Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category
More on bad-faith politics, including flat-out lying, but a veteran lobbyist who endorses tactics that would shame most. Eric Lipton reports in the NY Times:
If the oil and gas industry wants to prevent its opponents from slowing its efforts to drill in more places, it must be prepared to employ tactics like digging up embarrassing tidbits about environmentalists and liberal celebrities, a veteran Washington political consultant told a room full of industry executives in a speech that was secretly recorded.
The blunt advice from the consultant, Richard Berman, the founder and chief executive of the Washington-based Berman & Company consulting firm, came as Mr. Berman solicited up to $3 million from oil and gas industry executives to finance an advertising and public relations campaign called Big Green Radicals.
The company executives, Mr. Berman said in his speech, must be willing to exploit emotions like fear, greed and anger and turn them against the environmental groups. And major corporations secretly financing such a campaign should not worry about offending the general public because “you can either win ugly or lose pretty,” he said.
Think of this as an endless war,” Mr. Berman told the crowd at the June event in Colorado Springs, sponsored by the Western Energy Alliance, a group whose members include Devon Energy, Halliburton and Anadarko Petroleum, which specialize in extracting oil and gas through hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. “And you have to budget for it.”
What Mr. Berman did not know — and what could now complicate his task of marginalizing environmental groups that want to impose limits on fracking — is that one of the energy industry executives recorded his remarks and was offended by them.
“That you have to play dirty to win,” said the executive, who provided a copy of the recording and the meeting agenda to The New York Times under the condition that his identity not be revealed. “It just left a bad taste in my mouth.” . . .
The lobbyist is pretty clearly a sociopath. And it’s heartening that at least one executive saw the lobbyist’s approach for what it is. The complete speech is provided here, and note this introduction:
Speech by Richard Berman to Western Energy AllianceHere is a complete transcript of a speech that Richard Berman, the founder and chief executive of Berman and Company, gave in June 2014 in Colorado Springs to a group of energy executives. He urged them to contribute several million dollars to a nonprofit organization he runs, with a promise that he would hide the origin of the money. The nonprofit would then create a campaign to attack environmental groups raising questions about fracking. The speech offers a rare glimpse into how Mr. Berman operates. This transcript was provided to The Times, which also has a copy of the actual recording. The transcript was shared with Mr. Berman, by The Times, before its publication.
From this article in the New Yorker:
“We can go through the list over and over, but at the end of every line is this: Republicans believe this country should work for those who are rich, those who are powerful, those who can hire armies of lobbyists and lawyers,” she said in Englewood, Colorado. “I will tell you we can whimper about it, we can whine about it, or we can fight back. I’m here with Mark Udall so we can fight back.”
“Republicans, man, they ought to be wearing a T-shirt,” she said in Des Moines, Iowa. “The T-shirt should say: ‘I got mine. The rest of you are on your own.’ … We can hang back, we can whine about what the Republicans have done … or we can fight back. Me, I’m fighting back!”
Even on “The View,” Warren came across as a political pugilist who loves nothing more than climbing into the ring with the Republicans. “Under President Obama’s leadership, we fight to raise the minimum wage, we fight to reduce the interest rate on student loans, we fight for equal pay for equal work,” she told “CBS This Morning.” “It’s really about whose side do you stand on? And, for me, that’s the whole heart of it.”
Take a close look at the Koch brothers and remember they are trying very hard to gain control of the country
I’ve blogged before about the article quoted below—it came out a month ago—but today I read it in the light of the all-out effort the Koch Brothers have been making for years in the political sphere.
They are spending millions upon millions—perhaps even a billion or more—but the prize is incredibly valuable: What if you had effective control of the US government? Man, wouldn’t that be the biggest of all payoffs.
There is no doubt that they are spending heavily on many fronts, including writing legislation for states to pass—and some do pass that legislation. They are spending lavishly on elections and on barring people from voting through things like Voter ID laws.
