There is bullying going on here, all right

It’s so unfair when there are two sides in a fight:

It’s been a week since a coalition of liberal and civil rights groups went public with a campaign to undermine the American Legislative Exchange Council, which has advocated stringent voter-identification and “stand your ground” laws around the U.S. Seven corporations — Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Mars, Kraft Foods, McDonalds, Wendy’s and the software maker Intuit — say they have dropped their memberships in ALEC. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said it won’t give ALEC any more grants, though one already under way will continue.
Rashad Robinson, director of ColorofChange.org, a civil rights organization in the coalition, says they are trying to put ALEC’s corporate members on the spot. “They’ll be making a choice, that they’re going to stand with an organization that works to suppress the vote and support shoot-first legislation, and they won’t be able to do that in private,” he says.
ALEC says it’s being targeted because of its free-enterprise agenda. “The groups attacking ALEC and its members are the same activists who have always pushed for big-government solutions,” said Kaitlyn Buss, the council’s spokeswoman. “And those groups will use any excuse to intimidate and bully.”

Attacking! Bullying! One wonders how itty-bitty Kraft Foods will survive this sort of intimidation. I keep waiting for someone to ask one of these paid hacks at ALEC just what in the heck voter suppression laws have to do with “free enterprise”, but no one ever does.

The coalition campaign is based partly on an archive of ALEC-drafted legislation — documents leaked last spring to the Center for Media and Democracy, a watchdog group in Wisconsin “People for the first time could really connect the dots between which corporations were involved in ALEC and what the legislative agenda was of ALEC,” said Lisa Graves, the head of the center. “And people could look in their statehouses and see that agenda moving.”

She’s right, but the other factor was this, from 2010:

Although attention has focused on GOP gains in Congress and Governor’s mansions, the worst part of the night for Democrats probably came in state legislative seats. The National Conference of State Legislatures estimates that Democrats had the worst night in state legislative seats since 1928. Republicans have flipped at least 14 chambers, and have unified control of 25 state legislatures. They have picked up over five hundred state legislative seats, including over 100 in New Hampshire alone.

It was just the sheer VOLUME of the ALEC-drafted legislation that drew attention.

But if leaked documents provide the information, something else helps to raise the stakes: Citizens United, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that lets corporations spend freely in political campaigns. Legally speaking, Citizens United has absolutely nothing to do with ALEC, but corporate CEOs remember what happened soon after the Citizens United decision came down: The retail chain Target gave $100,000 in support of a Minnesota state candidate who opposed gay marriage. The move was at odds with Target’s hip, urban image, and the blow-back from customers was fierce. “The sensitivity level in corporate America went up, particularly among retail corporations, appreciably,” says Ken Gross, a lawyer who advises corporate clients on campaign finance issues. “It set off alarm bells in many quarters.”
David Primo, who teaches political science and business administration at the University of Rochester, says the corporations are boxed in. He says it’s not fair to hold the ALEC corporate members responsible for everything the council does, but with tinderbox issues such as voter ID and “stand your ground,” he says, the corporations can’t afford to have a debate. “What gets picked up on that is race, money, politics,” he says. “And you need to try to deal with that message and not have that message tarnish your brand.”

By all means. Protect the brand. If that means we protect voting rights, we all win.

59 replies
  1. 1
    Downpuppy says:

    Given that “free enterprise” to ALEC means union busting & general oppression of workers, if they want to come out on that, fine.

    http://markmaynard.com/2012/03.....onnection/

  2. 2
    gex says:

    Cue Andy Sullivan to tell us how unfair boycotting is and how we are stifling the free speech rights of these corporate “people” who would deny actual people their right to vote.

  3. 3
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    When I think “opposing free enterprise,” I definitely think of Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Mars, Kraft Foods, McDonalds, Wendy’s, Intuit, and Bill Gates. Good call, ALEC.

  4. 4
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    He says it’s not fair to hold the ALEC corporate members responsible for everything the council does

    __
    If it isn’t fair to hold the corporate members responsible, then who is responsible for building the monster from spare parts and turning it loose? Because the electricity which brought it to life didn’t come from the sky, it came from somebody’s bank account.

