There’s a famous Norman Rockwell painting titled “Freedom of Speech,” depicting an idealized American town meeting. The painting, part of a series illustrating F.D.R.’s “Four Freedoms,” shows an ordinary citizen expressing an unpopular opinion. His neighbors obviously don’t like what he’s saying, but they’re letting him speak his mind.
That’s a far cry from what has been happening at recent town halls, where angry protesters — some of them, with no apparent sense of irony, shouting “This is America!” — have been drowning out, and in some cases threatening, members of Congress trying to talk about health reform.
There is always some jeering and some rudeness when opposite sides clash. Paul mentions some of the Social Security privatization meetings that the Bushies held. Like everyone I can remember some clashes between partisans at Democratic and Republican conventions. The huge difference here is the determination to derail any genuine debate. As several of my grade school teachers used to say, you can’t talk and listen at the same time. In the case of the tea bagging birthers you surely cannot shout “liar”, Read the Bill”, accuse people of being Nazis or socialists and simultaneously have any genuine concerns over health-care reform addressed. You can’t expect to even give directions to a restaurant if the person asking for them is shouting at you in a threatening manner while you’re trying to talk. This Orwellian attempt by the fringe fanatics to define democratic debate as a yelling match is both laughable and lame. Krugman and many of us – I read conservative blogs and the literature being disseminated on the net by far right groups like Freedom Works – still cannot understand what all the anger is about – except maybe many of the tea baggers are blinded by their hate for Democrats and President Obama,
There was a telling incident at a town hall held by Representative Gene Green, D-Tex. An activist turned to his fellow attendees and asked if they “oppose any form of socialized or government-run health care.” Nearly all did. Then Representative Green asked how many of those present were on Medicare. Almost half raised their hands.
Now, people who don’t know that Medicare is a government program probably aren’t reacting to what President Obama is actually proposing. They may believe some of the disinformation opponents of health care reform are spreading, like the claim that the Obama plan will lead to euthanasia for the elderly. (That particular claim is coming straight from House Republican leaders.) But they’re probably reacting less to what Mr. Obama is doing, or even to what they’ve heard about what he’s doing, than to who he is.
That is, the driving force behind the town hall mobs is probably the same cultural and racial anxiety that’s behind the “birther” movement, which denies Mr. Obama’s citizenship.
Watching enough of the videos you see this again and again. People collecting Social Security and Medicare, that seem to like them, are not aware they are government administered insurance programs. But they’re tea baggers don’t need no stink’n government run health-care or any other safety net programs. I cannot get over the disparity in outrage between now and the hogwash that BushCo used to send off their spouses, sons and daughters off to die for a lie in Iraq. Where was the outrage at the manipulation of their patriotism for cynical political ends. Where was the shouting and jeering about spending three trillion dollars on that fiasco and not rising the revenue to pay for it. A trillion dollars alone would pay for the health-care reform for ten years.
By now, you’ve probably also heard that health reform will cost taxpayers at least a trillion dollars. Another lie.
First of all, that’s not a trillion every year, as most people assume — it’s a trillion over 10 years, which is the silly way that people in Washington talk about federal budgets. On an annual basis, that translates to about $140 billion, when things are up and running.
Even that, however, grossly overstates the net cost to the government of providing universal coverage. Other parts of the reform plan would result in offsetting savings for Medicare: reductions in unnecessary subsidies to private insurers, in annual increases in payments rates for doctors and in payments to hospitals for providing free care to the uninsured. The net increase in government spending for health care would likely be about $100 billion a year, a one-time increase equal to less than 1 percent of a national income that grows at an average rate of 2.5 percent every year.
Politicians and political movements tell lies for many reasons, but the two biggest reasons in regards to health-care reform are 1) The tea baggers know the facts are not on their side. The current corrupt and mismanaged corporate health-care system and its costs are causing people to go without care, have their insurance suddenly canceled for some fine print get out of paying clause and even when they have health insurance its not enough to save them from financial disaster.2) Republicans have no ideas about how to get most Americans insurance and bring down costs that, if trends continue will increase substantially – 2007 was a good year with costs increasing only 6.1%, 2008 was 6.9% – a rate that is twice that of annual average inflation. No ideas? act like thugs and resort to name calling, Limbaugh: “Adolf Hitler, like Barack Obama, also ruled by dictate” (VIDEO)
One blogger has resorted to posting pictures of a town meeting that seemed to go well. Thus proof that ALL other Republicans are as pure as the driven snow all reports and video+pictures to the contrary are to be ignored. That Rightie blogger also missed the irony of photographing elderly relatives, all on Medicare of course and one gentleman that appears to be a retired vet – also on government health-care.
