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Confidential Memo Outlines Right-Wing Coordinated Propaganda Campaign To Crush Wind Power Energy

by on Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 8:54 am EDT in Environment, Politics

The Guardian recently obtained a confidential strategy plan co-written by John Droz, a senior fellow at conservative think tank American Tradition Institute (ATI), to spearhead a national propaganda campaign against wind farms as a green energy alternative to fossil-fuels. 

One of their primary objectives is to “cause subversion” in the message of the wind power industry “so that it effectively becomes so bad no one wants to admit in public they are for it (much like wind has done to coal, by turning green to black and clean to dirty).”

They plan to join forces with the fossil-fuel industries (including oil and coal), as well as with right-wing think tanks (including ALEC and Americans for Prosperity — both funded by the billionaire Koch brothers) to procure financing and to counter findings by the wind industry. Experts will be selected to provide testimony to government agencies, as will key people who are capable of interfacing with the media.

They plan to utilize the tea party, anti-tax groups, business organizations, property rights advocates, and they recommend creating “controversy to spark ideas” and to “get people talking.” The memo states “public opinion must begin to change in what should appear as a ‘groundswell’ among grass roots.” And this appearance of a ‘groundswell’ will “reach the elected officials and policy-makers” in such a way as to compel them to abort their wind power initiative.

It is reminiscent of the national health care reform debates, when the Tea Party stormed Town Hall meetings — shouting, interrupting, threatening — giving the appearance of a serious ‘groundswell’ of opposition to government intervention into health care. Of course, poll numbers, did not substantiate the impression the Tea Partiers and right-wing media left on our intrepid Democratic politicians. A majority of Americans (including the highly coveted Independent voters) were polled as being very much in favor of a public option.

The strategy memo goes further into how they would have hands-on coordination with the tea party and other groups:

The networking committee will be responsible for coordinating the response of networked groups … includ[ing] the tea party, anti-tax leagues and utility rate groups as well as government watch-dog, anti-waste groups. This committee will help spread our message to the network groups and then gather feed-back as to their interests and needs for further information from the organization.

Additionally, they plan on using Youth Outreach (a tax-exempt Christian group whose goal is to bring students and young people into the Church), to help coordinate an anti-wind-power program in public schools and on college campuses. Here is the sneaky way they envision Youth Outreach helping to convince young people that wind power is not a viable energy source:

This will include community activity and participation with sponsorships for science fairs, school activity etc. with preset parameters that cause students to steer away from wind because they discover it doesn’t meet the criteria we set up (poster contest, essays etc). 

Other measures in this effort include:

  • Sending “dummy businesses” into communities that are considering wind power as an energy source, to propose building 400 foot billboards, in order to spark local controversy. 
  • Running ads, funding/distributing signage, bumper stickers, etc., and spreading propaganda across social sites like Twitter.
  • Commissioning a book ‘expose’ on the wind power industry, to spread negative messages about how it would harm communities and negatively impact people and the environment.
  • Spearheading boycotts of any company that imprints a wind-turbine seal on the packaging of its products (to inform green-conscious consumers that wind power was used in its production). 
  • Suing developers, zoning boards, etc. all across America, for a whole host of reasons, all while maintaining comprehensive documentation on these suits, so that any successful legal strategies can be reused in other communities. 
  • Create counterintelligence branch.

And to oversee all of this, they propose forming a tax-exempt organization, with $750,000 in seed money, and a paid staff. The organization would be comprised of the following committees: Media, Science, Regional State Coordinators, Networking, Lobby/Political, Group policy. 

The strategy memo even goes as far as to provide a case example demonstrating how the group’s committees would respond upon learning that a wind power funding bill had advanced in Congress:

In this example, the group policy committee has identified that a particular bill providing funding for the opposition has been advanced to committee for a hearing. Policy committee has asked for a coordinated effort to stop the progress of the funding measure.   

First, the lobby committee uses their contacts to begin a campaign from the inside against the bill with phone calls and private meetings. They meet with several staffers who suggest that the bill is being supported because it has been moved as green legislation and several committee members are afraid to oppose it on that basis. The lobby committee reports this to media and science for further action.

The media committee decides to use a full page advertisement in the Washington Post as a method of communicating the ‘not so green truth’ to congress, and at the same time coordinates a special interview and story from a scientific point of view that illustrates the dirty side of the industry. At this same time, the science committee holds a press conference to announce that the industry is using dishonesty and “greenwashing” as a cover for what amounts to corporate welfare.  

The message is also repeated in Wash Times, WSJ, Fox and other sources.  

State regional coordinators are tapped at this time to provide a letter writing campaign from the grass roots asking the key legislators to back away from the funding measure. This campaign is also echoed in various directorate groups coordinated from the organization including tea party, anti-tax leagues, etc.    

