05 August, 2009

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

Typo warning: with the return of cooler weather, the cat is back to believing she's freezing to death. Therefore, she's competing for space with the laptop and intruding her dear little paws all over the keyboard. She's also been clicking on ads. This is good for blog-owners' revenue stream, not so good for my own blogging.

That warning in place, let's go mock the Teabag Mafia.

Those protesting that the protesters are totally, 100% really real grassroots and definitely not astroturf suffered a setback today:
It's good to match the group with the thuggish tactics.

Conservatives for Patients' Rights, the operation that's running a national campaign against a public health care option, is now publicly taking credit for helping gin up the sometimes-rowdy outbursts targeting House Dems at town hall meetings around the country, raising questions about their spontaneity.

CPR is the group headed by controversial former hospitals exec Rick Scott that's spending millions on ads attacking reform in all sorts of lurid ways, a campaign that's being handled by the same P.R. mavens behind the Swift Boat Vets.

In response to my questions, a spokesman for the group confirmed that it has undertaken a concerted effort to get people out to the town hall meetings to protest reform.

We learned yesterday that the group sent an email to a right-wing listserv called the Tea Party Patriots Health Care Reform Committee, hoping to coordinate efforts on more than 100 town-hall events throughout the rest of the summer.

Brian Beutler added today, "The disclosure makes official what much of the reporting about the disruptions seemed to indicate: that industry funded groups--who stand to benefit if health reform legislation fails -- are playing a significant role in organizing, and perhaps ginning up, the outbursts we're seeing at health care public forums around the country."

Well, there you have it. The Teabag Mob's being incited by famous lying, cheating astroturf organizations funded by the corporations themselves. Pretty sad to watch groups of corporate shills throw hysterical fits on demand, but no one can deny they're following their marching orders to a T:

Last night, Rep. Steve Kagen (D-WI) and Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-OH) were apparently the latest victims of this strategy. Kagen, whose town hall was targeted by the Wisconsin chapter of Americans for Prosperity, was “repeatedly disrupted” by “incomprehensible” shrieks and shouts from angry conservatives.

If you watch the videos, you'll notice that it's mostly a gaggle of older white folk hooting and hollering and generally behaving in ways that would've gotten our bottoms paddled by those very same individuals when we were kids. This impression is borne out by the number of Medicare beneficiaries screaming about that darn socialized guvmint euthanasia program at Rep. Gene Green's town hall:
During the town hall, one conservative activist turns to his fellow attendees and asks them to raise their hands if they “oppose any form of socialized or government-run health care.” Almost all the hands shot up. Rep Green quickly turned the question on the audience and asked, “How many of you have Medicare?” Nearly half the attendees raised their hands, failing to note the irony.
People this easily jerked about by fat cats have no irony meter. Well-known fact.

They're also shooting their own cause in the foot, as demonstrated by a gentleman at that very same town hall:
The crowd was so disrespectful that one frustrated attendee said he had come to the town hall with the intention of giving Rep. Green “a really hard time,” but changed his mind because he was fed up with another man who was “screaming behind my head for the last hour.” The attendee continued, “This is a free country, but I think there’s a certain degree of respect” required. “I won’t be quiet! I won’t sit down! And I won’t let this happen on my watch,” responded the angry conservative activist.
If you want to know how bad it was, even the local Houston Fox affiliate did some debunking. That's pretty extreme stuff, considering most people in the media - I'm looking at you, CNN, Tweety, et al - are only too happy to fall for obvious astroturfing hook, line and sinker. Which, according a Republican source of Josh Marshall's, is exactly what the Cons are counting on. Too bad for them Rachel Maddow isn't that stupid. She might force a few of the MSM foot soldiers to grow some journalistic balls.

And it may not matter what the MSM thinks at the outset, anyway. Just remember, we've seen this play out before, and we discovered why the right needs all those guns - they're constantly shooting themselves in the feet:
Following up on the earlier item about right-wing fanatics trying to shut down discussions over health care with harassment and disruptions, the Politico's Jonathan Martin raises a compelling point.

Yes, there is now much energy on the right. But much like those angry crowds that populated McCain and Palin rallies last fall (recall "he's an Arab"), there is danger in such raw passion.

See, as one Dem points out, the much-watched Lloyd Doggett video today. Go to about a the 2:00 minute mark and you'll find a guy carrying a kid on his shoulders and hoisting a sign with the Nazi "SS" lettering.

Recall also the hanging in effigy of another Dem congressman last week at an anti-health care rally.

These are the sort of excessive displays that breed a backlash.

It's probably the one angle the corporate interests and their lobbyists haven't considered: the unintended consequences of rallying confused right-wing activists to shout down policymakers who'll improve their health care coverage. Once you wind up the fanatics and point them in the direction of a town-hall meeting, you never really know what they're going to say, do, wear, or hold.
And that lack of control can mean blowback. The kind of blowback, in fact, that takes out your face.

