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Art Levine

Art Levine

Posted: August 11, 2009 07:40 AM

Will GOP Mobs Disrupt Obama's Town Hall Today? New Right-Wing Conference Vows "War" on Reform


With President Obama scheduled to promote health insurance reform at a Town Hall-style meeting in New Hampshire, both the network of lobbyist-fueled "tea-party" activists and progressives supporting reform are ramping up their organizing. Expect massive, and potentially ugly, right-wing protests outside the hall, while Secret Service and planned distribution of tickets should protect the president from any violent threats inside -- as opposed to the lynching in effigy of him and members of Congress at other events or death threats against legislators. No wonder Reps. Steny Hoyer and Nancy Pelosi attacked such disruptions as "un-American," even as that charge infuriated right-wing pundits and the GOP. Ironically, they're accusing Democrats of impugning their patriotism, the basis of decades of GOP attacks on liberals.

Amid the GOP's tacit acceptance of mob violence as normal dissent -- no leading Republican has clearly urged it yet to stop -- progressives and unions are starting to make some progress in getting the voices of pro-reform citizens heard, as reported yesterday by In These Times.

Unfortunately for progressives, as Rachel Maddow reported yesterday, well-funded corporate and pharmaceutical interests are paying for extremist ads and fomenting mob-style turnouts at the health care Town Halls:

And, according to a memo describing a GOP "tea-party" conference call last week for right-wing activists, right-wingers are still determined to thwart health-care reform by any means necessary; it's a "war" they intend to win. Written by a progressive source who listened in to the call as an undercover operative, the conference call featured some major players on the right:

A Republican strategy conference call on August 7th brought together right-wing activists from anti-tax groups, anti-health care organizations, and small government associations -- all under the guidance of the National Tax Limitation Committee, the American Liberty Alliance, the "Tea Party Patriots", RecessRally.com, and the infamous Dr. Laffer. The call began with attacks on Paul Krugman, George Soros, MSNBC, and liberals in general. The moderator then asserted that their movement is indeed a grassroots one and that the August fight is a "war." There were repeated attacks on unions, particularly SEIU (cited Kathy Castor town hall in Tampa).

The right-wingers made clear there was no room for compromise in their "war." As the undercover scribe reported:

Apparently we on the left aren't the only ones frustrated with the Senate Finance Committee. Listeners on the call were encouraged to actively protest Senators Grassley, Enzi, and Snowe in order to stop them from negotiating with Democrats. The moderator said, "The goal is not compromise, and ANY bill coming out this year would be a failure for us... because the Democrats will turn even a weak bill from the Senate Finance Committee into Canadian-style single-payer through underhanded implementation." They called for mass protests in Iowa in order to sway Grassley.

The conference call produced some memorable quotes from the organizers:

•"We have an opportunity to realistically kill Obama's agenda."


• "There's a lot of coverage for poor people out there already that the Democrats don't want you to know about. It's just not on the radar screen."

• "The purpose of Tea Parties is not to find a solution to the health care crisis -- it is to stop what is not the solution: Obamacare."

• When asked if we should get rid of Medicare because it is government health care: "Who is this asking?! I don't have to answer that."

The organizers of these events are being aided by a little-known network of right-wing, corporate-funded organizations and websites exposed Monday by AlterNet. Going well beyond previous reporting on the mobilizing role of the healthcare-linked FreedomWorks lobbying shop run by former Majority Leader Dick Armey, the article reports:

So, while Armey's army of taxphobes is useful to [the GOP and corporations], it would be great to get some really hard-core types to further stoke the fires -- especially if marshaled by guys who know how to really tar Democrats with racist imagery and slurs of unpatriotic behavior.


That's where Grassfire.org and its brother networking site, ResistNet, come in. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., who promised to make health-care reform President Obama's "Waterloo," is a big fan. Says so right there on the Grassfire Web site. ResistNet is yet another right-wing hub for organizing the disruption of health-care town hall meetings....

Adele Stan of AlterNet, after exposing the ties between health-care lobbyists, Rupert Murdoch and so-called grass-roots activists, concludes her overview:

Think these organizations are not the Republican establishment? Consider that the annual Values Voter Summit sponsored by the Family Research Council's PAC will feature former "moderate" GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney as a keynote speaker.


In the corridors of Washington's K Street lobbying offices, in the district offices of Republican members of Congress, and in the executive suite of one singular mogul, the men of power must be well-pleased with themselves, watching YouTube videos of the mayhem they have unleashed on the rest of us. But they may just get their pound of flesh.

And she ends with this video from last year's political campaign getting featured again on the right in today's ugly, no-holds-barred political climate: