Thursday, October 22, 2009

R?S? Presents: Build Your Own Clean Energy Attack

As regular readers of R?S? know, we aren't quick to take any one particular attack on clean energy too seriously. What matters is the sheer litany of them (after all, to clean energy critics, it's quantity - not quality - that matters).

With that in mind, we thought we'd offer a bit of a shout-out to our friends on the other side with our helpful guide to Build Your Own Clean Energy Attack! Follow these steps to gain insta-pundit fame in the Big Oil/special interest echo chamber:

1. Decide that you're opposed to clean energy and climate reform, and want to attack it.

This is a critical but often-overlooked first step. It usually involves serious ties to Big Oil, Dirty Coal and their special-interest allies in Washington. For example:

No harm from cap-and-trade? You lie! (The Hill, 10/20/09)
By Don L. Blankenship

Blankenship is chairman and CEO of Massey Energy Co.
Massey Energy would be the nation's fourth largest coal company. (Also, bonus points for channeling wingnut folk hero Joe Wilson!) Alternatively, you could go with the something more subtle:

Climate Assumptions From Another Planet (IBD, 10/15/09)
By Roy Innis and Paul Driessen

Innis is national chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality. Driessen is senior policy advisor for CORE and the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow.
That sounds legit, right? Sure, except for the tens of thousands of dollars CORE and the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow have taken from ExxonMobil and Chevron. (Crazy extra credit: Innis was a big Lyndon LaRouche supporter in 2008).

Absent these ties, you see, the odds just aren’t in your favor for opposing clean energy reform. Polling shows a vast majority of ordinary Americans favor reform, so you’ve got to be extraordinarily outside of the mainstream in order to do it.

2. Choose one (or several!) pre-packaged attacks produced by Big Oil think tanks or distorted by clean energy attackers

These "studies" are the meat and bones of clean energy smears, so feel free to continue using them after they have been thoroughly discredited by scientists, economists, media watchdogs and even the studies' authors themselves.

The Declan "I Don't Know My Own Job Title" McCullagh Attack: Clean energy and climate legislation will cost families $1,761 a year!!! Using some tricky math that would put Enron's accountants to shame, inflate the estimated cost of cap-and-trade to families by 1000%.

The MIT "I'm pretty sure we know what your study meant better than YOU do" Attack: No wait, clean energy and climate legislation will cost families more than $3,000!!! Misuse, misquote and generally misrepresent an MIT professor's climate study to the point that he attacks you - publicly. PS: This is when we first learned that had a rating called "Pants on fire!"

The Energy Citizens "Clean energy jobs aren't jobs" Attack: Clean energy and climate legislation will kill millions of jobs!!! Arrive at this figure by implying that jobs created in clean energy and energy efficiency don't count as jobs. No, really.

The Frank Luntz "Call anything we don't like a 'tax'" Attack: Cap-and-trade is really a "national energy tax"!!! [Hint: easily combined with hyper-inflated $3,000 cost figure and job loss claims!) Polls show people don't like taxes, so call cap-and-trade a "tax" even though taxation has nothing to do with the legislation. Handy monikers include "cap-and-tax" and, better, "crap-and-tax." Go wild!

...and our favorite, the "Our one scientist is better than your 3,200 scients from 130 nations" Attack: Global warming isn't happening and the Earth has cooled in the last ten years!!! We again refer you to the Frank Luntz approach to denying the settled science of global warming. Go forth, Truth Crusader.

**BONUS: Create your own smear** While you're on the attack, you might as well have fun with it! Claim that a climate bill would lead the government to forcibly confiscate your SUV, or implement a China-style "one child only" policy. Heck, call Obama a fascist or a communist (bonus points for saying he's both at once).

3. Promote your attack

Don't worry: when it comes to pushing clean energy smears, you'll never walk alone. Instead, you'll have a ready-made network of sympathetic media eager to turn your whopper into a mainstream story! For starters, give a call to...

