ALEC & the NCSL: Compare and Contrast « MN Political Roundtable | CP ALEC Intervention |

DOG GONE, MN Political Roundtable


Parts of the right wing blogsophere are trying to whitewash ALEC, and at the same time to denigrate the NCSL.


For those of you who are unfamiliar with one or both organizations, let me give you a brief introduction, because people on the right want to misinform and disinform you. They will tell you they are the same when they are significantly different, or even more misleading, will try to tell you that ALEC is good, and the NCSL is bad, by misrepresenting both.


As you look at the differences, which are greater than any simiarities, keep in mind the concept of a line of dialog I heard recently on a television show, ‘Justified’. While a dramatic series, the point was an excellent one for this context. A corrupt sheriff, presented with the offer of a bribe in the form of a briefcase full of money asks, “If this is the carrot, what does the stick look like?”, referring to the paired incentives of a carrot and a stick, a reward that comes with the possibility of an equal or greater punishment.


The NCSL I’m writing about is not the British National College School Leadership entity for teachers, nor is it the National Capital Soccer League for kids in Washington D.C., and I’m not writing about the NCSL International, which is an organization about meteorology. No, I’m writing about the NCSL that is the acronym for the National Conference of State Legislatures. That NCSL is an NGO – non-governmental organization – for the people who work in our state legislatures, encompassing staff and state senators and state representatives.


I’m sure in the eyes of the ALEC members they’re not bad, they’re just doing what they need to do to get their conservative, sometimes very extreme causes rammed through resistance, and to get themselves elected over and over. If that means doing the bidding of special interests to give the corporations significantly greater profits through the auspices of a secretive organization, I’m sure they rationalize to themselves that’s ok. I suspect that unlike the fictional sheriff and the bribe, they aren’t honest enough with themselves to recognize either the carrot or the stick, or to even acknowledge the corrupt aspects of the transaction. It should be a big red flag to them when they aren’t candid about the source of the legislation they introduce.


Unlike ALEC drafted legislation, legislators don’t lie about NCSL content, which is bi-partisan rather than ‘Buy-partisan’ or ‘bought’ partisan. Unlike ALEC meetings, no legislator is thrown out of an NCSL meeting for a point of view or for being open about the content of the meeting. That happened to Mark Pocan, a state representative of Wisconsin, and reporters are not banned:


Wisconsin Dem State Rep. Kicked Out Of ALEC Conference | Wisconsin State Rep. Mark Pocan (D) was kicked out the American Legislative Exchange Council conference in New Orleans today despite being a a dues-paying member of the organization and receiving an invitation to the event, Wisconsin blog Dane101 reports. “I was still kicked out of the cigar reception by an employee of ALEC. ALEC has become a secret society where they will kick out anyone with a video camera, tape recorder or an original opinion,” he said in a statement. In addition to attending the conference for legislative reasons, Pocan was covering the event for a progressive publication, but ALEC was not allowing many reporters, including ThinkProgress’ Lee Fang and Scott Keyes, who were violently removed from the conference yesterday.


So…….what is ALEC? I’ve been writing about it here a bit, and will be doing so even more in the near future. ALEC is a shady and shadowy organization through which special interest groups, rich organizations and a few rich individuals like the Koch brothers and the Walton of WalMart family, but also many others, spend a lot of money on conservative legislators, both state and federal, but mostly state level, to get them to submit THEIR legislation, legislation that will benefit THEM, the corporations and special interests, at your expense. Here is the opening paragraph from wikipedia on ALEC:
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