define “astroturf”

by twit

One of the more annoying side effects of the leftish side of the blogosphere remaining so quiet about the “Ellie Light” fracas is that they have much longer memories than I do about various ‘astroturfing’ incidents, and they could contribute to a discussion about this far better than I’ll be able to.

So what is astroturfing?  This was one of the examples that I was thinking of:

Last month, Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) announced a congressional investigation of the DC lobbying firm Bonner & Associates. The firm, which has a long history of astroturfing, was caught forging anti-clean energy reform letters — purportedly from groups representing women and people of color — to Congress.

When I think of “astroturf,” I think of something that is fake and pretending to be something it’s not.  Politically, it is a corporation or political organization pretending to be individual members of the public.  They pretend to be individuals who have spontaneously decided to speak out and have no apparent connection to the organization.

I doubt that “Ellie Light” is connected to a corporation or organization, along the lines of what Ann Althouse has said, because a skilled astroturfer just wouldn’t be so stupid.  So “Ellie Light” doesn’t really fit the definition.   I think that “Ellie Light” used a version of ‘astroturf’ tactics by pretending to speak as a local resident, but I find it hard to believe at this point that there was encouragement or payment for such a deceitful and poorly executed stunt.

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an Ellie Light list

by twit

The Ellie Light phenomenon was first reported by Sabrina Eaton of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, by way of the Drudge Report:

“It’s time for Americans to realize that governing is hard work, and that a president can’t just wave a magic wand and fix everything,” said a letter from alleged Philadelphian Ellie Light, that was published in the Jan. 19 edition of The Philadelphia Daily News.A letter from Light in the Jan. 20 edition of the San Francisco Examiner concluded with an identical sentence, but with an address for Light all the way across the country in Daly City, California.

Variations of Light’s letter ran in Ohio’s Mansfield News Journal on Jan. 13, with Light claiming an address in Mansfield; in New Mexico’s Ruidoso News on Jan. 12, claiming an address in Three Rivers; in South Carolina’s The Sun News on Jan. 18, claiming an address in Myrtle Beach; and in the Daily News Leader of Staunton, Virginia on Jan. 15, claiming an address in Waynesboro. Her publications list includes other papers in Ohio, West Virginia, Maine, Michigan, IowaPennsylvania and California, all claiming separate addresses.

and then there were more.  and more.  and more.  and then I found a new one (and another) (and another).  I checked and organized links from the Cleveland Plain Dealer articles and the Paterrico posts (including the comments) to look at all this and get a sense of the unfolding story.

so it appears to begin, much like everything else, on the Internet…


January 7, 2010. Politico. no address.

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This Memorial Day, why don’t we honor the Nazi dead while we’re at it?

by lestro


There’s a column in Sunday’s Washington Post about something I am afraid to admit I did not know existed.

Apparently, somewhere in Arlington National Cemetery, there is a monument honoring the dead of the Confederate States of America. The monument was dedicated in 1914 by President Woodrow Wilson and according to the article, presidents  have since honored the Confederacy’s dead along with those of the United States by sending a wreath on Memorial Day.

The question in the column is whether President Barack Obama, the nation’s first black president, will and should continue the tradition honoring a nation whose very founding was based on keeping blacks as subservient slaves.

Although it is tough to tell exactly where the author stands on the main issue of honoring Confederates, he expects the president to send a wreath because it is tradition:

Many of my colleagues in academia are urging President Obama to pull the plug on this tradition. I doubt that he will, for the simple reason that the men buried around the Confederate memorial sacrificed, suffered and died just as the black and white soldiers of the Union did. Most of the descendants of those Confederates, whatever their political stripe today, would be loath to deny their ancestors a simple gesture of recognition.

The author goes on to say that the president should send a wreath to the memorial as well as one to the African American Civil War Memorial as a sort of reconciliation.

But I disagree. The president should under no circumstances feel pressure to honor the dead of the enemies of the United States on the holiday designed to honor those who gave their lives for this great nation.

It is also important to note that this is NOT a tradition that goes all the way back. According to the Arlington Cemetery Web site,  (warning: music will play when the page opens. the player is all the way at the bottom of the page) the first President Bush ended said tradition in 1990 and it was not re-instated until the second President Bush started sending wreaths again.

Therefore, President Obama should feel no pressure in having to honor these traitors. It is shameful that President Bush restarted this tradition in the first place.

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Eight years wasted

by lestro

Today, the president announced plans to change the mileage standards on American cars, increasing them 30 percent in the next eight years.

Which, I admit, is a lot.  It’s going to take some serious work.  But it will be worth it on many fronts.

Here’s what the pres said today:

And that’s why, in the next five years, we’re seeking to raise fuel-economy standards to an industry average of 35.5 miles per gallon in 2016, an increase of more than eight miles per gallon per vehicle.  That’s an unprecedented change, exceeding the demands of Congress and meeting the most stringent requirements sought by many of the environmental advocates represented here today.

