Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A.L.E.C. ~ The Bill-uminati

As the Occupy movement rolls on into the new year, it continues to spread and morph into different factions. Direct action along with education, legal and outreach programs are helping to steer the movement into a smarter and more effective pattern. As we continue to dig into the system we call the American government, the movement is continually outraged and refeuled by what we uncover. Occupy camps have been swept away and re-established, protesters have been arrested, beaten, maced and in some cases critically injured, but we continue to return and make our voices heard, nobody said revolution was easy.

Have we ousted the seemingly inhuman tyrants that are dead set on eliminating the middle class? Not yet. What we have done is sparked minds, created dialogue, and shaken some people awake, at the very least given a name and a structure to the rage that the masses of this country feel, and that's a good start. Are these oppressive corporate giants listening? of course not, have they ever? Although there is a recent wave curious and dangerous senate bills being proposed. bills like the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which will legalize a form of martial law, also being proposed in 4 states are "Ag-gag" bills making it illegal to film inside or distribute film of factory farms. These and other similar bills are a sure sign that "they" might not be listening but can definitely hear us.

Another way the movement has become more focused is establishing who "they" are, the opposition that is. For most people it has been clear cut who and what we are fighting against, despite the corporate owned mainstream medias best attempts to portray us as "lacking a common cause." The who, is the corporate elite of giant banking, shipping, pharmaceutical and agricultural corporations. Let's go ahead and name just a few names just so were crystal clear. Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Export Grain Terminal, Wal-Mart, Monsanto and that's just the tip of the iceberg. It seems that were all aboard the modern day Titanic if we go back to sleep and let them have their way.

CEO's set wages and workers rights as low as they possibly can. Agriculture and health care conglomerates make it expensive and difficult to eat healthy, real food or get proper medical care (without in- debiting yourself for the rest of your life). All of this while giving themselves tax breaks and bonuses and making sure to bankrupt or consume local businesses. The best part is, if you dare peacefully assemble in protest of this, an army of "public servants" is sent to "silence" your voice, often literally. As if these coalitions aren't enough for the working class to deal with, enter the GOP, the so called conservative branch of American politicians. These corporate and political factions are beyond in bed together, it's more like a marriage, one of power and money. Imagine the power they could wield over the middle class if corporations could hand legislators new bill proposals or changes in laws, that would directly benefit their bottom line. They would try to rewrite America until the pledge of Allegiance read more like this.

Sadly, this already happens,cue the Darth Vader music. Let's talk about the little known outside of exclusive circles, American Legislative Exchange Council (A.L.E.C.), which is the link between the corporate elite and our country's conservative lawmakers. Props to Occupy Phoenix for recently bringing them into a national light. With the last rash of new Republican governors, many very similar anti-labor, anti-middle class, pro-corporate laws are being introduced on the senate floor and reintroduced if they fail. Corporate heads sit on all nine A.L.E.C. task forces along side participating legislators who are overwhelmingly conservative Republicans (there is one reported Democrat) CEOs and politicians vote on "model" bills together. Our trusty elected officials then introduce these ideas as their own brilliant innovations in state houses across America.

According to the A.L.E.C. website their nine task forces are Civil Justice, Commerce/Insurance/Economic Development, Education, Energy/ Environment/Agriculture, Health and Human Services, International Relations, Public Safety and Elections, Tax and Fiscal Policy, and finally Telecommunications and Information Technology. I think they've got us covered or should I say got themselves covered. Although recently being forced out of the shadows more than ever A.L.E.C. has been quietly in business since 1973. Denying being a lobbying group they also claim to be bi-partisan, they are registered with the IRS as a 501(c)3 charitable organization and but of course, enjoy a tax exempt status. A.L.E.C. funding comes from corporate members annual fees and they also receives "grants" directly from some of the largest corporate foundations in the world. Some of the corporate entities at work here are some of the biggest factions affecting Americans health and our global environment. Companies like Reynolds American Inc. (very big tobacco), Exxonmobil, United Health Care, Humana and Bayer (Pharmaceuticals) are all members of A.L.E.C. boards. Also billionaire Republican turds the Koch Brothers (Koch Industries) have had financial influence on an unknown number of A.L.E.C. sponsored bills.

This quite cooperation between state legislators and powerful corporations, in my opinion is a massive threat to the American working populations freedom. A.L.E.C.'s all star big money cast includes a curious alumni of well to do "conservative" politicians. Past and current members include Speaker of the house John Boehner, former house speakers Tom DeLay (Texas(R) convicted felon - money laundering) and Dennis Hastert (Illinois(R) voted one of the ten worst members of congress ever by Rolling Stone) along with Gov. Rick Perry who's Texas family ranch was called "Nig*erhead" until recently. Former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld who was once quoted saying, "Death has a tendency to encourage a depressing view of war", was the 1985 chair of A.L.E.C.'s business policy board. Other memorable members include Dick Cheney, Newt Gingrich, Dan Quayle and my personal favorite, Jan Brewer who championed in Arizona's A.L.E.C. generated Sb-1070 immigration law. The Sb-1070 bill allows law enforcement to stop and question any person they believe LOOKS like they could be an illegal alien. This law is the definition of racial profiling, literally. ~ Racial profiling -n government activity directed at a suspect or group of suspects based solely on race.

