Astroturf

Suppose that you wanted certain policies enacted in Loudoun, policies that would enrich you at the expense of other residents and the long-term health of the county. Further, suppose that if you were honest about this goal, those who would do your bidding would never stand a chance of being elected. The quickest, easiest route to what you want would be to find an issue that you can use to generate fear and anger. Fear and anger will motivate otherwise busy or uninterested people to go vote for your candidate, whereas the ordinary business of actual governance – analyzing evidence and debating different solutions to problems – usually will not. It may be lazy, and it may be disingenuous, but it does work – and if serving your own interests is the goal, that’s all that matters.

The issue could be almost anything; it’s what you do to exploit it that counts. In this particular case, the issue is an attempt by local government to address the problem of deteriorating stream quality, and therefore the quality and cost of our domestic water. Currently, there is very little regulation of what a property owner can do with land that borders a perennial stream. As a result – and in combination with the unregulated development that has drastically increased the proportion of impervious surfaces – we have an enormous problem with polluted run-off that is degrading our streams. The degradation is obvious through casual observation if one has watched a stream change over a number of years, as my neighbors and I have. But we don’t rely on casual observation, we also have empirical evidence.

A useful issue..

Under normal circumstances, there would be a good faith public conversation about the best way to implement the needed regulation without unfairly burdening anyone. A few cranky old farmers would object to being told they can’t let the cattle wade in the stream, because that’s how Granddaddy always did it (and as someone from a long line of cranky old farmers, I say that lovingly). Instead, that good faith conversation is being obstructed by an out-of-power LCRC that wants to get back in control of our county government. Its de facto leader has been on the prowl for a useful election issue – he did manage to gin something up around religious courthouse displays – but that only gets seasonal traction. Falsehoods about the CBPO have a much broader reach, since most people aren’t familiar enough with the science to recognize distortions, and are understandably alarmed at being told that this will intrusively affect them.

…needs a useful organization

I mean to be perfectly clear here. The “Loudoun Environmental Council” is a fraudulent group with a fraudulent name. It has as much to do with the environment as the hate group “Family Research Council” has to do with families or research, which is to say “nothing.” It was created for one reason only, and that reason will no longer exist after November 8, 2011.

The simplest answer to the question “how can you be so sure of that” is that they deny the existence of the problem, calling it a “false crisis.” A group that wanted to engage in honest debate about the best way to approach solving the problem would be one thing, but this group has no interest in solving the problem. They don’t even bother to pretend otherwise. Nowhere on their website will you find any specific solutions that they might favor, only empty phrases about “advancing environmentally sound policies.” Among the three individuals identified as the leadership (one of them, as revealed here, is also an officer of the LCRC women’s club), there is no expertise in stream ecology. None. My favorite example of a credential has to be this one, though: “..has bought and sold several homes, sometimes employing Real Estate Agents for assistance in those transactions.” For a thorough debunking of the misinformation provided by the LEC – which is beyond the scope of this article – please see Loudoun’s Clean Streams Coalition.**

Playsets. Playsets Playsets Playsets Playsets Playsets Playsets Playsets Playsets.

Where did this ubiquitous word come from? Why do we see this word repeated everywhere that the supposedly grassroots anti-CBPO protesters congregate? Beginning nearly a year ago, the aforementioned de facto head of the LCRC started using it in his “constituent newsletters,” sometimes a half dozen times or more in a single email:

Any taxpayer buying a play set will also have to pay $5,000 for a permit…laws that would outlaw gazebos, playsets, doghouses, most tree plantings…All of Sterling is impacted…Play sets– swings for children — needs approval under the Ches. Pay Act…outlaw landscaping, doghouses, pools, sidewalks, roads, patios, playsets…playsets…playsets…

And on, and on, and on. It makes a good protest sign, doesn’t it? It ought to be obvious that someone who is capable of this libel: “The board of supervisors plans on outlawing all nativities on lawns in Loudoun,” and of accusing his colleagues of crafting “Legislation To Abolish Christmas” is probably making things up – but consider that he got 100 or so frightened people to come yell at the board by saying those things, too. The absurd statements continue:

Puddles and drainage ditches will be considered sacred water resources that must be protected 200 feet in every direction…The Greenies Want $5500 Up Front before you do any land disturbance…The CBPO requires 100 foot NO DISTURB buffers on each side of most anything that resembles a drainage ditch…Loudoun County will be allowed to “manage” every minor homeowner use such as planting and small buildings in all yards…Scientists have studied Loudoun’s streams and reported to us that they are in great condition…The good news is that streams are in great condition right now…

Every one of these declarations is manifestly untrue – and that was the case even before the board completely eliminated the RMA from the proposed map. It is abundantly clear that the source of fear-mongering disinformation that is now being repeated as if it is truth is the usual one in cases like this – the Sterling supervisor.

