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Alabama Government Agency Prays Against Gay Marriage

The Alabama Public Service Commission kicked off a meeting on power rates last week with a prayer against gay marriage and reproductive rights. John Delwin Jordan, who was at the meeting to testify on behalf of the Prattville Tea Party, opened up the meeting in prayer after receiving a laudatory introduction by Twinkle Cavanaugh, the head of the PSC.

After asking attendees if they believed in the power of prayer, Jordan concluded his prayer by lamenting, “We’ve taken you out of our schools; we’ve taken you out of our prayers; we’ve murdered your children; we’ve said it’s OK to have same-sex marriage, God. We have sinned.”

Birmingham News columnist John Archibald writes that the sectarian, political prayer may have helped Cavanaugh frame the debate over the PSC’s pro-corporate bent:

She gets – and Alabama Power gets – exactly what they want. They want the issue lost in passionate belief, an ideological tussle designed to pit tree-huggers against coal miners, conservationists against those concerned with jobs, liberals against conservatives.



Which is the best reason to remember what these hearings are about.

They are about Alabama Power's rate structure. Period. It is a structure – though debated to near incomprehension at these hearings – that is high for residential customers and low for industry. It allows the company to write off an $8 million salary for CEO Charles McCrary as Operations and Maintenance, at a government-regulated monopoly.

It lets the company take a return on equity 30-40 percent higher than the national average, according to testimony today that was not disputed, and allows it to take hundreds of millions in higher profits that could be saved by ratepayers and pumped back into the economy.

Setting The Record Straight: DC Circuit Court Nominee Nina Pillard Is A Fair and Unbiased Candidate

Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the nomination of Cornelia “Nina” T.L. Pillard to the influential Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Pillard is one of President Obama's three nominees to fill vacancies on the court, which is currently operating with nearly one-third of its seats empty.

Pillard is a fair-minded, nationally recognized law professor and experienced appellate lawyer with an extraordinary record of service. She has won historic Supreme Court victories:  she opened one of the last male-only public colleges to women, and protected the Family and Medical Leave Act. She has served two tours as a high-level government lawyer and is currently a distinguished and beloved professor at Georgetown University Law Center. Her expertise in appellate litigation led to her appointment as a co-director of Georgetown’s Supreme Court Institute, which assists lawyers from around the country in preparing for Supreme Court arguments, without regard to which side they represent. Her record demonstrates her superb character, judgment, and fundamental commitment to upholding the principles of our Constitution and laws.

Right-wing bloggers are already making nasty and untrue attacks on Professor Pillard, but here are the facts:

The National Review Online cited unnamed sources in a blog calling Professor Pillard a “complete ideologue.” In reality, Professor Pillard is a fair-minded, highly accomplished litigator with broad experience and an outstanding reputation for public service. She has litigated major constitutional cases brought or defended by Republican Administrations, and Supreme Court justices appointed by Republican presidents have often written the majority opinions agreeing with Professor Pillard’s legal arguments. And prominent officials in Republican-appointed officials are supporting her nomination.

FACT:  Because of Pillard’s unbiased approach to the law, which has earned her the respect of her colleagues, she was asked to chair an American Bar Association Reading Committee that evaluated Judge Samuel Alito’s qualifications to serve on the Supreme Court. Her committee’s evaluation led to the ABA rating Alito “well qualified."

  • The Reading Committee reviewed all of the legal writings of then-Judge Samuel Alito for purposes of evaluating his nomination to the Supreme Court. Armed with the review by Professor Pillard’s committee, the Standing Committee unanimously gave Judge Alito its highest rating of “Well Qualified.”   

FACT:  Pillard serves on the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of the American Arbitration Association, the world’s largest alternative dispute resolution provider. 

  • At the American Arbitration Association, Pillard has worked with corporate general counsels and business leaders to advance the Association’s private arbitration services and mission.  Arbitration is a process favored by many businesses for resolving disputes without the cost and delay of litigation.

FACT:  Pillard has a long track record of fair and unbiased work, including litigating major constitutional cases brought or defended by Republican Administrations. And Supreme Court justices appointed by Republican presidents have often written the majority opinions agreeing with her legal arguments.   

  • Over the past 15 years, Professor Pillard has distinguished herself as a professor at Georgetown University Law Center, where she both teaches and serves as a Co-Director of the Supreme Court Institute, preparing lawyers for argument on a pro bono, first-come basis to all lawyers who seek assistance. Over the past term, the Supreme Court Institute prepared lawyers on one or both sides of every case heard by the Supreme Court. 
  • Professor Pillard argued the Supreme Court case Nevada Department of Human Resources v. Hibbs alongside DOJ officials in the George W. Bush administration. Together, their defense of the Family and Medical Leave Act successfully vindicated a state employee’s right to take unpaid leave to care for his ill wife. Chief Justice Rehnquist wrote the majority opinion, siding with Professor Pillard’s argument.
  • In United States v. Virginia, a case filed by the George H.W. Bush administration, Professor Pillard wrote the briefs that persuaded the Supreme Court to open the Virginia Military Institute to women, ending one of the last state college male-only admissions policies in the country.
  • In Ornelas v. United States, Professor Pillard argued that reasonable suspicion and probable cause – the defining standards for police searches and seizures – require independent review in appellate courts to clarify and control the legal rules, unify precedent, and afford law enforcement clear guidance as to when searches are appropriate.  In an opinion written by Chief Justice Rehnquist, the Supreme Court agreed with Professor Pillard’s legal arguments. 
  • In Behrens v. Pelletier, Professor Pillard won a critical victory ensuring that local, state, and federal government officials can defend themselves adequately when sued. In an opinion by Justice Scalia, the Supreme Court agreed with the position articulated by Professor Pillard.   

FACT: President George W. Bush’s Assistant Attorney General Viet Dinh signed a letter of support for Professor Pillard citing her unbiased approach to the law.

  • Professor Pillard “is exceptionally bright, a patient and unbiased listener, and a lawyer of great judgment and unquestioned integrity. We certainly do not agree on the merits of every issue, but Nina has always been fair, reasonable, and sensible in her judgments. She approaches faculty hiring, teaching and curriculum, and matters of faculty governance on their merits, without any ideological agenda--at times even against the tide of academic popularity to defend and respect different views and different types of people.

