Follow BFIA on Twitter
Blog for Iowa Archives
Blog for Iowa Categories
Search BFIA by Date
December 2014
M T W T F S S
« Nov    
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031  

Media Matters for America is a Web-based, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media.

Fight Media Bias

Iowa

Iowa Rapid Response Action

First responders to biased, imbalanced or factually inaccurate media coverage

Iowans for Better Local TV


National

FAIR: Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting

*FAIR is a national media watch group that offers well-documented criticism of media bias and censorship


Free Press

News Corpse

Prometheus Radio Project

Radio for People

Save the Internet

Save the News

ALEC

Say Hello To ALEC’s Little Brother, ACCE

just in case legislators forget what to do

just in case legislators forget what to do

Maybe you missed it because there was no birth announcement. The lack of a birth announcement is probably due to the fact that the parents, Charles and David Koch and their corporate concubines don’t want anyone to know. Just like ACCE’s bigger brother, ALEC, ACCE works best behind closed doors and under a rock. ACCE stands for “American City County Exchange.” This will allow the Koch to – shall we say – get involved in your local city councils and county government.

If the Kochs and their lackey congress critters can’t turn the government over to business at the national level, they will work to do so at the state level through their lackey legislatures. And now if they can’t turn government into their personal servant at the national or state level, they now have a new surreptitious organization to corrupt at the local level. If you feel that government is becoming responsive only to those with money, you are right. This is just what the Kochs want. After all they have the money and lots of friends with money.

ALEC and ACCE just completed a session meeting behind closed doors with corporate biggies rubbing elbows with legislators and now supervisors and councillors. Playing kind of a reverse Santa Claus where Santa sits on the knee of the legislators asking for presents. Later there will be campaign donations in a world where campaigns are conducted mostly on the expensive media.

While ALEC seldom announces their want list, we can make some informed guesses. However, the ALEC watchdog group at the Center for Media and Democracy’s (CMD) PR Watch published what they believed to be on this year’s wish list. So from the the CMD, here is an educated forecast for what we may soon see popping up as “model legislation” for legislatures around the country:

Blocking Local Minimum Wage Increases
Citizens in red states like Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota voted overwhelmingly in favor of raising their state’s minimum wage on November 4, as did Republican and Democratic voters in states like Wisconsin, where twenty communities supported advisory referendums in favor of raising the wage.

With such a clear divide between the policies that voters support and those that ALEC corporate interests like the National Restaurant Association (which has been fighting for a $2.13 sub-minimum wage) want legislators to implement, the Commerce, Insurance, and Economic Development Task Force will feature a presentation on “Minimum Wage Preemption Policies.”

ALEC has long pushed bills like the “Living Wage Preemption Act” to block city, county, or local governments from enacting progressive economic initiatives like a higher minimum wage. In light of the renewed grassroots push for fair wage laws, this bill to crush a local government’s ability to increase wages in their community will likely be a top ALEC priority in 2015. (ALEC legislators have also been active in banning local paid sick day efforts, passing 10 laws after Wisconsin’s paid sick days preemption bill was shared at ALEC’s August 2011 meeting).

Local Right to Work

The ACCE meeting will also feature a presentation titled “Local Right to Work: Protect my Paycheck.” ALEC has long pushed anti-union “Right to Work” laws, which allow non-union members to free-ride on union representation, reaping the benefits of union negotiations for wages and benefits but without paying the costs. Michigan’s right to work law, for example, was a word-for-word copy of ALEC’s model legislation and sponsored by ALEC members.

With ACCE, ALEC is now trying to promote this anti-union legislation at the local level.

