Skip to comments.AAR: Astroturf is as Astroturf does...A Trip to Grand Junction on the Democrat Bus
Posted on 08/16/2009 1:22:50 PM PDT by Jenny Hatch
Yesterday I took a bus ride with a group of people down to President Obamas Grand Junction Colorado Town Hall on health care.
I should preface this after action report with a few foundational thoughts and a little bit of background.
First, I was completely honest about my name, the fact that I was/am a Citizen Reporter for the Huffington Post, and the fact that I write a politically charged health care blog, and am a health care activist.
While I did not tell those in charge of the trip that I am also a conservative free market activist who is planning the next Denver Tea Party and has been a member of Free Republic for the past five years, I did make it clear to my seat mate Janice that I have serious issues with our health care system as it stands and want to see some permanent reforms put in place.
The bottom line is that I went to Grand Junction yesterday to get some information to write this blog entry and do a video montage for HuffPo and I told anyone who asked me why I was on that bus the truth of my goals for the day. The day before the trip, I saw on our local news that several groups were providing free bus rides for the 5 hour trip from Denver, and I made the decision to ask the Democrats if I could ride along with them and they said yes.
(Excerpt) Read more at naturalfamilyblog.com ...
As for background, my long time readers know and my conservative pals at Free Republic have been extremely aware of my disdain for the Medical Profession for years. Most of my blog posts that have been cross published at Free Republic have been rants against Allopathy on one topic or another....generally regarding birth, vaccines, psychiatric care, and anything that touches on family life.
I know that some of my conservative friends have been confused by this activism and many have questioned my passion, especially those who knew nothing of my health history. I won't take the time to outline WHY I am such an activist when it comes to reforming the Medical Birth Machine or the Psychiatric Profession. Those blog entries have already been written, but I will say that in medical settings I have experienced every sort of medical abomination and infringement of my rights as an individual and those abuses have fueled my activism and passion that mothers especially, are protected from the medical machine while they are birthing and nurturing their babes.
In all of my activism these past twenty years since I certified as a childbirth educator, almost ALL of my fellow activists in the birth and psychiatric reform movements have been left politically. And I give so many of them credit that in our interactions, for the most part, when they discovered that I was a conservative, they still embraced me and my voice and passion as we worked together to make some change in our society.
Conversely, when talking with conservatives about health care issues, I have observed a general blindness and willingness to "look the other way" when I talked to them about health care conspiracies and abuses. So many times I felt like I was butting my head against a wall as I tried to talk to fellow conservative political activists about the abuses, money, and power that was being concentrated in a few Big Pharma hands. Often I have been treated by my family and conservative friends as a raving lunatic who probably SHOULD have been psychiatrically medicated these past twenty years when I would get talking about these health care issues.
That being said, I have felt very comfortable over the years hangin' with Dems when we talk about reforming health care.
The fact that I agree 100% with John Mackey (CEO of Whole Foods) who wrote the brilliant piece in the Wall Street Journal last week outlining market reforms that if implemented would increase health in America tells me that there is a third and better way from the status quo being defended by republicans and what the dems are proposing in terms of adding another layer of socialized medicine to our government.
And one final thought before I share the details of my day:
If everyone who has an opinion on this topic of health care reform could just start from a place of one assumption, 95% of the confusion and fogginess that is currently whirling around the debate in Congress and our Marketplace of Ideas would immediately disapear.
That assumption is this: The Pharmaceutical companies have already won.
In American Politics the people with the most money, power, clout, and influence win. And in fact the people with the most money, power, influence, and control is Big Pharma. They control the main stream media, they control the medical schools, they control the FDA, The CDC, and they have almost complete control of the three branches of our Federal Government.
My question to all members of Congress, the President, and our Judges on the Supreme Court is this...
What are you going to do to protect me as an individual from the coercive power of the pharmaceutical companies?
And do I as a Mother have the right to make health care decisions for an in behalf of my minor children?
Now as members of the American Political infrastructure who are currently trying to set up a plan that will undoubtedly impact Americans for generations to come the ultimate answer for every single question being raised by every person in our society is summed up in one word.
