Genuine leadership
January 18, 2003 8:24 AM   Subscribe

When it comes to the economy, President Bush is demonstrating genuine leadership. If you don't believe me, ask Kyle Klink, Scott Herrin, Michael Snyder, John Pinckney, or countless others. But not Paul Boutin.
posted by rcade (38 comments total)

 
I guess they all subscribe to the "goosestep" news service
posted by CrazyJub at 8:29 AM on January 18, 2003


I'm sure we've all heard of the unfortunate phenomena of dittoheads, but this is ridiculous!
posted by mcsweetie at 8:30 AM on January 18, 2003


I'm sorry, these are mostly letters to the editor. Wow. lazy ass GOP spam bots. Change the text so it's not so damn obvious.
posted by CrazyJub at 8:31 AM on January 18, 2003


Funnily enough, I'd still rather have Alan Greenspan making the hard decisions.
posted by wackybrit at 8:57 AM on January 18, 2003


Alan Greenspan is the cause of this whole mess.
posted by muppetboy at 9:18 AM on January 18, 2003


When it comes to the Republican Party, the American People are demonstrating genuine denial.
posted by the fire you left me at 9:21 AM on January 18, 2003


Seriously - this is absolutely frightening. I can't believe it's not a bigger deal. Stepford pundits.
posted by jonson at 9:33 AM on January 18, 2003


At least now I know I'm not missing anything by skipping the letters to the editor. Makes me wonder how many other "concerned citizens of the community" are really just form letters.
posted by birdherder at 9:53 AM on January 18, 2003


At least some of the time, I believe newspapers check to see you exist before running such letters. But on some occasions they do not.
posted by 4midori at 9:59 AM on January 18, 2003


Honestly, this type of letter is just as valid as petions, or other form letter political sites, such as True Majority. Granted, while I don't agree with this particular stance, the truth is the more people you having shouting one message, the more likely it is going to be heard. Now, if the people who put their name on the form letter don't exist, or if any of them claim originality, then it's a problem. Otherwise, it's just playing the odds, and we shouldn't be too upset about it.
posted by lazaruslong at 10:05 AM on January 18, 2003


Oh please... like we all haven't sent off a nearly-unmodified form letter to a congresscritter from the ACLU or EFF website? It's lazy political activism.

Or do we all march to the goose-step news service, too?
posted by jammer at 10:53 AM on January 18, 2003


Maybe I'm misunderstanding this - I was under the impressions that form letters to congressmen were clearly identified as such; certainly the offices of congress recognize them as such. These op ed pieces are indistinguishable from the pieces next to them; pieces that contain 100% original thought/viewpoint. This is centralized power disguised as decentralized popular mandate, at least, that's the way I'm taking it, and it just seems very wrong. The target here isn't to convince a congresscritter to pass a law, it's to sway the will of the unaware public, who read these pieces and think "jeez, I had no idea the Bush econ. policy was so popular. Maybe I've been too hard on him".
posted by jonson at 11:36 AM on January 18, 2003


jonson gets it.

A communications channel which is found to be contaminated with cut-and-paste agitprop is a corrupted (and corruptible) communications channel. It is less useful than it once was. Its charter is no longer a valid measure of its content.

From now on, it must be diligently filtered, or ignored.

Upset about it? Nah. Surprised? Nah. Just another funhouse mirror in reality's sideshow. Welcome to the cynic's carnival. Enjoy.
posted by Opus Dark at 11:55 AM on January 18, 2003


I posted this on Democratic Underground and some of the members got on the phone with some of these papers. Some of the letter writers were also called at home; they all pretended not to know anything about it and claimed to have penned the letters themselves.
You can't get away with this sort of thing in the age of the internet.
Shame, shame, piggies.
posted by 2sheets at 12:00 PM on January 18, 2003


Where, exactly, 2sheets? I want to read that and can't find it.
posted by Mo Nickels at 1:00 PM on January 18, 2003


Anyone able to find out where this canned stuff came from?

Very subtle post BTW had me thinking it was a troll for a flame war ;)
posted by bitdamaged at 1:03 PM on January 18, 2003


Alan Greenspan is the cause of this whole mess.