The Family Research Council has attacked Professor Pillard, claiming she has radical liberal ideas on abortion, motherhood and abstinence only education.

The FRC wrongly attributed a quote to Professor Pillard which was actually a quote belonging to former Chief Justice Rehnquist.

  •  FRC’s Email stated: “A mother of two, Nina wrote a 2011 paper, "Against the New Maternalism," which argues that by celebrating motherhood, society is creating a "self-fulfilling cycle of discrimination."
  •  In Professor Pillard’s Article, she is quoting the majority opinion in the Hibbs case, written by then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist: “Providing men with family leave, the Hibbs court reasoned, would help to change underlying gendered patterns of family care and thereby help to counteract “a self-fulfilling cycle of discrimination” – a cycle that “fostered employers’ stereotypical views about women’s [lack of] commitment to work and their [lesser] value as employees,” as well as “parallel stereotypes” of men’s overriding workplace commitment that routinely obstruct men’s equal access to family benefits that could encourage them to spend more time parenting. The radical implication of Hibbs is that we cannot end sex discrimination outside the home without changing our beliefs about women’s and men’s differential attachments to family care within it, and we cannot change those beliefs without actually shifting the allocation of care work within the family.” (Pillard, Against the New Maternalism, p. 231)
  • Additional reference to the original Rehnquist Quote: “But in a broadly worded opinion, Rehnquist said Tuesday that Congress and the courts could use stronger standards to fight sex discrimination. He detailed the long history of discriminatory leave policies and the rationale for the family leave law, which guarantees employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for family members… Before the law, he wrote, leave policies were grounded in "stereotypes about women's domestic roles" and "parallel stereotypes presuming a lack of domestic responsibilities for men." Those "mutually reinforcing stereotypes," Rehnquist noted, created a "self- fulfilling cycle of discrimination" that forced women to maintain the role of primary family caregiver.” (Court bolsters family leave, Chicago Tribune, 05/03)

The Family Research Council wrongly accuses Professor Pillard of broadly claiming that abstinence only education is unconstitutional, saying, “Pillard is so fiercely opposed to abstinence education that she has said publicly she would declare it unconstitutional.”

  • Nina Pillard: “I do not here take a position on the abstinence message itself, beyond arguing that it must not be embedded with sexual stereotypes or discriminatorily applied to women and not men.” (Pillard, Our Other Reproductive Choices, p. 962)
  • Professor Pillard does not oppose abstinence-only education. Rather, she has written that sex education, whether it advocates abstinence or not, should treat boys and girls equally and avoid sex-role stereotypes, in the interest of promoting equal responsibility on the part of both boys and girls.

The FRC claimed that Professor Pillard has ‘extreme pro-abortion’ views when in fact Professor Pillard’s academic writing on abortion seeks ways to bridge the gap between abortion rights advocates and opponents by finding common ground for ways to reduce reliance on abortion.

  • “All of these visions of sex equality and reproductive rights are ones that can be shared by people whether they view themselves as pro-life or pro-choice. If society were willing to recognize the demands of equality in these three areas, there might well be less need for abortion. Filling out the reproductive rights agenda with measures that make abortion less necessary is one way to seek progress, notwithstanding legal and cultural conflict about abortion itself.”  (Pillard, Our Other Reproductive Choices, p. 990)
  • Professor Pillard’s academic writings show her openness to viewpoints raised by abortion rights opponents: Professor Pillard consulted respected anti-abortion advocate Helen Alvaré in writing her article ‘Other Reproductive Choices’ to ensure her work considered all sides of the public debate on women’s reproductive health. In fact, Professor Alvaré is listed in the article’s acknowledgements.
  • “Feminists for Life (FFL), a nonprofit organization declaring itself in favor of equality for women and against abortion, makes some claims that resonate with those of some pro-choice feminists, and which should be common ground in the reproductive rights battles.” (Pillard, Our Other Reproductive Choices, p. 981)
     

DL Foster: 'Gay Activists and White American Slave Owners Are Two Sides of the Same Coin'

Today, another leader in the ex-gay movement has written a letter of apology for the “hurt and pain” caused by his work at Exodus International. That being said, DL Foster of Ex-Gay Pride Month is out with a new diatribe likening gay rights advocates to slave owners. After comparing himself to Harriet Tubman, this time Foster sees himself as a Frederick Douglass figure who was able to “escape the gay life plantation.”

“Gay activists and white American slave owners are two sides of the same coin, animated by the same spirit,” Foster writes. “Just like the delusional slave owners —depite [sic] their lies, imtimidation [sic], violence, ridicule and unjust laws— ultimately lost, homosexual activists will discover one day they too will lose the war.”

Reading more about Frederick Douglass and the hate he endured from the slave owners simply because he wanted his brothers and sisters to be free, reminded me of what a gay activist said recently about EXhomosexuals. “Ex-gays are as rare as the Dodo bird.”, quipped homosexual Wayne Besen who spends his waking hours attempting to do what slave owners did to Douglass, Tubman and other abolitionists. Besen uses the same strategy of the slave owners: paint the abolitionists as uneducated, unhinged loons fighting a losing battle. Ridicule became their oft used tool when outright intimidation failed to deter those bearing the message of freedom.



If you’ve noticed, gay activists religiously cite the American Psychological Association’s no change doctrine as irreversable [sic] proof that no homosexual can change. If they do, its theorized, such a person will be emotionally damaged even to the point of suicide. Or you will also hear this: “you can change your behavior, but you can’t change your orientation”. These ridiculous assertions have become the basis of passing unjust laws and prohibiting counselors from helping people who want to escape the gay life plantation. So why not just tell blacks gays that change is impossible so they can life a happy life as a slave?

As my friend explained to me, Douglass again proved that it was the slave owners who were fighting a losing battle. Douglass detailed his life as a slave with such finesse, that only a person who was once enslaved on the plantations of racist America could have written it.

Gay activists and white American slave owners are two sides of the same coin, animated by the same spirit. It reminds me of the many times homosexual activists have claimed that I was never gay to begin with. Unable to refute my broad knowledge of the homosexual lifestyle that I lived for 11 years, a Chicago lesbian angrily told me, “You were never a true gay, because true gays cannot change their orientation”. As ludicrous as it sounds, I recognized it as one of those tools they use when they run out of options against EXhomosexuals like myself who are forward and articulate emancipation messengers.



