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Greedy Lying Bastards

There is a new film out, a purported documentary on the environment, called “Greedy Lying Bastards.” Surprisingly, it isn’t about Al Gore. Nor is it about “green energy” executives who parlay connections with the Obama administration into millions of dollars, leaving taxpayers with the tab. And scientists who collect billions in government subsidies while fudging data to make a bogus case for more government power–what a coincidence!–don’t figure in it, either.

No, “Greedy Lying Bastards” is yet another attack on “climate change deniers.” Of course, there isn’t actually any such thing as deniers of climate change: everyone knows that the Earth’s climate has always changed, and always will change until the end of time. The question is whether there is anything that humans have done, or can do, to significantly influence the climate; the answer, I think it is clear, is no.

But that doesn’t stop crude polemicists like the maker of “Greedy Lying Bastards,” Craig Rosebraugh, from blaming hurricanes on CO2. Never mind that the incidence of hurricanes is going down, not up. But rather than rehearse the film’s tired claims, let’s ask a different question: who is Craig Rosebraugh? The answer is, he is not just an environmental extremist, he is a criminal. The Anti-Defamation League explains:

[Earth Liberation Front's] ideological direction in recent years has been shaped by Portland area native Craig Rosebraugh. Rosebraugh became involved in the movement in the early 1990s as a member of a local animal rights group in Oregon. Also active in opposing the first Gulf war, Rosebraugh said he came to believe that “animal rights issues, environmental issues, social justice, are all related.”

In 1996 he and another activist, Leslie James Pickering, formed the Liberation Collective in Portland, which linked ELF’s struggle to other social justice problems – all caused, Rosebraugh said, “by our main ideological structure in the country, which we continue to operate under, and in my view that is capitalism.” More than any other activist, Rosebraugh was able to infuse the ecoterror movement with a strong anti-capitalist and anti-government bent, which had the effect of broadening its potential targets as well as recruits.

Rosebraugh became the movement’s spokesperson in late 1997 and would go on to handle ELF messages taking credit for acts of sabotage resulting in millions of dollars in damages. …

In 2000, Rosebraugh and Pickering established the North American Earth Liberation Front press office in Oregon. The office operated like ALF’s, receiving and posting or otherwise distributing messages from cells and handling media inquiries. According to Pickering, who served as co-spokesperson, the press office is the “public face ideologically in support of the ELF and similar acts of economic sabotage.” …

In April 2001 Rosebraugh’s home was raided by agents from the FBI, ATF and Oregon State Police; he was also served with a subpoena relating to a fire that destroyed over 30 new SUVs at a car dealership in the Portland area. Although he was not charged in the investigation, the increased scrutiny may have led Rosebraugh and Pickering to resign their ELF positions in September 2001.

Later that year, Rosebraugh was subpoenaed by the House Resources Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health to testify at a hearing on ecoterrorism in February 2002. During his testimony, Rosebraugh invoked the Fifth Amendment in response to all but a few questions. In a written explanation, he said that “in light of the events on September 11, my country has told me that I should not cooperate with terrorists. I therefore am refusing to cooperate with members of Congress who are some of the most extreme terrorists in history.”

… On March 17, 2003, he issued a message addressing antiwar activists that was posted on a number of left-wing Web sites. Rosebraugh said that “the only possibility of stopping this current military action is to engage in strategies and tactics which severely disrupt the war machine, the U.S. economy, and the overall functioning of U.S. society.” He recommended large scale urban riots and attacking financial and media centers, as well as U.S. military establishments.

On March 28, 2003, shortly after Rosebraugh issued this manifesto, five cars and a van at the Navy recruiting headquarters in Montgomery, Alabama, were spray-painted with anti-war slogans and a two-ton truck was set on fire. All the graffiti was signed “ELF.” A few days after the attack, ELF issued a communiqué claiming responsibility for the incident, saying, “This is the first specifically anti-war action carried out by the ELF in North America.”

In April 2003, Rosebraugh and Pickering launched a new organization, Arissa, aimed at linking other social movements, especially the antiwar movement, to environmentalism. In addition to serving as a forum for Rosebraugh and Pickering’s anti-war proclamations, Arissa sells their books on its Web Site. Titles include Rosebraugh’s The Logic of Political Violence, which says that “revolution in the United States must be comprised of a variety of strategies” and that “it cannot be successful without the implementation of violence.”

Rosebraugh’s credibility was slightly undermined after he opened a natural food restaurant in Portland in January 2004 and fired workers who threatened to go on strike. Nevertheless, his influence in the movement remains high and ELF likely will continue to bundle other social concerns with its environmentalist mission. In a March 2004 television interview, Pickering underscored this ideological expansion: “Violence is a necessary element of an oppressive struggle…to overthrow an oppressive government…[ELF is] only part of a larger building revolutionary movement that won’t stop until it has a successful overthrow of this country.”

Given Rosebraugh’s extremist views–not to mention the fact that “Greedy Lying Bastards” is nothing but one tired cliche after another–his movie has gotten a surprisingly respectful reception. The New York Times wrote:

[T]his propulsively single-minded attack on climate-change deniers by Craig Scott Rosebraugh may just be the feel-good documentary of the year. … [T]he film’s many interviews, wide-ranging archival footage and montage of modern ecological disasters form a blunt but carefully positioned instrument.

The Seattle Times hailed the film:

The title says it all in “Greedy Lying Bastards,” a blistering attack on politicians, propagandists, dissemblers and other climate-change deniers. …

With the help of Greenpeace, as well as scientists and farmers who speak freely about the disastrous impact of hurricanes and drought, director Craig Scott Rosebraugh creates a sense of urgency that’s difficult to shake.

We have arrived at a point in our history where our “mainstream” media cheer on a criminal who openly works for the destruction of our country, while demonizing the creative and hard-working people who produce the energy that allows us to heat our homes, power up our laptops and drive our cars. (Is there a reporter somewhere curious enough to ask whether the Left’s attack on fossil fuels is part of what Rosebraugh endorsed as “economic sabotage?”) Not for the first time, we are compelled to wonder whether our country has a future.

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