An “astroturf” organization is generally understood to be one that is conceived of and organized and paid for from the top down, rather than a genuine effort at community organizing from the bottom up. When a bunch of people are instigated to come to board meetings on the basis of lies they have been told by an elected official, that is not grassroots. When an advocacy organization is formed and a website hastily put up by people with no expertise, experience or education regarding the topic area of their advocacy, that is not grassroots. And when the vast majority of the participants in a “protest” promoted by a single local newspaper published by a partisan activist (also the only local newspaper informed of the event) immediately leaves in order to get to the LCRC meeting, that is not grassroots. It has “manufactured controversy” written all over it. We did speak with a few of the protesters – those who did not run off to get to the LCRC meeting – about their very valid concerns, concerns that must be addressed. More about that next.

**If you peruse the dozen or so respected advocacy organizations that are coalition members, you will find their staffs and leadership populated by people with backgrounds in ecology, geology, environmental science and other related fields – not real estate development and space flight engineering.

38 thoughts on “Astroturf

  1. Liz Miller

    I wonder if they are connected to Western Tradition Partnership (or whatever it’s called this week). Their robo-calls were about as coherent as the flyer from these folks.

  2. Barbara Munsey

    David, I suspected you would go here, and it is certainly your business if you wish to infer that the LEC is a creation of Eugene and developers, but your “evidence” is primarily that—heavily inferential.

    The thing I hoped/did not hope you would do is hold up the true astroturf group, the Loudoun Clean Streams Coalition, as genuine in comparison.

    Here is a link to the first post on that website:

    http://loudounstreams.org/2010/07/27/open-letter-to-loudoun-conservation-groups/

    posted on July 27, 2010, by someone who identifies themself as a summer intern with the Piedmont Environmental Council, on the same page, as follows:

    “He’s a graduate of the University of Virginia and a summer fellow with the Piedmont Environmental Council.”

    Here is a link to the PEC page describing their internship program:

    http://www.pecva.org/anx/index.cfm/1,220,480,0,html/PEC-Fellowship-Program

    On it they state the following:
    “July 19-August 6, 2010 – Individual Practicum Session:
    The final three weeks of the program allow the Fellows to develop and use their new skills in a “real world” setting to complete an individual practicum project of personal interest, yet related to PEC’s mission. Fellows will complete the practicum with the assistance of a mentor from PEC or a partnering organization.”
    Was the Clean Stream “coalition” this intern’s “practicum”?
    More from the PEC internship page:
    “Assistance
    PEC is pleased to provide accepted Fellows assistance with local housing, classroom facilities, activities and special project expenses, a small living stipend, and an unforgettable experience!”
    Was this intern paid, either directly through a “small living stipend”, or indirectly through housing and other expenses, not to mention a “real world” credential for their “environmental” (political) resume?
    Let’s go back to that first post on the stream website, to see the following comment by a Loudoun County government employee involved in this supposedly professional endeavor:
    1. “I encourage everyone to visit the petition web site and sign.
    Keep Loudoun Streams Clean and Healthy!
    http://www.thepetitionsite.com/40/help-protect-Loudoun-streams/
    This would seem to be political advocacy by a county employee, just like this Facebook page:
    http://www.facebook.com/posted.php?id=237022333982&share_id=141456935866046&comments=1

    That’s the group the county funds to send employees around the state with the powerpoints they make with the grants we get.
    The page also advocates signing the astroturf petition.
    Another member of this astroturf group is also a county employee, in the public schools.
    I saw no angst about “using children” when the streams group set up a table in the government center, with this teacher and some of her students handing out buttons to advocate for the CBPO (paid for by PEC?).
    The greatest astroturf group PEC ever created was the Campaign for Loudoun’s Future, which Ms. McGimsey was paid $65K in 2004 to create at a computer, then people through coffee parties. She did not publicly admit to being a paid lobbyist until the tax forms were filed in 2005.
    Where is that group now?
    The Loudoun County lobbyist for the PEC still very occasionally updates that website (created when the Democrats were “out of power”, through fear and misinformation—still waiting for the FBI to come, I am).
    That same lobbyist sits on a variety of county commissions, and was recently nominated to a new seat on the REDC.
    But they aren’t POLITICAL. They can’t be, because they have “environment” in their name, and you agree with them.

