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

if…

If hope was a color
it would be brown
like the corrugated billboards
that occupy Zuccotti Park

if hope had an odor
it would smell like peppers
saturating the midnight air

if hope had a taste
it would taste like the milk
running from my eyes
and down my cheeks

if hope made a noise
we would hear bongos beating
behind the wail of the elderly
and the screams of the suppressed
that lay beaten in the street

if hope was a feeling
it would be the tightening
of plastic cable ties
around innocent wrists
and blows from batons
that rain down
upon the rib cages
of professors and students
who won’t bite their tongues
any longer

if hope had a heart
it would be enclosed
in the chest cavity
of an eagle soaring
above the smoke filled streets
lined with debt and unemployment

-Jake St. John 11/18/11

Jake St. John writes out of New London, CT, where he also coordinates poetry readings in and around the New England area. He is the co-editor of Flying Fish and the editor of Elephant.

Best Graphic About SOPA on the Internet…So Far

The Hysterical History of Copyright InfringementAnne Rhodes has done an amazing job of artistically leveraging information compiled by Steve Blank by turning it into an informative, easy to understand infographic that reflects the various gyrations that the Moition Picture Industry has made over the years.

Click here to see this amazing work of art and click here to see the detailed information from which it’s derived.

P.S. Chris Dodd sure has become an uber-douchebag since leaving Congress to go cash in as a lobbyist.

Help Stop ACTA – Sign the Petition

What a surprise! Paid-off government officials around the world are once again crafting laws that are presumably designed to help their corporate crony buddies at the expense of everyone else. That, of course, is reason enough to start a revolution but there’s more to it than that.

ACTA, if allowed to pass, will essentially become another tool to be used against the free exchange of information between people of all nations and political affiliations. It will make SOPA and PIPA seem like mere distractions.

Who would want to do such a thing?

Governments. Political leaders and their monied puppetmasters know that we can’t outspend them in a propaganda war (television) but that we can discredit them and their outdated modes of thinking by sharing the truth broadly and with tremendous speed, agility and imagination with the help of the Internet and other “connected” devices.

To those in power, this is unacceptable and they will do whatever they can to stop new, emergent thinking.

If we act quickly and decisively now, we can shut down their evil plot – at least until they come up with yet another plan.

Sign the petition to stop ACTA by clicking here.