Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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August 14, 2009

MORE CONSERVATIVE ASTROTURFING PLANNED.... I don't doubt that conservatives hoping to defeat Democratic energy policies will come up with some creative attacks later this year. They're hard to predict, of course, but I'm looking forward to lobbyists telling far-right activists that cap-and-trade is really about euthanasia. I can't wait to see Sarah Palin write on Facebook about the Obama "cap and kill" plan. (Perhaps I shouldn't give her ideas.)

Part of the plan, apparently, includes more astrotufring.

A leaked memo sent by an oil industry group reveals a plan to create astroturf rallies at which industry employees posing as "citizens" will urge Congress to oppose climate change legislation.

The memo -- sent by the American Petroleum Institute and obtained by Greenpeace, which sent it to reporters -- urges oil companies to recruit their employees for events that will "put a human face on the impacts of unsound energy policy," and will urge senators to "avoid the mistakes embodied in the House climate bill."

API president Jack Gerard warns in the memo, "Please treat this information as sensitive ... we don't want critics to know our game plan."

Oops.

Astroturf opposition to climate-change legislation seems to be the m.o. of the year for conservative corporate interests. We recently learned, for example, that a D.C. lobbying firm, working for the coal industry, sent bogus letters to Democratic lawmakers in opposition to the ACES bill. Support opponents couldn't rally they simply invented. That it was a fraud didn't seem to bother them.

And now opponents of climate-change legislation hope to pass off oil industry employees as regular folks, just expressing their concerns.

There's one thing I don't understand, though. It shouldn't be that difficult for the American Petroleum Institute to find real, live far-right activists who oppose the bill. Most conservatives tend to reject the science and evidence on global warming anyway, and oppose legislation to address the crisis they think is a "hoax."

Couldn't lobbyists just get in touch with the Tea Baggers? Why go to the trouble of orchestrating a charade, when there are right-wing global warming deniers who'd probably volunteer?

Steve Benen 2:15 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (16)

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Comments

It seems a solution to our unemployment problems may lie in astroturfing. Mobile astroturfing responder teams to quickly and loudly disrupt any progressive policy discussions.

Posted by: qwerty on August 14, 2009 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

Don't you just despise the way that conservatives astroturf? Liberals never do that. Never!

Posted by: Jim O'Sullivan on August 14, 2009 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

If the teabaggers have lost the oil companies, you know things are getting freaky.

Posted by: Curmudgeon on August 14, 2009 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

Here is a related story about a company doing paid trolling (astroturfmenting?(eh, sorry):