  5. 5
    Brachiator says:

    but with tinderbox issues such as voter ID and “stand your ground,” he says, the corporations can’t afford to have a debate. “What gets picked up on that is race, money, politics,” he says. “And you need to try to deal with that message and not have that message tarnish your brand.”

    If corporations are “people,” how can they also have brands?

  6. 6
    Catsy says:

    @Brachiator: I realize this was probably snark, but people can have brands too. Many celebrities aggressively protect theirs.

  7. 7
    Egg Berry says:

    David Primo, who teaches political science and business administration at the University of Rochester,

    Not sure I’ve seen that combination before.

  8. 8
    Mark S. says:

    Isn’t ALEC also responsible for Arizona’s (and other states) immigration laws? Their name seems to always come up when some horrible state law gets passed.

  9. 9
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    The coalition campaign is based partly on an archive of ALEC-drafted legislation — documents leaked last spring to the Center for Media and Democracy

    __
    I’m guessing that I’m not the only one here left feeling uneasy that this exercise in stealth government of the corporations, by the corporations, and for the corporations was only exposed by accident. Sometimes leaks happen and sometimes they don’t. Nice to know that the foundations of our democracy rest on such shaky ground.

  10. 10
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Mark S.:

    Isn’t ALEC also responsible for Arizona’s (and other states) immigration laws?

    __
    IIRC they came up in the context of the law benefiting Arizona’s privatized prison system.

  11. 11
    Kay says:

    @Brachiator:

    I think you have it backward. You’re now supposed to become a “brand” and incorporate, and then it’s even-steven, level-playing-field, Kraft Foods and you.

    Like relatives, but better.

  12. 12
    Tokyokie says:

    @Brachiator:
    If corporations are “people,” how can they also have brands?

    Lots of frat boys could show you how that’s done.

  13. 13
    Tonal Crow says:

    “Brand?” What about the Republican brand? What does it symbolize? Tyranny, repression, theft, violence, hatred of the earth that sustains us, racism, homophobia, xenophobia, heedless exploitation — and every form of lying propaganda known to humankind.

    That’s the Republican brand: high-level toxic waste.

  14. 14

    @Egg Berry: My father is a poli sci professor and did some work at the business school for a while. He eventually got tired of it. There is some overlap for those who do public policy.

  15. 15
    pragmatism says:

    i love seeing a legislative bully complain about being bullied. i guess i’m just a hatter (i frequently see “hater” spelled that way)

  16. 16
    jncc says:

    Kay – This post and your last were both excellent. Thank you.

  17. 17

    @Egg Berry: Any empirically accurate political science would of necessity be a branch of business administration.

  18. 18
  19. 19
    pragmatism says:

    @gex: i sent him a couple of emails asking him to explain why it was acceptable to boycott dixie chicks, etc. back in the bad old days of the bush part deux debacle but not now. he refused to own his IOKIYAR or even trot out the “i thought about it and changed my mind because i’m so fucking reasonable and serious”.

  20. 20
    Comrade Dread says:

    ALEC says it’s being targeted because of its free-enterprise agenda.

    And what could be more supportive of free enterprise than potentially millions of customers saying, “Sure, your company can support whatever crackpot ideas it wants, but it won’t have a dime of my money to do so.”

    Apparently, conservatives continue to be befuddled that free speech doesn’t mean being able to say or support what you want to without consequence.

  21. 21
    liberal says:

    The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said it won’t give ALEC any more grants, though one already under way will continue.

    Not like I had a 100% approving attitude of the Gates Foundation or anything, but that looks atrocious.

  22. 22
    Lancelot Link says:

    Mars has already profited from ALEC-backed legislation ; the “stand-your-ground” law in Florida has done wonders for Skittles sales.

  23. 23
    Calouste says:

    Funny thing of course is that the NOM tried to boycott JCPenney and Starbucks for being gay friendly and failed fairly spectacularly. The companies apparently know which side their bread is buttered, which means this kind of stuff should be pushed harder by the left because it works for us.

