The Hayride

ALEC Conferees Might Want To Watch Their Backs At New Orleans Confab

ALEC Conferees Might Want To Watch Their Backs At New Orleans Confab
July 22
12:25 2011

You may not have heard of the American Legislative Exchange Council. If you haven’t, it’s an organization made up of state lawmakers of a center-right ideological orientation and it promotes model legislation to generate conservative reforms. Many of the big issues ALEC has played a part in over the years include mandatory minimum sentencing for violent criminals, teacher competency testing, pension reform, and Enterprise Zones. And more recently, ALEC legislation on voter ID and ObamaCare opt-outs have given the organization a higher profile than it’s had since its foundation as an outreach of the Reagan administration.

ALEC is a Tea Party-friendly outfit which pushes smaller government, federalism and free-market economics. In fact, it just came out with a study called Rich States, Poor States, written by economist Arthur Laffer and Wall Street Journal editor Steve Moore, that is well worth reading to understand the relationship between state policies and economic growth.

And due probably in no small part to the fact that the organization’s current chairman is state Rep. Noble Ellington of Winnsboro, ALEC will be holding their annual summit in New Orleans this year, at the Marriott from Aug. 1-6. The conference will bring hundreds of tourists to the city during what’s usually a slow season.

You’d think this would be a positive for the city. Unfortunately, it has the potential for trouble.

ALEC is a major target of the hard Left, which has made its typical accusations – it’s a shadowy organization lacking transparency and soaking up funding from evil corporations. Of particular concern is that the Left doesn’t get to see ALEC model legislation until it’s introduced in state legislatures – though as Ellington told NPR once a bill gets to a statehouse it can’t go anywhere without a full markup and debate in a committee and/or on the floor in both state houses, plus the governor has to sign it. That happens regardless of whether ALEC writes a bill; it’s been the legislative process since the country was founded, if not before.

Nonetheless, the organization is now a bete noire for the more loony of the Left. And in New Orleans, that suggests an element of danger that probably ought to be recognized.

Last April, another conservative organization – the Republican Party – staged the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans. That event, unlike its follow-on at the same location this year, was protested by a group of anarchists and hard-left types. The protest was diverted by some of that group to an offsite location, namely Brennan’s Restaurant in the French Quarter, where Governors Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Rick Perry of Texas and Haley Barbour of Mississippi were hosting a fundraiser. At the second location the demonstration turned violent – so much so that Louisiana GOP chairman Roger Villere was chased into a taxi and Jindal’s head fundraiser Allee Bautsch and her boyfriend Joe  Brown were jumped less than a block away by suspected demonstrators and beaten so badly that Bautsch’s leg was broken in five places and Brown suffered a concussion and a broken jaw.

We covered the aftermath of that episode at length last year, and the anarchist commune who organized both of those demonstrations, the Iron Rail Book Collective, has since been shut down by the New Orleans Police Department after yet another violent incident earlier this year – specifically a riot at an impromptu Mardi Gras parade in the Marigny neighborhood where the Iron Rail gang made their headquarters – to which it was connected. That followed an episode in which Iron Rail members participated in a violent riot at the University of New Orleans over budget cuts last fall. But the NOPD didn’t get rid of the Iron Rail Gang; they re-emerged on Barracks Street in the French Quarter in late May.

We’ve been monitoring the activities of the anarchist/hard left community since that time. And now they’re boiling over about the ALEC conference. A protest of the conference is set for Aug. 5, starting at 2:00 p.m. at the Hale Boggs Building and moving to the Marriott in an attempt to disrupt it.

In late April, ALEC had a meeting in Cincinnati at which a smattering of lefties held a demonstration, complete with bucket drums, megaphones and “a hundred angry voices.”

Of course, we don’t have a record of violence from those “angry voices” in Cincinnati like we have in Louisiana in recent months.

The announced participants in the ALEC protests seem like a mishmash of the usual suspects (the New Orleans Central Labor Council, which is the local AFL-CIO affiliate, the New Orleans Catholic Worker outfit, which is a frequent attendee at lefty causes), assorted goofballs and another organization called the Student Labor Action Project at LSU. A trip to that outfit’s mini-site indicates it’s a classic left-wing/anarchist ne’er-do-well…

Who We Are

SLAP, the Student Labor Action Project, is a student organization on LSU’s campus that works to promote the common interests of students and workers. Many students are workers, and endure the same hardships (poverty wages, inconsistent scheduling, lack of benefits, etc) that other working class people do. It is the mission of SLAP to bring attention to the commonalities between students and workers and to create an environment where diverse groups can work together to bring about positive changes in our community and in our nation as a whole.

What We Do

SLAP and it’s members are actively involved in community organizing. We plan demonstrations, we hold reading groups, and we participate in community and national events that work to improve the plight of students and the working class. Our activism and organizing includes the promotion of an independent political movement of the workers. In order for our class to not only fight back against anti-worker policies, but to strike forward a new path for society we must fight not only in the streets, but in the halls of government. We have officially endorsed the Campaign for Mass Party of Labor.

We also oppose any attacks on students’ ability to obtain or pay for education. To see our official stances on education, click here.

A big part of SLAP’s involvement in the community is focused on solidarity. Since students and workers come from all different backgrounds and face many different challenges, SLAP is committed to pursuing equality for all. This means SLAP has an interest in collaborating with groups who work for the rights of women, the LGBTQIA community, people of color, and people of all faiths and nationalities. It is only through solidarity that the working class can fight the multiplicity of battles that we face.

