Category Archives: ALEC

Hot Air

Satan’s Sounds

Much as I make fun of the Republicans (and, by the way, I don’t hate them — that’s kid’s stuff) it’s the Libertarians whom I consider to be the silliest gang of political animals extant.

The Libertarians, from this vantage point, are essentially overgrown teenagers. Their basic philosophy boils down to You can’t tell me what to do.

Bumper Sticker

As Walter  Sobchak said of the difference between nihilists and neo-Nazis in The Big Lebowski, “Say what you will about the tenets of national socialism, at least it’s an ethos.”

Matt Kibbe, one of the folks responsible for the Tea (read: Me) Party’s existence, was interviewed on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday this morning. He’s a Libertarian of the first degree. He says his early philosophies were formed in part when he listened to (the insufferable music of) Canadian prog-metal rockers Rush as a youth.

Rush

Philosopher Rock Stars

Apparently, Rush put out a song or an album (I forget which, mainly because I don’t care) about some dystopic society far in the future. So the pimply-faced young Matt Kibbe ate the song (or album) up and next thing you know he was working with the former House Majority Leader Dick Armey to form a quasi-sociopathic political bloc that has taken over much of the Congress of this holy land. The Tea Party’s tenets are spelled out in  a book Kibbe and Armey c0-wrote entitled, Give Us Liberty: A Tea Party Manifesto. Kibbe’s own FreedomWorks organization is dedicated to the proposition that a monolithic, all-powerful entity like the federal gov’t is icky.

Kibbe

Kibbe

Freedom Works and the Tea Party are financed and led, ironically, by various representatives of monolithic, all-powerful multinational corporations as well as any number of monolithic, all-powerful, individual plutocrats.

So the argument can be made that rock ‘n roll is responsible for the birth of the Tea Party. Hmm, maybe all those hyper-moralists of the 1950s who warned that rock ‘n roll was the devil’s music were right.

Rotten To The Core

Speaking of Me Party-ists and Libertarians, the Indy Star today tells the story of the downfall of Indiana’s acceptance of the federal Common Core standards for public schools.

Common Core is pretty much an innocuous attempt by bureaucrats to make sure kids graduating from high school know how to do things like read, write, and add two plus two. The vast majority of states in this holy land — 45 of the 50 — accepted Common Core standards after they were released in 2010. Indiana bought in almost immediately but it has become the first of the states to change its mind and buy out.

Guess who was in the forefront of the state’s reversal. Yep, the Tea Party and its Libertarian pals.

The Rush-inspired and robber baron-funded political movements demanded the Hoosier State adopt its own educational standards for students at each grade level. That’s what state legislators and operatives from the Indiana Department of Education are doing as we speak. In fact, they’ve already come out with a number draft standards.

Lo and behold these new standards are — get ready for it — pretty much the same as the fed standards.

Hmm. So the whole contretemps boiled down to — see above — You can’t tell me what to do.

Scary Hot Air

A Profession Of Fear

I haven’t been moved much at all about all the recent news about government spying. You know, the NSA playing canasta with all our emails and the State Department eavesdropping on the belching and scratching of selected world leaders.

Characters from "The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show"

I suppose that’s because I’ve studied so much of the second half of the 20th Century in general and the the 1960s in particular. For that matter, I could have been studying the Jacobean Era of British history (the Late Sixteenth and Early Seventeenth centuries) and felt the same way about things.

Those in power have been spying on those without it since humans first started discussing things sotto voce. And governments have been prying into each others’ affairs forever.

Information is the most valuable currency human beings possess. If you’re thinking there was some grand and wonderful time when powerful people folded their hands and played nice in regard to keeping their noses out of other people’s business then you are a far, far more trusting soul than I am.

Others, though, are up in arms over Guardian newspaper and Wikileaks scoops, as well as the revelations made by former spook Edward Snowden who, if you’ll recall, is now hiding away safely in that very model of openness and candor, Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

The PEN American Center recently released a report that a significant number of writers in this holy land are feeling more than queasy about what they commit to paper or the LCD screen. Some, in fact, are beginning to censor themselves. US spying efforts, the report claims, “…are having a tangible and chilling effect on writers….”

The report opens with this graphic:

From PEN American Center

Really? Honestly? PEN American Center says it surveyed more than 520 member writers to come to this conclusion. That means some 170 of that 520 who earn their daily bread by flinging words around and are so dedicated to the vocation that they pay annual PEN membership dues have been made bunny-rabbit scared by the possibility that some grown up frat boys in the FBI or CIA are giggling over their sex messaging as we speak.

Writers are the people we depend on for information about secret wars and industrial poisonings. They tell us about sweetheart deals, legislative payoffs, and clandestine entanglements.

Who else could tell us about the Koch Brothers or ALEC or even the fabulous new DePaul University basketball arena being built with a huge infusion of city funds while Chicago public schools are being closed left and right?