  24. 24
    geg6 says:

    Just love how the prof bullshits with the best of them:

    David Primo, who teaches political science and business administration at the University of Rochester, says the corporations are boxed in. He says it’s not fair to hold the ALEC corporate members responsible for everything the council does

    It’s perfectly fair. This is what drives me nuts. Somehow a citizens’ group is unfairly taking on a huge corporate-funded rightwing political entity that ACTUALLY WRITES THE LAWS that are passed by these hacks in state legislatures that take away the rights and privileges that ordinary citizens have. And that’s just not right, somehow. Please, Professor Hack, explain to me how this is not fair.

  25. 25
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    Any empirically accurate political science would of necessity be a branch of business administration.

    __
    And visa-versa. In Adam Smith’s day economics was called political economy. A lot of truth went down the memory hole when the leading qualifier was dropped from that term.

  26. 26
    Culture of Truth says:

    Kraft is being renamed “Mondelez”. Please make a note of it.

  27. 27
    Jennifer says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ: Speaking of privatized prisons…one wonders why all the “FREEDUMB!” teapartiers and the like are so silent about those. Seems that people whose central interest is liberty might think that maybe it’s not a great idea to give anyone a profit motive for locking up us citizens. But on the other hand, corporations make money on privatized prisons, so you know what won out there with the freedom & liberty don’t tread on me crowd.

  28. 28
    roc says:

    Kay: “what in the heck voter suppression laws have to do with “free enterprise””

    Duh.

    The Ballot Stuffers are in league with the Union Bosses, Welfare Queens and Strapping Young Bucks. They need to pass job killing regulations and tax rates to fund their Big Government over-reach.

    We need to cut out this fraud, so corporations can finally get a fair shake.

  29. 29
    gex says:

    @pragmatism: I’m sure he doesn’t actually read email from fifth-columnists. The intern critters won’t let that through.

    @Comrade Dread: The most pathetic was after Prop 8 passed and people boycotted a restaurant that donated a ton of money, to the handwringing of conservatives. Apparently gay people are required to pay for their oppression lest they violate someone’s First Amendment rights.

  30. 30
    gex says:

    @liberal: Did it look atrocious when Komen said the existing grants to Planned Parenthood would continue? Contracts are contracts, dude.

  31. 31
    Svensker says:

    @gex:

    @pragmatism: I’m sure he doesn’t actually read email from fifth-columnists. The intern critters won’t let that through.

    He answered me once. But when I responded that I didn’t think his mea culpa for calling me and mine traitors was enough, I never heard from him again. Not that he hasn’t heard from me…:)

  32. 32
    Culture of Truth says:

    Corrected:

    David Primo, who teaches political science and business administration at the University of Rochester, started crying uncontrollably and said the corporations are boxed in. He grabbed his binkie and through muffled sobs and tears said said it’s “nooot faaaair!” to hold the ALEC corporate members responsible for everything the council does. He then fell down and pounded his widdle fists on the floor.

  33. 33
    Elizabelle says:

    @jncc: agreed.

    Kay: thanks for two stellar posts.

  34. 34
    jibeaux says:

    By all means. Protect the brand. If that means we protect voting rights, we all win.

    Exactly. They aren’t going to care too much about the substance, but big corporations aren’t usually interested in anything that’s visible and controversial. The JC Penney nonsense failed because Ellen isn’t freaking controversial to people without tinfoil over their heads. ALEC is finally getting the sunlight, and the controversy, it deserves. Consumers contacting corporations to discuss their displeasure with said corporation’s donations to ALEC is part of a little something called “the free market.”

  35. 35
    El Cid says:

    Right wingers are always super-strong macho warrior individualists until you stand up to them, at which point they become panicked, whining, vengeful little favor-begging twerps.

