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Freedom Of Speech

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Democrats are stepping up their campaign against opponents of health care reforms, depicting town hall audiences protesting a Democratic-sponsored bill as angry mobs duped into hostile actions by special interest groups.
The Democratic National Committee released a Web video and e-mail on Wednesday blasting opponents of the 10-year, $1 trillion plan.
Titled "Enough of the Mob," the ad warns that the "right wing extremist base" is back after losing the presidential election, a series of legislative battles and the confidence of Americans.
"Now, desperate Republicans and their well-funded allies are organizing angry mobs -- just like they did during the election," the ad says. "Their goal? Destroy President Obama and stop the change Americans voted for overwhelmingly in November."
The ad goes on to dismiss the protests as "mob activity straight from the playbook of high-level Republican political operatives. They have no plan for moving our country forward, so they've called out the mob."
The e-mail outlines what it says are five facts about the "anti-reform mobs," including an accusation that these operatives are trying "to intimidate and silence regular people who just want more information."
"It's time to expose this charade, before it gets more dangerous," Jen O'Malley, head of the DNC, said, urging recipients to pass it along.
Republicans have seized on the charges.
"Instead of acknowledging the widespread anger millions of Americans are feeling this summer toward Democrat-controlled Washington, Washington Democrats are trying to dismiss it as a fabrication," House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said in a statement. "That isn't likely to sit well with Americans outside of Washington who are struggling and wondering when their elected leaders are going to wake up and change course."
The Republican National Committee fired back with an e-mail titled "THE MOB? Hey Democrats, They're Called The American People." The e-mail goes on to list a series of links to stories and polls revealing growing doubts about Obama's top domestic priority and his economic policies.
And the Libertarian Party said Obama, a former community organizer, should think twice before approving a campaign that attacks communities for organizing, even if it's against him.
"Libertarians find it ironic a community organizer is now using the government to try and stop people from organizing their communities," Libertarian National Committee spokesman Donny Ferguson said in a statement.
"Instead of using official edicts to smear, slander and intimidate everyday Americans into silence, Democrats should listen to the majority of Americans and drop their plans for a radical government takeover of their health care."
With the House on a five-week recess and the Senate soon to follow, a public relations war over health care reform has erupted and spilled into town hall meetings where Democratic lawmakers have come face to face with furious protesters.
On Tuesday, House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer faced a group of protesters, including one who wondered what the hurry is. He argued that Congress is trying to push the bill through more quickly than it took President Obama to choose his dog.
Also Tuesday, Freshman Democratic Rep. Frank Kratovil of Maryland was escorted by sheriff's deputies out of a town hall meeting attended by hundreds of protesters.
Several others have faced hostile crowds, including Health and Human Service Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and recent party-switcher Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.
Four of five congressional committees have approved versions of the sweeping bill, but lawmakers fell short of Obama's deadline for the House and Senate to vote on legislation before their August recess. That set up a September showdown on the legislation and all sides have moved into high gear.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs on Wednesday said the protests are being fueled by misinformation and scare tactics, prompting concerns about a government takeover.
"This is part of I guess what we have to do, which is push back on what we knowingly know is not true," he said. "Am I going to convince people who are hanging congressman in effigy about the details of the health care plan? Probably not today."
Gibbs repeated his belief that the Republican National Committee and private groups are orchestrating the protests.
"I think there is a lot of manufactured anger going on," he said.
DNC spokesman Hari Sevugan sent an e-mail noting reports that Americans for Prosperity, FreedomWorks, Conservatives for Patients Rights and America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) are among the groups helping to orchestrate the protests.
A spokesman for AHIP told that his organization has only encouraged employees to participate in events on health reform.
"AHIP has not been behind the protests and those kinds of disruptions that have been occurring around the country," said spokesman Robert Zirkelbach.
A spokeswoman for Americans for Prosperity, told that her group has played only a limited role in organizing protesters.
"We've been encouraging people to go to town halls in their areas and make their voice heard on health care and cap and trade," said spokeswoman Amy Menefee, adding that the group has not told people what to say or how loud to say it.
Indeed, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, suggested it's the White House that is attempting to intimidate opponents.
On Tuesday, the White House issued a blog post by Macon Phillips, director of new media, asking supporters to send "fishy" information received through rumors, chain e-mails and casual conversation to a White House e-mail address, [email protected].
Cornyn responded by accusing the White House of compiling an "enemies list." In a letter to the president, Cornyn urged Obama to provide Congress with more details on what the White House plans to do with anyone reported for "fishy" speech.
"I am not aware of any precedent for a president asking American citizens to report their fellow citizens to the White House for pure political speech that is deemed 'fishy' or otherwise inimical to the White House's political interests," Cornyn wrote.
"You should not be surprised that these actions taken by your White House staff raise the specter of a data collection program. As Congress debates health care reform and other critical policy matters, citizen engagement must not be chilled by fear of government monitoring the exercise of free speech rights," he wrote.
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my father is retired and all I hear him doing anymore is cussing at the tv He has a point and writes letters to our Congressman which is great I just get a kick out of it Almost make me want to get a degree in political science and help fix this country
if my background wasn't so bad I would run but I have a buddy who is going to run.
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