If the medical profession backed up by the government has the coersive power to force me to have a c-section, take psychiatric meds, vaccinate my children, send my children to government schools (Which are all vested in the idea that being a doctor is the pinnacle of our educational system), abort my child and sterilize me if I don't live politically correct in thought, word, and deed, and on the other end of life, force me to get end of life counseling, care, and/or euthenized....if Big Pharma has these powers and controls federalized in the form of a nationalized health system and I as an individual mother have no ability to say no without being thrown in jail. If that is where we are at, then a medical police state is in fact where we are and there is no hope for the future.
The antidote to all of this is to make everything optional.
Yes, I as a citizen of the USA and as sovereign over my own body and mind have the right to say NO, I do not want that C-section, I do not want my children poisoned with vaccines. I do not want to take psychiatric meds if I am suffering emotionally, I do not want to have my family size limited based on some beaurecrats decision, I do not want my life artificially extended or cut short by some health manager making my end of life decisions for me, and I DO NOT WANT SOME BUSYBODY IN MY HOME TELLING ME HOW TO RAISE MY CHILDREN.
If the Congress can set up those sorts of consumer protections and guarantees in this health bill and/or write a new amendment to the constitution assuring We the People of Health Freedom, to me, the details really don't matter all that much. I know the Devil is in the details...but if the coervise power of the medical profession is broken, consumers on their own will be freed to make the health care decisions for themselves and their children.
The spectacle of a mother fleeing the country with her teenage son who does not want chemotherapy for his cancer should be the image in everyones mind when thinking of this issue.
The abuses/controls/coercive power of the medical profession is very frightening to many families. If the politicians can find a way to somehow ensure that we are protected and free to choose the type of care in whatever form we feel is best for our own lives and children, then to me, that is really all I care about as a health consumer.
As I've said in the past, we have a free market health system in America and it is defined by alternative healing. This branch of the health care world is thriving!~ And if I as a consumer was given a 1500.00 a year health account and enabled to spend it any way I wanted, I would get a monthly massage and a few chiropractic adjustments with my share of the money. Another family may choose to spend those dollars on traditional medical care in the form of a yearly physical from their doctor, prenatal care, and/or medical treatments for asthma or diabetes.
Health FREEDOM is the long term answer for our nation.
Here is my after action report with a bit of political analysis on the term Astroturfing thrown in for color.
I have been hearing for weeks that those opposed to the Obamacare plan were being funded by Insurance companies and other big groups. Nancy Pelosi has been particularly vitriolic in her verbiage amidst these claims. Making them with zero evidence beyond our groups being "too well dressed".
Astroturf has been tossed about as a juxtiposition with the term grass roots activism, which tends to come from the ground up, whereas astroturf tends to come from the top down in terms of money for funding these events, talking points, interactions with the press, and how the people are transported to the event and the tone, feel, and control over how the event is displayed in the press and now on the web in the form of citizen reports.
For the past few years I have attempted to honestly share what I have observed at various events where the left was shaping a message, wether it was regarding the War in Iraq, the Democratic National Convention, and/or activism in my community around how our side is represented in the press, and confronting those antiamerican messages being tossed to us through the media.
I do this because I enjoy street activism and as a trained actor, I love street theatre.
So yesterday was a treat for me from beginning to end.
I awoke at 7am and prepared for the day by packing my camera, cd player, cds to listen to on the bus, a DVD player to watch movies, and some water, change of clothes, and my camera bag. I brought my credit card because I was not certain I would be allowed on the bus, and figured I would need to gas up the car if I drove myself, and if I was allowed on the bus and at any juncture thrown off the bus for any reason, I would need some transportation home. I was prepared to rent a car or hop on a shuttle and/or take greyhound back to Denver.
As a last resort I figured I could call my husband to come rescue me if I was stranded anywhere, although I knew I would never hear the end of it if he had to come pick me up somewhere along I-70 after being left at the side of the road. These realities kept me vigilent in making sure I landed safely home in Arvada with the group I traveled with. We only have one car and it was sitting at the park and ride 30 minutes from our home all day long - so I knew Paul would be doubly mad if he had to get a ride to pick up our car and then come find me.
As I left he yelled out his standard, "Don't get arrested" to me, which is generally what he says when I leave to go do some street acitivsm around town.
I drove straight to the parking lot at the wadsworth park n ride and a kind faced gentleman came up and asked me if I was part of the Grand Junction group. I told him that I was a citizen reporter for the Huffington Post and that I planned to drive myself to the event, but if he had space on his bus I would prefer driving with a group to save myself the gas money.