  36. 36
    geg6 says:

    Meanwhile, I’m thinking this is probably a very good idea and, as a resident of the Marcellus Shale region of PA and constituent of the bought-and-paid-for-by-the-shale-gas-industry governor here, makes me feel a bit better about who is watching the frackers:

    http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wi.....task-force

  37. 37
    pragmatism says:

    @gex: @Svensker: i had the exact same experience that svensker did. i would note that the time he (or his minions) responded, i had a nice opening paragraph saying that i disagree with him as much as i agree with him and that i supposed that is what made his blog worthwhile to me. i no longer do that. mostly terse two line emails from me now with some swearing mixed in.

  38. 38
    Satanicpanic says:

    @liberal: Yeah, what the hell were they doing there? I, like you, am not exactly a fan of them, but this is pretty bad.

  39. 39
    Mark S. says:

    @Jennifer:

    You’d think, but teabaggers are Republicans and therefore authoritarian. FREEDUMB only comes into play when Democrats are elected. As long as they think only blacks and Hispanics are getting locked up, they’re down with the prison complex.

  40. 40
    gaz says:

    @Mark S.: Have you noticed the seemingly coordinated legislation coming out of the GOP legislatures at the state level? The union busting, voter ID laws, etc. The ones that seem like every state legislature controlled by the GOP is drafting similar legislation. That’s ALEC. They fax it in, and the representatives phone it in ;)

    Republican Governors Association has been sucking the ALEC teat for some time too, if memory serves. maybe not directly, but if you are wondering where the wacky ideas these govs propose come from… (emergency admin in Michigan, and crap like that) – there’s a good bet alec is behind it. They write the bills/set the agenda for the GOP. particularly at the state level.

  41. 41
    Ed Drone says:

    @Lancelot Link:
    I know it’s just snark, but Skittles are a competitor of M&Ms, I do believe.

    Ed

  42. 42
    Ben says:

    @Culture of Truth:
    Heh. Primo is a balanced budget fetishist so I’m not surprised he would attack the boycotters here.

  43. 43
    Satanicpanic says:

    Where have a heard the argument that dues paying members shouldn’t be held responsible for the views of the organization they pay dues to?

  44. 44
    Lurking Canadian says:

    @Jennifer:

    Seems that people whose central interest is liberty might think that maybe it’s not a great idea to give anyone a profit motive for locking up us citizens. But on the other hand, corporations make money on privatized prisons, so you know what won out there with the freedom & liberty don’t tread on me crowd.

    I think I finally understood the wingnut mind when I saw Sarah Palin’s response to somebody asking for her opinion of the Canadian health care system.

    She said, “They should change it so people can make a profit in the industry”.

    Not, “private health care would be more efficient” or “the profit motive would lead to better outcomes” or “slippery slope to Hayek’s dungeon” or any of the usual bullshit reasons. Her answer was just “It would be better if somebody could make a profit”. Profit is an end in itself for these people. It doesn’t need to make sense. It just needs to make money.

  45. 45
    bemused says:

    Liberal groups intimidate and bully!

    Everything is projection with Republicans, every damn thing. If they ever dealt with opposing views without using projection, it must have been decades ago. I sure can’t remember even one example.

  46. 46
    catclub says:

    @Jennifer: Yep, just a replay of Jack Abramoff scheme of getting religious groups to fiercely attack casinos in one state – in order to help casino operators in another state.

    Well focussed outrage – and never unguided by the bosses.

  47. 47
    catclub says:

    @Jennifer:

    Yep, just a replay of Jack Abramoff scheme of getting religious groups to fiercely attack gambling establishments (shorter other word sent me to moderation) in one state – in order to help gambling establishment (XXXXXX) operators in another state.

    Well focussed outrage – and never unguided by the bosses.

  48. 48
    Petorado says:

    He says it’s not fair to hold the ALEC corporate members responsible for everything the council does

    Calling BS on this. Anyone working at an organization that lives on sponsorships and foundation funding knows the very high level of communication and reporting that occurs between the parties. Monies granted to ALEC came with very deliberate strings attached from the donors for how the dollars would be spent and what outcomes were to be achieved.

