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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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"I mean, I condemn any violence in the name of political ideology. But the White House and the Democrat (sic) National Committee, and a lot of these liberal bloggers I think have completely overreached in tarring the entire movement of people who have risen up since the stimulus bill. How long -- you've been here all day, I take it? Do you fear for your life around these people?"

Well, no, I didn't. But they were highly unlikely to misbehave in a place where they were surrounded by their own kind. Malkin then went on to say that there had been a "whitewashing" of the degree of assassination threats against President George W. Bush, and she dismissed the Southern Poverty Law Center report that says the militia movement is on the rise.

Joe the Plumber repeated his "woodshed" line to me, justifying it by saying that Congress has "been lyin' to us for years." However, Wurzelbacher said, he didn't advocate violence.

Well, then, what about the sober Wall Street Journal columnist and Murdoch employee, John Fund?

"We heard these same concerns, and they certainly need to be taken seriously," he said, "during the Social Security protests in 2005, and during the anti-war protests in 2--"

I interrupted him. "Yeah, but you didn't have a guy showin' up with a gun strapped to his leg," I said.

"I can send you the articles on that," he replied. "Anti-war protesters that basically stormed speakers' rostrums, silenced speakers. I was at Columbia University when two speakers were silenced.

"[O]bviously, groups should control their members, but most of the people who do this on the left and right are rogue actors. So, you can discourage them, and they should be discouraged, but, you know, democracy has costs. And one of them is that on both the left and the right, you're going to have people who misbehave.

"If they violate the law, they should be punished, if they disrupt meetings, they should be prevented from doing that, but this is part of democracy."

I gave Fund my e-mail address; I'm still waiting for those articles.

In New Hampshire, the armed man who sought to greet Obama carried a sign that read, "It Is Time to Water the Tree of Liberty." The reference was to a Thomas Jefferson quote -- one adored by the so-called freedom movement: "The tree of liberty must be refreshed, from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

As Phillips moved among his crowd of gentle, peaceful people, his former business partner, Ralph Reed, took the stage in Atlanta at the anti-health-care rally co-sponsored by Americans for Prosperity.

Where the New Hampshire gunslinger drew from the first part of Jefferson's quote, Reed picked from the second:

"Our right to protest has been purchased with the blood of patriots who paid the ultimate price so that we could be free men and women and have the ability to petition our government," he said. "We will not be intimidated, we will not be silenced, and we will not go away." 

Adele M. Stan is AlterNet's Washington bureau chief.