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Shocking New Oil Propaganda Plan to Fool Americans

If anyone doubts there is a well-coordinated, well-funded assault on science in America that is designed to fool people, look no further than this plan.
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The Guardian has unearthed a shocking new propaganda plan intended to turn the American public against wind energy in the 2012 election cycle. The plan is to be deployed by a shadowy network of propaganda contractors like the disgraced Heartland Institute, who recently compared those who accept the mainstream science on climate change to mass murderers, and was prepared by a fellow of the American Tradition Institute (ATI), the same law-breaking group that is suing climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann to gain access to his personal papers and emails while at the University of Virginia.

The confidential strategy memo advises using "subversion" to build a national movement of people protesting wind farms.

Sound silly? Any time money is behind a science issue it can become politicized. Consider 1920s Germany. Right-wing activists put money behind the crazy idea that Einstein's special theory of relativity would lead to moral decay. They called it "Jewish science" and "a hoax" and said Einstein was in it for the money. Sound familiar?

"This world is a strange madhouse," Einstein wote a friend at the time. "Currently every coachman and every waiter is debating whether relativity theory is correct. Belief in this matter depends on political party affiliation."

The ATI propaganda plan was discussed at a meeting of 30 of these so-called 'wind warriors,' hand-picked by the plan's author, ATI senior fellow John Droz Jr., in Washington D.C. last February.

"These documents show for the first time that local Nimby (Not In My Back Yard) anti-wind groups are co-ordinating and working with national fossil-fuel funded advocacy groups to wreck the wind industry," said Gabe Elsner, co-director of Checks and Balances, the accountability group which unearthed the proposal, in an interview with the Guardian.

The propaganda campaign calls for a national PR effort to cause "subversion in message of industry so that it effectively becomes so bad that no one wants to admit in public they are for it."

This is similar to the strategy used to demolish "cap and trade," turning it into a epithet during the 2010 climate bill debate in Congress. This "concept murder" happened to the dismay of conservative economists like former George W. Bush chief economic advisor Doug Holtz-Eakin, who saw cap and trade, which was invented by conservatives, as the best conservative tool to battle top-down, command-and-control environmental regulations. Holtz-Eakin says conservatives have forgotten that, and lost their roots. "They've taken positions that are divorced from any reality on the policy and from their own history," he told me. "We don't want to go back to the old, big-government approach of one size fits all of the 1970s," he said. "Conservatives need to figure out what they stand for. Is it just the highest bidder, or are there principles in there that mean something? I've always felt it's in their political interest to not deny the science, that's where the votes of the future are."

The propaganda plan goes much further than cap-and-trade opponents did in its efforts to fool the American public. It suggests creating "dummy businesses" to purchase billboards, much like the recent notorious Heartland Institute billboard, which was featured on Clear Channel space.

The plan also suggests creating a "counter-intelligence branch" to track the wind energy industry, and it recommends spending $750,000 to create a 501(c)(3) "nonprofit" with paid staff, much like the Heartland Institute, ATI, Americand for Prosperity, and other propaganda mouthpieces for the energy industry, and is dedicated to "constructively influence national and state wind energy policies" by building public opposition to the wind energy industry.

Subversion, propaganda, and fooling the public are nothing new to ATI's associates. During the 2010 elections, the Montana Commission of Political Practices found that ATI's parent organization, WTP/ATP, broke state campaign laws by failing to register as a political committee or report its donors and spending.

The state suggested WTP/ATP was involved in corruption and money laundering. They found that it solicited unlimited contributions to support candidates and then passed them through a "sham organization," similar to the "dummy businesses" suggested in the new propaganda plan. The sham organization was the Bozeman-based political action committee The Coalition for Energy and the Environment that ran attack ads against Democrats. WTP told corporations that it aimed to combat "radical environmentalists" and "beat them at their own game" and that their contributions would remain secret. This view is similar to the radicalized view of mainstream scientists, federal science agencies, and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences adopted by the Heartland Institute, who compared them on its widely discredited billboards to "murderers and madmen."

The propaganda plan says its "broader possible goal is to constructively influence national and state energy and environmental policies."

Get Shawn Lawrence Otto's new book: Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America, "One of the most important books written in America in the last decade." Starred Kirkus Review; Starred Publishers Weekly review. Visit him at Like him on Facebook. Join to get the presidential candidates to debate science.

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