Oil-backed conservatives have been absolutely ecstatic over the collapse of American solar-power company Solyndra and the rise of China as the dominant country in green energy, because they think they can turn this into a story that makes President Obama and government look bad. It also gives them a bonus opportunity to attack alternatives to coal and oil. So is there really a “scandal” behind what happened to Solyndra? Or is this just one more conservative smear, made up from whole cloth and spread around conservative outlets, talk radio and FOX News, hoping the “mainstream media” will be tricked into propelling the propaganda out to the public? The Smear Machine
When Bill Clinton was President conservatives developed and refined a “smear machine” technique of making up accusation after accusation after accusation (after accusation after accusation), repeating them endlessly and hysterically in conservative-funded outlets, and working to get major media outlets to pick up and repeat them. Unfortunately they were often successful at driving phony smears into the public arena. Even though the stories were invariably refuted after investigation, by the time each smear was refuted many, many more were circulating. After a while people began to believe “where there’s smoke there’s fire.” One such story that major outlets repeated involved the supposed “sale” of an Arlington cemetery plot for campaign contributions. When it was proven to be nothing more than a false smear the repetition in major outlets was justified “because it’s just the sort of thing he might have done.”
In the 2004 election we saw the process repeated with the “Swift Boat” smear that turned around John Kerry’s lead in the polls. It was entirely a made-up lie but the mainstream media picked it up and propelled it.
Well here’s a surprise: conservatives and oil interests are pushing deceptive and destructive stories about President Obama and clean energy. Imagine that! Their intent (as always) is to turn people against President Obama, clean energy, national energy policy, stimulus to help the economy, and government in general. It’s what they do. Here is some information to help you push back on the latest whipped-up, anti-green, anti-government, anti-Obama “scandal.” Solyndra
Solyndra was a startup solar-power equipment manufacturer based in Fremont, California that went bankrupt at the end of August. The company’s solar collectors used a special tubular internal design that let it collect light from all directions, and were made with a copper-indium-gallium-diselenide (CIGS) thin film that avoided using then-expensive silicon. It was one of several companies that received assistance from the government, in an attempt to push back on China’s strategic targeting of green-energy manufacturing.
The company, partly backed by the conservative Walton family had received a loan guarantee from the Department of Energy. The loan, which was originally pushed by the Bush administration, was 1.3% of the DOE portfolio.
The economy tanked and cut demand, and at the same time Solyndra could not compete with subsidized companies located in China as they rapidly scaled up. So Solyndra ran out of money. Conservatives and oil interests are using the bankruptcy as a platform to attack green energy and the idea of green jobs in general, solar power in particular, President Obama as always, stimulus funding and the idea of developing a national strategic industrial policy to push back on China and others who have their own national policies to win this key industry of the future.
At their rallies McCain and Palin have been encouraging the worst from the Republican base. Accusations of “palling around with terrorists” and causing the financial crisis, and you-name-it they’re accusing. Jack Turner says what needs to be said, at Jack & Jill Politics,
Everything we need to know about John McCain and Sarah Palin is summed up by their reaction to these incidents. Their positions on health care no longer matter. Their tax policies are irrelevant. Their talking points made moot. Not only do they bring out the worst in people, but they feed the worst in people. They are basing their campaign on painting Obama as a terrorist and monster. They are cultivating prejudice, racism, fear and ugliness.
America has been down this path before, and it is the exact opposite of what this country needs right now.
History awaits moments like these. We are on the brink. When a society’s pent up frustration and anger searches for an outlet, it is a leader’s job to step up and focus those wild emotions away from destruction and toward something productive. At least that is what a good leader would do. [emphasis added]
Click through to Swiftboating 2.0. There is an incredible chart that outlines the right’s attack strategy on Obama.
As the means of communication have evolved, presidential campaigns have grown increasingly multifaceted, with each election featuring layers of complexity that were not present four years before. The most striking feature of the 2008 election may be the sheer volume and variation of the attacks being directed at Sen. Barack Obama. Though they come from many sources, arrive through a variety of media, and cover a wide range of subjects, a close examination reveals a unified thematic structure to these attacks.