This includes the rape and pillaging of our planet, egregious abuses of farmed animals, rampant imperialistic war, and the vicious attacks on our schools, unions, and social programs–the consequences of which disproportionately affect the youth and the working class. Therefore it is important for the various people who are fighting all of these battles to work together, in order to support and encourage each other in what is often an uphill battle against the capitalist class.

Combative words, obviously.

It turns out that this group was on hand in Cincinnati, at least according to someone named Mark Mendoza who puts himself forward as a spokesman for SLAP. There isn’t much on the internet about Mendoza. But the organization has a Twitter account at @slaplsu, which has 11 followers.

One of them is “@wmhaywood” of Baton Rouge, LA, one of only three Twitter followers who claim to be local…

I am with the LGBTQ Project of LSU’s Office of Multicultural Affairs and am pursuing a master’s degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs.

Another is “@ohtoriakio“…

Ph.D. student in physics, LGBTQ activist, vengeful bastard.

Among the other 11 are people who look like national organizers who may or may not be pulling the SLAPpers’ strings.

For example, there’s John Peterson, who goes by @laborpartyjp

Member of the Workers International League and the Campaign for a Mass Party of Labor. Workers of the world unite!

And @AliyaRahman, who comes from Cincinnati and who is apparently a professor at Miami of Ohio

Ohio-based organizer working on economic justice & political alternatives to the work of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

Rahman also lists an e-mail address at the protestalec.org domain. And in the “Attendees and Endorsements” section of the protestalec.org website, we see a line indicating one of the organizers as “Members of Miami University Graduate Employees Organization.”

Inquiries on Twitter as to the identity of the people behind the @protestalec account yielded the following conversation…

Us: @protestalec A question: how can you demand the identity of ALEC’s members & donors without providing your own identity on your site?

Them: @TheHayride I don’t understand what you’re asking. Where are they asking for your identity?

Them: @TheHayride Nvm, get it now. We’re a coalition of 20+ ppl in several states and cities. This twitter acnt alone is mngd by a half dzn.

Them: @TheHayride Additionally our names appear all over articles we’ve written and been interviewed for. See Dailykos, the nation, et al.

Them: @TheHayride We also have this page on our site:protestalec.org/attendees-and-…. We’re fairly open about who we are.

Them: @TheHayride Lastly, the person who was the conduit for the leaked documents didn’t even withhold her name from the Nation article.

Us: @protestalec “Activists in Cincinnati, New Orleans, Indianapolis, Michigan, and Louisiana” is meaningless. Why not post names?

Them: @TheHayride Some of those people might not want their name listed. ALEC, or related groups have attacked critics in the past…

Them: @TheHayride so listing all those names should be a personal choice. Politicians and corporations are accountable to the public…

Them: @TheHayride (part 3) so they don’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy. I know you’re going to say that’s contradictory, so be it.

Us: @protestalec So as an organization which uses combative and incendiary language in calling for a protest, you don’t feel any accountability?

Them: @TheHayride That’s a false choice; we don’t operate in black/whites.

Rooting through the followers of the @protestalec Twitter account turns this up, though…

@nolaanarcha New Orleans, LA
A collective of anarchists running a website to spread the resistance to all forms of oppression and creation of non-hierarchal ways of life.

And there’s a website: http://nolaanarcha.blogspot.com

Go there, and you’ll see this in the “About me” section:

A collective of anarchists running a website to spread the resistance to all forms of oppression. We are anarchists, and that means we will unashamedly advocate anarchist solutions to the problems we face. We support movements but we don’t wait for them. We are in the thick of it.

And you’ll find this entry as well…

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is coming to town! They are a bunch of nasty fuckers who bring corporations together with state legislators so corporate lawyers can hand pre-written bills to the politicians, who then try to get the bills passed in their state legislatures.

Of course, there will surely be those in the protest calling for the political charade to be played out fully once again, for the kabuki theater to re-close the curtains that shields us from what’s happening backstage, so we can once again be whisked away to fairyland, where democracy exists and people power is in charge, and we can return to our peaceful slumber, dreaming the American Dream.

But, there will be also be people protesting who know returning to the democratic facade is not going to solve any of our problems, and that confronting the corporations behind the curtain of our “democracy” is the first step to destroying their control of our lives and communities.

In that spirit, anarchists should come out to the locally-organized ALEC protests in New Orleans (August 5th, 2pm, 500 Poydras St.). Come out not to demand stricter adherence to lobbying laws, more transparency, or less corruption. Come out to demand an end to the power of corporations, and their use of State violence to increase their wealth, and thereby control over our economy, society, and lives. Come out to say that it doesn’t matter whether that power is hidden behind the veil of democracy, or is blatantly transparent, as it is with ALEC, that either way it has to be dismantled. Anarchists should come with flags, in black, or with banners and signs to show our united stance, to show that we are not in favor of a return to the democratic political farce, but organizing for an end to capitalist control.

Not only should anarchists participate in the protest on August 5th, but we should organize other actions to confront the corporations who are members of ALEC during the conference, from August 1st-6th. ALEC’s members include oil companies responsible for ruining the Gulf and Wetlands, big banks who own hundreds of foreclosed homes in our city while people sleep on the streets, and private prison companies directly profiting from tough on crime laws, the creation of a racist, militarized police state, and booming incarceration rates, which Louisiana leads the nation in. Let’s get creative and use their conference to catalyze our own actions to take back our city from these profiteers of human suffering!