He told me he thought I would fit on the bus just fine and that I would be welcome to drive with his group.
Thus began my 16 hour day.
I was fully prepared to drive by myself to the event and just cover it from whatever vantage point I could muster, but I was thrilled and somewhat nervous to get on that bus and spend the whole day with those wonderful people.
I had determined to myself that if anyone asked me my political views and/or party that I was going to be honest. But no one did. They all just assumed because I was a huffpo citizen reporter that I was a liberal.
I tried not to talk too much and really spent most of the time on the bus listening to music and thinking about getting home if it became apparent that I was not supposed to be on that bus.
As for the bus ride itself...it was fun. The spirit was upbeat, postitive, everyone was extremely kind, generous, and helpful. I could not believe how friendly everyone was to me, a complete stranger. The warm embrace I experienced from that group was amazing, heart felt, and not to be diminished in any way.
The bus was packed, and those in charge were extremely organized and solicitous of the physical well being of the people traveling. It was a hot, dusty, windy august day in the desert of Colorado and the planners were prepared with cases of water bottles, a working air conditioning system and two well timed rest stop bathroom breaks on the trip.
I was impressed with the box lunches prepared for the whole group, and when I declined, I had several people keep offering me food. I felt a little guilty eating the food as I knew that it was not meant for me. I am allergic to tree nuts and the bread on the sandwiches looked like they had nuts in them, so I used that as my excuse. I did end up eating a slice of pizza later in the day and drinking about seven water bottles, which were very much needed and appreciated. (If you are one of the democrat activists reading this post and are angry that your food and water went to feed and hydrate a Freeper, please contact me and I will gladly reimburse you for the money spent). I'll even chip in some money for the gas for the bus. I did donate a dollar to the bag that was passed around to pay the bus driver a tip. But other than that I did not spend any money on the event and completely free loaded the whole day on the dime of whoever was paying for it.
As we traveled I marveled at the beauty of our amazing state. Often when making that trip, I am the one driving, and I am not able to gaze the way I would like. I just drank in the beauty of the mountains, valleys, streams, wildflowers, snow, and vistas of beautiful Colorado as I listened to my favorite CD's and chatted with my seatmate - a retired Colorado Springs school teacher and mother of three and grandmother of six. I really enjoyed talking to her.
It troubles me to think that she and those I visited with on the trip will probably be extremely angry at me for not fully identifying myself before we left. I really enjoyed meeting all of them and learning for myself how a democratic event is run from the inside.
As for the people themselves, I guess a good question to begin with is WHY would a group of fifty people travel five hours (and for the people from Colorado Springs) upwards of seven/eight hours each way to spend two hours in the blazing august sun with the dust blowing in their faces and Lovers of freedom across the street yelling and shouting at them? Why would they do that? Sure the bus ride was air conditioned, but the bus itself was very old, the bathroom on board was broken and the smoothness of the ride was made very uncomfortable by the jolting of the gears as we climbed the mountain passes.
It was a long, hot, uncomfortable day.
Why would those people take the time, energy, and show the passion they exhibited, not just at the rally, but also on the bus in various discussions etc...
Was it real? Were they paid? They certainly were made more comfortable with the food, water, bathroom breaks, good company, music, high spirits, etc etc... and many of them expressed a deep desire to support President Obama and his goals for reforming health care.
My gut feeling is that they were not paid to be there.
I saw deep conviction. Real Passion. Real emotion as stories were shared on the bus and the most heartfelt concern for the poor, disabled, and disenfranchised of our society.
Only those who went know wether or not they were the real astroturfers - being paid and set up to make a public show of support for the president.
Lord knows they were supported by somebody. As to who was paying the bills for the bus, the food and water, the pre made signs - which mostly were hand drawn, but provided by the planners. (Several people tried to get me to take a sign, but I told them I was there to interview the other side for the Huffington Post).
When we arrived in Grand Junction we drove straight to the high school. The gal who was in charge, a twenty something cutie with passion in her face, got on the sound system and said to the group that it was our job to respect the anti obama demonstrators. She was very clear that we were not to interfere with their free speech. I was so impressed by her clarity, confidence, and willingness to be the hard nosed leader of the group. She said that if anyone became too inflamed she would take them out of the group and not let them demonstrate and our goal was to be upbeat, positive, and confident.
