The right-wingers who drowned out congressman Lloyd Doggett in Texas, who shouted down congressman Tim Bishop on Long Island, who screamed insults at congressman John Dingell in Michigan, who forced congresswoman Kathy Castor to cut short her meeting in Florida, who heckled and harassed congressman Steve Kagen in Wisconsin, who shouted down congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick of Arizona so severely that she had to cancel the event during its opening minutes…these are people who actually think they are standing up for America, when, in truth, they are subverting the American tradition of free speech.
That synopsis does not include all the disruptions and death threats for the past seven days, but hits the highlights. The columnist Dick Polman takes take a moment to point out that some of the people at these events, if not most, might be partisans of one form or another, but they don’t get much attention because they are behaving themselves. Its the law of crowds. People behaving badly causes big waves. Unfortunately good behavior does not cause the rude thuggish ones to calm down. That said, for those keeping score, Democrats and those in the center are winning the civilized behavior battle. Hopefully no one would argue that people do not have the right to disagree. I haven’t read a single word from a prominent Democratic source arguing that people do not have the right to be concerned, attend and voice civil objections. It is easy to find lots of straw man liberals on right-wing sites that claim Democrats want to stop dissent. The Right is very good at using straw men – the only kind they can win debates with. The problem is tea baggers shouting down speakers or making the meetings so raucous that they cannot proceed.
The Right was losing the public relations war and they probably knew that on some level. The signs accusing Obama of being a Nazi. Shouting their talking points. In a St Louis health-care townhall the Right gets a chance to spin its way of of the predicament they and their corporate lobbyist masters found themselves. They could turn one Kenneth Gladney into an overnight martyr. Inventing tales of a union “beating” with the help of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. According to Gladney’s attorney,
The SEIU member used a racial slur against Kenneth, then punched him in the face. Kenneth fell to the ground. Another SEIU member yelled racial epithets at Kenneth as he kicked him in the head and back. Kenneth was also brutally attacked by one other male SEIU member and an unidentified woman. The three men were clearly SEIU members, as they were wearing T-shirts with the SEIU logo.
This is the video on Youtube as posted by a group of Republicans. Its difficult to make out who is on the ground, what appears to be two men – if two men are down on the asphalt that would seem to imply it was not a one sided fight. Then you’ll see a large woman in a navy shirt with a cane walk toward the commotion ( she is one of the people the Right is calling an “union thug” from SEIU). Very shortly after that you’ll see a black male in a tan shirt walk past her – that is Gladney. Gladney walk towards an on coming police car and waves at them. They keep going and he follows them to the small crowd that had gathered where he and the other man were on the ground. That does not mean that Gladney was not hurt by someone, but he looks in pretty good condition for what his attorney described as brutally beaten. As MM notes the ultra Right Powerline blog described what they saw as “shocking”. Its certainly unfortunate that there was an incident where anyone even layed a finger on someone else, but not shocking in that Gladney was up and walking and talking.
The only real mystery from the incident is why Tea Party member Gladney, who’s seen up-close after the brief encounter walking around and talking to people and who appears to be injury-free, then decided to go to the hospital to treat injuries to his “knee, back, elbow, shoulder and face.” All that from a two-second fall to the pavement?
Also unclear is why he contacted a newspaper reporter, or why his attorney wrote up lavish accounts and sent them to conservative bloggers, or why Gladney and his attorney appeared on Fox News.
FYI, according to his attorney, Gladney plans on filing a civil lawsuit against the union.
UPDATED: The Hill erroneously reported that Gladney had been “hospitalized” after being “attacked.” As you can see from the video, Gladney was not “hospitalized.” (i.e. Rushed away by ambulance.) Instead, as the Post-Dispatch correctly reported, Gladney “said he sought hospital treatment.”
No one should be shoving or hitting anyone at these town halls. It just seems that Gladney and his attorney are yelling whiplash when relatively minor injuries were sustained. Then there is the other guy that was on the ground. The Political Carnival also noticed the same video, VIDEOS: After walking away from town hall brawl, conservative shows up on Fox in wheelchair
Now, a day later, he’s confined to a wheelchair and apparently is unable to speak, although he was perfectly articulate in the video above…(video at link)
To get an even better idea of the kind of bizarre posturing the Right is taking, part of a letter written by Gladney’s attorney,
We hope that Kenneth fully recovers from his injuries; however, he is in great pain at this time. We will be pursuing legal action at our discretion. This was a truly senseless hate crime carried out by racist union thugs. Regretfully, Representative Carnahan’s statements blaming Kenneth for being a disruptive force are wholly untrue and slanderous.
