Friday, October 21, 2011

Observations From the Back Row: 10-20-11

“De Omnibus Dubitandum”

Everything we are told should bear some resemblance to what we see going on in reality!

Word of the Day
Astroturfing is a form of advocacy in support of a political, organizational, or corporate agenda, designed to give the appearance of a "grassroots" movement. The goal of such campaigns is to disguise the efforts of a political and/or commercial entity as an independent public reaction to some political entity—a politician, political group, product, service or event. The term is a derivation of AstroTurf, a brand of synthetic carpeting designed to look like natural grass.

Astroturfers attempt to manipulate public opinion by both overt ("outreach", "awareness", etc.) and covert (disinformation) means. Astroturfing may be undertaken by an individual promoting a personal agenda, or highly organized professional groups with money from large corporations, unions, non-profits, or activist organizations. Very often, the efforts are conducted by political consultants who also specialize in opposition research. Beneficiaries are not "grass root" campaigners but distant organizations that orchestrate such campaigns.

Environmentalists Astroturfing  Here’s an interesting item from an environmentalist group opposing the Pebble Mine project in Alaska. They’re running a road show, not in Alaska, but in mainland cities to try and stir up the masses. Here’s a bit from their blog post about Monday’s Seattle event....For the anti-Pebble crew this kind of faux populism is par for the course, as the entire operation (to the tune of tens of millions of dollars ([example 1, example 2]) is financed by Robert Gillam, CEO of McKinley Capital Management, the richest man in Alaska. The Save Bristol Bay Road Show is heading to many of the #Occupy cites this month and will surely be attended by the #OWS types, who will be blissfully unaware that the whole campaign is being funded by one of the %1.

Who are the Occupy Wall Street people anyway? “What do they want?” is a common refrain in the media these days. Left-wing talking heads and progressive TV hosts are still scrambling to figure out exactly what the “Occupy Wall Street” crowd is up to. But this lack of knowledge hasn’t stopped nearly every person on the Left of the political spectrum from offering full-throated support for the unwashed, unruly rabble. But who, or what, are they supporting?  It’s been a month since the first group of professional protesting leftists squatted on a patch of private property in lower Manhattan, pitched a tent and started their drum circle. What we knew about them then is about what we know about them now - they’re angry.

My Take - As I watch and read the news I marvel at how some use the fact that these people are so unfocused in their demands to claim that they aren’t organized. The problem is three-fold. One, they want to claim this is an inspirational movement that sprung up all on its own with no financial or material support from outsiders. Two, the media is a propaganda mouth for the left. Three, those behind this thing aren’t interested in being focused on issues that can come back and haunt them. They just want to undermine the idea of limited government with reduced income and reduced expenditures. So they could care less what different ideas someone comes up with because they can claim that these are the views of an individual.

I don't think anyone disagrees that these people have a right to protest and demonstrate publically, however, as I see the tents and pavilion looking tents lining a street off Public Square in Downtown Cleveland I keep wondering when a demonstration turns into squatting. We don't have near the mess they have in New York and yet this really is unattractive....I hate to think what it must be like in New York. Not to mention the smell. And what about the businesses there? What must they be dealing with. What about their rights? After all, they actually are faithfully paying their own way and they have earned the right to have their businesses in those locations. Don't they have some rights?

Supposedly the permit for the Cleveland protestors ...whatever that really means.... ends tomorrow. The number goes up and down, but it seems to have peaked at about 50 of them; one of whom claims to have been raped because she had to share a tent with a stranger.

Some have declared the will stay the winter. I wonder what city they really are from. Downtown Cleveland, because of Lake Erie, has a breeze on most days. In the winter time it becomes a major wind tunnel that turns that ice cold air from frozen Lake Erie into an ice pick. Ever been to a Browns game on a really, really cold day? That can only be construed as true fan dedication or insanity. I go for the latter.

The city starts putting up the annual holiday decorations next week, and since the squatters will be in the way their permit will not be extended, nor will they be given another permit....Maybe...who knows? I do wonder what will happen. Of course this is Cleveland....not New York. I hope our normal Midwestern sanity prevails. We did (along with the rest of the country) succumb to the pet rock craze in the early 1970's though. We are still trying to live that down. RK

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes, and ships, and sealing wax -
Of cabbages and kings,
And why the sea is boiling hot,
And whether pigs have wings."


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