Saturday, December 31, 2011

Minnesota PR Firm - Promotes ALEC Members

I just never know where a web search on the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is going to wind up.

Today - it brought me right back to Minneapolis Minnesota - the "Twin Cities"

Saw this in a Google search:
I am attending the American Legislative Exchange Council's conference in Arizona this week so am looking forward to seeing several long time friends.
And of course I had to click the link and I found this:

So I had to go find out what this Ainsley Shea was and I found this:
Ainsley Shea is a full service public affairs/public relations/creative firm located in the heart of the Twin Cities
Then I had to dig around their meager little website (which is really disappointing considering they are a PR company that boasts a web designer) and on the bio pages found references to these people, places and creepy crawly things.

Who are some of their clients that their “team” has worked with?
Philip Morris ( division of Altria) – ALEC Affiliation
Unilever – ALEC affiliation
PhRMA – ALEC affiliation
Pfizer – ALEC affiliation
Walmart – ALEC affiliation,
US Tobacco, Inc – (I think they mean to say US Smokeless Tobacco,a div of Altria - ALEC affiliation, - there is no US Tobacco on the web.)
Projects they are working on (without ever mentioning ALEC, of course) include:
Lower tax rates on tobacco products – ALEC initiative, with ALEC ”model legislation
National popular vote – an ALEC initiative
“a wide range of Fortune 500 companies that compete in regulated industries” - reducing industry regulation – ALEC initiative
And previous careers show some of them working for:
Jim Ramstad – ALEC ALUMNI

And then you have these
Koch connections
“ grassroots campaigns to confirm U.S. Supreme Court Justices Samuel Alito and John Roberts 
"has scored impressive PR/PA and brand-related victories for"
Progress for America  (might want to check this also)

Well, Minnesota nice - is being totally corrupted.
Not only do we have ALEC legislators, and ALEC corporate private sector members, now we have a Minnesota PR firm making sure ALEC members and "model legislation" get publicity that it doesn't deserve.
Yuck, yuck and yuck. 

I guess my head was so focused on legislators and alumni and lobbying that it never dawned on me that there are other companies out there supporting ALEC members.

I really don't want them in the heart of the Twin Cities.

Take your ALEC support services back to Washington DC - and set up shop right next door to ALEC where you belong.

ALEC members and those affiliated with ALEC in any manner
MUST NOT BE RE-ELECTED or receive our support in any means or manner!

Without state and federal legislators ALEC will cease to exist and it will implode.

For more information on ALEC –
Please read this or this or this

This is what ALEC is About  - An Interview with Mark Pocan about the ALEC Annual Meeting.

And watch this news video  from North Carolina on how other ALEC "model legislation" is going to screw the citizens of North Carolina - legislation introduced by ALEC legislators.

Do your own act of education!
Send the links shown above to friends and family and educate them about ALEC.

#Occupy the New Year!!!

It's the new year weekend.

There are no family gatherings - there are no shopping trips that have to be done, there is no cooking that has to be done.

There is time to stand up for democracy!

Check out your local Occupy group for events happening today and this weekend and beyond.
There is no excuse - find an event here.

In most of the country - thanks to climate change - it will be a great weekend to Occupy!

Minnesota - Get Ready To Occupy New Years Eve!

Posted on Dec 31, 2011 | 0 comments
Join Occupy Minneapolis at The People’s Plaza for New Years Eve!
Bring signs to show and march with. Plaza guards have orders to rip them down unless we have another court order or hundreds of people constantly on the People’s Plaza. Instead, we’ll print new flyers and glue them all over the plaza and downtown area. We also have flyers for upcoming events along with old 99% flyers that can be used to help communicate our message and remind people we are still occupying. We’ll do this instead of a General Assembly Saturday night.
We’ll have non-toxic glue, but feel free to bring your own wheat paste and other sticky concoctions and rollers to quickly post signs around the city.
For Event Info visit:

Event Name
Occupy New Years Eve
Date(s) - 31 Dec 2011 until 1 Jan 2012
7:00 AM - 1:00 AM
The People's Plaza300 South 6th Street - Minneapolis

Friday, December 30, 2011

An ALEC Expert?? – In this Case, Probably Not.

Some of you don’t realize that not only does the American Legislative Exchange Council have their members pushing through legislation – BUT whenever it looks like one of the members needs some backup they can call the ALEC office and ALEC will either send out a staffer to push whatever legislation that ALEC (and the ALEC corporate sector members) wants passed/or not passed and in court cases, ALEC will send a bevy of lawyers to file amicus briefs on the particular subject.

Evidently ALEC member Piscopo was having a problem getting his point across on the greenhouse gas initiative so he called ALEC and they sent “an expert” – their director of the natural resources taskforce. Expert may be too generous of a word.  Take a moment to read these excerpts from the proceedings.

DANIEL SIMMONS: Chairman and Members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify today on House Bill 5623, AN ACT WITHDRAWING FROM THE REGIONAL GREENHOUSE GAS INITIATIVE.