[ ]…Kenneth supports conservative ideals, although he subscribes to no particular political party. We are calling on the SEIU, Representative Carnahan, and President Obama to condemn the racist actions of these union thugs. In the days to come, we will be investigating whether these thugs are working at the behest of Representative Carnahan and how strong their alliances to various organizations–such as ACORN–may be.
A hate crime? All members of unions are automatically thugs and lets throw in ACORN for the Glenn Beck-Malkinites conspiracy crowd. The SEIU has its own take, Violent tactics at last night’s St. Louis town hall meeting
Last night in St. Louis, a Reverend and SEIU member was assaulted at a town hall dedicated to discussing our national healthcare crisis. The incident is being spun by GOP operatives as SEIU thug violence–which couldn’t be further from the truth.
So far it seems there has been some possible wrongs done – what looks like a rough scuffle. Gladney, his attorney have their side. While Powerline, Gateway Pundit, the The Weekly Standard have had a trial, seen what they want to see, found that SEIU, ACORN, all unions, President Obama, Democrats and that little lizard in the insurance commercial are guilty as charged; no sense discussing it farther or waiting for a more thorough investigation. So the Right crosses its fingers and hopes this incident, which ends a week of Right-wingers trying to shout down democracy, somehow justifies their goonish behavior. In the mean time its probably some very civil, rational tea baggers that have been calling in death threats to SEIU.
The tea baggers desperately hope to convince everyone they really, really are independent minded, ordinary citizens acting on their own, Townhall Mobs — Brought to You by Big Oil and Dirty Coal
One prime example is Americans for Prosperity, which is trying to kill health reform, clean energy, and the Employee Free Choice Act. And who, pray tell, is this Americans for Prosperity you ask?
AFP is just one giant, multi-headed hydra of a front group for Koch Industries — a huge oil and gas conglomerate and one of the largest privately held corporations in the world. And since being funded by one giant oil company is not enough, AFP has also taken cash from ExxonMobil. In fact, just last night Rachel Maddow caught AFP president Tim Phillips in a lie about the Exxon cash. She also ran through a laundry list of AFP-related astroturfing and dirty tricks.
In this video Rachel Maddow And Former Christian Activist, Frank Schaeffer do not call the tea baggers we see in all the videos tools, but to a large degree they are, useful tools for corporate interests. As long as Republicans ran two or three branches of government the tea baggers, birthers and unhinged gunmen were on simmer. Now that they have lost two elections and it was, while not all, but largely the policies of their leaders that pushed America off the economic cliff they’re, as Schaeffer describes them “the loaded gun” on the table. Its the organizations like AFP and the pundits like Beck and Limbaugh that have ratched up the hateful rhetoric. This is not all that new. There are new personalities, but the tactics, the elminationism, the black helicopters and “death panels”, the fear and hate mongering, have been with us since Nixon: Town Halls, Teabaggers, Obama Birthers and Nixonland
Maybe the best post I’ve read on Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel and Sarah Palin’s “death panel” inanity, Have You No Decency?
First, these issues are quite separate from the main issues being debated in health reform. Under a single-payer system, a strong public plan, or under a libertarian’s privatized dream-system, we will still face fundamental dilemmas in caring for our loved ones, and ourselves. This is not merely or primarily a money issue. Like other forms of care, end-of-life care is sometimes wasteful or ineffective, but nobody is looking to skimp on or ration such care to finance health reform. Nor should they.
Second, health reform would address an equally fundamental dilemma of human dignity and human rights: millions of people’s lack of access to basic care. Many of these people are disabled or live with chronic illnesses. Over at Obsidian Wings, Publius yesterday noted the predicament of children with Down Syndrome denied health insurance because they have a preexisting condition.
Besides Palin’s and Michelle Bachman’s obvious reading comprehension problems it is difficult to follow the logic. Hospitals are generally part of large corporations. Insurance companies in the U.S. have become an oligopoly. Both now make life or death decisions about patients, acting as “death panels” if you like. There is not now or in the future going to be any such government body, but how would that be worse then trusting the corporations whose decisions are driven by profit.
The direct link to Dr. Emanuel’s paper in which he rejects the legalization of euthanasia and doctor assisted suicide.