MWA’s Gift Trojan Horse: Pew Trusts, Née Sunoco Oil


Sheesh, not exactly what I wanted to do on a fine saturday afternoon, but after a couple of days of snarkism over at Pogie’s place, I’m feeling a bit vindictive. Seems that the Alliance for the Wild Rockies Director, Mike Garrity, has set off a firestorm, with all of the liberals in Helena getting their panties in a twist over some obscure reference to Vichy France and MWA.

I don’t see any real reason to relive the debate over Mike’s choice of words, they’ve been beaten to death in a near 100 comment marathon session that ripped the scabs off some old battle-worn scars. Mike’s words were contained in a Missoulian editorial written in response to an attack ad taken out by several of the “collaborators” working with the Montana Wilderness Association (MWA) on Senator Tester’s Logging Bill, of which I’ve had much to say, so I’m not going to go there again.

What I really want to get at is the mangling of the analogy that the learned folks at Intelligent Discontent were capable of, in order to set up another round of radical “extremist” enviro bashing. Of course, I had to wade in and lay some testimony to the good Senator’s “Sista Souljah” moment when he dissected himself from part of his 2006 winning coalition of lefty enviros and mainstream dems.

While Mike Garrity is fully capable of choosing his words carefully, and building an analogy that likens Foundation funding of MWA with Nazi (I know, I said the awful “N” word) subversion of France during WWII, I like to think of a different analogy for what it is that foundations like the Pew Trusts, and other denizens of the Environmental Grantmakers Association remind me of: Trojan Horses.

You see, Pew and a few other big foundations started the EGA in order to whip radical obstructionists into order, by drying up their funding, and only fund nonprofits that followed their methods and pursued their policies. And those policies and strategies are not to be so effective that things like real wilderness protection actually happens, but that just enough scraps get thrown out to their memberships and the general public that they think something substantial is being done.

Well, there are many examples of the cover being blown off of Pew’s method, like the work of Jeffrey St. Clair and his relentless investigative reporting of the top 10 Green Washers and their funders:

“…the endowed money held by these trusts was carefully invested in the very corporations that a vigorous environmental movement would be adamantly opposing. An examination of Pew’s portfolio in 1995 revealed that is money was invested in timber firms, mining companies, oil companies, arms manufacturers and chemical companies. The annual yield from these investments far exceeded the dispensations to environmental groups.”

To make a long story short, Pew Trusts, and its lackeys at the EGA take their ill-gotten money and invest their foundation assets in the same companies that their grantees — like MWA — are fighting. So what does all of this get MWA? Well, let’s just go to the words of past MWA President Elaine Snyder and Board member Ross Titus in their 2007 letter to the MWA Council:

By collaborating with five sawmills and two conservation groups not seriously concerned with wilderness designation, MWA has fallen in with the likes of The Wilderness Society, Idaho Conservation League, and, of course, the thoroughly compromised Campaign for America’s Wilderness, seeking fast and painless wilderness tokens at the cost of the most essential element of the wilderness ethic: working and sweating for wilderness support among the people that live near it and out on the political hustings, and not trading equally precious wildlife and ecological values (especially the integrity of roadless areas) for drabs of rocks-and-ice wilderness.

Does MWA intend to continue the current practice of collaborating with any partner offering to help gain wilderness designation in its area of commercial operations in return for our help in gaining access to saw timber in that area? In other words, quid-pro-quo. If the answer is yes, then the Council must prepare to fully inform the membership of this opportunistic turn of policy that is totally at odds with this organization’s founding land and wilderness ethic…

Also of concern to us is the fact that current leadership and possibly some among the large Helena staff of MWA appear to have a pessimistic attitude about MWA’s history that has driven them to “consult” with the Campaign for America’s Wilderness (formerly the Pew Wilderness Center), and now to rely on money from Pew Charitable Trusts. The latter continues the old Pew drive to confine wilderness legislation to rocks-and-ice regions by co-opting gullible or calculating people in the wilderness movement. The material supporters of Pew include Weyerhaeuser, Burlington Northern, International Paper, ITT Rayonier, Dow Chemicals, Dupont, Phelps-Dodge, General Electric, Raytheon, Caterpillar, Chevron, Exxon, Mobil, Texaco and others.