In September, the Washington Examiner reported that “Conservatives are starting to push the idea that city and county governments can pass union-restricting right-to-work laws, even though it may not be legal and has been tried only a handful of times in the last 70 years.” It is unclear whether local governments have the authority to pass right to work under the Taft-Hartley National Labor Relations Act, but in August the Heritage Foundation issued a report arguing that they do. Heritage hosted a panel discussion on local right to work in August featuring representatives of ACCE, Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, and the National Right to Work Legal Foundation, and highlighted what they viewed as opportunities for local ordinances in Kentucky, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

Those are the two top wishes, but of course business asks for a big package which will also include:

Depriving Low-Wage Workers of Health Insurance

Electronic cigarettes – stopping legislation on vaping nicotine

Protesting “Global Taxes” on Tobacco

Regulating Ride-Share Companies – exempting Uber and Lyft from common carrier laws

Industry-Friendly Dental Bills – moving dental services to less trained “practitioners”

Rigging the Game for Insurers – pretty self explanatory

Free Trade! – again self-explanatory

School Privatization – one of ALEC’s perennials, but once more carving out new areas for business to control. From the article: As one ALEC member told an ALEC education subcommittee earlier this year, “we need to stamp out local control.”

Please go to the link and read the sickening details of how the Kochs and their compadres plan to subvert our government for their business interests.

Thanksgiving Tales 2 – ALEC Wines And Dines Your Representative

selling your country to the highest bidder

selling your country to the highest bidder


After all the food is eaten and the shopping has been started and after Americans return at least for a while to there workaday reality, corporations will wine and dine state legislators from across the land quietly in Washington DC. The ultimate objective for this meeting is for ALEC to hand pre-written legislation that greatly favors corporations. These bills will then be taken back to the 50 state legislatures – including Iowa’s – and introduced as legislation.

This is what has become of our so-called representative democracy. We as voters elect people whose philosophy we think we agree with. But then something happens. Those with money come in to hijack the process by using what is essentially a form of bribery to change the process to their favor. In the instance of ALEC, the process is almost exclusively Republican players.

ALEC is so repugnant to American ideals that no company really wants to be publicly associated with it. When stories of Walmart’s involvement in ALEC started circulating a couple of years ago, even they could not weather the stench of being associated with ALEC and withdrew from the organization. One would hardly look at Walmart as a bastion of good corporate behavior.

Yet, behind closed doors, with no press to report goings on, members of ALEC will hand their legislative wishes to compliant Republican legislators who will take them back to 50 state capitols where they will be pushed to become new laws that the citizens must obey. Many of these bills will also destroy publicly held commons such as parks, libraries, prisons, swimming pools and even cemeteries so some capitalist can make a buck on them.

If it sounds sleazy, that is because it is. Just ask Walmart or any of the other former members who decided that being associated with ALEC would hurt the bottom line.

Access to any government official should be in the open with only rare exception.

Random Thoughts Before A Holiday

* The President takes as bold of an action as he possibly can and the Speaker of the House claims this ends any co-operation that was going to happen between congress and the President. Maybe Boehner missed it, but there was never any co-operation to begin with. When you make a threat, try to operate within reality, Boehner.

cooperation after

* We will sure miss this guy:

attribution:EarlG at democraticunderground,com

attribution:EarlG at democraticunderground,com

* While you are sitting back digesting the turkey and taters, the Koch brothers and their ilk will be busy preparing their demands for the state politicians they own. Did I say own? I meant own. They will whine and dine them (yep I meant whine about how tough it is to be a billionaire these days) and give them a list of must dos or they will buy new politicians. I expect a new demand will be to destroy the electoral college before the next election.

* The President asks for TV network air time for a momentous speech and the networks tell him to take a hike, “Big Bang Theory” is much more important than some silly speech. Just in case you wondered how the media views Obama or any Democrat for that matter.

* If you are shopping over the holiday weekend, remember that you do vote with your dollars. Money spent at most of the big box stores will come back to haunt you when the billionaires buy politicians with the profits. Shop local if you can. Otherwise try to pick merchants who espouse policies you do: decent pay, equal pay and decent working conditions.

* There will be many things to fight against in the next congress. One that really hasn’t been talked about much but has me worried is the fate of the Post Office. As the employer with the biggest (and I daresay most cohesive) union in the country, I believe we can expect an all out assault on the Post Office to the point of totally dismantling it. In covering this story, I expect the media will give us many stories on how bad the USPO is and how private industry could do the job better. Typical media crap.

