Monday, August 10, 2009

AlterNet: "Inside Story on Town Hall Riots"

Adele M. Stan has put together an organizational analysis of the right-wing campaigners who are whipping up reactionary, ostensible "grassroots" disruptions at Democratic Party town-meeings on the healthcare reform issue. AlterNet, who published the story, is touting the article as must-reading, and I agree.

See Inside Story on Town Hall Riots: Right-Wing Shock Troops Do Corporate America's Dirty Work (a portion of which is excerpted here):

All of the narratives today embraced by the ResistNet, FreedomWorks and the Glenn Beck crowd find their legs in the one-man clearinghouse that is Howard Phillips.

Through his Conservative Caucus, Phillips disseminated the "birther" theory that Obama is not an American citizen, gave right-wing operative Cliff Kincaid an award for researching Obama's alleged socialist roots, and for years has railed against "socialized medicine" -- even arguing that Medicare is unconstitutional and warning darkly of a time when the government might determine who shall live and who shall die.

"[W]hen the supply of medical care is controlled by politicians and bureaucrats," Phillips told a 1997 gathering of his Conservative Caucus Foundation, "and the demand for that care exceeds the supply, then individual human beings created in God's image become price factors in the eyes of medical gatekeepers -- they're not even medical, they're bureaucratic gatekeepers -- who determine medical decisions not on the basis of medical needs, but on the basis of bureaucratic priorities."

Phillips' disdain for feminists is palpable, and his language about LGBT people, routinely labeled on his Web site as "perverts," "homos" and "sodomites" is contemptible. He refers to Planned Parenthood as "Murder Incorporated."

I called Phillips for comment on this article, but he was en route to Mexico where he has convened a press conference to protest the nonexistent North American Union, another right-wing conspiracy theory. (Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, is an invited speaker.)

Phillips advanced the career of Randall Terry, founder of the militant anti-aborton group Operation Rescue. At one point, it seemed that his U.S. Taxpayer's Party was to Operation Rescue what Sinn Fein is to the Irish Republican Army -- the political wing of a movement steeped in violence. (In Terry's case, the violence was in rhetoric and obstruction designed to incite others to act.)

Conspiracy of Silence

On Aug. 4, Terry, who is seeking to make a comeback with his new organization, Operation Rescue Insurrecta Nex, sent out an e-mail blast urging followers to attend health care town halls convened by members of Congress.

Trotting out the trope the that health-care reform bills provide for taxpayer-funded abortions, he urges his followers:

Stir up some dust!

Be "unreasonable!"

In fact, you might want to be a little noisier and a little more intense than you might normally be.

I put it this way: If you were in danger of being murdered, and I could possibly save you at a town hall meeting, how would you want people to behave in a town hall meeting?

At a July press conference, Terry warned of "random acts of violence" that would occur if the health-care bill passed. There would be violent "reprisals against those deemed guilty," he said.

Think Terry's too out on the fringe to matter? Think again. When AlterNet reported that the Supreme Court nomination hearing of Judge Sonia Sotomayor was being disrupted by Terry's followers, not one Republican senator condemned him by name.

When Terry staged a demonstration outside the White House featuring men in Obama masks "whipping" him, not a distancing word was placed between him and the GOP establishment.

And now he is promulgating the false Republican claim that health-care reform will mean socialized euthanasia for the aged.

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin also has links to Phillips; for seven years, her husband, Todd, claimed membership in the Alaska affiliate of the Constitution Party -- the secessionist Alaska Independence Party, whose convention Palin addressed last year via video.

Every other day, it seems, I receive an e-mail from one right-wing organization or another, warning of the grave consequences of health-insurance reform.

The subject line in an e-mail from Human Events magazine screams at me "Grandmas and babies exterminated by Obama 'health' plan," even as another of its e-mails asks, "Obama birth certificate destroyed?" The anti-gay American Family Association warns: "Liberals seek to silence and demonize those who oppose their socialism."

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council sent a plea for money to finance a television ad that features an elderly couple complaining of the government's denial of surgery for the man while financing abortion with taxpayer dollars.

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.

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