From NewsVine; and
Right-Wing Turncoat Gives the Inside Scoop on Why
Conservatives Are Rampaging Town Halls
by Francis Schaeffer
The Republican Old Guard
are in the fix an atheist would be in if Jesus showed up and raised his
mother from the dead: Their world view has just been shattered. Obama's
election has driven them over the edge. Consider Former Congressman Dick
Armey. Several far right foundations and the multitrillion dollar
health-insurance industry have teamed up with him to organize the far
right foot soldiers of the Republican Party to intimidate people
speaking on behalf of health-care reform. They are using my old shock
troops -- given many of these folks were first energized by the
Evangelical pro-life movement that my late father and I started in the
1970s. What we did to clinics they are now doing to congressmen and
others speaking out for health care reform.
Having failed at the ballot box, having watched their Fox News-organized
"tea parties" fizzle the intimidation tactics which the Republicans have
embraced are being used in a well-financed, top-down orchestrated fake
grass roots campaign by corporate interests to try and protect the
profits of the insurance business. Armey's FreedomWorks is organizing
against health care reform. Armey's lobbying firm represents
pharmaceutical companies including Bristol-Myers Squibb. Armey's
lobbying firm also represents the trade group for the life insurance
industry. FreedomWorks is supporting the status quo at all costs.
(They are also fans of fossil fuels. Armey's lobbying firm represents
Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister of the UAE, on
energy related issues.)
Last year, the Wall Street Journal exposed FreedomWorks for
building "amateur-looking" websites to promote far right interests of
Armey. FreedomWorks represents a top-down, corporate-friendly approach
that's been the norm for conservative organizations for years. How do I
know this is the norm? Because I used to have strategy meetings with the
late Jack Kemp and Dick Army and the rest of the Republican gang about
using their business ties to help finance the pro-life movement to
defeat Democrats. I know this script. I helped write it.
Democratic members of Congress are being harassed by angry,
sign-carrying mobs and disruptive behavior at local town halls. It's the
tactic we used to follow abortion providers around their neighborhoods.
"Protesters" surrounded Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY) and forced police
officers to have to escort him to his car for safety. We used to do the
same to Dr. Tiller... until someone killed him.
How Can The Right Stoop So Low?
I used to know Dick Armey quite well. One of my sons even worked for him
as an intern. I knew Armey in the context of his being a fan of my late
Evangelical Religious Right leader father Francis Schaeffer. (Back in
the day when I was a right wing "pro-life" organizer who has long since
quit the Republicans in disgust at their -- our -- descent into
extremism and hate.) Armey was once a decent guy, whatever his political
views. How could he stoop so low as to be organizing what amounts to
America's Brown Shirts today?
I think I know what happened to him, Gingrich and the rest: They can't
compute that their white man-led conservative revolution is dead. They
can't reconcile their idea of themselves with the fact that white men
like them don't run the country any more -- and never will again.
To them the black president is leading a column of the "other" into
their promised land. Gays, immigrants, blacks, progressives, even a
female Hispanic appointed to the Supreme Court... for them this is the
The last presidential election (to paraphrase Bart Simpson) "broke
their brains." What else could explain their embrace of intimidation --
rather than discourse -- over the health care debate and such unsavory
moments of madness as the Republicans accusing Obama and Judge Sonia
Sotomayor of racism, knowing full well that they'd just destroyed their
chances with the Hispanic community forever?
The "Scorched Earth Policy"
Dick Army and company have been driven mad by their reversal, not just
of political fortunes but of seeing that they've wasted their lives.
They now know they were wrong: about the country, the free market, war
for fun and profit, and what the American people really want. They made
their best case and were rejected by the American people -- and by
history. Bush was their man and he turned out to be a fool. So now
all the the Republican gurus have left is what the defeated Germans of
World War Two had: a scorched earth policy. If they can't win then
everyone must go down. Obama must fail! The country must fail!
Groups "Americans for Prosperity " and "FreedomWorks/ Dick
Here is a leaked excerpt from the folks organizing the intimidation
- Artificially Inflate Your Numbers: "Spread out in the hall and try
to be in the front half. The objective is to put the Rep on the
defensive with your questions and follow-up. The Rep should be made to
feel that a majority, and if not, a significant portion of at least the
audience, opposes the socialist agenda of Washington."
- Be Disruptive Early And Often: "You need to rock-the-boat early in
the Rep's presentation, Watch for an opportunity to yell out and
challenge the Rep's statements early."
- Try To "Rattle Him," Not Have An Intelligent Debate: "The goal is
to rattle him, get him off his prepared script and agenda. If he says
something outrageous, stand up and shout out and sit right back down.
Look for these opportunities before he even takes questions."
The Last Republican
Tactic: Outright Lies
A barrage of outright lies, wherein the Democrats are being accused of
wanting to launch a massive euthanasia program against the elderly, free
abortions for everyone, and "a government takeover" of health-care is
now being combined with physical intimidation that in several cases has
required police escorts to protect pro health-care reform speakers
surrounded by angry plants sent to disrupt public forums on the
health-care issue. Demonstrators hung Rep. Frank Kratovil (D-MD) in
effigy outside of his office. (Missing from the reporting of these
stories -- with the notable exception of Rachel Maddow -- is the fact
that much of these protests are coordinated by public relations firms
and lobbyists who have a stake in opposing President Obama's reforms.
There is no daylight between the Republican Party, the health-care
insurance industry, far right leaders like Dick Armey, the legion of
insurance lobbyists, and now, a small army of thugs. All we're
missing is actual uniforms, otherwise we now have a full blown American
version of the Nazi Brown Shirts.
No, I don't believe that these people are about to take over the
country. No, the sky is not falling. But the Republican Party is. It is
now profoundly anti-American.
The health-insurance industry is run by very smart and very greedy
people who have sunk to a new low. So has the Republican Party's
leadership that will not stand up and denounce the likes of Dick Armey
for helping organize roving bands of thugs trying to strip the rest of
us of the ability to be heard when it comes to the popular will on
reforming health care.
Conclusion: the Fascist Formula
Here's the emerging American version of the fascist's formula: combine
millions of dollars of lobbyists' money with embittered troublemakers
who have a small army of not terribly bright white angry people
(collected over decades through pro-life mass mailing networks) at their
beck and call, ever ready to believe any myth or lie circulated by the
semi literate and completely and routinely misinformed right wing --
Evangelical religious underground. Then put his little mob together with
the insurance companies' big bucks. That's how it works -- American
Brown Shirts at the ready.
What's the results of the fascist formula for the rest of us? Well,
think how this "method" worked against Dr. Tiller's abortion clinic and
how that story ended. In this case a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to
save our economy from going bankrupt because of spiraling health care
costs may be lost, not because of a better argument, but because of lies
backed up by anti-democratic embittered thuggery. The motive? Revenge on
America by the Old White Guys of the far right, and greed by the
What Can Be Done?
It's time that this whole shabby (and insane) business be exposed,
vilified in run out of town on a rail by whatever responsible
Republicans -- if any -- that are still in the party and who want to see
the fortunes of their party revived. Republican leaders taking insurance
industry money via lobbying firms and using it to organize what amounts
to roving bands of thugs not only need to be exposed but thrown out of
the public debate forever. They should become absolute pariahs.
It's time to give this garbage a name: insurance industry funded
Frank Schaeffer is a writer and author of Crazy for God: How I
Grew Up As One Of The Elect, Helped Found The Religious Right, And Lived
To Take All (Or Almost All) Of It Back.
© 2009 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/141833/