As a result, we will save 1.8 billion barrels of oil over the lifetime of the vehicles sold in the next five years.  Just to give you a sense of magnitude, that’s more oil than we imported last year from Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Libya, and Nigeria combined.  (Applause.)  Here’s another way of looking at it:  This is the projected equivalent of taking 58 million cars off the road for an entire year.

That got me to thinking: that’s a whole lot of foreign oil we would no longer be dependent on. And the sooner we start, the more we save. And it’s not only as individual consumers when our cars go further on the same amount of gas (for you American car owners, ask a foreign car owner what that’s like…), but also as a nation when we reduce our dependency on foreign oil, and maybe we can stop wasting so much blood and treasure fighting over sand dunes that happen to have oil deposits below them.

It got me to thinking about how this administration actually doing something about it. That’s a tremendous change from any prior administration since Jimmy Carter, who was laughed at for telling us to conserve energy (and wearing the sweater) and invested heavily in alternate energy until Reagan and his oil money knocked the whole thing down, setting us back about 28 years.

Within 130 days of taking office, Obama actually set new standards, which will work to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

Bush never did that, despite talking about it until his fool head nearly fell off.

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Make Trek, Not Wars

by lestro

I love this:

Inside the White House, a tight circle of advisers has already been selected and office space has been set aside in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. But aides said their surroundings would purposely not be called a “war room,” because of the combative image that the term suggests.

“We would like to put the confirmation wars of the past behind us,” one White House official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the confidentiality of the selection process, “and have signaled that with our consensus-oriented, non-confrontational approach to appellate court nominations.”

LOVE it.

I absolutely hate all of the war metaphors we use in this country.  Everything is a war: war on drugs, war on terror, war on poverty, etc.

This creates an adversarial tone and belittles what an actual war is.  Besides, the government is losing the war on drugs and the war on poverty.  Which means stoners and the starving are winning!

That’s bad.

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This week in hypocritical bullshit

by lestro

The Republican Party and the Republican leadership is full of shit and every day they find new ways to highlight their own hypocrisy and bullshit.

Today, it was over the announcement that the president and his budget team had scrubbed an additional $17 billion from the federal budget as part of the line-by-line examination Candidate Obama promised last year.

The savings for the budget year starting Oct. 1 represent the sum of Mr. Obama’s promised “line by line” scrubbing of the federal budget, and the the proposed cuts amount to about 1.4 percent of the $1.2 trillion deficit that is projected for the fiscal year 2010…

The $17 billion would be saved by ending or reducing 121 federal programs.

True, it’s not a big percentage, but it is something.

Republicans, on the other hand, were snippy and snide about the whole thing:

“While we appreciate the newfound attention to saving taxpayer dollars from this administration, we respectfully suggested that we should do far more,” said Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the House Republican leader.

Considering they had eight years to do something, forgive me if I can’t possibly take Boehner seriously in the least.

Sure, the president’s budget is HUUUUUUGE, and we can talk about that, but it sure seems hypocritical for Republicans to be complaining that the president isn’t cutting enough out of a government that their ex-hero, George W. Bush grew at levels we haven’t seen since Reagan and left a giant, bloated useless pile of money-sucking crap.

Where were you last year Johnny, you piece of shit? Where were your small government ways back then when you were holding the purse strings?

No wonder no one takes you seriously.

did I mention “suck it?”

by lestro

It’s a little early to be truly celebrating, I realize, but so far everything the Haters warned about has failed to materialize and just like with their economic programs, the economy has gone in exactly the opposite direction as they predicted.  Funny how that works out.


The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index, a key gauge of the broader market and the benchmark for many investors’ index funds, erased all its 2009 losses just before the close.

Stocks catapulted higher following reports that government stress tests of major banks would offer more cause for cheer than fear about the health of the financial system. Investors also gleaned some hope from signs of improvement in the housing market and the construction industry. And jitters about a swine-flu pandemic seemed to be easing.

The S.&P. 500 jumped 29.72 points, or 3.4 percent, to close at 907.24 points on Monday. This jump finally gave the index a 2009 gain of 0.44 percent after a grinding start to the year.

In contrast, the Nasdaq composite index is up 11.8 percent since the beginning of January, buoyed by gains in technology companies. On Monday, the Nasdaq rose 44.36 points, or 2.6 percent, to 1,763.56.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 214.33 points, or 2.6 percent, to 8,426.74. Still, the Dow remains down nearly 4 percent for the year to date.

Also, this week in my paycheck I noticed my Obama Tax Cut – that’s right, a TAX CUT TO THE MIDDLE CLASS YOU TEA PARTYING MORONS – an extra $15 A WEEK thanks to the fact that I make less than $200,000 per year.

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