By Steve Benen
controversy had worked its way to page A1.
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a 501(c)(3) American organization, composed of politically conservative state legislators. According to its website, ALEC “works to advance the fundamental principles of free-market enterprise, limited government, and federalism at the state level through a nonpartisan public-private partnership of America’s state legislators, members of the private sector and the general public.”
ALEC provides a forum for state legislators and private sector members to collaborate on model bills—draft legislation that members can customize for communities and introduce for debate in their own state legislatures. Approximately 200 such bills become law each year. ALEC has produced model bills on issues such as reducing corporate regulation and taxation, tightening voter identification rules, and promoting gun rights. ALEC also serves as a networking tool among state legislators, allowing them to research conservative policies implemented in other states.
Since 2011, ALEC’s political activities has received considerable scrutiny by both the media and liberal groups. The New York Times reported that special interests have “effectively turn[ed] ALEC’s lawmaker members into stealth lobbyists, providing them with talking points, signaling how they should vote and collaborating on bills affecting hundreds of issues like school vouchers and tobacco taxes.” Bloomberg Businessweek stated, “Part of ALEC’s mission is to present industry-backed legislation as grass-roots work.” The Guardian described ALEC as “a dating agency for Republican state legislators and big corporations, bringing them together to frame rightwing legislative agendas in the form of ‘model bills’.” Several liberal groups, including Common Cause, have challenged its tax-exempt status.
[A sitting governor subs for Bill O’Reilly on Fox?]
By Dan Froomkin
U.S. news reports are largely blaming the government shutdown on the inability of both political parties to come to terms. It is supposedly the result of a “bitterly divided” Congress that “failed to reach agreement” (Washington Post) or “a bitter budget standoff” left unresolved by “rapid-fire back and forth legislative maneuvers” (New York Times). This sort of false equivalence is not just a failure of journalism. It is also a failure of democracy.
When the political leadership of this country is incapable of even keeping the government open, a political course correction is in order. But how can democracy self-correct if the public does not understand where the problem lies? And where will the pressure for change come from if journalists do not hold the responsible parties accountable?
The truth of what happened Monday night, as almost all political reporters know full well, is that “Republicans staged a series of last-ditch efforts to use a once-routine budget procedure to force Democrats to abandon their efforts to extend U.S. health insurance.” (Thank you, Guardian.)
And holding the entire government hostage while demanding the de facto repeal of a president’s signature legislation and not even bothering to negotiate is by any reasonable standard an extreme political act. It is an attempt to make an end run around the normal legislative process. There is no historical precedent for it. The last shutdowns, in 1995 and 1996, were not the product of unilateral demands to scrap existing law; they took place during a period of give-and-take budget negotiations.
CHRIS HAYES, HOST: Mr. Secretary, thank you so much for making the time today.
I really appreciate it.
JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: I’m very happy to be with you.
If the U.S. attacks Syria, do those men in those videos become, by definition, our allies?
KERRY: No. In fact, I believe that those men in those videos are disadvantaged by an American response to the chemical weapons use because it, in fact, empowers the moderate opposition.
We all know there are about 11 really bad opposition groups — so-called opposition. They’re not — they’re fighting Assad. They are not part of the opposition that is being supported by our friends and ourselves. That is a moderate opposition. They condemn what has happened today and they will — they are and we are busy separating the support we’re getting from any possibility of that support going to these guys.
The federal government has access to a massive database of 25 years of AT&T phone data, NBC News has confirmed, as part of a secret program in which phone company employees work alongside local and federal law enforcement agents to track the phone calls of suspected drug dealers.
As first reported by the New York Times, the Hemisphere Project is at least six years old and has access to the data from every call coming through an AT&T switchboard back to 1987. The pool grows by billions of calls a day, includes information on the location of callers, and is larger than the controversial database maintained by the NSA, which goes back five years.
Abigail Pesta, NBC News contributor
Editor’s note: This report contains graphic language.
A 15-year-old girl sits in high school English class when a text message pops up on her cellphone. It’s from a boy sitting across the room. He hardly knows her, but he likes her. Here’s how he chooses to get that message across:
Him: “So, are you good at hooking up?”
Her: “Um idk. I don’t really think about that.”
Him: “Well, I want my d–k in your mouth? Will you at least be my girlfriend.”
It’s the kind of scenario that’s playing out among teens across America, illustrating an increasing confusion among boys about how to behave, experts say. In the casual-sex “hookup” culture, courtship happens by text and tweet. Boys send X-rated propositions to girls in class. Crude photos, even nude photos, play a role once reserved for the handwritten note saying, “Hey, I like you.”
According to new research, boys who engage in this kind of sexualized behavior say they have no intention to be hostile or demeaning — precisely the opposite. While they admit they are pushing limits, they also think they are simply courting. They describe it as “goofing around, flirting,” said Catherine Steiner-Adair, a clinical psychologist and school consultant who interviewed 1,000 students nationwide for her new book, “The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age.”
How the hookup culture affects young people has long been debated and lamented, in books and blogs, among parents and teachers. A general consensus is that it harms girls, although some have argued that it empowers them. The effect on boys, however, is less often part of the discussion.
AROD Wins(?), sorta. Receives chorus of boos,