If You Can’t Beat Them… Lie, Cheat and Brainwash the Public

Coal energy is clean. Clean energy is dirty. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Coal energy is clean. Clean energy is dirty. Wash, rinse, repeat.

I wrote once on my bewilderment of the climate change deniers and how there could still be a segment of the population that buys into the nonsense that says human impacted climate change is not real or is of no importance. I concluded that as long as there are those who have a financial interest in fighting legislation that weakens the stranglehold the fossil fuel industry has on power production, there will constantly be a struggle to fend off the very real propaganda campaigns launched by those same individuals. The extent to which the rich and powerful energy barons have gone to discredit competing industries has been something right out of a blockbuster conspiracy movie.

Let me give you an example. The following link is to a page from a group calling itself the Institute for Energy Research. In their article, they try desperately to argue that Wind Power is dirty and expensive. It’s pretty much what environmentalists have been saying about fossil fuels for years. On the surface, one might think that Wind Power is suddenly dangerous and inefficient, but as I’ve written before, it’s important to consider the source of information before buying into it.

The IER is essentially a shill for Big Oil and Big Coal. The CEO, Robert Bradley was the former Director for Policy Analysis for Enron. To say he’s not environmentally friendly might be an understatement. In his book, Climate Alarmism Reconsidered he states that carbon dioxide “is not a pollutant but a building block of a living and vibrant biosphere.” I suppose this is technically true, in that it naturally makes up a percentage of our atmosphere and is necessary for the survival of plant life, but in the context of his argument, he suggests that the alarming increase in the levels of CO2 is nothing about which to be concerned, which is blatantly false.

It is also worthy of note that the IER is partnered with the American Energy Alliance, founded by Thomas Pyle who formerly worked for Congressman Tom Delay as well as the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association and Koch Industries.

The IER is but one of many groups with scientific or neutral sounding names with clearly pro-fossil fuel agendas. The Energy & Environment Legal Institute has been critical of the EPA’s new Clean Power Plan (naturally). According to Sourcewatch, the E&ELI also has ties to Koch Industries as well as Big Coal. Most interestingly, the E&ELI’s predecessor group, the American Trade Institute, was involved in a proposal for a massive campaign to discredit Wind Power.

This proposal included items like:

  1. Create a national professional Public Relations (PR) campaign to organize communications to targeted audiences to influence national and state energy and environmental policies.
  2. Cause the targeted audience to change its opinion and action.
  3. Provide credible counter message to the (wind) industry.
  4. Disrupt industry message with countermeasures.
  5. Cause subversion in message of 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)
  6. Create some catch phrases of wind energy – e.g. Puff Power, Breeze Energy, etc.
  7. Develop a list of experts for testimony to government agencies, etc.
  8. Create a “think-tank” subgroup to produce and disseminate white paper reports and scientific quotes and papers that back up the message.
  9. Employ a well-known spokesperson with star credibility.
  10. Youth outreach will create program for public school coordination as well as college coordination. 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 contests, essays, etc.).

[Author’s note: #10, in my opinion is a particularly disgusting maneuver.]

There’s more of course and I encourage everyone to read the article from The Guardian, who obtained the memo and published it.

Behind all of this is the frightening reality that public policy is being crafted by corporations using legislators on both a state and federal level as messengers for corporate interests. In part, this comes from “model bills” generated by the American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC. As the website Alecexposed.org explains:

“Through the secretive meetings of the American Legislative Exchange Council, corporate lobbyists and state legislators vote as equals on ‘model bills’ to change our rights that often benefit the corporations’ bottom line at public expense. ALEC is a pay-to-play operation where corporations buy a seat and a vote on ‘task forces’ to advance their legislative wish lists and can get a tax break for donations, effectively passing these lobbying costs on to taxpayers.”

Make no mistake, the fossil fuel industry is not going down without a fight. So the next time you read about how the Clean Power Plan was a mistake, or illegal, or how wind energy is dirty and expensive or how climate change is a farce, you may want to check the source of that argument. Chances are it is coming from a fossil fuel industry front and is subject to serious scrutiny. We live in a world where corporate greed can trump all and billions are spent on pollution propaganda. Be wary.

~V

Perhaps It Is a Happy New Year

babies-laughing

I’ve decided that the annoyance one feels when hearing the sound of a crying baby is proportional to the joy one feels when hearing the sound of a baby laughing. I was at the grocery store earlier and a small lad (probably just hit the 1 year mark and was barely toddling) was grabbing his dad’s leg, testing out his newfound mobility and cackling like he was having the time of his life (which he probably was).

As I listened to him belly laugh at the absurdity of absolutely everything (Wouldn’t that be nice?) my paternal instincts kicked in and I found myself grinning from ear to ear. I was filled with a pleasant elation that no drug could ever hope to reproduce. I’m still feeling it.