But the most revealing thing is their reaction to the Time Dickinson article in Rolling Stone, a carefully researched, well-written, in-depth look at their activities. They did not like that , not one bit. And their reaction says a lot. Tim Dickinson reports:
Koch Industries has written a lengthy response to our feature story on the company in the latest issue of Rolling Stone. In tweets the company apparently paid to promote, Koch bills this write-up as a “point-by-point response to Rolling Stone writer Tim Dickinson’s dishonest and misleading story.” The salient feature of Koch’s response is that the company does not argue the core facts of our 9,000-word expose. Instead, Koch targets the messenger. Koch’s top target here is not even Rolling Stone, but me, Tim Dickinson.
I find it, frankly, amusing that a company that has been convicted of six felonies and numerous misdemeanors; paid out tens of millions of dollars in fines; traded with Iran, and been so reckless in its business practices that two innocent teenagers ended up dead, attempts to impugn my integrity, and on the basis of my association with Mother Jones — where I worked as an editor in the late 1990s and early 2000s, on a team that was twice nominated and once awarded a National Magazine Award for General Excellence.Koch, in particular, takes umbrage with my reporting practices.
For the record: In the weeks prior to publication, beginning September 4th, Rolling Stone attempted to engage Koch Industries in a robust discussion of the issues raised in our reporting. Rolling Stone requested to interview CEO Charles Koch about his company’s philosophy of Market Based Management; Ilia Bouchouev, who heads Koch’s derivatives trading operations, about the company’s trading practices; and top Koch lawyer Mark Holden about the company’s significant legal and regulatory history.
The requests to speak to Charles Koch and Bouchouev were simply ignored. Ultimately, only Holden responded on the record, only via e-mail and only after Holden baselessly insinuated that I had been given an “opposition research” document dump from the liberal activist David Brock. (This is false.) From my perspective as a reporter, Koch Industries is the most hostile and paranoid organization I’ve ever engaged with — and I’ve reported on Fox News. In a breach of ethics, Koch has also chosen to publish email correspondence characterizing the content of a telephone conversation that was, by Koch’s own insistence, strictly off the record.
In an attempt to negotiate an on-the-record interview, Rolling Stone had sent Holden a series of discussion topics. Holden and the Koch communications team treated these general topics, instead, as though they were specific questions and provided the voluminous responses they have reproduced, inventively, as a Q&A on their website.
These responses were not “ignored,” as Koch suggests. In part, they contain useful background information, and they informed my reporting of the story. But in the main, the Koch responses attempt to re-litigate closed cases — incidents where judges, juries, and, in one case, a Senate Select Committee, have already had a final say. They only muddy waters that have been clarified by a considered legal process.
Where Koch attempted to provide additional context, it was frequently hairsplitting and obfuscatory. For example, . . .
Science is in effect a filter that selects out conservatives, for reasons to some extent explored and explained in a Pacific Standard article by Tom Jacobs:
While political partisans of all stripes have been known to take issue with research findings that contradict their positions, conservatives have come across as particularly anti-science of late. Columnist and commentator George Will, who dismisses the consensus opinion of climate-change researchers, recently expressed skepticism of the medical community’s assurances that Ebola cannot be caught via airborne transmission.
Will clearly perceives scientists as untrustworthy, their conclusions skewed by self-interest and preconceived notions. While this view is obviously self-serving—he really should check out the psychological notion of projection—it raises disturbing questions about whether science has become hopelessly politicized.
So are scientists—as conservatives suspect—more likely to be liberals? Recently published research suggests they are, but—contrary to the implication left by Will and his colleagues—this is not because political progressives are more intrinsically inclined than right-wingers to choose a scientific career.
Rather, according to a research team led by Harvard University psychologist Christine Ma-Kellams, immersion in the world of science tends to shifts students’ attitudes toward the left side of the political spectrum.
Specifically, they report adopting a scientific mindset makes one less likely to endorse a hierarchy-based ideology in which one group of people is considered superior to another—an attitude that has been strongly linked to political conservatism.
