Women’s-right website Failure is Impossible offers a primer for countering astroturf letters- to- the- editor campaigns (Fight Back Against Killer Astroturf).
The page explains how repetition of boilerplate language in letters to the editor of newspapers can be detected through web searches for key phrases.
It targets Republican astroturfing but admonishes astroturf-sources on the left as well:
In keeping with the frankly partisan theme of Failure Is Impossible, I list here only pro-Republican Astroturf. I deplore the fact that Democratic and liberal organizations are also not merely encouraging their supporters to write letters about specific issues, but actually providing boilerplate text. (Yes, I’m talking about you, MoveOn.org.) If you’re going to send a letter, write it yourself. Sending Astroturf is cheating!
It’s interesting to think about the fine line between boilerplate and suggested language as well as the conflicts between liberal partisan urges and the impulse to pursue reform regardless of ideology.
(Josh Marshall has recently been exploring the idea that national greatness conservatism, embodied by John McCain among others, represents the reform impulse on the political right.)