  3. Epluribusunum Post author

    The pertinent point I was making about Loudoun’s Clean Streams Coalition – and the comparison – is this:

    **If you peruse the dozen or so respected advocacy organizations that are coalition members, you will find their staffs and leadership populated by people with backgrounds in ecology, geology, environmental science and other related fields – not real estate development and space flight engineering.

    In other words, these are organizations that are credentialed in the subject area for which they do advocacy.

    FYI on links in comments: Comments with three or more links are moderated just because multiple links tend to be a characteristic of spam. Thanks for releasing that one so quickly, Liz.

  4. Barbara Munsey

    Not a problem re the links. I know most blogs do that, and I certainly understand why. Thank you for posting it so quickly.

    David, I would suggest that OF COURSE the credentials of the astroturf PEC group are valid–would we pay county employees to sit on our environmental staff if they didn’t have a good resume?

    Would we pay a science teacher who didn’t have the qualification to teach?

    Would a multimillion dollar political lobby like the PEC pay people who didn’t have a resume (while they run programs to help people create resumes)?

    Thos county employees are entitled to their personal political opinions, but the one on the facebook page should have recused himself from the supposedly impartial process once he decided to be a political advocate for it.

    The teacher does the school budget no favor by spending student time in political advocacy.

    And the PEC only uses people’s natural concern for the environment to further their own political aims.

    It is a convenient vehicle to a great deal of (unaccountable) power.

  5. Paradox13

    I think there might be some confusion over the difference between “Astroturf” an advocacy.

    PEC and the Streams group are clearly advocacy organizations. In their names and in their actions, they are advocating for stronger environmental regulations and managed growth.

    The difference between them and the LEC is that the LEC, while purporting to be in favor of the environment – as per their name – has demonstrated through their actions and words that they’re actually after something quite different. They have proposed no plans to improve the local environment. In point of fact, their entire operation has been focused on stopping conservation legislation and actions.

    When a group is named to be in favor of a thing (e.g., “environment”) but all of their actions and activities are, in fact, in opposition to that thing, then that group is an Astroturf group.

    Kinda like “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.” They weren’t for Truth at all…

  6. Barbara Munsey

    Paradox, I disagree about your definition of astroturf.

    IMO, an astroturf group is one that purports to be grassroots, yet has been created and set up by other agencies.

    This is what David strongly contends in the body of his post.

    The PEC is a 501(c)3, which allows those who donate to them to take a deduction on any donation. In return, they cannot politically advocate, and can only politically donate through in-kind contributions.

    This is why they pay interns and contractors to set up their political advocacy groups for them–so they can continue to offer the benefit of the tax deduction to their donors, without whom they would not be able to run a budget of more than $5M per year.

    The LEC is a 501(c)4–they have foregone that deduction perk in order to be honest–they intend to politically advocate.

    And what recourse does anyone have, with the amount of public policy power given to unelected groups (like PEC) through government appointments and contracts?

    One must, if one wishes it to stop or at least be abated somewhat, go after those who vote to make the appointments, create the positions, and vote to award the contracts.

    “Environment” does not only mean the natural portions of our surroundings, but the people and their built portions as well as their activities.

    The PEC uses the natural portion to advocate for control of the inhabitants, with tax-exempt money, and often resulting in the use of public money to further their political goals (either through tax-supported appointments to policy advisory groups, or government grants to advocate that policy that they helped create).

    The issue of the public employees doing political advocacy through the PEC astroturf (yes) group should give everyone pause.

    If staff is to be an impartial source of information for policy makers, then they must either refrain from politically advocating their public projects, or seek reassignment from the public project in order to follow their heart in the political advocacy.

    The fact remains that no hard evidence has been tendered to support the claim that the LEC is an “astroturf” group of the LCRC or Eugene Delgaudio, while I have provided strong evidence that the mechanism is in place to have had the PEC create the stream coalition as a paid practicum of one of its interns, and that county employees who are part of that group have politically advocated through it.

    The stream coalition remains a shell group if the PEC, which in my opinion renders it true astroturf.