TV news doesn’t do this for us, it being too busy worrying about Miley Cyrus’s tongue and where it’s been.

Cyrus

This Doesn’t Take Guts

Going head to head with the big boys in power takes guts. Your state legislator isn’t going to hire you to be his publicist after you’ve made a name for yourself whistling fouls on statehouse malfeasances. Corporate vice presidents of communications might look askance at applications for copywriting positions submitted by card-carrying muckrackers.

We expect guts from our print reporters and other writers.

Now PEN American Center tells us fully one-third of them lacks said viscera.

Here’s my advice to all those writers who confess that US spying is making them quake in their boots: Quit.

Yup. Get out of the business. We don’t need you. Go get a job running the new employee orientation program at some hospital. Sell some real estate. Manage a dentist’s office. Do something. But don’t tell me you’re a writer. Because you’re not.

Gossip columnist Walter Winchell once wrote, “Red Smith was asked if turning out a daily column wasn’t quite a chore. ‘Why no,’ dead-panned Red. ‘You simply sit down at the typewriter, open up your veins, and bleed.'”

Smith, by the way, was a sports columnist. Writing, even for those in the gossip and sports rackets, takes courage. You’re exposing yourself, something you’re taught not to do from the moment you step into your kindergarten classroom.

My guess is the 170 or so writers who told PEN American Center how jittery they are over government lick-spittlers’ prying never really subjected themselves to the vital process of exposing themselves through their written words.

So I suggest to writers whose teeth are chattering because some computer geeks are accumulating email metadata that they ought to find a gig that doesn’t keep them awake at night.

Your Daily Hot Air

Masters Of The Universe

ALEC is meeting in Chicago as we speak. You know that, don’t you? I assume they’re refining their plan to control the Solar System.

Solar System

ALEC’s Realm

Because, you know, complete global domination is a half-assed goal for losers. And those who populate the sinister halls of ALEC secret headquarters are winners. How do we know they’re winners? They have money and, in their universe, all that counts is money.

What is ALEC? Bill Moyers presents a swell picture of it here. ALEC Exposed does the same thing here. Or check Right Wing Watch’s mugshot of the gang here.

If you’re too lazy to click on the above links, just know that ALEC espouses, fights for, bankrolls, and — if it has its way — will soon impose by fiat upon us the following, among many other pro-corporate, fuck-you-people initiatives:

  • Stand your ground laws
  • “Shoot first” laws

John Wayne

ALEC’s American

  • The end of public education
  • Schools for profit
  • Defanging environmental standards and regulations
  • Union-busting
  • Deregulating the energy rackets

In its infancy (ALEC is celebrating its 40th birthday in Chi) the club worked tirelessly for prayer in public schools and against the Equal Rights Amendment. Later, ALEC-sters were among Saint Ronald Reagan’s most ardent stage door Johnnies. Now, it is simply the legislative muscle behind the corporate mob.

A number of people I know or am acquainted with are making nuisances of themselves outside the Palmer House Hilton Hotel where the ALEC-sters are perfecting their nefarious plots. These people are to ALEC what mosquitoes are to you and me. And ALEC is employing its very own flyswatter, in the form of the Chicago Police Department, to brush those nuisances away.

The thing is, mosquitoes may indeed be nuisances to you and me, but their bites remain with us for days and days. Sometimes the bites even interfere with our sleep.

Somehow, though, I don’t feel the ALEC archvillains are going to lose any sleep over the buzzing on East Monroe Street. They don’t seem to lose sleep over anything much.

Here are some citizen vids of the protests and arrests:

Meanwhile, corporate media hasn’t yet received the phone call alerting them to the protests. Golly gee, I wonder why!

BTW: If you’re interested in learning whether or not your elected representatives in the statehouse or in Congress are bought and paid for by ALEC, dig the interactive map here.

Now, turn off your TV and let’s do something about these slobs.

The Washington Slurs

In brighter news, Slate, the neo-lib online mag that’s usually as loath to making waves as a man standing up in a canoe, has decided, editorially, it shall never allow the moniker Washington Redskins to sully its portal again.

Redskins Logo

Vintage Washington Logo

Cool. Even though Washington NFL team owner Daniel Snyder thus far has stood on his head to insist he’ll never, ever, ever change its nickname no matter how many Indian groups or sympathizers raise a stink, it’s only a matter of time before the Redskins logo hits the dustbin. And none too soon, I may add.

Then again, the NFL and its devolved fan base really don’t care about trivialities like crippling leg injuries, scrambled brain syndromes, and the families of degenerate gamblers, so why would they care a whit about insulting a Holocausted people?

Redskins Cheerleader

Slurring Two Groups With One Stone

Ah, forget it: The Redskins they shall ever be. That doesn’t mean we have to say the word, does it?

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