2020 Election: A $1 Billion Misinformation War + Inspiring Youth at the Roundhouse

We report on the insidious misinformation effort that will fuel the Trump campaign, a targeted social media effort designed to undermine factual reporting. Shocking. We also report on our best hope for the future: our youth.

Roundhouse Roundup. We continue to enjoy success, with all but one of our Priority Bills advancing. There are too many moving parts to update you in our posts, especially as we move into the last couple weeks of the session. But you can keep current by going to our 2020 Priority Bills page which updates the status of our 30+ bills throughout the day. And if you want to get Legislative Alerts when any of these bills is going to a committee, click the Get Legislative Alert button at the right of our home page. Just one of the many comments we receive daily about our alerts.

And we thank you for making this complex system of legislation comprehensible. “

Cheryl HastingsDatil, NM

YUCCA & Drilling to Disaster

Wednesday, Feb 12, 5:30-8pm, Center for Progress & Justice, 1420 Cerrillos, Santa Fe. featuring Oil Change International, New Energy Economy’s legal team and Just Transition team including Doolíí Diné Collective, and Wild Earth Guardians. Together they will discuss Drilling to Disaster and how the Governor’s Climate Plan fails to address the realities described in the “Drilling to Disaster” report.

In 2019, Oil Change International released a report called “Drilling to Disaster” about the emissions impacts of the US fracking boom. We are now working with them on a campaign to expose the high level of emissions coming from the Permian and to work with us and our partners in NM to raise awareness about the ticking carbon bomb we have a responsibility to address.

This week “Drilling to Disaster” will release their first analysis – a comparison of the Governor’s Climate Plan with the reality. According to their research, when emissions from our state’s oil and gas reserves are included, New Mexico’s carbon footprint will be 10 times Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s target for in-state emissions by 2030. New Mexico has the goal of a 45% reduction in emissions from 2005 levels in 2030. However, end-use emissions from our oil and gas extraction is the annual equivalent of 123 coal plants.  As YUCCA and Retake Our Democracy has been saying  – New Mexico CANNOT meet our state’s commitments to global climate goals while exporting emissions growth outside of the state. .

Youth United for Climate Crisis Action (YUCCA) has been asking the Governor to declare a Climate Emergency and to take immediate steps to reduce our state’s dependence on oil and gas revenue through a just transition study and fund and other key policy initiatives (see YUCCA’s demands HERE).

YUCCA has been dismayed that the Climate Change Plan released by the Climate Change Task Force and Governor last year totally failed to acknowledge the urgency of the crisis and the scale and scope of the solutions needed. Methane regulation isn’t going to turn our emissions around when we are still drilling and fracking at unprecedented levels in the Permian. 

We met with top administration officials to ask our questions last October — will the Climate Change Plan contemplate how to get our state to carbon neutrality? No. Will the Climate Change Plan contemplate how to wean ourselves off of oil and gas revenue dependence? No. Will the Climate Change Plan contemplate a ban on fracking? No.

It is clear that our state’s current political leaders are not facing the crisis and that we must continue to build power and pressure to demand meaningful action.

Learn more and RSVP on Facebook 

Students Show Up In Force for HB 173

Monday was one of the more inspiring days I’ve spent at the Roundhouse as about 75 Santa Fe youth jammed the House Appropriations and Finance Committee to support, HB 173 a bill which over the past four years they had researched and developed and then yesterday presented before one of the more intimidating committees, House Appropriations and Finance.

Introduced by Rep. Matthew McQueen, HB 173 is one of our Priority bills. If made law, it would have created a gas tax with 1/3 of the revenue generated paying for road repairs, 1/3 going for a renewable energy infrastructure fund and 1/3 funding a gas tax relief tax credit to mitigate the impact of the gas tax on low-income drivers.

The line twisted around to the right with scores of students testifying for HB 173.

The students waited patiently for over three hours to make their case and they made it beautifully. Tabatha Hirsch served as the expert witness and was so skilled and poised in her presentation, backing her argument persuasively with research, data, and facts supporting the importance of the bill. She even pointed out an error in the Financial Impact Report. When it came to hear public comment, 75 or more students lined up to do so and each one had a compelling statement. They came prepared.

Unfortunately, the deck was stacked against them. About 40 representatives from the cattle, agriculture and trucking industries spoke in opposition to the bill and the hearing was held before the House Appropriations and Finance Committee, a committee heavily weighted with Representatives from rural communities. In the end, the committee voted 14-1 to table the bill, ending any chance of its passing in this session. It wasn’t supposed to end this way, but my gut tells me these youth are not done with their advocacy. Even in defeat, watching these youth present their case was one of the highlights of the session.

