Utilizing Public Airwaves, Media Mogul Murdoch Is Big Muscle Behind Fraudulent Astro Turfers
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The crowd began to shout. "Cowards!" several yelled.
It was at an event focused on health-care reform sponsored by Service Employees International Union in Tampa that Tea Party crowds tried to force their way into the forum after the room in which was held was already to capacity. A scuffle ensued.
Earlier in the RightOnline conference, Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., addressing the crowd in a video message, expressed a similar sentiment, in the words of Revolutionary War hero Samuel Adams: "It doesn't take a majority to prevail," Price said, "but an irate and tireless minority …"
Or sometimes, an angry mob.
As AlterNet reported earlier this week, Americans for Prosperity opened its general session with Joe Wurzelbacher, a.k.a., Joe the Plumber, telling the crowd that there was a time when he would have taken politicians like House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., "out behind the woodshed and beat the livin' tar out of ‘em." The crowd roared.
In one instance, the iconography of the militia-inspired "freedom movement" bubbled up in the exhibition hall outside the plenary session. A group called American Majority offered for sale posters featuring the coiled snake of the Revolutionary War Gadsen flag, which has been appropriated by organized gun enthusiasts.
The flag's iconic coiled snake graced the sign held by the man with a gun strapped to his leg outside the New Hampshire high school where Obama conducted a forum on health-care reform earlier this month.
Were it not for repeated instances of weaponry brought into or near health-care town-hall meetings, and death threats made on members of Congress conducting town halls, it might be easier to dismiss remarks such as Malkin's as just so much rhetoric.
What's worse, it has been given the seal of approval by mainstream Republicans. Appearing on the Aug. 17 edition of NBC's Meet the Press -- the day after the RightOnline conference closed -- Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma told host David Gregory that members of Congress have "earned" the physically threatening consternation they are experiencing.
Lean and energetic, AFP President Tim Phillips sports an obvious dye-job on his full head of hair and exudes the sort of studied affability common among leaders of the religious right. But there's an unmistakable hardness around his eyes and in the set of his jaw.
After the general session concluded, I caught Phillips in the hotel lobby and asked him to respond to the threats of violence that have surrounded some town-hall meetings dedicated to health-care reform.
"Do you see any violence here today? I see the most kind, warm, friendly people in America," he said. "I mean, there's 600 people here; there's no talk of negative stuff or nasty stuff or attacking anyone. It's about being civil. That's how you win: by being civil"
As if I hadn't just sat through Malkin's less-than-civil speech.
I mentioned ResistNet, an AFP partner in the Tea Party coalition, whose site abounds with racist and violent material.
"I can only speak for Americans for Prosperity," he replied, "and we've got over 800,000 members now, and what you heard today is what you'll hear anywhere we are. … With all the media that's out there today, if you're trying to play games with this audience being one way, and this audience being -- you get caught, and we're not going to do that."
Malkin was no more philosophical when I asked her the same question.
"Look, I think we always have to be concerned about outliers and individual lone nuts out there, whatever their political ideology is," she said, "and certainly in the wake of some of these cases where there have been people who have claimed to be right-wingers -- or at least that's how it's been portrayed -- that ended up perpetrating violence.