“If Justice Thomas does not recuse himself and the Court rules [against Obamacare], I will be making the point that this is not a credible decision.”
— Ex- Congressman Anthony Weiner in February of this year.
Riddle me this, Batman.
What do talk radio, a think tank, a Tea party supporter, the U.S. Supreme Court and a pair of billionaire brothers from Kansas have in common?
It’s Obamacare, stupid.
To borrow from the Zen of James Carville (who summed up the sound and fury of the looming 1992 presidential campaign in one pithy and eventually famous phrase: “it’s the economy, stupid”), there is a reason these five distinctly separate sets of people or institutions have recently and mysteriously come under a series of brutal attacks on their integrity.
And what do the attackers have in common?
That’s right. A tie to funding from George Soros. And a false claim of “non-partisanship.” Which is to say, a lie.
Which, in a way they surely did not intend, makes their very existence a very considerable question of ethics.
So, let’s start with the basics with which all are familiar.
• March 24, 2007: Illinois Senator Barack Obama, campaigning for president at a forum sponsored by SEIU (Service Employees Union International) says: “My commitment is to make sure that we’ve got universal health care for all Americans by the end of my first term as president.” The pledge — along with others of a similar nature — is captured on videotape here.
• March 23, 2010: President Obama signs the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”) into law. The signing comes after a massively controversial fight, and legal efforts to repeal it arise almost immediately.
• November 2, 2010: Liberals lose control of the House of Representatives, plus several Senate seats and governorships, as the GOP sweeps the off-year elections in a campaign focused on repealing Obamacare.
So. The table is set.
But what are we seeing as we look back on all of this? Who were key players — and who are the people positioned to become key players in the fight to repeal ObamaCare?
There are at least five.
• Talk radio: Throughout the fight over Obamacare, the hosts of conservative talk radio are well out in front in taking on President Obama in general and Obamacare specifically. In addition to detailing the problems philosophically, legislatively and legally, during the 2010 election season some feature the GOP candidates who are taking on Obamacare directly. In addition to using information supplied to the general public from conservative think tanks or groups such as the Heritage Foundation and Americans for Prosperity, various hosts accept and broadcast commercials — clearly delivered as commercials — from these same groups.
• The Koch Brothers: Charles and David Koch are the owners of Koch Industries. They are billionaires. They are conservatives. They are libertarians. They are strong believers in a free market economic system, and support those with similar beliefs. Their description of themselves in their own words can be found at this site, a site clearly marked as the place to go if one wishes to get the Koch brothers’ side of their story. They (along with millions of others) are strongly opposed to Obamacare on principle.
• The Heritage Foundation: The longtime conservative think tank, well out there in dissecting Obamacare word by word and graph by graph.
• Americans for Prosperity: The advocacy group that spent the better part of 2010 pounding away at ObamaCare. A strong Tea Party supporter and recipient of funding from the Kochs.
• The United States Supreme Court: With Obamacare under legal challenge from 26 states (a story here featuring Florida’s Attorney General Pam Bondi ), no one questions that the final arbiter will be the nine Justices of the Supreme Court. Virginia’s Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli attempted to get the Court to take his case immediately and was rejected, as expected. So the issue of repealing the law is slowly rising through the federal court system, with a win here and a loss there, the Supreme Court waiting.
If you were a supporter of Obamacare, understood all of the above, and understood Obamacare was slowly, slowly making its way directly to a Supreme Court that political and legal observers generally assess to be divided either 5-4 in favor of conservatives or in a 4-4 conservative-liberal tie with Reagan appointee Anthony Kennedy sometimes in the middle, what would you do?
What would you do as you looked out over the political landscape and saw Limbaugh, Hannity, Levin, Beck, the Heritage Foundation, Americans for Prosperity, the Koch Brothers, and heaven knows who else training their considerable resources, talents and skills on repealing Obamacare? Doing all of this as the issue slowly, with increasing political tension rising… rising… steadily ratcheting upward as a presidential election year approaches and President Obama is stumbling badly in the polls… what would you do?
• Can you silence talk radio? Can you get these irritating souls to just shut up?
No. Not for lack of trying, either. But attempting to bring back the so-called Fairness Doctrine or pushing the FCC on the issue of localism has, even with an FCC stacked (barely) in the favor of liberals, failed.
