The Censorious Left Strikes Again

Believe it or not, there are a few honest Lefties -- Van Jones and Bill Maher (language warning) immediately come to mind-- and journalist Matt Taibbi is one of them. So, perhaps, is Michael Moore, whose refreshingly honest documentary about the "environmentalist" grifters just got yanked on YouTube for political wrongthink. Here's Taibbi's decidedly non-tribal look at what's going on on the censorious Left:

On April 21st, 2020, just before the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day, Oscar-winning director/producer Michael Moore released a new movie called Planet of the Humans. Directed by Jeff Gibbs, the film is a searing look at the ostensible failures of the environmentalist movement, to which Moore and Gibbs both belonged. “Jeff and I were at the first Earth Day celebrations,” Moore laughs. “That’s how old we are.”

Distributed for free on YouTube, the film’s central argument is that the environmentalist movement, fattened by corporate donations, has become seduced by an industrialist delusion. “The whole idea of the film was to ask a question – after fifty years of the environmentalist movement, how are we doing?” recounts Moore. “It looks like, not very well.”

That's an understatement. "No enemies to the Left," has long been a "progressive" rallying cry; one of the reasons the Left is constantly on the attack is that it rarely if ever has to protect its left flank, or worry about the enemy getting to its rear. Moore's movie changed that. Which is why, after a manufactured outcry from the usual suspects whose gravy-trained oxes just got gored, YouTube took the film down for a "copyright infringement" over four seconds of fair-use footage.

The significance of the Moore incident is that it shows that a long-developing pattern of deletions and removals is expanding. The early purges were mainly of small/fringe voices on either the far right or far left, or infamously fact-challenged personalities like Alex Jones. The removal of a film by Moore – a heavily-credentialed figure long revered by the liberal mainstream – takes place amid a dramatic acceleration of such speech-suppression incidents, many connected to the coronavirus disaster.

A pair of California doctors were taken off YouTube for declaring stay-at-home measures unnecessary; right-wing British broadcaster and trumpeter of shape-shifting reptile theories David Icke was taken off YouTube; a video by Rockefeller University epidemiologist Knut Wittknowski was taken down, apparently for advocating a “herd immunity” approach to combating the virus. These moves all came after the popular libertarian site Zero Hedge was banned from Twitter, ostensibly for suggesting a Chinese scientist in Wuhan was responsible for coronavirus.

These and many other incidents came in addition to a slew of moves aimed at right-wing speakers accused of varying degrees of conspiratorial misinformation and/or hate speech, from a decision by Twitter to begin “fact-checks” of Donald Trump to wholesale removals from Facebook of “anti-immigrant” sites like VDare and the Unz Review.

One problem is the so-called “reputable” fact-checking authorities many platforms are relying upon have terrible factual histories themselves. There’s an implication that “misinformation” by foreign or independent actors is somehow more dangerous than broadly-disseminated official deceptions about U.S. misbehavior abroad, or manufactured scandals like Russiagate. We now expect libertarian or socialist pages to be zapped at any minute, but none of the outlets which amplified the bogus Steele dossier have been put in Internet timeout.

Taibbi notes correctly that the partisan "regulation" and "fact-checking" of speech on social media platforms is simply censorship. Sheep on the Right will bleat that it's not the government taking down speech it doesn't agree with it (that would be forbidden under the First Amendment) -- but the Bill of Rights has now been thoroughly shredded by the absurd Wuhan panic, so what difference, at this point, does it make?

Censorship -- especially the arbitrary takedown of a film by a mainstream leftist like Moore -- is still censorship.

The drive to step up “content control” isn’t all driven from the top down. A major additional factor has been the growth of a new intellectual movement geared toward delegitimizing speech and rationalizing censorship. The Moore incident provided a clear demonstration of how this new social reflex works. “Maybe we’re wrong,” Moore says. “We’d have liked to have that discussion. That was a big reason we made the movie.”

Instead, critics rolled out a now-familiar playbook to depict the movie as too villainous to exist.