My name is Daniel Simmons, and I am the Director of the Natural Resources Taskforce of the American Legislative Exchange Council. My message today is simple. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative will produce no environmental benefits, but it will entail real costs.

Mr Simmons then takes his five minutes to quote a bunch of numbers and statistics why RGGI will produce no environmental benefits.  The first representative to question him does a really good job – enjoy the exchange,

REP. ROY: Thank you. Are there any questions for Dan? Representative O'Rourke.

REP. O'ROURKE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Simmons, good morning.

You offer a sort of a rare opinion on climate change and global warming. Virtually all of the independent scientific information, studies, and opinion that I have read, suggests that global warming is real and that its effects are pervasive, and will be profoundly negative on life on this planet, both human and otherwise, and that we need to take extreme measures to try to avert it and lessen that impact in the future.

And yet your group, the American Legislative Exchange Council comes before us and asks us not to take action.

Your testimony relies a lot on this Charles River Report, Charles River Associates. I want to ask you, you're the Director, are you not of the Director of Natural Resource Taskforce of ALEC?


REP. O'ROURKE: So you're the person in charge of making environmental policy and overseeing ALEC's position on these issues.

DANIEL SIMMONS: I am in charge of overseeing these issues, but it is really State Legislatures that develop the policy for the Committee.

REP. O'ROURKE: The State Legislators who are your members, but you do the research--

REP. O'ROURKE: --And provide them with the information so you're personally very knowledgeable about this Charles River Report that you rely on in this testimony.

DANIEL SIMMONS: I am not, I mean, granted I do not understand all of the assumptions that were made in the report. I just know what those numbers are. I know that those numbers, they rely on different assumptions then for example, the RGGI Staff has used.

What those are, I do not know. I would be very happy to find out what they are and provide that information to you.

REP. O'ROURKE: Do you think the Charles River Report relies on numbers that our Regional Greenhouse Gas Imitative staff relied on? Is that what you just said?

DANIEL SIMMONS: That is my assumption, but I don't know that for sure. If I could take--

REP. O'ROURKE: It might not be a good assumption. Do you know when the Charles River study was completed?

DANIEL SIMMONS: This most recent study came out, I mean, the most recent numbers that I provided, that $180 a year in 2010 and $270 a year in 2020, those are numbers, they haven't been published yet.

I mean, that they are just within a couple of months old, so that is new data.

I'm guessing since Representative Roy - addressed Mr.Simmons as "Dan"  - that there might be an assocation there that someone from CT might want to research - cause later in the transcsript, ALEC member Piscopo calls Simmons, "Dan".

ALEC Expert – probably not. 
Just a guy in a job working for an organization that is trying to destroy our democracy.
Wonder if he gets paid more than minimum wage – if yes, probably shouldn’t.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

*Congressional Reform Act of 2012*

I received this as a piece of chain mail.
I agree with most of it - I have a problem with term limits - but for the most part, this is common sense and what every citizen of the United States is forced to live with.

*Congressional Reform Act of 2012*

1. No Pension.
A Congressman/woman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they're out of office.
99.999999%  of working class people in the United States are not particpants in a pension plan anymore!

2. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.
They can start their own 401k, 403b and IRA accounts - based on their take home pay.

3. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security.
All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.

4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. 
Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.
Most American workers haven't seen more than a 2% pay increase in over 4 years!

5. Congress loses their current health care system
and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

6.   Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.
7.   Congress can not partipate in any transaction that could be viewed as "insider trading".
it is unpatriotic to short-sell America for their own profit!
8.   All contracts with past and present Congressmen/women are void effective 1/1/12.

The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen/women.
Congressmen/women made all these contracts for themselves.
Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career.
The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.

ALEC Members - Coordinating the Destruction of US Democracy

This article is about the American Justice Partnership (AJP) and ALEC.
(Please do NOT confuse this with Rocky Anderson’s Justice Party.)

The important thing about this is – IF AJP is in cahoots with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) (which I could not find undisputable evidence, all I found was others saying they were connected, but not proving it)


This is a horrendous and very dangerous situation – where ALEC member legislators are initiating the Voter ID legislation and then an ALEC corporate member comes in to pay for the campaign to make sure the legislation gets passed. 

Another example of where – ALEC is not the direct lobbyist, but their corporate sector / private enterprise ALEC members definitely ARE!

From Think Progress (my emphasis)

The AJP is a conservative legal organization based not in Maine, but in Michigan. On their website, the group states they are fighting against “the scheming George Soros money machine” which is “trying to sabotage your right to vote,” a claim apparently made without a hint of irony. Though the AJP doesn’t disclose where its funding comes from, the Bangor Daily News notes that it has partnered with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in the past, a group that has been instrumental in the proliferation of voter ID laws across the country.

The AJP’s secret $250,000 contribution ultimately accounted for over 78 percent of all the money raised by the No On 1 campaign. In other words, over three-quarters of the funding for opponents of election day registration in Maine came from Michigan. (This money was then used to run ads decrying “outsiders from other states” who were influencing the Maine election.) With Mainers of all stripes explaining to ThinkProgress why they cherish having the option to register at the polls on election day, it’s not altogether surprising that the predominance of financial support for No On 1 came from out of state.