The coordinated effort stretches across multi-channels and multi-voices, and appears to come from as many as a dozen separate sources, but the message is the same and stays on point. The created barrage of voices provides enough cover that the elected officials have a way to vote no because they can clearly see they have support for our position.

ATI, a think tank devoted to discrediting climate science, told The Guardian that its senior fellow Droz worked independently on this plan, though the document does list ATI as a group likely to join the effort.

Droz held a meeting in Washington last February, attended by members from 30 anti-wind-power groups, including the Tea Party Patriots. Since then, the groups have begun pooling their efforts together on this issue, including phone call and email campaigns to Congresspeople.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this memo, is the insight it gives into how the corporatocracy works to maintain the destructive, yet highly profitable, status quo. 

Everyone intuitively knows this sort of coordination happens, but this memo actually documents it: the insidious collusion between industry, right-wing think tanks, AstroTurf groups (like the Tea Party), tax-exempt Christian groups, lobbyists, right-wing media — all collaborating, synchronizing their propaganda (so that all remain on message), while pretending to act independently of one another; and thereby giving the grand illusion of a ‘ground swell’ of opposition coming from many different places.

VIDEO Interview With Noam Chomsky: Occupy’s Number One Target Should Be Concentrations Of Private Power

by on Wednesday, May 2, 2012 at 1:22 pm EDT in Economy, Environment, Labor, Occupy Wall Street, Politics

Off the release of his new publication, OCCUPY (Occupied Media Pamphlet Series), Laura Flanders (GRITtv) sat down with MIT professor Noam Chomsky to reflect on the grim state of America, and the role activists have to play in turning it around. When asked what should be the number one target of the ninety-nine percent, to foster change, Chomsky responded:

It’s the concentrations of private power, which have an enormous — not total control — but enormous influence over Congress and the White House. In fact, that’s increasing sharply with the sharp concentration of private power escalating across the elections, and so on. […]

Chomsky believes a good way to combat the destruction that private corporations unleash on the societies in which they operate, is to work to redefine the concept of ‘business responsibility’ away from responsiveness to shareholders, and towards responsiveness to stakeholders: 

There’s no economic principle that says that management should be responsive to shareholders. In fact you can read it in texts of business economics, that we could just as well have a system where management is responsible to stakeholders. You know, stakeholders meaning workers and community. Why shouldn’t they be responsible?

Of course this predisposes that there ought to be management. But that’s another question: why should there be management? Why not have the stakeholders run the industry? […]

Of course, what he is referring to is a transformation from private (shareholder-centric) corporatism to worker (stakeholder-centric) Co-ops.

Flanders asks him whether changing from private ownership to worker ownership in itself would facilitate change, or if it would also require a change from the profit paradigm? “Could you,” she asks, “maintain the same exploitative profit-system under worker ownership?” 

That’s a little bit like asking whether shareholder voting is a good idea. Yeah, it’s a step. Is the Buffet Rule a good idea? Yes, it’s a small step. 

Worker ownership within a state Capitalist-market, semi-market system is better than private ownership, but it has inherent problems. Markets have well-known inherent inefficiencies. It’s just a part of markets. They are very destructive. I mean the obvious one is in a market system, a really functioning one, when whoever is making the decisions, doesn’t pay attention to what are called externalities — the effects on others.

So if, say, I sell you a car; if our eyes are open, we’ll make a good deal for ourselves. But we’re not asking, how it’s going to effect her [others]. And it will. There will be more congestion, gas prices will go up, environmental effects, and so on. And that multiplies over the whole population. Well that’s pretty serious.

Let’s take the financial crisis. Ever since the New Deal legislation was essentially dismantled, there’d been regular financial crises. And one of the fundamental reasons that’s understood, is the fact, let’s say the CEO of Goldman Sachs or Citigroup does not pay attention to what’s called systemic risks. So maybe you make a risky investment (transaction) and you cover your own potential losses, but you don’t take into account the fact that if it crashes it may crash the system. Which is what a financial crash is.

And the much more serious case of this is the environment effect. Now, in the case of financial institutions, when they crash, the taxpayer comes to the rescue, but if it destroyed the environment, no one is going to come to the rescue.

WATCH the entire interview below, where they discuss subjects ranging from the state of the Democratic and Republican parties, to neoliberalism, the occupy movement, anarchism, the civil rights movement, racism, the labor movement, and the corporate media:

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Why Americans Remain Cynical Of Their Gov’t: Take Obama’s New Fuel-Efficiency Deal

by on Friday, July 29, 2011 at 4:11 pm EDT in Environment, Politics

Today, President Obama (joined by 11 auto executives) declared a huge victory on the environmental front, as he and the auto industry sealed a deal that would double fuel-efficiency standards over an eight-year period, not to begin until 2017.  He said this agreement should serve as a model to leaders in Washington, because it shows that when competing groups put aside their differences and work together, they can “achieve something important and lasting for the country”.