Organizations that have gained access to Pew money are expected to show short-term gains in wilderness protection regardless of the cost to other public resources and political efforts. MWA received $37,000 from the Campaign for America’s Wilderness. What conditions, “advice” or other strings were attached to this grant? All MWA’s members should have received this information long ago. “

So, Trojan Horse it is, in my mind. Not only do we have to deal with the corporations themselves, but we get to deal with their alter-ego foundations that on the surface appear to be do-gooders. And once the foundations get their foot in the door of these groups, it is so hard to extract them, as one wrong move — one effective victory —  will dry up all the money from the other members of the EGA.

And what we are seeing in Montana with Pew, MWA and Senator Tester is just the tip of the iceberg. Everything from the Tar Sands to climate change, BP oil spill and Keystone Pipeline are getting the great “Green Wash”. The Group of 10 “Big Green” suck up the majority of foundation moneys and deliver prepackaged, pre-compromised packages for agency approval or congressional approval, accomplishing just enough to defuse the environmental movement from taking any meaningful action. And the foundations protect their corporate forebears from any real opposition.

And those groups that have the integrity to not get tied into EGA monies are left to do the real lifting with little resources–like AWR does. And of course, they are left hanging out to dry as the good Senator triangulates away, preening himself for the mythical “center” where the majority public opinion lies, and the “gullibles” over at Intelligent Discontent and elsewhere work to protect the Senator’s campaign from the likes of us “extremists”.

  1. For what it’s worth, you might want to rethink “getting their panties in a twist,” given the focus of this discussion about rhetoric.

    As for myself, I try to avoid that kind of gendered language that one might expect from adolescents.

    And you might want to work on some intellectual honesty. You call Garrity’s remark an “obscure reference to Vichy France and MWA.”

    He actually said “Unfortunately, a disturbing trend has appeared as big environmental groups such as the Montana Wilderness Association and the Wilderness Society increasingly take foundation money to “collaborate” with timber corporations. And much like the Vichy French helped the Nazis occupy France during World War II, these collaborators now have to face the harsh and shameful legacy of what they have done and continue to do.”

    That’s hardly obscure.

  2. Authoritarians have a right to be concerned with wilderness and wilderness defenders. Wilderness provides solitude and freedom, the mortal opposite of isolation, hoplessness and fear. The oligarchs and plutocrats seem to have a Trojan Horse factory somewhere in China cranking out thrones made of jello for their loyal enforcers. The speech police are particularly troublesome when you consider that we’re constantly reminded that we live in a county that protects the birthright of every human to express themselves freely.

    Pogie and others less clever use their speech to suppress speech they find offensive or indecent. Their real objective, however, is to suppress action.

    And to that I say good luck. Better men than they have tried and failed. Just think of all the annoying Pogies that have come and gone over the years. Where do they go? Sipping wine, reading books by Yaak legend Rick Bass, living the good life I suppose.

    • While your fascination with the hyperbolic is quite revealing, no one is suggesting that Mr. Garrity or anyone else doesn’t have the right to speak freely. I’m suggesting that it’s counter-productive and wrong.

      On the other issue, if you don’t believe that gendered language contributes to patriarchal assumptions in our culture, I’d suggest you read a book or two.

      Delusions of grandeur and hopes of martyrdom aside, no one wants to “silence” you. A lot of us just wish you’d make some damn sense.

      • lizard19

        what doesn’t make sense in this post?

        • Probably the rambling incoherence about Rick Bass or the jello thrones.

          Oh, and the assertion that anyone (much less an individual like me) has the power to suppress anyone else’s speech.

          Just those three things.

  3. Matthew Koehler

    Here’s some more info on the substance and context of the timber industry’s Ad campaign:

    AWR’s guest column was in DIRECT RESPONSE to a $30,000 attack Ad campaign by the Montana timber industry…the very same timber mills that groups such as Montana Wilderness Association, The Wilderness Society, MT Trout Unlimited and the National Wildlife Federation have been ‘collaborating’ with to help pass Senator Tester’s mandated logging bill.