ALEC members (public and private) coordinating together to destroy our democracy
And  making sure ALEC (and the Koch brothers) gets its way


Bachmann - Screwed by the 1%!

Had to chuckle when I heard this quote on the news this morning.

"Kent Sorenson personally told me he was offered a large sum of money to go to work for the Paul campaign," Bachmann told reporters. "Kent said to me yesterday that 'everyone sells out in Iowa, why shouldn't I,' then he told me he would stay with our campaign. The Ron Paul campaign has to answer for its actions."
IOWA is an ALEC state so this quote fits - 'everyone sells out in Iowa, why shouldn't I,'

Ron Paul doesn't have to answer for anything.

Money talks in today's US GOP. 
What goes around, will finally come around to bite everyone in the butt
 - this is YOUR GOP party, Michele.

You just got screwed by the 1%! 
Boo Hoo.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Holder on SC Voter ID Bill - is not a win

I'm seeing a lot of tweets about how important Holder's actions were in SC.

Mike Papantonio is on the Ed Schultz show today - and he was talking about how Holder waited too long.

His premise is that the SC AG can hold up Holder in the courts until after the 2012 election.

What Papantonio does not know is:
SC Attorney General is Allan Wilson
Alan Wilson, son of Joe Wilson
Joe Wilson is an ALEC ALUMNI

Therefore if Papantonio's premise is correct.
Based on my additional information - Holder wasted his time.


American Crystal Sugar – Union Busters

American Crystal Sugar – Union busters
PLEASE BUY CANE SUGAR until this issue is resolved.
Please BUY PRODUCTS MADE WITH CANE SUGAR until this issue is resolved.
Almost any beet sugar product you buy will be produced by American Crystal sugar.

From AM950 Radio in Minneapolis
It’s time for consumers to speak with their pocket book about American Crystal Sugar’s lock out of their workers. Crystal Sugar wants their employees to sign a union contract that allows management to bring in non-union employees through independent contractors to supply employees at lower wages. It’s union busting. For example, Crystal Sugar could sell all its fork lifts and hire a company to supply fork lifts and fork lift operators. As an employee of the outsourced company, the fork lift operator is not entitled to the livable wages and health insurance benefits of the union.
While employees average income of $40,000 per year, the price of the sugar beet crop hit a record high in 2010; from 2009 – 2011, Crystal Sugar’s net revenues were up 28% from 2009 to 2011; payments to farmers went from $503 million to $752 million, and the CEO’s pay went from $1.5 million to $2.44 million. The sugar beet farmers on the board of directors received $14 million in subsidies from the US government between 1995 – 2010.
If all the 900 workers locked out collected unemployment compensation during the four months of the lockout, then the state of Minnesota has paid $2.5 million in unemployment compensation. 410 North Dakota workers are not getting unemployment compensation because the Governor says it is not a layoff!
Consumers can send a message to Crystal Sugar that they won’t buy their sugar until they agree to a union contract that doesn’t allow non-union employees in the Crystal Sugar manufacturing plant
About a million years ago I use to work for American Crystal Sugar.  About a million years ago I tried to organize the office workers at American Crystal Sugar because they were getting screwed when it came to benefits.  Even a million years ago, Crystal Sugar was management friendly and worker unfriendly.  Looks like things have not changed in a million years.

Today, American Crystal Sugar is screwing their union workers and I wanted to bring this fight to a larger audience.

In August of this past year, American Crystal locked out their union workers.  The workers showed up one day to give American Crystal a good days work for the pay they had been promised and Crystal had locked them out – no notice.  In North Dakota, American Crystal workers can’t collect unemployment because they were “locked out”, not “laid off”.

Here’s a couple of snips from the American Crystal Sugar Workers Lockout Webpage

By Barb Kucera, Workday editor

12 August 2011 MOORHEAD - More than 600 locked out sugar workers and supporters rallied outside the headquarters of American Crystal Sugar Thursday, demanding an end to the lockout that has shaken communities up and down the Red River Valley.

Some 1,300 members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco & Grain Millers union were barred from their jobs Aug. 1 after they rejected Crystal Sugar’s contract offer by an overwhelming margin. The company has hired out-of-state workers to run some operations at its facilities in East Grand Forks, Crookston, Moorhead and Chaska, Minn.; Drayton and Hillsboro, N.D., and Mason City, Iowa.

“They’re trying to gut our contract,” said Sie Rawls, who has worked in Drayton for 11 years. The union said the company’s proposal threatens job security by allowing massive outsourcing of jobs and makes major shifts of health care costs onto employees.

To add insult to injury, Crystal Sugar has hired replacement workers through a Minnetonka-based consulting firm and is paying them more than the long-term employees – and giving them a daily per diem for expenses. Cars in local hotel parking lots carry license plates from North and South Carolina, Tennessee and Mississippi.
Posted by BCTGM - December 1, 2011
The already strained relationship between management of American Crystal Sugar Company (ACSC) and its 1,300 locked out workers was dealt another serious blow when recordings of anti-worker statements by ACSC President and CEO Dave Berg were made public this week.