Here’s President Obama Discussing The Deal:

 

The Washington Post outlines the specifics of the deal:

The agreement would require U.S. vehicle fleets to average 54.5 miles per gallon or 163 grams per mile of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2025, which represents a 50 percent cut in greenhouse gases and a 40 percent reduction in fuel consumption compared with today’s vehicles, according to sources briefed on the matter. […]

It would require a 5 percent annual improvement rate for cars between 2017 and 2025. Light trucks would be required to have a 3.5 percent yearly efficiency improvement between 2017 and 2021, rising to 5 percent between 2022 and 2025, according to the sources …

Michael Grunwald from Time Magazine’s ‘The Swampland blog‘ gives it a thumbs up, bellowing “Gas Guzzlers Be Gone!”:

It’s a big victory in the fight to reduce our foreign oil addiction, our carbon emissions, and our gasoline costs—and while Obama had sought a slightly bigger victory, the modest concessions he made to the automakers were a small price to pay to avoid a nasty fight in a dysfunctional Congress.

But Climate Progress is now confirming that this deal contains a “technology re-opener”. And Stephen Lacey of Climate Progress breaks down how this insidious devil-within-the-details could effectively allow the auto industry a way out:

But the details of the agreement may weaken the standards and allow automakers to delay action on improving the efficiency of America’s fleet of vehicles.

At issue is a “technology re-opener” that allows auto manufacturers to fight the standards after 2021 in the hopes that they can re-negotiate rules with a future administration that may be more lenient on the industry. The re-opener potentially gives auto companies an incentive not to develop technologies immediately so they can argue down the road that the standard can’t be met.

Despite the rise in value for used fuel-efficient cars and surveys showing two thirds of Americans want more efficient automobiles — and the inevitably of rising gasoline prices because of peak oil — American manufacturers say they are skeptical that consumers will buy them. Hence, the inclusion of a re-opener that gives auto companies a “self destruct” mechanism if they don’t think the standard is working — or if they decide to make it unworkable themselves.

As such Obama will likely get his political victory for having cut a deal to usher in “aggressive fuel-efficiency standards”. But in reality, he gave the auto-industry a HUGE incentive to get on board: a clause that allows them to evade these same “aggressive fuel-efficiency standards”.

How’s that for political theater?

Brad Plumer, writing for Ezra Klein’s blog at Washington Post, noted another obstacle to achieving these standards. He revealed that the very tests the industry uses to measure mileage are outdated and highly flawed:

The cars that actually drive on the road rarely achieve the mileage advertised. The laboratory tests used to measure mileage—testers run the cars on giant treadmills—were largely designed in the 1970s for less powerful cars that didn’t have air-conditioning. Jim Kliesch, a senior engineer at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told me that a sticker mileage of 54.5 mpg, for instance, would likely translate into about 39 mpg on the road. (See here for a wonkier analysis.)

Another criticism being leveled at the President is directed towards the approach he pursued for cutting this deal: He chose closed-door meetings with the auto industry, and in a highly political fashion (the Administration conducted them in lieu of the appointed — and Senate-confirmed — agency experts tasked to handle these very issues).

Amy Sinden from The Center for Progressive Reform slammed the Administration’s deal-making as an attempt to short-circuit the lawful process for setting these standards:

If the level of improvement is set based on a political deal, then the agencies will be left to come up with a justification after the fact. But President Obama nominated, and the Senate confirmed, the heads of these agencies to carry out a mission to protect the American people from air pollution and to buffer them from volatile gas prices. The rulemaking process should be driven by law. And the law says that the agencies should select a level of stringency that is the maximum feasible, economically practicable level that both reduces the air pollution that endangers public health and welfare and supports the need of the nation to conserve energy. […] 

The 2017-2025 standards are being set well in advance to give the auto industry time to meet goals that will transform the industry. The concessions the auto industry reportedly secured in the deal with the White House – a carve-out for pickup trucks, and a review of the technology and economics assumptions in 2018 – are exactly the kind of issues the automakers should suggest to the agencies as part of the comment process. These are decisions for the experts running the agencies, not political compromises doled out by the White House.

The deal still has a ways to go before Obama can actually claim it as a victory. It will need to go through a public comment period and a review by the Office of Management and Budget.

But it is becoming clear to me that whenever the corporate profiteers and President Obama huddle away behind closed doors to tackle the country’s biggest problems — as was done for health care reform — the end result ultimately proves to be a HUGE victory for these entrenched industries, and little more than a symbolic ‘victory’ for the public at large.