http://www.politicsandtechnology.com/2007/07/make-no-mistake.html

There's a company called Advantage Consultants that's offering up "professional blog warriors" to "flood the zone" with comments. In short, astro-turf trolls for the blogosphere.
...
Incidentally, who are these people? Who is Advantage Consultants? Their president is Doug Guetzloe, a right-wing radio host and anti-tax activist in Florida.
~~~~~

BTW if their commenters IDed themselves as working for the company, who would listen to them?

Posted by: Neil B ♪ on August 14, 2009 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

Don't you just despise the way that conservatives astroturf? Liberals never do that. Never!

Jim - this would be more effective as sarcasm if you were able to come up with some good for-instances of liberal astroturfing.

Or I could be wrong, and you mean that sincerely, in which case I apologize.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on August 14, 2009 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

Please enjoy this link of Nancy Pelosi telling opponents of the Iraq war in 2006 of how she is a "big fan of disruptors".

http://www.breitbart.tv/06-flashback-pelosi-tells-anti-war-protesters-im-a-fan-of-disruptors/

This just exposes liberals' concern about "conservative astroturfing" to be nothing more than hypothetical ranting about their own political impotence and insignificance.

Posted by: Chicounsel on August 14, 2009 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

Chicounsel, do you even understand "astroturfing"? It means people hired by companies, to look like they're acting on their own. What does being a fan of protesters per se have to do with astroturf? Do you work for Advantage Consultants?

Posted by: Neil B ♫ on August 14, 2009 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

Disruption to make yourself heard is a fine old American protesting tradition.

Disruption with the sole and expressly stated goal of preventing any discussion of the issues taking place, not so much.

Posted by: shortstop on August 14, 2009 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

For an unstoppable monster whose oppressive inertia will crush our freedom, individuality, and will, the US Government sure seems susceptible to loud people with signs.

Posted by: apm on August 14, 2009 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Couldn't lobbyists just get in touch with the Tea Baggers? Why go to the trouble of orchestrating a charade, when there are right-wing global warming deniers who'd probably volunteer?

Steve, they don't know any other way. After dealing with the Bush crime family for eight years... if it ain't crooked, it ain't right.

Posted by: kanopsis on August 14, 2009 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

The only astroturfing going on is Obama filling his townhalls with people who've been threatened with violence if they don't ask scripted questions and cheer on cue.

I've looked at their faces and those people are afraid for their lives if they don't do what The One demands.

The Tea Party Patriots are motivated by their love of freedom. Anyone protesting climate change legislation will be doing it because there is no real science supporting global warming. They're just ordinary people who are sick of having the liberal environmental agenda taken seriously.

Posted by: Mlke K on August 14, 2009 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

No real science. Are you fucking kidding? I know I've said this befor but whatever you are Mike K be it troll or oarody your statements reach heretofor unknown level of bullshit.

Posted by: Gandalf on August 14, 2009 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

This seems to be the M.O. for preventing regulation of the corporations from energy to health care...pump enough money into anti-government haters to change the subject so that rather than discussing energy legislation progressives are defending against charges of socialism and communism and gov control of the people or death panels and acorn funding for gov takeovers.

Just make the gov defensive so the legislation never really gets discussed. This is "Fascist Corporatism" and it is well funded to incite angry ignorant misinformed people through fear. They even own the media (6 corporations own the entire MSM) and still this loud mouthed minority cannot change NECESSITY. Both energy consumption and health care MUST change, must be reformed because they are tearing us apart destroying our nation and all the people in it unless we do change the status quo. It won't work this time corporations, we've run out of options... if we are to survive necessity demands we change.

Posted by: bjobotts on August 14, 2009 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

"...his just exposes liberals' concern about "conservative astroturfing" to be nothing more than hypothetical ranting about their own political impotence and insignificance."
Posted by: Chicounsel on August 14, 2009 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, that's why we're in the majority..."impotence and insignificance". That's how we won majorities in the elections. You must be a student of Rove...accuse others of what you are

Posted by: bjobotts on August 14, 2009 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

Couldn't lobbyists just get in touch with the Tea Baggers? Why go to the trouble of orchestrating a charade, when there are right-wing global warming deniers who'd probably volunteer?

Oh, don't worry, the tea-baggers will be there, present and accounted for, no doubt with Nazi paraphernalia and such. And the oil and coal companies are already counting on them. The problem for Big Oil is that there is a section of the population who look at the tea bag crowd and recognize bad craziness when they see it. If they don't dismiss what they hear from the 'baggers entirely, they probably heavily discount it.

For this segment, a crowd of people who can speak in complete sentences, don't make constant references to Hitler or Stalin and look like they might be able to hold down a job weighing in against cap and trade would be much more impressive and persuasive than the Fox Noise crowd. A crowd of oil industry employees would fit the bill for that perfectly.

Posted by: Jeff S. on August 14, 2009 at 7:52 PM | PERMALINK

I am suspicious of the authenticity of this American Petroleum Institute memo. Could such highly paid and highly motivated executive(s) be so stupid as to put their "evil plan" into print? And then how could they actually "lose" a copy to GreenPeace? It has the same ring as the Bush military memos. I suggest some serious memo vetting. This is parody beyond belief.

Posted by: Jon Karak on August 15, 2009 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK
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