In a meeting of company shareholders on November 7 in Grafton, N.D., Berg likened the workers to a 21-pound cancerous tumor. According to an audio recording of the meeting, Berg told the story of a sick friend who was diagnosed with cancer and had a massive tumor removed. “That’s a scary deal. He was sick for a long time,” said Berg. “We can’t let a labor contract make us sick forever and ever and ever. We have to treat the disease and that’s what we’re doing here

American Crystal is Killing the American Dream

Here’s a couple of snips about management salaries.
David A. Berg    
Chief Executive Officer and President, American Crystal Sugar Co.
As of Fiscal Year 2011

Joseph J. Talley    
Chief Operating Officer, American Crystal Sugar Co.
As of Fiscal Year 2011

Thomas S. Astrup    
Chief Financial Officer and Vice President of Finance, American Crystal Sugar Co.
As of Fiscal Year 2011
And then you have this:
With a reported 3,000 sugar beet farmer stakeholders in American Crystal, you can extrapolate and do the math yourself. On face value, one-third. Of that $242 million, nearly $193 million was via the Sugar Beet Diversion Program, with the remaining $49 million as part of the Sugar Beet Disaster Program.

In light of the current federal deficit and nearly bankrupt government subdivisions across the country, the lockout of American Crystal workers naturally leads to criticism of the farmers, themselves. That scrutiny of the sugar program very possibly puts the entire farm subsidy program at risk.

For example, best we can tell, the current chairman of American Crystal’s board reportedly received $495,047 in total farm subsidies between 1995 and 2010, including $57,989 in sugar beet subsidies. One other recent board chairman received $425,898 in total farm subsidies in that same time period, including sugar beet subsidies amounting to $39,923. Yet another former chairman of the board, as we read the information, garnered $629,152 in total farm subsidy payments in the same 16-year time frame, including $43,898 in sugar beet subsidies
Here’s a couple of snips about the average wages in the area that the executives live and the workers of their two biggest plants work in
Fargo, North Dakota
The median income for a household in the city was $35,510, and the median income for a family was $50,486.  (Source:  Wikipedia)

Moorhead Minnesota
The median income for a household in the city was $34,781, and the median income for a family was $49,118.  (Source:  Wikipedia)

Grand Forks ND
The median income for a household in the county was $35,785, and the median income for a family was $46,620.  (Source:  Wikipedia)

American Crystal Sugar – Union busters
PLEASE BUY CANE SUGAR until this issue is resolved.
Please BUY PRODUCTS MADE WITH CANE SUGAR until this issue is resolved.
Almost any beet sugar product you buy will be produced by American Crystal sugar.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Why Occupy Exists - A Must Read

There is wisdom and cautions in this article.

The Big Lie (excerpt)
Dec 26, 2011 12:00 AM EST
Wall Street has destroyed the wonder that was America. 

I have lived what now, at 75, is starting to feel like a long life. If anyone asks me what has been the great American story of my lifetime, I have a ready answer. It is the corruption, money-based, that has settled like some all-enveloping excremental mist on the landscape of our hopes, that has permeated every nook of any institution or being that has real influence on the way we live now. Sixty years ago, if you had asked me, on the basis of all that I had been taught, whether I thought this condition of general rot was possible in this country, I would have told you that you were nuts. And I would have been very wrong. What has happened in this country has made a lie of my boyhood.

There should be more to America, Gore Vidal has written, than who pays tax to whom. It has been in Wall Street’s interest to shrivel our sensibilities as a nation, to shove aside the verities of which General MacArthur spoke at West Point—duty, honor, country—in favor of grubby schemes and scams and “carried interest” calculations. Time, I think, to take the country back.
Read the whole thing >>>>HERE<<<<<
It is worth your time!

Have you thought about what you are prepared to do and say
- because the time of reckoning is coming.

Have you occupied anything - if no, it's time you did.

"These are the times for real choices and not false ones.
We are at the moment when our lives must be placed on the line
if our nation is to survive its own folly.
Every man of humane convictions must decide
on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest."
- Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. 1968


PLEASE - Maintain the "Move Your Money" Campaign

I just have to put this out as a reminder to many.

I moved my money last month and I am asking others to do the same.

Moving your money to a local bank or credit union puts the money BACK INTO YOUR COMMUNITY!

Will it be easy and convenient to make the change - maybe not - but at some point you need to take a moral stand for you and your local community.

Will it be easy and convenient after the change - maybe not - but at some point you need to take a moral stand for you and your local community.

5,386 Occupiers Arrested for Waking Up America!
ZERO Banksters Arrested for Destroying our Economy.

Voter ID Laws Discriminate Against Seniors

This entry was prompted when someon did a search that said
Need help getting a free voter ID for senior citizen.

