August 4th, 2009


Al Qaeda Offers Obama Conditional Truce If Troops Leave Muslim World

Al Qaeda Offers Obama Conditional Truce If Troops Leave Muslim World

Osama bin-Laden's deputy said in a video message released Monday that the al-Qaida leader's offers of a truce with the U.S. and Europe remained on the table, though he ridiculed President Barack Obama as "the new face of the same old crimes."

In a video posted on an Islamic militant Web site, al-Qaida's No. 2 leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, scorned the American president over the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the U.S. approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Nonetheless, al-Zawahri said "fair" truces offered by bin-Laden were still valid.

In 2004, bin-laden offered a truce to European countries that do not attack Muslims. Two years later, he offered the American people a "long-term truce" without specifying the conditions, though in that same audio recording he also warned that his fighters were preparing new attacks in the United States.

"These offers were dealt with impolitely but are still valid, and the offer is fair," al-Zawahri said. "But they (Americans) want a relationship with us based on suppression."

"Obama is like a wolf whose fangs tear your flesh and whose paws slit your face and then he calls on you to talk about peace," he said.

Al-Zawahri has been critical of Obama since his election, even releasing a message that referred to him as a "house negro," a slur for a black subservient to whites.

In the message released Monday by al-Qaida's media operation, Al-Sahab, al-Zawahri said Obama is seeking to mislead the Muslim world with calls for better ties and was doing so because wrath from the Muslim world had inflicted catastrophes upon America.

"We are not idiots to accept meaningless flexible words. Obama is the new face with the same old crimes," he said.

U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters Monday that the United States believes it has "turned a tide" in the struggle against extremists. He spoke of success in Afghanistan, "difficult as it is," and "meaningful steps" by the Pakistani government against al-Qaida and others.

"This is not a struggle that al-Qaida is destined to win," Crowley said. "As to a truce, I have no further comment."


GOP Greatest New Strategy: White Voters!

For The Modern GOP, It's A Return To The "White Voter Strategy"

With Republican party leaders so constrained by ideological blinders that none of their positions is likely to produce gains among non-white minorities, especially Hispanics, the GOP is finding it has no real alternative but to revert to a "white voter" strategy.

To some extent, it's working. The party's opposition to President Obama's agenda -- particularly his cap-and-trade energy proposal and health care reform plan -- is resonating strongly with disaffected white Democratic voters. Republican grievances about Obama, combined with race-baiting commentary from the far-right ideologues who have become some of the most dominant voices of the modern GOP, have led to a precipitous drop in the president's approval ratings among whites.

It's all very reminiscent of the party's notorious Southern Strategy, which carried the GOP for decades. But that strategy backfired spectacularly in the 2006 and 2008 elections,
and there's no reason to think it will work any better in 2010 -- especially given the ever-growing importance of the minority electorate.

In this respect, even if the GOP picks up a few House and Senate seats in 2010, many of the party's top analysts believe that it will remain mired in minority status through 2012 and beyond. Other analysts say it may even decline to the level of a minor regional party, with its only real strength in the South.
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Obama - Smooth

Happy Birthday Mr. President!!

Obama to Lunch with Senate Democrats. All of Them.

President Obama will host the entire Senate Democratic caucus for lunch at the White House on Tuesday, in an effort to review the achievements of his first six months in office and build momentum for major initiatives whose fates are now in the hands of Congress.

Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the president invited the caucus to discuss "what has been accomplished in the first six-and-a-half months of the administration, and to talk about our priorities," including the slowly recovering economy and proposals to revamp the health care system and encourage the use of renewable energy.

There may even be cake for dessert, seeing as Tuesday is the president's 48th birthday.

"Chuck E. Cheese was booked," Gibbs joked during the White House press briefing on Monday. But those fearing that the health-care debate will overshadow Obama's chance at celebration should not worry. The president got an early start on the festivities over the weekend at Camp David.

The meeting comes as Senate Democrats are growing increasingly weary of bipartisan health care reform negotiations being run by Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.). Sen. Charles Schumer on Monday said if the three Republicans and three Democrats on that committee who are negotiating can't reach an agreement by mid-September, Democrats are likely to end their attempts at getting broad GOP support for a bill.