Sounds a lot like the Iron Rail Gang, doesn’t it?

We found the Iron Rail’s re-emergence at the Nola Anarcha site. We also found this entry on May 9…

Pres Kabacoff is a piece of shit millionaire developer who’s opening the Healing Center that is soon to be filled with Guardian Angels vigilantes. In years prior the building was also a rent-free home for the NOPD, who audaciously hosted a “Jailhouse of Horrors” haunted house one Halloween–as if we needed an imitation OPP to terrorize us. I wonder if it cost extra to get shot in the back?

Destroyer of the St. Thomas Projects, builder of hideous condos, Wal-Mart partner, and general rich bastard, Pres thinks people will forget about all that when his insane wife opens her “eccentric” project on St. Claude Ave. Healing means collectively controlling our future. Pres continues to impose his will. The dictatorship of Capital continues.

Now he wants to get the contract to tear down the Iberville housing development, but that won’t happen without a fight. HUD says they are doing it based on the “success” of the HOPE VI program, but over 2 years later, none of the developments that were torn down using HOPE VI grants during the contentious public housing struggle have yet to provide 1-to-1 replacement of homes for those displaced, which was promised by the government in order to build support for the demolitions. He wants to make even more money off of the displacement of the most vulnerable people in our city.

And oh yeah, he lives at 840 Pauline Street right near your friends cheap shotgun rental in the cool part of town.
The end.

If this stuff reminds you of Brad Pitt’s character in 12 Monkeys, you’re not alone.

And while we haven’t been able to definitively prove an operational relationship between the Iron Rail Gang and the Nola Anarcha people, we did find this on Facebook – it’s the Friends page for Nola Anarcha. There you’ll find the Iron Rail facebook account, as well as a few old favorites from our Iron Rail investigation – Daniel Mouch, Sean Walsh and Gina Pea. Oh, and Joanna Dubinsky, who was one of our superstars.

The point behind all this isn’t to say that the Protest ALEC people are dangerous per se. It looks like most of them are standard-issue professional lefty protestors, as goofy and intellectually dishonest as they might be. Their refusal to identify themselves is off-putting enough, but not damning.

But the anarchists in New Orleans have a track record, and it’s a violent and chaotic one. They’re a problem in that city, one the NOPD has not done an adequate job of cleaning up. And they’re openly advocating their own brand of protest at the ALEC conference.

Ellington and his staff might want to have a discussion with the NOPD, or perhaps the state police, about having a security presence of size at the Marriott. For that matter, they might consider laying on a blanket of private security as well. There is no telling what those animals will do.

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45 Comments

  1. Rightwingnutjob
    Rightwingnutjob July 22, 20:02

    Choot ‘em…..  Choot ‘em!!!!

  2. Aliya Rahman
    Aliya Rahman July 22, 20:16

    Hi all,

    Based on my experiences in the Cincinnati protest, I can tell you that ALEC already employs a large private security and police presence at their conferences. They also do not publish which rooms of the hotel they meet in, and they ask the hotel not to post those locations either on their daily room schedules where other groups’ meetings are listed. I believe those steps will help to keep ALEC members safe in New Orleans, as they were here. But I also believe that those steps are largely unnecessary and that they have little to worry about with respect to physical violence.

    As protest organizers, in Cincinnati we held nonviolent conflict intervention trainings for our “peace marshals” (we also had that deisgnator printed on their shirts–you can see these in orange if you look up pictures from the Cincy protest online–rather than “crowd marshal” as we believed this would help to keep things calm should that be necessary, which it was not) by folks who do peace and nonviolence organizing for a living. That training meant that those leading the protest program and march continually encouraged attendees not to damage property, act violently towards ALEC members or police, or block streets. None of those things happened. ALEC members came out and spoke to us, which I don’t believe they would have done if they had felt physically threatened. The aforementioned guidelines for attendees were printed in our program as well – if you would like a copy I would be happy to email one to you if you provide an address.

    So, I believe that we have nothing to worry about from the protest organizers.

    Best,

    Aliya Rahman
    ProtestALEC organizing group member
    (and, yes, former graduate instructor and employee organizer at Miami University – both nonviolent activities ;)  )

    • MacAoidh
      MacAoidh July 22, 20:36

      Disqus generic email templateAliya, your organization will want to publicly disavow any connection to anarchists in New Orleans well in advance of your protest. Not only do you have a potential problem with that group outside the Marriott, but elsewhere where ALEC members might be meeting as well. There is a history at work here.

      • Gndlf1
        Gndlf1 July 23, 03:51

        ALEC and their close knit bunch have been at this for nearly 40 years now.  They have worked to keep a low profile except in the business and political arenas.  They have remained unknown to the public as has their activities.  People are angry – they’re angry in Wisconsin, Chicago, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Detroit and Benton Harbor (yes emergency manager legislation was an ALEC model, and implemented in MI. and has resulted in an entire town being taken over by a manager appointed by the Governor).  None of that anger has boiled over into violence through months of protests…yet when it comes to the South and Louisiana this article leaves one with the feeling that the people of Louisiana  should look upon this – and react – as others did when the “Freedom Riders” came south to Birmingham decades ago in protest to discrimination.