  7. Eric the 1/2 troll

    Really?! This post has been derailed into a discussion of the definition of “astroturf”? “Your group is astroturf, no your group is astroturf.” Fact of the matter is that the ole CPR group has done a good job scaring everybody using…yes, hyperbole and falsehoods about the proposed regualtions and the studies used to justify them. The other fact is that the supporters have done a really crappy job of making the case clear to the public about why the regulations are necessary and how they will actually impact them. Granted the CPR crowd does tend to yell loudly and it gets tiresome continuing pointing out the mistakes/falsehoods they put out there but they (so far) have been effective at what they are trying to do – scare the population/voter. In that regard I agree 100% with this post (and Barb has not denied it either).

  8. Barbara Munsey

    Eric, how can a post entitled “Astroturf” be “derailed” into a discussion about…astroturf?

    Where has the organization CPR been active in either the formation of the LEC, or the protest Monday night?

    That seems to me a derailment, but just my opinion.

  9. Eric the 1/2 troll

    “Eric, how can a post entitled “Astroturf” be “derailed” into a discussion about…astroturf?”

    Really, Barb, so disingenuous. You derailed the post into a discussion of the DEFINITION of astroturf and you know it…tsk,tsk…

    “That seems to me a derailment, but just my opinion.”

    Well you know what opinions are like, eh…? Not a derailment just an opinion of MINE ….same group… different day….

  10. Barbara Munsey

    You mean like the PEC is the Loudoun Clean Stream Coalition (and the Campaign for Loudoun’s Future, and the Voters for Loudoun’s Future, and the Voters to Stop Sprawl, and the Loudoun Sustainable Network, and the Sustainable Loudoun Network, and Sustainable Loudoun, and the Loudoun County Committee for a Sustainable Society, and Sustainable Loudoun again, depending on the year, the issue, and the election coming up)?

    You mean like that kind of same group, different day?

    Please show me where the organization CPR formed or is a member of LEC, or participated in the protest Monday.

    CPR is a derailment on your part.

    As for the post, David devoted a lot of text to defining astroturf.

    The Clean Streams Coalition fits the definition he set out.

    Moving the goalposts to a footnote as the point, and a personal definition of what constitutes environment does not change the fact that David was correct in his original definition of astroturf (the body and bulk of the post, as opposed to the footnote). Where I disagree with him is in the example of true astroturf that he chose as an example of the genuine.

  11. Eric the 1/2 troll

    “You mean like that kind of same group, different day?”

    Yes, I would say that the CPR—>LEC relationship is pretty much the same as your opinion of the relationship between the liberal/Democratic organizations in the county. What you contand about these organizations is pretty much what IS happening with CPR and LEC. Might want to throw the current rendition of the LCRC in there as well.

  12. Barbara Munsey

    Eric, some of the same people participating in differing groups is not the same as a financial relationship in founding, supporting, directing (a keynote for an astroturf group).

    This has been pretty firmly suggested for the stream coalition via the internship and paid practicum.

    It has been incontrovertibly documented for the Campaign for Loudoun’s Future and one big one I forgot: the Coalition for Smarter Growth.

    Ms. McGimsey appears on the PEC’s 990s for 2004 (back when she only identified as a concerned citizen) as receiving $65K in salary and benefits to create and direct the Campaign for Loudoun’s Future, and two directors of the Coalition for Smarter Growth appear repeatedly on the PEC’s 990s in the past decade in the category “Top Five Highest Paid Employees”.

    That information is verifiable for free by joining Guidestar.

  13. Eric the 1/2 troll

    Barb, the content of your thick file on all liberal organizations in Loudoun suggests that LEC is NOT just CPR warmed over… how exactly???

  14. Barbara Munsey

    Eric, I have documented organization to organization ties, some financial, for the groups I have referenced.

    You need to do the same for your claim about LEC and CPR.

  15. Eric the 1/2 troll

    “You need to do the same for your claim about LEC and CPR.”

    No I don’t you just said they are the same people.

    “…same people participating in differing groups…”

    Same group…different day…

  16. Epluribusunum Post author

    Point of information: The original title of this post was something else, but there turned out to be more material than I thought appropriate for a single post, so this part of it was renamed. I think I was pretty clear in describing the primary topic of the post: The motivation to exploit a complex policy issue for electioneering purposes, and an illustration of how it’s being done in this particular instance. Aside from how we might like to define “astroturf,” these facts remain: 1) What we need to have is an honest, good faith discussion about how best to address the problem of deteriorating water quality in our county, and 2) There was, 9 months ago, the creation of a fraudulently named group that has made its mission the obstruction of that discussion.

