Monday, August 10, 2009

Let's just come out and say it
Tom Smith

Look, let's just be honest about it.  Disagreeing with our young President is un-American.  And if you're un-American, you should be reported to or whatever they call it.  I admit, I'm still getting used to the idea of the White House setting up an email address where you can report thought-crimes on health care, but hey, it's change, and we old people can have a hard time with that.  If you disagree with socialized medicine, you deserve to be beaten up by a union thug.  Why is that so controversial? I think it's wrong, but it's not logically incoherent. 

It would spare the Democrats a lot of headaches is they just stopped coming up with such contorted lines as, showing up at public meetings and shouting questions is un-American.  Whether that's true or not, it's just too complicated. Just cut to the chase and say, if you don't support the government and the President, you're unAmerican. There's a history of that sort of talk in this country, thanks to the Cold War. That's something people can understand.  So why don't the Democrats just say that?

There is a natural confusion here.  Town hall meetings are those quaint New England things where citizens stand up and talk.  But that's not the idea here at all.  The idea here is for people to sit and listen to persons of Congressionality give them little lectures on what ObamaCare will do for them, kind of like those time-share meetings you can go to where if you sit through the whole thing you get a couple of free nights at the resort.  Why people would show up to such an event is a problem, true, and that's why you would need to pay them.  But you can do that.  You're paying the drug companies and lots others besides.  So, just stop calling them town hall meetings!  Call them infomercials or whatever, and offer people who show up some free stuff.  Union members will come because their bosses tell them to, so that's a start.  Maybe not have them wear the same T-shirts however, which is just a little creepy. And also, stop inviting the public.  Just invite people you know already support the idea, whatever it turns out to be, which we may not know, since it's not written yet, and when it is, noone will actually read it, but you know what I mean.  Then invite in the press, tell them you had a swell meeting, and fly off to Bali to study global warming or whatever.  I swear, I could make a fortune advising these people how to do things.

A Townhall in upstate NY.  Maybe they work better up there.

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Tom Smith


This is irritating. There has been one incident to my knowledge where someone supporting the Obama plan behaved badly. If the union guy beat somebody up, prosecute him by all means. But most of the grossly bad manners,discourtesy, and menacing behavior has come from overwrought opponents of the Obama plan, whatever it is. It is fine to go to a town hall meeting and ask a hostile question. It is not fine, in fact it is thuggish in its own way, to prevent a member of Congress from speaking, from threatening him or her, and or forcing him or her to flee an angry mob, which has happened repeatedly. That sort of behavior is antithetical to democracy, which has to rely on reasoned deliberation.

It may be said the left denounced Bush, Cheney et al. in harsh terms. They did. But saying something about someone in a book or magazine or blog or even a speech is very different from preventing your target from speaking himself, which did not happen to Bush and Cheney or McCain or Palin. That is now going on all over this country. It is conservative people who are responsible, which gives sane conservatives some responsibility for criticizing such behavior. That is not happening, which itself says something bad about where this country appears to be headed.

As always, stupidity is contageous and the left can be as stupid as the right. But it is the right which is now advancing the stupidity ball.

Posted by: Peter Connolly | Aug 10, 2009 1:34:31 PM


Posted by: dearieme | Aug 10, 2009 1:40:36 PM

Peter Connolly - It's Obama who said Republicans should "stop talking and get out of the way." It's Pelosi who called dissent "unAmerican." On the other side, who has prevented a member of Congress from speaking, who has threatened one, what Congressmember has fled an angry mob?

Democratic congressmembers INVITED the public to come talk to them at these town hall meetings. No congressmember has been prevented from speaking. At most, they have been interrupted during a public discussion. That's not censorship.

People are angry because the Democratic approach to health care is dishonest and deceitful. The public won't be allowed to examine the bill before Congress votes. The Democrats have no desire to gain the consent of the governed to their legislation; they want to rule, not govern, to dictate, not legislate. That's what has people angry, and when you go about politics the way the Democrats have, you have to expect people to be angry. Every good person should be angry at them. It suggests a serious character defect on your part that you defend them.

