Tag Archives: Corporate Overlords

Skepticism

They don’t have to win the argument, they just have to “foster doubt”:

Historians and sociologists of science say that since the tobacco wars of the 1960s, corporations trying to block legislation that hurts their interests have employed a strategy of creating the appearance of scientific doubt, usually with the help of ostensibly independent researchers who accept industry funding.

Fossil-fuel interests have followed this approach for years, but the mechanics of their activities remained largely hidden.

“The whole doubt-mongering strategy relies on creating the impression of scientific debate,” said Naomi Oreskes, a historian of science at Harvard University and the co-author of “Merchants of Doubt,” a book about such campaigns. “Willie Soon is playing a role in a certain kind of political theater.”

Environmentalists have long questioned Dr. Soon’s work, and his acceptance of funding from the fossil-fuel industry was previously known. But the full extent of the links was not; the documents show that corporate contributions were tied to specific papers and were not disclosed, as required by modern standards of publishing.

Dr. Soon is yet another of those “ostensibly independent researchers who accept industry funding.” He’s actually an engineer, not a climate scientist, and real climate scientists say his research is “pointless” to their work. But he’s got the veneer of authority, because he is associated with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. And corporate shills in Washington (*cough*cough*Sen. James Inhofe*cough*cough*) who think we should be impressed by this pedigree trot him out to promote their “the jury is still out because of this guy here” parlor tricks.

So okay, buh-bye Dr. Soon. You violate scientific ethics, you lose your gig. Soon’s research was funded by the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation and the Southern Company (a utility holding company). And then there’s this:

However, other companies and industry groups that once supported Dr. Soon, including Exxon Mobil and the American Petroleum Institute, appear to have eliminated their grants to him in recent years.

As the oil-industry contributions fell, Dr. Soon started receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars through DonorsTrust, an organization based in Alexandria, Va., that accepts money from donors who wish to remain anonymous, then funnels it to various conservative causes.

Um, yeah. So a change in the funnel through which the cash flows. But the source remains the same. This is dirty pool. And I can’t imagine, with the bazillions of dollars spent on these propaganda campaigns and astroturfing and buying of elections, that this all makes financial sense for a corporation in the end. Wouldn’t it just be easier and cheaper to do the right thing from the get-go?

I guess not.

This meme from last year has always cracked me up:

PlotIdea

Last I checked, it’s not 97% — it’s 99%. And for every Dr. Soon exposed as a fraud that percentage grows. But remember, it’s not about “disproving” climate science. It’s about spreading doubt. It’s about perpetuating the false belief that “the jury is still out,” and “the science isn’t decided.”

Clever, but facts will out. This shit never works. Because what you say doesn’t change what is really happening. Sea levels are rising. Droughts are happening. Islands are disappearing. What some wingnut in Oklahoma thinks isn’t going to change that. And pretty soon these chickens will come home to roost on your street. Indeed, they already have.

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Filed under climate change, corporate overlords, corporations

Death Panels

Pearls of wisdom from our corporate overlords at Koch Industries the American Enterprise Institute. You can’t make this shit up:

In a world of scarce resources, a slightly higher mortality rate is an acceptable price to pay for certain goals — including more cash for other programs, such as those that help the poor; less government coercion and more individual liberty; more health-care choice for consumers, allowing them to find plans that better fit their needs; more money for taxpayers to spend themselves; and less federal health-care spending. This opinion is not immoral. Such choices are inevitable. They are made all the time.

Consider, for example, speed limits. By allowing people to drive their cars at speeds at which collisions result in death, our government has decided that the socially optimal number of traffic fatalities is not zero. Some poor souls die: There were more than 30,000 traffic fatalities on America’s roads in 2013. If we didn’t accept that risk, we’d lower the speed limit to a rate at which accidents simply don’t kill, such as 10 mph. Instead, we’ve raised it periodically over the years, and you can now go as fast as 85 mph on a few highways.

