Today, I got to go to my very first right-wing rally. Luckily, I got to hang out with the rather cooler people that organized a response to the Americans For Prosperity travelling circus show that set up in the park downtown. It was a weird experience. There were a number of speakers, but the only two that I knew were locals– talk show host Amy Oliver, and county commissioner Sean Conway. The speakers actually addressed themselves largely to the protesters since the crowd of supporters wasn’t very big. For the most part, it was a call and response sort of thing with protesters shouting out derisive commentary as the speakers rambled on about the importance of fossil fuels and the waste of government funding for alternatives.
Boy howdy, I was floored at the internal inconsistency from these people. Obviously, the whole point was to fire people up to oppose the evil government and Obama specifically. Their hook was that government regulations, policies, taxes, and waste were responsible for high gas prices. This led somehow to a defense of natural gas fracking, the Keystone pipeline, and an attack on alternative energy. No mention was made that Americans For Prosperity are largely funded by oil and gas companies, with the oil baron Koch brothers chipping in a significant amount of the organization’s cash. On the other hand, the speakers made a point to say that the Obama administration was rife with conflicts of interest, apparently funneling vast amounts of research money to campaign supporters. Since I’ve been a supporter, I assume the check is on the way.
One major point that I noticed- most of the arguments were cast in terms of either ending oil and gas production entirely at the hands of draconian government regulations and taxation, or stopping the waste of taxpayer money on alternatives and setting the industry free to innovate without government interference.
Seriously, what the hell?
Even the hardest core environmentalists don’t want to end fossil fuel production immediately, and there sure as hell weren’t any hardcore greens hanging out there. Transitioning to alternatives is just a smart idea. Even if one believes in a fairy tale of infinite fossil fuel reserves that are somehow available at a reasonable cost, and completely discounts the concept of climate change, anything to reduce fossil fuel use is kind of an unvarnished good thing… unless you’re in the business of selling oil. Reducing the mess from production, reducing the need to intervene in volatile regions of the planet, reducing the shit belched into the air, and of course reducing the price all seem like good arguments for alternatives. Beyond that, Weld County people don’t really seem the type to want to end oil and gas production entirely, but we’re a bit suspicious of any methods that seem prone to poisoning our water and reducing our air quality.
Pretty much everything else was a recap of a generic Fox News broadcast– scandal and insinuation heavy, but light on discussion. There was some gesture toward backing up points with numbers, but I noticed that the units didn’t match up. One speaker that was introduced as a scientist tried to show that fracking used less water than watering golf courses– but she used acre-feet in one example and gallons in the other. I wasn’t in a position to take notes, but a little bit of mental estimation gave me the impression that her numbers said the opposite of what she said, but she was relying on one number being bigger than the other. Tricky. Also, who’s opposing the massive water use of hydraulic fracking because they’re avid golfers? Is there a Lorax that speaks for the back nine?
It was an interesting exercise in propaganda, but I don’t know that anybody who isn’t in on the scam would be convinced by the over-the-top rhetoric. Conservatives dug it because the crazy people on their team were saying wacky things– hooray! It was a hockey match and their side threw a few hard elbows. Kind of a waste of time and money. I kind of resent the fact that these assholes get to be stupid and shitty in public in such a way that those of us that oppose that sort of crap have to waste our time responding.
In short, the gents and ladies that feel the need travel around puking up a bunch of disingenuous red meat to some gullible conservatives can just fuck the fuck off.