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Utilizing Public Airwaves, Media Mogul Murdoch Is Big Muscle Behind Fraudulent Astro Turfers

Burrowing inside the radical right's gathering of astroturfers and mouthpieces, AlterNet Reporter Adele Stan discovers what makes the anti-health reform machine tick.

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Glen Meakem, the local radio host, used his time on the stage to promote an outright lie: He told the audience that page 425 of the House bill required seniors to meet every five years with a government official for mandatory counseling on "dying with dignity." The bill says no such thing; go to page 425 [PDF] yourself and have a look.

As has oft been repeated, what the bill does offer on end-of-life issues, should one choose it, is coverage for a paid counseling session with your doctor or health-care practitioner, for which senior citizens are eligible every five years.

But Meakem just ignores that, claiming that the bill‘s alleged "compulsory" counseling would require the hiring of 7,000 bureaucrats before whom 55,000 seniors per day would be required to sit and reveal their plans for how they would like to die.

"Imagine the assembly line," he said. "Imagine what a quiet, private, intimate discussion that would be -- a bureaucratic paper chase with government officials, and it would be an incredible, incredible violation of our privacy."

Yet, the exposure by progressive journalists of the right's astroturfing seemed to have movement leaders on the defensive, assuring their troops that they were indeed real people.

And they are. They're frightened, misinformed real people who have been organized by corporate interests.

The night before the general session, at the RightOnline dinner (which featured Pennsylvania Senate GOP candidate Pat Toomey as its speaker), I sat next to a lovely woman from Pittsburgh named Linda. She had never before been involved in politics, but the Obama plan, she said, had moved her. She was almost as distrustful of the GOP as she was of the Democrats, she said, on account of George H.W. Bush's embrace of, "what was that world government thing?"

"Oh, the New World Order?" I asked.

"Yes, that, and that, oh, I can't remember the name of it, Tri--"

"The Tri-Lateral Commission?" I offered.

"That's it," she replied. "The Tri-Lateral Commission."

Still, she would rather have the Republicans than Obama's socialism, she told me.

Or there was the woman waiting in line to get her copy of Michelle Malkin's book, The Culture of Corruption, signed by the author.

She didn't want to give me an on-the-record interview, but I can tell you this much: Her family owns a local manufacturing business, and she's convinced that "the America I know is disappearing," and that Obama is intent on turning the United States into "a Marxist nation."

Like most of the participants in the Saturday session, the women appeared to be well over 40.

Dog Whistles For Violence

Malkin, Fox News contributor and founder of Hot Air, delivered the keynote to the RightOnline general session. Malkin was the only nonwhite person to grace the RightOnline podium, and one of two women.

A practiced speaker, Malkin's tone was by turns snide and gracious as she assured the crowd that they were doing the work of freedom. Like other conference speakers, she counseled RightOnline attendees to not be demoralized by their relative lack of numbers when compared to progressives.

"Don't worry about tallying up how many people are at the Nutroots conference versus this conference," told the audience. "That is not the metric; the metric is, what is the White House worried about right now? Are they worried about the Nutroots, or are they worried about you? Who are they trying to silence? Them or you?"

Then Malkin took her exhortation one step further. "On the White House health-care takeover plan, you have the majority running scared. Think about this, contemplate this: Democrat lawmakers on recess now are hiding from their constituents, in SEIU offices."