Collateral damage, y’all. Well, I suppose if you overlook the fact that we do lower speed limits all the damn time (in places like school zones, neighborhoods, construction zones, high-density pedestrian areas, etc.) AND if you blithely avoid acknowledging that the auto industry spends bazillions (and the government mandates) safety measures like air bags and seat belts etc. etc., not to mention mandatory insurance coverage for when accidents do happen, if you ignore all these and dozens of other things you might have a point. But since I won’t, you don’t.

You, sir, win the Failed Analogy Award of the year. You’re also an asshole. And a sociopath.

God these corporate idiots and their free market fairy tales. And yet, they’re always the first ones to go whining to the courthouse when something happens to them and their precious darlings. Just Go Galt on your freedom island already and leave running the country to the rest of us who have some common sense.

BTW, no discussion of the American Enterprise Institute is complete without providing a list of who they represent.

9 Comments

Filed under conservatives, moral values

Rick Berman: He’s Baaaaack!

Ah, Rick Berman. A professional propagandist so nice, I’ve got an entire tag devoted to his shenanigans.

Whatcha been up to, Rick? How’s the astroturf growing around your neck of the woods? Made any speeches lately, maybe made a few enemies here and there? Why yes, you have:

WASHINGTON — 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.

So in other words, Al Gore is REALLY fat. Nice.

People like Rick Berman are what’s wrong with America. They are breeding grounds for cynicism and apathy. And that’s the point: the more disillusioned people are, the more likely they are to do things like sit out elections, not stay informed, not get involved. “They’re all the same,” those people say — because people like Rick Berman told them that.

What a horrible person.

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Filed under astroturf, Rick Berman

Lamar Advertising: Hate Profiteers

Notoriously despicable billboard company Lamar Advertising is profiting from homophobia by accepting this billboard north of Nashville. It was apparently paid for and purchased by “concerned Christians.”

Yeah, this is why people are leaving the church in droves. Just stop the crap, already, religious people. Apparently the tone and message has prompted complaints:

Mayor Wilber said he’s well-aware of the discussions surrounding the sign; one resident called him to complain.

“Thought it was not fit for the time that we’re in, just thought it was out of place, just sent a bad message,” he explained.

Good for the people of Portland, Tennessee. And really, Lamar Advertising is profiting from this? What a horrible company. I’m reminded of this story from just a few years ago in which they refused to run ads from Georgia Equality, saying,

…”We just didn’t feel the copy was right for those markets” …

The offending copy?

The billboards proposed by Georgia Equality feature images of professionals, such as a male firefighter and a female doctor, and include tag lines that read, “I protect you. And … I am gay. We Are Your Neighbors.”

Yeah, so not right.

What a bunch of assholes. Profiting from hate never works, Lamar Advertising.

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Filed under GLBT, religious right, Tennessee

Day 17 Of My Captivity

I’m starting to wonder if this all hasn’t been one big psychological experiment conducted by our Corporate Overlords to see just how far the average American customer can be pushed before they go postal.

On the other hand, Starbucks has really great coffee cake.

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Filed under AT&T, corporate overlords, telecom

Greetings From The 9th Circle of AT&T Uverse Telecom Hell

Day 13 of our captivity and we are completely out of service — all services. No internet, no TV, no telephone. It’s been this way for 48 hours.

We’ve had six people come over to our house to try to figure out what’s wrong, including our personal electrical contractors, who AT&T told us to call because they couldn’t figure out our phones. Lord knows how much that’s going to cost me. And now it appears it was all entirely unnecessary, anyway.

Yesterday we had a guy I call the Telecommunications Whisperer come over, ostensibly to give us a new box but after 15 minutes here he determined the problem was a fault in the line from the street. “They should have run you a new line from the start,” he told me. Gee, you don’t say.

Here’s where it gets good: as soon as the line guy arrived, all of the electronics in the house seemed to rejoice, because I was immediately back in service. TV popped on, emails started flooding the in-box, and I got a dial tone on the phone. I went out to ask the guy what he did and he said, “Nothing, I just got here. I’m just getting ready to run some tests.”

I’m starting to think we don’t need a repairman but an exorcist.