    Either ALEC was a loose cannon that its funders were unaware of its true activities (not probable) or the funders are getting called on the carpet for exactly what they were paying for and are embarrassed by the public exposure.

  49. 49
    TooManyJens says:

    I tried to edit my comment to include information on the Gates Foundation’s grant to ALEC, and it got marked as spam. ::sigh:: It didn’t say why. Too many buzzwords?

  50. 50
    Citizen_X says:

    it’s not fair to hold the ALEC corporate members responsible for everything the council does

    How he fuck is that not fair? “It’s not fair to hold Dr. Frankenstein responsible for everything his monster does.”

  51. 51
    David in NY says:

    I just wrote my very nice State Farm Insurance agent complaining about their support of ALEC. She had never heard of the whole kerfluffle, checked with “corporate,” and forwarded me their very polite “fuck you.” To which, especially since I have now found a cheaper carrier, I will return the favor by cancelling my coverage with them.

    They are really a right wing bunch.

  52. 52
    Kay says:

    @TooManyJens:

    I didn’t see it in the editor, so post it again.

  53. 53

    @Tonal Crow:

    What about the Republican brand? What does it symbolize? Tyranny, repression, theft, violence, hatred of the earth that sustains us, racism, homophobia, xenophobia, heedless exploitation—and every form of lying propaganda known to humankind.Awesome. Absolutely splendiferous! I give 5 stars.

  54. 54

    Hey ALEC – welcome to the club. The Dixie Chicks will issue your credentials shortly. I recommend you avoid the punchbowl though; ol’ Bocephus has been hovering around it all night.

  55. 55
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    @Elizabelle:

    Thirded? Kay is an excellent writer and when she’s on top of it she’s just that.

    While I may be disgusted by the topic I’m never disappointed reading her work, it’s top notch stuff.

    Kudos Kay. :)

  56. 56
    Brachiator says:

    @Catsy:

    I realize this was probably snark, but people can have brands too. Many celebrities aggressively protect theirs.

    Certainly, but here what is being branded is a persona, image, etc., not the human being, per se. Here, a celebrity is more like a corporation than a corporation is like a person.

    Still, in this era of social media, Twitter and Facebook, I am betting that an ordinary person with a huge following will assert his or her brand rights and sue the crap out of Zuckerberg or someone else for using his or her image for advertising purposes without approval.

  57. 57
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    @Petorado:

    Either ALEC was a loose cannon that its funders were unaware of its true activities (not probable) or the funders are getting called on the carpet for exactly what they were paying for and are embarrassed by the public exposure.

    My gut sense is that it’s a variation on those themes.

    State legislators are not, for the most part, high-quality material. Sure, there are the long-standing pork-barrel power brokers, but anyone with genuine political talent uses it as a stepping stone to federal or statewide office.

    A lot of teabagger activists with fuck-all experience got elected in 2010. A lot of state legislatures changed hands, some for the first time in decades. And all of a sudden, you have a majority party (or a majority party turned into a supermajority) with a lot of dumbfuck members, and groups like ALEC and AUL saying “hey, activists turned legislators! We’ve done the hard work of writing laws for you, and we’ll tell you what to do with them on an expenses-paid junket.” And so you get a bunch of identikit laws going through at the same time, and people start joining the dots.

    To put it another way, it worked too well: had 2010 flipped half a dozen statehouses, and the new majorities included sufficient non-dumbfucks, then it would have been much less obvious that these grand defenders of states’ rights and small government were taking dictation from the ALEC Legalzoom operation in DC.

  58. 58
    John of Indiana says:

    These companies and THE Gates were just Jake with giving ALEC money when they were pursuing innocent shit like union busting, voter disenfranchisement, and “canned” hunts, but let them get spattered by the shit-storm surrounding ALEC and their Wayne LaPierre, and they can’t run away fast enough.

    Corporations that depend upon us to buy their shit working to keep us from having money to buy their shit? I’m SHOCKED! SHOCKED! I tell you!

  59. 59
    kay says:

    Love it Kay.

Comments are closed.