Friday, January 23, 2015

Astroturfing the Lexicon

"Whoever controls the media, controls the mind." Jim Morrison

We love words. "Buzzworthy" words gain a place in the Oxford Dictionaries or Merriam-Webster Dictionary, On-line Slang Dictionary, Urban Dictionary...f-bomb, aha moment, twerking... Words are judged to be politically correct, or not. Do you recall a time when politically correct wasn't even a phrase (or human resources)? Words can separate generations, be fashionable, or not. Booyah is supposedly out, along with awesome. Now it's dope (for awesome), BFF, Ho, hardcore...So much for the Andy Rooney moment.

Astroturf is synonymous with big money, big control. "Astroturf refers to apparently grassroots-based citizen groups or coalitions that are primarily conceived, created, and/or funded by corporations, industry trade associations, political interests or public relations firms." And according to the word is credited to long-time Washington and Wall Street Insider, Senator Lloyd Bensten when he coined the term "astroturf lobbying".

Astroturfing is nothing new; it's just a new name akin to yellow journalism, but a process on steroids. Astroturfing surreptitiously exists, hiding in forums, comments to articles, blogs, published letters to the editor, ads, in nonprofits, Facebook and Twitter accounts, and faked as grassroots movements. And as a friend says, "Follow the money." Sometimes we can figure out the connections by looking at board members for newspapers and organizations, in the "about" section in websites, conflict of interest relationships, or muckety muck connections, but a lot of the special interest, familial, acquaintance and money connections are difficult to find. In conjunction with the well-paid, ubiquitous lobbyists it's no wonder astroturfing is effective in bombarding, influencing, and confusing the public.
Democracy Now! was a website to visit and on my site list until discovering Amy Goodman is paid $2 Million/year salary, and funded by George Soros (The Corbett Report), billionaire financier, described by some as a former Kapo during the Holocaust while others called Soros' actions a way to survive, called an "economic war criminal" by Thailand, "the man who broke the bank of England", etc. who claims he's a messianic figure and "...I fancied myself as some kind of god...".

Besides looking for the money connections, we can acclimate ourselves with the lexicon of the astroturfers, which include but may not be limited to words such as:
  • crank
  • myth
  • quacks
  • railing
  • paranoid
  • alarmist(s)
  • fear monger(s)
  • fear porn
  • conspiracy theorist(s)
  • lunatic(s), lunatic fringe
  • tin-foil hat wearer(s)
  • truther
  • crack
  • nutty/nuts
  • lies
  • witchhunt
  • shoddy
  • pseudo
  • troll 
  • moonbats
Astroturfers working in conjunction with Agenda 21 goals may use words such as, but not limited to:

comprehensive list of key words and phrases that are often used at the local level when discussing Agenda 21 related initiatives.
Affordable housing
Ballot Box Planning
Benefit of all
Buffer Zones
Cap & Trade
Climate Change
Common Core Curriculum
Common good
Community Protocol
Comprehensive planning
Conservation Easement
Direct instruction
Endangered species
Environmental Impact Report (EIR)
Environmental Justice
General Plan
Global Warming
Good Business Sense
Green House Gas (GHG) Emissions
Growth management
HEAL (Healthy Eating Active Living) Communities
Healthy Communities Strategy
High Speed Rail
Historic preservation
Housing Element
International baccalaureate
International Council on Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI)
Invasive species
Jobs-Housing Connection
Land Use Policies
Lifelong learning
Livable communities
Livable Communities
Local Governments for Sustainability
Metropolitan Planning Organizations
Mixed Use Development
Multi-Use Dwellings
New Economy
New Urbanism
New World Order
One planet communities
Open Space
Outcome based education
Parking Policy
Precautionary approach
Precautionary Principle
Priority Conservation Areas
Priority Development Areas (PDA)
Public/Private partnerships
Quality of life
Resilient Cities
Responsible development
Safe Routes to Schools
Scenic views and vistas
School to work
Sensitive Lands
Smart growth
Smart Streets
Social justice
Stack and Pack Housing
Sustainable Communities Initiative
Sustainable communities partnership
Sustainable communities strategies
Sustainable development
Sustainable Economic Development
Sustainable medicine
Three "E"s of Sustainablity-Equity, Economy, Environment
Traffic calming
Transit Oriented Development (TOD)
Transportation Justice
Triple bottom line
Urban Growth Boundary
Urban revitalization
Vehicle Mileage Traveled Tax
Vibrant Neighborhoods
Visioning Meetings
Walkable Communities

Words aren't enough, though. In the movie "I am David", the main character asks Sophie, How can I tell the good people from the bad. And Sophie's reply is that sometimes you can't.

 But question. And keep digging.


1 comment:

  1. And here it is in print @ the "Free" Press Rockland Maine
    1/21/2015 12:43:00 PM
    Eye on Augusta: Rural Maine, Urban Maine and the New World Order
    by Andy O’Brien

    "The paranoid spokesman sees the fate of conspiracy in apocalyptic terms-he traffics in the birth and death of whole worlds, whole political orders, whole systems of human values. He is always manning the barricades of civilization," wrote the historian Richard Hofstadter in his influential 1964 essay "The Paranoid Style of American Politics."

    Here in Maine, you can always count on Rep. Ricky Long (R-Sherman) and former Rep. Henry Joy (R-Crystal) to give voice to the state's far-right-wing conspiracy theorists as they battle what they call attempts by the United Nations to create a totalitarian, one-world government known as the "New World Order." Two years ago, Long put in a bill to ban "Agenda 21," a non-binding, voluntary environmental action plan developed by the U.N. Conference on Environment and Development in 1992 to encourage sustainable growth. Supporters of Long's bill expressed the belief that the U.N. is behind a "secret agenda" to destroy American sovereignty through its national, state and local governments in an attempt to ban the freedom to travel and abolish private property rights...


Comments are appreciated. We can agree to disagree; ideas are welcomed, but name-calling isn't. "I don't care what car you drive, where you live. If you know someone who knows someone who knows someone. If your clothes are this years' cutting edge. If your trust fund is unlimited. If you are A-list, B-list or never heard of you list. I only care about the words that flutter from your mind. They are the only thing you truly own..." Chris Duane.