        I think it sends the wrong message to everyone, ALEC supporters and protesters alike.  Every one of us should be entitled to be heard at the ballot box and in the writing of laws proposed for us to live under.  Protesting to protect those rights has been an American action for more than a century.  If nothing else from all of that protesting most people know how to get along and take part without resorting to violence.  The Hayride should be calling for non-violence and urging all that attend to do so in peace – not predicting a violent outcome.

        • MacAoidh
          MacAoidh July 23, 06:59

          Disqus generic email templateYou’re equating the Iron Rail gang with the Freedom Riders, and that makes you an imbecile of the first magnitude.

          Do some research before you make such a laughable statement. It wasn’t conservatives who attacked Allee Bautsch and Joe Brown in New Orleans last year.

          • Gndlf1
            Gndlf1 July 23, 18:43

            I didn’t infer or state that the Iron Rail gang is compared to the Freedom Riders.  What I said is that the attitude of your article supports the same mentality as those in Alabama and elsewhere in the Southern states – hinting at violence at those who demonstrate in pursuit of civil rights.  I am not familiar with the Iron Rail gang, but obviously you are.  I don’t see the need to set-up a peaceful protest about rights and democracy, by throwing out what occurred in past events from “gangs” who objected to local politics.  Such “Warning Will Robinson, Warning!” articles can be used to incite others to action on behalf of – or in support of – the view by those publishing such an article.

            • MacAoidh
              MacAoidh July 23, 18:50

              Disqus generic email templateNo one hinted at violence toward those who protest the ALEC meeting. The article warned that the same people responsible for a violent demonstration in the same city are talking about reprising their performance this year, and that heightened security is warranted. Your problem is that you see so many conservative bogeymen around every corner that you immediately revert into Mississippi Burning mode every time someone disagrees with you.

              Nobody is threatening violence against you, and nobody will.

              • Gndlf1
                Gndlf1 July 23, 20:34

                Unlike the tone of the article, I oppose violence in all it’s forms.  I have gone out and tried to figure out why you identify this Anarchist and radical group as “Leftist”?  They are anything but Progressive or liberal in their writing, so I’m not understanding unless you group all opposed to conservatives as Leftist – and I guess I just answered my own question as everything seems to be to the left of your position and reporting.  At your site nearly every article mentions this Iron Rail gang…predicts violence at conservative events or reports violence actually happened.  I’m sure due to this continued mentioning of their “Gang” you expect them to check the Hayride regularly to catch up on your view of their activities and impact upon New Orleans.  Obviously they’ve by now read your prediction about the protest, your warning of violence on their part and what they do with that is left to speculation – as is the other Nola group mentioned.

                However, to attempt to link them with a peaceful protest by the Protest Alec group as if it’s the protester’s fault for providing them with a reason to come out and take part, and trying to group all together in one lump of “professional” lefty protesters is again disingenuous.  Many common folk from all over the country are coming to New Orleans during the week of the 1st and will be there through the 6th or after.  They are from different political parties, have different ideologies and from all walks of life and class. They are coming to protest a threat to their democracy from ALEC, their members and activities.   I’m sure your success at identifying some of the Protest organizers fills you with a sense of accomplishment as you found ways to describe them as being radical or dangerous, accusing them of using “incendiary” and “combative” language – an accusation that was not earned from the conversation you post here.  No one has denied you their names they’re all over the internet if you’d take the time to go out and look.

                You ask their names so you can in some manner try and post them here with more lefty rhetoric to incite others.  The difference between ALEC and the Protest group and divulging their names is that the Protesters are not working behind curtains to develop laws for non-conservatives to live by.  They aren’t taking all expense paid trips paid for with money provided by Koch, AT&T, ExxonMobil, PharMa and 200 other corporations…or accepting campaign contributions to buy their votes on legislation.  Protester names aren’t important here – what is important is identifying those operating within ALEC and doing this dirty and undemocratic work.  Obviously what they do is not objectionable to you – but it is to millions of other Americans…and they would like to know the names of the companies funding them, the legislators enabling them and be able to put a face with the name so in the next election cycle when they are up for reelection, their constituents know who NOT to vote for.

                • MacAoidh
                  MacAoidh July 23, 21:07

                  Disqus generic email templateThe names of the protestors and who’s backing them is quite relevant information. Why isn’t the public entitled to know who funds you? You howl like a tomcat about the purported influence of ExxonMobil and the Koch Brothers, without a great deal of evidence to indicate any undue influence or wrongdoing, and you insinuate that somehow the model legislation ALEC drafts subverts the legislative process, which is asinine. Does ALEC draft legislation which magically bypasses committee and floor debates in the House and Senate of each state so as to be enacted without public scrutiny? Did you pass 6th grade social studies?

                  If you have more than 100 protestors in New Orleans outside of the usual red-and-black suspects, who say they’ll show – and if they don’t represent your views, then by all means you should publicly denounce their participation – I’d be surprised. And if you think anarchists aren’t lefties, you’re delusional or dishonest. They’re anarchists because they want anarchy as a precursor to a communist utopia. Ever heard of The Coming Revolution? It’s their bible. You’d like most of the public policy aims outlined therein just fine.

                  I love how ALEC is somehow “undemocratic” for studying public policy and drafting legislation for public debate. Do you read this stuff before you type it?