* Have a good holiday. Take a few moments to think of those less fortunate. Then try to act in ways that could help them.

A Good Thanksgiving For The 1%

reigning Turkey of the Year

reigning Turkey of the Year

We look forward to the Thanksgiving holiday with a true frustration.

Television news will focus on such important news stories as who will be open all day Thanksgiving so we can get that holiday shopping started early or the folks camped out so they can save a nickel on the newest video system. After all those stores spend money for advertising, so what is wrong with giving them a segment of the news and maybe a flash or two of their logo on the news. That’s what news is supposed to be isn’t it? Support for the station’s bottom line, right? Stories of poor people and the middle class getting screwed by corporations and condoned by many current government policies just aren’t newsworthy.

So three weeks after an outrageously expensive and poorly attended midterm election we go back to what has become business as usual for America: keeping wages low as the lion’s share of profit goes to a few people at the top; families working 3 and 4 jobs between the parents and they can barely put food on the table; the vaunted “best medical care in the world” that is closed to many with a very good chance it will be closed to millions more if the Tea Party has its way; global warming perhaps beyond the tipping point condemning our children and grandchildren to a hell on earth while oil companies buy and sell politicians; our education system that is sacrificed on the altar of money and our future bankrupted for leaders because we refuse to educate our children.

We always have money for war. We always have money for the next Pentagon toy no matter the cost. Yet we can barely help our neighbor with a few bucks to heat his house in the sub-freezing weather of Iowa. Nor can we scrape up a few bucks to help the family down the street that is down on its luck with food stamps or unemployment insurance. We have a nattering class that says “get a job.” Yet there are not enough jobs to go around and those that are open pay so little that the worker can’t afford rent, food insurance and transportation. One in six Americans go to sleep hungry. Millions are homeless. This is due to choices those on the right have made, nothing else.

There is a huge amount of work that needs to be done in this country. There is much repair left over from last century to be attended to. There is much work to be done to set the stage for advancement in the new century to keep America in its leadership position in the world. But those who control the purse strings in this country decided long ago that their focus will be to extract as much money from society as they can as quickly as they can while giving as little as they can back to society. In their quest they have enlisted craven politicians who will do whatever they are told for price.

Americans have been optimistic from the very beginning of this country, but it appears even they have reached a breaking point. Once the mantra was that we can make our leaders listen if we get together and demand it. Now the reality many confront is that they will not be listened to unless they come with money in their hands. Popular actions get little response, money gets immediate action. The political system is for sale and 99% of us can’t even get a bid in. In response citizens do not vote because they feel the system is rigged against them.

Media, once known as the fourth estate that was to act as a check on government abuse, is now fully integrated into the media-corporate-government complex. Where once common folk could turn to the likes of HL Mencken or Walter Cronkite or Ed Murrow for in depth analysis we now have Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh whose sole mission is to broadcast the propaganda of the wealthy. The work of true journalism is now done in the margins by the likes of Amy Goodman, Matt Taibi and Jeremy Scahill. Magazines like the Nation and Mother Jones do important work, but are mostly ignored. The best informed Americans get their news not from NPR, but from comedians Jon Stewart, Steven Colbert and John Fugelsang.

There is but one corner of the media not controlled by the wealthy – the internet. As could be expected the assault to control that corner is an all out war of lobbying and favors. One man, FCC chair Tom Wheeler, stands as the very last defense against total corporate take over of the internet. Even the Tea party base opposes this take over. Wheeler is working himself into a frenzy trying to give the wealthy what they want while making it appear he isn’t doing so. They were once his employer and presumably will be again. The game is rigged.

Beginning in 1971 with the Powell memo, the wealthy have worked hard for control of this country. The Reagan years put into place economic policies that have continued and been magnified through today that greatly favor the wealthy. Social policies have been gutted. Voting rights become narrower and narrower. Drug policies and law enforcement have been used in large part against certain population groups, thus muting any power they may accrue.

Yes, it is a great time to be wealthy in America. For the rest of us, not so much.