    The truth of the matter is that on May 23, 2012 the ‘collaborator’s’ ‘timber partners’ at RY Timber, Pyramid Mountain Lumber, Roseburg Forest Products and Sun Mountain Lumber took out a full-page advertisement in at least six Montana newspapers, including the Helena Independent Record, Missoulian, Kalispell Daily Interlake, Great Falls Tribune, Montana Standard and Bozeman Chronicle. According to Ad reps I spoke with, the retail cost of the advertisements likely ran between $27,000 and $31,000.

    Here’s a link to the timber industry’s Ad:

    The full-page Ad from the ‘timber partners’ is full of statements such as: “We believe the Forest Service is being held hostage by a small group of professional obstructionists.” Apparently the ‘timber partners’ comparing AWR to hostage-takers is no big thing, since Don never mentioned it in his over at ID.

    The word “frivolous” is mentioned numerous times in the timber industry Ad, always in connection with lawsuits. Yet AWR wins over 85% of their lawsuits, so “frivolous” lawsuits they are not.

    Among other things, the timber industry Ads calls for 1) scrapping the entire Forest Service public appeals process and 2) exempting many timber sales in Montana from judicial review. To be perfectly clear, these are the same exact timber companies pushing Senator Tester’s mandated logging bill, the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act, which would mandate logging on over 156 square miles of the Beaverhead-Deerlodge and Kootenia National Forest over the next 15 years.

    So, the big question is this: If the ‘timber partners’ spend $30,000 on an Ad campaign calling for the Forest Service public appeals process to be scrapped and exempting many timber sales in Montana from judicial review, just what does Senator Tester and organizations such as Montana Wilderness Association, The Wilderness Society, Montana Trout Unlimited and the National Wildlife Federation think about these suggestions from their ‘timber partners?’ If these organizations are such defenders of good environmental policy, as seems to be suggested here by some, should they not speak out against scrapping the USFS public appeals process and exempting many timber sales from judicial review?

    So far the silence from them has been deafening. In fact, instead of distancing themselves from their “timber partner’s” attack ad or speaking out against the timber industry’s demands, MWA, TWS, NWF and MT TU actually shared the stage with these same timber mills over the past two weeks for their one-sided dog-n-pony show to support Tester’s mandated logging bill.

  4. Matthew Koehler

    RE: The 2007 letter from MWA past President Snyder and Board Member Titus

    In the letter, which JC highlighted in this post, it states:

    “MWA received $37,000 from the Campaign for America’s Wilderness. What conditions, ‘advice’ or other strings were attached to this grant? All MWA’s members should have received this information long ago.”

    That is an excellent question. However, people might be interested to know that, according to the Pew’s Campaign for America’s Wilderness 2010 990 tax form, Pew’s donation to the Montana Wilderness Association in 2010 came to $304,000.00. One has to wonder how much Pew gave MWA in 2011 and so far in 2012.

    Document this fact for yourself by looking at Pew CAW’s actual tax form here (Page 8):

    Click to access 2010-412045255-06748c1d-9.pdf

    • JC

      Actually, Matt, the $304k wasn’t a donation. It was listed as compensation to independent contractors.

      MWA just works for Pew. It all starts to make more sense.

  5. Josh

    Why is it so hard to denounce AWR’s ridiculous and counterproductive Nazi comparisons AND be opposed to the FJRA and their vision of forest management?

    Saying AWR made a stupid, counterproductive Nazi comparison won’t wash the stink off of FJRA or the Pew funded greenwashing efforts.

    If you don’t care about AWR making Nazi comparisons why should anyone care about Tester calling FJRA opponents extremists?

  6. Matthew Koehler

    Personally, I think the reference was counterproductive and it’s not a specific reference I would have used. I also think some people have chosen to take it out of context, but again, that’s also one reason not to use a reference like that. Anyway, I’m pretty sure that AWR realizes the reference was counterproductive too. It’s certainly served to take some of the focus away from the timber industry’s attack ad and the ‘timber partners’ demands for scrapping the public appeals process and exempting many Montana national forest timber sales from judicial review….demands that MWA, TWS, NWF and MT TU have yet to speak out against.