                  • Gimme a break
                    Gimme a break July 26, 19:27

                    Look Scott, you need to come to terms with reality.  You blew your wad on this when you rang the alarm about the anarchist plot against the capitol building during the college funding-cuts brouhaha… believe me, crying wolf on the scale you did cost you the few ears you had left where it matters… the Staties were pissed at having their time wasted on your say-so, and I don’t blame them.

                    There’s no juice left in these lemons. Your myth-making efforts regarding the “iron rail gang” have more petered out largely because no-one (no-one who doesn’t live their whole Vitamin-D-deprived life in loony-land) still believes for a moment those kids outside the restaurant were beat up as anything political… that’s why the case was dropped at BJ’s request, because it’s an embarrassment. You’re the only indian still beating this tomtom… which proves just how far out the loop you are, or else that the big boys know nobody except a few other disenfranchised, stultified web-warrior paranoiacs will take you seriously. The SRLC choosing New Orleans for a second year in a row debunked whatever was left. Now you’re just trying to ruin business.

                    Allee & co. were drunk as skunks (that’s in the police record) and got in a flail-fest in the public street. It happens. No palin pins, none of that stuff. New Orleans is safe for visitors, and there are cameras all around that area– at the hotel, at the steakhouse on the nearest corner, and at the police station less than a block away. Plenty of people saw & know what went down. I realize you just get off on thrill of a good bogeyman, and “anarchists” I guess fit the bill, but let’s be grownups.

                    Anyway, for someone who beats his chest about transparency, why don’t you step from behind your nickname and discuss who funds the Hayride? That’s pretty interesting stuff too, y’know…

                    • MacAoidh
                      MacAoidh July 26, 19:55

                      You want to know who funds the Hayride? Look at the ads at the top and on the side. That’s who funds us. We’re supported by advertising and nothing else, and we do just fine.

                      And if the anarchists are such a joke, why did the NOPD run them out of Marigny?

                    • MacAoidh
                      MacAoidh July 26, 20:35

                      Mobile, Alabama?

          • Mac
            Mac July 25, 21:34

            You have absolutely no evidence that it was anarchists in general or anyone from the Iron Rail who attacked them either, asshole.

            • MacAoidh
              MacAoidh July 25, 21:38

              Other than it was the Iron Rail’s protest from which the attackers chased Roger Villere into a cab and that those same protestors were making threats of violence outside of the restaurant, you’re exactly right. No evidence at all.

              Where were you that night?

              • Robbyallbusiness
                Robbyallbusiness July 27, 20:10

                First off, what the hell is the “iron rail gang”? I frequent the Iron Rail for zines, I fix my bike at the bike project with many self identified anarchists, just like myself, and I’ve never seen this so called Iron Rail Gang considering that it’s just a rotating volunteer book collective. You should consider reading some Bakunin and plug that spewing ass up. You sound like an ignorant incoherent old coot. 

                Soon most of everyone will be part of the elusive “iron rail gang” because just admit it, all these pissed off people are ordinary folk who’ve had enough of the corporate welfare.

  3. Gndlf1
    Gndlf1 July 23, 03:35

    I think it is important to understand that many factions have been affected by some of the legislation put out  by ALEC; immigrant groups, prison reform groups, moderates, liberals, progressives of all parties, labor, students who feel their voter rights are being infringed upon.  With the same cut-and-pasted legislation being put into place in half the country…a lot of people, groups and factions are upset about ALEC.  They see what they perceive is a threat to democracy by corporatists assisted 1/3 of all state lawmakers in the country.  Under those conditions and circumstances I would expect to see an assortment of all of the above arriving and wanting to join their voices in protest.

    Not all will protest issues of concern to others, or particular legislation – rather they will come to tell their stories and speak to how they have been affected by ALEC’s activities and call for a stop to this kind of shadow legislation.  I have followed this story for days now and interviewed some intending to participate from several groups.  None of them have spoken of violence in any manner in the Protest.  The first mention of this comes from here on the Hayride.  By raising this issue and trying to induce a reaction you are setting  the very atmosphere for violence and in fact seem to be encouraging it by name calling and liberal baiting and trying to find the names of protesters.  You planning on running down the member of every group, organization or union that will take part?  You want to publish their names, for what – to what purpose? To incite others to the right of your magazine to come and start a violent scene?

    Obviously that would provide the distraction away from who ALEC is,what ALEC does, how ALEC is composed of only conservative lawmakers and corporations and how dangerous ALEC is to this country for those simple, but important reasons.

    • MacAoidh
      MacAoidh July 23, 06:57

      Disqus generic email templateALEC isn’t dangerous to anyone. The assertion that some dark conspiracy is at work because an organization seeks to advance legislation promoting free markets and small government is ludicrous.

      And it turns out that the majority of the country likes what ALEC is doing. If not, they’d never be able to pass those bills in all those state legislatures.

      It just seems ironic and a little contemptible that an outfit demanding to know the identities of ALEC’s members and donors isn’t willing to provide similar information about itself.

      • Gndlf1
        Gndlf1 July 23, 19:15

        You support ALEC and their agenda, obviously so this discussion may fall upon deaf ears, but for what it’s worth…an analysis of ALEC’s activities over the past 38 years and counting, indicates they have a right wing agenda.  Now others have a left wing or moderate stance involving politics and legislation.  The difference between all these various factions is that what ALEC has done – and we’re complaining about – is that they have brought together a dozen or more RW groups, think tanks, Institutes, foundations an individuals in pursuit of a particular agenda.