The Center For Media And Democracy Takes On The Carbon Kings

CMDMake friends with the Center for Media and Democracy because they are the #1 enemy of the Koch brothers and ALEC.   They have an amazing website that you will want to visit –  ALEC Exposed – where you can find ALEC model bills, ALEC politicians, ALEC state chairs, ALEC corporations, ALEC think tanks, boards, task forces, and much more.

###

“The biggest winners this election cycle are the billionaire Koch brothers who have now captured the Senate and the House in order to starve the state and cook the planet,” said NBC’s Brian Williams on election night.

Well, no. Williams didn’t say anything like that and neither did any other anchor in the main-stream media.

For honest reporting, for detailed tracking of the Carbon Kings and their minions, you need fiercely independent groups like CMD.

The day after the election, the incoming U.S. Senate leader Mitch McConnell declared that Republicans will use their new majority to bully the President into approving the Keystone XL pipeline and rolling back the EPA’s new rules limiting carbon releases from coal-fired power plants.

It is no accident that the entire U.S. Senate majority will now devote itself to the Koch agenda.

The Kochs are not just oligarchs; they are now a political party. Koch groups were projected to spend some $300 million this election cycle. For comparison, the DNC and RNC, combined spent $300 million.

To learn more, check out my colleague Mary Bottari’s article “The Koch Party Wins, Planet in Peril.” Check out Rebekah Wilce’s rundown of the pet politicians who will be working to implement the Koch agenda “ALEC Pols Moving Up in 2014 Midterms.” And let’s not forget Brendan Fischer’s in-depth work exposing money in politics and the criminal investigation of ALEC stalwart Scott Walker.

These are dark days, but the fight back is already underway. A few days ago CMD’s research director Nick Surgey discovered that ALEC’s corporate board chair is quitting the group over ALEC’s denial that climate change is happening and other issues, joining Google and a cluster of other tech firms, including AOL just this week. This brings to more than 90 the number of private sector firms that have stopped funding ALEC, since we launched ALECexposed and citizen groups across the country joined us in exposing ALEC and its funders..

ALEC will be doubling down on its reactionary agenda in 2015, but we will be hot on their trail.

Can you support our investigations with a generous donation today?

Thank you for all you do to help make the world a better place!

Sincerely,

Lisa Graves
Executive Director
Center for Media and Democracy

Next On The Horizon

Just to remind you that the Republican Destruction Machine never sleeps:

selling your country to the highest bidder

selling your country to the highest bidder

ALEC will be meeting in Washington DC, December 3rd to 5th. The order of business will be to tell Republican state legislators what they (the legislators) will be doing. They will be given a set of bills that have nothing to do with the states they “represent” to be pushed through for their corporate sponsors.

And a reminder: Corporations are still working hard to have the internet over to them to run. Once more Tom Wheeler, chair of the FCC and former lobbyist for the communications industry, is floating a proposal that will try to hide the fact that the internet will be turned over to corporations.

Please go here to sign the Free Press petition.

ALEC Prepares Bills For Their Lackeys

ALEC for Dummies
While Republicans lie their way through another campaign, their owners are meeting in Dallas,Texas to prepare the marching orders for the upcoming state legislative sessions. Voting for a Republican legislative candidate is about the same as a vote for Charles and David Koch. The Kochs are the major funder for ALEC. They and their corporate buddies have a major say, in actuality probably the only say, in so-called proposed “model” legislation.

It is hard to tell anymore which Iowa legislators are members of ALEC. Since Iowa no longer pays ALEC dues out of House and Senate expenses, legislators are left on their own to pay ALEC dues. ALEC dues are only $100 so it is not a big deal to pay such a small fee. If you happen to be at any appearance for any legislative candidate, ask them if they are an ALEC member. Also ask how they view legislators being so close to corporate interest groups, including advancing bills that ALEC writes often verbatim.