Trump’s Frightening Misinformation Campaign Could Steal Election

A just published report from the Atlantic, “The Billion Dollar Disinformation Campaign Designed to Reelect the President,” outlined a carefully developed Trump strategy designed to disseminate misinformation in a systematic effort to undermine honest civic debate during the 2020 election. That statement likely doesn’t shock you, however, the depth of the misinformation campaign and the degree to which it is able to narrowly target their messages should alarm you. We have our work cut out for us. This blog has often noted how Fox-fed Trump supporters live with a separate set of “facts” and in a different reality. But the Atlantic makes clear, there is much more in play that Fox News.

To unearth what this campaign looks like to the targeted audience, McKay Coppins, the author of the piece, signed up for about a dozen Twitter, Facebook and blog sites that support the President so that he could see first hand the kind of misinformation promulgated by their campaign. And what he found is extraordinary. From the Atlantic commenting on the reporting on the impeachment hearing:

Thousands of micro-targeted ads had flooded the internet, portraying Trump as a heroic reformer cracking down on foreign corruption while Democrats plotted a coup. That this narrative bore little resemblance to reality seemed only to accelerate its spread. Right-wing websites amplified every claim. Pro-Trump forums teemed with conspiracy theories. An alternate information ecosystem was taking shape around the biggest news story in the country, and I wanted to see it from the inside.”

“The Billion Dollar Disinformation Campaign Designed to Reelect the President,”

And while the above quote reflects upon an impeachment disinformation effort, this is but a small part of the overall campaign. McKay tracked his new “friends” on Facebook and through posts from Trump supporter blogs. He was astonished to see news reports, testimony or commentary on any issue he had just seen on television, twisted and edited and then disseminated through social media in a version that bore no relationship to what had actually transpired. And it wasn’t just one site, it was dozens.

As I swiped at my phone, a stream of pro-Trump propaganda filled the screen: “That’s right, the whistleblower’s own lawyer said, ‘The coup has started …’ ” Swipe. “Democrats are doing Putin’s bidding …” Swipe. “The only message these radical socialists and extremists will understand is a crushing …” Swipe. “Only one man can stop this chaos …” Swipe, swipe, swipe. “

“The Billion Dollar Disinformation Campaign Designed to Reelect the President,”


What I was seeing was a strategy that has been deployed by illiberal political leaders around the world. Rather than shutting down dissenting voices, these leaders have learned to harness the democratizing power of social media for their own purposes—jamming the signals, sowing confusion. They no longer need to silence the dissident shouting in the streets; they can use a megaphone to drown him out. Scholars have a name for this: censorship through noise. “

“The Billion Dollar Disinformation Campaign Designed to Reelect the President,”

While campaign spin has been employed since the US was formed, the nuanced way in which Trump deploys it is frightening. It isn’t as if they have a single message that is blasted to their supporters. Instead, they use algorithms to group supporters according to their hot buttons, what will trigger their anger? What are their issues? And then with this knowledge, language is tailored to precisely inflame those receiving the misinformation.

In conversations with political strategists and other experts, a dystopian picture of the general election comes into view—one shaped by coordinated bot attacks, Potemkin local-news sites, micro-targeted fearmongering, and anonymous mass texting. Both parties will have these tools at their disposal. But in the hands of a president who lies constantly, who traffics in conspiracy theories, and who readily manipulates the levers of government for his own gain, their potential to wreak havoc is enormous.”

“The Billion Dollar Disinformation Campaign Designed to Reelect the President,”

The article goes on to outline how Brad Parscale, a very unusual character who has worked his way up in the Trump campaign to now lead Death Star, a $1 billion disinformation campaign. Parscale has mastered manipulation of social media and we should be very frightened by what he will be doing over the next months to ensure that the Trump supporters have no end of twisted “facts” to fuel their support for his campaign. I highly recommend your clicking to read this very illuminating report.

Asphalt Planned for Upper Canyon Road! No That Would Never Happen, But Southside? Why Not?

This would not occur on Upper Canyon Road or near Las Companas, so where do you put it? Near a bunch of trailer parks in a low income neighborhoods. This is the definition of environmental racism and needs to be opposed. So what is being proposed? Our thanks to Earth Care for raising the red flag on this. What follows is from their e-blast.

