Monday, October 4, 2010

Astroturf

Knowledge is power:


The film singles out free-market 'grassroots' groups FreedomWorks and Americans For Prosperity (AFP), whose million-plus memberships helped create the Tea Party movement and led the uprising against the Democrats reform agenda.

While AFP have been getting a lot of press lately for their ties to billionaire oil man David Koch, (Astro) Turf Wars take this to a whole new level. Of particular note are the revelations that in a previous incarnation both AFP and FreedomWorks were paid by tobacco companies to kill the Clinton healthcare reforms in 1994, mobilizing their grassroots army to fight a 'government takeover' and 'socialized medicine'.

With help from propaganda experts Professor Mark Crispin Miller and James Hoggan Oldham's film lays bare the blatant use of pro-business propaganda driving the Tea Party movement. Oldham's undercover work documents how Tea Party goers are being recruited into this libertarian fight for 'freedom' seemingly without any understanding of who is bankrolling the campaign.

Another notable appearance is by Huffington contributor Wendell Potter, a former head of PR for the health insurance providers Cigna and Humana who blows the whistle on the health insurance industry's use of astroturfing to fool and manipulate citizens.

The 90 minute film, which is available online at astrotufwars.com, comes at opportune moment for President Obama and the Democratic Party who are being drowned in a flood of corporate money to special interest groups like AFP, who according to the Associated Press have already spent $5.5m on attack ads against Democrat candidates -- that's a lot of moolah for a supposedly "grassroots" group.
There are actual independents in this country who would love a legitimate alternative to the Dems and to the GOP. [1]  The so-called "Tea Party" isn't it. Instead, it's just another billionaire-funded effort to soak what's left of the middle class by pandering to base white tribalist prejudices. Thanks, but no thanks. I'll hold out for a real alternative.

[1] I've talked about this at some length over the course of several years. Here's the short version: I wouldn't touch the GOP with a ten foot pole (I am allergic to any party or movement that embraces religious extremism and that is hostile to large swaths of our citizenry due to race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, etc.), but I've never been wild about the significant corporatist leanings of the Dems. I have ideas of what would make an acceptable organized independent movement, which I've mentioned at prior points. Maybe when time permits I'll recycle some of those ideas.