FreedomWorks, Inc., a non-profit organization heavily involved with the Tea Party movement, announced on August 3rd a new round of Tea Party rallies throughout Wisconsin.
Hundreds of ALEC's model bills and resolutions bear traces of Koch DNA, raw ideas that were once at the fringes but that have been carved into "mainstream" policy through the wealth and will of Charles and David Koch.
Although he passed away in 2006, states are now grappling with many of the toxic notions left behind by University of Chicago economist, Milton Friedman.
In her groundbreaking book, The Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein coined the term "disaster capitalism" for the rapid-fire, corporate re-engineering of societies still reeling from shock. The master of disaster? Privatization and free market guru Milton Friedman. Friedman advised governments in economic crisis to follow strict austerity measures, combining radical cuts in social services with the full-scale privatization of their more lucrative assets. Many countries in Latin America auctioned off everything standing -- from energy and water utilities to Social Security -- to for profit multinational firms, crushing unions and other dissenters along the way.
In the 2010 elections, Republicans emerged with seven more governor's mansions. They also won control of 26 state legislatures, up from 14. In many trifecta states, where a new Republican majority won control of both houses and the governorship, an odd thing happened. A steady stream of almost identical bills -- bills to defund unions, require Photo ID's make it harder for democratic constituencies to vote, bills to privatize schools and public assets, bills to enshrine corporate tax loopholes while crippling the government's ability to raise revenue, bills to round up immigrants -- were introduced and passed. An almost identical set of corporations benefited from these measures.
It is almost as if a pipeline in the basement of these state capitols ruptured simultaneously, and a flood of special interest legislation poured out. The blowout preventer -- political power-sharing -- was disabled. The source of the contamination? The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
This week, the Center for Media and Democracy unveiled its ALEC Exposed website to display an archive of over 800 ALEC "model bills." This archive will allow reporters and citizen journalists to identify the ALEC bills moving in their states. We encourage researchers to search for some of the measures written about below.
On October 23, 2009, Harrison "Harry" Kothari celebrated his second birthday by blowing out candles on a cake decorated with a giant airplane. At age two, Harry could ride a tricycle, stack blocks, and say words like "mama," "airplane," and "thank you." A month earlier, surgeons at a Houston hospital had removed a benign cyst from Harrison's head without problems. In follow-up visits, nurses drained cerebrospinal fluid to test for infection, and following normal protocol, wiped the area around the drain with what they assumed were sterile alcohol wipes. On December 1, Harry was dead, his tiny brain swollen by a Bacillus cereus infection apparently caused by contaminated alcohol wipes.
At the end of May, as the Wisconsin Joint Finance Committee (JFC) worked day after day and late into the night voting on changes and amendments to the state budget bill, Joint Finance Co-Chair Alberta Darling (R-River Falls) quietly slipped a small provision into the massive budget bill that has received little attention.
After four months of massive public opposition to a Wisconsin bill that strips the collective bargaining rights of most state employees, the law has taken effect.
The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism and Wisconsin Public Radio broke the latest blockbuster from Wisconsin. The story alleges that recently-elected Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser grabbed fellow Justice, Ann Walsh Bradley, in a chokehold earlier this month. The incident took place on June 13, the day before as the Justices issued their split ruling on Wisconsin's controversial collective bargaining bill. Bradley released a statement late Saturday to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel confirming the incident. Prosser's defense? An unnamed source said that Bradley had charged Prosser with fists raised and somehow her neck fell into his hands. Bradley responded by saying, "You can try to spin those facts and try to make it sound like I ran up to him and threw my neck into his hands, but that's only spin." According to news reports, Bradley was asking Prosser to leave her office after he made disparaging remarks about the Chief Justice. In March, the Journal Sentinel reported that Prosser had called Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson a "total bitch," threatening to "destroy her." The story dropped like a bombshell into a hotly contested Supreme Court race that was widely considered a referendum on the governor's anti-union policies. Prosser was declared the victor after a recount and investigation into the discovery of 7,300 misplaced votes in Waukesha County. The latest incident involving Prosser's abusive behavior has been brought to the attention of the Wisconsin Judicial Commission and the Capitol Police. While calls for Prosser resignation rolled in, FOX News anchor and Wisconsinite Greta Van Susteren had a unique take on Prosser's behavior. She called upon the Chief Justice Abrahamson to step aside for not keeping control in her court.
Florida Governor Rick Scott now has a page on his campaign website, RickScottforFlorida.com, asking people to send pre-written letters of praise about him to the editors of Florida's major newspapers. Scott's campaign staff wrote the flattering form letter lionizing Scott and his performance in office. It says in part, "I voted for Rick because he's always been a businessman, not a politician. While politicians usually disappoint us and rarely keep their promises, Rick is refreshing because he's keeping his word." Visitors to RickScottforFlorida.com can click to send the letter to one of seven major Florida newspapers, including the Miami Herald, the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, the Orlando Sentinel, and the Tampa Tribune. They can alter the letter, if they wish, or just sent the suggested pre-written version. The effort to create an appearance of a groundswell of public support for Scott and his actions in office comes shortly after Quinnipiac University released a poll showing 57 percent of Florida voters now disapprove of Scott's performance as governor -- the lowest score of any governor the University surveyed. Scott's record low approval rating comes just five months after he took office.
Since Monday, February 14, CMD reporters have been on the streets providing live coverage of the historic protests in Madison, Wisconsin and related legal and political battles. We focus on the corporations and spinmeisters pulling the strings. CMD is supported by small contributions from people like you.