Manufactured outrage 

Fishing for hazardous waste
Jeremy Starks, a West Virginian and a pro on the Bassmaster Elite Series Tour, says the fishing he does near coal mines is some of the best, and the water is some of the cleanest.

Not surprisingly, he says this because Friends of Coal, a front for the West Virginia Coal Association, is his main sponsor.

"When I talk to groups in West Virginia I tell them something that not everyone in my state gets," he says on his MySpace page. "I tell them that the water around active and abandoned coal mines is almost always some of the cleanest, healthiest flowing water you'll find. And the fishing around mine sites is fantastic."

So United Mountain Defense has asked Starks to test his thesis. It's invited him to fish the largest man-made environmental disaster in U.S. history, the TVA coal ash spill.

"Bring your fishing pole to Tennessee, Mr. Starks," said UMD member Matt Landon. "You won't be catching any fish, but you might need it to fend off TVA security if you try and get near the site of the spill. And bring a hazmat suit too." Brantley Hargrove

Manufactured outrage
Taking a page from conservatives disrupting health care meetings, the oil lobby is planning its own display of astroturf outrage.

According to a memo obtained by Greenpeace from the American Petroleum Institute, the oil lobby is asking its member companies to "recruit employees, retirees, vendors and contractors to attend 'Energy Citizen' rallies in key Congressional districts nationwide in the closing weeks of the August recess."

According to API's memo, the company has identified 11 states in which the astroturf protests will disrupt town hall-type meetings between Congress members and constituents. Nashville is among them. So if you attend one, don't be surprised if you hear, "NO CAP AND TRADE!" That person was probably bused here on API's dime. According to API's memo:

"To be clear, API will provide the up-front resources to ensure logistical issues do not become a problem. This includes contracting with a highly experienced events management company that has produced successful rallies for presidential campaigns, corporations and interest groups.... Please treat this information as sensitive.... We don't want critics to know our game plan.... We will contact your company's coordinator to distribute the information internally and to coordinate transportation to the venues...." Brantley Hargrove

Meet the new neighbors
Last week, the city announced a deal with Marriott to build a new hotel that will accompany the proposed Music City convention center. On that very same day, Marriott decided that a woman who was raped at gunpoint in one of its parking garages in Stamford, Conn., had "failed to exercise due care for her own safety and the safety of her children and proper use of her senses and facilities."

That's right. Rather than just arguing that her rape was unforeseeable and beyond Marriott's control, the company is blaming her and calling her a bad mother.

Isn't it nice that we just handed a huge, lucrative contract to these fine corporate citizens? Betsy Phillips

The Whole Foods Quandary
What's going on with Whole Foods? Normally you step into the place and feel suffused with granola-patchouli vibes. It's supposed to be the place where the environmentally conscious progressive shops, as opposed to the Evil Empire (Wal-Mart).

But Whole Foods CEO John Mackey is looking much less like his customers and more like a government-hating teabagger these days.

First of all, Whole Foods is apparently über anti-union. CEO Mackey once said having unionized labor is like having herpes. Poetic.

Second, he's now pulling one of those, "I support health care reform, but..." dodges, while basically taking a stand against health care reform. In a Wall Street Journal opinion piece, Mackey opens with a quote from Margaret Thatcher about socialism and goes on to say, "...the last thing our country needs is a massive new health-care entitlement that will create hundreds of billions of dollars of new unfunded deficits and move us much closer to a government takeover of our health care system. Instead, we should be trying to achieve reforms by moving in the opposite direction—toward less government control and more individual empowerment."

Right. Because that's been working so well for us.

Mackey carps about individual control of our own health, eating better, not smoking, etc. Yes, that's all good, and it'd go a long way toward cutting health care costs in this country.

But what about the guy who works for a small company that can't afford to insure him because insurance companies make said coverage unaffordable for businesses with small economies of scale? And he comes down with an illness that is completely unrelated to irresponsible personal behavior?

Something to think about next time we step into Whole Foods, feeling smarmy and self-righteous. Brantley Hargrove

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