And some Democrats have grumbled the president is not doing enough to back a government-run health insurance program, which some liberals view as an important step in any reform effort. Obama has said he backs such a public plan, but has not defined exactly what it should look like.

Obama administration officials are also likely to press the Senate to approve additional money for the "Cash for Clunkers" program. The House approved $2 billion to extend the program last week, but the Senate has not yet said what it will do, despite the program's popularity with auto dealers and some car buyers.

"The president will use it as an opportunity, as I am about to, to talk about the benefits of what that program has done," Gibbs said, adding: "It's good for dealers and auto manufacturers. You've seen Ford talk about their sales being up as a result of this program. It's good for our energy security and our environment."

ETA: The rundown of what he did at Camp David under the cut

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Second ETA:  What the Birthers are doing to wish the Prez a happy birthday under the cut

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Beck: ‘Just one lunatic like Timothy McVeigh could ruin everything.’ WUT?

Beck: ‘Just one lunatic like Timothy McVeigh could ruin everything.’(VIDEO)

Among high-profile media pundits, Glenn Beck has used some of the most divisive language when speaking about President Obama. Just last week he called Obama a “racist” who “hates white people.” But yesterday on his Fox News show, an unusually subdued Beck turned down his hostility to deliver a message, in an apparent attempt to insulate himself, saying the interaction needs to be “respectful, polite, forceful and peaceful” because “one lunatic like Timothy McVeigh could ruin everything”:

If anyone thinks that it would be a good idea to turn violent, think again. It would destroy the Republic. They have awakened a sleeping giant. But just one lunatic like Timothy McVeigh could ruin everything that everyone has worked so hard for. Because these people in Washington won’t pass up the use of an emergency. Look how the media ran with the abortion doctor killing. They tried to pin that despicable act on Fox in general and specifically Bill O’Reilly and me. …I don’t want to ever hear from our own Americans, anyone voicing some sort of Muslim-extremist type justification.

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A fan of Glenn Beck was recently arrested for “scouting out and taking pictures of an Air National Guard base." The woman had an arsenal that included an XM-15 assault rifle, a shotgun and 500 rounds of ammunition.

Glenn Beck Fan Busted for Casing National Guard Base

Dear CNN and Fox: This is what happens when you give false legitimacy to people like Glenn Beck:

As reported by Saturday's NY Post ( ), "A Long Island mother of three -- armed to the teeth with an assault rifle and shotgun -- was arrested for scouting out and taking pictures of an Air National Guard base.

" Her arsenal included an XM-15 assault rifle, a shotgun and 500 rounds of ammunition.

The woman, Nancy Genovese, had been seen at the base a few weeks earlier, taking photos and questioning the guards. This time she had returned to take photos of the perimeter of the base. It's not difficult to make the connection that she was paranoid about "FEMA Camps".

Genovese is a Glenn Beck fan, according to her MySpace page ( and archived at "He is mad as hell and so are we. He is right and so are we", writes Genovese, who also posted a video of a Glenn Beck rant.

Genovese additionally posted an amateur video indicating her apparent affinity for right-wing militia movements.

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Obama to Drudge: Its On Biatch!

Obama V. Drudge: White House Rebuts Heath Care Clip (VIDEO)

The White House is directly addressing viral attacks on the president's health care reform push, trying to defuse spreading rumors suggesting a government takeover of insurance.

The administration on Tuesday targeted a clip featured on the Drudge Report claiming Obama wants to eliminate public health insurance with a video of their own.

Pointing to the right-leaning aggregator on her computer, White House Office of Health Reform Communications Director Linda Douglass "says the people who always try to scare people ... are at it again," manipulating old video to "leave a false impression." She then plays video of the president promising that anyone who likes their health insurance will be able to keep it.

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Lobby groups denies "Disrupt Town Hall Plan" memo

Right-Wing Harassment Strategy Against Dems Detailed In Memo: ‘Yell,’ ‘Stand Up And Shout Out,’ ‘Rattle Him’

This morning, Politico reported that Democratic members of Congress are increasingly being harassed by “angry, sign-carrying mobs and disruptive behavior” at local town halls. For example, in one incident, right-wing protesters surrounded Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY) and forced police officers to have to escort him to his car for safety.