In the Journal of Social and Political Psychology, Ma-Kellams and her colleagues describe four studies that support their thesis. In the first, 196 students from a New England university revealed their ideological positions by responding to 18 statements expressing political opinions.
“Across domains,” the researchers report, “those who are in scientific fields exhibited greater political liberalism compared to those in non-hard-scientific fields.”
Importantly, this was only found for students in their third or fourth year of college. This strongly suggests that, rather than political liberals being attracted to science, it was the hands-on study that made the difference.
The second study featured 100 undergraduates, who expressed their views on three hot-button political issues (same-sex marriage, affirmative action, and the Affordable Care Act). They also completed the Social Dominance Orientation Scale, in which they expressed their level of agreement or disagreement with such statements as “Sometimes other groups must be kept in their place,” and “In getting what you want, it is sometimes necessary to use force against other groups.”
Consistent with the first study, the researchers found that “for those with significant exposure to their discipline (i.e., upperclassmen), studying science is associated with more liberal political attitudes.” Furthermore, they found this was due to a lower level of support for the my-group-deserves-to-dominate positions outlined above.
Additional studies featuring Canadian students and a community sample from the Boston area came to the same conclusions.
“Relative to those studying non-sciences, students in the sciences exhibited greater political liberalism across a variety of domains (including foreign policy, health care, and the economy) and a variety of social issues (gay marriage, affirmative action), as well as in general self-reported liberalism,” Ma-Kellams and her colleagues write.
This, they conclude, is the result of “science’s emphasis on rationality, impartiality, fairness, progress, and the idea that we are to use these rational tools for the mutual benefit of all people in society.”
In one sense, these results are something of a surprise. . .
This explains (to a degree and on a general level) why conservatives seem to know and understand very little science: those who do learn science tend to stop being conservative. (It’s a general rule, with many exceptions.)
Paul Krugman points out the intense efforts by the GOP to prevent people from voting—focused, of course, on those groups likely to vote democratic—reflects the general feeling of the wealthy that poor people should have no say in the government. (Originally, as he points out, people had to own property (land) to vote in the US.) It’s a good column that ends with this:
The truth is that a lot of what’s going on in American politics is, at root, a fight between democracy and plutocracy. And it’s by no means clear which side will win.
And David Brooks seems to recognize the bad trends multiplying in the US. From his column:
If you get outside the partisan boxes, there’s a completely obvious agenda to create more middle-class, satisfying jobs. The federal government should borrow money at current interest rates to build infrastructure, including better bus networks so workers can get to distant jobs. The fact that the federal government has not passed major infrastructure legislation is mind-boggling, considering how much support there is from both parties.
That’s a surprising statement from Brooks, I would say.
Politicians who cannot comment on climate change because they are “not a scientist” speak out about Ebola
Inconsistency, thy name is Politician. Emily Atkin reports at ThinkProgress:
On Saturday, political blogger Lee Papa made an interesting observation about Republicans who widely recommend panicking about Ebola. “Does any Republican talking about Ebola say, “I’m not a scientist” like they do with climate change?” he tweeted, referencing the long list of political figures who claim to not know the science behind climate change, even though they actively oppose any policy to fight it.
On Monday, Papa answered the question for us with a resounding “no.” As might be expected, most prominent Republican politicians who are not willing to talk about climate change because they lack qualifications are willing to talk about Ebola, despite the fact that they lack qualifications. As might also be expected, all those politiciansfavor strict policy measures to deal with the disease, even though most scientists say Ebola is not easily transmittable and does not pose a widespread threat to Americans.
“Republicans are glad to tell you that either the evidence is inconclusive or that they are too dumb to understand the science when it comes to climate change, so they think it’s wrong to act like it’s a crisis and refuse to do anything to slow or halt it,” Papa writes at his blog Rude Pundit. “However, they will go bugnuts crazy and try to cause panic when it comes to the science around the spread of Ebola, even when they have it wrong.”
The list of perpetrators is long. . .