Just like the delusional slave owners —depite [sic] their lies, imtimidation [sic], violence, ridicule and unjust laws— ultimately lost, homosexual activists will discover one day they too will lose the war. Our Liberator has come and we are free.

Upcoming 'Black Conservative Summit' to Combat 'Homosexual Agenda'

Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) is slated to appear at an upcoming anti-gay summit in St. Charles, Illinois, with African-American conservative activists including Harry Jackson, Star Parker, Ben Kinchlow and Ken Blackwell. Sponsored by groups such as the Heritage Foundation, World Congress of Families, Coalition of African-American Pastors and Illinois Family Institute, the “Black Conservative Summitplans to train activists in how to fight the “homosexual agenda,” legal abortion’s “black genocide” and “Uncle Sam’s Plantation.”

The summit has also invited Herman Cain, Allen West, Ben Carson, Jesse Lee Peterson, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), former Rep. JC Watts and Fred Luter to appear. Its promotional video warns that “social engineering has ushered in the destruction of our roots” and promises new momentum in anti-gay activism in Illinois: “On May 31, a new coalition of Americans stood against the effort to legalize gay marriage in Illinois, and it failed, but the fight for the soul of America did not end there.”

Gun Owners' Pratt Claims DHS Buying Bullets to Prepare for Economic Collapse and Social Unrest

Gun Owners of America’s Larry Pratt continues to push the completely debunked conspiracy theory that the Department of Homeland Security is stockpiling ammunition to, as he put it recently, allow President Obama to raise a private army “equally as powerful as the military.”

In an interview at a recent conference in Oklahoma, Pratt falsely claimed that the DHS “won’t answer” right-wing questions about ammo purchases. “The most benign explanation” for the DHS’s purchases, Pratt said, is that the Obama administration is “destroying the economy” and preparing to respond to the ensuing “social unrest.”

Jennifer Rubin: Obama 'Not a Good Person' for Talking About Racism, Which 'Most Americans Have Never Personally Experienced'

Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin and NewsMax radio host Steve Malzberg yesterday spent an entire interview complaining that President Obama focuses too much on race while also ignoring problems in the black community. According to Rubin, racism effectively ended with the repeal of Jim Crow laws and no one experiences racism these days, except for Obama who seeks to use race “as a crutch or a method of stirring up his base.”

She says Obama isn’t letting people “get out of this racial archaeology” so they are “held prisoners forever in a past that most Americans have never personally experienced.”

Rubin explained that Obama’s recent remarks on race prove that he is “the absolute worst.”

“I do not think that this man is a good person,” Rubin said. “He wants to incite people and to rally people for political ends; that is not a good person.”

Watch:

Robertson: Expect Natural Disasters and Divine Wrath over Middle East Peace Talks

Pat Robertson has issued yet another warning against Middle East peace negotiations, this time predicting natural disasters in the US over the country’s role in mediating talks between the Israelis and Palestinians. The televangelist, who called former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s stroke divine retribution for “dividing God’s land,” told 700 Club viewers today that “from a prophetic stands point, every time the United States gets involved in some kind of a pressure on Israel to split their land there’s some natural disaster that happens here in America.”

“There was a very cogent book written about that, just traced one after the other, of traced disasters that come on America,” Robertson continued. “If the United States pressures Israel to try to give up half of Jerusalem, God himself is going to come against this nation. Watch it.”

Activist Toolkit: Confronting ALEC on its 40th Annual Meeting

 

 

Table of Contents:

Taking Action in Chicago

Social Media Tools

Submitting Letters to the Editor

ALEC Primer

ALEC on the Issues

Further Reading and Acknowledgments

 

Background:

On August 7-9th, the American Legislative Exchange Council will be holding its annual policy meeting at the Palmer House Hilton in downtown Chicago, Illinois.  Over the course of three days, following standard ALEC protocol, state lawmakers from across the country will be wined and dined by corporate lobbyists; “educated” by climate change deniers and free market doctrinaires; and instructed on what corporate-backed bills they should bring back to their respective statehouses.

In Chicago, ALEC will be celebrating its 40th year of existence.  ALEC was founded in the city by a coterie of conservative activists in 1973, and has decided to come back to its roots for its 40th annual celebration.  For forty years, ALEC has worked behind closed doors to push its extreme agenda, one that harms the American people and weakens our democratic institutions. 

That is why activists are rallying to make sure ALEC receives the proper “welcome” it deserves, and that ALEC lawmakers, ALEC corporate sponsors, and ALEC supporters across the country are called out  for backing such a reactionary group.  

We hope the following toolkit helps you in your efforts to expose ALEC in Chicago.

 

Taking Action In Chicago:

On August 8th at 12:00 PM outside the Palmer House Hilton in downtown Chicago, thousands of concerned citizens are holding a protest against ALEC.

 

[Click HERE for a map]

Palmer House Hilton

17 East Monroe Street

Chicago, IL 60603

 

People will be driving in from across Illinois and neighboring states to rally against ALEC.  If you do not live in the area, please pass this information along to anyone you know in the Chicago-area who may be able to attend. Turnout will be high and every person who can make it should come.

If you can attend the protest, please let us know!  Send an email to People For the American Way’s Midwest Coordinator Scott Foval at sfoval@pfaw.org, who will be on site attending the rally and will give you up-to-date information about the event. You can follow him on twitter at @scottfoval.

 

Taking Action Across The Country:

ALEC’s Chicago meeting provides activists across the country the unique opportunity to raise awareness in local communities about ALEC, ALEC supporters, and the extreme ALEC agenda.  People For the American Way is here to help facilitate that advocacy. Below you will find activist tools for amplifying ALEC exposure via social media and drafting and submitting Letters To the Editor.

 

Amplifying ALEC Exposure via Social Media:

The ALEC Exposed campaign has utilized social media effectively to encourage lawmakers and corporations to drop ALEC.  With the upcoming event in Chicago, PFAW has designed the following social media tools to keep up the pressure.

 

Facebook Shares

Click here to share this toolkit on Facebook. 

