Astroturf Campaign Goes After Freshman Democrats

Driving this morning, I was listening to the radio when I heard the oddest ad. It was an attack ad against Democratic Representative Heath Shuler, for supporting "union bosses" against the will of the people. What was odd, was that it was airing during the Stephanie Miller Show on Air America radio affiliate 880 AM the Revolution. It was an obvious astroturf campaign just from the tone of the ad, and at the end it said it was sponsored by "The Coalition For A Democratic Workplace". Irony is one of the right-wings favorite tools when naming front groups.

Doing a bit of research, I learned that the spokesflack for the group is Todd Harris, who worked in communications for McCain 2000, and for Jeb Bush's re-election campaign in Florida in 2002. His lobbying firm DC Navigators is an all GOP shop.

The industry groups behind the ads are a consortium of those who hate unions. They helpfully provide a list at their website. What ticks me off about the campaign is the dishonesty of course. I respect the free exchange of ideas. This is not what they are attempting to do here. They have dishonest ads, a dishonest name, as if they are ashamed of what they are attempting. Of course they have a very good reason for doing so. Here is the ad they were running in Louisiana.

I would like to draw an analogy first. If you had a country where the top opposition leaders are ruled ineligble to vote, and people from another country are shipped in, allowed to vote before the election would the election be fair? That in a way is what is happening to unions today. Companies will fire union organizers on their staff, and when a union vote is about to occur, they will ship in employees from another unit, for the specific task of voting the union down.

What the card check does is simply say that when 50% plus one of the voters sign a card saying they want a union, there is a union. This astroturf campaign distorts this reality of course.

They say they are for democracy in the workplace. Anybody really believe that? They said on the radio today that Health Shuler was a big tool of union bosses, who hated the sacred right for voters to have privacy. They are liars.

We knew from the start that the entrenched corrupt Republican interests would try to attack vulnerable democratic freshmen. It is only April 2007, and large amounts of money are being spent to attack them, and make them even more weak to a challenge.

Because of this spirit of dishonesty exists, I encourage you to support these brave democrats who did the right thing in the face of the threatened attacks. I am not in any way involved with the Heath Shuler campaign. If you would like to give to another freshman instead, please do so.

To give to Shuler's 2008 campaign, donate here.

Also available at NewPairodimes.


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Comments

Good info, trifecta

Thanks for posting it.

Note to everyone ... I think this may be a perfect post to email out to Independent, Unaffiliated and conservative Dem friends, neighbors and colleagues. They're as sick and tired of all the lies from the Republican side of politics as us more progressive minded Dems are.

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

turf versus roots

What, exactly, distinguishes "astroturf" from grassroots? The fact that the people stoking the fire are paid political advocates? Folks on the left -- including academics, union staff and government employees -- do this all the time.

Is there any situation where corporations can attempt to gather public support for their agendas that would NOT be considered dishonest in some way?

An honest man in politics shines more than he would elsewhere.
- Mark Twain, in A Tramp Abroad

astroturf

is a nice word for lying.

If it was paid political advertisers saying they were such its one thing. if its grassroots saying they are grassroots its equal.

If it is paid political advertisers acting like grassroots from the other side of the issue that is bad.

Draft Brad Miller -- NC Sen ActBlue :::Petition

"Keep the Faith"

astroturf

I think both sides of the aisle "gin up" responses using ads that drive people to a site where they either are put in contact with elected officials or a database is built.

I think you have to separate out your disagreement with a stance on a given issue from the political right to express it.

An honest man in politics shines more than he would elsewhere.
- Mark Twain, in A Tramp Abroad

thats not what im talking about

If I work for McCain and I go onto dailykos talking shit about the top candidates and say things like "Im a good Democrat, but Im gonna vote McCain". That is astroturfing.

If I am a Democratic Consulting firm, and I produce an ad that says "Im a Republican and I say that No Republican can support Dole because of ___" its astroturfing. Its dishonest. Not illegal. Dishonest.

Draft Brad Miller -- NC Sen ActBlue :::Petition

"Keep the Faith"

astroturf

Did the ad that mentioned in the initial blog entry include a false claim by the group that they were Democrats? If they are masquerading as something they are not, then I would agree that they are dishonest.

As to the name of the organization, it seems to me that the extreme positions on either issue of an issue always opt for bland, generic names, i.e., no one would call themselves "rich, old, white guys who want to stay that way," they'd be something like "Citizens for Equitable Taxes."

But both sides do this. It's only recently that SEIU (the health care workers union) has acknowledged clearly on their home page that they're paying to run http://www.americansforhealthcare.org/ And I'll bet they run ads that don't say "brought to you by union interests."

I say out EVERYONE and fight the issue on its merits.

An honest man in politics shines more than he would elsewhere.
- Mark Twain, in A Tramp Abroad

i can agree

with your last sentence.

Draft Brad Miller -- NC Sen ActBlue :::Petition

"Keep the Faith"

americansforhealthcare.org

What the hell are you talking about "only recently"? Here's a Feb 2004 web archive of americansforhealthcare.org

Americans for Health Care is a project of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) which is the nation's largest health care union, representing over 755,000 health care professionals

astroturf

You're right gregflynn -- I stand corrected. I didn't see that the first time I got e-mail from them and so I didn't realize they were a union group when I joined their listserve.

An honest man in politics shines more than he would elsewhere.
- Mark Twain, in A Tramp Abroad

Middle Road

Thanks for joining in the discourse.

Hi Middle Road

glad to see you joining in. Have you been lurking here long or just join up because of this conversation?

No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.

Progressive Discussions

astroturf

Thanks. I've been reading this blog every now and then. To be honest, I probably have a different take on many issue that most of your regulars. But I like to challenge my thinking,and am open to well-researched, well-argued points of view.

For example, I've modified my thinking considerably on global warming largely through reading the some moderate and articulate folks who believe that it's a serious problem. I still think Gore is over the top, but reducing carbon emissions should be a bigger priority than Bush's administration will ever make it.

An honest man in politics shines more than he would elsewhere.
- Mark Twain, in A Tramp Abroad

I used astroturfing for a reason.

The ads are purposefully dishonest. They do not want a democratic workplace. In the ad against Shuler, they talk about alot of members of congress standing up to the "union bosses" but Shuler cowering in fear of them. They say that all they want is the right to a private vote. It is all dishonest and disingenuous.

If they came out with an ad saying we don't support unions. We think they are bad for productivity and union membership costs jobs. These are points I disagree with, but they would be fair enough.

These ads aren't honest, the name of their group is double speak. It is astroturfing.

Come waste your time at Newpairodimes.

Come waste your time at Newpairodimes.

Are there so many unions in NC

that this is even an issue? (Not the lie part - that is an issue)

How could Heath be pro or anti union if we don't have any?

(I know there are some - but really, try living in OH, NY, MI, IN, IL or somewhere like that - then you see unions - here, not so much)