        This agenda involves bringing corporations to the table aligned side by side with legislators of the same conservative bent.  They determine legislation, policy and resolutions beneficial to the corporations then through their legislative members introduce it into state General Assemblies as proposed laws for all people to live by – not just conservatives or corporatists – you, me and everyone else.  Most of the model legislation developed by ALEC is designed to eliminate consumer rights and protections, to make it harder to sue corporations (tort reform), to allow privatization of state duties and responsibilities by turning them over to corporations to operate in search of increased profits.

        Other legislation was designed to issue new laws to incarcerate more Americans, laws to extend and increase sentences handed down, to remove discretion of the court when sentencing, imposing harsh long terms for minor violations of drug possession or use.  In conjunction with those criminal justice laws, the wrote – and managed to enact legislation that allowed their members CCA and Geo Group to contract with states to build prison to house those prisoners caught up by those laws – at a profit ($2.9 billion last year in gross income) and incarcerated. ALEC then introduced and managed to pass their Prison Industries Act to allow other corporations access to the millions incarcerated as a cheap labor force for manufacturing and services.  Entire companies moved their operations out of our communities and relocated them behind prison fences – taking tens of thousands of civilian jobs and handing them over to prisoners who are paid a pittance to manufacture many of the products found in your home and mine right now.  Today they have introduced other model legislation in most of our states to end collective bargaining, abolish the minimum wage, impose strict Voter ID legislation to disenfranchise the elderly and students by the way they’re written and to enact Right to Work legislation, to privatize education and replace that with “Distance Learning” that allows many students to be taught at once from long distance (the software for this is coincidentally owned by and distributed by an ALEC member).

        Now all of this may align with your political views but they go against the grain of the majority of this country – this is why so many are protesting nationwide as we discuss this in this forum.  Bottom line MacAoidh is that all of their model legislation to date has been written to protect corporations, lower wages, eliminate jobs, reduce taxes upon corporations and their wealthy owners – and most of it was neither seen nor understood by the constituents of those ALEC legislators who wrote, introduced and helped pass these into our laws.  Your Representative saying that the public is involved in the discussion about ALEC legislation “because I am at the table, and I represent them,” is disingenuous and deliberately misleading at best  He is a Conservative with conservative values, ideals and ideology and his representation at “the table” represents only those views.  He is not representing the moderates of either party, Independent, Democratic or Progressive voters or their views.

        This entire process involving Conservatives and ALEC is designed and operates as a way of ruling by a minority – such as is/was done in fascist regimes – through the desires, wealth and influence of the corporate elite.  If you don’t understand fascism and want to define it visit Wikipedia or other sites for a precise definition.  ALEC and their activities are a direct threat against democracy (little d) and designed to wrest any form of representation of an by the people from our grasp.  It’s wrong, immoral and has to be stopped.  One thing those supporters of ALEC and their corporate benefactors is this: once they overcome democracy, eliminate any voice in opposition and have the middle class without jobs, money or a means to live in anything but poverty – they won’t go on a diet, satisfied with their work and lose their hunger for more wealth and influence…the only one’s left will be those who assisted them in this pursuit and profited by it.  They will be next on the menu…

        • MacAoidh
          MacAoidh July 23, 20:56

          Disqus generic email templateSo in other words, it’s immoral to disagree with YOU on legislation.

          Nothing ALEC does subverts the public will. They draft legislation and study public policy. Period. And because they operate out of an ideological stance you disagree with, you take it upon yourself to defame and demonstrate against them. This, of course, is done with funding from various left-wing constituency groups you refuse to disclose the identities of. And yet you have the gall to taint ALEC and those of a similar philosophical bent with fascism and secrecy.

          You’re ridiculous. Ridiculous.

          • John
            John July 25, 15:55

            How is legislation written by particular corporations promoting “free markets”? Since listening to that NPR story, I’ve been looking at some of the model bills and corporations involved and much of it doesn’t seem at all “free market” to me–it’s using government to give particular corporations an advantage and, in some cases, government contracts, which means government spending. Seriously, that is neither free competition nor small government. Surely there are many conservatives who don’t like this either?

            • MacAoidh
              MacAoidh July 25, 15:57

              You’ll have to be far more specific than that if you want to be taken seriously.

              • John
                John July 25, 17:24

                Ok, for instance, the immigration bills in three states have portions that are verbatim with a model ALEC bill, as does some crime-related legislation passed in even more states. Corrections Corporation of America is the largest private prison company and is one of the primary members of ALEC (and, as NPR reported, definitely played a role in the creation of the Arizona immigration bill). It has been given major contracts by all of the states where such legislation has passed. So I’ve started looking for data showing that a state’s using CCA reduces a state’s costs, and I’m really not finding it. In some instances the opposite seems true. At first I thought maybe some of theses bills (like the Truth in Sentencing one) were about being hard on crime, but now Iooking at the bills as a group, it looks more like it’s just about making profits for CCA and the other one–the GEO group. For example, I looked at ALEC’s own site and saw all their model bills for turning over the probation system to the private bail system. That means ALEC is pushing BOTH bills that incarcerate more people for longer periods AND ones that allow for more to be let go early. The common denominator isn’t ideology but that CCA and GEO make money whichever way. And from what I can tell, handing over the probation system to them really isn’t about reducing crime, e.g., here’s a report (from back in 1998–which surprised me since I hadn’t heard of ALEC before) by the American Probation and Parole Association that specifically critiques the ALEC plan. Obviously you are right that a bill still has to be voted on through the normal processes, but I think a lot of legislators might vote for something because they think it is a proposal about a specific issue or that it reflects the ideas of a paricular party or person (or is a specific proposal by a particular state’s corrections department), when actually it just might be the case that the person proposing the bill just copied and pasted from one that looked good, but when seen in context of other bills is less about the actual issue at hand (e.g., crime, immigration, etc.) than it is about improving the odds that CCA get another state contract. Like, did you see the bill Arizona passed last week about building the border wall? It actually makes a provision for using prison labor, which is basically the same thing as legislating that CCA be paid to build the wall since Arizona already gave them contracts to run prisons. I just don’t think it sounds like a good idea for laws to be so directly tied to the people who stand to profit from them. That doesn’t sound all that different than just mandating that the government make the profit–it’s more like just shifting from the government to one particular industry or corporation, and that’s not a free market either. This whole ALEC story really got me thinking about a lot of things. That’s all I’m saying.