By the time the guy left at 6 pm, new line installed, everything was dead. No phones, no internet, no TV, no nuthin’. On the phone with AT&T I was told I need a new ONT box. But — here’s where it gets good — apparently Nashville has a shortage of ONT boxes. They have to order one and who knows when FedEx or UPS can deliver one!

I just give up. I really do. Each new person leaves me in worse shape than the last guy. No one knows what to do so they’re just replacing everything to see what sticks.

I’m done. Finished. Come and take your crap, put my old box back, give me back my old DSL line, and let me get on with my life.

I mean, seriously. We put a man on the moon 45 years ago. Today I can’t even get a telecom service installed.

I tell you this long saga as a way of explaining why I’ve been out of pocket the last few days and comment moderation has been slow to nonexistent. I don’t know when I’ll be back on line. I’m writing this from Starbucks.

Be well.

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Filed under AT&T, corporate overlords, telecom

Public Service Announcement: AT&T Uverse Sucks, Stay Away

[UPDATE] 2:

Apparently my solution is to move to Chattanooga.

I actually like Chattanooga a lot. It’s a beautiful river city surrounded by gorgeous mountains. They have an awesome aquarium and a fabulous music festival called Riverbend every June. I could live there. Hell, if it was good enough for Bessie Smith….

I think what frustrates me the most about this whole ordeal is that the actual product itself is very good, probably wonderful. But where these big companies always trip themselves up is on the people stuff. They can handle gears and switches and fiber optics and other technical stuff but dealing with people is something they absolutely fail at. And what this tells me is, feel-good marketing and PR campaigns notwithstanding, they simply do not value people. Not as customers, not as employees. They are not focused on people at all. They are focused on their product, not how it makes its way into the world. But telecom is a very people-centric product. It’s something people interact with in all aspect of their lives. It’s completely integrated into a person’s life. To ignore the people aspect is to miss something fundamental about what it is you do.

Love them or hate them, Apple has always gotten the people aspect of what they do. AT&T has not.

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You’d think in Great Capitalist America we consumers would have more options than just choosing between two soul-sucking, mendacious corporate behemoths for our home technology needs but sadly, in another failure of capitalism, that answer is no.

Mr. Beale and I have spent the past two weeks mired in a labyrinth of corporate incompetence so massive it is astounding that this major American company hasn’t imploded under the weight of its own fail. A few weeks ago we made the (in retrospect) ill-fated decision to switch our tech at the house to AT&Ts Uverse. It was not a decision made lightly: I’ve had very bad experiences with Comcast and other Tech Giants and was reluctant to re-enter that world. But we’ve been spending a ridiculous amount of money on an old-school DSL line that’s so sluggish we can’t even stream Netflix movies while working on a laptop, and YouTube videos chug along like a slow boat to China. Meanwhile we’ve been getting DirectTV, paying a ridiculous amount each month and dealing with weather interruptions, etc. Switching to AT&T would be cheaper, faster, better, etc., or so they said.

Well, I’ll spare you all the gory details but suffice it to say this has been an utter disaster all the way around. We had to have two installers come out — after we were completely blown off on our first appointment, I might add — and half of our phone jacks STILL don’t work. Email has been another disaster, with me finally setting up an account on iMail but not able to send to more than one person at a time. I guess AT&T expects me to send 300 individual messages informing people of my new email address. Does that make sense to anyone? When I posted the question about sending bulk email on the AT&T forums page, I was told to get a free Gmail account.

So the solution to my problem is to not use the service I just spent a lot of money getting. Okie dokie.

Today I called tech support and after getting cut off the first time got switched to two different people where I was told my problem could be solved if I paid an additional $15 a month.

Meanwhile, Mr. Beale has not been able to set up his email account to Outlook Express.

This has been an utter disaster. We will have to try to cancel this service — if they let us out of the indentured servitude that is the AT&T contract. Perhaps they’ll take my first-born son. Maybe a right or left arm.

[UPDATE]:

Let me add, the cherry on top of this Suck Sundae has been the constant requests for me to take their “survey” to “offer my opinion.” No. You do not want my opinion.

21 Comments

Filed under AT&T, corporate overlords