Google leaves ALEC based on politics and gutlessness

SchmidtThe battle for our liberties is waged on many fronts. While Washington is usually the focus, the real battle ground is at the state level. Twenty-seven state legislatures are under GOP control and three others are split between Democrats and Republicans. Working under the radar in the cause of rolling back state interference in our lives has been a small non-profit think tank called the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC. ALEC is not partisan but its focus is on small government and this has made it some powerful enemies. Earlier in the year I detailed how Illinois Senator and notorious douchenozzle, the aptly named Dick… Durbin, tried to improperly use his position to bully ALEC into releasing a list of its members and donors. The purpose was clear, to assist ALEC’s enemies in going after individuals supporting ALEC just like the IRS helped supporters of the homosexual marriage target donors of the National Organization for Marriage. (See @SenatorDurbin’s Attack on Free Speech and Association for background on ALEC)

Recently, the left scored a victory in persuading Google to withdraw support from ALEC, allegedly because of ALEC’s opposition to the manifestly fake idea of man-caused climate change:

Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt said on Monday that his company’s support for the American Legislative Exchange Council was a “mistake,” adding that it should avoid aligning with groups that deny climate change.

“We funded [ALEC] as part of a political campaign for something unrelated [to climate change],” Schmidt said on NPR’s “The Diane Rehm Show.” “I think the consensus within the company was that that was some sort of mistake and so we’re trying to not do that in the future.”

“The company has a very strong view that we should make decisions in politics based on facts — what a shock. And the facts of climate change are not in question anymore,” Schmidt continued. “Everyone understands climate change is occurring and the people who oppose it are really hurting our children and our grandchildren and making the world a much worse place. And so we should not be aligned with such people — they’re just, they’re just literally lying.”

To understand how Google came to cave and its real reason for doing so, let’s look at the whole story:

Does ALEC oppose anthropometric global warming?

Oddly enough, the reason Schmidt gave for leaving ALEC is utter horsesh**. ALEC has no programs dealing with global warming, manmade or otherwise. ALEC does have programs to curb regulatory actions on alleged “greenhouse gasses” (you and I would call these “air”) and in support of the Keystone Pipeline. These programs are focused on rolling back regulatory control and on economic issues. The ALEC position on renewable energy and climate change is based on four points: 1) One can support renewable energy while disagreeing with how these technologies should be deployed, subsidized or regulated, 2) opposition to government policy that distorts the energy market and picks winners and losers, 3) the free market, rather than governments, produces more opportunities, more energy, lower prices, and fewer economic disruptions, and 4) support of voluntary efforts to expand and advance renewables so long as no technology or class of technologies is given an unfair, politically-driven competitive advantage.

Why use global warming as an excuse?

Google’s affiliation with ALEC was as a member of the Communications and Technology Task Force (you’ll see online privacy is the focus of most of their activities), so Schmidt’s diatribe on climate change was a little jarring.

Google, in general, and Schmidt in particular are reflexively leftists and susceptible whatever balderdash the far left is dishing out at a particular moment.  But Google has a huge institutional problem that conflicts with their politics. Their server farms are huge energy hogs and there is a public relations downside to their operations, as is. When a nutty left wing shibboleth is attached to the criticism, Schmidt and Google respond like vampires confronted with Holy Water.

But something else may explain Mr. Schmidt’s tirade. Google itself has been a target of castigation, as in a San Francisco Chronicle headline that blared: “Despite recent split from conservative group, Google’s connections to climate change denial runs deep.”

Mr. Schmidt has been personally pilloried by activists and bloggers for donating to “deniers,” i.e. Republicans, in Congress.

In the Salem witch trials, the best defense against being called a witch was to call someone else a witch. Hey, it was the coward’s way out but it was still a way out. Then again, when certain people in society are vested with wealth and authority and all the immunities these gifts bring, perhaps they could take the risk of setting a better example.

In fact, the Wall Street Journal exposed how Google’s commitment to renewable energy only extends to the degree to which they could reap government benefits and tax credits.