                • MacAoidh
                  MacAoidh July 25, 18:02

                  Disqus generic email templateYou did all that research on your own, huh?

                  Amazing how you could do all that research independently and come back with precisely the same conclusions the AFL-CIO has been howling about for two years.

                  • John
                    John July 25, 18:49

                    Ok, I’ll bow out then, but, honestly I’d never heard of this till about two weeks ago and in fact did look up these things myself in the past few days. Some of what got me thinking about it was Georgia’s immigration law, which was only recently passed. I saw in a story about this ALEC thing a link to a previous NPR story about CCA’s involvement in the Arizona law, so I started looking it up. And I found out that CCA got a contract for a prison in Millen, GA just last December. Then that border fence law was just passed this week. So I don’t know what two-year-old reports you’re talking about, and I haven’t read anything by the AFL-CIO. I hadn’t even heard of CCA till a week or so ago. You can choose not to believe that; it doesn’t really matter. But I really am trying to understand why such things are okay from a conservative perspective; I’ve generally seen issues like lobbying as relatively non-partisan ones. So if you have any responses to these thoughts, I’d read them. But if you just say you don’t have to answer them because you don’t believe I can find basic news by myself using Google (I didn’t even have to search for the one on the border fence law–it was on my msn homepage’s newsfeed), I’ll just go. But honestly, I wasn’t looking to argue a point–just posing questions because I thought the discussion here looked good (like I liked your response to that Aliya below–it seemed civil and polite, not insulting or dismissive, when it could have been). Like I said, I think this ALEC thing is interesting. For me, that’s actually mostly because it seems like it doesn’t fit into the usual Republican vs. Democrat debates, but rather suggests more abstract, and somewhat new, politics questions. At least, it was new to me.

                    • John
                      John July 25, 19:19

                      But if you could perhaps clarify what AFL-CIO stuff you were referring to, I’d appreciate it. Was it about the private prison issue or about ALEC? I was asking about how ALEC fit in with free market perspective, and I don’t really understand what the AFL-CIO would have said about that or why it would have bothered them. I’d like to look that up, but when I Google AFL-CIO and ALEC, I just get all the recent stuff, not anything about two years ago, and I don’t really know what I’m looking for. Thanks.

                    • Mac
                      Mac July 25, 21:23

                      Stand your ground, John. If you really did your own research and came to the same conclusions, then don’t let this guy tell you AFL-CIO is wrong. Maybe they’re not crazy extremists, but reasonable people. Also, you’re right that this goes beyond “the usual Republican vs Democrat debates” all of the legislators on both sides of the aisle are enthralled to corporate interests to some degree.

                    • Mission
                      Mission July 26, 06:18

                      Yes John stand your ground because all of your research is accurate, and AFL-CIO is correct. It just that when you have all of the evidence that proves these things, they don’t know what else to do but call names and create lies to avoid the truth. They obviously know they are wrong they just cannot admit it. I also wonder why nit is ok from a conservative perspective but never seem to get a real and thorough response.

                • John
                  John July 25, 18:15

                  Like, now I don’t even know how to be sure whether those behind the border wall law actually believe the wall will prevent illegal immigration or whether CCA just thought it would be an easy way to get more money from Arizona and thus gave it to legislators who rely on ALEC for pre-made model bills that others then vote to pass, believing it is actually intended to enforce immigration? And the fact that ALEC’s corporate membership (which CCA is a major part of) and involvement in several now identified Arizona laws makes such doubts possible is a problem in itself.

  4. John
    John July 25, 15:38

    The article states, “Of particular concern is that the Left doesn’t get to see ALEC model legislation until it’s introduced in state legislatures,” and then goes on to summarize Ellington’s answer in the NPR interview. I listened to that NPR interview, and I didn’t think that was the concern being addressed. The point being raised in the interview wasn’t that the Left doesn’t get to see the legislation before its introduction, it was that most people in the legislature voting on it do not know that such bills were initially drafted by corporations, some of which might stand to profit from that legislation. Politics aside, Ellington’s performance in that interview was abysmal. He argues the process is “transparent” because it follows the usual process as described in this article, but what he was being asked is why aren’t all the legislators informed of such a bill’s origin. It’s not transparent if some legislators believe they are voting on a piece of legislation written by a conservative colleague that was actually written by a corporation that stands to profit from it (often through taxpayer money and government contracts). Ellington sounded so confused at that point in the interview that I honestly couldn’t tell whether he was being disingenous, naive, or ignorant. At any rate, after listening to that interview I don’t really understand why conservatives should be any more comfortable than liberals with that aspect of ALEC.