This growing phenomenon is often marked by violence and absurdity. Recently, right-wing demonstrators hung Rep. Frank Kratovil (D-MD) in effigy outside of his office. Missing from the reporting of these stories is the fact that much of these protests are coordinated by public relations firms and lobbyists who have a stake in opposing President Obama’s reforms.

The lobbyist-run groups Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks, which orchestrated the anti-Obama tea parties earlier this year, are now pursuing an aggressive strategy to create an image of mass public opposition to health care and clean energy reform. A leaked memo from Bob MacGuffie, a volunteer with the FreedomWorks website Tea Party Patriots, details how members should be infiltrating town halls and harassing Democratic members of Congress:

– 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.”

The memo above also resembles the talking points being distributed by FreedomWorks for pushing an anti-health reform assault all summer. Patients United, a front group maintained by Americans for Prosperity, is currently busing people all over the country for more protests against Democratic members. Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), chairman of the NRCC, has endorsed the strategy, telling the Politico the days of civil town halls are now “over.”

Meanwhile, AHIP, the trade group and lobbying juggernaut representing the health insurance industry is sending staffers to monitor town halls and other right-wing front groups are stepping up their ad campaign to smear reform efforts. The strategy for defeating reform — recently outlined by an influential lobbyist to the Hill newspaper as “delay” then “kill” — is becoming apparent. By delaying a vote until after the August recess, lobbyists are now seizing upon recess town halls as opportunities to ambush lawmakers and fool them into believing there is wide opposition to reform.

Update Amy Menefee, communications director of Americans for Prosperity and its anti-health reform group Patients United, wrote to ThinkProgress regarding this post:
"Several blogs have picked up your post: which mentions Americans for Prosperity's efforts next to your mention of Bob MacGuffie's memo about town hall meetings. Mr. MacGuffie's memo was his own work. I would appreciate your help in correcting the erroneous rumor people have passed around that this memo came from AFP. We have encouraged our members to attend town halls, ask questions and register their opinions about issues including health care -- as all citizens should do. We always promote civil dialogue and do not condone disruptive behavior."
As noted in the post, MacGuffie is a volunteer who actively posts and volunteers with the website Tea Party Patriots. A review of the sponsoring organizations reveals that both FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity are sponsors of the website as "Freedom Coalition" partners. A few months before joining Americans for Prosperity, Menefee herself worked for the medical device/pharmaceutical industry-funded "think-tank" called the Galen Institute.

Kim Jong Il Pardons US Journalists

North Korea's Kim releases US journalists-KCNA

LONDON/SEOUL -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has granted a "special pardon" to two jailed U.S. journalists which releases them from detention, the official KCNA news agency reported on Tuesday.

"Kim Jong-il issued an order of the chairman of the DPRK National Defence Commission on granting a special pardon to the two American journalists who had been sentenced to hard labour in accordance with Article 103 of the Socialist Constitution and releasing them," KCNA said in a statement which carried a Pyongyang dateline.

Former U.S. president Bill Clinton on Tuesday met Mr. Kim during a surprise visit to Pyongyang to try to negotiate the release of two jailed female U.S. journalists.

North Korean state media said Mr. Clinton had delivered a verbal message to Mr. Kim from current U.S. President Barack Obama, but the White House -- which had described the trip as a "solely private mission" -- quickly denied the report.

Mr. Clinton's trip to the hardline communist state, which comes after months of high tensions over the North's nuclear and missile programs, was the highest-profile visit by an American to Pyongyang for nearly a decade.

"Bill Clinton courteously conveyed a verbal message of U.S. President Barack Obama to Kim Jong-Il," the official Korean Central News Agency reported.

"Kim Jong-Il expressed thanks for this. He welcomed Mr. Clinton's visit to the DPRK [North Korea] and had an exhaustive conversation with him. There was a wide-ranging exchange of views on the matters of common concern."