• Can you silence the Koch brothers? The Heritage Foundation? Americans for Prosperity? Can you get these rich and know-it-all SOBs to stop spending their damn money and flooding the media with information unflattering to Obamacare?
No again. The Kochs earned their money, they worked for it, they believe what they believe, and while a good old-fashioned multiple of tries have been made to legally rein them in, the Koch brothers are still out there gushing dollars one truckload at a time from a seemingly bottomless, billions-of-gallons pit. And the Heritage Foundation? The AFP? The chances of muzzling them outright are slim to none.
• Can you stop Obamacare from getting to the Supreme Court?
So the question recurs. What can be done? What are your assets? What’s the plan, man?
Well, you have your own rich guys, one in particular. This liberal Johnny Appleseed is George Soros. And good old George, bless him, has spread his financial apple seeds all over the place. From media projects and interest groups to think tanks, George Soros is on the dime with lots of dimes, as documented by Dan Gainor here and “Liberty Chick” (don’t you love the blogosphere?) over at Andrew Breitbart’s Big Journalism site.
But in a country that has polls showing only 20% of the American people self-identify as liberals, battering people over the head about Obamacare is a loser. Even with George Soros’s money.
So what’s left?
Go after their integrity.
Delegitimize them. All of them. From Rush to Sean and Mark, from the Kochs to Heritage and the AFP — and most particularly to the Honorable Justices and one Mrs. Justice.
Savage them. Make them appear to be not just ethically challenged but liars. Bad seeds. Corrupted. Bully boys and a mean girl all grown up and threatening to trash you, your grandma and the entire American middle class. Get out there with colorful signs and mug for every camera that shows up.
And do it all under the banner of “nonpartisanship.”
In short: Bush lied, people died, the 2.0 version.
The beauty of this approach is that it doesn’t even need to be seriously coordinated. Just raising the general topic will get it picked up in the right quarters (left quarters, actually.) Put it out there, raise the ethical cloud of dust and who knows what’s possible?
And so. Out comes this interesting pattern of stories. Stories about:
The integrity of talk radio hosts.
The integrity of the Koch brothers.
The integrity of the Heritage Foundation.
The integrity of Americans for Prosperity.
And most spectacularly: the integrity of two conservative justices on the United States Supreme Court — and the wife of one of them.
Stories put about by Soros funded special interest groups or “reporters” past and present for these same Soros groups. Groups that claim “non-partisanship” status with the same passion Anthony Weiner insisted he had been “hacked” or Bill Clinton swore “I…did..not…have…sex…with…that…woman. Ms. Lewinsky.”
Stories like the following.
• January 20, 2011: Integrity Targets — Supreme Court Justices Thomas and Scalia, Koch Brothers
The Soros-funded Common Cause announces that it is requesting the Obama Department of Justice to investigate “the apparent involvement of Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas in political strategy sessions hosted by Koch Industries, the nation’s second largest privately held company. Common Cause contends that these activities, if substantiated, constitute a conflict of interests that would require the Court to vacate its judgment in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission…” (And to refresh, let’s go back to that picture linked above. See those two professionally printed bright blue and white signs on the left and right? The ones reading “Common Cause”? And where, exactly do you think the money comes from to pay for those?)
Message: Justices Thomas and Scalia, two possible votes against Obamacare, are, along with the Koch brothers, dishonest men and all four have compromised the integrity of the Court.
• February 9, 2011: Integrity Targets — Supreme Court Justice Thomas and his wife, conservative activist Virginia Thomas.
New York Democrat Anthony Weiner releases a letter from House Democrats to Justice Thomas accusing him of an “appearance of a conflict of interest” on the ObamaCare issue.
Weiner says that “this is not the first time where your impartiality was in question,” challenging the integrity of both the Justice and his activist wife. He also cites Common Cause and its letter to the Justice Department as an authority on the issue. Weiner, who would resign months later after repeatedly and quite publicly lying about texting naked photos of himself to various women, does not mention that Common Cause itself has an “appearance of a conflict of interest” by presenting itself on its website as “nonpartisan” while accepting funding from the decidedly far-left Soros.
Message: Justice Thomas and his wife are dishonest people and Justice Thomas must recuse himself from any decision on Obamacare. Otherwise, as Weiner said: ” I will be making the point that this is not a credible decision.”
• April 6, 2011: Integrity Target — the Koch Brothers, the Heritage Foundation, Americans for Prosperity.