When you see that in your search statistics - you know immediately that
(a)  there is a problem out there for regular folks
(b)  that problem is about senior citizens
(c)  friends and families of senior citizens are going to have to FIX THIS!

This particular side of the issue doesn't get much coverage - they mostly talk about students and people of color - which is justified.

But being "almost a senior" by census standards - I thought it was important to take a look at this.

What follows is a couple of statistics
- then excerpts from seven stories exclusively from Think Progress - as they have the best coverage.
You can link to the full story by clicking the bolded heading above each excerpt.

Some Statistics 
Voting rates for citizens    65 years and  older were statistically unchanged between 2004 and 2008.

And then there are these stats reported on
79 percent - Percentage of U.S. citizens age 65 and older who were registered to vote in the 2004 presidential election. Seniors make up the highest percentage of registered voters in any age group.

•71 percent - Percentage of seniors 65+ who were registered to vote and reported that they voted.
•19 percent - Of all voters in the 2004 election, this percentage was 65 and older

Note this one for the 2040 election

•41 percent - this percentage is projected to be cast by seniors 65 and older - Of all votes expected in the 2040 presidential election
With those statistics in mind
- please take the time to do a little reading
- cause this is what all us "seniors" have to look forward in the coming years
- if we let the Voter ID laws be enacted. 

Please note that by playing this clip You Tube and Google will place a long-term cookie on your computer. Please see You Tube’s privacy statement on their website and Google’s privacy statement on theirs to learn more.

A 93-year-old Tennessee woman who cleaned the state Capitol for 30 years, including the governor’s office, says she won’t be able to vote for the first time in decades after being told this week that her old state ID failed to meet new voter ID regulations.

Thelma Mitchell was even accused of being an undocumented immigrant because she couldn’t produce a birth certificate:

Mitchell, who was delivered by a midwife in Alabama in 1918, has never had a birth certificate. But when she told that to a drivers’ license clerk, he suggested she might be an illegal immigrant.

Thelma Mitchell told WSMV-TV that she went to a state drivers’ license center last week after being told that her old state ID from her cleaning job would not meet new regulations for voter identification.

The state now has evidence that that will be the case. Dorothy Cooper, a 96-year-old Chattanooga resident who says she has voted in every election but one since she became eligible to vote, wanted to ensure she’d have the necessary ID to vote in next year’s elections, when Tennessee’s law goes into effect. But when she went to apply for the ID, she was denied, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports:

That morning, Cooper slipped a rent receipt, a copy of her lease, her voter registration card and her birth certificate into a Manila envelope. Typewritten on the birth certificate was her maiden name, Dorothy Alexander.

“But I didn’t have my marriage certificate,” Cooper said Tuesday afternoon, and that was the reason the clerk said she was denied a free voter ID at the Cherokee Boulevard Driver Service Center.

“I don’t know what difference it makes,” Cooper said.

Cooper doesn’t have a driver’s license — she never learned to drive — and has never needed identification to vote, and her lack of a valid marriage license is likely due to the fact that she’s outlived two husbands. Under the Tennessee law, Cooper will still be able to vote via absentee ballot, which does not require photo ID. But standing outside her normal voting precinct, Cooper told the Times Free Press she will miss going there to vote. “We always come here to vote,” Cooper said. “The people who run the polls know everybody here.”
Now another senior citizen in Tennessee, 91-year-old Virginia Lasater, may not be able to vote because she wasn’t able to stand in a long line at a DMV to get the necessary ID. Lasater says that she has voted and worked in campaigns for 70 years, but when she tried to get a photo ID recently, she discovered the center was packed and there were no chairs available. A clerk told Lasater and her son there was nothing they could do. Senior citizens who want to be politically active but have trouble moving are apparently just out of luck in 2012. (HT: Ryan Reilly)
In Wisconsin, the new photo ID requirement is creating obstacles that are so onerous, prejudicial, and even paradoxical that many Wisconsinites cannot obtain the necessary photo ID.

Jennifer “Rita” Platt and her boyfriend, for instance, have every intention of voting next year and decided to get a jump start on complying with the new law. Realizing they did not have the necessary forms of identification accepted at the polls, they traveled to a Department of Motor Vehicles 45 minutes away because the DMVs in their county only open one day a month.

Not only was the DMV system down but Platt was told that, even with an expired driver’s license and Social Security card, she didn’t have the right documents to get an ID:

The DMV office’s computer system was down, which meant they couldn’t get an ID processed. And they were told they didn’t have the proper identification to get a state ID card or a Wisconsin driver’s license, Platt said.

“They said I didn’t have a certified birth certificate or a current passport,” said Platt, who said she had asked the DMV what was needed before heading to Hudson.

She had brought an expired Iowa driver’s license, her Social Security card and a pay stub from the St. Croix Falls school district, where she works as a librarian, believing those items would satisfy the DMV’s requirements, she said.

Platt, of Osceola, said she is going to have to find her certified birth certificate or request a new one, take unpaid time off from work and again make the trip to the DMV.