  7. Is it true that everybody in Missoula still thinks that everything on the east side of the Divide is North Dakota?

    Clowns to the left of me; jokers to the right.

  8. JC, I’m pretty sure hat most people are concerned about is the rhetoric. And here’s the funny thing – You’re the one who said that rhetoric can be dangerous, who argued that it leads to violence. You need to cut the garbage – “an obscure reference”, “not the reference I would have use” – the rhetoric is indefensible, and its use suggests something about the person who uses it.

    Here’s a good litmus test for what makes rhetoric indefensible – If essentially non-violent people, looking for popular support, give a label to themselves, it is a defensible term. Barry Goldwater labeled himself an extremist decades ago, and that quote is one of the most admired, in certain circles, ever uttered by an American politician. So extremism can at least be interpreted positively or negatively. Indeed, Ralph Nader called Joe Lieberman a ‘right wing extremist’. I would say Nader has a higher profile than Tester, and yet no reasonable person could argue that he was inviting violence against Lieberman or his supporters.

    Now, no person in American political or civic life would label themselves as a quisling or compare themselves to the Vichy government. Why? Well, in addition to the incredibly negative connotations (compared to extremist), those people were SHOT BY THE THOUSANDS AFTER THE WAR, and few people argue that it was unjustified. So, in comparing non-violent, moderate civilians to a group of people who were justifiably executed en masse in living memory, how do you figure Mr. Garrity isn’t inciting violence?

    • Steve W

      PW, your convoluted reasoning is very lame.

      • How so? I think it’s a pretty straight forward: A term many people proudly use to describe themselves is not likely to provoke violence. Is that difficult to understand?

        Second, a term that refers to a group of people most people would agree actually deserve to have violence visited upon them, for example, quislings, Vichy France, Nazis, murderers, terrorists, is very likely to elicit violent feelings in the people hearing it. Can you really deny the logic there?

        • Steve W

          Obviously if John Tester calls Matt Koehler a nigger it’s acceptable in your world since Dick Gregory proudly names his book that.


          • You can’t make this stuff up. Comedy gold.

          • “If essentially non-violent people, looking for popular support, give a label to themselves, it is a defensible term.”

            I don’t think Dick Gregory is looking for broad popular support.

            Also, I think it shows a deep level either of ignorance or pig-headedness to insist that ‘nigger’ falls in the same category as ‘extremist’. It’s obviously in a very narrow category of words with really incomparable complexity and explosiveness.

            But, ignorance and/or pig-headedness are to be expected from someone who thinks that it’s better to be in a category with Quisling and Petain than Barry Goldwater and Joe Lieberman.

            • Steve W

              PW, Dick Gregory is an activist and indeed is looking for broad popular support. It’s why he’s toured and spoke about politics at colleges and at other venues tirelessly for much of his life.


              How is it better or worse, in your opinion PW, to be called an extremist or a nigger, by your Senator Tester?

              I’d like to know because you make a lot of claims with very little substantiation. When called on your stupid hypothesis, you attack instead of defend the apparently indefensible.

              Also, Goldwater never called himself an extremist. Just to set the record straight. I doubt Pogie caught your factual blunder since he didn’t say a word, but maybe that’s why Johnny can’t read and PW can’t form a decent hypothesis? Or maybe not. Who knows? All I know is Goldwater never called himself an extremist. And now you and Pogie know it too, PW.


              I will leave you with this.

              Selling out the environment, your constituency, and the people of this country for corporate dollars is a vice, and that goes for Jon Tester as well as for The MWA and the rest of the sellout turncoats. Moderation in the defense of justice (environmental and otherwise) is not a virtue. – to paraphrase Barry Goldwater.

              • Jesus, man.

                Even Koehler admitted that the Nazi comparison was poorly chosen.

                I guess it makes you feel edgy to keep using the term you’re using, but I’m not sure that the fact that the advocates for using Nazi rhetoric have now employed racist slurs and misogynistic language in this thread is the best strategy.