Click on the following images to share them on Facebook:

 

Tweets

ALEC Exposed activists have used and will continue to use the hashtag #ALECexposed on all tweets related to ALEC.  For the Chicago event, activists will also be using the hashtag #ALECinChicago.

 

Relevant Twitter Handles and Links:

@peoplefor – People For the American Way’s Twitter handle

@PFAW_WI – People For the American Way Midwest’s Twitter handle

@scottfoval – People For the American Way Midwest Coordinator Scott Foval’s Twitter handle

@ALEC_states  – ALEC’s Twitter handle

@ALECexposed – the Center for Media and Democracy’s ALEC Exposed Twitter handle

tinyurl.com/ALECinChicago – the link to the August 8th Chicago protest

 

Sample Tweets

 Check out this activist toolkit for taking on #ALECinChicago #ALECexposed blog.pfaw.org/issues/ALEC

 Don’t want #ALECinChicago? Show up Aug 8, 12 PM at the Palmer Hilton to protest #ALECexposed tinyurl.com/ALECinChicago

 @ALEC_states of the corporations, for the corporations, by the corporations #ALECinChicago #ALECexposed tinyurl.com/ALECinChicago

 @ALEC_states wants #ClimateChange denial to be taught in public schools #ALECinChicago #ALECexposed tinyurl.com/ALECinChicago

 @ALEC_states wants #ClimateChange denial to be taught in public schools #ALECinChicago #ALECexposed tinyurl.com/ALECinChicago

 @StateLawmakerX is heading to Chicago to wine and dine with ALEC and ALEC corps? #ALECinChicago #ALECexposed tinyurl.com/ALECinChicago

 

Submitting Letters to the Editor:

Writing a Letter To the Editor (LTE) is an effective way of raising awareness on an issue.  The following tips and “talking points” will guide you through your ALEC LTE submission. 

 

LTE Submission Logistics

- As a rule of thumb, you will want to keep your LTE under 200 words.  However, be sure to find out the LTE guidelines of the paper[s] you are submitting to beforehand to double-check that 200 words is an acceptable length – generally, guidelines are posted online, however you can also find out by calling the newspaper’s office.

- Do not feel obligated to only submit LTE’s to large newspapers.  Your local paper is a great place to start the discussion.  At the same time, do not feel hesitant to submit to bigger papers even if the chances of acceptance are slimmer.

- To increase your chances of acceptance, submit your letter using two methods – standard mail and email.  Writing your letter by hand or printing out your letter and then sending it via the mail shows that you have been intentional about your submission and that you really care about the issue.  At the same time, sending your letter via email offers Newspaper Editors – who are already pressed for time and content – a quick way to get material into their publication.  So if you have the time, please submit using both methods, and acknowledge in both that you are doing so.

- Be sure to include your contact information in your submission.  Many newspapers will require their employees to contact an LTE submitter before publication.  If you do not feel comfortable sharing your information publicly in the newspaper print, be sure to specify that stipulation at the bottom of your letter.

 

What To Write About

- Provide background information on what ALEC is, and what ALEC the agenda is all about.  Keep in mind your audience will most likely have never heard of ALEC before, so your LTE should primarily be educational. For information on ALEC and the ALEC agenda, see the Talking Points section below.

- Try to identify a target for your LTE.  This could be a particular ALEC lawmaker or an ALEC corporation.  By identifying a local target, you can make your LTE relevant to your community.

o   To find out which members of your state legislature are in ALEC, cross check these two lists here and here; come up with your own list of ALEC public officials of local interest; and call their offices to see if they are attending the Chicago event and/or if they support the organization. Please note that 1) despite much effort, the two lists are incomplete and that 2) some states have stronger ALEC delegations than others.

o   To find out which corporations are ALEC members, click here.  Look for corporations that have a large presence and/or headquarters in your community.

- Identify timely information in your LTE, particularly that:

o   ALEC is having its annual meeting on August 7-9th in Chicago

o   Lawmakers, including ALEC lawmakers in your state, will be traveling to the meeting

o   ALEC will also be celebrating its 40th year of existence

- Conclude with an opinion and/or call to action, possibly something along the lines of:

o   Asking why State Senator/Representative X cares more about the interests of ALEC’s corporate backers, and not her/his constituents

o   Identifying the problem of corporate power in American democracy

o   Calling for real democracy in America, not ALEC pay-to-play politics

 

After Submitting Your LTE

- If your LTE has been printed, PLEASE let us know.  We’ll work to amplify your message and will make sure your public officials see it.

- If your LTE is not accepted, do not be deterred.  There are many way you can contribute to the movement.  A quick way you can make sure your hard work does not go to waste is by repurposing what you wrote and mailing it in to your state representative and state senator.

If you have any questions about the process or content of your LTE, feel free to reach out to us by emailing Calvin Sloan at csloan@pfaw.org.

 

Talking Points

ALEC background info

- The American Legislative Exchange Council is an organization that connects corporate lobbyists with state legislators to pass special interest legislation in all fifty states.  The organization has roughly 2,000 legislative members and 300 corporate members, and has been called by Bill Moyers the “most influential corporate-funded political force most of America has never heard of.”

- ALEC operates behind closed doors, and is almost exclusively funded by corporations, corporate trade associations, corporate foundations, and sources other than membership dues.

- Most of ALEC’s model bills are written by corporate lawyers, and all of them are pre-approved by corporate lobbyists in ALEC Task Force meetings before becoming ALEC model policy.  ALEC model bills are distributed to ALEC lawmakers, who introduce the legislation in statehouse across the country without disclosing their source. 

- ALEC is a registered 501c3 charity, and thus ALEC’s corporate donors receive tax deductions for their contributions to the organization.

- To date, 49 corporations, 6 non-profits, and 74 state legislators have publicly cut ties with ALEC.

 

ALEC in Chicago

- On August 7-9th, ALEC is holding its annual meeting in Chicago, IL.  State lawmakers from across the country will be flying into Chicago for three days of wining and dining with corporate lobbyists.  The organization will also be celebrating its 40th year of existence.

-  In Chicago, ALEC lawmakers will receive corporate-written ALEC model legislation to introduce in their respective states, along with tips on what messaging and PR tactics are the most effective in getting that legislation passed.

