Photo by Elizabeth Goolian

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Need to be afraid of something? Be afraid of ALEC.

If you watch Fox News, the New Black Panther Party is probably on your list of groups that scare you to death. Fox never misses a chance to mention this group, especially if they can mention President Obama in the same breath. Fox News would have you believe that these people--who modeled their group on and took the name of an organization that wants nothing to do with them--represent a real threat to American freedom and to you, your families, your pets, and your future.

As always with Fox News, it would be hilarious if it weren't so pathetic. The NBPP says it has a few thousand members worldwide, although organizations that monitor hate groups say the number is much smaller. The actual Black Panther Party--the 1970s people who liked to have their pictures taken with them wearing sunglasses and black berets and holding machine guns, but whose major effect on American life was the free breakfasts they provided to poor black kids in American cities--has disavowed the NBPP and stated that "there is no 'new' Black Panther Party."

Basically, they're a bunch of disillusioned, angry people who think that hating people who aren't like them (white people, Jews) will somehow solve the problems of African-American people. Basically, they're just sad.

And--here's the payoff--the NBPP has no power. No power of any kind. Only Fox pays any attention to them, their numbers are small, they have no active programs other than showing up at various events and yelling stuff.

But there is an organization that should scare you to death. It's also a hate group and has only a few thousand members. But those members are among the most powerful people in the country. And if you're poor, struggling, or middle class and if you do not subscribe to their religion--pure greed--they are out to get you.

I'm talking, of course, about ALEC--the American Legislative Exchange Council, funded by the radical right-wing oil bazillionaires the Koch Brothers, who want even more power and more money, and who will run you over to get it.

Who belongs to this group? A whole lot of state and federal legislators, almost all of them Republican and all of them with their hands out for Koch Brothers money, and a whole lot of corporations, among them the following:
- Bayer (yes, the aspirin people)
- AT&T and Verizon
- Dell
- Just about every major US pharma company
- A whole lot of energy companies--Detroit Edison, Duke, Chesapeake, etc.
- Exxon, Amoco, ARCO
- Visa
- United Healthcare, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, etc.

You can see the whole list at

And what do those corporations and legislators do? The corporations write legislative bills, which are introduced and supported by the legislator members. Naturally, these bills are written to benefit the corporations. But not just benefit--it's a simple case of oil companies writing legislation favoring oil companies, pharmaceutical companies writing legislation to reduce the power of the FDA to protect citizens against bad drugs, energy companies writing legislation to prevent the EPA from protecting the environment. They are so cavalier about their work that bills have actually been introduced printed on ALEC letterhead.

ALEC is probably the biggest enemy of democracy in the country right now, because they are undermining the absolute foundation on which the United States is built--the legislative process, directed by one person/one vote.

ALEC is responsible for the bills that have denied people--usually senior citizens, including a whole lot of US military veterans--the right to vote because they don't have a driver's license.

Wal-Mart is a member (of course). Wal-Mart is also the biggest seller of guns in the country. So all of those insane "shoot to kill" laws that have passed in 24 states--the laws that make it easier for a private person like, say, George Zimmerman to get away with killing someone he was "afraid of" than it is for a US soldier to shoot an enemy? Written by ALEC, introduced and passed by ALEC legislators.

If the truly evil and frightening organization that is ALEC has its way, Social Security and Medicare will be eliminated, there will be no government restrictions on practices like fracking (are you ready to have flames come out of your water taps?), and the BP oil spill will become a common occurrence with no consequences whatsoever. The legislative process will have been destroyed; it's in the process already. If ALEC has its way, the American way of life will cease to exist.

This is the organization to be afraid of. Very afraid. But not so afraid that you won't do something about it--like not buying from these corporations, as much as possible, and writing to tell them why. Pepsi, Coke, Kraft, and McDonald's have all recently bowed to public pressure and quit ALEC. We can see to it that many more do. And if one of your legislators is an ALEC member, kick that person to the curb in the next election. Legislators are supposed to write laws that benefit their constituents, their communities, and their country--not whoever gives them the most money.

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