The Nation has a great article out on the Obama smears that are circulating, and looks at where they come from. Smearing Obama
The purpose of the smear is to paint him as an Arab-loving, Israel-hating, terrorist-coddling, radical black nationalist. That picture couldn’t be further from the truth, but you’d be surprised how many people have fallen for it.
[. . .] We may not know who started the smears, but we do know who’s amplifying them. The “Obama is a Muslim” rumor began in the fringe conservative blogosphere. “Barack Hussein Obama: Once a Muslim, Always a Muslim,” blogger Debbie Schlussel wrote on December 18, 2006. Schlussel had a history of inflammatory rhetoric and baseless accusations. She said journalist Jill Carroll, who was kidnapped by Iraqi insurgents in 2006, “hates America” and “hates Israel”; labeled George Soros a “fake Holocaust survivor”; and speculated that Pakistani terrorists were somehow to blame for last year’s shootings at Virginia Tech. Yet her post on Obama gained traction; one month later, the Washington Times’s Insight magazine alleged that Obama had attended “a so-called Madrassa” and was a secret Muslim.
Republicans are circulating a new smear, saying that Democratic Congressional staffers advised aides to get vaccinations before visiting NASCAR events. It is, of course, just a lie designed to drive the “elite limousine liberal” and “Democrats hate regular people” narratives.
In fact the aides were visiting “health care centers, detention facilities and other operations where they could be exposed to communicable diseases” and the immunizations are routine.
The Drudge Report has been headlining the smear for a several days. Of course Republican talk-radio has been running with it. Here are just a few examples of the spread of the smear:
FOX: Aides immunized before NASCAR race,
Going to a NASCAR race? Better get your shots.
That’s the message Rep. Robin Hayes seems to think is being sent as a handful of congressional aides were told to get immunized before a fact-finding trip for a House Homeland Security Committee.
The group was immunized for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, tetanus, diphtheria and influenza before attending last weekend’s NASCAR race in Talladega and this weekend’s race in Concord, N.C.
It is offensive that the Democrats choose to be vaccinated from Nascar fans. I thought they claimed to be inclusive of everyone and they blame Republicans for having stereotypes. If they went to a football, baseball, or basketball game would they have been vaccinated? NO. It’s when they go to a Nascar event that they are vaccinated. Obviously they consider Nascar fans to be a group of rednecks, southerners and Christians that are apparently disease ridden.
Al Gore has a new book coming out next week, titled, The Assault On Reason.
Because he is standing up, telling the truth and because he simply is a Democrat and progressive leader, Al Gore will be smeared mercilessly by the right-wing smear machine. He will be ridiculed, made fun of and mocked. They will tease and make fun of him.
They will rush to say that he is bitter about 2000, crazy, insane, pontificating and out of touch.
They will bring up his utility bills and the boards he is a member of.
They will talk about his kiss with Tipper, her crusade against vulgar rap lyrics.
They will bring up his weight and the beard. And say it’s all about 2008.
Co-written with (mostly written by) James Boyce
(Note – visit this follow-up post for a link to Tennessee Center for Policy Research tax forms.)
Did you honestly think that the Right Wing $mear machine was going to let Al Gore stand up with the terrific team who created and direct the movie and receive an Oscar for “An Inconvenient Truth?”
Did you really believe they would stand by and watch a Democratic leader validated for his life’s work?
No chance in hell. As we have said here before, They destroy our leaders. Note to Senator Obama: spare us the hope and bi-partisanship talk and help us fight back.
Here’s what we know, what we think, what we’re trying to find out and how you can help.
Co-written with James Boyce
A little over 48 hours ago, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton made history when she announced that she had formed an exploratory committee for 2008. She is the first woman to have a legitimate chance to become President of the United States. In fact, she is clearly the front runner, not a long shot.