 

ALEC On The Issues

For more information on the ALEC agenda, please check out the Center For Media and Democracy's ALEC Fact Sheets

On Education

- Climate denial – ALEC has supported "Environmental Literacy Improvement Acts" which would require the teaching of climate denial in public schools as a valid scientific theory. This model bill has been passed in three states, and introduced in seven; with many of ALEC's corporate constituents involved in the fossil fuel sector, the payoff for public skepticism of global warming is clear.

- Privatizing education – ALEC has supported an army of measures to privatize education, including various voucher programs, private school subsidies through parental tax credits, and ideologically contrived evaluations of public schools.

- Virtual schools – ALEC's model bill, "Virtual Public Schools Act", extends state recognition to virtual schools as equivalent to physical public schools, and unreasonably offers for-profit online providers the same per pupil revenue allocation as brick and mortar schools. Educational experts generally regard the value of virtual schools to children with suspicion, and for-profit virtual school companies, which operate for a fraction of the cost of physical schools, comprise a part of ALEC's constituency. 

- Attacking teachers’ unions – ALEC has attacked teachers' right to unionize through prohibiting compensation of time spent on union activities as release time, through requiring teacher unions to disclose how much union staff are being paid, and through pushing a panoply of anti-collective bargaining bills that affect all levels of private and public sector employment.

 

On Healthcare

- Obstructing the Affordable Care Act ALEC has led efforts to resist implementation of state healthcare exchanges, as well as to pass amendments and bills directly contradicting the individual mandate, setting up 10th Amendment court challenges.

- Privatizing Medicare and Medicaid ALEC has led privatization efforts with model bills providing a small cash allowance to disabled Medicaid beneficiaries and Children's Health Insurance Program recipients to purchase private care, as well as with resolutions to urge Congress to directly privatize the programs.

- Minimizing overall provision of careALEC has advocated for bills that would eliminate all state-funded medical assistance not federally required, as well as bills which would require actuarial review of proposals for any new benefits.

 

On the Middle Class and Workers’ Rights

- Right-to-work – ALEC has led the national push for so-called right-to-work legislation, which hurts unions by prohibiting mandatory collection of dues. Right-to-work legislation most recently passed in Michigan, and along with other ALEC measures like prohibiting payroll deduction to collect dues, comprises the thrust of ALEC’s anti-union, pro-corporate campaign.

- No paid sick days – ALEC has organized efforts across the nation to align corporate interests against paid sick days, with bills passed in Wisconsin and Louisiana, and bills introduced in Florida, Washington, Mississippi, Michigan, Arizona, Indiana, and Oklahoma. Studies show a lack of access to paid sick days forces workers to go to work sick, risking both their own and co-workers' health.

- Minimizing wages ALEC has led national efforts to freeze or repeal minimum wage and prevailing wage laws. Minimum wages in many states are so minimal that many residents are forced to work multiple jobs; prevailing wages are those standardly paid by the government in a given field, in accordance with regular payments in the local industry. They are also sometimes called “union wages,” and are typically substantially above minimum wage.

 

ALEC on Taxes and Privatization

- Repeal of capital gains tax ALEC has advocated for the repeal of capital gains taxes. Since three-quarters of all capital gains go to the top one percent of the income distribution, the measure is quite clearly another way to exacerbate the inequality in the nation’s distribution of income and wealth.

-  Permanent Extension of Bush tax cuts – ALEC pushed for making the Bush tax cuts, which largely benefited the wealthy while ballooning the deficit, permanent.

- Repeal of estate tax – ALEC has supported a repeal of the gift and estate taxes, which together tax the giving and inheritance of large sums of money. By securing the fortunes of the rich and powerful, their repeal would substantially increase the rigidity of national wealth inequalities across generations.

- Public spending limitations – ALEC has also supported legislation to limit all public spending increases to the rate of inflation, or by capping revenue to existing levels, or by automatically reducing taxes if revenue rises.

- Other tax policy favoring the rich – ALEC has passed resolutions against "windfall profits" taxes on oil companies, pushed for single, flat-rate business taxes, and led efforts to require super-majorities for tax increases. The last has contributed to California’s budget difficulties, and has also passed in Wisconsin under Scott Walker.

 

ALEC on Democracy

- Voter ID requirements – ALEC was a driving force behind the post-2010 push for Voter ID and other undemocratic measures that made it substantially harder for roughly 5 million Americans to vote in the 2012 election. In June, the US Supreme Court struck down a burdensome, ALEC-endorsed Arizona statue that required “proof of citizenship” for voter registration, and that was subsequently passed, with ALEC’s support, in Alabama, Georgia, and Kansas.

- Citizens United and money in politics – ALEC has supported the Citizens United decision and opposes federal, state, and local level efforts to mitigate its impact via disclosure and disclaimer requirements.  Thus, ALEC supports the use of limitless, corporate “dark money” spending in elections.

-  Partisan politicsAs recently as March of 2013, Republican National Committee (RNC) called upon ALEC to help develop and implement model legislation to dismantle campaign finance reform in order to help revive the Republican party through abolishing campaign spending regulations and contribution limits.

 

ALEC on Consumer Rights

- Withholding consumer finance information – ALEC opposed the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  The CFPB promotes financial education for consumers; monitors markets for new risks; restricts unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices that affect consumers; and enforces federal consumer financial protection laws.

-Service charges and interest rates – ALEC has opposed government imposed caps or elimination of ATM service charges on the baseless basis that it violates the principles of free enterprise. ALEC has also opposed caps on credit card interest rates on the basis that it violates the principles of free enterprise. Setting a ceiling on credit card interest rates would protect consumers from sky-high interest rates that could leave them bankrupt.

- Tort Reform – ALEC supports a drove of bills that seek to alter the tort liability system to make it substantially harder – or at times, entirely impossible – for consumers to challenge corporations in court and receive just compensation for corporate malfeasance.

 

ALEC on Guns, Crime, and Prisons

-Stand Your Ground – ALEC adopted and propagated Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which gained national notoriety following the Trayvon Martin tragedy.  The law expands the legal definition of “justifiable homicide,” and was lobbied for and partially drafted by the corporate-funded National Rifle Association.

