While We Were Sleeping… Congress Outlaws Protesting

protect-and-serve

On February 27, 2012, Congress passed H.R.347, also known as the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011.

That’s a nice name. It sounds like with its passage there should be lots of pretty flowers blooming all over Washington, DC this Spring.

Here’s what H.R.347 really does:  it makes it illegal for anyone to protest in or near any government building or at any location that is deemed to be hosting an event designated as having national significance.

If that sounds a little vague and open to interpretation, that’s because it is. The “grayness” of this description is the loophole needed to circumvent the First Amendment rights of We the People.

Here are the relevant excerpts from the actual bill:

`(a) Whoever–

`(2) knowingly, and with intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions, engages in disorderly or disruptive conduct in, or within such proximity to, any restricted building or grounds when, or so that, such conduct, in fact, impedes or disrupts the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions;

or attempts or conspires to do so, shall be punished as provided in subsection (b).

`(b) The punishment for a violation of subsection (a) is–

`(1) a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than 10 years, or both, if–

`(A) the person, during and in relation to the offense, uses or carries a deadly or dangerous weapon or firearm; or
`(B) the offense results in significant bodily injury as defined by section 2118(e)(3); and

`(2) a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than one year, or both, in any other case.

`(1) the term `restricted buildings or grounds’ means any posted, cordoned off, or otherwise restricted area–

`(B) of a building or grounds where the President or other person protected by the Secret Service is or will be temporarily visiting; or

`(C) of a building or grounds so restricted in conjunction with an event designated as a special event of national significance; and

`(2) the term `other person protected by the Secret Service’ means any person whom the United States Secret Service is authorized to protect under section 3056 of this title or by Presidential memorandum, when such person has not declined such protection.’.

Under these guidelines, acts of civil disobedience, gathering for redress of grievances and who knows what else could be punishable for up to 10 years if any violence breaks out and up to 1 year if it doesn’t. Judging from the willingness of many police departments to administer full-on beat downs of unarmed, peaceful protesters, I’m going to wager that a charge of violence will be present even if it’s perpetrated by the police.

Why is an ill-worded, unnecessary law like this on the books? Why did it pass 388-3 in the House and with unanimous consent in the Senate? Could it be that Congress doesn’t want to know what lobbyist-free citizens have on their minds?

Something smells a little fishy here.

ALEC = Cash for Legislation

voter-id

ALEC is an acronym for the American Legislative Exchange Council and it is an exclusive membership organization of global corporations and local legislators that meet privately to draft “model bills” that effectively hijack our laws for the express purpose of increasing their revenues.

ALEC-approved “model bills” are passed along to cooperative politicians (read: paid off) eager to push the corporate agenda of the 1%.

ALEC boasts that it has over 1,000 of these “model bills” introduced to Congress by legislative members each year with one in every five of them enacted into law.

Once legislators return to their state with corporate-sponsored ALEC legislation in hand, the legislators themselves become “super-lobbyists” for ALEC’s corporate agenda, effectively cutting out the middlemen (traditional lobbyists and voters).

Even so, ALEC enjoys a 501(c)(3) classification, which allows it to keep its tax-exempt status while accepting grants from foundations, corporations and other donors.

ALEC consists of 2,000 legislative members and 300 or more corporate members. The unelected corporate representatives (often registered lobbyists) sit as equals with our elected representatives on 9 task forces where they have a “voice and a vote” on model legislation.

It should come as no surprise that more than 98% of ALEC’s revenues come from sources other than legislative dues, such as corporations, corporate trade groups and corporate foundations.

ALEC member corporations number into the thousands with an elite Corporate Board comprised of the largest corporations in the world including: Coca-Cola, Wal-Mart, Kraft, UPS, Johnson & Johnson, Koch Industries, ExxonMobile, Pfizer and AT&T among others.

Here are some of the nifty bills they’ve recently introduced in my home state, Missouri:

MO House Bill 1104 – Changes the laws regarding elections by requiring a voter to provide photo identification. This is a clear case of voter suppresssion, which is fear-based on non-existent voter impersonation fraud.

According to the Missouri Secretary of State’s Office, an estimated 250,000 legally registered Missouri voters don’t have a government-issued photo ID. The Missouri voter ID bill, in conjunct with HB 1147, which requires that driver’s license exams only be given in English, would effectively revoke non-English speakers’ right to vote regardless of their legal citizenship status.

MO Senate Bill 590 – Would require K-12 schools to verify the immigration status of all students, essentially turning already underfunded and overburdened school districts and police departments into immigration agents.

In a state where many districts are facing budget crises, SB 590 creates overwhelming requirements on administrators’ time and energy and it alienates Missouri’s hard working immigrant families.

These unnecessary provisions are already an expensive enforcement nightmare elsewhere (Alabama, Arizona) and are currently the subject of intense litigation efforts for repeal in those states.

MO Senate Bill 592 – Is a “simple” re-wording of a current anti-discrimination law that would effectively give employers a broader range of exemptions in terminating employees for questionable reasons.

The bill makes it substantially more difficult for employees to protect themselves against workplace discrimination based in their religion, race or sexual identitiy. SB 592 is yet another ALEC-sponsored bill intended to suppress the rights of the working class in Missouri.

Though only a small sample of “model bills,” these shed light upon the basic operations of ALEC.

NOW is the time to stand up and fight this corporate legislation without representation!!!