Declan McCullagh at If his single-handed ability to create a media firestorm over an irrelevant, outdated analysis of a climate bill that was never under consideration is any indication, Declan's one of the most innovative clean energy smearers around.

The Washington Times, The Wall Street Journal's opinion page, Investors' Business Daily: With print newspaper circulation on the decline, the sympathetic folks at the Special Interest Press may be even more willing than usual to smear your attacks all over their pages.

FOX News: In its seeming bid to become the QVC for promoting attacks on clean energy, healthcare reform and any other priority of the Obama administration, FOX has taken up a near-constant line of attack on climate reform. Here's a short clip from just one of its attack dogs, Glenn Beck.

Step 3 Extra Credit: Give your attack some ground legs

Do you happen to work at the American Petroleum Institute, Americans for Tax Reform, or another well-funded lobby group opposed to the climate bill? Use your massive resources to manufacture some Astroturf support, turning your rant into a movement in the eyes of the uncritical.

Step 4: Rinse, lather, repeat!

What's great about the clean energy smear strategy is that it requires little to no modification from one attack to the next: Big Oil will always have money, special-interest think tanks can always replace their debunked studies with new ones, and FOX News will always be... well, FOX News.

(PS: Isn't Build-a-Bear awesome?)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Operation FREE: Stop "Swiftboating" Clean Energy Veterans

Enough is enough.

That's the message today from Operation FREE, a coalition of hundreds of veterans and retired admirals and generals who support comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation. The group recently came under a shockingly over-the-top attack from Maine State Rep. Daryl "Drill baby drill!" Metcalfe calling any veteran associated with Operation FREE a "traitor" and a "Benedict Arnold."

Now, Operation FREE is hitting back with a petition calling for Metcalfe to apologize for attacking America's war heroes for their support of clean energy.

Enough is enough. The name calling needs to stop. Swiftboating our military veterans, and questioning their patriotism, for crass political gain should not be tolerated.

America’s national security professionals in the Department of Defense, the Department of State, the National Intelligence Council, and the Central Intelligence Agency all agree that climate change is a security threat that must be dealt with seriously and honestly.

Rep. Metcalfe, you need to apologize.
We're headed over to the Operation FREE site to sign the petition right now. You should sign too.

Chamber Lobbying Bill: $35 Million

All that money the Chamber of Commerce is pouring into a job creation effort? Turns out it's only a fraction of what the group spends trying to influence lawmakers.

According the its 3rd quarter filing, due tomorrow, the Chamber dished out $34.7 million in lobbying expenses in the last three months, a figure higher than the next 18 filers combined, so far.

According to POLITICO, the Chamber has it's reasons:
“Clearly, it’s because the Congress has been dealing with the most important issues facing our nation,” said Tita Freeman, vice president of communications for the Chamber, adding that to the extent that there are job creation and economic development issues on the table, “we are front and center on them, as we always have been.”
Except not so much. As we have widely reported here on Really? Seriously?, the Chamber is hemorrhaging members, and the Obama Administration has decided it would be smarter if they just talked to business leaders themselves.

In other words, the Chamber could have saved a lot of money and had a much better quarter simply by listening to their since-departed members and listening to the American public's demand for comprehensive clean energy reform.

Given their rapidly dwindling membership, the Chamber may want to explore less expensive ways to go about their business next quarter.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Newest Clean Energy Smear Tactic: Call Veterans "Traitors" For Supporting Bill

Do these men look like traitors to you?

More than 150 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, as well as retired generals and admirals, recently visited the White House and Congress to lobby for clean energy and climate legislation. Having seen firsthand the effects of America's dependence on foreign oil (and in some cases, bearing scars from their service), these members of the armed forces have clearly earned the right to have their opinion on national security issues heard.