Not only do new birth certificates cost at least $20 each, but obtaining a new birth certificate in Wisconsin is no easy matter due to misleading form that suggests applicants need a “current valid photo ID” to get a birth certificate, which they need to get a photo ID. Worse, by charging any fee whatsoever for a document people need in order to exercise their right to vote, Wisconsin violates the Constitution’s ban on poll taxes.

For 63 years, Brokaw, Wisconsin native Ruthelle Frank went to the polls to vote. Though paralyzed on her left side since birth, the 84-year-old “fiery woman” voted in every election since 1948 and even got elected herself as a member of the Brokaw Village Board. But because of the state’s new voter ID law, 2012 will be the first year Frank can’t vote. Born after a difficult birth at her home in 1927, Frank never received an official birth certificate. Her mother recorded it in her family Bible and Frank has a certification of baptism from a few months later, along with a Social Security card, a Medicare statement, and a checkbook. But without the official document, she can’t secure the state ID card that the new law requires to vote next year.

“It’s really crazy,” she added. “I’ve got all this proof. You mean to tell me that I’m not a U.S. citizen?” But state officials have informed Frank that, because the state Register of Deeds does have a record of her birth, they can issue her a new birth certificate — for a fee. And because of a spelling error, that fee may be as high as $200:

World War II veteran Darwin Spinks went to a testing center last month to get a photo ID for voting purposes. Under the law, any resident without a photo ID is supposed to get one free of charge. But when Spinks asked for an ID, he was told he had to pay an $8 fee:

Spinks said Tuesday he needed the photo because when his driver’s license with a photo expired the last time, the driver testing center issued him a new license without a photo on it. State law allows people over 60 to get a non-photo driver’s license.

The retired print shop worker who moved here 17 years ago said he told people at the driver center he wanted an ID for voting purposes. He was sent from one line to another to have a picture taken, then was charged.

“I said, ‘You mean I’ve got to pay again?’ She says, ‘Yes,’” explained Spinks, a resident of County Farm Road, who was stationed on the USS Goshen in World War II and was called to duty again for the Korean War.

Forcing an American citizen to pay in order to vote is a clear violation of the constitution’s 24th Amendment:
By Tanya Somanader on Oct 8, 2011 at 9:00 am
Enforcing Voter ID Law During Recall Elections, Wisconsin Poll Workers Falsely Told Voters With Expired Driver’s Licenses That They Can’t Vote | In the name of non-existent threat, GOP-led states across the country have been pushing restrictive voter ID laws that could block more than five million Americans from the ballot boxes. In Wisconsin, the states voter ID law — “the biggest change in Wisconsin voting laws since 18-year-olds were given the right to vote in 1971 — has already caused “widespread confusion” during the recent recall elections. The League of Women Voters released a report detailing mistakes caused by the law. Not only did poll workers inconsistently ask voters to show IDs three months before the law actually goes into effect on Jan. 1, but they told voters in at least four places that “they couldn’t vote next year if their driver’s licenses are expired.” That is false, as “the law allows voters to use expired licenses as far back as November of last year.” One Wisconsin county clerk still insists, however, that the recall election elections went well “primarily because she thinks poll workers were adequately trained” and implemented the law as they should
NOW is the time for seniors (or almost-seniors, or near seniors) to take action to protect our voting rights.

If you choose to do nothing now
- your right to vote may not be available to you in the future.

MN - The Epicenter of GOP Hypocrisy

As I come out of the holidays I can’t help thinking what hypocrites the GOP in Minnesota are. 

What I fail to understand is why the Dems are not grabbing onto these two Minnesota stories and passing it around the US.  It is the epitome of GOP hypocrisy.

We have two different pieces of GOP hypocrisy that we are seeing in the news.  The Koch story is still making the news – but because our TV stations are all right wing – no one is talking about the GOP party financial issues anymore.

First – The fiscally responsible – Hah! – The Minnesota GOP stands right now with debt estimated from $500,000 and $1.2 million.  This resulted in the dramatic and immediate resignation of the GOP state chair.  It is my opnion that the DOJ should do an investigation of this for malfeasance.

But is that fiscally responsibility an anomaly– probably not.  When Tim Pawlenty was our governor he left office leaving the state with a 6.2 BILLION deficit.  Mother Jones went even further in their coverage to note:

Pawlenty turned in balanced budgets, Carlson explains, but only superficially. When he wasn't skirting his pledge not to raise taxes by using linguistic jujitsu—turning a sales tax increase on cigarettes into a "health impact fee," for instance—Pawlenty was simply redistributing the burden, from St. Paul to local authorities, or to the taxpayers themselves. According to Carlson, property taxes increased by $716 million in the eight years before Pawlenty took office; over his eight years as governor, they jumped by $2.5 billion. As Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, a Democrat, noted in April: "If the tea party really knew how much Tim Pawlenty raised taxes in Minnesota, they would throw him in Boston Harbor."