The Soros-funded Center for Public Integrity runs a lengthy article titled “Koch’s Web of Influence” by John Aloysius Farrell (aka “Jack” Farrell). The brothers are portrayed darkly as “financial angels for conservative causes, politicians and foundations” and “essential donors” for the Heritage Foundation and the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, the latter described as “a nonprofit known for its support of the Tea Party movement.” Tellingly, Farrell hits the brothers for opposing the Obama Administration’s attempt to “regulate the emission of greenhouse gases” — which is to say they don’t follow the Gospel of Global Warming, a decided sin against liberal fundamentalism.
According to a Koch spokesman, Farrell, who elsewhere has gushed that “the daily viewers of Fox News…were significantly more misinformed about healthcare, climate change, and Barack Obama” (alas, not so), accused Virginia Attorney General Cuccinelli of “witch hunts,” railed against the “Bush tax cuts for the rich” and attacked global warming opponents like the Kochs as “slick and well funded” smoothly warned the Kochs that they should cooperate with this little excursion into the traditional CPI Soros-funded misinformation campaign because to do so was “in the long run beneficial for Koch.” When the Koch spokesman challenged Farrell and CPI on their Soros ties:
“We received no reply to that concern either, although Mr. Farrell quotes his own executive director proclaiming that CPI is ‘non-partisan.'”
But of course. The CPI and Farrell, like Common Cause where Soros also pays the bills, are to “non-partisan” as Anthony Weiner is to “credibility.” Farrell is to CPI what those blue and white Common Cause signs are in that picture from Colorado. A pretender to “non-partisan” while being paid by partisans. Extreme partisans.
Message: The Kochs, the Heritage Foundation and AFP are dishonest people. They have no credibility and are ethically challenged.
This approach, as Curt Levey has wonderfully detailed in the June issue of The American Spectator, is about one thing and one thing only: intimidating and delegitimizing various conservative targets.
Since Levey’s article was sent to print, the targets have broadened from simply Justices Thomas, Scalia (and, Levey also notes, to some degree Justice Alito) and Thomas’s wife to the Heritage Foundation, Americans for Prosperity and, most importantly in terms of the communications strategy of these groups, talk radio.
As noted here last week the game is on to attack the integrity of both talk show hosts Limbaugh and Hannity by zeroing in on Heritage, a sponsor of both. The same tactic has been applied to Levin and one of his sponsors, Americans for Prosperity. The attacks coming in Politico through the work of ex-Soros-funded CPI “senior associate” Kenneth Vogel, now a Politico “reporter.”
So. What do we have here?
What can we expect as Obamacare winds its way through the federal court system headed to the Supreme Court?
And most importantly: are the critics themselves ethical? Are they demonstrating integrity when they claim to be non-partisan and are so clearly not? In other words, lying?
What is already under way is a brutal, ethically questionable assault on individual Justices of the United States Supreme Court, the wife of one of those Justices, a conservative think tank and advocacy group and last, but certainly not least, individual talk radio hosts.
It is being aided and abetted by a media that refuses to acknowledge the connection of critics to George Soros (zero mention in this recent story about Justice Thomas and the latest target, Texas real estate mogul Harlan Crow) and his variously funded groups such as Common Cause and the Center for Public Integrity.
There is, as always, a legitimate debate on health care to be had.
What is not legitimate is the deliberate, dishonest, unethical and morally bankrupt attempt to intimidate public officials, private citizens and talk radio hosts. To intimidate them into a favorable ruling from the bench, or silence their First Amendment rights to free speech.
That’s what Common Cause and their Soros-funded demands to the Justice Department are really all about. That’s what the Center for Public Integrity and their unending hit jobs on the Koch Brothers are all about. That’s what the New York Times and its own hit job on Justice Thomas and his wife is all about. That’s what Politico has lent itself to with a bogus talk radio story from an ex-employee of the Soros funded CPI.
Cries for ethics from these people? Demands for integrity?
Consider the sources.
And the next time you see an attack on Justice Thomas, Justice Scalia, Justice Alito, Virginia Thomas, the Koch brothers (or now Harlan Crow), not to mention the integrity of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, the Heritage Foundation, Americans for Prosperity and the Tea Party, remember this:
George Soros is paying these bills. Anthony Weiner was one of their champions. And they are not “non-partisan.”
So there really is a question of ethics.