Thursday, December 5, 2013

Ghost Writers

The American Legislative Exchange Council, aka ALEC, those wonderful folks who gave us the Arizona immigration law, voter-ID legislation, and are now trying to spread Stand Your Ground to all fifty states, had a convention in Washington, D.C. recently.  And by convention, I mean a semi-secret conclave that rounded up right-wing legislators from around the country so they could get their marching orders from the Koch brothers.  Thanks to a document dump at The Guardian, we now know that they want legislation that will penalize homeowners who save energy with solar panels.

An alliance of corporations and conservative activists is mobilising to penalise homeowners who install their own solar panels – casting them as “freeriders” – in a sweeping new offensive against renewable energy, the Guardian has learned.

Over the coming year, the American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec) will promote legislation with goals ranging from penalising individual homeowners and weakening state clean energy regulations, to blocking the Environmental Protection Agency, which is Barack Obama’s main channel for climate action.

Details of Alec’s strategy to block clean energy development at every stage – from the individual rooftop to the White House – are revealed as the group gathers for its policy summit in Washington this week.

About 800 state legislators and business leaders are due to attend the three-day event, which begins on Wednesday with appearances by the Wisconsin senator Ron Johnson and the Republican budget guru and fellow Wisconsinite Paul Ryan.

Other Alec speakers will be a leading figure behind the recent government shutdown, US senator Ted Cruz of Texas, and the governors of Indiana and Wyoming, Mike Pence and Matt Mead.

In a way, you have to admire their ingenuity.  Most state legislators aren’t experts at writing laws: it’s complicated, time-consuming, and there are all those annoyances like listening to constituents drone on and on about their petty little concerns like losing their health insurance or high utility bills.  It’s a gift to have a helpful group like ALEC come along and hand out pre-packaged and field-tested legislation that does all the right things and is guaranteed to meet with the approval of the powerful lobbyists because they wrote it.  The only catch is that they have to swear a blood oath that they will “will act with care and loyalty and put the interests of the organization first.”  That organization being ALEC, not the Constitution.

One thing ALEC doesn’t like is publicity, which to them is always a bad thing, and they hit a rough patch when it was revealed that they were behind the Stand Your Ground laws that made the news when Trayvon Martin was killed in Florida and the man responsible for his death was acquitted in part to the law.  Corporate sponsors began to run away and took their funding with them.  Once the light comes on, the cockroaches scatter.

Charlie Pierce is on to them:

Nobody has any excuse any longer. Reporters — local and national — no longer have any excuse to treat ALEC and its work product as anything more than corporate-funded propaganda designed to exist outside the imperatives of democratic self-government. Voters — local and national — no longer have any excuse that they were somehow fooled by their representatives, who were acting out of loyalty to some distant boardroom and not to the people who elected them. Democratic parties — local and national — no longer have any excuse to keep from crushing this organization in whatever new guise it chooses to camouflage itself and its agenda. That last part — the “draft agreement” by which state legislators agree to be big old ‘ho’s for the people who run ALEC — should be politically suicidal. It’s long past time to ACORN these bastards in the public mind.

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