The resemblance to McCain/Palin mobs hasn't gone unnoticed by the DNC:
Statement from DNC Communications Director Brad Woodhouse on the Republican Party and Allied Groups’ Mob Rule:


However, much like we saw at the McCain-Palin rallies last year where crowds were baited with cries of 'socialist,' 'communist,' and where the birthers movement was born – these mobs of extremists are not interested in having a thoughtful discussion about the issues – but like some Republican leaders have said – they are interested in ‘breaking’ the President and destroying his Presidency.


The right wing extremists’ use of things like devil horns on pictures of our elected officials, hanging members of Congress in effigy, breathlessly questioning the President's citizenship and the use of Nazi SS symbols and the like just shows how outside of the mainstream the Republican Party and their allies are. This type of anger and discord did not serve Republicans well in 2008 – and it is bound to backfire again.

Which is probably why Dems are starting to have so much fun:
Doggett released a statement yesterday explaining that he won’t be deterred by the mob:

This mob, sent by the local Republican and Libertarian parties, did not come just to be heard, but to deny others the right to be heard. And this appears to be part of a coordinated, nationwide effort. What could be more appropriate for the “party of no” than having its stalwarts drowning out the voices of their neighbors by screaming “just say no!” Their fanatical insistence on repealing Social Security and Medicare is not just about halting health care reform but rolling back 75 years of progress. I am more committed than ever to win approval of legislation to offer more individual choice to access affordable health care. An effective public plan is essential to achieve that goal.

It's not just every day a Dem can get away with accusing his opponents of sending a mob against him. And it's an added delight when your opponents play repeatedly into your hands:

For several weeks, Democratic officials have hoped the public would come to see opponents of health care reform as crazy. Now that the August fights are underway, the right is helping the Democratic message ... by acting crazy.

There's such a thing as "overreach," and the right is coming perilously close to throwing away its own momentum, as anti-reform, anti-discussion activists shout their way out of the American mainstream.

Just like they did last time.

Meanwhile, the Cons in Congress are doing their best to portray themselves as big fat fucking fools:
Following up on yesterday's item, high-profile Republicans continue to suggest health care reform isn't especially important, and the status quo isn't so bad. I'm not sure why.

Remember, this isn't supposed to be the GOP script. Republican pollster Frank Luntz reminded GOP officials not to ignore the public support for changing the system. "You simply MUST be vocally and passionately on the side of REFORM," Luntz advised his party. "The status quo is no longer acceptable. If the dynamic becomes 'President Obama is on the side of reform and Republicans are against it,' then the battle is lost and every word in this document is useless.... Acknowledge the 'crisis' or suffer the consequences."

And yet, over the past couple of weeks, the number of Republicans trashing the very idea of reform keeps growing. Yesterday, Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) spoke out against changing the system and said the number of uninsured has been exaggerated. And a few days ago, Fox News personality Steve Doocy insisted that only 5 percent of the population has no coverage and said it's not worth "blowing up the system for 5 percent."

What happened to avoiding "President Obama is on the side of reform and Republicans are against it"?

Media Matters did a nice job fact-checking the anti-reform message, noting, among other things, the fact that insurance companies "often cancel policies or deny coverage," the congressional proposals include "provisions to help those who lose their insurance purchase new policies," and conservative claims about the number of insured just aren't true.

Every time a Con says our health care system is fine just the way it is, Dems scream with delight. If this keeps up, we'll emerge from the August recess with more momentum behind reform, not less.

Maybe that's why so many Cons are pushing the Grannykiller meme so hard:

Last night, on Sean Hannity's Fox News Show, Dick Morris carried forward the right-wing "let's scare the elderly" strategy by pushing the "Obamacare will euthanize our seniors" meme:

Morris: The key thing for the Republican Party to project is that this is the end of Medicare. Because if the senior citizens are united in their opposition to this, and they really go crazy on this issue, this is dead.

Hannity: So it's really the senior citizens.

Morris: It's really the senior citizens. They're the ones that are going to suffer. Rationing isn't going to affect you. It isn't even going to affect me. It's going to kill our parents! Literally!

Hannity: Yeah. Yeah.

As Susie says, they really don't come any more despicable than this. Morris increasingly resembles a glowering little gnome who lives in the sewers.

So are all the rest of the anti-reform frothers. And people generally don't like sewer-dwelling rats.

It looks like health care reform may actually have a fighting chance, thanks to its very own enemies.

1 comment:

Frizz said...

I'm hoping that enough Democrats have their town hall meetings disrupted by mobs of nutjobs, that they'll get pissed enough to tell the Repugs and Blue Dogs to take a flying f**k for themselves. And, after that, enact a meaningful health care bill. They've got the votes to pass one without a single vote from the Repugs and Blue Dogs. It won't be filibuster proof, but can you imagine the reelection chances in 2010 for anyone stupid enough to engage in a filibuster?