We’re told to enjoy the little things in life. Well this tyke was little and I certainly enjoyed him. Thanks tiny dude. You really made my day. May you never let life strip you of your happiness. 🙂

No More Crying For the Dead

Crying for the dead

I’m done writing stories about dead people. More precisely, the teary-eyed, reflecting-on-those-that-we’ve-lost stories. When I began my journey as a writer ages ago (or maybe about six months, whatever), I was quick to jump on that bandwagon. I wrote short stories like The Broken Bell, His Weekly Visit and A Hard Road to Walk. Fellow bloggers were kind enough to like the posts and even make a few remarks about the sentimentality of the pieces and at the time, I felt pretty good about writing them.

Having grown SOOO much over the past few months (Warning: The author’s ego is starting to inflate. Keep a distance of at least 500 feet.) and having read SOOO many other short stories that use the same jaded theme, I’ve decided that while those stories may give the reader a momentary “Awww” feeling, they are without substance and most are unremarkable. To me, they are a quick and easy way out of a writing assignment. Rather than putting forth real effort to devise and develop an actual story with a Character, a Journey and a Twist, those stories are the equivalent of My Dog Ate My Homework. Or perhaps, My Adorable, Loyal Dog Ate My Homework And Then Tragically Died And I Miss Him.

It’s not difficult to cobble together a soulful lament about a lost love,  family member or friend. Heck, if I can do it, anyone can (and they do). And yes, everyone can relate, but honestly, it’s just too easy to fall back on the pain of loss instead of demonstrating real creativity and originality. It’s cheating.

I know I need to constantly push myself as a writer and I’m trying to eliminate the shortcuts and escape routes that I’ve taken. It’s not that I don’t like sad stories. I just don’t want to write them. At least not the kind that rely entirely on reflections of grief to move the story along. I can do better.

Of course, Death is a popular character in literature. Many famous authors (some of whom are also decent writers) have built careers on the shoulders of the Reaper and that’s fine. I love Poe. I love King. I love Lovecraft (that last one is just fun to say, isn’t it?) and I have no intention of abandoning my horror fiction, but that’s entirely different.  There will still be plenty of death and terror and suffering in my writing but loving memories of the dearly departed will stay in the grave.

In closing, I would like to lovingly reflect on those stories I wrote that are now gone forever. Writing them brought such joy and now that they’re gone, there are days when all I can do is gaze out the window and recall times gone by. Life is hard. Letting go is harder. *Sniff* Goodbye old friends. (Teardrop falls)

See you on the other side. (Choked cry… Violin music fades in. Picture fades to black.)

~V

5 Things Never To Do on Facebook

No Facebook

The full title to this article was meant to be: 5 Things Never To Do on Facebook (If You Don’t Want To Be an Asshole) but I decided the last part should be self explanatory. I also considered: How To Win at Social Media in 5 Easy Steps, but I was afraid I’d have to have operators standing by to take the first of your three easy payments of only $19.99 for this fabulous offer. (But wait… there’s more!)

Social Media has developed it’s very own etiquette and customs and while many folks have gleaned this from years of experience, there’s still a significant portion of the internet population that has been a bit slow in picking up the not-so-subtle rules. It is for this clueless crowd that I offer a crash course in how to avoid being the person everyone complains about. You’re welcome.

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A Year in Retrospect

I ran out of creative juice when selecting an article picture.

I ran out of creative juice when selecting an article picture.

I’ve been writing a lot of political and social commentary pieces lately and I’d really like to step away from that for a while. In the spirit of returning to a lighter fare, I thought I’d sit back and bask in a bit of reflection.

So here we are racing towards the end of another year. In many ways, this has been one of the best of my life, despite, or perhaps in some cases because of all of the changes that I’ve endured.

Last January I took a huge leap of faith and left the security of my job with a Fortune 500 company. I won’t say their name, but they ranked 143 this year. I’d love to tell you that this was a calculated decision based on a cleverly devised long-term plan. It was not. My departure was the natural result of a mind (and body) that was no longer healthy.

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The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is…

Saw this video posted on Facebook of Florida sheriff Wayne Ivey warning people that the terrorists are here and to arm themselves. I have only one response: Bravo! It’s about time someone told the truth. The terrorist infestation in this country is getting out of control. They’re worse than cockroaches. They’re behind every bush, around every corner. You’re not safe. Your kids aren’t safe. Your pets aren’t safe. Heck, even your plants may not be safe. You never know; a terrorist may want to rape and kill your rhododendron.

The only refuge honest, white Christian Americans have is in packing heat. The more guns you own, the safer you are. In fact, I think all licensing for guns should be suspended to make it easier for good, law abiding citizens to purchase an arsenal for home protection.

Everything you need for home defense. Or World War III.

Everything you need for home defense. Or World War III.

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Whatever. Nevermind.