They do it so often, apparently stuck in perpetual Chicken-little mode, I almost forgot the just make sh*t up tactic, Five right-wing myths about healthcare reform, and the facts
Myth 1: Democrats want to kill your grandmother. This claim seems too outlandish on its face to get much traction, but Republicans actually made some headway on it recently. Two House GOP leaders put out a statement warning that the healthcare reform bill “may start us down a treacherous path toward government-encouraged euthanasia.”
[ ]…Myth 3: Obama will ban all private health insurance. Allegedly, the House proposal for healthcare reform bans private insurance. This rumor comes complete with a citation: “Right there on Page 16 is a provision making individual private medical insurance illegal,” the unflaggingly pro-business paper Investors Business Daily wrote in an editorial last month. Other right-wing blogs and news outlets picked up on the idea, as well. It fits in with a broader message Republicans have been using: The reform will lead to a total government takeover of healthcare.
The IBD line is literally true — Section 102 of the House bill says insurance companies can’t independently issue any new individual policies after the legislation takes effect (though existing policies are grandfathered in). But it misses the point. Private plans aren’t banned, but rather shifted into the new health insurance exchange the legislation would set up. You can still get a private policy, but the way in which you buy it changes. If you wanted to buy your own insurance, you have to do it through the government-run insurance exchange. Your policy becomes part of broader risk pools, which makes the premiums cheaper and keeps insurance companies from dumping them once they get sick.
No truth at all to that one, but as we know from so many other Republican misinformation campaigns, if they tell a lie often enough and loud enough, a few people on the edges of the debate start to have doubts. Then while certainly not all conservatives are morons the Republican party seems to attract most of them and they believe whatever the hate mongers like Limbaugh and the corporate lobbyist tell them to believe, Reports: Glenn Beck fans turn health forum into ‘near riot’.
In a stunning display of anger, Florida Republicans and fans of Fox editorialist Glenn Beck turned a Tampa healthcare forum into a “near riot,” one reporter said, as they attempted to enter the meeting hall and drown out a group of community organizers and a member of congress.
There were at least two reports of violence at the forum.
That report is still unfolding. Apparently some independents and pro health-care reform attendees got shoved and punched, and gee, what do you know they shoved and punched back. Which the right-wing blogs are using as proof its Democrats who are behaving badly. This is a very good play by play of what went on down in Tampa, My Night at the Tampa Health Care Town Hall
As Representative Reed introduced Congressperson Castor – boos erupted. The gentleman next to me stood up to applaud her, and many in the room was on their feet clapping for her. Outside the door, a steady chant started.
“BULLSHIT! BULLSHIT! BULLSHIT! BULLSHIT!” Castor hadn’t even started yet, and people were screaming. Yelling. Fights broke out outside. Castor held the taped together microphones to her mouth – but then the mob shifted tactics to “YOU WORK FOR US! YOU WORK FOR US!” Every minute, it was a new rage filled series of shouts to keep her from discussing her points. She asked the crowd how many of them paid for health insurance through their employer – and people started shouting.
“READ THE BILL!” People in the crowd kept screeching at her, including one tall gentleman behind me I’ll call Mr. Shouty. Throughout the entire time Castor tried to address the crowd, tried to explain what the bill was about, he and so many others around the room screamed “READ THE BILL! READ THE BILL! READ THE BILL!” Then, because she tried to explain how the health care bill would try to provide health care for those who were uninsured, the screams changed to “TYRANNY! TYRANNY! TYRANNY!” “WE LEFT ENGLAND FOR THIS!”
One thing we inherited from England was the tradition of hapeas corpus, when Bush killed this fundamental tenet of liberal democracy, the Right thought it was better then cheese wrapped in plastic. Lesson: never ever take lessons about what constitutes tyranny from a conservative. Since we have all the myths about health-care reform, ironically from the party obsessed with having an English only society, maybe its the tea baggers that should read the bill and get a little help with their reading comprehension skills.