                As for the Goldwater argument, you’re making a cute semantic distinction, but I’d suggest that when your most famous quote is about your own extremism, you’re probably saying you’re an extremist?

                What’s the thing I say now? Oh, yeah.


  9. Steve W

    I didn’t disagree with Koelher which is why I didn’t address his comment. I disagreed with PW, and said so.

    I generally agree with Koelher and i’m glad to hear that you agree with him also. I’m glad that you feel comfortable employing Matt’s comments to attempt to bolster the comments of PW.

    Last I heard you had altered Koelher’s posts to censor him because you didn’t have a legitimate response to some inconvenient truth over at your blog. So it’s good to know that you are citing Matt and I hope you keep it up.

    I disagreed with PW because his convoluted, illogical, and basically stupid construct is also inaccurate in it’s most basic facts.

    If Senator Tester had told Matt Koelher that ‘Extremism in defense of wilderness and the environment is a vice,’ things might be different. But Tester didn’t say that.

    You can always pretend he did, but your credibility would suffer.

    I won’t give you a fail, just a sigh and a roll of the eyes. After all, you didn’t write it, you are just stuck trying to defend BS.

    Good luck. Defending BS seems to be at least part of your fate and I don’t envy you a bit.

  10. Oh boy, Steve, you’ve left some fun for us here. But at least we seem to both agree that the quisling comparison was inappropriate. So lets move on to whether ‘extremist’ is in fact an indefensible term.

    First, the definition of Extremism, which is no vice –

    “a tendency or disposition to go to extremes or an instance of going to extremes, especially in political matters:”

    And the definition of extremist, a word so vile it’s very use incites violence:

    “a person who goes to extremes, especially in political matters.”

    Now, who is lacking credibility?

    And you still refuse to accept that indeed ‘nigger’ is something of an exceptional word. Whatever, that’s your problem. But if you want to defend a person as seeking ‘broad support’, maybe don’t link to an article describing them as ‘oft-arrested’. Oft-arrested folk are looking to make a point, sure, but they generally understand that they are alienating themselves from the general public when they do so.

    But I want to know if you are going to keep up your insistence that extremist is a dangerous word. Are you then willing to admit that Ralph Nader was eliciting violence against Joe Lieberman by calling him a right-wing extremist?

    • Steve W

      I think you are confusing me with someone else, PW.

      When or where did I describe the word extremist or define the word extremist? You aren’t thinking clearly. You think I’m someone else, apparently.

      You also believe some strange things about Dick Gregory. You could have read the article, where the policeman at the court came up to Mr. Gregory after the charges were dropped and asked him for his autograph. Is that your proof that he’s alienated from the general public? That’s pathetic if you actually believe what you write. I’m guessing that in your mind the public loves and worships BP because they spilled oil all over and bankrupted a bunch of people. That same public, in your mind, dislikes Dick Gregory because he stood up to BP.
      You are a Democrat, PW. Is that how Democrats think? I don’t think so. I think the problem is in your head, alone.

      I proved your hypothesis to be false with the name ‘nigger.’ For some unstated reason you believe that word is “exceptional” or unique in some way. Why? Is it because it disproves your obviously false hypothesis?

      I will now prove your hypothesis is false again with another word. Is it exceptional too?

      Back in the 1980s, Act Up was a small group of gay and lesbian activists who almost single-handedly put AIDS on the national agenda. They forced Reagan to talk about AIDS in public. One of their more famous slogans/mottoes/ bumper stickers/buttons was “We are here, We are queer, get used to it! They called themselves “queers.”

      By your laughable hypothesis it then follows that it’s perfectly acceptable for Tester to call someone who doesn’t agree with his mandated cut bill ‘a queer.’ Clearly that is not acceptable to anyone but you, as per your hypothesis.

      Once again, you fail.

      Another “exceptional word?”

      Back to the drawing board, PW.

      My advice to Tester is to quit calling his constituents who disagree with his undemocratic, unAmerican mandated-cut bill names.

      On the other hand, you might want to send him your simple word test hypothysis so that he can get a whole collection of names to call constituents.

      Heh heh heh.

      That should really help. doncha think?