There is an Asphalt Plant being proposed just west and south west of the Riverside, Cottonwood and Country Club Gardens trailer parks. It is off of Airport Rd and 599. It will directly impact all of the communities in the Airport Rd Corridor as well as the Village of Agua Fria with increased pollution from the plant as well as a huge increase in diesel truck traffic and pollution.

The rest of Santa Fe will also feel the impacts of increased pollution from the 24/7 production, transfer and transport of asphalt, a known source of numerous toxic substances that can severely impact health and lead to related illnesses and death, especially in the most vulnerable populations. These include children, the elderly and those with compromised health. This area of Santa Fe has the highest number and concentration of children (and schools) as well as individuals with compromised health which is directly related to poverty.

This area also has the highest number and concentration of Hispanos, Immigrants, Native Americans, and poor people residing there. That is the definition of Environmental Racism! Environmental racism is the disproportionate impact of environmental hazards on people of color. When poor people and people of color are forced to live near toxic and poisonous industries and the existing institutions and government regulations allow this is an injustice!

There is also the negative impact on home values, for both existing and proposed developments. This could keep housing developers from building in this area due to lower profit potential.

I am waiting information from Earth Care, as to the “action” needed. A recent community meeting may well force the state department of Energy & Natural Resources to hold a public hearing, so stay tuned. This ain’t over.

In solidarity,

Paul & Roxanne

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3 replies

  1. The developers will make sure that asphalt plant goes somewhere else, like Espanola, they already have a toxic plume and plenty of economically disadvantaged people there. Santa Fe is full of NIMBYs in denial. The only thing that matters in Santa Fe, is real estate values, and maybe more fast food joints, and dollar stores in low income neighborhoods.

    I wonder if this could be considered misinformation, not only to please the developers hoping to draw in wealthy seniors, but an attack on Medicare for All. https://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/national-health-journal-features-christus-st-vincent-program/article_840c00ec-491b-11ea-99e2-cf2829c9484a.html Medicare is currently under industry control, and a five star rating is only compared to other under-performing hospitals in New Mexico. Of course this fact based information about local healthcare won’t be in the local paper, they depend on the advertising dollars. The hospital lawyers are really scary, and they have unlimited resources.

    How can a hospital that was fined by Medicare, for “Patient Injuries” have a five star rating? https://khn.org/news/medicare-punishment-hac-preeminent-hospitals-penalized-for-rates-of-patients-injuries-medicare-hospital-acquired-conditions-reduction-program-aca/
    https://khn.org/news/hospital-penalties/?penalty=hac Our local hospital has paid penalties to Medicare for patient injuries, for the last 4 years. Some of those injuries were not recorded, because patients were taken to die in Albuquerque after surgical mistakes, and low income, low reimbursing people were diverted to the ER in Albuquerque.

    Non profits are not supposed to get involved in political issues, yet the continuing deceptive advertising could be considered an attack on healthcare reform. I doubt that the negative ramifications of a religious hospital are ever tracked in our state or our community, they are a “job creator” and give plenty of money to local politicians. There used to be laws and regulations about health related advertising, because people could be harmed because of it. People are harmed every day in this so called community, there are two levels of healthcare. One for the financially comfortable and another for the rest.

  2. Ted Alcorn at New Mexico In depth, did an interview on KSFR abut the non profit hospitals.


    Dave Marash, like most other consumers of corporate media, believes that “Medicare and Medicaid patients “Can go almost anywhere.” This is a myth repeated here in Santa Fe, in fact people on Medicare, without the expensive advantage plans are sent to low income clinics. The wait for these clinics can be weeks or months. There are no specialists available either, and patients will usually be seen by a nurse or NP.

    The local media used this a marketing and public relations promotion.

    In Santa Fe, Christus St. Vincent’s has prioritized substance abuse. Between 2017 and 2019, it gave nearly $1.4 million to the Santa Fe Recovery Center, the only residential treatment provider in the county that takes clients who can’t afford to pay. 1.4 million over the course of 3 years, not anywhere near when the community needs. For years they ignored this problem. The media hype and advertising gives the public the idea that they are more generous than they are. They did nothing for 20 years or more, while people with substance problems would revolve through the ER. Prior to 2017 they would arrest the people that showed up, or threaten them with arrest. When people with substance abuse disorder are discharged, from the recovery center they are right back on the street panhandling.