Consider Google’s pledge to fund over $1.5 billion in non fossil-fuel energy. Yet Google derives most of its energy from non-renewables on the grid because it says that “while our data centers operate 24/7, most renewable energy sources don’t.” Data centers consume a lot of power, and renewables can cost three times as much as fossil fuels. It’s no coincidence that Google’s server in Iowa is located near one of the cheapest sources of coal-fired power in the Midwest.

Also not a coincidence is that nearly all of Google’s solar and wind farms are located in states with renewable-energy mandates, which create opportunities for politically mediated profit-making. For instance, California requires that renewables make up a third of electricity by 2020. Google has invested about $600 million in California’s solar plants such as the Ivanpah system in California’s Mojave Desert. Ivanpah is the world’s largest solar-thermal project, which is the target of environmentalists.

Dozens of federally protected desert tortoises have been displaced or killed. The Center for Biological Diversity estimates that Ivanpah’s “power towers”—which burn natural gas—incinerate about 28,000 birds annually. The death toll is disputed by others, but Google has made taxpayers complicit in its avian-cide. The $2.2 billion bird fryer was funded with a $1.6 billion federal loan, which Google and its business partners plan to repay by applying for a federal grant.

The do-no-evil company has invested $157 million in a wind farm in California’s Tehachapi Mountains, which has killed thousands of birds including federally protected golden eagles. Google’s renewable portfolio includes a $275 million investment in two wind farms in Texas that are partly responsible for the construction of $7 billion in new transmission lines. The Texas Public Utility Commission estimates the lines will cost ratepayers on average $72 per year. Google has about $60 billion in cash and short-term investments sitting on its balance sheet.

This is the rent-seeking that we’ve come to expect of our current crony-capitalist economic system and the complete hypocrisy that rich lefties seem to have grafted onto their psyches once they make their fortunes.

ALEC under attack

After being a quiet think tank organization since its founding in 1973, ALEC popped up on the left’s radar because it started winning policy fights at the state level, fights in the cause of limiting government growth, removing government regulations, and reasserting state authority. The fight they won that has caused them the most grief is the passage of “stand your ground” laws. When these laws became the subject of unreasoning criticism after teenage thuglet Trayvon Martin attempted a beat-down of an armed man, ALEC’s name came to the fore and the NRA abandoned the field. From Erick’s post titled NRA lets ALEC take the bullet:

At Grover Norquist’s Wednesday meeting a discussion about the ongoing assault against ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, came up. Multiple sources (there are hundreds in the room) tell me that the NRA representative took issue with ALEC getting rid of his public safety section. That section has drafted a model “stand your ground” law, which Florida passed.The NRA representative claimed that if ALEC was going to run away from the fight on these public safety issues, ALEC might just run away from other issues too, e.g. immigration.At that point the ALEC representative pointed out that ALEC had actually sought help from the NRA on “stand your ground” laws, but the NRA decided, yet again, to play it safe and wound up letting ALEC take the bullet. The funny thing is, if you search around for commentary on the “Stand Your Ground” law, more likely than not the left will cite the NRA as a culprit. Now we know, from behind closed doors, the NRA wouldn’t even help ALEC when they reached out on the issue.

Unions and left wing activists formed new organizations with the sole purpose of stopping ALEC for instance, Center for Media and Democracy, ALEC Exposed. They tried to form a competing left wing think tank, the American Legislative and Issue Campaign Exchange, known by the manly name of ALICE, which has turned out to be a heaping bushel basket of FAIL.

ALEC is a convenient target because it is vulnerable to attack because it is a voluntary membership organization. Membership in the Council of State Governments (CSG) and the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) are mandatory – once you are elected to office, you are enrolled and the state pays your dues. Google dropping, along with a few other organizations which let their memberships lapse because of the “two minutes of hate” directed against ALEC will cost the organization in the neighborhood of $40,000.

Bottom line

ALEC does not take a position on global warming, its focus is free market economics and personal liberty.

Google did not leave ALEC because of global warming, it left because of the heat Eric Schmidt was taking from his dopey left wing friends and his inability to stand up to that heat.