"Too villainous to exist." This is the Leftist argument against everything it hates. Tax it! Criminalize it! Ban it! Everything from fossil fuels to free speech has come under their baleful gaze, and all of it must go. That way lies totalitarianism; on the Left everything that has outlived its usefulness, such as the First Amendment, is Nikolai Yezhov (pictured, and non-pictured, above), a secret policeman known as the "Bloody Dwarf," who helped run Stalin's purge, until the purges finally got him too, and he had to be "disappeared" -- not just physically, but from the pages of history as well. Having long hidden behind the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech, the Left no longer finds it useful, and wishes to criminalize it under the rubric of "hate speech."

No wonder President Trump just signed the Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship, which seeks to rein in such platforms as Facebook, YouTube, Google, Twitter and other tools of politically correct enforcement.

Section 1.  Policy.Free speech is the bedrock of American democracy.  Our Founding Fathers protected this sacred right with the First Amendment to the Constitution.  The freedom to express and debate ideas is the foundation for all of our rights as a free people.

In a country that has long cherished the freedom of expression, we cannot allow a limited number of online platforms to hand pick the speech that Americans may access and convey on the internet.  This practice is fundamentally un-American and anti-democratic.  When large, powerful social media companies censor opinions with which they disagree, they exercise a dangerous power.  They cease functioning as passive bulletin boards, and ought to be viewed and treated as content creators.

Today, many Americans follow the news, stay in touch with friends and family, and share their views on current events through social media and other online platforms.  As a result, these platforms function in many ways as a 21st century equivalent of the public square.

That's how they were sold, of course -- free and open to everybody.  That, however, turned out to be the drug-dealer approach to marketing his wares: a free trial, then the hook, then a lifetime of misery and penury.  As Moore correctly notes, no one is safe in this latest version of the Great Terror:

In the past, a copyright dispute would have been a matter for courts. So, too, would questions of defamation that might have been raised by the likes of McKibben. Now critics can just run to Mommy and Daddy tech companies to settle disputes, and there’s no clear process for those removed to argue their cases. This is a situation that carries serious ramifications, especially for people who have less reach and financial clout than Moore. “If they can do it to me, they can do it to anybody,” is how Moore puts it.

Maybe Moore is wrong about the environmental movement, but these new suppression tactics are infinitely more dangerous than one movie ever could be, and progressives seem to have lost the ability to care.

This is the world the Left is preparing, not only for its ovine followers but for free-thinking men and women everywhere. Who's in?  Who's out? Just ask Nikolai Yezhov, if you can find him.

YouTube Censors 'Planet of the Humans'

Well, they've gone and done it:

YouTube has taken down the controversial Michael Moore-produced documentary Planet of the Humans in response to a copyright infringement claim by a British environmental photographer. The movie, which has been condemned as inaccurate and misleading by climate scientists and activists, allegedly includes a clip used without the permission of the owner Toby Smith, who does not approve of the context in which his material is being used.

I'm not particularly fond of Michael Moore, but Moore and Jeff Gibbs (his longtime collaborator who produced and narrates this documentary) are old pros, and I am pretty skeptical of the claim that they would allow a project as sensitive as this, which they produced knowing that they would take tons of fire from their fellow lefties, to be fouled up by a copyright violation. Especially when some powerful people -- many of whom fall into the group of Moore and Gibbs accuse of perpetuating the Green Energy boondoggle to make themselves extremely rich -- have been looking for an excuse to censor it since it was released.

Gibbs made roughly the same point in his statement:

“This attempt to take down our film and prevent the public from seeing it is a blatant act of censorship by political critics of Planet of the Humans. It is a misuse of copyright law to shut down a film that has opened a serious conversation about how parts of the environmental movement have gotten into bed with Wall Street and so-called “green capitalists.” There is absolutely no copyright violation in my film. This is just another attempt by the film’s opponents to subvert the right to free speech.”

Gibbs said he was working with YouTube to resolve the issue and have the film back up as soon as possible.

It is worth noting that Toby Smith, who made the complaint, said that he went directly to YouTube rather than to Moore and Gibbs precisely because he has a problem with the content of the documentary. As he put it, "I wasn’t interested in negotiation. I don’t support the documentary, I don’t agree with its message and I don’t like the misleading use of facts in its narrative.” Sounds a lot like one of the "political critics" of Planet of the Humans.