Which is why even we were shocked (and shocking us takes a lot these days) to read about a line of attack that has been taken up by Big Oil and other drilling advocates against the veterans' clean energy campaign, Operation FREE. When Operation FREE's exceptionally well-received bus tour passed through Maine, the veterans invited local lawmakers to meet with veterans and hear their valuable perspective. One GOP state representative, Daryl Metcalfe, went on the attack:
Subject: Re: Veterans for American Power Bus Tour coming to your state

As a veteran,

I believe that any veteran lending their name, to promote the leftist propaganda of global warming and climate change, in an effort to control more of the wealth created in our economy, through cap and tax type policies, all in the name of national security, is a traitor to the oath he or she took defend the Constitution of our great nation!

Remember Benedict Arnold before giving credibility to a veteran who uses their service as a means to promote a leftist agenda.

Drill Baby Drill!!!

For Liberty,
Daryl Metcalfe
State Representative
Veteran U.S. Army
So according to Metcalfe, everyone in the video above - as well as Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and retired Republican Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, both of whom served in the military and now call that service central to their support of clean energy and climate legislation - is a traitor.

A traitor.

Also of note is Daryl Metcalfe's own military experience. Now no one can attack him for his time in the armed forces, the major component of which was a stint as a Radar specialist in Germany during the 1980s, but his experience was in all likelihood quite different from what our men and women in uniform are seeing today on the ground fighting al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

More importantly, Metcalfe seems to be attacking veterans' use of their service as something that qualifies them to speak on clean energy. Doesn't that make his own use of the fact that he served to attack his fellow veterans a little awkward?

(And if there were any doubt about a major motivation behind Metcalfe's attack, the "Drill Baby Drill!" bit at the end really helped clear that up.)

In an editorial, Jonathan Powers - an Iraq War veteran who spent fifteen grueling months driving a tank in Baghdad and Najaf - calmly takes Metcalfe to task for his wild attack.

I think veterans who have fought in the Middle East and Afghanistan have unique perspective on the way our energy posture and climate change affect our national security.

That is what Operation FREE is about, American security. That is why hundreds are joining the fight.

I would like to ask Rep. Metcalfe if he thinks Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn or Republican Senator John Warner are traitors.

When I testified with these two leaders to the US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works about the threat that climate change poses to our national security were they disavowing their oath to the Constitution?
For more resources on the national security implications of climate change, check out Operation Free and the Truman National Security Project. Also follow Operation FREE's bus tour here.

Rob Simmons Literally Tea Bags Everywhere

In a recent blog post, former Congressman and current Senatorial candidate Rob Simmons of Connecticut egregiously (and admittedly) flip-flopped his previous support for combating global warming as part of an en masse abandoning of his previous policy positions.

However, what ostensibly was done for political reasons runs completely counter to poll after poll that shows that a majority of Americans support clean energy and climate legislation that creates jobs, reduces pollution and increases energy independence. That’s because people are sick of sending a billion dollars a day overseas to purchase oil when we could be investing that money in homegrown energy and job creation here in the U.S.

But then again maybe he’s not into listening to a majority (a strange strategy when trying to get elected) but instead prefers to placate a fringe minority according to his frequent alliance with the “tea party” movement, a group denounced by three of the major Connecticut newspapers.

In a recent speech to the tea party crowd, Simmons voiced his commitment to their movement by showing that he has started carrying an actual tea bag (insert own joke here) with his copy of the Constitution:
SIMMONS: This state and this country needs people like you. [...] I’ve made it a habit over the years to carry my Constitution in my pocket as a reminder of what this country and what this country’s government is all about. But more recently because of the participation of many of you, I’ve added something to my Constitution. I’ve added a tea bag.
Apparently Simmons’s Senate bid seemed like the perfect time to unveil his commitment to fringe elements over the savvy majority of voters who could actually get him elected.

