YES MEN: In a dramatic announcement at the National Press Club today, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce reversed its position on climate change policy, and promised to immediately cease lobbying against the Kerry-Boxer bill. Not. Within minutes of the announcement, it was revealed that the “Chamber spokesperson” was an impostor, and the press conference an elaborate hoax designed by activists to draw attention to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s fight against public interest on climate change. At the close of the news conference, real Chamber of Commerce spokesperson Eric Wohlschlegel barged into the room visibly rattled, and declared the event a fraud. The stunt was pulled off by the Yes Men, the activists best known for posing as corporate executives in order to reveal how corporate greed negatively influences public policy. Recently, the Yes Men have focused their attention on the urgent need for action on climate change. Today they sought to reveal–and repeal–relentless corporate lobbying of elected officials aimed at derailing domestic climate legislation and a much-needed global climate accord. At the end of [fake U.S. Chamber “representative” “Hingo Sembra”]’s remarks, Eric Wohlschlegel confronted Bichlbaum. In the stand-off, both accused the other of being a fraud and disrupting business as usual. The standoff ended with Wohlschlegel dispensing his business card to reporters in the room, and attempting to field a number of pointed questions about the Chamber’s real stance on climate legislation currently in Congress, which the real Chamber opposes. MORE
ELLIOTT SPITZER: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce—the self-proclaimed voice of business in Washington—has been wrong on virtually every major public-policy issue of the past decade: financial deregulation, tax and fiscal policy, global warming and environmental enforcement, consumer protection, health care reform. The chamber remains an unabashed voice for the libertarian worldview that caused the most catastrophic economic meltdown since the Great Depression. And the chamber’s view of social justice would warm Scrooge’s heart. It is the chamber’s right to be wrong, and its right to argue its preposterous ideas aggressively, as it does through vast expenditures on lobbyists and litigation. Last year alone, the chamber spent more than $91 million on lobbying, and, according to lobby tracker Opensecrets.org, it has spent more than twice as much on lobbying during the past 12 years as any other corporation or group. The problem is, the chamber is doing all this with our money. The chamber survives financially on the dues and support of its members, which are most of America’s major corporations listed on the stock exchange. The chamber derives its political clout from the fact that its membership includes these corporations. Yet we—you and I—own the companies that support the chamber and permit it to propagate its views. Our passive, permissive attitude toward the management of the companies we own has enabled the chamber to be one of the primary impediments to the reform of markets, health care, energy policy, and politics that we have all been calling for. It is time for that to change. MORE
WIKIPEDIA: The Yes Men are a group of culture jamming activists who practice what they call “identity correction” by pretending to be powerful people and spokespersons for prominent organizations. They create and maintain fake websites similar to ones they want to spoof, and then they accept invitations received on their websites to appear at conferences, symposia, and TV shows. Their newfound, self-proclaimed authority to express the idea that corporations and governmental organizations often act in dehumanizing ways toward the public has met both positively and negatively with political overtones. Elaborate props are sometimes part of the ruse, as shown in their 2003 DVD release The Yes Men.
Their method is often satire: posing as corporate or government spokespeople, they often make shocking comments which they believe to be the real meaning of the organisation’s ideology being hidden by spin, or extrapolate what they feel is the organisation’s ideology in a ‘reductio ad absurdum‘ to come out with outrageous conclusions, such as that it should be possible to sell your vote or that the poor should eat recycled human waste. On most occasions no shock or anger has been registered in the response to their prank, with no one realizing they were imposters. Sometimes, the Yes Men’s phony spokesperson makes announcements that represent dream scenarios for the anti-globalization movement or opponents of corporate crime. The result is false news reports of the demise of the WTO, or Dow paying for a Union Carbide cleanup, which the Yes Men intend to provide publicity for what they see as problems in the current situation. MORE
FIRST PERSON ARTS: Yesterday, a news source ran an article about the alleged hoax involving the Chamber of Commerce and the Yes Men. This wiley pair seems to have leaked a press release announcing that The Chamber of Commerce has changed its mind and decided to address the global warming crisis, when in fact this is far from the truth. Right from the get go, evidence pointed towards our favorite rebels, the Yes Men, and they finally did admit to the hoax. The details are scarce, but you can read about it here. Better yet, you can check out the video below – or, even better, you can ask them about in person it at the First Person Festival, when they appear live on November 5! MORE
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