Chanting Points Memo: Compare And Contrast

Today’s “Compare and Contrast” feature pits the “American Legislative Exchange Council” – also known as “ALEC”, and also also known as “This Year’s DFL Boogeyman” – against the “National Conference of State Legislatures“.

“Who”?

Exactly.

Let’s compare them, point by point:

Agenda:  The group promotes a partisan point of view.
ALEC:  Yes – center right.
NCLS: Yes – center-left.

Pushing Agenda:  The group writes “model legislation” that, if passed, would further its agenda, and distributes it to its legislative members (because all legislation needs to be submitted by an elected legislator, naturally).
ALEC:  Yes.  As, by the way, do other conservative think tanks; Cato, the NRA, whomever.
NCLS: Yes.  As, by the way, do liberal think tanks, as well as the political action wings of all the unions.  Especially the NEA.

Content Of That Agenda:  The group promotes an agenda that its opponents find debatable.
ALEC:  Yes – and that fact has pushed the more-deranged reaches of the left to the point where the liberal “attention” has become self-parody, and has gotten to the point where “Berg’s Seventh Law” applies.  Two years ago, they babbled about the Koch Brothers to cover the fact that Alita Messinger was pouring millions into the Minnesota campaign.  This year, yapping like obedient dogs about “ALEC” will obscure the fact that the unions and groups like the NCLS will be doing the same, and much, much more, just by simple dint of there being more of them.
NCLS: Yes – although you don’t hear much about it.

Who Pays The Dues To Join The Group To Learn About The Agenda?:  Both groups charge dues, which by definition makes them “not lobbying groups”.  Someone has to pay for legislators to join and remain “members”.
ALEC:  The members pay their own dues.
NCLS: Dues are paid by the state, using taxpayer money.  One source with background in legislative matters tells me the dues amount to over $300,000 in state money a year.  That’s money that’s being taken from the children to pay for our legislators to think like this.

Attention Group Gets From Its Detractors:  What’s the group’s profile among its opponents?
NCLS: Not much.  Even though it promotes an institutionalist, big-government agenda, and does it with public money, you rarely if ever hear about the NCLS’ actions or agenda.  Or those of the National Education Association, which does all the same things – promoting policy, writing model legislation, trying to inveigle legislators into sponsoring it, yadda yadda.  Or the same operations at AFSCME, MAPE, the SEIU, and on, and on, and on.
ALEC:  The group is to the left in 2012 what “birth certificates” were to the fringe right in 2009, what “Bush’s cruise missiles” were to the “fringe” left in 2004, what “black helicopters” were to the paranoid right in 1996; a stalking horse for their lunatic fringes at best, justification for its own excesses at worst.

Hope we’ve settled that.


29 thoughts on “Chanting Points Memo: Compare And Contrast

  1. I am really so very, very tired of it all. If I weren’t so damn old and deeply invested I would try to find a way to extract myself from this miasma. Sadly, the number of isolated islands on Earth is limited, and I would likely be forced to share one. So I’d then be forced to create another society. And then that society would grow and force it’s paradigms on me. At this point I would welcome a separate peace.

    In that day they will cry “peace, peace”, but none will find it. So I will settle for a few hours in the sun. Then I’ll get up and in your grill again. Because I’m that kind of guy. It is all about me, after all. And buy your own damn beer.

  2. Aw Mitch, that was dishonest of you.

    The two groups do have some superficial similarities, but it’s the differences that matter.

    ALEC operates purely for special interst groups, to benefit them. The NCLS does not; ALEC operates in secret in a way that the NCLS does not. ALEC operates with funding that dwarfs the NCLS, the discrepancy between the two is huge. Your characterization of the NCLS is not accurate, fair or objective.