    • MacAoidh
      MacAoidh July 25, 15:56

      A bill is a bill, regardless of its origin. It’s not a magic spell. Ellington was confused in the interview because he doesn’t share the paranoia about corporate bogeymen expressed by the NPR correspondent.

  5. Anonymous
    Anonymous July 25, 18:58

    Scott, thanks for shedding light on all of this. The group’s members and its defenders as witnessed classically on the left (and yes, self-styled anarchists are on the political left as much as some loath ot admit it) wish anonymity because they know the vast majority of Americans do not agree with, if not ridicule, their unreasonable, uneducated agenda. They know they lose the battle of ideas but rather than try to understand or admit the factual and intellectual shortcomings to their ideas, they have to find some enemy to blame when the negative consequences of their ideas manifest or to explain their inability to persuade the people to advance them. Thus, the need for self-deception, stealth in their activities, and distortion, if not outright fantasizing, concerning those backing opposing (and superior) ideas. 

  6. Ms. Gina MF Pea xoxo
    Ms. Gina MF Pea xoxo July 25, 21:13

    Hayride!  I’m flattered but, I can’t handle all the paparazzi anymore!  I know it’s a lot harder to write original articles based on research conducted outside of a Google search but, every time you simply repost everyone’s public blog and Facebook information, we get like a gabillion more hits!  Stop making me so famous!  (Wait, don’t stop!  I LOVE IT.  Filthy animals.  Can you pull my hair while you do that?)  xoxoxo

    no gods///no masters
    NO BOSSES///NO BOYFRIENDS
    noboyfriends.org

  7. Robbyallbusiness
    Robbyallbusiness July 28, 00:27

    You wouldn’t be able to spot me on the street and label me an anarchist, there are far more people than you realize who subscribe to the legitimate political and philosophical ideology of anarchism. You’re just thinking in terms of “anarchy” and insurrectionists. 

    And then there are the large and ever growing groups of statist Marxists and Trotskyist with whom we may disagree with in solution but stand in solidarity with and we all mutually agree that corporate welfare must end. 

    • MacAoidh
      MacAoidh July 28, 04:56

      The thing is, you’re a freak. And there are only certain places you can go and spout your political philosophy without getting pummeled. You’ve got a little thing called a historical record working against you – because destructive, poisonous ideologies like yours kill people in their millions. Normal folks want nothing to do with you.

      • Robbyallbusiness
        Robbyallbusiness July 28, 05:43

        Ad Hominem attacks aside. I will be spouting off my political philosophy this August, I can’t say I won’t get pummeled but if I do it won’t be by ordinary folk, just paid private security, mercs that are paid to silence democracy and freedom of assembly. The same ilk that are being paid by private contractors to kill in the thousands right now. 

        And no, anarchism only has a history of working when implemented. Google Anarchism in 1930s Spain if you’re not so disingenuous to do so. I’d be more than happy to refute your claims of “anarchism killing people by the millions”. in a completely historical context. 

        • MacAoidh
          MacAoidh July 28, 06:07

          Disqus generic email templateI’m very familiar with the abject disaster that was 1930’s anarchist Spain. I wish more people were; you’d have even less adherents to your moronic ideology than you currently do.

  8. Robbyallbusiness
    Robbyallbusiness July 28, 00:30

    Point being, there are many groups mobilizing to protest the ALEC. I even know some libertarians who are down. Outright Corporatism is on the downfall, deal with it. 

    • MacAoidh
      MacAoidh July 28, 04:53

      Sorry, but the only people calling what ALEC does “outright corporatism” – whatever that is – are labor-backed lefties. It’s difficult to establish any credibility under such circumstances. And given that the “outright corporatists” picked up some 680 state legislative seats last fall it doesn’t look like their prospects are as dim as you make out.

      • Robbyallbusiness
        Robbyallbusiness July 28, 05:31

        It’s easy enough to pay off a super majority or even all 680 legislative seats. It’s not so easy to pay off 250,0000 americans. But that would be against their interests anyway.

        I’m sorry i’m not used to engaging in conversation with people who are as out of the loop as you are. I think you might just be old or rich?? But to summarize, no one believes that class warfare is a conspiracy anymore. For more and more people even those that are a-political it’s an everyday reality. You’re living in a fantasy world where outright corporatism not only doesn’t exist, it’s not even a sentence you can comprehend. Ironically this is the same world that the “Iron Rail Gang” frequents, and creates endless insurrection and torments the poor fat rich white people. 

        • MacAoidh
          MacAoidh July 28, 06:05

          Disqus generic email templateSo anyone who disagrees with you is a “fat rich white people?”
          And you think somebody else is out of touch?

          They have excellent rehabilitation centers for substance addictions all over the country. Find one, and check in. Before it’s too late.

          • Robbyallbusiness
            Robbyallbusiness July 28, 06:22

            blah blah blah. You’ve been reduced to zero. You’re preaching to the tv watching corn syrup people fox news listeners but they’re too old to use the internet. All I can say is that i’ll be at the protest being heard, will you?

            • MacAoidh
              MacAoidh July 28, 07:01

              Disqus generic email templateSuch bitterness. You might want to work on that hatred of your fellow man, fringe-boy.

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