    I did not claim – because I do not know – that the Sterling supervisor or any particular actor or agency is responsible for the formation of LEC. Nor did I say that Loudoun’s Clean Streams Coalition is a “grassroots” group; it is, as I stated, a coalition of respected environmental advocacy organizations. I referred readers to their website because they have made it their mission to refute specific falsehoods and distortions about the CBPO, a mission which is beyond the scope of my post.

    I did not discuss any other organizations of any kind in my post. However, because I have personal knowledge of it, I can tell you unequivocally that Sustainable Loudoun is a genuine grassroots organization – meaning that it was conceived of, organized, and operates purely through the volunteer effort of local people who care about a variety of sustainability issues, and the group’s name and mission is an honest reflection of what they actually do. The same is true, for that matter, of Equality Loudoun.

  17. Barbara Munsey

    David, re the current iteration of Sustainable Loudoun, it was founded in the 90s by a PEC employee, and other individuals who are still active.

    The LEC is “fraudulently” named?

    Is “environment” a proprietary term, trademarked and copyrighted?

  18. Barbara Munsey

    p.s.–why don’t we begin the honest good faith discussion with the current EPA approved TMDLs and WIP, and the new bill re fertilizer?

    The bad faith in terms of claiming we had to adopt the entire act if we chose to opt in at all, and then claiming that we would get credit in the WIP if we did, were both untrue.

    And that was staff.

    This has truly been mishandled from the get-go, and by those most desirous of seeing it passed.

    The Board should set it aside in its current form, and pick it up again after the budget and districts.

  19. Epluribusunum Post author

    I agree that it’s been mishandled, and I agree that there needs to be much more regulation of fertilizer and pesticide use, plus significant changes to VDOT roadway design and stormwater management, plus whatever we have the authority to do at the local level to mitigate the damage already done. This has to be done in a manner that doesn’t unfairly burden anyone, however. Compromise is necessary and possible, but must be based on reality – for example Malcolm Baldwin pointed out that a 90% sediment filtration can be achieved with a 60′ as opposed to a 100′ riparian buffer. That seems a quite reasonable tradeoff to me, and I think that other exemptions and compromises are reasonable as well – but we can’t get there if we’re obstructed from having a good faith discussion about what’s needed.

    Yes, the LEC is fraudulently named. An environmental advocacy group is commonly understood to advocate for policies that protect the environment. They don’t do that.

    I personally know the people who founded Loudoun County Citizens for a Sustainable Society, now shortened to what everyone started calling it, Sustainable Loudoun. They don’t work for PEC. There is no previous iteration of the group. If some other group was using some combination of similar words in their name, it’s unrelated.

  20. Barbara Munsey

    David, as “environment” is not (yet) a proprietary word, then “fraudulent” (which has a specific meaning) seems overblown.

    How does the CBPO “protect the environment”–ALL of it, including the people, their homes, their businesses which ARE a part of that?

    Those who are stridently advocating for its adoption don’t seem to be addressing those issues.

    As to what is now (again) called Sustainable Loudoun, I really don’t see on the one hand people who may know the Shockeys being involved on the same side of an issue as the LEC somehow PROVES that that group is CPR, and on the other, people who have been involved in all the iterations of Sustainable Loudoun make the current one completely new unique and different.

  21. Eric the 1/2 troll

    “The Board should set it aside in its current form, and pick it up again after the budget and districts.”

    yet another random Barb Munsey demand.

  22. Eric the 1/2 troll

    “David, as “environment” is not (yet) a proprietary word…”

    Something does not have to be proprietary to have a generally accepted definition. Of course, you know this Barb but you would rather avoid the issue completely – hence to ruse.

  23. Barbara Munsey

    Opinion, Eric.

    As I said, I have no control over this process.

    Only those in a position of control can make “demands”.

  24. Barbara Munsey

    Another thought re this and “fraudulent” use of a word in a name (“Something does not have to be proprietary to have a generally accepted definition. Of course, you know this Barb but you would rather avoid the issue completely – hence to ruse.”):

    Given that the Loudoun Clean Streams COALITION went live as a website (the paid practicum of a “nonpolitical” group) with a letter to the member groups inviting them to join, doesn’t it kind of beg the question that a “coalition” should have those members before it has a website and a name?

    But that is straight Campaign for Loudoun’s Future–it was a “coalition of groups” too, before many of the groups found anyone to agree to be the front person.

    Not stating or implying that it is “fraudulent”.