::: applauds voice of reason :::
posted by rushmc at 2:05 PM on January 18, 2003


I posted this on Democratic Underground and some of the members got on the phone with some of these papers. Some of the letter writers were also called at home; they all pretended not to know anything about it and claimed to have penned the letters themselves.
You can't get away with this sort of thing in the age of the internet.
Shame, shame, piggies.
posted by Ayn Marx at 2:19 PM on January 18, 2003


This is amazing, upsetting, and should be a huge scandal.

But it won't be.
posted by yhbc at 2:24 PM on January 18, 2003


Hm- I guess I could make some kind of joke here about 1,000 monkeys at typewriters, following it up by noting that the idea of monkeys at typewriters is especially hee-larious when considering Bush supporters. Ah, but I'm a man of too much integrity to stoop to that level. :)

Ayn Marx made an interesting comment here, I'd like to see it followed up on: if this were just dittoheads passing on form letters (without noting they were form letters) then it would be sad but not particularly odd. That the alleged letter writers might not have even known about this- well that suggests the letters were sent en masse by a centralized propaganda unit, something the "press" should be all over, confirming or disproving and then attempting to determine the real source of the letters if indeed were not written by the alleged citizens themselves.

Should be, but they won't, because they're lazy and scared of taking any risk that might jeopardize advertiser dollars or "access" to gov't officials.

At the very least, is there evidence any of the news sources has published a "retraction" of the letters by noting they seemed to be a form letter and/or following up with the alleged letter writer to confirm their authorship?
posted by hincandenza at 2:44 PM on January 18, 2003


Here is another example of the deception that the Bush administration will employ in order to shape the debate on their policies. This article published Friday based on statements by administration officials said that Condi Rice played a central role in forming Bush's opposition to affirmative action in the University of Michigan case. Rice was pissed enough about this mischaracterization that she felt compelled to make her own statement on the issue the next day. Clearly Bush, contrary to the spin about his taking a "bold" stand on the issue, was attempting to take political cover behind a black woman's skirt and just made stuff up.
posted by JackFlash at 4:06 PM on January 18, 2003


This year alone, 92 million taxpayers will receive an immediate tax cut averaging $1,083

91.99 million of whom -- the ones who aren't already multi-millionaires, that is -- will receive a tax cut averaging a couple hundred bucks.

Or, as Hendrik Hertzberg put it in this week's New Yorker:

...it is also true that if Bill Gates happened to drop by a homeless shelter... the average person in the room would have a net worth of a billion dollars.
posted by ook at 4:17 PM on January 18, 2003


I agree with CrazyJub re the laziness, with jonson re the intent and Stepford pundits, with hincandenza re the propaganda. Seems pretty revealing that the only way Bush's team can get any positive letters to the editor on the tax cut proposal is to have some PR firm mass-produce them.

Used to work as a typesetter briefly, post-college and pre-grad school. We'd get these letters 2-3 times a year, more frequently when the Trickster was going through his final agonies. They'd come in looking all professionally printed with blue typescript, and once you were onto the gag, you could spot the style easily. IMO, the Democrats ask real people to write their own prose, while the Republicans write the whole thing and either ask real people to sign on or send it for 'em.

I'm curious about how those who generally support Bush feel about this. Is it a matter of "our team's the good guys, so it doesn't matter that we use astroturf, sophistry, etc."? I'm not interested in a "you do it too" re the Democrats--tu quoque doesn't address the issue. This kind of faux-letter-generator is obvious cynicism, and the target is not Iraqis or waffling Europeans but ordinary Americans--how do you justify it?
posted by palancik at 5:42 PM on January 18, 2003


I even read this tripe in the St. Augustine (population 12,000) Record the other day. Honestly, GOP, it's not like small North Florida towns are hotbeds of liberal contention, all you've done is wasted space that could have been devoted to the far more entertaining hyper-conservative nonsense that our own citizens submit daily.
posted by saladin at 5:47 PM on January 18, 2003


Thank you for this post, rcade. As a public service, I'll refrain from clambering up on my usual hobbyhorse of vitriol, though.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:07 PM on January 18, 2003


This stuff is becoming more and more common with the Internet and activist mailing lists (and point and click activism). A similar thing happened with Moveon.org and one of their letters against the Iraq invasion. The funny part was noting how the right was so quick to cry foul. Or I should say, the funny part is how the 'other side' is so quick to call foul.