Mr. Kim later attended a dinner in Mr. Clinton's honour which "proceeded in a cordial atmosphere," the agency said. It was hosted by the National Defence Commission, the country's top official body which is chaired by kim.

In Washington, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, asked about the reported delivery of a message from Mr. Obama, said: "That's not true."

South Korea's Yonhap news agency, quoting sources, said Mr. Clinton was expected to fly out Wednesday with journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee, who were arrested in March while on assignment near the North Korean border with China.

U.S. news outlet said the North had told relatives of the reporters that it would release them to Mr. Clinton. It said the White House had approved the mission, which had been secretly planned for weeks.

Earlier Tuesday the North sent two senior officials -- and a schoolgirl with a floral bouquet -- to greet Mr. Clinton at the capital's Sunan airport.

Analysts said the warm reception indicates Pyongyang seeks better relations with its arch enemy Washington, which is pushing for strict enforcement of UN sanctions aimed at shutting down the North's nuclear and missile programmes.

Mr. Clinton, who sent his own secretary of state Madeleine Albright to Pyongyang in 2000, was greeted by chief nuclear negotiator Mr. Kim Kye-Gwan and Yang Hyong Sop, vice president of parliament.

He bent down to shake hands with the girl who presented him with a bouquet, the North's TV footage showed.

Ling and Lee were arrested on March 17 while reporting on refugees fleeing the impoverished North into China. A court in June sentenced them to 12 years of "reform through labour" for illegal entry and other offences.

The harsh sentences further soured relations already strained by the North's atomic test in May -- its second in three years -- its multiple missile tests and its decision to quit six-nation nuclear disarmament talks.

Official media said Ms. Ling, 32, and Ms. Lee, 36, had admitted to a politically motivated media smear campaign. The pair work for California-based Current TV, co-founded by Mr. Clinton's vice president Al Gore.

Their families and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the ex-president's wife, have appealed for their release on humanitarian grounds.

"North Korea prepared high-profile officials to receive Mr. Clinton at the airport," said Yang Moo-Jin, a professor at Seoul's University of North Korean Studies.

"It was sending a signal that it was treating the former U.S. leader with great hospitality and also that it was willing to have a political dialogue, including on nuclear disarmament."

Cheong Seong-Chang of the Sejong Institute think-tank said the North was seeking a breakthrough in relations by allowing the visit.

"It will also be used for domestic propaganda as it comes amid growing concerns about Kim's health," Ms. Cheong told AFP.

Mr. Kim, 67, is widely believed to have suffered a stroke last August.

U.S. and South Korean officials say the North's recent hardline behaviour is aimed at shoring up Mr. Kim's authority while he puts in place a succession plan involving his youngest son.

"With Clinton's trip, Pyongyang will seek to improve relations with Washington or to end the current tense standoff over its nuclear test and UN sanctions," Mr. Cheong said.

The visit "will pave the way for bilateral talks on a package of issues including the North's nuclear program," he said.

The Mr. Obama administration has refused to link the journalists' detention with the nuclear standoff.

"As well as the release of the U.S. journalists, Clinton is expected to discuss a series of political issues including North Korea's nuclear program," said Mr. Kim Yong-Hyun, a North Korea studies professor at Dongguk University.

"There will be no major breakthrough with his trip alone but I believe it will provide fresh momentum for nuclear disarmament talks."

The North quit the six-party talks after the UN censured its long-range rocket launch in April.

I suck at LJ cut. My apologies.

(no subject)

Women Small Business Owners Really Need Health Care Reform

Written by Nancy Duff Campbell, Co-President,
National Women’s Law Center

Insurance companies and others who profit from our broken health care system are mobilizing to defeat comprehensive reform by using misinformation and scare tactics. A prime example is the allegation that healthcare legislation – specifically the plan being considered by the House of Representatives – will hurt small businesses.

