Pressure building on OFA over Keystone Pipeline betrayal

Last week we wrote about Obama`s back-pocket `grassroots` organizing group, OFA, refusing to help progressive activists challenge the Obama administration on the Keystone XL Pipeline battle.

(Why did I put `grassroots` in quotes? Because a real grassroots group listens to its members. The name for a top-down group that appears to be grassroots but really represents only the money that funds it is … astroturf. Is OFA just a Democratic astroturf group? You decide.)

It now looks like the conflict between real Keystone activists — most of whom, I would bet, voted for Obama — and OFA, which claims only to represent the president`s `agenda,` is growing. There`s a battle brewing. From Ruby Cramer at Buzzfeed:

President Obama’s organizing operation is warning its volunteers that they may be the target of progressive protests and urging its membership to stress their “mission of changing the conversation on climate!” in any confrontations with environmentalists.

Organizing for Action — Obama’s outside grassroots organizing group designed to put Republicans’ feet to the fire on behalf of the administration — has found itself on the receiving end of late for its refusal to take a position on the Keystone XL pipeline.

Why would OFA get into a `confrontation with environmentalists` if their mission is to `change the conversation on climate`? Only if the second statement were untrue, of course. Or, more generously, if all OFA wants to change about climate is … the conversation (as opposed to the actual climate).

Please read the whole thing. There`s a ton of good info in the article. I just want to pick out a few pieces to highlight:


OFA circulated a set of talking points to its members for use in dealing with unruly activists. The document, obtained by BuzzFeed, includes information on the science behind climate change and the president’s environmental positions, and ends with a section titled “Keystone Talking Points.” …

The talking points come with a warning: “Volunteers from Credo Action or other organizations may attend your planning session and want to demand that we work on the Keystone XL pipeline.”

See why I`m bringing up CREDO lately? They`re really doing Keystone Pipeline stuff that counts. From the article:

Earlier this week, CREDO Mobile called on its 3 million members to attend OFA planning sessions “to make sure stopping Keystone XL is part of the conversation.

OFA is on the bad side of the news in part because CREDO is organizing resistance and directing it where it can do some damage, at Obama`s OFA. Excellent.

Action opportunity

CREDO is just one of many, but right now they`re leading the charge. I`ll bring up other actions opportunities as they evolve. There will be many; McKibben`s just getting started. In the meantime, if you`re interested in what CREDO is doing, click here.

(And if you want a fun read, go back to the article I quoted and read the full leaked OFA talking points doc appended to the bottom. As you do, ask yourself which part of it does Keystone-ignoring OFA actually believe. As I say, a fun read.)

À la résistance,


To follow or send links: @Gaius_Publius

Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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32 Responses to “Pressure building on OFA over Keystone Pipeline betrayal”

  1. Bruce says:

    “0” yeah, always 0rganizing; NEVER ANY ACTION!

  2. GaiusPublius says:

    This is terrific info, Naja. Thanks.


  3. pappyvet says:

    I am not optimistic that we will survive on this planet without hundreds of millions of people dying.

  4. karmanot says:

    Whew! That was a close one!

  5. karmanot says:

    That’s how vineyards here solve the problem…by using methyl-bromide to kill all living life one meter down before planting.—Can’t imagine what tar sands accidents will do. Hell, the clean up technology is still so primitive they use paper towels.

  6. Mirror says:

    Calm down folks, I think Metro is making a funny.

  7. Swami_Binkinanda says:

    This isn’t a hard call to make based on the facts of the case. Obama is simply a conservative Democrat in a world where the Democrats are not progressive. The Democratic Party is a conservative party and the Republican Party is a radical extremist rightist party. Obama knows where his bread is buttered and that is the only way to try to get accountability out of him.

    His legacy at this point is “probably better than Romney, a little, and way better than McCain.”

  8. pappyvet says:

    but…but…Becca! Why that is just the sort of question that is not needed at this time….er uh….LOOK ! There’s a black guy in the White House….uhm….Jesus said it was ok….

  9. pappyvet says:

    Its all done with mirrors….er swamp gas…..

  10. pappyvet says:

    Grass roots? No grass,no roots,problem solved…at least for them

  11. BeccaM says:

    I never sign online petitions. I used to, until I realized they were nothing more than a scam to collect my name and other identifying information (email, phone, physical address) so they can add me to political mailing lists. Or, in all likelihood, make money by selling my name along with calculated tags as to my opinions and affiliations to other groups.

    I’d be amazed if any elected official ever uttered the words, “Why yes, I changed my position because I was informed there was this huge online petition urging me to do so. Dr. Gonzo Thompson and L33tD00d69 were especially eloquent in their added messages.”

  12. Naja pallida says:

    Please, expound upon what progressive policies Obama has championed. Yes, you are correct, Congress is supposed to do all the work of legislating, but the President can lay out what he would like done. He can fight in the court of public opinion for what he wants. To say the President has absolutely no power is ignoring a hell of a lot of history… but really, even in the things he has direct power over, like who to murder with drones from the sky, he hasn’t held any progressive stance.

  13. Naja pallida says:

    Seems to me that is pretty clear, when their stated purpose is to support Obama’s policies, not support popular policies, nor support liberal policies, nor support progressive policies… they’re nothing more than the President’s personal lobbyists.

  14. Naja pallida says:

    There already is pipeline across Canada. One from Alberta to the Pacific coast in British Columbia, and a new one going in, specifically intended to handle the increase in quantity from the tar sands to a port that can handle the super heavy tankers. One from Alberta to the Great Lakes, which obviously has access to the St. Lawrence Seaway. There is even pipeline that connects from those Great Lakes pipelines, that goes all the way to the east coast in Maine, though I am unsure if that is capable of handling heavy crude – but if they’re desperate enough, they’ll just upgrade it to do so. But the long and short of it is that the tar sands oil is going to get market, with or without the Keystone XL. The Keystone XL would just speed up the process, and put a lot more people and environment at risk.

