Reading the Sunday "Opinion" section
Editorial tells us that "NFIB’s Support Of Cole Significant"
What would you expect from a Koch-funded "grassroots" organization? Sunday's lead editorial tells us that the National Federation of Independent Business has endorsed Republican Bill Cole for WV governor:
With about 2,000 members, the NFIB is a true statewide, grassroots organization. So when its political action committee, the Save America’s Free Enterprise Trust, endorsed Cole, the support was significant.
When I read this, two questions quickly came to mind:
1. Is it really a "grassroots" organization for small businesses?
2. Why did they endorse Cole for governor?
Anytime I see one of our local papers label something as "grassroots" I immediately become suspicious. Here's Sourcewatch's appraisal of the NFIB:
The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) is a powerhouse lobbying group (reporting $100 million in revenue in 2013) that purports to represent small businesses, emphasizing the claim that they are "NOT a voice for big business." However, the group has been shown to lobby on issues that favor large corporate interests and run counter to the interests of small businesses. News reports have also found that NFIB, which tells the IRS it is a "non-partisan" service organization, engages in partisan politics, and receives millions in hidden contributions.
Hidden contributions? From whom? CNN explains:
The National Federation of Independent Business is one of the most influential small-business advocacy groups in the country. They battle against government regulation, higher taxes and, perhaps most famously, Obamacare. And they do it all as the self-described "voice of small business."
But it turns out that the champions of Main Street America got more money last year from a group backed by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch than any other single source.
NFIB and its affiliated groups received $2.5 million from Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, a conservative advocacy group with deep ties to the Koch empire. Of the five men that sit on the group's board, four are current or former employees of Koch companies and one is a friend of Charles Koch's.
So it's a Koch group masquerading as a "grassroots" organization?
In addition to bringing a legal challenge to Obamacare, the group does make news. Here's Elizabeth Warren last month quoted in Time discussing the president's Supreme Court nominee:
The NFIB — a right-wing Washington lobbying group that claims to speak for small businesses but is swimming in cash from conservative billionaires — announced that it would oppose Garland’s nomination because “[i]n cases involving federal agencies, the Judge ruled in their favor 77 percent of the time.” Every lawyer in this room knows that federal law requires judges defer to most agency actions. But apparently, it doesn’t matter anymore whether Judge Garland follows the law — what matters is that he doesn’t bend the law to suit giant corporations.
Similarly from Media Matters:
The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) claims that it is speaking for the small business community in its opposition to Merrick Garland's Supreme Court nomination. In reality, NFIB is a front group that has received millions of dollars from the Koch brothers network and other large corporate interests, and its opposition to Garland is part of a campaign against environmental, labor and healthcare policies that most small businesses support.
Now we know why the News-Register likes them. But why did the NFIB endorse Republican Bill Cole for governor? That's easy, Bill Cole has been getting Koch money since the beginning of the year -- he's their candidate. (See here and here, for instance.) Is it "significant" as the editorial's title suggests? Maybe for Cole -- more Koch money certainly will help in what may be an expensive campaign. Is it "significant" for us? Yeah, especially if the Kochs succeed in buying themselves another state -- in this case, West Virginia.
"Climate Change Alarmists Exaggerate the Impacts"
That's what a commentary on page C5 by Tom Harris and Tim Ball from the International Climate Science Coalition tells us. I first wrote about Harris and the ICSC back in October of 2014. I discussed "astroturfing" and then said:
Harris represents the International Climate Science Coalition. The group uses the word "science" which is good and it’s combined with "coalition" which usually has positive connotations – thus, it is people from all over the world working together to deal with climate scientifically. Although they sound impressive, should we pay attention to them? Maybe not.
Essentially, from what I’ve read, ICSC is an astroturfing organization that provides documentation for those who agree with its anti-climate change perspective.
Sourcewatch.org notes that the International Climate Science Coalition gets at least some of its funding from the Heartland Institute, which gets much of its funding from the oil and gas industries. (Heartland’s beginnings go back to funding from the tobacco industry. Heartland, an early astroturfer, would find and pay scientists who would then publicly question the link between cigarette smoking and health problems. Heartland is currently doing the same thing with climate change.) It also appears that the ICSC fronts Heartland’s anti-climate reports.
Sunday's News-Register published Harris' latest astroturfing efforts. He (and Tim Ball) have backtracked a bit since the Intelligencer last carried Harris: their reaction is now not to deny but rather to say "so what?" Here's how they begin:
The best answer to most of the claims by climate activists and their political allies is simply: so what?
“Climate change is real,” they say. So what? Gravity and sunrise are also real. That doesn’t mean we cause them or we would be better off without them. Climate has been changing since the origin of the atmosphere billions of years ago.
But, “manmade climate change is a fact,” they respond. So what?
"So what?" Despite what has been documented elsewhere, this is the best response that those opposed to doing something about climate change can make? Perhaps it's not surprising that very few other news sources have picked up this op-ed piece. (A google of the article at 11 AM listed a number of Facebook posts but very few from news sources.)
Here is a diary from 2015 at the Daily Kos that provides more background of what the ICSC has been doing.
The straw man is back -- Myer recycles another column
Three months ago, in the midst of West Virginia's budget crisis, Mike Myer wrote a column defending the money given to the state's fairs and festivals. Myer claimed at the time that critics wanted to cut the fairs' budget. As is often the case, Myer was short on actual evidence that anyone wanted to cut money from the fairs/festivals. The closest he came to naming a critic was to cite a Gazette-Mail columnist who mentioned "fairs" but did not advocate cutting their budget. (I wrote about it here.)
Sunday's Mike Myer column once again praises West Virginia's festivals and fairs. And again he attacks those who would defund the fairs:
It has been under attack for many years. Critics say the state shouldn’t be funding the scores of special events that get F&F money.
If they've been "under attack for years," couldn't Myer name just one of these critics? My hunch is that no critics are named because, as with the previous column, there aren't any. And of course, this has to be tied to "political correctness." (It now appears to be a requirement that Myer must work "political correctness" into every column he writes -- even if it doesn't apply. And in this case, it doesn't apply.)
Similar complaints are not heard about more politically correct funding such as that for musical and theatric performances, I would note.
Let's see -- Myer uses the same straw man without any evidence to discuss West Virginia fairs and festivals. It's the same column.
Note -- the locals' new web pages have rendered previous links to their old articles/columns/editorial unworkable -- you get a "404 error" which tells you: "please go to our homage or back to the previous page." (Hey, I couldn't find the "great respect or honor"?) The article also appear to be gone when you google a quote from it in an attempt to locate it. (In the legal world, I believe that's called "destroying evidence.") I did find the April Myer column here but it was out of the Ogden-owned Parkersburg paper which apparently has not yet gone to the new system.