    ALEC is just one of the many ways we are sold out by conservatives to big money. You can try to put lipstick on that pig, but it is still that pig. It is still about big money having an influence that citizens can not have on their government. And of course we have those legislators who take the perks from ALEC, and through other source take money to benefit these special interests – and LIE about it. If this was so benign, why have the secrecy, and why lie about the sources for legislation? (http://www.thecuckingstool.blogspot.com/) “Never? Well, Rep. Drazkowski might have found his “right to work” bill from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy (a regressive right wing think tank) but how does he explain this one? HF 1563, calling for a constitutional convention to allow state legislatures to repeal federal law is a word-for-word copy of model ALEC legislation. Well, almost word-for-word. Drazkowski’s version replaces “[insert state]” with “Minnesota,” so he’s got that going for him.”
    I have a problem with big money – from EITHER side – in politics. When a special interest can donate unlimited amounts of money, money that effectively controls the media blitz of information (and often misinformation) about candidates and issues, and we ordinary people who are real people, unlike corporations, can only donate a finite amount, the big money has too much power. That power corrupts, and it corrupts in a very specific way so as to benefit the source of that power. The pay-off to that money invested in supporting candidates is they get their legislation passed — the stuff that ALEC writes. More than 90% of the candidates with more money spent win. That documents the controling influence of money on our politics.
    You can see the connections at work in academic papers, like that from Purdue’s Krannert School of Management, in Maria Falco’s work on Politically Connected Firms paper, including a correlation to corruption.
    You’re making the error in logic of trying to conflate two things that while they have some similarities are significantly different.
    ALEC is bad. The corrupting influence of special interests is bad, and ALEC is a key component of that corruption.
    You can try to put lipstick on that pig, but ALEC is still a really, really, big and powerful very corrupt pig.

  3. Kerm: Sounds like someone needs a hug. I’d do it, ya’ big lug, but the DOJ might bust me for being ‘inappropriate.’

  4. Is there a frumpy old woman loitering around in the street? It might be Janet Napoleontano.

  5. DG,

    Aw Mitch, that was dishonest of you.

    Nope. I am NEVER, EVER “dishonest”. I make the odd mistake. More often, people interpret things differently or – as in your comment – I’ll make statements that dissent from the chanting points you relentlessly intone.

    That’s not “dishonesty”, although calling it that is a nice inflammatory way to turn the discussion into something singularly unproductive.

  6. ALEC operates purely for special interst groups, to benefit them. The NCLS does not;

    Untrue – or true in the sense that you (or the chanting-point sources you’re cribbing) and only you will define what a “special interest” is. To this point of view, the transit lobby and the teachers union aren’t “special interests”.

    And it’s irrelevant in any case. Special interests have rights, and voices, too.

  7. ALEC operates in secret in a way that the NCLS does not.

    Riiiight.

    They’re so secret that I’ve been able to go directly to ALEC members to get info out of their “Legislators Only” database.

    DG, the only “secrecy” is of the Jesse Ventura variety; “Absence of evidence is proof of a cover-up”.

  8. ALEC operates with funding that dwarfs the NCLS, the discrepancy between the two is huge. Your characterization of the NCLS is not accurate, fair or objective.

    Discrepancies in funding don’t connote any moral advantage or disadvantage. If it did, then the unions would have some ‘splainin’ to do…

    …not that they ever do any of it.

    And this smells like another of the chanting points you uncritically repeat; I’m going to try to run those numbers down. I suspect you’re wrong – but again, it doesn’t matter. Money invalidates nothing.

  9. ALEC is just one of the many ways we are sold out by conservatives to big money.

    No, DG. ALEC is a think tank that promotes a conservative agenda, the same as the NCLS, the CSG, the unions, Brookings, Cato and a zillion other think tanks do.

    What it IS is a boogeyman, designed to get everyone hysterical about right wing think tanks to take attention away from lefty groups that do exactly the same thing, only more of it.

  10. You can try to put lipstick on that pig, but it is still that pig. It is still about big money having an influence that citizens can not have on their government.

    And that, again, is a chanting point designed to gull the uncritical.

    There are groups of all kinds the push agendas with legislators, that inform them about their pet issues, and that propose model legislation. For the left to say ALEC is either unique or brings any spectacular amount of money to the process is ignorant at best, willfully disingenuous at worst.

  11. And of course we have those legislators who take the perks from ALEC, and through other source take money to benefit these special interests

    Wait – you’re claiming legislators are “taking money?”

    This IS a bombshell!

    Please name the Minnesota Legislators that are “taking money” from ALEC, or (as you seem to be actually saying, although it’s hard to say) from some other group that funnels money to legislators.

  12. If this was so benign, why have the secrecy, and why lie about the sources for legislation? (http://www.thecuckingstool.blogspot.com/)

    For starters, if Steve Timmer at Cucking Stool writes it, it should be presumed bullshit until proven otherwise. Cucking Stool is every further into the fever swamp than “Penigma” is. ≈

  13. Rep. Drazkowski might have found his “right to work” bill from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy (a regressive right wing think tank) but how does he explain this one? HF 1563, calling for a constitutional convention to allow state legislatures to repeal federal law is a word-for-word copy of model ALEC legislation. Well, almost word-for-word. Drazkowski’s version replaces “[insert state]” with “Minnesota,” so he’s got that going for him.”