Thwack! Clean Energy Campaign Smacks Astroturf Smear Group Upside the Head

The good guys are hitting back - hard - against the Big Oil's "slick" (see what we did there?), $80 million smear campaign designed to kill clean energy and climate legislation. The following ad is now running on national TV to counter the American Petroleum Institute's "Energy Citizens" campaign (via Clean Energy Works):

Quotes of the Day: Dissing Chamber of Commerce Goes Mainstream

Turns out people are catching on to the antics of the Chamber of Commerce, from the media to Capitol Hill. And now we are seeing comparisons that the group probably would rather stay away from (via Politico):
“There’s a strong, very conservative ideology there,” said House Financial Services Committee Chairman Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.). “They’re more like The Heritage Foundation then they are like an economic association.”
Besides being punching bags for the never-shy Barney Frank, here's something else the Heritage Foundation and the Chamber of Commerce have in common: Big Oil money. ExxonMobil alone has contributed more than half a million dollars to the Heritage Foundation, and while the Chamber of Commerce's much-ridiculed $100 million image blitz claiming its support for same reckless de-regulation policies that helped cause our economic crisis has been bought and paid for by Big Oil, Big Tobacco and Big Pharma.

Perhaps not surprisingly, then, Senior White House advisor Valerie Jarrett was just as scathing in a Politico interview:
“We’re seeing very prominent members resigning from the Chamber, so our question is, ‘Well, then does it still represent the community’s interests?’” she said

“We prefer the approach — particularly in this climate — where the actual people who are on the front lines, running businesses, trying to create jobs, come and advise us on policy.”
Probably why that Chamber plan to "create 20 million jobs" has gone over so well:
"Last week, [Tom] Donohue appeared on MSNBC’s 'Morning Meeting' to promote the Chamber’s new $100 million 'defend free enterprise' campaign only to have host Dylan Ratigan tell him: 'You talk nonsense.'
If Ratigan's going to keep covering the science-deniers and Big Oil cronies who are crowding their way into the clean energy and climate debate, he's going to have to up his tolerance for nonsense... just sayin'.

How big is the U.S. Chamber, really?

Amidst all of the high-profile exiting of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce by major companies opposed to the trade association's climate change stance, the Chamber's president, Tom Donahue, has consistently pointed to the more than 3 million members still left.

Evidently he has created some invisible friends.

The Washington Post reported yesterday that, in fact, the Chamber has nowhere near the 3 million members it claims to have. Instead, about 1/10th of that number actually claim membership and many of those do not do it proudly. (From Mother Jones via WaPo):
the chamber acknowledged that its actual paid membership is only 300,000, including several thousand local chambers of commerce whose own membership was used in calculating the inflated 3 million figure.

Moreover, when Josh Harkinson of Mother Jones contacted some of those local chambers, their leaders took pains to distance themselves from the national organization, whose policies, they said, they had no hand in shaping and with which they frequently disagree.

"They don't represent me," said Mark Jaffe, chief executive of the Greater New York Chamber.
And the Chamber has had no trouble perpetuating the lie and hiding the truth. Also from Mother Jones, by way of the Huffington Post:
Since 1997, the "3 million" figure has appeared in print more than 200 times in newspapers and broadcast outlets of all sizes…

By contrast, the 300,000 figure, which appears nowhere on the Chamber's website, is cited in the news database Lexis-Nexis only three times -- infrequently enough to be mistaken for a typo.”
So that means that 90 percent of the members Donahue claimed the Chamber proudly had do not actually exist and that many of the real ones wish they didn't. Maybe the CEO's of the companies that left were just tired of Donahue's nose hitting them at the board meetings.

Watch out, it's about to get longer. The Post continued:
To hear it from Donohue and his minions, it's not that the business community opposes financial regulation, or universal health care or controlling greenhouse gases -- it's just opposed to every credible idea for doing something about them. And rather than focus on working constructively to improve legislation, the Chamber's default strategy is to try to kill it outright through exaggeration, misrepresentation and outright lies.
Even more damning may be these comments, from a different Washington Post story, showing that really, this is all about money:
"Donohue said the chamber board did not vote whether to support or oppose the House-passed emissions cap-and-trade bill. He said that opposing the legislation was a staff decision because it did not meet the principles that the chamber already had approved through its committee and board process."
But two paragraphs later, a source detailed what that really means:
"'Companies with the largest contributions tend to hold more sway with chamber staff on setting final policy positions,' the official added."
Eventually the lying has to stop, or we might just have to give the Chamber a name suitable to its actions: "Big Oil".