Another myth about health-care reform mentioned in the Salon article is that the government bureaucrats will run your health-care. You know the way they run Medicare, Medicaid and military health-care now. The tea baggers completely ignore or for some bizarre reason seem to like and trust the corporate cronies that currently run the shoddy system we have now in the private sector, Sick for Profit: Stephen Hemsley’s(CEO of UnitedHealth) Millions Come From Your Health
Meet Stephen Hemsley.He’s the CEO of UnitedHealth. In 2007, he earned $13.2 million dollars. His unexercised stock options total three-quarters of a billion dollars. That’s right – billion.
Where does he get all that money? He gets it from you. Your health, to be exact. Every time UnitedHealth denies one of their customers a treatment, that’s more money in Hemsley’s pocket. Every time UnitedHealth skimps on care, or delays treatments, more money for Hemsley. Hemsley is rich because he keeps you sick, that’s just the way it works
Until this week the Right was all about fitting ACORN into debates about everything from energy policy to conspiracy theories about the mortgage meltdown. Thankfully we’ll be getting a little more variety with our crazy talk, blame everything on SEIU (Service Employees International Union) – At this juncture is there any actual working Americans that tea bagging birther Republican have not demonized. The always intellectually sleazy Republican blog American Thinker runs this ominous headline, August 07, 2009, Obama looses labor thugs on tea party town hall protesters. The glaring issue with that is started the fight and who finished it. Ol American Thinker has passed judgment and its Obama’s labor thugs fault. It couldn’t be the tea baggers despite the now hundreds of video on the web showing the tea baggers doing their best to provoke violence. Maybe the tea baggers and their corporate lobbyist sponsors could publish and adhere to an agreement such as SEIU has which encourages their members to act with civility:
Trumka notes that the America’s politics are “passionate, heartfelt and often loud.”
But that is not what the corporate-funded mobs are engaging in when they show up to disrupt town halls held by members of Congress….Mob rule is not democracy. People have a democratic right to express themselves and our elected leaders have a right to hear from their constituents—not organized thugs whose sole purpose is to shut down the conversation and attempt to scare our leaders into inaction.
Another item on which advice from conservative is like calling an arsonist once your house catches on fire is civility, Our first black president is a Nazi?
Who’d have imagined that our first black president would turn out to be a Nazi? Just when you think political discourse can’t get any uglier, Rush Limbaugh is comparing President Obama to Hitler and calling all Democrats Nazis, while the frothing right-wingers turning Democrats’ town halls into “town hells” routinely refer to Obama and his supporters as “brownshirts.” Right-wing blogger Steve Gilbert has transformed Obama’s healthcare reform logo into a Nazi symbol( this was done by a Republican blogger called ironically enough Sweetness and Light) by cleverly adding a swastika; meanwhile, some Republicans insist Democrats are lying about “town hell” rowdies carrying signs with swastikas, but they’re the ones with a problem telling the truth ( this is the picture of the tea bagger holding up the Nazi SS sign which so many Republicans say they can’t seem to find).
If you thought right-wingers’ claim that Obama is a racist was projection, here’s another case study for psychology students everywhere. At district meetings Democrats are being shouted down by angry mobs inflamed by corporate interests spewing lies about healthcare reform — Maryland Rep. Frank Kratovil was hung in effigy. Rep. Tim Bishop needed a police escort to his car, Rep. Brad Miller reports death threats, while Republican Todd Akin of Missouri joked — to cheers from his GOP audience — that his Democratic colleagues “almost got lynched” by the “town hell” rowdies. Glenn Beck is joking about poisoning Nancy Pelosi’s wine — but it’s the Democrats who are Nazis, fascists and brownshirts. Got it.
At one point, Mr. McGovern was likened by an attendee to Josef Mengele, the Nazi officer who performed experiments on concentration camp survivors.
McGovern’s experience wasn’t as bad as others. At least in the sense that the interruptions were not so bad that he could not complete his talk. With the Josef Mengele hyperbole in mind we have conservative Peggy Noonan writing to Democrats, ” You are terrifying us”. Peggy swore for seven years the terrorists were out to get her and silence her brave voice, so no surprise she is terrified that people that actually work for a living and make her wealth possible might get health-care. The outrage, the next thing you know workers will want clean beds to sleep in and shoes to wear while they shovel coal. More here, It’s Okay Because They Care