    OK. So what?

    Legislators use model bills all the time. NCLS finds legislators to carry theirs (they don’t call ‘em “model bills”, but it’s the same thing). So do the NEA/MFT and the political arms of every union and many liberal think tanks. It’s really nothing new.

    Beyond that? It’s really a dumb point. If Draz though the bill had merit, and wanted to debate those merits on the floor, and sponsored it so that debate could happen, then let the damn debate happen.

    The whole claim is both akin to “when did you stop beating your wife”, and also disingenuous (at the very least); EVERYONE does it. It’s not a right-wing phenomenon.

  14. I have a problem with big money – from EITHER side – in politics.

    That all sounds very pretty, but be honest – you only care about money from the right. You are participating in a febrile charade about ALEC, which is nothing but yet another Media Matters chanting point to whip up mindless hysteria to draw attention away from the left doing precisely the same thing, and – usually – with a lot more of that danged money.

  15. When a special interest can donate unlimited amounts of money, money that effectively controls the media blitz of information (and often misinformation) about candidates and issues,

    …says a writer from a blog whose main stock in trade is regurgitating Media Matters chanting points.

    I mean, sorry, DG – but your blog reads like a Media Matters press-release bot. Just being honest here.

  16. we ordinary people who are real people, unlike corporations, can only donate a finite amount, the big money has too much power.

    Nonsense.

    For starters, individuals can donate as much as they want; there are regulations as to how much they can donate to any specific candidate. They can give everything they want to groups of candidates, and more (and unlimited) money to SuperPacs. I could give five million dollars to the NRA-ILA – which, by the way, writes model legislation! – if I had it. As it happens, 100,000 of my friends and I CAN give $50 each to the ILA, and use that big money to influence politics.

    But heck, I’ll meet you halfway. Let’s lift all limits on all giving, to PACs, candidates or anyone or anything. The only requirement should be INSTANT publication of ALL amounts over $.01, online, permanently.

  17. That power corrupts, and it corrupts in a very specific way so as to benefit the source of that power.

    That’s just bizarre, DG. I mean, of course people and institutions give money to support their political ends – or, as you put it, “benefit the source of that power”, which happens to be them. I gave $20 to King Banaian last year to “benefit the source of that power”, me, by electing a conservative and vanquishing a liberal.

    And the clinker is, if you banned money in politics, that influence would be even MORE concentrated!

  18. The pay-off to that money invested in supporting candidates is they get their legislation passed — the stuff that ALEC writes.

    Or AFSCME, or the NRA-ILA, or the National Chamber of Commerce, or the WalMart that wants an upgraded sewer line, or whatever.

    It’s not a phenomenon limited to ALEC. It’s not even a phenomenon.

    Just a chanting point.

  19. More than 90% of the candidates with more money spent win. That documents the controling influence of money on our politics.

    That is tautological and also wrong. If a candidate gets more money, it could very well mean they have more support.

    For example, in 2002 Paul Wellstone and Norm Coleman had about the same amount of money. Wellstone’s average contribution was well up in the hundreds; the average Coleman contribution was under $100.

    Who was being bought off?

  20. You can see the connections at work in academic papers, like that from Purdue’s Krannert School of Management, in Maria Falco’s work on Politically Connected Firms paper, including a correlation to corruption.

    So what?

  21. You’re making the error in logic of trying to conflate two things that while they have some similarities are significantly different.

    Wrong again. They are fundamentally the same – this according to a Capitol source who has experience working, day in and day out, with both organizations.

  22. When a special interest can donate unlimited amounts of money, money that effectively controls the media blitz of information (and often misinformation) about candidates and issues,

    Like the $400 MILLION that labor unions spent on democrat candidates in the 2008 election.

    I agree with Mitch. Lift all giving limits. Make every penny of donation from anyone or any organzation, to anyone or any organization, public knowledge.

  23. I’d like to raise a point of order. Didn’t Penigma’s Chihuahua have a homework assignment to do before posting again?

  24. Oh, yeah.

    Another source familiar with both operations’ work in St. Paul notes that the NCLS staff appears to be MUCH larger than ALEC’s.

    That costs money, and bids one to wonder what the relative budgets actually are.

  25. “Didn’t Penigma’s Chihuahua have a homework assignment to do before posting again?”

    Why yes, Loren, yes it did.
    DG thinks that just because her tiny little brain can’t hold a thought for more than ten minutes, no one’s can. She’s wrong, but then that’s not news to anyone.

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