Saturday, March 26, 2011

This is getting crazy - the latest assault on democracy from Walker & Co.

Really, folks, you think these people would at least pretend that they honor democratic government, the three co-equal branches of government, the laws and rules of the political process.

But when they don't get their way, they just steamroll right over democracy itself. Even when a court slows them down, they go on as if courts, as if the judicial branch of government, is a mere annoyance, something to get out of their way.

They, of course, being the corporate-run and increasingly dominant wing of the Republican Party, the one trying not to govern our state but to rule it.

The latest trick is pretty enraging. A judge issues a restraining order prohibiting publication by the Sec. of State of a proposed law to take away collective bargaining rights from public workers, and so they publish it anyway - somewhere else.

Read all about it here. Now, the Walker/Fitzgerald administration is playing cute with the law, saying the order only mentions publication by the Sec. of St. in the Wisconsin State Journal and so now that it is published somewhere else, the law is now in effect. But here is what the order actually states:
I do, therefore, restrain and enjoin the further implementation of 2011 Wisconsin Act 10. The next step in implementation of that law would be the publication of that law by the secretary of state. He is restrained and enjoined from such publication until further order of this court.”
Okay, Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi who issued the order back on March 18 does stop the 'next step' in implementation of the law, publication of it by the Sec. of State - because that would be the next step. But the first sentence tells you everything you need to know about the intent of the order.

Meanwhile, Republicans are also trying to chill speech. The other day, as you know, Professor William Cronon of UW-Madison wrote an Opinion essay for the NY Times that rather unflatteringly compared the political style of Scott Walker to Joe McCarthy, in the sense that his tactics are causing profound polarization and demonizing of his opponents. He accuses Walker of making a radical break with our state's 'core values.'

In his recent research into the sudden emergence of similar and very well organized legislative campaigns in a number of states, Cronon had delved into the key role being played by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a corporate-sponsored, secretive organization that is behind much of the agenda of gutting state government, slashing corporate taxes, busting unions, and privatizing public services that is all the rage in places like Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, New Jersey, Indiana, Florida...

You see, there is a plan afoot here, one that has been funded and pushed for decades and which now is having real impact on our local and state governments, not to mention that Tea Party crowd that worked their way into the House of Representatives with the intent to shut down government and create chaos.

From SourceWatch, an excellent resource if you are looking for background into all sorts of organizations, their sponsors, funders, and agendas:
"The organization [ALEC] has been semi-secretive (makes knowing its members difficult information to find), has been highly influential, has operated quietly in the United States for decades, and received remarkably little scrutiny from journalists, media or members of the public during that time. Superficially, ALEC’s membership is mostly made up of thousands of state legislators, each of whom pays a nominal membership fee to attend ALEC's retreats and receive model legislation. ALEC’s corporate contributors pay far more to gain access to legislators and distribute to them corporate-crafted legislation. Thus, while ALEC's membership appears to be mostly from the public sector, the groups funding is almost entirely private sector. In reality, ALEC's public-sector membership dues account for only around one percent of ALEC’s annual revenues. 81.7% of ALEC's income comes from corporations, while just 1.3% comes from legislator dues.
"ALEC claims to be nonpartisan, but its free-market and pro-business goals are clear. The result of ALEC's efforts has been a consistent pipeline of special interest legislation being funneled into state capitols across the United States... One of ALEC's primary funders are the trusts associated with the controversial Koch family, that includes David Koch, a billionaire and one of the leaders of one of the richest privately held corporations in the world, Koch Industries."

Anyone still think the real agenda here is about deficits and balancing budgets?  Anyone think that Walker really believes the state is 'broke' and there's nothing we can do about it except to gut government, pull the rug out from under the middle class, give our natural resources away, pollute our environment, and throw more of our people into poverty?

I urge anyone who reads this to click on the link to the SourceWatch page on the ALEC and then pass it on to your friends. It is vital that we know this - otherwise, we will be waging the wrong struggle.

As I have written before, the only way to effectively counter this kind of corporate power over the body politic is by mass democracy, cross-sector solidarity, a coming together of mutual interests across class and economic lines, a sense that we are all in this together, all threatened by the same forces, all united in our desire for a decent and democratic state government which priority is the well-being of all our citizens, with the broadest participation, especially of the poor and marginalized among us, those most endangered by the policies these budget bills seek to put in place.

BTW - Cronon has a terrific study guide on the ALEC and similar groups on his new blog. Click here.  And you may be interested to know that since the controversy lit up after his piece in the Times, his blog has had more than TWO MILLION visits. The ALEC is trying to tamp down the attention. In attacking Cronon and seeking to chill his speech and others who dare expose these things, the sun is shining brighter and brighter on their intentions.

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