On the surface, the “Occupy the Koches: Guerilla Drive-In” event looked like any other “Occupy” movement protest against the proverbial 1 percent of the population who hold the nation’s wealth.
But a confederation of long-established progressive political advocacy groups — the Campaign for America’s Future, Campaign for Community Change, Common Cause, Health Care for America Now and the aptly named Other 98% — were behind Friday’s protest.
…but there’s something here that I want to focus on. Campaign for America’s Future is a 501(c)(4) corporation set up to agitate for the true organization (The Institute for America’s Future) without having to disclose the latter’s donor lists. The Campaign for Community Change is a 501(c)(4) corporation set up to agitate for the true organization (The Center for Community Change) without having to disclose the latter’s donor lists. Common Cause is a 501(c)(4) corporation that has set up The Center for Community Change as a 501(c)(3) in order to avoid having to reveal its true donor lists*. Health Care for America Now is a 501(c)(4) corporation set up to agitate for the true organization (Health Care for America Education Fund; more accurately, the Tides Center) without having to disclose the latter’s donor lists. And then there’s professional antiwar activist Mario Ceglie‘s The Other 98%, which is the latest iteration of The Other 95%, which we at RedState pointed outlast year as being an organization with ties to the professional Activist Left that could best be described as ‘shadowy.’
For an explanation of what the big deal is about a 501(c)(4) nonprofit corporation, anyway, see here. Short version: a 501(c)(4) nonprofit corporation, unlike a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, does not have to disclose its donor lists; contributions to it are not tax-deductible. 501(c)(4) corporations are technically not supposed to be majority politically oriented; but there’s nothing stopping one from donating heavily to, say, a Super PAC that is politically oriented (see here and here). Shorter Moe Lane: 501(c)(4) corporations are great for legally laundering political cash. Which is fine by me – I’m a full transparency, full disclosure, no-limit free speech absolutist when it comes to political contributions – but it’s insanely hypocritical for group who supported the DISCLOSE Act to be using this system. And, guess what? Most of the professional Activist Left supported the DISCLOSE Act.
The Daily Caller has some entertaining video up of a ‘Occupy DC organizer’ admitting that some of the spontaneous voluntary protesters that he has in tow – ones, not even incidentally, that are more, ah, diverse than the baseline of ‘pasty-faced white twenty-something hipster who’s seriously underwater in his/her liberal arts degree student debt’ – are actually being paid to show up and wave signs in a language that is perhaps not the mother tongue of the country of their birth*.
…and don’t do a very good job of it, really. The Orlando Sentinel reported that Rep. Daniel Webster got heckled by “members of progressive groups such as Moveon.org and Organize Now,” while Allen West got screamed at by a woman later identified as being a former radio host for Air America (remember them*?). A few things to note about this:
When the newspapers are taking the time to note that hecklers are professional activists, then the activists are officially Doing It Wrong.
And the reason why the activists are officially Doing It Wrong is because the goal of the exercise is to upset and dismay the legislator that you’re trying to target. During the health care town hall meltdown, what one took away from it was the way that Democratic legislators ran and hid from their own constituents. Politicians who didn’t – like, dagnabbit, Barney Frank – generally came out of the situation with little trouble.
And in fact neither Webster nor West were particularly upset nor dismayed at the reaction. Webster kept patiently explaining his votes and calmly engaging the screamers. West bluntly told his screamers that they weren’t going to intimidate him.
Email campaigners are responsible for planning, writing, and executing grassroots campaigns to advance the President’s agenda for change.
Back in December when Ben Smith reported on this the first time, the DNC’s response was “Your in-box isn’t going to fill itself.” Which is a very unintentionally revealing statement, given that it essentially concedes that the DNC assumes that there’s no such thing as a spontaneous popular movement. After all, if they don’t exist on the Left – and if they existed, the DNC wouldn’t be advertising for people to create them – then they don’t exist anywhere. This probably explains their more nonsensical statements about Tea Parties: the idea of a legitimate populist, grassroots-driven movement is as alien to them as a reactionless drive would be to a modern physicist. Continue reading DNC *still* advertising for astroturfers.
Looking at RS colleague Erick Erickson’s deconstruction of supposed ‘grassroots’ site The Other 95 to reveal yet another Left-astroturf 501(c)(3) organization (in this case, Democracy in Action), I am struck with an errant thought: this must be exquisitely frustrating for professional Lefty operatives. They have almost everything that they need. They have a solid majority in both Houses of Congress; an Executive branch run by a Democrat and which contains all sorts of people willing to quietly do them favors; a media that largely takes their claims at face value; a plethora of funding; and even a broad outline of goals. They have all these things, but they lack one thing – one thing – and that’s actual warm bodies. They can’t even fill a coffee house reliably, let alone a field.
