Sunday, April 22, 2012

Pie-Rats Leave ALEC

The issue with ALEC is corruption; corruption is the use and abuse of public office for private gain, the definition used around the planet by the World Bank.  It is a simple, clear, and unambiguous rule of thumb.  The core of ALEC appears to be WalMart and Koch Brothers who have a history of corruption in the form of bribes world wide, with a huge recent scandal just emerging in Mexico for WallyWorld.  In that context, the activities of ALEC are more, not less suspect.
YUM!s no bum - they've given ALEC the bum's rush, the heave ho.  YUM includes a variety of fast food companies.  A minor point, those same fast food restaurants USED to belong to other ALEC corporations, notably a few were part of PepsiCo some years back.  PepsiCo has also ended their ALEC support and participation.
< thataway Ship/ALEC;  Far Away, thataway >
Another Corp-o-rat leaves the sinking ALEC pirate ship!  Hoooray!!!!!! 
From Think Progress :
KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut’s Owner Is The 12th Corporation To Drop ALEC

Yum! Brands, the owner of fast food brands KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut told Color of Change that they will no longer support the American Legislative Exchange Council, the right-wing front group that, until recently, was a driving force behind state voter suppression and “stand your ground” gun laws. Yum!’s decision means a dozen corporations (plus the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) have now dropped the conservative group:
Now we know that Yum! Brands has joined the 11 other companies that have announced in recent weeks that they’re no longer members of ALEC. These companies are McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Mars Inc., Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Kraft Foods, Intuit, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Reed Elsevier (owner of LexisNexis and publisher of science and health information), American Traffic Solutions and Arizona Public Service.
“We want to thank these companies for making the right decision, and we want to thank ColorOfChange members and our partners. We continue to call on all major corporations to stop funding ALEC given its involvement in voter suppression. Our members and allied groups are prepared to hold accountable companies that continue to associate themselves with an organization that has attacked voting rights, causing irreparable damage nationwide.”
Yum!’s decision to remove ALEC from the Colonel’s Special Recipe is particularly significant because it shows that the group remains toxic even after it announced earlier this week that it would shut down its “Public Safety and Elections task force,” which led ALEC’s efforts on voter disenfranchisement and guns. Even without a task force devoted to promoting firearms and hindering democracy, ALEC remains committed to a regressive economic agenda that includes union-busting, repealing the minimum wage, and, of course, cutting taxes on the very rich.
The loss of Yum! is also a significant loss for ALEC because the fast food giant held an important leadership role within the conservative group. YUM! co-chaired ALEC’s Labor and Business Regulation Subcommittee which, among other things, fought to repeal laws guaranteeing paid sick leave to workers.
And here is a good reason that the corporations are finding out more about their past playmates, and aren't liking what they found.  They shouldn't be though; the right wing has been playing footsie with the white supremacists for quite a long time, notably at the 2011 and 2012 CPACs.
From Think Progress:

Fringe Gun Rights Advocate With Ties To White Supremacists Helped Build Up ALEC
Our guest blogger is Brendan Fischer, a law fellow at the Center for Media and Democracy.
As the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) works to distance itself from the NRA-bill it backed as a “model” adopted in dozens of states, it may be hoping that people will not continue to dig into the damage done by its long love affair with gun groups, like the gun-industry funded NRA and fringe groups with ties to white supremacists like Gun Owners of America (GOA).
GOA’s Executive Director is Larry Pratt. In the early 1980s, Pratt and the GOA were outspoken supporters of the white rulers in South Africa during apartheid, calling a press conference in 1984 to present “evidence” that allegedly tied Bishop Desmond Tutu to an effort to violently overthrow the white minority regime in the country. In 1990, Pratt wrote a book titled “Armed People Victorious” based on his study of death squads in Guatemala and the Philippines, and advocated for similar “citizen defense patrols” in the United States. The idea reportedly caught on in 1992, when Pratt addressed a three-day meeting of neo-Nazis and Christian Adherents organized by white supremacist Pete Peters. He shared the stage with a former Ku Klux Klan leader and an Aryan Nation official.
Pratt also held leadership roles in ALEC for many years. His relationship with ALEC began in 1978, when ALEC began an effort to oppose a constitutional amendment giving the District of Columbia full voting rights in Congress. When Pratt was elected to the Virginia State Legislature in 1981, he took a leadership position in ALEC. He sat on ALEC’s board even after he left the legislature, serving as its treasurer into the 1990s.
Meanwhile, the organization Pratt helped lead shared his passion for relaxing guns laws. For decades, ALEC quietly helped advance key parts of the gun agenda, including not only bills that may protect vigilante shooters but that also lead to more armed people on the streets who may cite laws like Florida¹s so-called Stand Your Ground or “Kill at Will” bill. ALEC’s agenda is detailed at the Center for Media and Democracy’s Even though GOA left ALEC years ago, it was a long-time member and leader. GOA leapt to the defense of Florida’s law, ratified by ALEC, in the wake of the shooting of unarmed high school student Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman.
GOA’s Larry Pratt hit the airwaves in defense of Zimmerman, the 28-year-old man who shot and killed Martin. Pratt branded 17-year-old Martin as “an aggressor,” based on the account of an alleged eyewitness who would only identify himself as “John,” and described Martin as having knocked down his attacker and Zimmerman acting in self-defense.
Cenk Uygur remarked on his Current TV program: “Funny how the kid with no gun is the one who, in your mind, gave up all his rights. But Zimmerman, the … stalker who called the police 49 times [in many cases] on black males…he has all the rights in the world.” Uygur also noted that no other witnesses corroborated “John’s” account.
Consider this, Pratt’s long-standing ties to white supremacists forced him to step down from his role as co-chairman of Pat Buchanan’s 1996 presidential campaign. Too radical for Pat Buchanan? That’s all we need to know.
Nice company the Corp-o-rats are keeping.
There are still any number of known and unknown corporations still on board.  Some, like State Farm, hope that by distancing themselves from the 'culture war' aspects of ALEC, they will not be pressured to leave the other aspects.  Those aspects are corrupt, and are just as objectionable as the culture war issues they supported.  Bottom line is that no corporation should be drafting their own legislation, and having their paid, conservative legislators enact it for them, rather than serving their individual constituents.  Legislators are elected to serve the public, not loot government and the economy for the private benefit of corporations.  Corruption is 'the use of public office for private gain'. THAT defines ALEC.  The various state entities like Progress Texas and Progress Missouri are working to get their legislators OUT of ALEC.  The Progressive Change Campaign Committee is working to dissuade the few democratic state level legislators from working with ALEC; there aren't many of them, usually one or two per state.  In most cases, the Democratic legislators think ALEC is only a social entity, or are vague about what it does; they don't work directly with the 'model bills' or legislative directives, or know they exist.  That is sometimes true as well for the less involved conservative legislators on the Republican side of the aisle as well.  WalMart and the Koch Brothers businesses are at the core of ALEC, and they are intransigent about ending their connections.  There are a variety of images on the Internet that satirize the tentacles of the Koch brothers, in a similar play on the Roger Moore era James Bond movie and story title, Octopussy with the Koch-tohpuss or 'Kochtopussy' to represent the tentacles of their wealth and sinister selfish influence.

If you see another Kochtopus or Kochtopussy, share it with us here at Penigma.  Clearly this has been a minor inspiration for the amateur satirist and op ed cartoonists among us.

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