Background Briefing: November 23, 2021


The Attack on the First Amendment From ALEC’s Anti-boycott Laws

We begin with a growing threat to the First Amendment from anti-boycott laws being passed in state legislatures, prepackaged and delivered by the Koch-funded ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council. Joining us is Alan Leveritt, the founder and publisher of The Arkansas Times who has filed a lawsuit against Arkansas’s anti-boycott law which is being reviewed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. We discuss his op-ed at the New York Times, “We’re a Small Arkansas Newspaper. Why Is the State Making Us Sign a Pledge About Israel?” and examine how, in standing up for his First and 14th Amendment rights, Alan’s newspaper is losing advertising revenue as his small newspaper is being forced by the state of Arkansas to sign a pledge against the BDS boycott of Israel movement which has nothing to do with the local issues his paper deals with. As other states like Texas busily pass similar anti-boycott laws that will muzzle critics of fossil fuel dependence and prevent state agencies from contracting with businesses that boycott firearm companies or trade associations, the Supreme Court will eventually have to decide whether these anti-boycott laws allowing governments to use money to punish dissent will encourage the creation of ever more repressive laws that risk strangling free speech for years to come.


The U.S., China, India, Japan, South Korea and the U.K. Tap Into Their Strategic Petroleum Reserves

Then we look into the Biden Administration’s announcement that it is tapping into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in coordination with China, India, Japan, South Korea and the U.K. and speak with Tyson Slocum, who is Director of the Energy Program at Public Citizen. He works on promoting decentralized, sustainable energy and shifting incentives away from the nuclear, oil and coal industries towards efficiency, renewable energy and mass transit and we assess how and when this globally coordinated approach will lower prices at the pump.


An Appraisal of President Biden’s Speech Today on Inflation

Then finally we get an appraisal of President Biden’s speech today addressing inflation and speak with Mike Konczal, a director at the Roosevelt Institute, where he focuses on economics, inequality, and the role of public power in a democracy. He is a co-author, with Joseph Stiglitz, of Rewriting the Rules of the American Economy and his latest book is Freedom From the Market: America’s Fight to Liberate Itself from the Grip of the Invisible Hand.