To be fair, this is a bit of a tempest in a teapot. The film was released on April 21st, and was only supposed to remain up on YouTube for 30 days. Because of its success -- at the time YouTube pulled it it had been viewed more than 8 million times -- the run was extended by another month. Smith's complaint got the film pulled just a few days after it was originally supposed to come down. Even so, the whole thing remains highly suspicious. Is this, perhaps, the first big move in YouTube's long-bruited crackdown on wrongthink in anticipation of the presidential election in the fall? Their increasingly censorious tendencies are supposedly among the reasons for podcaster Joe Rogan's just announced decision to leave the platform for Spotify beginning in September.

In any event, if you were not among the millions of viewers lucky enough to catch Planet of the Humans before the PC police got to it, take some time to read The Pipeline's coverage from back when it was first released. In the meantime, Moore and Gibbs have posted the documentary at Vimeo.

Michael Moore Strikes Back

We here at The Pipeline have been covering Michael Moore and Jeff Gibbs' new film Planet of the Humans fairly extensively lately for the simple reason that we believe it to be a very important film, both because it is extremely informative on the topic of the "green energy" fraud, but also because it has blown open a major rift within the environmentalist movement. So much so that those on the other side of that rift are either ignoring the documentary entirely (as far as I can see, neither the BBC, the CBC, nor Australia's ABC have published a word on it -- kind of shocking that the state broadcasters of the English speaking world are ignoring such a big story) or, as Michael Walsh pointed out yesterday, are calling on YouTube to take it down for spreading misinformation (and, presumably, for giving aid and comfort to the enemy).

To rebut those claims, Moore and Gibbs have been on a bit of a media tour, and one stop on that tour was this lengthy interview with The Hill TV:

It is an illuminating interview, and I think it bears out my contention that, far from turning their back on environmentalism, Moore and Gibbs are willing to tear down that movement as it currently exists so that they can rebuild it as something somewhat leaner (in that it will have less cash), but definitely a lot meaner. Creative Destruction, you might call it.

First of all, Moore takes up the question of their motivation. He and Gibbs haven't turned on the movement - "We are lifelong environmentalists!" They've been in since the "first Earth Day!" Their main concern is "this evil economic system that we have [which] is based on greed," and the tendency of certain environmentalists to "[hop] into bed with corporate America." From his perspective, this gives the corporations a kind of moral authority that they shouldn't have, and allows them to treat the movement like a revenue stream:

[Y]ou've seen this happen over the last decade, how they've all gone Green, they all tout the big Green thing, and they saw basically that enough of us believed in Green, because we want this planet to live, and they saw, '[W]ow, there's the supply and demand right there -- the demand is for Green, lets give them Green, and lets make a lot of money off of it.

So, for Moore:

The failure of the movement has been to address this serious flaw, which is: We are not gonna save the planet or ourselves by allowing Wall Street, hedge funds, corporate America, to be anywhere near us, as we try to fix this.

The film is simply their way of breaking that to the true believers.

To my way of thinking, it's Gibbs who really gives voice to their ambitions:

You know, this is so much bigger than climate change. You know, we've eaten 90% of the fish in the ocean. Half of the wildlife have disappeared in the last 40 years, primarily because of expanding logging and agriculture. Fossil fuels is tragic, but there is a lot more to us damaging the planet than just climate change.... I think [that] looking at ourselves as a single species that's got this addiction to growth, my theory is that infinite growth on a finite planet is called suicide, and that's what we have to address.

I mentioned the Malthusian drift of the documentary in my review, and Gibbs responds to that critique:

We never use the word population control, we're not in favor of population control. We merely point out, there was a UN study that came out one or two years ago, that just points out that the doubling of our human numbers and the quadrupling of our human economy is the prime driver of extinction on this planet. Is the UN favoring population control? No!

Er, yes, but go on:

Many scientists are pointing out the obvious, but you don't read about that so much in the press anymore, since it's all only focused on climate change.

Funny how, while disclaiming population control, he argues that scientists are merely "pointing out the obvious," but doesn't himself spell out that "obvious" here. When you go to the documentary itself, you find what his scientists are actually "pointing out." Here's one representative sample: "Without seeing some sort of major die off in population, there's no turning back."

