What do you know about the shady Republican swiftboat operation going under the name "Freedom's Watch?" Well, they registered as a lobbying organization and the group seems to be divided between a coven of second and third rate Bush Regime operatives-- Ari Fleischer, Bradley Blakeman, Matt David, Carl Forti-- and a gaggle of Neocon billionaires, many with ties to the Likud and the uber-reactionary Republican Jewish Coalition, willing to provide a virtually limitless slush fund for the most vile attacks on Democrats that even the GOP wants to keep at arms length -- or wants to appear to be keeping at arms length.
They fancy themselves a MoveOn.org of the right, except, as MoveOn's Eli Pariser points out, "the main difference is that MoveOn is a group of 3.3 million. Freedom's Watch is a few mega millionaires." Among the super-rich far right-wing supporters of Freedom's Watch -- all of whom are obsessed with keeping the Iraq war going and expanding it into Syria and Iran -- are Mel Sembler, who helped finance GOP activities disrupting the 2000 Florida recount, Las Vegas casino operators William Weidner and Sheldon Adelson, Matthew Brooks and Richard Fox of the RJC, John Templeton, Jr., Kevin Moley (a very close Cheney crony), Howard Leach, Anthony Gioia, and Gary Erlbaum.
Since inception, the outfit, widely believed to be controlled by Cheney, has launched a series of media buys targeting Democrats in congressional districts around the country. Recently they illegally ran ads scripted by the NRCC against Democratic candidates in Louisiana and Mississippi. Their negative ads lacked any credibility and are widely believed to have actually helped Democrats Don Cazayoux and Travis Childers win those two races in heavily Republican districts.
It is worth noting that Cazayoux and Childers have bent over backwards to please Freedom's Watch and fellow travelers since getting into Congress and each has one of the most astoundingly Republican voting records ever compiled by a Democrat. They are already the fifth and eighth most Republican-voting Democrats -- on substantive issues -- in the House. But this hasn't pacified Freedom's Watch. Even though both Childers and Cazayoux both dutifully voted to continue the occupation of Iraq and each voted to grant retroactive immunity to illegal corporate wiretappers, Freedom's Watch has just launched a vicious and deceitful campaign of robocalls against them, accusing them of causing high gas prices. In fact, Freedom's Watch has launched their poisonous robocalls against nearly 20 Democrats, somehow hoping to convince people that the Big Oil agenda relentlessly pursued by Bush, Cheney and their Republican rubber stamps for the past 7 years -- including the war in Iraq -- had nothing to do with the rise in gas prices from $1.51/gallon, when Bush took over, to a rapidly increasing figure closer to $5.00 a gallon than to $4.
To be honest, I thought Cazayoux and Childers and some of the others from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party were getting just what they deserved. Vote with the Republicans and they pay you back by attacking you like mad dogs. But then we noticed that also on the list are solid progressives, Democrats who stand up for progressive ideals and values and stand up for working families over the demands of the special interests these Republican billionaires represent. When we saw the unfair and unwarranted attacks against Tom Allen (D-ME), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Linda Stender (D-NJ), John Adler (D-NJ) and Steve Kagen (D-WI), we knew we should respond and get their backs. They deserve it. So Jane and John went into overdrive and put together an incredible team to write, produce and deliver calls to every person Freedom's Watch has called in these districts. And they got Mike Farrell as the voice of a message that sets the record straight. Please give it a listen (and a look) and then please help us pay for these calls with a donation at Blue America vs Freedom's Watch. In today's Washington Post Chris Cillizza asks if this will get any traction: "It remains to be seen whether Blue America can put together the financial firepower that would allow it to compete with Freedom's Watch in congressional districts around the country over the next four months... Is Blue America's robo-call campaign the start of something bigger or just a lone voice in the wilderness?"