The videos were good for a barrel of laughs. The Director of Florida's Div. of Emergency Management, Brian Koon was forced to engage in verbal gymnastics so as to avoid violating a state ban on using the words "climate change."
In another clip, replayed by Comedy Central's John Stewart, former FL EPA employee Kristina Trotta uses the words, "nuisance flooding," to evade the ban on mentioning "sea level rise." That drew an amusing Stewart suggestion that, in order to evade mentioning that a global warming-connected rise in sea level could eventually lead to an underwater Miami, state employees could refer to "moisture inconvenience!"
The exchanges were hilarious. But there is nothing funny about the attempt to erect thought control regimes, first in Florida and now in Wisconsin. In both states, the practice is verging on that deployed by Oceania's Ministry of Truth in George Orwell's 1984. In that classic but ominous work of fiction, written accounts of inconvenient truths were incinerated inside "memory holes."
While ominous, the clumsy efforts at "thought control" are quite useful. They underscore the warnings we offered nearly five years ago that the real future offered by the so-called "Tea Party" and the Koch Brothers' brand of "libertarianism" includes "Fascism [and] Feudalism --- an authoritarian reality that has already come to fruition in states like Florida and Wisconsin where Charles and David Koch, along with other rightwing billionaires, have already tightened the reigns of oligarchic control over ostensibly "public" institutions...
In many so-called "Red States," the issue has moved well beyond the disproportionate impact of obsene wealth upon the political process, a product of the flood of corporate monies unleashed by the U.S. Supreme Court's infamous and now more than five-year old Citizens United decision.
In many of those states, Koch Industries and other major corporations have supplanted representative democracy altogether via the corporate-funded-and-controlled American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Under the ALEC legislative "Task Force" system, elected Republican state legislators (ALEC's public sector members) and corporate lobbyists (ALEC's private sector members) secretly hammer out "model bills" behind closed doors, with no public input or concerns whatsoever. Stripped of their ALEC label, the ALEC-controlled public sector members then introduce bills drafted by ALEC's corporate members in their respective state legislatures. Where the GOP maintains a majority, passage of these model bills is usually a fait accompli.
As we've seen in Wisconsin, the proposals may garner widespread protest both from elected Democratic state legislators and from the public at large. But those protests have little effect upon an ALEC-controlled, GOP legislative majority, whose fealty is to the Koch brothers and other oligarchs on whom their political livelihood has become nearly wholly dependent. Those oligarchs, through Orwellian-labeled front groups, like
As Salon's Joan Walsh concluded after the release of a secretly recorded audiotape from a super-secret Koch Brothers enclave of the super-rich in 2014, top state elected officials like Wisconsin's Republican Governor Scott Walker have now become little more than "a wholly owned subsidiary" of Koch Industries.
While Walsh's reference helps to explain "who" is really behind the states' "global climate change" gag orders, the question of "why" seems self-evident.
The conglomerated holdings of Koch Industries, as reported by the New Yorker's Jane Mayer in 2010, include "oil refineries in Alaska, Texas, and Minnesota, and control some four thousand miles of pipeline." Along with it, the corporate behemoth produces an estimated $115 billion in annual revenues and so much pollution that it has been listed as one of the nation's ten worst offenders.
If there is to be the necessary governmental response to our planet's climate change crisis, it will, no doubt, come at a cost to the bottom line of Koch Industries.
But the Kochs do more than profit from the pollution of our planet. Mayer notes they have funneled so much money into "organizations fighting legislation related to climate change, underwriting a huge network of foundations, think tanks, and political front groups," that Greenpeace has described the Koch brothers as "the kingpins of climate science denial."
And yet, even as the Kochs make public pretense by playing the part of patriots and protectors of American liberty, they are more appropriately defined by the description of "The American Fascist" offered by Vice President Henry Wallace in 1944.
On April 9th of that year, at a moment when this nation was locked in a life-and-death struggle with Fascism overseas, Wallace wrote in a New York Times editorial:
They claim to be superpatriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjugation.
As recounted by the ACLU, the "matrix of rights" guaranteed by the First Amendment --- freedoms of and from religion, speech, press, association and assembly --- are considered to be "the indispensable condition of nearly every other form of freedom"
The global climate change gag orders imposed by minions of the Koch Brothers and their ilk represent a simultaneous assault on both the free speech rights of state employees (the right to inform) and the free press rights of all citizens (the right to know).
As James Madison observed: "Knowledge will forever govern ignorance and a people who wish to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."
The endpoint of Koch/"Tea Party" mind control efforts and deceit is the tyranny of a corporate controlled, political economy. The authoritarian nature of that tyranny is now being reflected in the methods deployed by the Koch minions in state governments, where punishment is metted out to those public servants who dare reveal "inconvenient truth" to the citizenry.
In George Orwell's 1984, the protagonist, Winston Smith, was deemed insane when he insisted on retaining a memory that had been banned from official discourse.
In Florida, an employee who mentioned the banned words, "climate change," was forced to undergo a psychiatric examination.
In Wisconsin, Tia Nelson, the Executive Secretary of the state's 3-member Board of Commissioners of Public Lands ("BCPL"), which manages an educational trust fund dependent upon the sale and management of state lands acquired from the federal government, is now facing a similar fate, as Bloomberg's Eric Roston reports.
"Climate change," he notes, quoting a U.S. National Climate Assessment, "may threaten forests in the Midwest." That, he says, could directly impact the amount of money the Wisconsin agency receives, as its income is partially dependent upon timber industry contributions.
The BCPL's two Republican Commissioners not only passed a gag order that would prevent BCPL employees from mentioning the words "global warming" but, in what may be a preface to her removal, also determined that "various allegations regarding Executive Secretary Nelson's past participation on a Global Warming Task Force" was a topic that should be formally addressed in the context of a suggestion by one of the two Republican Commissioners that he was "not a fan of having unelected bureaucrats running our organization."
Both Nelson, "the daughter of Gaylord Nelson, the U.S. Senator from Wisconsin who established Earth Day in 1970," and Wisconsin's Democratic Secretary of State Douglas La Follette, who has served on the BCPL for thirty years, were flabbergasted.
In 2007 and 2008, Nelson had, indeed, co-chaired a global warming task force. She was expressly asked to do so by then Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle. "It honestly never occurred to me," Nelson says, according to Roston, "that being asked by a sitting governor to serve on a citizen task force would be objectionable."
For his part, La Follette described the effort to investigate Nelson as one that borders upon "an irresponsible witch hunt."
But what both Nelson and La Follette may fail to appreciate is the new Orwellian reality of Koch-land (aka Wisconsin).
In George Orwell's 1984, after Big Brother declared Oceania was at war with East Asia and not with Eurasia, all previous articles that said Oceania was at war with Eurasia and not with East Asia were incinerated inside the "memory holes." Oceania was at war with East Asia. It had always been at war with East Asia. It had never been at war with Eurasia.
If, officially, there is no threat from global warming, then there never was a threat from global warming. Likewise, according to the same Orwellian logic, if, as part of today's official reality, the Wisconsin government does not recognize the right of state employees to take part in a citizen global warming task force, then the government of Wisconsin never authorized Nelson's participation in the global warming task force. Tia Nelson, along with the words "global warming," must therefore be removed.