The really funny part? They’ve never needed to pack the room or the field before; because the Right. Doesn’t. Do. Protests. We bragged about it: “We have jobs.” So they never had to worry about that, until now. And it turns out that being able to bring out the people is actually an absolutely vital prerequisite for having a successful populist movement.
In recent weeks, Light has published virtually identical “Letters to the Editor” in support of President Barack Obama in more than a dozen newspapers.Every letter claimed a different residence for Light that happened to be in the newspaper’s circulation area.
As has been endlessly documented, David Axelrod was the “gold standard of astroturf campaigns” for his many PR clients. Astroturf, in case you don’t know, is “artificial grassroots” — a paid consultant attempting to create the illusion of grassroots support.
Readers of this site know we had a lot of “Concerned Christian Conservatives” who showed up in the months before an election to write the same script ten times a week…
…and then Ace goes on to explain what happened on his site, which is pretty much what happened on every right-wing site whose structure would permit it: a blizzard of virtually-identical arguments and missives that wouldn’t fool regular site readers but might persuade casual visitors that there was actually something to whatever it was that the Democrats were trying to push that week. If RedState didn’t have as many as some, it’s because we weren’t in a mood to let the Online Left take advantage of our hospitality*. Continue reading Ben Smith startled to find out he got hit by astroturf job.
Why you need to start bringing cameras everywhere.
(Via Gateway Pundit) This got filmed yesterday, and shows an organizer for HCAN giving quick instructions on how to keep Rep. Jan Schakowsky‘s constituents from being heard when they raise concerns on the health care rationing bill:
As Glenn Reynolds notes, there’s a certain amount of projection going on, here.
PS: Exit question: why are the Democrats so worried about a D+20 district? Maybe we should look into that.
If you’re wondering how seriously the administration is taking its tame – some might say, ‘gelded’ – town halls, well:
A look at President Obama’s health care “town hall” Tuesday in Portsmouth, N.H., shows the president out-spoke his audience by a ratio of nearly 9-to-1.
Here’s the scorecard.
Obama: 8,619 words.
Audience: 1,186 words.
You tell me.
PS: Anybody else getting the feeling that one of the reasons that Democrats are being so graceless about this entire ‘town hall protest’ thing is because it’s wrecking their vacation? I mean, really: sitting in Congress and spending our money is such hard work, and here is the mob spoiling the ruling faction’s precious, precious time away from that task.
Now this should be what worries proponents of health care rationing: citizens showing up in much larger-than-anticipated numbers to complain about an issue – to legislators who agree with them.
U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., learned constituents were more engaged than he may have thought.
Hundreds turned out in Waycross for a town hall meeting Wednesday on House Resolution 3200, the House bill on reform – a discussion Kingston’s staff thought would draw only 50 or 60.
Kingston heard worries over the effect of the bill on businesses, lack of health care choice, and the degraded quality of coverage. Kingston himself said there was too much big government and too much cost in a universal plan.
Via The Campaign Spot. The aforementioned health care rationing supporters – which is to say, “Democrats” – should be worried for two reasons. First off, it helps put the lie to the Democrats’ sad allegations that the other side is also faking up grassroots support. Jack Kingston won his R+16 district by a comfortable margin last year; GA-01 is about the last place you’d choose for astroturfing GOP support for something. Secondly – and more importantly – stories like this indicate that the Republican rank-and-file has gotten a taste for showing up for events like these. Which is great… for the GOP, because we don’t have to spend many resources at the moment to get them there and keep them there. Not so great news for the Democratic party, which will have to have its union contingent spend even more resources to match what we’re doing now. Which means that anybody from a GOP district should go to their town hall meetings, too. Not that you should forget your cameras.
…a Senator who is barely known for defeating Michael Steele in the 2006 election (honestly, Maryland does not have particularly interesting Senators; sorry about that) – anyway, if you can’t get Ben Cardin to sign off on your ‘astroturf’ rhetoric, well, you have a branding problem. Watch as he manfully attempts to avoid sweating on national television over the mess that his higher-ups have landed him in:
Cardin probably saw this poll (via @RobertBluey). 71% of adults want to attend a town hall involving health care, and are currently pegged at 50% for, 45% against. Turn those numbers into likely voters… and now you know why Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) suddenly doesn’t think that health care rationing protesters are ‘un-American‘ after all. Not that she’s planning to actually face all those protesters; even if they are also 2010 voters…