    There are already refineries all around the American side of the Great Lakes, in Superior, WI, Chicago, IL, I’m sure many more… The Kochs are happily dumping tar sands waste in Detroit. Focusing all our efforts on the Keystone XL is like an old cartoon of someone plugging a leak in a dam with their finger, and other leaks keep popping up, so they use another finger, then a toe. We all know the end result.

  15. karmanot says:

    pppfffftttt 11ty dimensional Obozo is a fraud.

  16. karmanot says:

    We can tell you had beans for supper.

  17. karmanot says:

    Obama’s handling of the Gulf crises would support that theory.

  18. BeccaM says:

    My response as always to anyone who supports it is a simple question, “If this is supposed to help America, why are they trying to build the pipeline all the way to the Gulf of Mexico, where all the oil tankers are?”

  19. BeccaM says:

    My theory was he has a “progressive populist” costume in his closet, and he puts it on whenever he needs to campaign. As soon as the votes are counted, back into the closet it goes, and he goes back to being the conservative/neo-liberal corporatist he’s always been in his heart.

  20. BeccaM says:

    That’s the charitable interpretation. I’m thinking the more realistic one is the petroleum companies that would own and operate the sludge pipeline and who own the refineries, export dock facilities and the tankers themselves have Obama in their back pocket. None of the rationales being floated for why the pipeline should be built makes any sense, except to those who will profit personally from the incremental destruction of our planet’s ecosystem.

  21. Mike Meyer says:

    As my Brother said, ” The company name is Trans Canada. Build the pipeline across Canada, as the company name implies.”

  22. Apropos of nothing, I’ve found myself thinking that someone ought to make a flow chart or a hierarchical identification key for global warming deniers. Not all of them are the same and many in fact aren’t “deniers” per se but rather people who don’t care or think it’ll all come out right in the end somehow. Sort of like…

    1. Do you accept that atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration is rising?

    1a. No. The data are all made-up lies by pinko scientists.
    1b. Yes……2
    2. Do you accept that the average global temperature is rising?
    2a. No. If the climate was getting warmer why did I have to shovel the snow from my driveway last November? Hurf durf.
    2b. Yes……3
    And so on.

  23. Like “Old Nixon” and “New Nixon”? (And “New New Nixon” also, if Art Buchwald was correct.)

  24. condew says:

    I think Obama has an evil twin. He runs for office, the evil twin governs.

  25. condew says:

    As if Obama has been good for unions.

  26. condew says:

    You think it’s bad if you sigh an on-line petition. Give a congressman a campaign donation and suddenly you’re on everybody’s beg list. You’d think every organization would keep their list very tightly held; next time you ask for a donation, if your donor gave to one of the candidates or charities you sold the list to, they will probably give you less.

  27. condew says:

    Whether OFA was “Obama for America” or is “Organizing for America”., its purpose has always been to neutralize Progressive voices

  28. The most charitable interpretation of the Obama administration’s actions on global warming–the most charitable, which is probably being altogether too kind–is that Obama thinks that he can apply the same sort of glacially slow, fatally compromised approach that’s so popular in dealing with other issues of great importance such as health care reform. It’s suppose to be enough that he’s “raising awareness” or “changing the conversation” supposedly to prepare the ground for meaningful political action down the line, action that is deemed to be politically unfeasible at the moment.
    The problem is that we are rapidly running out of time–perhaps already run out–for even the most drastic actions to have any useful effect. When are we going to be ready to get past the step of “changing the conversation”, five or ten years from now? That’s worse than useless.

  29. Drew2u says:

    CREDO also sells the information of people who “sign this petition!” and send them junk mail directly.
    Ever since I’ve started receiving unsolicited junk snail-mail from CREDO (thanks for putting your label on the mail so I can throw it away), I’ve been wary of signing anymore online petitions – and when I do, I make sure to include that company’s name in my own name so I know where the junk mail is coming from and can avoid signing or helping that group ever again. I’ve even gotten to the point of using a relative’s street address just to vet who sends junk and who doesn’t.

    I sent an email to John a while ago when I got a directly-addressed junk mail that could have compromised my living condition at the time. I don’t want to be kicked out of my home because I signed an online petition that said nothing about agreeing to be sent targeted junk mail.

    Same with you, Planned Parenthood. I’m getting sick of your calls and junk mail when the only thing I can afford to do is sign or call legislatures.

  30. BeansFerSupper says:

    The election is over you tools! He needed the support of the eviro-mental-whack-jobs to win a election. Since it’s over – time to pay off the unions for their huge donations and support. You tree-huggers get thrown under the bus! For now anyways, when you’re needed again, they’ll pull you back out from under!

  31. I think Obama is indeed a progressive, but everyone needs to understand the fundamentals of American government. The President (as defined in the Constitution) doesn’t call all the shots, or even most of them. The Congress does. And it’s not progressive.

  32. BrianG says:

    Obama was never committed to doing anything on climate change. He said the right things to con the Democratic base back in 2007-2008, and got prominent Democrat Al Gore to give his blessing, and everyone wanted to believe in hope and change. The words of James Galbraith apply to this sector of the progressive banner also.

    “The President is not a progressive – he is not what Americans still call
    a ‘liberal.’ He is a willful player in an epic drama of faux-politics,
    an operative for the money power, whose job is to neutralize the left
    with fear and distraction and then to pivot rightward and deliver a
    conservative result”

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