- Deregulation of gun sales – ALEC has opposed efforts to allow law enforcement to use their purchasing power to pursue public safety ends, specifically requiring a pledge from gun manufacturers that they will not market weapons for dangerous uses (such as “cop killer” guns or bullets).

- Prison privatization – ALEC has pushed model legislation for decades that privatizes the prison industry and that rewards its for-profit prison private sector members.  Private prison companies, unlike state providers, have a financial incentive in “filling beds,” and have utilized ALEC to lobby for the incarceration of migrant workers, for lengthening prison sentencing, and for selling off state run facilities to the private sector.

- Minimum mandatory sentencing – ALEC has advocated for minimum mandatory incarceration sentences for drug offenses, with the severity of these sentences depending on the type and amount of the drug in question and not on whether the case involved the possession and manufacture, sale or distribution of the drugs.

 

ALEC on Energy and The Environment

- Keystone XL Pipeline, the Alberta tar sands, and the oil lobby – ALEC lawmakers have passed ALEC’s “Resolution in Support of Keystone Pipeline” in at least four states since ALEC adopted the resolution in December 2011.  ALEC also facilitated a trip funded by Transcanada, Shell Oil, and other oil-industry players for ALEC lawmakers to visit the Alberta tar sands, the source of the Keystone XL heavy oil.  ALEC later encouraged the legislators to email and thank their corporate sponsors for paying for the trip.

- Renewable energy – ALEC has adopted legislation known as the Electricity Freedom Act that would repeal mandates that electric distribution utilities and electric service companies procure electricity from renewable energy resources.

- Carbon emission deregulation – ALEC has adopted a “model” bill from an oil-industry lobby group that would limit the ability of states to negotiate regional “low-carbon fuel standards.” Low-carbon fuel standards would have a significant impact on the sale of fuels derived from the Alberta tar sands and other “heavy oil” fields.

- EPA deregulationALEC has resolved to oppose the 2007 Massachusetts v. EPA decision which held that the EPA has statutory authority to regulate air pollutants from vehicles that “endanger public health and welfare.” The resolution uses unfounded statistics and flimsy rhetoric to dismiss climate change concerns.

 

Further Reading and Acknowledgments

People For the American Way is indebted to the Center For Media and Democracy for maintaining ALECexposed.org and PRWatch.org.  Both websites provide up-to-date analysis of ALEC, and are integral to exposing it.

 

 

David Lane Predicts Car Bombings in LA, DC and Des Moines over Gay Inauguration Prayers

Religious Right organizer David Lane, who recently led an Iowa summit which featured Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Reince Priebus, believes that the US will see car bombings in Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and Des Moines, Iowa…if we’re lucky.

Lane told conservative talk show host Steve Deace that such attacks would occur as part of God’s “process of mercy,” otherwise, God will be finished with the US and the country will “get judgment like Nazi Germany.”

Such car bombings will take place, Lane explained, as a result of abortion rights, the national debt and “homosexuals praying at the Inauguration.”

President Obama’s second inauguration featured an openly gay poet and a pro-equality Episcopalian pastor who said in his benediction that both gay and straight people are created in the image of God.

Deace: What’s the next twenty years going to look like?

Lane: There’s two options, I think. Number one, if we don’t turn back to him. [Eric] Metaxas in his Bonheoffer book said that in 1522, [Martin] Luther translated the Greek to the German, and in 1534 he translated the Hebrew to the German, and he said it caused a cataclysmic explosion in Germany that birthed the Protestant Reformation for four hundred years. In 1933-45, twelve years, I assume, I have no idea, I’m assuming God said, ‘I’m done.’ So here we are, kill 60 million babies, red ink as far as the eye can see, homosexuals praying at the Inauguration. If we get mercy, that’s why we started this by talking about me coming to Christ thirty-five years ago, one of the wildest men who ever lived; I deserved judgment, I got mercy. If America gets mercy, I believe — this doesn’t sound good — I think the process of mercy looks like probably car bombs in Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and Des Moines, Iowa. I think if we get mercy the process is going to be a very painful process. If we get judgment like Nazi Germany, I’m assuming we go to rebel, and God says ‘I’m done.’ So I think that’s where we are, I think we’re at the fork in the road, and if you can believe this I’m actually hopeful.

Ted Cruz Warns Gay Marriage Will Lead to Hate Speech Laws, America on Brink of Collapse

In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network's David Brody on Friday, Ted Cruz rehashed the false right-wing claims that gay rights advocates intend to pass hate speech laws and force pastors to perform same-sex nuptials. Leading Religious Right activists made the same arguments during their campaign against the Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act and in debates over state marriage equality bills. Of course, such laws would be unconstitutional and have never been used to silence religious leaders or limit the freedom of speech.

If you look at other nations that have gone down the road towards gay marriage, that’s the next step of where it gets enforced. It gets enforced against Christian pastors who decline to perform gay marriages, who speak out and preach biblical truths on marriage, that has been defined elsewhere as hate speech, as inconsistent with the enlightened view of government. I think there is no doubt that the advocates who are driving this effort in the United States want to see us end up in that same place.

Brody also lobbed another hardball at Cruz, asking him if he believes “spiritual revival is needed in this country.”

“Everywhere I go people are afraid for the future of our country; I think we’re at the edge of a precipice,” Cruz said. “If we keep going down this path, we’re risking losing our nation; we’re risking losing the incredible oasis of liberty.”

Watch:

Congress Begins Work on New Voting Rights Act Legislation

The House and Senate held hearings last week to discuss a replacement for the federal preclearance formula of the Voting Rights Act. Without a coverage formula, the Justice Department will no longer be able to enforce the VRA’s Section 5, which requires states and counties with histories of discriminatory voting practices to secure federal approval before changing their voting laws.
PFAW

Jacobs: God Preparing 'A Whole Lot of Shaking' To Punish America for Gay Marriage Decisions

Self-proclaimed prophet Cindy Jacobs delivered an ominous warning to America while speaking with fellow televangelist Jim Bakker, describing a message she received from God that the country will face divine punishment over the Supreme Court’s rulings on marriage equality. “Recently in the United States we’ve had these Supreme Court decisions that are against biblical marriage, and the Lord said to me, ‘duck your head, duck your head.’ I said, ‘oh God, duck my head?’”

