Well, my darlings, the Teabaggers are officially locked and loaded:
According to accounts from the Steve Cohen health care event in Memphis Tennessee, the teabaggers are showing up armed:
Steve Steffens at Left Wing Cracker: "Randy Wade is to be complimented as well; he arranged for security. There were actually idiots who brought guns (legally, it seems they had carry permits, but why did they feel they needed them?). Yes, you read that right, and Randy made them all check in with the Sheriff's Deputies on hand.
Gordon G via FDL Event Tracker: "Beginning early in the proceedings many attendees who were clearly against health insurance reform began trying to speak (and shout) out of turn, at times chanting in unison. These bullying attempts were contained by the rest of the crowd, who variously applauded speakers supporting reform, demanded that hecklers behave, and engaged thugs one-on-one to keep the peace."
And that's why it's important for sensible supporters of health care reform to show up. More on that in a moment. First, the bullies-masquerading-as-patriots need a spanking:
It's kind of sad, really, watching these rightwingers trying to shut down the conversations between elected members of the Congress of the United States of America and their constituents, all in the name of patriotic dissent. It's like calling plagiarism "research."
The story is not that there are mobs set to shout down members of Congress when they attempt to hold town hall meetings during recess.
The real story is that these mobs are passionately demanding that Congress not do it’s job and threatening to replace any representative who does try to do her or his job with someone who will promise to do nothing if elected.
That ain’t Thomas Paine-ish behavior, people.
That’s some throwback pre-revolution loyalist bullshit and no amount of Lipton tea makes it good for America.
True, that. And it's something they should be reminded of early and often. Debate during our country's founding was boisterous and often rude, but it remained debate. Trying to shut down debate entirely isn't patriotic, and it's not democratic - it's pure fucking thuggery, and it's shameful.
What's also shameful is that some believe the proper response to thuggery is allowing the thugs to have their way:
The New York Times' Gail Collins mentions in her column today that enraged conservatives are "following members of Congress around this summer, disrupting their constituent meetings and shrieking about socialized medicine." They are not, she noted, "following the great American tradition of dissent."Otherwise, we risk allowing the heckler's veto to override necessary reform. There's too many people in this country who believe that if no one's speaking out against something, it must be okay, or that it's an accurate reflection of public opinion. Neither of these things is true.
Collins adds, however, that it's better for reformers if the White House and its allies simply leave the mob to do what the mob wants to do.
Speaking of bad plans, the White House has been urging the Democrats to rally their own forces of placard-waving, sweaty, yelling supporters to confront the crazies. This makes no sense at all. It's not often that members of Congress look as sympathetic as they've been lately on YouTube, surrounded by loud and unlovable hecklers. In fact, the best chance for health care reform may be to sell it as the thing that those people pounding on the doors of a town meeting in Tampa and screaming at the fire marshals don't want.
It's not an unreasonable point. The "crazies" have proven themselves to be truly insane, complete with Nazi-related placards, death threats, and nooses. They're shutting down public forums, picking fights, spreading vile nonsense, and comparing health care reform to the Nazi Holocaust. Any reasonable person watching events unfold this week would be disgusted by what's become of the conservative opposition -- which has been organized by corporate interests and egged on by Republican leaders.
Why not, as Collins suggests, just leave them to humiliate themselves?
The answer, I suspect, is that to actually create some momentum for health care reform, there needs to be a concerted push launched by the American majority that's been waiting for reform for decades. It's not enough to simply let right-wing mobs destroy whatever remaining shreds of credibility the conservative movement had left. It's necessary for reform advocates to be vocal and public, letting the media and policymakers know there's a genuine hunger to pass, at long last, meaningful reform.
But there's another good reason - perhaps the best reason - for supporters to show up and stand for reform:
Public condemnation of bully tactics works.[snip]
Yes We Can LI [Long Island] sponsored a "honk if you want health care reform" rally at the corner of Jericho Turnpike and Route 110 on the Suffolk side of the Nassau/Suffolk border. The Teabaggers showed up, in force.
I saw people from Suffolk County 9-12 (a right of center group that wants to maintain the spirit of patriotism that existed in the day after 9-11) standing next to people from Planned Parenthood, who were standing next to people from the Conservative Society for Action standing next to people from the Long Island Coalition for a National Health Plan. People were all mingled together, instead of huddled in their own groups. Similar comingling and civility happened elsewhere today.
More to the point, I saw them actually talking TO each other, not AT each other. They were not just talking about health care. I overheard a conversation about Walt Whitman's poetry collection "Leaves of Grass" (we were near the Walt Whitman Mall).
Think about that, two people each carrying signs at opposite ends of the health care debate spectrum, stopped in the middle of all the noise to discuss poems written by a transcendentalist "free lover" and fellow Long Islander. THAT's the America I want to live in.
There were also teabaggers comparing notes about car models that qualified for the "cash for clunkers" trade-in that they intended to participate in. I know which side the people in that conversation were on, because they were wearing the red shirts that the LI teabaggers have chosen for identification.
As I was filming, standing in the busy street, people from both sides kept watch for coming cars, worried that some harm might come to me.
This is not the story I thought I would be writing when I got up this morning. I thought I was going to be writing a story about how things were getting increasingly uglier. But I think the reverse is true. The Tim Bishop on June 27th Town Hall event totally followed the game plan memo sent out by Dick Armey's flying monkeys. It was disgraceful.
The Bellmore train station Gazebo was less confrontational. In fact, the only really really crazy vicious stuff came from Pam Geller. The other two teabag speakers, said things I disagree with and spewed a ton of disinformation, but they also acknowledged the need for health care reform and expressed a sincere love of country.
