Inside Story on Town Hall Riots: Right-Wing Shock Troops Do Corporate America’s Dirty Work
Posted on Aug 10, 2009
By Adele M. Stan, AlterNet
A 501(c)(4) nonprofit, Grassfire has been named as a "stealth political action committee" by Public Citizen. Its founder and president, Steve Elliott, has held up MoveOn.org as a model for where he would like to take his organization.
ResistNet, has become a major hub for turning out hard-core right-wingers to health-care town hall meetings. The organization took in $1.5 million in 2007 (the most recent year for which information is publicly available).
It’s difficult to find out much of anything about Elliott; he manages to keep a very low profile. But SourceWatch and Public Citizen report that Grassfire is represented by the Washington public relations firm Shirley & Bannister, whose principal is Craig Shirley, the man who gave us the Willie Horton ad of the 1988 presidential election.
Shirley promoted the movie, Stolen Honor, a Swiftboat-style smear piece made about 2004 presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. Today, Shirley’s clients, according to the Shirley & Bannister Web site, include the National Rifle Association, author Ann Coulter, religious right co-founder Richard Viguerie, and other religious right figures.
Square, Site wide
The firm also promotes the books of former Rep. Joe Scarborough, R-Fla., (now of MSNBC) and former George H.W. Bush speechwriter Peggy Noonan (who promised us a "kinder, gentler nation")—books published by Rupert Murdoch’s HarperCollins.
The site also lists several other major publishers as clients for the promotion of books by right-wing authors.
I called Shirley & Bannister on Friday morning, asking if Grassfire/ResistNet was its client, since it is not listed on the Web site. I was told that Amy Haas, the person who could answer my question, was on the phone, and would get back to me. She did not.
On its introductory page, Grassfire.org complimentary words from Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., and Sen. DeMint.
"Grassfire has done a great job and has done a great service to the American people," reads the DeMint quote.
Grassfire makes the point often that it will show the president respect and refrain from personal attacks, as ResistNet, which touts a "no tolerance policy" (they can’t say "zero tolerance," since "Zero" is the nickname by which many of their members call Obama—a play on the first letter of his last name) for "personal attacks, lewd or profane language, or militancy against Barack Obama or others."
Yet a boxed statement on the opening page of the ResistNet site offers this: Welcome to the online community for patriotic citizens who are opposing the Obama-led socialist agenda …"
ResistNet is full of comments and blog posts that violate its purported "no tolerance" policy, including those calling for social insurrection and even the death of Obama. It promises that such comments will be removed by a moderator, and yet they live on the site for months.
Here’s a comment that appears below a letter one ResistNet member named Joel wrote to his congresswoman:
Or check out this one, posted by George and Pat Wilkins on Aug. 6, in which they close a long post warning that "the statists will pass socialized medicine in September" by wishing for the death of the president:
And those just two recent examples. Posted on July 2, and still living on the ResistNet site as I write is a video by the Rev. James David Manning, who warns that "white folks are gonna riot in the streets, and I’m gonna join them." Throughout the video, Manning, an African American, refers to Obama as a "half-breed Mack Daddy"—slang for a kind of megapimp.
Then there’s this charming bit of propaganda, Obama = Hitler (which you can view at the bottom of this story), which dubs video of Obama delivering a speech with the voice of Adolf Hitler, and interposes swastikas and Obama’s campaign logo; Obama is shown wearing a swastika armband; Hitler is shown with the Obama logo as a belt buckle.
Footage of Obama supporters, most of them African American, is run side-by-side with Hitler’s adoring crowds. As Obama waves and moves his mouth, the dub is Hitler yelling, "Sieg Heil!"
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