawmakers from across the U.S. who serve as ALEC "Chairmen" in each state.
When the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) gathers in New Orleans for its annual meeting at the end of the summer, it will have some company.
A peaceful demonstration has been planned to coincide with ALEC's 38th annual meeting, which is scheduled to be held August 3-6 at the Marriott New Orleans. According to the "Protest ALEC" website (which is not affiliated with CMD), advocates will hold a number of workshops devoted to examining the ALEC agenda, corporations, and politicians. The session will culminate with a program followed by a "March to the Marriott" from the Hale Boggs Federal Building. Scheduled speakers and performances include Jordan Flaherty, journalist and community organizer; Bob Sloan, prison industry investigative consultant and author; David Rovics, musician; and representatives from the AFL-CIO and Interfaith Worker Justice.
The American Legislative Exchange Council's Annual Meetings and Task Force Summits are held in some of the nation's top travel destinations, at swanky hotels where state legislators and corporate executives enjoy lavish accommodations and exclusive excursions.
On July 28, 2009, Glenn Beck called President Barack Obama a "racist" who has a "deep-seated hatred for white people, or white culture" in an appearance on the Fox News Channel morning show, Fox & Friends. Almost two years later, on June 30, 2011, he wrapped the final episode of Fox's The Glenn Beck Program.
What led to the demise of the firebrand's controversial television show? Everything from a sharp decline in ratings -- according to The New Republic, Beck's ratings fell from an average of 2.9 million in January 2010 to 1.8 million in January 2011, and Forbes' Rick Unger said his numbers represented the "steepest decline in all cable news programs" -- to political differences between Beck and the Fox team has been cited, but one important factor cannot be ignored.
Beck's vitriolic commentary forced Fox to take a hit where it hurts the most: its bottom line. But it would not have happened without a concerted effort by a number of groups and activists.