The shouting and screaming at the health care town halls did not simply happen suddenly out of thin air. These screaming know-nothings have been organized and herded well. The organization of Right Wing Republicans is not a new phenomenon. For example, there is a panoply of groups lined up against the People. These groups are all dedicated to the principle that that we do not need government. To defeat progressive legislation, they do whatever is necessary, discarding ethics and good taste.
The current issue is health care reform. The Right-Wing groups attacking health care are numerous but they are all backed by the efforts of the AHIP, which is America’s Hospital Insurance Plans. The health insurance industry is funding many of these organizations, which are hanging around the Republican Party and the broader Right Wing groups, looking for funding. The FreedomWorks, a group most recently headed by Richard Armey, former House member from Texas, has been the lead group organizing so called “tea parties” to protest a myriad of issues from “taxation without representation” to “tyranny” of some sort, to “government takeover of health care.” Very strange people but they are a small part.
Another prominent group is Conservatives for Patients’ Rights, which was organized by Rick Scott, the former head of a major hospital group that was given the largest fine in U.S. history by the government for deliberately cheating the American taxpayers out of what must have been billions. His organization, acronymed “CPR” has monumentally lied about health care reforms and spent millions of dollars on television advertising to prevent health care reform. Scott, now back in business and certainly making huge profits, if not cheating the government again (is this a great country or what?) and his group also tricked numerous British patients of the national health care system into complaining about the system, asking them what they would improve and then producing a documentary stating that they wanted to do away with the system. Several of the women in the piece have spoken out and said that they would never want to do away with the British system, merely improve it. That has started a huge counter-protest to Scott’s organization on Twitter.
But these are only the latest groups attacking the middle class and the average worker. For a long time there have been organized and paid Right Wing groups that spend all day, every day, looking for ways to inhibit the progress of the American People in favor of a few hugely wealthy individuals and corporations.
Here are a few, a small representation.
Accuracy in Media — Reed Irvine’s group often attacked people like Walter Cronkite as soft on Communism. Now their dated attacks are basically to frame the argument by labeling people that they disagree with as Socialists or Communists.
Americans For Tax Reform — Founded by Bill Barr and Grover Norquist, Americans for Tax Reform is still run by Norquist. They are only interested in lowering taxes for the rich, encouraging a flat tax, but only if that flat tax is so much lower than our current tax rates, which are by far the lowest anywhere in the world, and far less than we need to run a minimum government. Norquist was involved in laundering money for Jack Abramoff but was able to escape, as was fellow Ralph Reed, formerly of the Moral Majority, without being indicted.
Project for the New American Century — Founded by William Kristol and funded by Right Wing foundations like the William Mellon Scaife’s Scaife Foundation, the Project for the New American Century is an organization dedicated to an imperialist foreign policy, diminishment of domestic spending, particularly for the poor and social programs such as Social Security and health care. They were advocates for war with Iraq even before the Bush Administration took office.
There are a variety of Conservative media but these are notable. The American Spectator, The Wall Street Journal, (Murdoch owned) The Weekly Standard, National Review, American Family Association, Trinity Broadcasting Network, The New York Post (Murdoch), NewsMax and of course The Fox News Channel (also Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp owned.)
There are many Right Wing Republican fundamentalist religious groups but these are significant: Traditional Values Coalition, (linked to Jack Abramoff Scandals and Tom DeLay Marianas Islands Scandal), the Moral Majority (Jerry Falwell), and the Christian Coalition…among many, many others.
There are numerous “think tanks” who take an issue, such as the value of pensions to union members, and try to debunk it, discredit it, so that the opposition party, the anti-union Republican Party can use the data, flawed though it most often is, to assist in defeating progressive legislation. Some conservative think tanks include: The Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, the Hudson Institute, the Hoover Institution, and the American Enterprise Institute.
Now all these institutions and organizations and media need funding. They don’t sell a product or a service. Their entire objective is to do away with aspects of government that keep them from doing away completely with taxes. The only parts of government that they continually wish to fund are those that have some military aspect. This goes back to the idea that, if you are rich you do not need much, but one thing you do need is the protection of those assets that generate your wealth. The twelve significant foundations in funding all these Conservative groups are the Lynde and Harry Bradley Corporations, the Carthage Foundation, the Earhart Foundation, the Charles G. Koch, David H. Koch and Claude R. Lambe charitable foundations, the Phillip M. McKenna Foundation, the J.M. Foundation, and John M. Olin Foundation, the Henry Salvatori Foundation, the Sarah Scaife Foundation, and the Smith Richardson Foundation.