The fact is that small business owners, especially women, are already hurting under our current healthcare system. Leah Daniels, 29, is the owner of Hill’s Kitchen – a gourmet kitchenware store that opened last May not far from the U.S. Capitol. Daniels can’t afford to offer health insurance to her three employees. She purchased her own bare-bones plan on the individual market for protection “in case I get hit by a car,” but not much else. It costs her just under $200 a month and doesn’t cover such services as routine doctor’s visits or maternity care.
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This is a topic that needs to be talked about LOTS more! Especially to and by our respective Congresscritters. (Btw, "Congresscritters" is now my new favorite word EVAR.)

Also, here's a great resource page with more articles and a great report about how women totally get screwed by the the existing health care insurance industry.



*betty draper reading

Blue dog Ben Nelson explains why he opposes the public option

Ben Nelson Personally Calls Nebraskan Who Ripped Him In Health Care Ad

First Posted: 08- 4-09 10:14 AM | Updated: 08- 4-09 11:27 AM

Hours after he appeared in a television ad attacking Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) for slow-walking health care reform, local Nebraska businessman Michael Snider received a phone call.

It was Nelson.

The senator wasn't pleased about the ad being released in his home state -- his office would later suggest that the ads would compel the senator to blow up the reform process altogether.

But with Snider on the line, Nelson was less bombastic, trying instead to persuade a local constituent with substantive concerns that there was middle ground.

"To be real honest with you, I don't know if he was just being aggressive or nervous but he just wanted to put out his position on the issue," Snider recalled in an interview with the Huffington Post. "He said he supported the public option but one that wouldn't affect the current plans of 200 million Americans."

"I told him I didn't understand. And he tried to explain it. He put his position out. He said if we went with a full public option -- which he called a government plan -- it would drive the price down and hurt private companies. I said, 'you mean competition.' And he replied that it would force people off the private plan and onto the government plan."

"That happened twice," Snider concluded. "He was telling me how bad a public option would be and when he was done I said, 'So you don't support a public option.' He would reply, 'That's not what I say.'"

Continued at source...

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So competition = BAD!!!!! He supports a public option, BUT ONLY IF IT DOESN'T DRIVE PRICES DOWN FOR THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. Nice.
dw | carbon prevails

(no subject)

Latest Tragic Symbol of an Unhealed Congo: Male Rape Victims

GOMA, Congo — It was around 11 p.m. when armed men burst into Kazungu Ziwa’s hut, put a machete to his throat and yanked down his pants. Mr. Ziwa is a tiny man, about four feet, six inches tall. He tried to fight back, but said he was quickly beaten down.

“Then they raped me,” he said. “It was horrible, physically. I was dizzy. My thoughts just left me.”

For years, the thickly forested hills and clear, deep lakes of eastern Congo have been a reservoir of atrocities. Now, it seems, there is another growing problem: men raping men.

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NY Times

Oh man, I know how difficult it is for women to speak up about rape, but I rarely think about the male victims. That's serious problem as it helps keep the myth that men don't get rape alive.

Also, I'm horrible at this "bold important information" thing because important seems to be a subjective matter, and I do believe this should be read fully. I hope I bold enough text for you guys, idk.

Blackwater Founder Implicated in Murder. Blackwater to change name to "Murder Inc."

Blackwater Founder Implicated in Murder

A former Blackwater employee and an ex-US Marine who has worked as a security operative for the company have made a series of explosive allegations in sworn statements filed on August 3 in federal court in Virginia. The two men claim that the company's owner, Erik Prince, may have murdered or facilitated the murder of individuals who were cooperating with federal authorities investigating the company. The former employee also alleges that Prince "views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe," and that Prince's companies "encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life."

In their testimony, both men also allege that Blackwater was smuggling weapons into Iraq. One of the men alleges that Prince turned a profit by transporting "illegal" or "unlawful" weapons into the country on Prince's private planes. They also charge that Prince and other Blackwater executives destroyed incriminating videos, emails and other documents and have intentionally deceived the US State Department and other federal agencies. The identities of the two individuals were sealed out of concerns for their safety.

