Friday, August 7, 2009


Paul Krugman provides a nice overview of the "astroturf" (fake grass-roots) protests that corporate America is helping to organize on behalf of the health care industry. Here's a snippet:

Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, has compared the scenes at health care town halls to the “Brooks Brothers riot” in 2000 — the demonstration that disrupted the vote count in Miami and arguably helped send George W. Bush to the White House. Portrayed at the time as local protesters, many of the rioters were actually G.O.P. staffers flown in from Washington.

But Mr. Gibbs is probably only half right. Yes, well-heeled interest groups are helping to organize the town hall mobs. Key organizers include two Astroturf (fake grass-roots) organizations: FreedomWorks, run by the former House majority leader Dick Armey, and a new organization called Conservatives for Patients’ Rights.

The latter group, by the way, is run by Rick Scott, the former head of Columbia/HCA, a for-profit hospital chain. Mr. Scott was forced out of that job amid a fraud investigation; the company eventually pleaded guilty to charges of overbilling state and federal health plans, paying $1.7 billion — yes, that’s “billion” — in fines. You can’t make this stuff up.
Rachel Maddow has a nice introduction to the 2000 Brooks Brothers fake "grass roots" protesters from the Republican party here:

If you want to see who's pulling the strings to kill health care reform today check out this (at times humorous) clip from Rachel Maddow:

I think Rachel Maddow gets it right: These are "made for YouTube ambushes." Just like the protests in Florida in 2000, the Swiftboating of John Kerry in 2004, and the current Astroturf Health Care Protests, what we're seeing is a well-funded effort on the part of organized lobbying groups who are bent on seeing President Obama fail on health care reform.

The goal isn't simply stopping health care reform. It's political. They want to get rid of President Obama, and see health care as his Waterloo.

This is not governing. It's corporate America pursuing political power for their political patron, the Republican Party. The unfortunate stooges you see at the townhalls - while passionate - are simply pawns in this game

- Mark

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