Back to the interview, Gibbs mitigates our need to read between the lines further when he says:

[R]ight now we're learning that the three times when climate change and fossil fuel usage went down were during this pandemic, in the days after 9/11, and during the Great Recession. Now, we're just raising the question, we've got to come to terms with this expansion. We don't have the answers in the film, but it is our growth, and especially our growth and consumption, driven by capitalism, that's driving this beast.

Ah yes, those three greatest moments of our civilization. Just as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did the other day, Gibbs is admitting here that their project is built on human suffering. This is what we call "Making the sub-text, text."

I've been seeing conservatives on Twitter and elsewhere over the past week who are elated about this movie, and in the short term it might work to our benefit. But don't be fooled -- Moore and Gibbs are not on our side. Their vision is very dark, and they themselves are very persuasive.

Michael Moore Learns an Inconvenient Truth

The enemy of my enemy is... well, in the case of Michael Moore, still my enemy. That's because of the destruction he's wrought on the mental processes of so many members of my generation with his Riefenstahl-esque documentaries which convinced them that they'd have been better off growing up in Castro's Cuba than in suburban New York. That said, Moore is a worthy foe. He's extremely sharp, and he doesn't go in for easy short term victories. He's playing the long game.

The most recent example is a documentary he's produced along with his longtime collaborator Jeff Gibbs, who serves as director and narrator. The film is called Planet of the Humans, and was released on YouTube earlier this week just in time for Earth Day. It is not, however, your typical Earth Day fare, alternately happy-clappy and weepy-waily. Planet of the Humans digs deep down into the supposed Green Energy Revolution which promises to liberate us from our present fossil fuel regime. What it definitively demonstrates, however, is that Green Energy is a fraud (and one which has made a lot of people very rich) -- and, worse, that the revolution is never going to come.

Gibbs begins by talking about his long standing tree-hugger bona fides. As a young man, he moved to the woods of Michigan and built a log cabin, which he wired for solar power. But as the years went by, and as he continued to learn about the ins and outs of the green energy industry, he got increasingly skeptical and cynical.

Early on in the documentary Gibbs shows us a solar power fair, which boasts that it's powered entirely by solar panels. A rock band is playing on stage under electric lights, everyone is having a good time, all is well. Until, that is, it begins to rain. Gibbs follows staff members working frantically backstage, and when he asks what they're doing, they explain that they are hooking everything up to a biodiesel generator. When that doesn't produce enough juice, they simply plug in to the regular old local power grid.

That basic set-up starts to become pretty familiar. Gibbs attends a launch event for the Chevy Volt electric car, and gets the enthusiastic employees to explain that, well, yes, actually all of the electricity powering the cars and the plant comes from fossil fuels. He's invited to see the plant's solar panel farm, the size of a football field, only to learn that it gets roughly 8 percent efficiency and generates only enough energy to power about ten homes. He speaks to several green energy enthusiasts who admit that the intermittency of solar and wind requires renewables to be backed up with idling fossil fuel power plants, which (as Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner Philip Moeller explains on camera) "maybe can be dialed down during the day, and dialed up when demand starts rising." When asked if this effects the efficiency of the plants, Moeller responds "Oh yeah, they don't like to be dialed up and down." Their hope is that we will one day be able to bridge that gap with batteries, but Gibbs points out that not only is that a still-remote possibility, but that the batteries themselves come from mined products degrade in a very few years.

Gibbs also takes us to Lowell Mountain in Vermont, where land is being cleared for an enormous wind farm. He goes hiking with a group of concerned citizens who show him the devastated mountain. One local says:

I'm looking at the ground [here] and thinking 'this is not the legacy I want to leave to my kids.' When I was a kid, we'd go hiking in these woods, we'd be able to drink from the water down the hill here, and now you have to question that.

Aside from intermittent wind energy, what do they get from all of this? Three full-time jobs and about twenty years of use before those turbines need to be replaced. "Has anybody considered that this is mountaintop removal for wind instead of coal?" he asks. Which is to say, so-called renewable energy requires fossil fuels -- often used wastefully -- to exist. Ozzie Zehner, author of the book Green Illusions, sums up this theme of the documentary perfectly when he says

You use more fossil fuels to do this than you're getting a [green] benefit from it. You would've been better off [just] burning the fossil fuels in the first place instead of playing pretend.