    In New Mexico, none of this is tracked, including incidents like the one with that young man with Schizophrenia. His insurance did not pay enough, The only reason that case got any attention was that he was shot 17 times. Most of the time people denied care, return home to their families to deal with, or to wander the streets and die in a ditch. There is still not much coordination with local underfunded, understaffed behavioral health clinics. The local clinics rely on a few dollars they might get from St Vincent’s, so they maintain silence.

    There has been no scrutiny of any of these practices, no agency keeps track of the mistakes, when sick poor people are forced to go to a clinic, and get substandard care. Nearly every local family has a horror story about ST Vincent’s, ,the only thing that changed when they joined CHRISTUS, was better public relations and media manipulation. As long as they can get a local celebrity to write a glowing endorsement, or publicize a high dollar exclusive fundraiser. Local politician endorse the hospital, and hob know with a few idle local millionaires. These same politicians can expect a nice camping contribution, buying their silence.

    We don’t know how many people in this community have died or had adverse events, after receiving substandard care, or after a basic procedure. We really don’t have even basic information on the healthcare quality. Every time someone brings up the false idea of “choice” it is impossible for anyone to get the factual information to make a choice. nmhealthcarecompare.com Even the state DOH was marketing the idea of “choice.”

    The regulatory agencies do not function anymore, they have been eviscerated, anyone who stood in the way of corporate profits, was removed. The problem the For Profit model, these predatory but profitable corporations, avoid taxes as they make millions, contributing to the economic distress and health disparities in our communities. There is plenty of data to suggest that low income people are discriminated against in healthcare, the same with people of color and women. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/racism-discrimination-health-care-providers-patients-2017011611015

    Of course none of that was tracked here either. All that these corporations have to do is divert a pittance to the community, something that will get attention and make them appear to be benefactors. There are even content marketers in it the local papers, deceptively influencing public opinion. These hospitals have billions of dollars behind them, able to track public opinion through social media, and ensure that potential customers get confused and misled by industry funded advocacy groups. These groups have been effectively shot down, on social media, as they were sold to advertisers, like other patients of mental health advocacy groups. When a pharma or other industry groups funds these groups, they tend to go gently on the industry.

    I have been tracking their misinformation in the local papers, typically in the business or opinion sections. They never miss an opportunity to mislead the public, whether about the incidence of infections, or the negative impact of shaming sick people. What make all of this even worse is hiding behind the religious aspect. Religious benefits are always a good justification for denying medical care, while appearing to be helping.

    The religious hospitals are operating under the same for profit tactics as the for profit hospitals. No one in this community heard about device kick backs, and recalls. The device companies paid doctors to install certain medical devices, the sale rep would be in the operating room, advising the surgeon. At the same time the FDA hid millions of reports on device malfunctions. https://khn.org/news/medical-device-failures-brought-to-light-now-bolster-lawsuits-and-research/ Devices implanted at St Vincent’s were quietly recalled, Medicare paid for the repeated surgeries, so no one paid attention. Patients who experienced adverse events, were told it was psychological, by hospital lawyers. A lot of the patients receiving these malfunctioning devices were older and in nursing homes, , so they died before there was any scrutiny.

    There is so much talk of “Trauma Informed Care” though they ignore the trauma people experience, when seeking healthcare. It can be terrifying, just like watching a friend or family member die, because they could only afford the clinic. A simple cost benefit analysis could show how much this is costing us all, but the facts are just inconvenient. Letting a healthcare problem fester until it requires hospitalization, and Medicare will pay out hundreds of thousands of dollars is not a good healthcare model, yet it is profitable. The non profits have the same profit motivations as any other corporation. the ones who make millions can afford to pay good lawyers and PR people, to cover for their misdeeds.

  3. Many thanks to Paul, Roxanne, and Miguel Acosta for this post about the proposed asphalt plant.

    This is environmental racism: The City of Santa Fe has plans to develop this part of town, such that one of the most populous areas of the City would be affected. The problem is that the zoning for an industrial area was put in place in the City and County at a time when almost no one lived here. That is no longer the case.

    A really good aspect of this fight is that everyone is coming together around the issue. We also have lots of retirees, state and city employees, and old-time Santa Feans who live on the Southside.

    And you are so right: This would never happen on the Northside of Santa Fe. You cannot have it both ways: If the City and County need asphalt, then let’s work together to find a location that is good for residents and for the company. I believe that we can do this if there is the political will on all sides.

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