Astroturf at Crapstock! Stephen Colbert proposes a successor to Woodstock – Crapstock, where like-minded memos and talking points come together from all over the country to oppose health care reform. “Since you can’t have an actual popular movement,” Colbert advises, “just say you have one. … We don’t need to look at what real people think to know what’s important. We can just look at our faxed memos …” He read from a memo advising opponents to pack town hall meetings, sitting in the front half of the hall, so they will look like a majority — even though a majority of Americans in fact support health care reform.
Among the “best practices” in a memo from Tea Party Patriots volunteer Bob MacGuffie:
– Artificially Inflate Your Numbers: “Spread out in the hall and try to be in the front half. The objective is to put the Rep on the defensive with your questions and follow-up. The Rep should be made to feel that a majority, and if not, a significant portion of at least the audience, opposes the socialist agenda of Washington.”
– Be Disruptive Early And Often: “You need to rock-the-boat early in the Rep’s presentation, Watch for an opportunity to yell out and challenge the Rep’s statements early.”
– Try To “Rattle Him,” Not Have An Intelligent Debate: “The goal is to rattle him, get him off his prepared script and agenda. If he says something outrageous, stand up and shout out and sit right back down. Look for these opportunities before he even takes questions.”
NPR reports that the opposition is well-organized and national:
Many of the events this week appear to have been organized by conservative groups. A new Web site is called “Operation Embarrass Your Congressman.” A widely circulated memo tells right-wing protesters how to treat their representative: “Make him uneasy … stand up and shout out, and sit right back down … rattle him.”
And the Astroturf “organizing” goes beyond health care reform and packing town hall meetings, into probably prosecutable realms for one lobbying firm. TPM Muckraker reports on fake letters sent to oppose environmental legislation. The letters were sent by Bonner and Associates, a lobbying firm:
Bonner and Associates was working on behalf of the coal industry when it sent forged letters — purporting to come from local Hispanic and black groups — to a member of Congress, urging him to oppose the recent climate change bill. Bonner’s client was the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, a top coal-industry advocacy group.
One of the letters went to Virginia first-term Congress member Tom Perriello, purporting to come from a Latino group in his district.
“They stole our name. They stole our logo. They created a position title and made up the name of someone to fill it. They forged a letter and sent it to our congressman without our authorization,” said Tim Freilich, who sits on the executive committee of Creciendo Juntos, a nonprofit network that tackles issues related to Charlottesville’s Hispanic community. “It’s this type of activity that undermines Americans’ faith in democracy.”
Family recession lessons From anger and stress to resilience and coping, the lessons that parents hope to teach and those that children are actually hearing may be miles apart, according to a fascinating and careful report by MPR. One family faces the “devastating” but seemingly inevitable loss of the home they built nine years ago.