By Anonymous (not verified) on July 26, 2012

As I walked into the posh Grand America Hotel where the American Legislative Exchange Council was meeting, I could tell things were a little different from last year.

The attendance seems a bit down, for starters. When I went to register, the very nice woman checking people in told us to take our name badges off when we leave the hotel as to not have any problems. The exhibitors were a drop less corporate than usual, having lost 28 of their corporate members since the Trayvon Martin case highlighted their efforts to promote model legislation in our state legislatures.

In one of the workshops I attended, the moderator — Wisconsin State Senator Leah Vukmir — thanked their “private sector members” as “brave souls.” Most of the workshops are still about legislative solutions to real or imaginary problems that usually wind up with a corporation making a buck a long the way.

Even before I left, I received an email from ALEC National Chairman Rep. David Frizzell, stating, “In April, ALEC announced that we refocused our work strictly toward policies of a free-market, limited government nature. ALEC is not a social policy organization — and that is why we clarified our mission, doubling down on the issues that matter most to Americans of all political stripes. I’ll restate that ALEC disbanded the Public Safety and Elections Task Force that dealt with issues of a non-economic nature, rescinding the non-economic model legislation along with it.”

They clearly feel the public relations pinch of their problems with the voter photo ID and “Stand by Your Ground” gun laws.

However, for all of the “not a social policy organization” rhetoric, you only need to visit the exhibitors at the convention to see those are words for public relations purposes only. Exhibitors include: Alliance Defending Freedom (religious), Americans United for Life, Profamily Legislative Network, U.S. English, American Conservative Union, Family Research Council, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Right on Crime, National Organization for Marriage, and the American Religious Freedom Program. So much for economic issues only.

Despite the window dressing, there appears to be no real effort to change a thing. ALEC is still a dating service for those ugly corporations and the legislative objects of their affection, with a strong bent to the social right-wing elements of the conservative movement.

The more they say they change, the more they stay the same.

Wisconsin State Representative Mark Pocan (D-Madison), who coined the term FitzWalkerstan on the floor of the State Assembly, served three terms on the state’s budget committee, including one as its co-chair. He also served as the vice-chair of the non-partisan National Council on State Legislature’s Budget and Policy committee. Pocan’s Assembly district includes both the State Capitol and the Governor’s Mansion, making Governor Scott Walker his most infamous constituent.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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