Who can argue with that? I told Paul last night that I just felt like crying as she talked. I was so touched. This is AMERICA. We all have free speech and in attempting to debate, shake up, and break down old systems of thinking...sometimes emotions get frayed and tempers can overwhelm. During the whole event I saw much more rage coming from those opposed to Obamacare than from the Democrat Activist side.
This is illustrated in the video montage I made for Huffington Post.
When the event was over, we all piled back on the bus and Senator Bennett came to speak to everyone. He was very grateful that they all came to the event. I could not hear what he said, but I could tell it meant alot to them that he was there to talk to them.
As for who was astroturfing, the Conservative side simply had home made signs and a few speakerphones. They were all on foot, and I saw no bus loads of people showing up to demonstrate with them. It was all just individuals and families. I did hear one young man yell that Obama was an f'ing n word before he took off on his bike. I thought he was a coward and a bully. Another young teenage girl was yelling F you and flipping the bird as she demonstrated against the dems. I did not see any of this type of behavior from the Democrat activists. They were all laughing and singing along with the music and ignoring the racial and profane slurs being shoved on them. I was a little embarassed to see the conservative side being so rude, and it was a good wake up call to stand back and see how we present ourselves from the other side of the street.
The democrat side had a huge water station, four portable toilets, free granola bars and apples, a flat bed truck with signs, flags, bales of hay, a DJ with very loud music playing, a food vendor selling food, and the aforementioned pre made signs and bussed in people. If I was just going to look at it from a logical view I would say that the leftys were being funded by someone. And that's cool, we all have the freedom to organize, fund, plan, shout, etc etc etc... but to say that the right side is all astroturf all the time and that big industry is manipulating, massaging, and funding the messages being portrayed on the signs...that is simply NOT TRUE. And Nancy Pelosi either needs to prove it or shut her trap.
I took about a half hour before we left to go over the the conservative side and take some closeup pictures and video before we left the rally.
That montage I made for Huff Po is below:
On the bus on the way home I watched a movie until my DVD battery died, ate a piece of pizza, and dozed. It was a LONG, hot ride home and when we arrived at the park n ride in Arvada, I was very grateful to get off the bus. I said goodbye to my seat mate and thanked the driver for his excellent ability and safe passage home, and then hopped in my car and went home.
Paul and I talked for an hour about everything before I zonked off. I told him about riding on the democrat bus and he said it was good I made it home safe given the emotions on both sides of the issue. I expressed to him many of the thoughts in this blog post and he agreed that both sides need to stop yelling and start talking and understanding each other better.
It was an eventful, wonderful, fun, exhausting day at the rally, and I am so grateful I had the chance to attend.
One final funny moment, and truly the freakiest part of the day for me. I met a woman at the July 4th teaparty in Denver. I actually interviewed her for one of my videos, and just as I stepped off the bus she was standing there taking pictures of the activists who had been bussed in. I said, "You can't recognize me!" And then I told her I was making a report for Huffington Post and walked away. She looked very surprised and curious to see me, with that group, at that event. I would have liked to talk to her and tell her what I was doing. But I did not want anyone to know that I was a conservative at that point.
Anyway, that was the only time I felt any real fear during the day. Mostly I spent those hours with a group of very kind and fun people who felt passionate enough to get on a bus to go support their cause, and that is what America is all about. I like to think that if I had told the democrat activists who I was and what I believed that they would have treated me with the same deference and kindness. I suspect that would not have been the case. And that demonization of each other is what needs to be overcome in our debates. I promise to do my part to overcome that tendency in my own heart.
Mister Natural is Enthused!
Brevity is the soul of wit, Jenny, and makes it easier for others to read what you write, too.
Goodness Jenny, you did great!
True. That's what I was thinking when I read this, paid-for "free lunchers!"
And there is a lot to glean from this anecdotal report of (1) a mother and granny (the seatmate) going alone with other jolly, genial dems, on a paid-for bus, with provided meals and bottled water, and signs and well-planned potty breaks, vs. (2) independent people, with families in tow, walking/driving themselves with their own homemade signs....and homemade anger.
Eluetheria complains about Jenny's lagubrious style.
I don't. I think it's refreshing reporting.
She wrote what happened and where and when.