Those stealth tax hikes were buttressed by accounting gimmicks. In some cases, payments would be pushed back a few days until after the start of a new fiscal year, creating the false impression that the deficit had in fact been erased. In other cases, he stole from Peter to pay St. Paul. Pawlenty raided the coffers of select state agencies in order to provide a short-term patch for others—a strategy the Minnesota Taxpayers Association has called "budgetary duct tape." Pawlenty took $1 billion from a settlement with tobacco companies that had been earmarked for health care services and used it for the general budget. He borrowed another $1.4 billion from the state's K-12 education fund. And he quietly accepted $2.3 billion in stimulus funds while publicly lambasting the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
Second – The Party of Family Values – Hah! –  - Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch abruptly resigned her leadership post and said she wouldn’t seek re-election.  She admitted to an inappropriate affair with a staffer.  Regardless of who ends up being identified as the other person in the affair, there are no dems on that list – just republicans.  So it isn’t just Koch who is smashing the family values but also the person she crawled in the sack with.

We have become so accustom to the GOP hypocrisy that we let them go from one lie to the next lie (in relation to the party platform) and we seldom call them out on it in a meaningful way.  We must stop this destructive behavior.   We must treat he Repugs like a puppy -  a little puppy that poops on the carpet - we need to start rubbing their nose in it - again and again and again and again.  (The Repugs do this to the Dems all the time.)

Why do we let news like this go unnoticed and not scream it at the top of our lungs, across the entire USA?
Why do we – repeatedly – allow the Repugs to continue immoral behavior like this and we choose not to call them on it?  Why are we not screaming in their faces?
Why  do we let the MSM stop reporting GOP errors – while they will spend weeks hanging on to any mistake the Dems make?

Not only do we need to let others know what is happening – we have to be proactive in contacting our news stations that they are doing a disservice by not properly reporting GOP failures.

Sometimes dems – centrist and liberals - choose the wrong time to become silent and I think what is happening in Minnesota needs to be screamed from the top of every hill and mountain, across the US, for weeks or months to come.

This is how we will take Minnesota and the country back from the Repugs.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Businessmen are NOT Good Governors!

You get what you ask for when you elect a businessman to a higher level of government than they deserve.

Rick Scott - Florida
ORLANDO, Fla. - With Gov. Rick Scott's approval rating sliding 7 points this month to a new personal low of 26%, Scott released his 2012-13 budget proposal, which would makes cuts to Medicaid, increases money to education, and gives more corporate hand outs to Florida businesses.

Rick Snyder - Michigan 
In the last few weeks of 2011, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) rounded out his concerted campaign against Michigan workers with a few final laws. In a prejudicial move against the LGBT community, Snyder signed a measure prohibiting all public employees from providing benefits for their unmarried partners. In considering his state’s 10.6 percent unemployment rate, Snyder also signed a law forcing some of Michigan’s over 400,000 unemployed workers to take low-wage jobs after 10 weeks of benefits, even if those jobs pay less than they were making before:

Naturally, not all Michiganders were asked to share in such sacrifices — namely, corporations. While more than 1.5 million of his constituents faced poverty, Snyder enacted a $1.7 billion tax cut for corporations, or about “$30 in corporate tax cuts for every dollar saved in welfare benefit cuts.” Indeed, Snyder pushed to cut the state’s business taxes by nearly $2 billion, or 86 percent.

For his first year in office, Snyder ranked as one of the most unpopular governors in the country.

Voting has consequences - and just because someone might have ran a business DOES NOT mean they are suited for high positions in government - straight out of the box.

I hope this is a lesson to people out there.

Please read this (my emphasis) - wise words from a wise person!

In summary, most business people in public office cannot make the transition from thinking about short term profits and maximizing the self interests of businesses to thinking about acting in the best interests of all people, now and for future generations.  All of their decisions and actions are based on or around the concept of money and the pursuit of profit in the shortest time possible.   Concepts such as common interests, social justice, and long term economic and environmental sustainability are just not in their vocabulary.  As discussed in earlier parts of this article, their brains are not developed to think that way.

Government is about operating society, not running a business to make money.  (For those who make the valid argument that government should not waste money and act more like a business that would never consider wasting money, that is an entirely different subject worthy of discussion).  Government is about fairness and requires cooperation. Actions are taken because they are right to do, not because they make money, or cost money.  Developing and following higher principles to guide public decisions are foreign to most buinessmen and women with their imbedded profit driven thinking.  To most of them, leadership in government has been downgraded to using the influence of money and power.  And since most of this money comes from large multinational corporations, it is their views they represent.

Koch's are "Throwing Down the Gauntlet"

They are saying to the United States - "Mine is Bigger than Yours!"

And the question is what will be your response?

This was reported almost two months ago - but I missed it until it was brought to my attention today.

Here are clips - but the whole article is worth the read.

The voter file was set up by the Kochs 18 months ago with $2.5m of their seed money, and is being developed by a hand-picked team of the brothers' advisers. It has been given the name Themis, after the Greek goddess who imposes divine order on human affairs.

The secretive oil billionaires the Koch brothers are close to launching a nationwide database connecting millions of Americans who share their anti-government and libertarian views, a move that will further enhance the tycoons' political influence and that could prove significant in next year's presidential election.

