Even in an Occupy world, most Americans don’t know exactly how the 1 percent does what it does. The money media haven’t explained it, and the 1 percent likes things that way.
That’s how Robert Greenwald explained why he and the Brave New Foundation created a new video series. Each short video—one minute apiece—lays out the truth about a different one-percenter. They let their audience choose the subjects. They solicited suggestions on nominees, narrowed them down to thirty, and let their audience vote. The new videos represent five of the top vote-getters, with more videos on the way.
In this clip by Robert Greenwald and the Brave New Foundation, Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA) invites the Koch brothers to testify before Congress regarding their stake in the Keystone XL Pipeline. Visit Koch Brothers Exposed to sign the petition asking Waxman to haul the brothers before Congress.
Today residents of Mississippi will decide whether voters must produce a government-issued ID in order to cast a ballot and voters in Maine will choose whether to keep or overturn a new law banning election day voter registration, which had previously been on the books since 1973.
These votes occur amidst the backdrop of an unprecedented, Republican-led war on voting. Since the 2010 election, at least a dozen states controlled by Republicans have approved new obstacles to voting—mandating government-issued IDs, curtailing early voting, restricting voter registration, disenfranchising ex-felons. Five million voters could be negatively impacted by the new laws, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, which found that “these new restrictions fall most heavily on young, minority and low-income voters, as well as on voters with disabilities”—in other words, those most likely to vote for Democrats.
A key component of the GOP’s campaign has been orchestrated by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which receives substantial funding from the Koch brothers. ALEC drafted mock photo ID legislation after the 2008 election and in five states that passed ID laws in the past year—Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin—the measures were sponsored by legislators who are members of ALEC.
A new investigation from Brave New Foundation, in conjunction with the Advancement Project and amplified by a host of progressive groups, outlines ALEC’s influence in the war on voting and spotlights the $245,550 in campaign contributions the Koch brothers have given to politicians supporting new voter ID laws, such as Scott Walker and Rick Perry. “Folks like the Koch brothers are attempting to ensure that as few people of color and as few young people show up as possible,” says NAACP President Ben Jealous.
The video also features interviews with eligible voters who may be unable to cast a ballot because of the new restrictions. “Voter suppression is obviously a critically important issue,” says Robert Greenwald of Brave New Films. “Our job is to put a face on this—take it from abstract policy to real people losing the right to vote because of right-wing attacks on our democracy.” Brave New Foundation also launched a petition on their website asking Attorney General Eric Holder to enforce the Voting Rights Act.
On a related note, civil rights groups such as the NAACP and National Urban League today announced the formation of a new group, Stand 4 Freedom, to protest the new voting laws. Representative Keith Ellison also recently introduced two bills, the Same Day Registration Act and the Voter Access Protection Act, which would, respectively, “require states to provide for same day voter registration for a federal election,” and “make sure election officials cannot require photo identification in order to cast a vote or register to vote.”
The sleeper issue of the 2012 election is starting to get a lot more attention.
This past weekend, 1,000 conservative activists gathered in Minneapolis for the RightOnline conference. The “grassroots” summit was convened by the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, which was founded by the billionaire Koch brothers, who are among the most prolific funders of the conservative right.
A new video by Robert Greenwald and his Brave New Foundation illustrates the Koch brothers’ echo chamber by looking at one prominent example: Social Security. “What the Koch brothers want to do is destroy Social Security, because Social Security is a federal government program that has been enormously successful,” says Senator Bernie Sanders, who narrates the video.
The video shows how the Koch’s perpetuate the myth that Social Security is in crisis by funding prominent think tanks like the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation, pundits on Fox News and CNBC, and politicians like Paul Ryan. The $28.6 million that flows to the think tanks leads to over 300 policy papers advocating the dismantlement of Social Security, which in turn provides new fodder for conservative talking heads and politicians. The film debunks three top “Social Security distortions”—that the retirement age must be raised, that the program is going bankrupt, and that Social Security must be privatized. “The Koch brothers job is to do everything they can to dismember government in general,” said Sanders, “and if you can destroy Social Security, you will have gone a long way forward in that effort.”
Today, our friends at Brave New Foundation launched the ‘Immigrants for Sale’ campaign with a powerful animated video exposing the way private prisons profit off the passage of anti-immigrant legislation, and what that means for the democratic process.
The video is the first in an on-going series documenting the abuse, corruption and corporate influence that drives both the rush to privatize incarceration and the draconian sentencing and immigration laws that make the rush profitable.
The three largest corporate players in the industry — CCA (the Corrections Corporation of America), The Geo Group and Management and Training corporations — reap annual profits of more than $5 billion a year at the same time as they dole out more than $20 million annually in lobbying to (mostly rightwing) state legislators to ensure the approval of the regional anti-immigrant laws that fill their coffers.
An NPR report outlined how CCA and co. aim to translate the anti-immigrant rhetoric and political void into a long-lasting cash drive — believing that illegal immigrants will continue to provide a fresh and highly profitable influx of new inmates to their cells if harsh anti-immigration legislation Arizona-style stays popular.
As Brave New Films’ Alex Cabbellero writes at Huffington Post, “CCA founder Tomas Beasly once called his scheme ‘more profitable’ than selling burgers or cars — a clear indication that any sense of justice in the prison industry will be forever trumped by cash flows and profit margins.”
We have a huge, multi-layered problem with incarceration in this country. The US prison population has exploded from about 300,000 to more than 2 million in a few short decades. Moreover, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, more than two-thirds of released prisoners are re-arrested within three years, and returned to the system much more quickly than in the past. This unusually high recidivism rate, a travesty, is directly linked to a decrease in programs aimed at rehabilitation.
Prison privatization just makes this problem much, much worse because recidivism is actually a good thing from the financial perspective of a corporation operating private prisons. The “Immigrants For Sale” campaign is one attempt to stem the tide. Sign the pledge and become part of the nationwide network of Prison Watchers that is following and exposing the players, the money and the victims in this corrupt, anti-democratic rush to mass privatized incarceration.