Since ALEC operates behind closed doors, or under a rock if you prefer, it is hard to know exactly what takes place. They have three meetings a year, usually after most legislative sessions, then in the late July/ early August time frame and then another meeting in early December. We can only take an educated guess and say that they take an inventory, then write up new legislation, then hand it out to their minions.

The Center for Media and Democracy has been acting as a watch dog on ALEC. America should appreciate their diligence since they have been able to expose many ALEC legislative initiatives – sometimes even before they were able to get off the ground. Thus once more CMD has posted their assesment of current ALEC doings. This is something every progressive and every citizen concerned about ethics in government should be reading and acting on if need be.

Their most recent effort came out Thursday and it can be found here: It is very hard to distill this to a few of the most egregious, so I recommend that you go to the link to the full list and explanation. However, here briefly are a few of the actions they are expecting to come out of the current ALEC meeting. Note: it looks like ALEC has tried to mask access to many of these links. Thus I took out my link, but you can link from the prwatch link.

Changing Laws Providing for Public Education
The “Affordable Baccalaureate Degree Act” would enrich companies invested in online college degree programs and materials — like Pearson (whose subsidiary Connections Education has been a prominent member of ALEC’s Education Task Force), which sells the LearningStudio platform used by many universities like Arizona State University’s popular and much-hyped online degree program. It would “require all pubic [sic] four-year universities to offer bachelor’s degrees costing no more than $10,000, total, for four years of tuition, fees, and books. The Act would require that ten percent of all public, four-year university degrees awarded reach this price-point within four years of passage of this act.” The bill instructs universities to focus on online and blended learning “to achieve this price-point.”

Changing Laws Protecting the Environment
Not just ALEC’s “Energy, Environment, and Agriculture Task Force” will be talking about the regulation of bodies of water, however. Its “Federal Relations (Federalism) Working Group” will consider a “Draft State Constitutional ‘Water is Life Amendment'” that would encourage the State to resist federal enforcement of federal regulations seeking to protect state waters. It would also make the proposed constitutional change “enforceable in the courts of this State by any taxpaying resident without fee, expense or cost-shifting to the State,” although what entity would bear the cost is unclear.

Changing Laws Providing Healthcare
The “Medicaid Anti-Crowd-Out Act” is a particularly egregious bill that would benefit private health insurance companies by prohibiting a state “from causing or allowing Medicaid enrollment or Medicaid HMO enrollment in any situation where individuals and/or dependents have availability of commercial healthcare insurance or are already enrolled in commercial healthcare insurance” (emphasis added). Jon Peacock, Research Director of Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, said of the draft bill, “It would make anyone with an offer of employer insurance ineligible for Medicaid, regardless of how poor they are and how narrow or expensive the insurance plan is. And the proposal is so poorly drafted that it would seem to make everyone ineligible for Medicaid — because everyone has ‘availability of commercial healthcare insurance.’ This might be the most poorly drafted, overly broad piece of legislation I’ve ever seen.”

This is only a sampling. Please head on over to the link to be amazed at what corporate endorsed laws ALEC wants their minions and lackeys in the Republican Party to advance for them.

Weekend Hodge-Podge

adam smith quote
They Need A Horse Race!
One thing you have to remember going into the silly political ad season is that this is the time of year that make TV stations and networks and those corporations that own them rich. No doubt those with corner offices on upper floors of corporate headquarters care for the most part that Republicans win. But beyond that they care more that all their air time is bought at top dollar.

So what the TV execs want more than anything else is a good old fashioned horse race so that candidates will keep forking over the big bucks to keep the candidates name out there right up to the end.

As Usual, Branstad Lies
Those damn Branstad commercials are on every channel in the universe. I wonder if they are getting them in London or Ottawa? As with anything Branstad, they are a load of lies. Yes we have gained some jobs but nowhere near what he promised. Since I can’t stand to watch his commercials, I can’t say they are lying. However since his administration puts out false numbers I would suspect his commercials do also.