Jacobs asserted that God plans to “put a mark upon” believers — “as long as you’re tithing” — and bless them because “there’s a whole lot of shaking getting ready to happen.”

“I prophesied that there was going to be a lot of disasters that were going to come” such as Hurricane Sandy, Jacobs claimed, lamenting that no one listened to her. “I mean I don’t want them to come, it’s not like I’m saying ‘oh great they’re coming,’ but the point is a prophet has to say what is to come, it’s like you’re reporting.”

“We have displeased the Lord and the earth is going to answer,” Jacobs said.

Watch:

Steve King: Undocumented Immigrants Mostly '130-Pound' Drug Runners With 'Calves the Size of Cantaloupes'

Rep. Steve King of Iowa is getting some publicity this week for an interview on Univision in which he refused to apologize for comparing immigrants to dogs. Our friends at the Center for New Community point out that just a few days earlier, King gave an interview to Newsmax in which he claimed that the vast majority of undocumented immigrants are “130-pound” drug runners with “calves the size of cantaloupes.”

“For every one who’s a valedictorian, there’s another hundred out there who they weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’ve been hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert,” King said.

He challenged proponents of the bipartisan immigration law to “define the difference between the innocent ones who have deep ties with America and those who have, I’ll say, been undermining our culture and civilization and profiting from criminal acts.”

Ted Cruz's Father Tells Him 'God Has Destined You For Greatness'

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz stumped in Iowa over the weekend, and his father Rafael Cruz was promoting his son’s possibly presidential candidacy to pastors and local Republican leaders during his trip. In fact, he said in an interview with Chrsitian Broadcasting Networks’ David Brody that he told his son: “You know Ted, you have been gifted above any man that I know and God has destined you for greatness.’ And I started making declarations about the Word of God to him every day.”

He goes on to suggest that his son is destined to save freedom in America, and even Brody called Cruz’s political career “a thing of God.”

As we’ve noted, Rafael Cruz is a Religious Right activist himself , and he also revealed to Brody that he was active in the Religious Roundtable.

The Religious Roundtable was founded by Ed McAteer and included leaders like Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Phyllis Schlafly and Paul Weyrich. The group also helped launch Ronald Reagan’s bid for president in 1980 and hosted the conference where he quipped, “I know you can’t endorse me, but I endorse you.”

Brody: Talk me about your son and his rise. This must be a thing of God. It's meteoric.

Cruz: Yes, but you know something, it is not something that started a couple of years ago. Let me just go back to when he was maybe four. When he was four I used to read Bible stories to him all the time. And I would declare and proclaim the word of God over him. And I would just say, ‘You know Ted, you have been gifted above any man that I know and God has destined you for greatness’. And I started making declarations about the Word of God to him every day. When he was eight years old I was very active in an organization called the Religious Roundtable.

...

This was a coalition of Christians and Jews who was very instrumental in helping Reagan get elected. I was on the state board of the Religious Roundtable, so when my son Ted was eight years old, all we talked about around the dinner table was politics because I was so involved with the Reagan campaign. So during that time is when I asked him so many times, ‘You know Ted, when I lost my freedom in Cuba I had a place to come to. If we lose our freedoms here where are we going to go? There is no place to go.’

...

Ted enters high school, the Free Enterprise Institute organizes a group of five kids, called them the Constitutional Corroborators, now Ted is reading the The Federalist Papers, The Anti-Federalist Papers, and each of the five kids memorized the entire US Constitution.

...

So before my son left high school he was passionate about the constitution. He was passionate about freedom and free markets and limited governments. Before he left high school he knew without a shadow of a doubt what his purpose in life was and it was to defend and protect freedom and the Constitution, to fight for free markets and limited government, and it became a passion in his life. So this is not a trajectory of three years, this is a trajectory of 30 years.

Priebus: GOP Not Embracing 'Tolerance,' Just Becoming More Loving

Following their 2012 election debacle, the Republican National Committee and the College Republicans issued reports which urged the party to go through an image makeover without adjusting its political stances. Essentially, they argued, the party should only appear to be changing and becoming more open-minded, empathetic and welcoming.

Speaking with David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network posted today, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus confirmed that the party will try to reach out to groups like gays and lesbians by simply appearing to be more respectful without actually changing its views on issues such as marriage equality.

After Brody said conservative evangelical voters are nervous that the GOP thinks “we have to be more tolerant,” Priebus said there is nothing to worry about. “I don’t know if I’ve used the word ‘tolerance,’ I don’t really care for that word myself. I don’t have a problem with it, I just think it has another meaning politically that can go the other direction,” the party chairman said.

“It’s not what you say, I think, it’s sometimes – like our moms used to tell us – it’s how you say it. And I think that’s really the issue. And quite frankly, I think some of that has been overblown.”

Priebus assured Brody that the GOP will continue to represent “things that are very square with our beliefs as Christians” and recognize that “there’s only one sovereign God.”

Watch:

Brody: I want to talk to you about this way forward for the GOP. When you use that word ‘intolerant,’ ‘you know we have to be more tolerant’ in what the RNC put out. Evangelicals start to grab the Excedrin bottles when they hear ‘tolerance’ because they think ‘oh no the GOP is changing and the whole gay marriage situation.’ Why don’t you address this and maybe put evangelicals at ease or can you put them at ease at all here?

Priebus: Well, one hundred percent. I don’t know if I’ve used the word ‘tolerance,’ I don’t really care for that word myself. I don’t have a problem with it, I just think it has another meaning politically that can go the other direction. I happen to believe that our principles are sound. I do believe, and I still will tell you that our party believes that marriage is between one man and one woman. Our party believes that life begins at conception. I think those are foundational issues that aren’t going anywhere but what I have said, which I don’t think should be controversial at all and I would think that Christians and pastors and everyone in between should agree that our principles have to be draped in the concepts of grace, love and respect and that’s not code language, that’s the New Testament, so I don’t think there should be any problem with that thinking within our party. That’s all I’ve said. It’s not what you say, I think, it’s sometimes like our moms used to tell us, it’s how you say it; and I think that’s really the issue and quite frankly I think some of that has been overblown. I’m happy to address it but clearly myself and our party haven’t changed on those principles.



