Monday, August 17, 2009

Rules for Radicals, Dick Armey, Mexican Flu and "the bed-wetters caucus."

Cyberc sends us a reminder of Saul Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals," at the same time Dick Armey embraces them. First, the "Rules."

“Thus, what is of supreme importance in war is to attack the enemy's strategy.” - Sun Tzu


Alinsky, an outspoken radical socialist, community organizer and mentor of Barack Obama in Chicago.

RULE 1: "Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have." Power is derived from 2 main sources - money and people. "Have-Nots" must build power from flesh and blood

RULE 2: "Never go outside the expertise of your people." It results in confusion, fear and retreat. Feeling secure adds to the backbone of anyone.

RULE 3: "Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy." Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty

RULE 4: "Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules." If the rule is that every letter gets a reply, send 30,000 letters. You can kill them with this because no one can possibly obey all of their own rules

RULE 5: "Ridicule is man's most potent weapon." There is no defense. It's irrational. It's infuriating. It also works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into concessions.

RULE 6: "A good tactic is one your people enjoy." They'll keep doing it without urging and come back to do more. They're doing their thing, and will even suggest better ones.

RULE 7: "A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag." Don't become old news.

RULE 8: "Keep the pressure on. Never let up." Keep trying new things to keep the opposition off balance. As the opposition masters one approach, hit them from the flank with something new

RULE 9: "The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself." Imagination and ego can dream up many more consequences than any activist.

RULE 10: "If you push a negative hard enough, it will push through and become a positive." Violence from the other side can win the public to your side because the public sympathizes with the underdog

RULE 11: "The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative." Never let the enemy score points because you're caught without a solution to the problem.

RULE 12: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it." Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions.

And here is the story about Dick Armey in the Financial Times. The most interesting thing about it is the prediction that flu hysteria will be sold to the "bed-wetter's caucus" as an excuse for passing the health care bill. Personally, I think that phrase is an insult to honest, innocent bed-wetters everywhere.


Obama foes turn to ’60s radical for tactical tips

By Edward Luce and Alexandra Ulmer in Washington

Published: August 16 2009 18:07

Opponents of Barack Obama’s healthcare proposals are using the tactics of Saul Alinksy, the legendary leftwing activist who helped inspire the US president when he was a young community organiser, says Dick Armey, head of Freedom Works, a group fighting against universal healthcare.

Mr Armey, who was the Republican majority leader in the House of Representatives for most of the 1990s, said his group, which is behind many of the “tea party” protests that have disrupted town-hall meetings in the past two weeks, draws consciously on the forms of agitation pioneered by Mr Alinsky.

Mr Obama, who worked as a community organiser among unemployed steel workers on Chicago’s South Side in the late 1980s, was heavily influenced by Mr Alinsky, who inspired a generation of radicals in the 1960s. Mr Alinsky believed that packing public meetings with highly vocal activists would sway their outcomes and give people a taste of the power they could exercise when they showed up in numbers.

“What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander,” said Mr Armey, who was one of the leaders of the “Contract with America” Republican landslide in 1994.

“What I think of Alinsky is that he was very good at what he did but what he did was not good,” Mr Armey said. “We don’t organise people to turn up at these town-hall meetings – we don’t provide buses to get them there. But we tell them about the meetings and we suggest good questions they could ask.”

Mr Armey, whose group works closely with the Tea Party Patriots and other conservative organisations round the country, said he thought the anti-reform protests against Mr Obama’s healthcare proposals exceeded the temperature during the August 1994 congressional recess when the Clinton administration’s healthcare plans were shot to pieces.

On Friday Mr Armey announced his resignation from DLA Piper, the Washington-based lobbying firm that he has advised since stepping down from Congress in 2002. Both DLA Piper, which has big healthcare clients including Bristol Myers Squibb, the pharmaceutical company that opposes elements of Mr Obama’s health reforms, and Mr Armey said he had decided to quit in order to spare the firm any further embarrassment by association with Freedom Works.

“We are sorry to see Dick Armey leave,” said DLA Piper in a statement. “But we appreciate his taking the initiative to clear up confusion concerning Freedom Works, [which is] a separate and distinct entity from DLA Piper.

Mr Armey, 69, predicted that the “grassroots” backlash against what he called Mr Obama’s “hostile government takeover of a sixth of the US economy” would cause the reform to fail spectacularly. But he predicted that supporters of reform would attempt to win over the “bed-wetters caucus” – a group of wavering lawmakers who spanned both parties, he said – with a fear campaign in the autumn.

“In September or October there will be a hyped up outbreak of the swine flu which they’ll say is as bad as the bubonic plague to scare the bed-wetters to vote for healthcare reform,” said Mr Armey. “That is the only way they can push something on to the American people that the American people don’t want.”

Democrats have portrayed groups such as Freedom Works as demagogues out to disrupt town-hall meetings rather than enter into civil debate. Mr Armey said he doubted members of Freedom Works attended meetings to shout down people with whom they disagreed. “I know people have been doing that but that is not the tactics we recommend,” he said.

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