So what does this have to do with hate speech, mobs at town halls and crazy people on television ranting against their own best interests…such as older people at these town halls arguing against Medicare and at the same time holding up their hands saying that they would not want to lose Medicare? This goes back quite a long way, at least to Bill Clinton.
Already having established those organizations mentioned before, and having insured that they would be well funded from those conservative foundations, the Republican Party, sensing a real challenge to the Reagan popularity from this new upstart, Bill Clinton, decided that the best way to stop his very successful and popular political management style was to discredit him, to attack him ad hominem. And so they did, and to some degree they were successful in finding something that would discredit him, but he had done so well for the economy and had reduced budget deficits to the degree that he did not lose his popularity.
Nonetheless, the Liberals were not happy. It was unfair, they thought, not respectful of the office, and furthermore it tried to diminish those successes for the people and societal developments, such as the new IT age. So they were waiting for the Republicans to make a mistake that they could pounce on.
Along came poor, bumpkin-sounding George W. Bush, with his false promise of “compassionate” conservatism. Then there were the cynical acts of the dominant and arrogant Republican legislators in addressing every piece of legislation with the opposite of its real intentions. For example, the Clean Air Act, which was of course the very opposite of that descriptive phrase and described by the environmentalists as an “insult” and the “worst piece of environmental legislation” in history.
So what did Liberals do? Those in the media and the entertainment business, and those in news both in print and on television, began to point out either directly or indirectly every Bush faux pas. And there were many. After a time, there was no need to point out his poor grammar or verbal mistakes like “strategerie” or “misunderestimated.” But then it became worse and the traditional Saturday Night Live skits became a little more pointed, hundreds of web sites grew up around the extremely disrespectful–for some reason–portrayal of President Bush as a chimpanzee. And finally, an extremely harsh animated television series called “Li’L Bush” which was a transparent depiction of the President as a childish dolt.
Why was there so much disrespect for George W. Bush? Was there any justification? Some will say that it was a reaction to former situations. Some claim, for example, it was reaction to the now almost conclusive evidence of an organized plan by Republicans to doom the very popular Clinton presidency with unrelenting attacks. Others will say that it is simply the progression of a natural divide between two basic concepts. The partisan rancor, they maintain, is no worse than at other times in our history. the divide widens and comes closer to a political confrontation that decides the issue. With those strong divisions, and with an ever expanding universe of media options, this kind of thing is bound to happen.
The other side of the argument makes the case that we have had a moral breakdown. Aside from considerations about the lack of communication skills by President Bush and his seeming lack of intellectual capacity…which is not necessarily the same thing…the question is whether our current more lax attitude towards sexuality, ethics, morality and public speech has caused a willful disrespect for the office. Would it be the same no matter who is in office?
Now we see the same kind of thing happening, those same sharp attacks directed at Barack Obama and the Liberals are less agreeable about it. But the fact is that these attacks are slightly different. The attacks are less on President Obama than they are on President Obama as leader.
President Obama has been very effective as leader and has introduced some very bright people, Democratic and Republcan into the political mix. He has also set out a dynamic, broad and sweeping agenda on social issues, some of which, incredibly, has already been legislated and passed into law. The Republicans were on their heels, and the health industry knew that, if it could not slow down this President, they were about to lose, and quite possibly will lose, their huge monopolistic profits from health care. So they pulled out all the stops.
The tea party members carried signs comparing the President to Hitler, and showing his picture with a Hitler moustache. They held up signs saying: “Obama Bin Lyin” They have paradoxically called him “Hitler” and “Stalin” in the same sentence. They suggest that he should be impeached. The rag-tag groups, organized and led by Newt Gingrich and Dick Armey ask for an end to “wasteful government spending” as if it were not enough to have left us a $5 trillion dollar additional debt under Bush, plus a $1.3 trillion deficit from Bush’s last year, which is this year, plus leaving behind a ruined economy, plus two Bush-Cheney wars that they could not finish, that will cost at least another billion before we can shut them down.
So what is the point? And that is the point. “What is the point” of all the name calling? The answer is that there is none. All those organizations, plus the remnants of the Republican Party, plus all those Neo-conservative foundations and associations, plus their media, plus their backers from the Right Wing foundations–all of them have no plan, no fresh ideas, no programs for citizens to evaluate.
So they simply make up signs, go to meetings and shout insults and meaningless insults.