News & Politics

Gun-Nut Outside Obama Townhall Linked to GOP 'Stop ObamaCare' Effort

Strapped with a loaded gun, William Kostric carried a message from the GOP's "break Obama" campaign.
On Aug. 11, William Kostric of New Hampshire strapped a loaded gun to his leg, and went to greet the president of the United States.

His message was sponsored with the tacit approval of a social networking site promoted by a well-connected Republican public-relations firm.

Kostric's action was within the law; New Hampshire gun laws permit registered gun owners to carry their weapons in public, as long as they are not concealed. Standing with a crowd of anti-government protesters on the property of a church that abutted the high school campus where Barack Obama would conduct a town-hall meeting on health-care reform, Kostric carried a sign that read, "It's time to water the tree of liberty."

The slogan refers to a classic quote from Thomas Jefferson: "The tree of liberty must be refreshed, from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

The sign bore the image of the coiled and threatening rattlesnake that adorned an early U.S. battle flag that included the words, "Don't tread on me."

At the bottom of Kostric's sign, viewers were informed that the message was "brought to you by"

Visit the site of Restore the Republic, and you will find a wealth of information on some of the far right's favorite conspiracy theories: the Bilderberg conspiracy, the Tri-Lateral Commission, the New World Order and "FEMA internment camps." The site is a draw for anti-government gun enthusiasts and survivalists.

While Kostric and his "freedom movement" compatriots hover at the fringe of America society, they are not without usefulness to the Republican Party.

On Monday, I reported on the organizing of town-hall protesters done by Grassfire and its sibling site, ResistNet. Grassfire is represented by Shirley & Banister Public Affairs, a public-relations firm that represents mainstream Republican figures, according to the firm's Web site. Clients include Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan and Weekly Standard editor William Kristol. Grassfire, a new-media nonprofit organization, is endorsed by Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., who famously announced his intention to "break" Obama by making health-care reform "his Waterloo."

A search on the ResistNet social networking site yielded 29 pages of comments containing links to Restore the Republic.

Several were in response to a Restore the Republic piece by by Margie Laupheimer posted on ResistNet, which issues the familiar denial of the existence of Obama's birth certificate. "Some are suggesting that Obama is off the hook concerning his lack of an authentic birth certificate ... " she begins.
Reply byarthur ellzeyon July 22, 2009 at 5:20am
we must stop him!!?

Reply bySHAWNon July 22, 2009 at 12:16pm


A post from Cathari in March 2009 refers readers to a document on Restore the Republic chronicling the resurgence of the militia movement. The headline asks, "Are You A Dangerous Conspiracy Theorist? A Danger To Law Enforcement? Perhaps to The Government Itself?
... this should be read by anyone who thought the Movement was dead and buried back in the 1990s. It is alive and well and thriving and frightening the hell out of Law Enforcement and our "Government" ... I wonder why ...

According to the Restore the Republic Web site, the organization was founded in 2007 by the late Aaron Russo as a follow-up to his film, America: Freedom to Fascism, a documentary that contends that the U.S income tax is illegal because the 16th amendment was never ratified by the states.

Russo ran, unsuccessfully, in Nevada's 1998 Republican gubernatorial primary, and endorsed Texas Republican Rep. Ron Paul in his 2008 presidential bid. In his Hollywood heyday, Russo produced such hits as Trading Places, The Rose and Wise Guys.

Like the denizens of Restore the Republic, Russo opposed the not just the Federal Reserve and the Internal Revenue Service, but the captains of industry who built the U.S. banking system.

How ironic, then, that the so-called freedom movement represented by Restore the Republic has placed itself in the service of the nation's corporations as it seeks to derail health-care reform.

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