      • Steve –

        You oh-so-cleverly pointed out that Goldwater was only defending extremism, not extremists. That’s stupid – as the definitions clearly show one to be a person, the other an abstract noun, denoting the same principle. If you really think there’s a significant difference…then I feel like it may be politically incorrect to make fun of you for it.

        Fine, you’ve proved that groups periodically use offensive words to describe themselves in order to attract attention, whatever. So, you’re putting ‘extremist’ in the same category as nigger or queer. Then tell me, Ralph Nader as offensive to you as Dr. Laura, Rush Limbaugh, or anyone else who throws around offensive words? Or most importantly, is Ralph Nader as offensive to you as Jon Tester? They both described their opponents as extremists. You’ve yet to address that.

        • Steve W

          Actually, I pointed out that you had your facts wrong, PW. I didn’t champion Goldwater’s statement or condemn it. i did paraphrase it and had fun doing that. I’m Ok with his statement but it’s basically an empty political platitude. It was delivered at his convention where he accepted the Republican nomination for President. He wasn’t promoting extremism per se, he was making a statement that he was passionate about liberty. And he made the statement in the context of a coming political battle where his opponent ran on his peaceful and non-extremist ways vs his contention that Goldwater possessed extremist war like ways.

          It’s ironic that Johnson helped kill (some would call it 2nd or 3rd degree murder) 50,000 Americans for no good reason, something a truly objective person might consider very extreme. Of course Johnson also passed the voting rights act, the civil rights act, and a number of other ground breaking social justice bills and I appreciated those and still do.

          So context does matter when it comes to semantics. I’m sure both Goldwater and Johnson would tell you that if they were still alive.

          The picture of public citizen Ralph Nadar, long time champion of the little guy against the all powerful corporations, calling out cheat to win corporate shill and Bush war dog Liebermann for his rightwing extremist ways recalls the story of David and Goliath. It’s the common folk taking on the powerful and privileged.

          On the other hand, Tester calling Koehler an extremist because Matt wanted some answers to questions about the mandated cut bill comes off as the exact opposite. It has the look of Chicago machine politics and of bullying tactics.

          It makes Tester look like he’s threatening a concerned citizen and using his power and office to silence dissent. It came off as heavy handed.

          I can’t imagine why anyone who felt like helping Tester would keep inviting people to rehash and retell that particular story. It wasn’t one of Tester’s better moments. Or do you think it was?

          So yes, context is really important. It’s what you say but also how you say it, to whom and why.

          • So, in short – extremist is a word that incites violence, but only if used by people you disagree with. I figured that was the deal, but I wanted to be sure.

            • Steve W

              In short, “extremist” is the name used by Jon Tester to try and intimidate his constituent into silence.

              It was chicken shit.

              Now you got it, to be sure.

              • Yeah, Matt was sure silenced. Tester was noting, accurately, that Matthew Koehler et al lean far to one end of the political spectrum. Is there anything inaccurate about that?

          • But of course, it incites violence if applied to someone who actually has a tendency to go to extremes in political matter (can Matt really deny he does so?), but it’s fine as long as it’s directed towards someone who tends continually towards the middle, like Joe Lieberman?

            • Steve W

              PW, I will answer your 3:19pm here.

              You are correct that Tester failed to silence Matt.


              • Does it occur to you that he was not trying to silence him, but simply pointing out the obvious – that Matt is an extremist*?

                *Note: I Do not think Matt deserves to be the target of violence. I mean extremist in the ‘Ralph Nader directed at Joe Lieberman’ sense, you know, the non-dangerous one.

  11. Steve W

    If Tester believes that people who ask inconvenient questions or who disagree with him are extremists, then I think he needs to grow up.

    Here’s the quote: “If you look at the folks opposing this bill, they’re the extremes. Quite frankly, extremists are extremists and I don’t really care. If they’re willing to become less ideologues and more realists, then come on board.” -Jon Tester Jan 2011.

    The message is clear: ‘Either agree with me [Tester} or you are an extremist.’

    A totally chicken shit little tantrum from The Senator. He needs to rethink his position on name calling.

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