By pooling the information, the hope is to create a data resource that is far more potent than the sum of its parts. Themis will in effect become an electoral roll of right-wing America, allowing the Koch brothers to further enhance their power base in a way that is sympathetic to, but wholly independent of, the Republican party.

Their potential to sway the electorate through the sheer scale of their spending has been greatly enhanced by Citizens United, last year's controversial ruling by the US supreme court that opened the floodgates to corporate donations in political campaigns. The ruling allows companies to throw unlimited sums to back their chosen candidates, without having to disclose their spending.

That makes 2012 the first Citizens United presidential election, and in turn offers rich pickings to the Koch brothers. They have already made clear their intentions. At their most recent billionaires' gathering in Vail, Colorado in June, Charles Koch described next year's presidential contest as "the mother of all wars". A tape of his private speech obtained by Mother Jones said the fight for the White House would be a battle "for the life or death of this country".


Friday, December 23, 2011

The "Get Rid of ALEC" "MODEL Legislation"

Awhile back in one of my entries I suggested that citizens start petitions to put a referendum on the ballot to get rid of ALEC.

Well.........  today on the Minnesota Uncut ALEC newspaper we have an excellent start from Arizona - as reported in the BlogforArizona

Here is Farley's explanation of the ALEC Accountability Act.

ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council) is a conservative national political organization funded by large corporate interests that funnels language for right-wing legislation to conservative lawmakers in state capitols across the country.

Media reports have made it clear that the relationship between the ALEC and corporate special interests, lobbyists and lawmakers in Arizona is an intimate one. Currently, a quiet system of lobbyist-funded scholarships fund lawmaker participation in conferences that promote an ideological agenda at the same time as it provides fancy accommodations, upscale dining and entertainment "networking" opportunities in cities around the country. These activities are not regulated or disclosed in a way easy for the public to track.

ALEC lobbies Arizona's state lawmakers to carry out its right-wing corporatist agenda and it is quite effective in doing so, successfully orchestrating the passage of many of its bills relating to private prisons, voter suppression, the privatization of public education, and attacks on healthcare and environmental protection. You can read more about ALEC's influence on Arizona in this PDF report from People for the
American Way
and Common Cause:

Currently, ALEC operates outside the regulations in place to limit lobbyist influence on our state's political process so the extent of their activities -- and those of the special interests that fund ALEC -- is unknown, even though it seems clear that ALEC is merely another vehicle for special interests to advance their self-interested agenda through Arizona's lawmakers.

The public has the right to know who funds ALEC's activities, who funds legislators' costs associated with attending ALEC meetings and conferences around the country and which legislators are accepting those funds. Arizona's citizens also have a right to ensure that, as a lobbying entity, ALEC complies with the laws in place to limit the influence of lobbyists on Arizona's political process.

My ALEC Accountability Act of 2012 will require ALEC to adhere to the same laws that other lobbying entities must follow. It is time to shine the light on who funds this organization and who funds the travel and other participation costs of legislators active in groups like ALEC.

The ALEC model is to introduce "model legislation" in one conservative right wing nut state and then when it passes - call it a success for all states.  Then ALEC passes it out to all the other state legislators at their meetings.  I don't think we should follow that schedule.

Now it is time for us to get in touch with all our left leaning legislators and request that they get in touch with Farley and try to do the same in every state across the United States.

Merry Christmas ALEC.
Ho, Ho, Ho.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Grover Norquist - Lobbyist for the Keystone XL Pipeline

I heard this on the Thomm Hartman show while I was driving home from work tonight and wanted to see where else this was reported.  This is not easy to find but it was reported November 14, 2011 in the NY Times.
Mr. Norquist says he is all about taxes, but he has a sideline of lobbying activities that don’t always show antitax purity. They include lobbying the State Department for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline and the Pentagon on spending proposals, and opposing Internet regulations designed to fight child pornography, according to Politico. He considers his lobbying activities to be small-government initiatives.

And on YouTube you have this Hartmann clip that is well worth watching - but definitely watch between minutes 4:28 and 9:10 to hear Karen Finney state that Norquist is a lobbyist for the Keystone Pipeline.

This is extremely disturbing since the Repugs have all signed their allegiance to God Grover over taxes and the one-year payroll tax cut bill that Boehner was trying to introduced included the XL Pipeline - not just discussing it - forcing the implementation of it.

Less than six hours ago, McConnell is still saying that the XL Pipeline is good to go:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said on Thursday that passing a temporary tax cut proposal would lock-in thousands of jobs that would be created from building the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada.

Norquist has way too much power in our Congress and I would bet just as much in our state legislatures.

We can draw a direct line between Norquist and the XL Pipeline - a line between the XL Pipeline and the Koch brothers and a line from both the Koch brothers and Norquist to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) - which leads me to ask the question, "What other ALEC corporate sector members are behind the Keystone XL Pipeline?"  A question that I want the answer for.

WE HAVE TO GET RID of all legislators (state and federal) that have signed their allegiance to the god Grover.