A serious wardrobe malfunction?

A serious wardrobe malfunction?

I don’t like Justin Bieber. I mean, I really REALLY don’t like Justin Bieber. The amount I don’t like him could fill the Grand Canyon. If the amount I don’t like him were a fat guy, he’d be too big to be on The Biggest Loser. If you laid out the amount I don’t like him end to end, it would circle the Earth 27 gajillion times.

Justin is a smug, talentless, classless, clueless douchebag. There is nothing about him that I like. At all. (Except that he dated Selena Gomez and she’s hot but then, that makes me dislike him even more because… He’s Justin Bieber.)

So it certainly pains me to come to his defense. You see, apparently he wore a Nirvana T-shirt to the American Music Awards the other night and some people (probably those folks who have nothing better to do than sit around and write blog posts all day long) have lost their freaking minds. I don’t get it. It’s just a T-shirt. I mean, it’s not like he tried to perform or record a Nirvana song. That, of course would be worthy of Hellish fury that could only end with the Biebs being burned alive on stage while thousands of Nirvana fans chanted loudly.

Do I think that Justin understands and appreciates the musical genius that is Kurt Cobain or Nirvana? No, of course not. That’s silly. No one could possibly believe such nonsense. Why would anyone even suggest such a thing. Stop it. Just stop.

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Concerned Citizens

Concerned citizens

Scene opens in the basement of a small church in a small town in Alabama. A group of concerned townsfolk have gathered to discuss the looming threat.

Bill: “It just ain’t right, I tell ya. They’re practically on our doorstep. We’re all in danger.”

Mary Beth: Looking around the room at the others. “You don’t think it could really happen, do you?”

Buford: “If it does, I got my shotgun that’ll send ’em all back to Allah!”

Murmurs of approval from the group.

Harry: “They’re all terrorists, every last one of them, we all know that. Why is there even talk of letting them in?”

Carl: “It’s that damn Obama and his Liberal agenda, that’s what it is!”

More murmurs of approval.

Mary Beth: “I heard that not only are they all terrorists but that many of them are… GAY!”

Gasps of  horror.

Bill: “Oh good Lord Jesus… gay terrorists. It really must be the end of days.”

Carl: “Whaddya think they’d do? Do ya think they’d make you… you know… DO things before they killed ya?”

Mary Beth: In a shrill voice. “Of course they would, Carl. That’s what them gays do. They’re all rapists!”

Buford: “Sweet Jesus on a pogo stick. This is worse than I thought. Better start stocking up on my shotgun shells.”

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Breaking News: GOP on Syrian Refugees

(AP) – November 20, 2015

As Congress attempts to pass a bill that would prohibit refugees from Syria from entering the US, Republican presidential candidates have been speaking out about the current controversy regarding the Syrian refugees waiting to arrive in the US.

“I think it’s a huge security risk to let those illegal immigrants into our country” stated Sen. Ted Cruz on Wednesday. He then went on to clarify that he was not speaking about Mexicans but rather Syrian refugees.

“If we are going to allow any of them to come into our home, we need to be sure it’s only Christians and not the terrorists.” Cruz’s assistant leaned in and whispered to him. “Sorry, not terrorists. I mean Muslims. I get those two confused,” he said, correcting himself immediately.  “After all, you never hear about radical Christians committing acts of violence,” Cruz said speaking outside a recently bombed Planned Parenthood clinic where three staff members were killed.

Sen. Ted Cruz throws up Nazi 'Sieg Heil' salute at a rally in New Hampshire.

Sen. Ted Cruz throws up  a Nazi ‘Sieg Heil’ salute at a rally in New Hampshire.

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Where is The Compassion?

A Syrian child refugee cries during the fourth day of school at Al Zaatri refugee camp

A Syrian child refugee cries during the fourth day of school at Al Zaatri refugee camp.

In the wake of recent tragedies in Paris as well as the far less reported attacks in Beirut and Kenya, I felt the need to express my thoughts on the matter. I’ve been waiting and contemplating for several days now to determine what it is exactly that I really want to say. I suppose I’m still a bit confused because of my conflicting emotions.

You see, I understand the fear. I understand the anger. I understand the desire for hard-hitting retaliation against those who committed the recent atrocities. I understand the need to find blame with someone. I understand because I’m feeling all of these things. But I refuse to allow these feelings to guide my thinking or actions. Time has proven that ideas or beliefs rooted in raw emotion are never sound and decisions based upon those ideas lead to mistakes.

I’ve tried to think critically about all that has transpired and take a more reasoned approach to my analysis. In doing so, I am facing new emotions as I keep running into rampant demagoguery, xenophobia and fear mongering, mostly relating to Muslims in general and specifically towards the refugees from Syria that are waiting to come into the US.  It seems to be everywhere – comments from Presidential candidates, political leaders and social media.

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