    But the pattern certainly suggests an intent to imply something that is created after the “group” is.

  25. Barbara Munsey

    Don’t be scared, Paradox. I use quotes because I’m, well…quoting.

    (would it be less *frightening* if I isolated/emphasized words through asterisks instead?)

    :D

  26. Epluribusunum Post author

    Barbara has a general tendency to conflate different elements of an opponent’s argument. Here again is my specific use of the term fraudulent:

    Yes, the LEC is fraudulently named. An environmental advocacy group is commonly understood to advocate for policies that protect the environment. They don’t do that.

  27. Barbara Munsey

    David, I think we’re having some motes and beams issues.

    I disagree with your assessment that LEC is astroturf, based on your definition in the post here: “An “astroturf” organization is generally understood to be one that is conceived of and organized and paid for from the top down, rather than a genuine effort at community organizing from the bottom up.”

    That seems to me to perfectly describe your chosen example of a good group, which was virtually created online as a paid practicum of an intern of a political advocacy group, and (like your complaint that since LEC does not agree with some policies that you support, it should not be allowed to use the word “environmental”), debuted with a letter to groups inviting them to join something immaculately conceived as a Coalition. Something without members isn’t a coalition of groups yet, but the organization that paid to create it from the top down has a habit of doing that (see Campaign for Loudoun’s Future, Coalition for Smarter Growth).

    IMO, conflation is to opine that Delgaudio, CPR, the Shockeys have somehow funded and are directing this group that you disagree with.

    You have stated that you too disagree with aspects of this policy that you yet seem to want immediately passed.

    The disagreement (if real) is something you have in common, isn’t it?

  28. thruthetulips

    In trying to describe LEC, you have perfectly described the out of County PEC–

    “Suppose that you wanted certain policies enacted in Loudoun, policies that would enrich you at the expense of other residents and the long-term (economic) health of the county.”

    It’s the PEC pushing this Ordinance, it’s the PEC who gave staff all their charts, it’s the PEC who is researching all the lots affected by RPA, it is the PEC who was appointed to various stakeholder groups and even though they are not landowners or stakeholders in the traditional sense, it is the PEC who trumps HOA consensus….

    Sounds like you described them to a “t” pushing their unwanted policies on us, to make Loudoun the “buffer” for Fauquier, and to protect the very wealthy who have no need to farm or actually “use” their land and their “viewsheds…” very convenient science the PEC has produced, and the stream assessment undeniably has simple math errors, but who cares about “details” like the correct math when you are presenting a statistical conclusion… certainly not Stevens Miller…

  29. Epluribusunum Post author

    ..conflation is to opine that Delgaudio, CPR, the Shockeys have somehow funded and are directing this group that you disagree with.

    To begin with, I have done none of those things. I was very clear about what Mr. Delgaudio has done. You must be reading something else into my words. I never brought up CPR at all in this context. Eric did, and I asked about the absence of the Shockeys. Again, you have read something into my words that just isn’t there. In case you don’t know this yet, I am very careful to say what I mean. If I thought that the statement you attribute to me was true, I would say it myself.

    As for Loudoun’s Clean Streams Coalition, it is what it says it is. It’s a coalition that was formed to advocate for the shared mission of its constituent groups with regard to protecting Loudoun’s streams. I originally named it to demonstrate the expertise in the staff of these advocacy groups in contrast to the lack of expertise in LEC. That’s not what makes the Coalition “grassroots” or not “fraudulent,” it’s what makes it reputable in terms of the information it provides. Those are all distinct and different attributes, and that’s what I was referring to when I said you were conflating things. As far as the Coalition or its constituent groups being grassroots, I don’t really know and haven’t made an argument one way or another. As far as it not being fraudulently named, I’ve already addressed that.

    I disagree with your assessment that LEC is astroturf..

    Fair enough. If you didn’t disagree with me, you wouldn’t be you. :)

  30. Barbara Munsey

    David, please don’t tell me you’re going to whip out “tautology” next!
    :D
    I know you are a careful wordsmith.

  31. Epluribusunum Post author

    Ah, cyberspace. I meant the two of us, you and me. One of the effects of the monkeywrenching I describe is that it drives people into their opposing corners, where they become increasingly incapable of seeing honesty in the other person, or common ground. Something to actively avoid, I think – but easy to say, harder to do.

    I am a careful wordsmith? That is important to me, thank you.

  32. Barbara Munsey

    I told you that before, or have you forgotten the chipping sparrow that raised the cowbird?

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