She didn't reduce it down to some soundbite opinion editorial....like we need more of that? And as if I can't process a news story on my own?
You may have come away seeing the anti-Obama people in a negative light, but your description of both sides has allowed me to come to a different conclusion.
Maybe the kid on the bike is a jerk, but, I'd expect all these people to be angry with the government.
Even if you're right and "big pharma" has won, then I'm mad at govt for being in cahoots, and the dems should be mad at them for letting them 'win' whatever that means.
I ping abb on this cuz I think this is an example of a citizen reporter writing an unbiased story that I can enjoy and learn from, even though I totally disagree with her probably on many things.
She mentions the two people who used foul language or slurs who oppose the seizure of health care by Big Brother, but that her ‘rat friends were happy and singing. While I, and I’m sure no one else here, endorses the behavior of the former two, they have the passion and emotion of the fight, unlike the astroturf bus-riders, singing and smiling, because they’re being paid for something about which they couldn’t care less. Goodness, I would be smiling and telling jokes during the whole trip if I were in on a deal like that!
I thought it was the Military Industrial Complex that controlled everything? Or did they sell it all to BIG PHARMA?
I did not spend any money on the event and completely free loaded the whole day on the dime of whoever was paying for it.
Only those who went know wether or not they were the real astroturfers
She was very clear that we were not to interfere with their free speech. I was so impressed by her clarity, confidence, and willingness to be the hard nosed leader of the group. She said that if anyone became too inflamed she would take them out of the group and not let them demonstrate
I just felt like crying as she talked
When the event was over, we all piled back on the bus and Senator Bennett came to speak to everyone.
I was a little embarassed to see the conservative side being so rude,
But I did not want anyone to know that I was a conservative at that point.
Things that make you go hmmmmm?
Well done. I have no doubt the bus had true believers. But, who paid for the bus, the food, the water, the DJ etc.
It is easy to gather a group for anything you want. The point is to find out who is behind it. That the people themselves weren’t paid means nothing.
I live in Oklahoma, famous for being the reddest state in the Union, yet registered Democrats are by far the largest party in the state. They register Democrat but vote Conservative...perhaps FR can learn from your report......:)
Keeping an open mind means that you are likely to believe anything you are told.
PS Discrimination was not always a pejorative label...
No, the Military Industrial Complex took control of the world away from “The Jews” at the end of WWII. The MIC didn’t do a very good job with it so the VRWC took charge. The VRWC sold control to Big Pharma three years ago. Clear?
they were so nice on the bus but those conservatives used racial tones and were rude.
So if they didn't do what they were told she wouldn't let them demonstrate? Was she elected? or self appointed?
Maybe the kid on the bike was a provocateur from the Obama ‘activists,’ trying to slime the opposition demonstrators.
Contrast that with being conservative. There's no one on our side except a few doctors here and there. No one with any money to have busses and tour guides appear for us. Trolls come to our sides and encourage people to be rude and violent... they're probably paid to - but who knows by who...
And on the liberal side, the sweet "useful" people don't ask who supplied the buses - who pays the coodinators - who makes the arrangements... Nope, it all just appears so happy people can look so natural... with their little signs - gentle smiles - and simple, but sweet understandings of how we all want health care. What's not to love. They "care". Would you deny a child medicine to save their life just because daddy lost his job?
Nice article, but the punchline IMO should not be a gut feeling, but an attributable statement of whether they were paid or not. Who What When Where Why..if you were afraid of being busted, you could have asked at the end of your ride at the final destination under a pretext of oh I had a good time, I heard some people talking about getting paid, did you? Also since there was a group leader, what group did she control? What bus company? Who rented the buses?. Overall a very nice job, but a little more information would be helpful. If you were afraid of your cover being blown, maybe next time have a second person to ask the harder questions, just my suggestions, FWIW.
I have many questions, that one is one of them.
I’ve never heard of anyone on our side say those words and I have never heard of how the elft were so nice and to be respectful etc.
well until now
as for they were not paid,
no fancy a day out, we get a paid bus, paid food, drinks and a day to hang out with like minded others
I actually thought this was from the Huff post or MNSBC at first
contrast those on our side who got in their own cars, paid their own gas, paid for their own food, made their own signs and do not get paid.
yes it is a wonder how one side can go there all day to the other side isn’t it
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