In the background roll enthusiastic news clips and interviews featuring environmentalist heroes like Barack Obama, Al Gore, Michael Bloomberg, Jeremy Grantham, Elon Musk, Richard Branson, and Bill McKibben. Every one of them talks about "shovel ready" projects, jobs in all fifty states, "free energy forever," and the potential for prosperity for all -- while also saving the planet. At one point Arnold Schwarzenegger appears on screen introducing the world's largest solar energy plant, and says "There's some people that look out into the desert and see miles and miles of emptiness! I see miles and miles of a gold mine."

Surely these luminaries must know they're wildly overpromising at best, and at worst simply lying. Why do they do it? Gibbs answers that, for the most part, they're in it for the money and the power.

The only reason we've been force fed the story 'Climate change + Renewables = We're Saved' is because billionaires, bankers, and corporations profit from it.

Many environmentalist philanthropists -- including several of those mentioned above like Grantham and Branson -- invest heavily in supposed alternate energy sources like biofuel and biomass, the usage of which allows businesses and universities to claim that they are powered by "100 percent renewable energy." As Mike Schellenberger points out,

In reality, scientists have for over a decade raised the alarm about biomass and biofuels causing rain forest destruction around the world including Brazil and Malaysia, and have documented that when one takes into account their landscape impacts, the fuels produce significantly higher carbon emissions than oil and gas and may produce more than coal.

At the same time, they use the power of celebrity to lobby governments and shame politicians into enacting biofuel mandates and other regulations which just so happen to benefit their stock portfolio.

Gibbs also examines the potential financial incentives for perhaps the most influential environmentalist of the past 20 years, former vice president Al Gore. Gore was the co-founder of an investment firm called Generation Investment Management, which was an early promoter of biomass and biofuels. Gibbs wonders aloud whether Gore's Oscar-winning climate documentary An Inconvenient Truth was "just about climate change, or was it about something else?" That is, was it about promoting his investments.

If it was, it worked out for him. Those investments helped Gore launch CurrentTV, which he ended up selling for 100 million dollars to Al Jazeera, the state broadcaster of Qatar, a nation whose wealth is largely a product of fossil fuels. The documentary gives us several clips of Gore not even being slightly embarrassed by this hypocrisy. “You couldn’t find, for your business, a more sustainable [buyer]?” he's asked by Daily Show host Jon Stewart. “What is not sustainable about it?” Gore replies.

I mentioned at the outset that Michael Moore is playing a long game, and here's what I meant. Moore and Gibbs know that "green energy" is a boondoggle, and that soon enough it is going to fall apart. Planet of the Humans is their attempt to get out in front of inconvenient truth, so that environmentalism won't be entirely discredited when their fantasy world collapses. Though they will probably be raked over the coals by the usual suspects (one imagines that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez isn't going to be happy about this documentary, which implicitly tears the heart out of the Green New Deal), Moore and Gibbs remain climate-change true believers. We are told over and over again in the course of this documentary that humans are destroying the planet. What sets them apart from other environmentalists is that they don't believe that there is a technological solution. "Is it possible for machines made from industrial civilization to save us from industrial civilization?" Gibbs asks.

No, their solution is rather darker. They believe that we need to massively diminish the amount of energy we are using, and that, while personal responsibility has a role in that, the very presence of humanity is the main obstacle to their goal. Planet of the Humans regurgitates discredited Malthusian and Ehrlichian ideas which hold that we are experiencing a population bomb and that ultimately the planet's major underlying problem is, quite simply: us.

That said, I found Planet of the Humans to be an extremely affecting and informative documentary. It isn't difficult to feel Gibbs' pain as he confronts the fact that green energy "wasn't what it seemed." And, very likely, the hard hitting nature of this documentary is going to cost Moore and Gibbs more than a few friends. I found myself feeling both appreciation for their honesty and apprehension for what their suggestions portend. At the same time, as I alluded to above, several of my high school classmates were corrupted by Moore's early 21st century documentaries, such as Bowling for Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11. I shudder to think what Planet of the Humans -- with its pessimism about both green energy and human life itself -- will do to the next generation of environmentalists.