At today's event, people are shouting their slogans "hands off health care" and "health care for all," but other than that -- and a guy from some veteran's group who called me a commie when he found out I was from FDL -- people have been more respectful that I expected; and the longer they are out here in the sun, the more they seem to be engaging with one another and connecting on the things they have in common -- rather than the things that divide them.
Demonizing each other will be a lot harder, and corporate astroturfers will have a harder time whipping folks into a frenzy, if both sides are out there yakking with each other about life, the universe, and everything. Such camaraderie won't be possible everywhere - some people are too far gone for neighborliness to overcome their fear and loathing - but it's worth trying. And it's never a bad thing to remind politicians that the screamers aren't the only ones with opinions on reform. Either way, we win.
If you wonder why so many Teabaggers are filled with so many irrational fears, look no further than the media they consume:
I noticed Anonymous Liberal had a tweet this morning that struck me as funny:Once again, we are reminded of the impossibility of satire. Especially where Faux News is concerned, there is no whacked-out conspiracy theory too insane for them to swallow. They're the WorldNut Daily of the broadcast world.
Next GOP talking point: it's made out of people!!!
I laughed because just this week, a friend of mine emailed a similar point:
Bold right-wing activists have leveled with the American people and explained how "Obamacare" will lead to euthanasia. Why haven't they mentioned the second part of his nefarious scheme -- to solve word hunger by converting the old folks into soylent green?
It also doesn't help when supposedly-legitimate news outlets pull stupid stunts like this:
The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's "death panel" so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their "level of productivity in society," whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.
How Politico reported it:
Palin calls Dems healthcare plan "evil," cites threat to Trig
Describing Democratic healthcare plans as "evil," Sarah Palin is warning that the proposals being debated in Washington could threaten the life of Trig, her Down Syndrome infant boy.
Palin, in her first policy statement since resigning as Alaska governor, wrote on her Facebook page Friday afternoon that the sick, elderly and disabled would suffer should healthcare be rationed, as conservatives claim it will with a public option. [...]
Yes, seriously. It falls to Politico to take a story about a national figure making up wholesale a crooked and ridiculous story about how Democratic "Death Panels" are coming after her disabled child if we dare reform healthcare, and turn it into an absolutely straight news story.
Well done, Politico. Absolutely masterful. I couldn't come up with a more embarrassing example of the national political media as lazy, stupid, worse-than-useless prop if I tried.
Sentiment seconded. News outlets shouldn't treat insanity like sanity, even though there was one infintesimal grain of truth in what Sarah said:
But that said, Palin is sort of right on one point -- there are people who weigh whether children like Trig are worthy of insurance. They're called insurance companies, and they have decided that these children are not in fact worthy of coverage. That's because Down Syndrome is a "pre-existing condition."That's the status quo she's defending. Wonderful, innit? Way to go, Sarah - you made Trig a political pawn for people who would deny him coverage in a split-second. If you read the story there, you'll discover that Medicaid had no problem covering a Down Syndrome child - at least until the family started making too much money to qualify. Which is why we need a government plan that covers people making decent money, and regulation that won't allow insurance companies to deny coverage for "pre-existing conditions" like Down Syndrome. The dreaded Obamacare is trying to do exactly that. Health care reform's all about saving kids like Trig, not leaving them to die.
Once again, a Con proves that reality is precisely opposite what they say.
If you're thinking these people believe completely contradictory bullshit - such as "government's gonna kill all the old, sick and weak!" while defending insurance companies that are, basically, condemning huge numbers of the old, sick and weak to death by either denying them coverage or kicking them off the rolls the second they start costing the company serious money, you're not wrong. They don't seem to ever think their arguments through:
But RedState's Erick Erickson is going after the AARP for its tacit support of Democratic health care reform proposals.
The corresponding [AARP] email campaign says one of the myths is that the healthcare plan promotes "euthanasia", which it objectively does -- as even members of Congress say in unguarded moments. [...]
Does the AARP's members know about the endorsement of a healthcare plan that requires seniors to get instruction every five years on assisted suicide -- a fact the AARP calls a "myth"?
Ever wonder why far-right opponents of health care reform seem so confused? Erickson's post is a helpful example. Notice that he insists that it's "objectively" true that reform promotes euthanasia and mandates suicide instructions -- a claim he calls a "fact."
But I'm curious about something. The AARP has an extensive D.C. presence and knows full well how to read legislation. The group exists to represent the interests of seniors. If health care reform really did promote euthanasia and "require seniors to get instruction every five years on assisted suicide" -- in our reality it doesn't, but if it did -- the AARP's staff would know about it. And they'd raise holy hell.
What I can't quite figure out is, from Erickson's odd perspective, why the AARP go along with such a proposal.
There's a good reason you can't figure that out, Steve. You're a rational person trying to think like an irrational dumbfuck. It's a little hard to walk a mile in someone's shoes when you can't even get your toes in the damned things.
But still, it's important for us to get out there, rally for health care reform, and try to calm a few of the more reachable Teabaggers' fears. Just don't expect to see many of them at Con town halls:
With “heated” and increasingly confrontational town halls now dominating news coverage, Washington correspondent James Rosen announced he had “obtained a large Excel spreadsheet showing the schedule of town halls for Democratic members of Congress.” Rosen reported the time and location of several town halls, including those for Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA). To explain why Fox wasn’t reporting on town halls hosted by Republicans, Rosen assured viewers that if he “had the spreadsheet for the Republican members,” he would “share” that as well...And, with that pathetic performance, Faux News wins the Ridiculous Excuse of the Week award.
With media like this, it's no wonder so many people in America are so woefully misinformed.