Are Repubicans behaving like organized left-wing thugs?

(Note: This is the first of several entries I will be posting today on the issue of the behavior of Obamacare opponents at the town hall meetings.)

I don’t know what to make of Errol Louis’s column in the August 6 New York Daily News. He says that the voters at the townhall meetings who have vociferously opposed Obamacare have been organized by corporate lobbying groups, and that they are not just strongly expressing their views, but deliberately disrupting the meetings and preventing discussion by drowning out the speakers.


Now, when the left is seeking to nationalize one sixth of the U.S. economy and place us all under a bureaucratic thumb from which we will never escape, I’m all for some popular outrage. But what Louis is describing in this column is radical left-wing tactics that Republicans in this country have never used. He’s telling of something that is unbelievable on its face.

Does anyone know if there any truth to what Louis is saying? Or is this some kind of leftist propaganda line to discredit the town-hall meetings which have been so damaging to Obamacare? (Note: see the Wall Street Journal article by Max Schulz, also linked and discussed at VFR, which provides a truthful and balanced picture, based on in-person reporting, of the townhall meetings. In light of Schulz’s article, Errol Louis is revealed as a conduit for the rawest leftist lies.)

Town halls of shame are poisoning the health care debate in America
Thursday, August 6th 2009, 4:00 AM
Errol Louis
It’s getting ugly out there.

From coast to coast, as members of Congress try to engage their constituents on the important matter of health care reform, many of them—mostly Democrats—are being shouted down by howling mobs.

Some of the disrupters are genuinely ticked-off citizens upset at President Obama’s policies on health care, the environment and the economy.

More power to such protesters, I say—provided they allow others at these town halls to hear and be heard.

But a darker, more violent strand of nut jobs is mixed in with anti-reform protesters. And some of the outrage is coming from “rent-a-mobs” hired by Capitol Hill lobbyists and PR firms doing the bidding of insurance companies, pharmaceutical firms and other vested interests.

In Philadelphia, Sen. Arlen Specter and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius were recently drowned out by screaming disrupters at a town hall meeting.

Maryland Rep. Frank Kratovil was hanged in effigy in front of his congressional office by a man who smiled for the cameras while proudly displaying a mannequin with the congressman’s face dangling from the end of a noose.

Last month, protesters disrupted a speech to business leaders by Rep. Allen Boyd in Florida. Some carried a tarred and feathered effigy of the congressman.

In Austin, Tex., a forum by Rep. Lloyd Doggett dissolved into chaos as a chanting crowd surrounded him and prevented the congressman from speaking.

Some of the estimated 5.8 million Texans with no health insurance—25% of the population, the highest such percentage in America—might have wanted to hear from Doggett, but it wasn’t to be.

The same thing happened on Long Island, where Rep. Tim Bishop of Suffolk County was shouted down. A video of the mob action is on YouTube—the mobs are proud to claim and circulate their handiwork—and makes clear that the aim is to prevent discussion.

Bishop says he won’t hold any more town hall meetings on health care. “No one is served if you can’t talk through differences,” he says.

Political thuggery is always sickening. What makes the current round especially abhorrent is the fact that some of the mob behavior appears to be the work of corporate lobbying groups that are spending an estimated $1.4 million a day to block reform.

One such group, FreedomWorks, is chaired by former Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey and has a corporate board that includes billionaire Steve Forbes, who was a GOP candidate for President.

Bob MacGuffie, a Connecticut-based activist with FreedomWorks, wrote a memo detailing the best ways to disrupt health care town hall meetings.

“Artificially Inflate Your Numbers: Spread out in the hall and try to be in the front half,” the memo reads. Other pointers include: “Be Disruptive Early And Often.” “Try To Rattle Him, Not Have An Intelligent Debate … stand up and shout out and sit right back down. Look for these opportunities before he even takes questions.”

Another group called Americans for Prosperity—a conservative lobbying outfit best known for defending tobacco companies—paid for many of the rowdy anti-tax “tea parties” a few months ago.

The group has dispatched busloads of “protesters” on trips to more than a dozen states.

Fake populist groups, known as astroturf (as opposed to real grass roots) are a fact of American political life, and corporate lobbyists are free to dispatch as many paid “activists” around the country as they like.

But the right-wing goon squads disrupting health care town hall meetings nationwide aren’t just an annoyance—they are a threat to democracy that should be taken seriously and prosecuted when they cross the line between advocacy and violent intimidation.

- end of initial entry -

Ray G. writes:

As I said in the other’s days email, the backlash, exemplified by the Obamacare town hall meetings are spreading like wildfire. Even if Obamacare passes into law, I wonder what kind of revolt it will create? What if people didn’t cooperate with it’s mandates?

Posted by Lawrence Auster at August 08, 2009 11:34 AM | Send

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