These allegations, and a series of other charges, are contained in sworn affidavits, given under penalty of perjury, filed late at night on August 3 in the Eastern District of Virginia as part of a seventy-page motion by lawyers for Iraqi civilians suing Blackwater for alleged war crimes and other misconduct. Susan Burke, a private attorney working in conjunction with the Center for Constitutional Rights, is suing Blackwater in five separate civil cases filed in the Washington, DC, area. They were recently consolidated before Judge T.S. Ellis III of the Eastern District of Virginia for pretrial motions. Burke filed the August 3 motion in response to Blackwater's motion to dismiss the case. Blackwater asserts that Prince and the company are innocent of any wrongdoing and that they were professionally performing their duties on behalf of their employer, the US State Department.

The former employee, identified in the court documents as "John Doe #2," is a former member of Blackwater's management team, according to a source close to the case. Doe #2 alleges in a sworn declaration that, based on information provided to him by former colleagues, "it appears that Mr. Prince and his employees murdered, or had murdered, one or more persons who have provided information, or who were planning to provide information, to the federal authorities about the ongoing criminal conduct." John Doe #2 says he worked at Blackwater for four years; his identity is concealed in the sworn declaration because he "fear[s] violence against me in retaliation for submitting this Declaration." He also alleges, "On several occasions after my departure from Mr. Prince's employ, Mr. Prince's management has personally threatened me with death and violence."

In a separate sworn statement, the former US marine who worked for Blackwater in Iraq alleges that he has "learned from my Blackwater colleagues and former colleagues that one or more persons who have provided information, or who were planning to provide information about Erik Prince and Blackwater have been killed in suspicious circumstances." Identified as "John Doe #1," he says he "joined Blackwater and deployed to Iraq to guard State Department and other American government personnel." It is not clear if Doe #1 is still working with the company as he states he is "scheduled to deploy in the immediate future to Iraq." Like Doe #2, he states that he fears "violence" against him for "submitting this Declaration." No further details on the alleged murder(s) are provided.
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DNC Goes All In: Takes On Birthers, Conservative "Mob" In New Web Ad

DNC Goes All In: Takes On Birthers, Conservative "Mob" In New Web Ad

The Democratic National Committee released a notably aggressive web ad on Tuesday evening, accusing the Republican Party of being taken over by an angry mob of "birther" conspiracy theorists and disgruntled partisans.

The spot, titled "Enough of the Mob," is as engaged as the Democratic Party has been to date with what its own leadership has deemed a fringe element of the GOP. But, with boisterous protests routinely interrupting Democratic town hall events and dominating news coverage, one DNC official put it succinctly: "We aren't going to back down from this shit."

The spot is a minute long. And the DNC official didn't rule it being paired down to air on television. It includes a veritable greatest hits list of conservative attacks on Obama, looping it all together to make the case that "the right wing extremist Republican base" has overrun the GOP.

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Ah, yest the public mob, a very powerful weapon IF you know how to use it, but beware they have a tendency to bite back and get out of control...

Anti-reform group takes all the Credit for disruptions and proud of it

Anti-Reform Group Takes Credit For Helping Gin Up Town Hall Rallies

Conservatives for Patients’ Rights, the operation that’s running a national campaign against a public health care option, is now publicly taking credit for helping gin up the sometimes-rowdy outbursts targeting House Dems at town hall meetings around the country, raising questions about their spontaneity.

CPR is the group headed by controversial former hospitals exec Rick Scott that’s spending millions on ads attacking reform in all sorts of lurid ways, a campaign that’s being handled by the same P.R. mavens behind the Swift Boat Vets.

In response to my questions, a spokesman for the group confirmed that it has undertaken a concerted effort to get people out to the town hall meetings to protest reform. The spokesperson, Brian Burgess, confirmed that CPR is emailing out “town hall alert” flyers, and schedules of town hall meetings, to its mailing list.

These efforts — combined with CPR’s effort to enlist Tea Party-ers, as reported yesterday by TPM — provide a glimpse into the ways anti-reform groups are trying to create a sense of public momentum in their favor.

CPR spokesman Burgess confirmed that the group had set up a list serv designed to reach out to “third party groups” involved in the health care fight, including the Tea Party activists. And in a statement emailed to me, Scott, who was ousted as a health-care exec amid a 1990s fraud probe, took credit for the town hall showings.
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