“I’m in. And I’m in to win.” She declared. It was a historic moment.
It is an extraordinary feat by an extraordinary woman. Of course, to win The White House, Senator Clinton will face many challenges and hurdles. But the first may end up being perhaps the most significant. For Senator Clinton and her advisers must find a strategy that makes every voter look at her clearly. Senator Clinton and her advisors must shatter the public’s habit of viewing her and her record through the prism of right wing distortions and smears.
[Co-written with James Boyce, originally at Huffington Post]
Jimmy Carter is not remembered as a great President. Most folks might even consider him a failure, the peanut farmer from Plains, Georgia. But why exactly do we hold one of the two Democratic Presidents of the last 38 years in such low esteem?
Isn’t this the man that held the country together in the years after Watergate? Didn’t he bring decency and honesty back to The White House?
Isn’t it a great American success story for a man to come from such humble beginnings, serve in defense of his country and then ascend to the highest office?
Isn’t it remarkable that back in 1979 he declared “The energy crisis is real. It is worldwide. It is a clear and present danger to our Nation. These are facts and we simply must face them.” Isn’t that leadership and vision?
Yes. But it was legacy destroying as well. Our memories of Jimmy Carter are memories laced with the poison of a right wing smear campaign because when Jimmy Carter encouraged us to face the facts of the energy crisis, he faced off against the Oil Companies and as the decades passed, it has become sadly clear that the nuclear physicist Naval Officer peanut farmer came out the worse for it. He was portrayed as naive and as a simpleton. He was routinely mocked. A good man’s legacy was taken down.
I think last week’s media explosion over Kerry’s botched joke was a good thing for the Democrats.
In case you were on the moon last week, let me go over what happened. Kerry was making a joke about Bush not having studied hard in school and ending up getting us stuck in Iraq, and left out the word “us.” Republicans decided to try to trick people into thinking that Kerry – a war hero who had volunteered to serve in combat after graduating from Yale – was “insulting our troops.” They sent instructions out to their echo chamber to pretend to be outraged. They cranked up the phony outrage across the internet, got the story onto The Drudge Report, got Rush Limbaugh to “run with it,” and then the TV networks started non-stop coverage and commentary. It was an instant, manufactured media frenzy. And then it went away. Just like that.
So here is why I think in the end this was a very good thing for the Democrats.
1) It distracted the Republican machine. Kerry isn’t running for anything but the entire conservative outrage machine spent 2 days attacking him instead of talking about anything relevant to the election and to the concerns of voters. Who CARES what John Kerry said? This is not to run down Kerry, but for voters to care it has to be about SOMEONE OR SOMETHING THAT MATTERS TODAY. In this election what John Kerry said just doesn’t matter because he isn’t running for anything.
But the Republican noise machine IS capable of influencing the public and doing real damage. That was two days in which they could have been causing trouble and instead they were entirely focused on something that just does not matter.
2) Crying ‘wolf’ too many times reduces the effect of crying “wolf.” (That’s why they call it “crying wolf.”) The Republicans cranked up their machine to absolute full volume over something that wasn’t true and just didn’t matter, and everybody had to listen to it. So the realization that these people cry “wolf” is sinking in.
John Kerry DIDN’T SAY WHAT THEY SAID HE SAID, and everyone knew it. And it JUST DIDN’T MATTER and everyone knew it. They were crying “wolf” AND EVERYONE KNEW IT!
3) It allowed us a peek behind the curtain. We’re becoming more and more aware of how the Republicans do it, how the sound machine works and how the phony outrage and smear machine operates. We’re learning about their techniques. So we’re watching and learning, and this week was like a lab experiment for studying conservative outrage and smears. We are learning how to react, how to keep from getting sucked into the defensiveness game, and how to fight back. Two years ago the swiftboating of Kerry cost him the election. This year Kerry – and all of us by extension – understood more about what was happening and responded effectively.
So yes, I think last week’s media frenzy was, on balance, very good for the Democrats.