Really, the only response is to point out to the editors the google search and spin the numbers another way.

It's not a huge conspiracy, I'm sure a number of American support large tax cuts for themselves. I don't really see the logic of helping out "average Americans" by giving their bosses tax cuts, but that's another thread.

(BTW, "google" should make it past the spell checker...)
posted by wah at 8:30 PM on January 18, 2003


oops a bit more. I'd give a link to the reverse mirror image of some of the outrage expressed here, but I don't like to link to asshats.
posted by wah at 8:31 PM on January 18, 2003


Is this such a big deal? They're letters to the editors, for crying out loud. Only fruitloops with a bee in their bonnet read or write letters to the editor - I should know, I do :)

At least the nominal authors were motivated to do something, phony though it was. Were there floods of Democrat-leaning replies?
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 9:07 PM on January 18, 2003


Yet more astroturf (i.e., pseudo-grass roots) letters to the editor.
posted by jonp72 at 9:21 PM on January 18, 2003


could defintely be part of the VR-WC :) but alas 'twas me!

91.99 million of whom -- the ones who aren't already multi-millionaires, that is -- will receive a tax cut averaging a couple hundred bucks.

apparently it's $265 for an "average" family and $90,000 a year for the million dollar plus club.
posted by kliuless at 9:33 AM on January 19, 2003


Well wait a second.. this is how newspapers work. Each day they bid on news articles from a pool of available articles. Anyone can add an article to the pool it doesnt matter who wrote it or what the agenda is, it's up to the editor of the newspaper what to publish. Obviously each political party is going to seed that pool with articles favorable to its agenda, that's how the system works and has always worked, Google just pulls the curtain back to reveal the wizard.
posted by stbalbach at 3:54 PM on January 19, 2003


Google just pulls the curtain back to reveal the wizard.

so true, so true.
posted by kv at 3:22 AM on January 20, 2003


Alan Greenspan is the cause of this whole mess.

::: applauds trying to change the subject and failing :::
posted by CrazyJub at 5:17 AM on January 20, 2003


Creepy. I take the occasional peek at letters to the editor and, while I recognize the opinions represent only a sliver of any newspaper's readership, regardless of content they still represent individuals. So maybe I should support this?

Each signee agreed with the content. But I can't condone the method. At the core lies deceit, sapping what little life might be found in that odd little corner of each local paper, only then furthering the cause for mighty media gaints. The last thing those pages need are stale regurgitations from members of the community.

I was once caught in the middle of a bruhaha in Hagerstown, Maryland over an architectural issue. The battle lines were drawn in the letters-to-the-editor section of the paper. It went on for weeks. I was upset about the issue and wondered if everyone was making too much of too little. At least they were all using their own voice.

It's nothing but plagiarism, I say. / tabakky spit
posted by Dick Paris at 5:52 AM on January 20, 2003


It's probably only a matter of time before some genius decides to astroturf message boards and mailing lists.
posted by rcade at 11:37 AM on January 20, 2003


The motto of the Web site that published Kyle Klink's 'letter:' "Digging for answers, reporting them first." Ha ha ha!
posted by micropublishery at 11:45 AM on January 20, 2003



Each signee agreed with the content.


Assuming, of course, that the signees exists, and aren't just random names picked out by the PR firm that wrote the letter in the first place.
posted by ook at 12:57 PM on January 20, 2003


Indeed, Ook, the thought did cross my mind.

Rcade, I am not certain if you are using "astroturf" as a verb, meaning to fabricate a facsimile, but I am left with an image of Astroturf® playing surfaces scrolling live chat/BBs from fans in the stadium. Interrupted of course by the occasional virtual blimp or message banner trailing airplane.

Your blind ump! /blink tag.
posted by Dick Paris at 1:32 PM on January 20, 2003


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