One thing that Missouri voters can do is to vote out the slimy bastards who are in bed with ALEC corporations. Here is a current list of offending politicians and their districts in Missouri:

House of Representatives

Walt Bivins (R-97) – Stanley Cox (R-118) – Ed Emery (R-126) – House Majority Leader Timothy Jones (R-89) – Rodney Schad (R-115) – Jason Smith (R-150) – Vicki Scneider (R- 17) – Steven Tilley (R-106) – Andrew Koenig (R-88) – Shane Schoeller (R-139) – Cole McNary (R-86) – Darrell L. Pollock (R-146) – Shelley Keeney (R-156) – Donna Lichtenegger (R-157) – Ellen Brandorr (R-160) – Eric Burlison (R-136) – Keith Frederick (R-149) – Sue Allen (R-92) – William White (R-120) – Jerry Nolte (R-33) – Scott D. Diekhaus (R-109) – Bill Lant (R-131) – Sandy Crawford (R-119) – Mike Kelley (R-126) – Barney Fisher (R-125) – Dave Hinson (R-198) – Sue Entlicher (R-133) – Tony Dugger (R-144) – Noel Torpey (R-55) – Paul R. Curtman (R-105) – John J. Diehl, Jr. (R-87) – Zachary Wyatt (R-2) – Therese Sander (R-22) – Doug Ervin (R-35) – Mike Colona (D-St. Louis)

Senate

Jack Goodman (R-29) – Brian D. Nieves (R-98) – Robert Mayer (R-25) – Jim Lembke (R-1) – Mike L. Parson (R-28) – John Griesheimer (R-26) – Jane D. Cunningham (R-7) – Ron Richard (R-129)

ALEC’s Missouri State “Chairmen”

Rep. Timothy Jones (R) – Rep. Jason Smith (R) – Rep. Jim Ellington (R) – Tom Krewson (Comcast) – Mary Scruggs (Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives)

Does it seem like there are an awful lot of Republicans on this list?

Click this link to learn more about ALEC from the ALECExposed.org website

Why I’m Voting Republican

My, my, how some things never change. This video was created for the 2008 presidential election cycle and was actually filmed in 2007.

That’s 5 years ago.

Compared to their current messaging, it’s as if nothing has changed in the last 5 years. This video even predicted kid soldiers being sent to Iran. That kind of unwavering predictability isn’t natural.

That tells me one of two things: either the Republicans are the most unimaginative, non-observant yet obedient drones that have ever existed or they are simply stooges for some greater power ($$$) that has a clear and rigid agenda for them to fulfill.

Maybe it’s a little of both. Regardless, they are perfectly willing “to just follow orders.” That, of course, never, ever leads to negative outcomes.

Jonathan Haidt Explains Our Contentious Culture

Bill Moyers: “Our country is more politically polarized than ever. Is it possible to agree to disagree and still move on to solve our massive problems? Or are the blind leading the blind — over the cliff?”

In this video, Bill and social psychologist Jonathan Haidt talk about the psychological underpinnings of our contentious culture, why we can’t trust our own opinions, and the demonizing of our adversaries.

“When it gets so that your opponents are not just people you disagree with, but… the mental state in which I am fighting for good, and you are fighting for evil, it’s very difficult to compromise,” Haidt tells Moyers. “Compromise becomes a dirty word.”

Simple Plan to Eliminate Poverty in America

Politicians feel your pain

Politicians feel our pain. They’ve said so, so it must be true.

They truly understand that we’re hurting. Even Mitt says he believes that a “safety net” is there to help poor families and that he’d fix any holes in the system if he gets elected.

Politicians are so anxious to prove that they are “one of us” that they’ve recently proposed new legislation making it illegal for them to engage in insider trading (even though it’s always been illegal for everyone else). That makes us equals.

My God, they seem so much like me that I feel like I’ve been reunited with a long-lost relative.

Bullshit.  I say it’s time to move beyond lip service and phony promises.

I propose a simple plan that I think Americans could get behind and it’s success would demonstrate a genuine shift toward politicians being able to feel our pain.

The plan:

We continue to hold elections just as we’ve always done. Candidates will campaign and the people will make their choices. Nothing changes.

Once elected, the winners will be sworn in and they’ll take their posts. Still, nothing changes.

Here’s where we try something new:

After assuming office, each elected candidate will then find out through a lottery system how much their salary will be, how good their benefits will be and what kind of staffing budget they’ll be receiving.

Here’s how it will work: since the current poverty rate (fueled by 58.8% of Americans working for minimum wage) is 15.2%, we’ll randomly assign 15.2% of the Congress to receive minimum wage for their effort. (Roughly 81 of them).

We can apply the same 15.2% standard to Congressional staff as well. I’m not sure how much money or how many people they normally deal with, but under this plan 15.2% of them will now be earning minimum wage. (Remember, this won’t hurt staffing levels since anyone who doesn’t like it can always be easily replaced by someone else who’s a little hungrier to work).

Additionally, since 16.3% of the public lacks health insurance, we’ll randomly remove 16.3% of the current Congressional health care participants from the insured roles and let them fend for themselves. (Roughly 87 of them).

It’s a win-win.

First off, we’ll save a ton of tax dollars by reducing  government bloat. Secondly, since the cuts will be randomly distributed (some get minimum wage, others lose health care and yet others enjoy cheaper staffing), lots of different Congressmen and staff will be able to truly relate to Main Street and truly understand and feel our pain.

Best of all, this will incentivize them to reduce these statistics since nobody wants to see a Congressman to have to take the bus to work.