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Spontaneous Uprising? Corporate Lobbyists Helping To Orchestrate Radical Anti-Obama Tea Party Protests

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 10th, 2009 4:33 am by HL

Spontaneous Uprising? Corporate Lobbyists Helping To Orchestrate Radical Anti-Obama Tea Party Protests
Yesterday, Think Progress reported on Republican lawmakers planning to speak at anti-Obama “tea party” protests taking place nationwide on April 15. Last night, Eric Odom of the DontGo website — one of the organizers of the protests — wrote a blog post stressing that these protests are displays of “regular American[s] in protest of government […]

Yesterday, Think Progress reported on Republican lawmakers planning to speak at anti-Obama “tea party” protests taking place nationwide on April 15. Last night, Eric Odom of the DontGo website — one of the organizers of the protests — wrote a blog post stressing that these protests are displays of “regular American[s] in protest of government spending and extreme taxation,” rather than something affiliated with a political party or special interest agenda.

Today on Fox News — which has actively been promoting the protests — Glenn Beck pushed the tea party talking points, similarly claiming that the protests aren’t “coordinated” and are fully organized by “regular” people. Watch it:

Despite these attempts to make the “movement” appear organic, the principle organizers of the local events are actually the lobbyist-run think tanks Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Works. The two groups are heavily staffed and well funded, and are providing all the logistical and public relations work necessary for planning coast-to-coast protests:

Freedom Works staffers coordinate conference calls among protesters, contacting conservative activists to give them “sign ideas, sample press releases, and a map of events around the country.”

Freedom Works staffers apparently moved to “take over” the planning of local events in Florida.

Freedom Works provides how-to guides for delivering a “clear message” to the public and media.

Freedom Works has several domain addresses — some of them made to look like they were set up by amateurs — to promote the protests.

Americans for Prosperity is writing press releases and planning the events in New Jersey, Arizona, New Hampshire, Missouri, Kansas, and several other states.

This type of corporate ‘astroturfing‘ is nothing new to either organization. While working to promote Social Security privatization, Freedom Works was caught planting one of its operatives as a “single mom” to ask questions to President Bush in a town hall on the subject. Last year, the Wall Street Journal exposed Freedom Works for similarly building “amateur-looking” websites to promote the lobbying interests of Dick Armey, the former Republican Majority Leader who now leads Freedom Works and is a lobbyist for the firm DLA Piper.

Americans for Prosperity is run by Tim Phillips, who was Ralph Reed’s former partner in the lobbying firm Century Strategies. The group is funded by Koch family foundations — a family whose wealth is derived from the oil industry. Indeed Americans for Prosperity has coordinated pro-drilling ‘grassroots‘ events around the country.

Update This afternoon, former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich, leader of the corporate-funded American Solutions for Winning the Futures (ASWF), blasted an e-mail to his supporters with a reminder to attend the protests, along with a “Toolkit” of talking points. Gingrich’s ASWF is funded by polluters and helped orchestrate the “Drill Here, Drill Now” campaign last summer. ASWF has been an official “partner” in the tea party effort since at least March.

Rove Attacks Obama For Praising Turkey?s ?Secular Movement,? Even Though Bush Made Similar Statements
President Obama recently said in Turkey that a strength of the U.S. is that “we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation. We consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values.” The right wing is up in arms over […]

President Obama recently said in Turkey that a strength of the U.S. is that “we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation. We consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values.”

The right wing is up in arms over Obama’s remarks, in which he also noted that “modern Turkey was founded with a similar set of principles.” Yesterday, Fox News’s Sean Hannity and Karl Rove lampooned Obama for saying the U.S. is a secular country. Rove accused Obama of identifying himself with the “Turkish secular movement” and denying the role of “faith in the public square”:

ROVE: And to somehow go to Turkey and in order to sort of identify yourself with this Turkish secular movement that began in the early part of the previous century and try and somehow make Turkey and America equivalent is to deny each nation’s reality.

And Turkey is a country that adopted a certain attitude toward the role of religion in the public arena, and America has a different attitude, and we have historically had, you know, a robust presence of faith in our public square and to deny that that’s a reality is, you know, very strange, I think.

“Look, America is a nation built on faith. I mean we can be Christian, we can be Jew,” Rove added. Watch it:

Turkey is a officially a secular democracy, dating back to the 1920s when the ruler Ataturk broke off ties with the Islamic caliphate. Indeed, like Obama, Rove’s former boss, President Bush, also saw Turkey as a role model for the entire world.

Turkey “provides Muslims around the world a hopeful model of a modern and secular democracy,” Bush said in 2002. “I appreciate so very much the example your country has set on how to be a Muslim country and at the same time, a country which embraces democracy and rule of law and freedom,” he said in 2004.

The attack on Obama’s remarks are part of a growing right-wing narrative. Yesterday on Fox News, Newt Gingrich claimed that Obama was “fundamentally misleading about the nature of America” in Turkey. Gingrich then made an astounding remark: “We are not a secular country.”

Of course, Obama is absolutely correct to note that the U.S. and Turkey are both secular. Indeed, the U.S. Constitution says that Congress can pass “no law respecting an establishment of religion.” Nor is Obama denying the “presence of faith in our public square,” as Rove alleged. In fact, Obama brought a diverse array of religious leaders to the White House Office of Faith-Based Initiatives this week.

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