SCOTUS Turns Its Back On Women.
Even the women on the Supreme Court seemed to have turned its back on women. Taking away the 35 foot buffer zone to women’s health clinics in Massachusetts is a hard blow to women’s reproductive rights. Once more the most activist Court makes another argument that it is the worst Court in history. In this case they seemed to think that the protesters free speech rights are somehow impinged if they can’t get right in patients faces to intimidate and harass. They were perfectly free to say whatever they wanted from their 35 foot distance.

I trust this means the end of the so called free speech zones at political functions. Based on this decision, anyone should be able to protest right up to the door of a convention or other meeting. Have at it.

ALEC To Meet To Sell Out America
Just a reminder that the oligarchs of ALEC (a subsidiary of Koch Industries) will be meeting in Dallas on July 30th to decide what they will have their puppet legislators throughout the country do in their state legislatures next winter. If you have a Republican legislator, you have a legislator who owes their allegiance to the oligarchs at ALEC not to their district or state.

Pesky Damned Facts
Jonah Goldberg via Dailykos:
“I supported the war, and I still think the arguments in favor at the time were superior to the arguments against. Alas, the facts on the ground didn’t care about the arguments.”

Portable Death Machines
They kill indiscriminately. Kill your neighbors. Kill your family. Kill yourselves. But do read the roundup of gun deaths weekly at dailykos.com. It is not sad. It is not funny. It is frightening. Don’t want to lose a son or daughter. Stand up against guns.

soul of the republican party

ALEC To Target Cities, Towns, Counties

ALEC Goes Hyper Local With New Nationwide Network (via Moyers & Company)

The American Legislative Exchange Council — ALEC — has had quite a bit of success writing “model” bills that advance the interests of its corporate backers and then wining and dining friendly state lawmakers to grease the wheels for their passage…

Read the rest of this entry »

Is ALEC Behind Push In Iowa Legislature To Gut Clean Energy Policies?

ALECorIOWAMatt Sinovic
Executive Director | Progress Iowa

Groups Expose Assault By ALEC Fossil Fuel & Utility Members on Clean Energy and Environmental Regulations

Through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), fossil fuel and utility interests are pushing a comprehensive agenda to eliminate environmental and public health regulations, and gut pro-clean energy policies across the country. ALEC’s Energy, Environment, and Agriculture Task Force has proposed model legislation and is now appearing in state legislatures, to:

•       Rollback renewable energy policies by weakening or eliminating Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS).

•       Weaken solar net metering policies by gutting compensation for homeowners who transmit solar power to the electricity grid.

•       Create loopholes in disclosure rules for hydraulic fracturing (fracking), allowing drilling companies to hide chemicals used in the controversial process from the public.

•       Reject regulation of greenhouse gas emissions by the Environmental Protection Agency, allowing utilities to continue polluting our air and water.

There will be a tele-press briefing with pro-clean energy and environmental experts to hear about where ALEC’s pro-corporate energy agenda is appearing in state legislatures this year.

Who:   Aliya Haq, Climate Program Special Projects Director, NRDC

Brant Olson, Campaigns Manager, Forecast the Facts

Connor Gibson, Reseacher, Greenpeace

Gabe Elsner, Executive Director, Energy & Policy Institute

Steve Horn, Research Fellow, DeSmogBlog

What:  Tele-press conference call on ALEC’s fossil fuel and utility members’ comprehensive assault on clean energy and environmental regulations. Speakers will detail efforts happening now in state legislatures to gut clean air regulations, stop pro-clean energy policies, and restrict disclosure of fracking chemicals.

When: Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 1:30 PM CT

How:   Reporters should register at http://bit.ly/1ez0voa to join the call.

About:

DeSmogBlog exists to clear the PR pollution that is clouding the science on climate change.Energy & Policy Institute performs research and analysis on lobbyists, front groups, and politicians working to expand our reliance on fossil fuels and slow the development of a clean energy economy.Forecast the Facts is a grassroots movement to spread the truth about climate change. Greenpeace is the leading independent campaigning organization that uses peaceful protest and creative communication to expose global environmental problems and to promote solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future. Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is a national environmental action group that combines the expertise of more than 350 lawyers, scientists and other professionals with the power of 1.4 million members and online activists.