Priebus: Looking at the evidence, what you will see is a party that embraces life, a party that embraces marriage and a chairman that understands that there’s only one sovereign God and that we ultimately aren’t dependent on what happens in politics, that that ultimately matters in our lives is that we’re salt and light in the world and that we’re honoring God in the things that we do every day. I get that. I think our party gets that and there’s never been a movement away from that. So ‘tolerance,’ maybe some people use that word, what I would tell you, when I think about it, I think about grace, I think about love, I think about respect, and I think those are things that are very square with our beliefs as Christians.

Ginni Thomas and Phyllis Schlafly Discuss 'Cultural Marxism,' 'The Left’s Ultimate Agenda'

In an interview posted yesterday at the Daily Caller, Tea Party activist Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, sat down with Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly to discuss the issues of the day.

Discussing bipartisan immigration policy, Schlafly repeated her assertion that modernizing the country’s immigration system would be “suicide for the Republican Party” because new immigrants want “taxpayer goodies” from Democrats.

This led Thomas to ask Schlafly, “How does this immigration bill advance the Left’s ultimate agenda?” Schlafly responded that progressives are using immigration reform to achieve “global government” because “they don’t like the Constitution.”

Later in the interview, Thomas asked Schlafly about the belief of “some” that “cultural Marxists have already won in our country.” Schlafly agreed, saying that the “tremendous decline in marriage” is ruining America. “I grew up during the great Depression,” Schlafly added, “and we didn’t need government to do anything.”

Staver: Justice Kennedy Acted Like Dred Scott Judge In DOMA Ruling

Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel continued to level attacks against the Supreme Court’s DOMA decision. On Janet Parshall’s radio show last week, Staver compared Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion in Windsor, to former Chief Justice Robert B. Taney, infamous for writing the Dred Scott ruling.

The Liberty University Law School dean told Parshall that the court decided wrongly in part because “our history has actually criminalized homosexual behavior” and alleged that Kennedy decided to “label everyone who believes and affirms in the natural created order of marriage between a man and a woman as a bigot and a hater.”

“How dare this court. How dare Justice Kennedy. How dare he actually give those kinds of labels to people,” Staver said. “I think the court crossed the line to illegitimacy by doing so and I think it put itself in the same category as Chief Justice Taney in the 1857 Dred Scott decision in which they said blacks were inferior human beings not entitled to citizenship, as they did in the 1927 Buck v. Bell case that said ‘sorry Carrie Buck, Virginia has a right to forcibly sterilize you.’”

Stemberger: 'Loud and Proud Nonsense' Will 'Absolutely Not Be Tolerated' In New Anti-Gay Scouts

John Stemberger appeared on Peter LaBarbera’s show Americans For Truth About Homosexuality Radio Hour yesterday to promote his new alternative to the Boy Scouts. Stemberger left the Boy Scouts of America after it voted to lift its ban on openly gay youth, and in a press conference announced that “young men who have same-sex attractions will be permitted into the organization, though they will not be allowed to push a gay agenda or flaunt their sexual orientation. I think that there's a real difference between someone who has a same-sex attraction and someone who identifies with the gay political movement.”

Seeing that the breakaway group left solely over the issue of homosexuality, Stemberger’s claim that only “someone who identifies with the gay political movement” will be barred from his group may seem perplexing.

But that is until you realize that Stemberger actually believes that anyone who is openly gay and not suppressing or trying to change his sexual orientation is part of the sinister gay agenda.

As he explained to LaBarbera, “if there is a young man who we find out or confesses to a leader, in the context that these are Christian men, that they have a same-sex attraction, we will deal with that as a ministry issue. We will point them to the scripture, point them to the standard of our membership oath and to the scripture and to help them through that.”

“However, we will not tolerate under any circumstances any kind of flaunting, any kind of outward loud and proud nonsense, all of that that encompasses gay activism, the promotion of the gay agenda, will absolutely not be tolerated in the program,” Stemberger said. “That’s a huge difference because the BSA will have that, that’s exactly what they are inviting when they allow open and avowed [gay] youth.”

Anti-Immigrant Rally Speaker: Immigration Reform is 'Treason,' 'Slavery 2.0'

Speaking alongside senators Ted Cruz and Jeff Sessions and Rep. Steve King at this week’s anti-immigrant "DC March for Jobs" was a cast of lesser-known Tea Party characters, including Ken Crow, who gave a memorable speech on Bill Pullman, the Alamo, and stallion breeding, and Internet radio personality Kevin Jackson, who told the crowd that immigration reform would amount to “treason” and “slavery 2.0.” and is merely “a clever way to keep black people corralled in these urban indoctrination centers they call cities.”

Jackson -- who has previously claimed that President Obama “has taken American back into the 1960’s except now whites are enslaved to blacks,” and that “women on the Left secretly wish to build a society of powerful ugly women” – alleged that undocumented immigrants are “mostly criminals” and “undocumented freeloaders.”

“It’s Jim Crow laws being touted as immigration reform, and immigration reform is just a euphemism for treason,” he said.

AFA Spokesman: Gay People Feel Alienated Because 'They Are Alienated From God'

WTVA in Tupelo, Mississippi, reported today on a marriage equality march near the headquarters of the American Family Association. They of course asked the AFA for its view on the march, and got this response:

"The Bible calls believers to hold out God's grace to sinners. All kinds of sinners whether you are a liar or a stealer or an adulterer or a homosexual," said Patrick J. Vaughn, General Counsel for the American Family Association.

Vaughn went on to describe what he calls a very strong drive among homosexual activist to have the name marriage attached to their relationships.

"I believe that is because they think that will give them a feeling of acceptance in that what they are doing is right if they have this label [of marriage]. Unfortunately, I don't think that is going to last very long because the alienation that they sense is really an alienation because they are alienated from God. They are refusing to obey what he's commanded and they are doing something that is against the nature of the way he created them," said Vaughn.

Earlier this week, the AFA released a statement about the Mississippi marriage equality effort, claiming that gays and lesbians "already have" marriage equality in the state...because they are free marry someone of the opposite sex:

[H]homosexuals already have the same marriage rights that everyone has. Every person in America has the right to marry someone of the opposite sex. Mississippians should not be fooled by the deceitful tactics that these groups are using to induce pity for homosexuals who cannot be married in Mississippi, because they have chosen a homosexual lifestyle.

 

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