An example of how these dangerous partnerships can play out, we can turn to Arizona and take a look into the Sb-1070 situation. This is where one of the more sinister members of A.L.E.C., the billion dollar Corrections Corporation of America seemed to be making some moves. In 2010 small cities just north of the Arizona/Mexico border we're approached by private companies wanting to build prisons for large numbers of illegal immigrants. Confident sales pitches were presented to these towns, due to a new "business-plan" being formed and that plan eventually became bill Sb-1070 and then Arizona's new immigration law. Private corrections interests partnered with long time A.L.E.C. member And Arizona State Sen. Russel Peirce, who claims to have "drafted" the bill. Peirce then presented the draft to the also A.L.E.C. member ridden Arizona statehouse floor and it received quick co-sponsorship. Which moves it along to Gov. Jan Brewers desk, Who's Campaign Manager Chuck Coughlin and spokesman Paul Senseman are both former lobbyists for private prison companies. Needless to say, Brewer signs the bill into law without delay.

A recent National Public Radio (NPR) article about the new law says. "NPR spent several months analyzing hundreds of pages of campaign finance reports, lobbying documents and corporate records. What they show is a quite, behind-the-scenes effort to help draft and pass Arizona Senate Bill 1070 by an industry that stands to benefit from it: the private prison industry." The same year this article was released (2011) there was a movement in the republican senate to cut federal funding to NPR. A.L.E.C. in short, is a good example of bad people with a lot of money and very few interests. When looking at the ever widening gap between the 99% and the 1%, A.L.E.C. is the heart of that beast. No lack of a clear message here, call for A.L.E.C. to be investigated and dismantled. Be careful out there brothers and sisters. - Chris Hensley, working class citizen

Occupy Phoenix protests A.L.E.C.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

"From Dictatorship to Democracy" Appendix 1

At the end of Gene Sharp's seminal work, "From Dictatorship to Democracy",  he provides a list of 198 nonviolent actions that can be used to initiate societal change.  This crucial list can be an amazing reference guide to those here in America looking to challenge the status quo.

The Methods of Nonviolent Protest and Persuasion
Formal statements
1. Public speeches
2. Letters of opposition or support
3. Declarations by organizations and institutions
4. Signed public statements
5. Declarations of indictment and intention
6. Group or mass petitions
Communications with a wider audience
7. Slogans, caricatures, and symbols
8. Banners, posters, and displayed communications
9. Leaflets, pamphlets, and books
10. Newspapers and journals
11. Records, radio, and television
12. Skywriting and earthwriting
Group representations
13. Deputations
14. Mock awards
15. Group lobbying
16. Picketing
17. Mock elections

"How to Start a Revolution" Documentary

  Current TV will be airing the documentary "How to Start a Revolution" tonight at 8pm.

Originally appeared in The Telegraph on Oct. 21 2011:

By Louise Gray 
From his shabby town house in Boston, Massachusetts, an octagenarian American university professor grows rare orchids – and inspires revolutions. The writings of 83-year-old political scientist Dr Gene Sharp are credited with providing the blueprint for the overthrow of governments in Serbia, Ukraine, Guatemala and Indonesia and, most recently, with revving up the activists who launched the Arab Spring.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Police arrest 27 at Occupy St. Louis Friday, 11/11/11

[Video of Kiener Plaza 11/11/11 by 99% of St. Louis]

Kiener Plaza has been the central hub and encampment site for the Occupy St. Louis movement since the first day on 10/01/11. The seed of genuine participatory democracy was planted, and grew into a network of coordinated efforts and voices in St. Louis. Our encampment has found solidarity with the other Occupy movements globally.  On the evening of the 42nd day of our occupation, Veteran's Day 11/11/11 around 11:30pm, 25+ police cars arrived at Kiener Plaza and police were ready to enforce the municipal order on curfew hours of the park. The video above captures the integrity Occupy St. Louis displayed as 27 citizens were arrested for breaking curfew hours. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Study Student Power
People march during a protest bystudents demanding access to free quality public education in Santiago, Chile,on August 7, 2011.
(AP Photo/Aliosha Marquez)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Looking into National Bank Transfer Day - Banks Vs. Credit Unions

In this uphill battle of the working class to take back their financial freedom, it's important to know who dictates the oppressive nature that our current financial system looms over us. Insurance agencies, pharmaceutical companies, financial advisers, and the big banking industry often work together to maximize their profits, with no thoughts of their customers as people, just accounts. This further widens the gap between corporate heads and the employees that make their companies run on a daily basis. In recent years the big banking industry ran their business so horribly it nearly crumbled our entire economic structure. Whether it was greed or lack of business sense, it's unacceptable. After the billions of dollars spent by the tax-payers to bail out these banks, the CEO's gave themselves millions of dollars in bonuses and continue the same practices as before the bailout. How would you rate that customer service?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Exploring the Adjacent Possible

Steven Johnson’s book “Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation”, recently released in paperback, is a wonderful read that attempts to describe the conditions that produce innovative ideas. With chapters including serendipity, liquid networks,exaptation and error, the concept that really stuck with me was the adjacent possible.