So here I am. I should totally be in bed, sleeping. Preparing myself mentally for a Greek test that I have tomorrow. But I am still up. Watching old episodes of The Alaska Experiment on Discovery Channel and I just saw this ad:
After all these years of right-wing astro-turfing efforts, I am pretty good at spotting an attempt, particularly one this ham-handed, almost immediately.
After a quick Google search of the name of the group claiming responsibility for the ad, "Patients United Now," I had my suspicions confirmed. This group is the ultimate example of astro-turfing. It is a project of the group "Americans for Prosperity." If this group sound familiar, it should. This is the group that was one of the main leaders behind the "Tea Party" movement that has become a vocal point for the radical right (if you have questions about this Google it. You will see multiple videos, from multiple rallies, of people calling for essentially armed rebellion and secession from the United States. As I believe that information never hurt anyone, feel free to visit the website for AFP.
But who/what exactly is "Americans for Prosperity"? Again, just a few minutes of quick Google search gave me the answers that I was looking for. The Center for Media and Democracy's Source Watch gives us an entry on AFP. Some interesting stuff there, including the fact that AFP advocates for the tobacco industry, has been a strong proponent of anti-Climate Change pseudo science, and the fact that much of the money for its operation comes from Art Pope (a name that any here in North Carolina will recognize) as well as David Koch.
The good folks over at the Center for American Progress have done some more great work on informing us about AFP. In a Press Release from 2008 the Center for American Progress Action Fund lays out some of the greater Right-wing connections of Koch, and thus AFP. The Koch machine has been instrumental in the founding of many of the most extreme members of the "vast right-wing conspiracy" including: The John Birch Society, the CATO Institute, The Federalist Society, The Heritage Society, and North Carolina's John Locke Foundation (there is that Art Pope connection again). These are groups that range from the mainstream of the conservative movement to the farthest reaches of its fringe.
Here is an assortment of Think Progress and Wonk Room posts concerning AFP and the Koch machine:
Many laughed at Hilary Clinton in 1998 when she claimed that the attacks on her husband and his administration were part of a "vast right-wing conspiracy." While Bill Clinton did little to help himself, and certainly was no true progressive, the fact that his administration was the target of a concerted effort by a hyper-organized right-wing apparatus to discredit it, both on the personal level as well as the policy level, must be accepted by all but the most dense.
Now in the early days of an administration that might actually deliver on some true progressive change, this machine is ramping up again. And in principle I don't disagree with their ability to advocate their point of view, I do have a serious issue with dishonesty. And at its most basic, that is what the astro-turfing efforts of right-wing groups, ones connected with the Koch machine and those that aren't, are. They are dishonest lies, based in appealing to the most base of human instincts: fear and anger, leading to hatred.
How many people, if they knew the true connections of "Patients United Now," would even give a second thought to these ads? Polls tell us that the vast majority of people in this country want sweeping health-care reform. Yet how many people, in the absence of true and good information, will be swayed by the lies of such organizations like the Koch machine and its tools the AFP and Patients United Now?
BTW, Media Matters has a good rebuttal of the "facts" that are in the ad. While I am not normally a big fan of Media Matters, they have done a good job here. I will continue to check FactCheck.org to see if they put up a good fact check of the ad. If they do, I will be sure to post it here.
EDIT: I promised an update from FactCheck.org if one was posted. Well apparently it had been posted already and I just missed it. Here it is.