Posted by: pj | Aug 10, 2009 2:17:52 PM

It is absurd to suggest that no member of Congress has been prevented from speaking. Having to shout over people systematically trying to drown you out is not being permitted to speak. What Obama and Pelosi say in public to willing listeners is not the same as trying to prevent others from saying anything. It just isn't. The President is trying to get a bill through Congress. He may succeed and he may not. There is nothing whatever undemocratic about it, unless "democracy" is defined as Republicans always getting what they want.
The Republican Party,to one outside it, appears increasingly to be dominated by people barely in control of themselves without a brain in their heads. Sarah Palin's recent pensees on the subject of euthanasia are typical. I repeat. I think this is bad for the country. I wish it were otherwise. FWIW, I am not sold on the government option either and worry about excessive costs and insufficient controls. But I just think debate should be conducted rationally.

Posted by: Peter Connolly | Aug 10, 2009 3:34:18 PM


I'll agree and say that if debate was actually happening, some of the shouting and slogan chanting is not productive. However, no debate is actually happening in any of these events. It is not designed to. As Tom correctly points out, the whole concept of these so-called 'town hall meetings' is for politicians to try and sell health-care vaporware, and apparently try to gain some sort of positive press or buzz for it with no details or specifics of what would actually be in the plan.

Therefore, the entire thing is already only designed to be theatre, so why exactly am I supposed to be upset by people shouting and playing a theatrical part in it? Just because the playwright hadn't written in those characters and now the play is not going according to their script?

Posted by: Evan | Aug 10, 2009 4:19:41 PM

This govt. and all the prior ones knew that we were facing a giant demographic bubble of retirees. Instead of paying down our debt during the good years so they can borrow for the future, they stole the money and gave it to arms dealers, Goldman Sachs and the state unions that help elect them. Both parties. Now we are broke and our borrowing capacity is up to the Chinese and the Fed printing more.
Many years ago this was discussed by Perot who was denounced as crazy, like Palin and ANYONE else who talk about fiscal sanity. BTW none of our leaders hold Econ or Finance degrees, so what chance is there really, they don't understand the basics of math. Fascism here we come.

Posted by: athena | Aug 11, 2009 5:36:51 AM

Peter - You're not paying attention (at least not well).

Indeed, all the media focus is on opponents behaving badly. That isn't because that is the whole of reality, it is because the media are targeting the opponents to make them look bad (working with this adminstration in counterpoint to how they acted agaisnt the prior administration). The pro-single payer contingents are every bit as poorly behaved and aggressive (if not more so, operating secure in the knowledge that they get off scot free inciting problems and all attention will be directed at those who react to their provocations).

Posted by: krome | Aug 11, 2009 7:43:35 AM

Proponents of single payer are not just as poorly behaved. I have seen no evidence that they have been badly behaved at all. Point out some, leaving aside the much celebrated(by the right) union official, always referred to as a "thug" because who else would work for a labor union but a thug? Left and right now live in hermetically sealed parallel universes, in which their side is by definition always morally correct. The town hall meeting brouhaha of the summer marks something new in American politics, namely an organized attempt to shut down meetings held by congresspeople as a means of intimidating members of Congress into voting a certain way. In my view this is very bad idea and equally bad precedent since obviously both sides can act like jerks.
In Congress the new extremity is reflected by conservatives' bitter end filibustering opposition to sub cabinet appointments like that of Cass Sunstein and Dawn Johnsen. Presidents should get the people they want in non lifetime jobs. Bush did. See Michael Brown,Alberto Gonzales, et al. All this bespeaks fanaticism and extreme self pity and self righteousness. It will be paid back in full, rest assured when a Republican is president and American democracy will grow ever more dysfunctional. I would ask my critics where they think this is all going and why they are so happy about it?

Posted by: Peter Connolly | Aug 11, 2009 9:08:49 AM

Peter - He's called a "thug" because he beat a mild-mannered man, putting him in the hospital. Not because he works for a labor union.

The right is not engaged in "an organized attempt to shut down meetings" but in an effort to voice their opinions and question their elected officials. They are participating in the meetings, not shutting them down.

Bush had a host of appointments blocked, you apparently slept through the last eight years.

As for your last question, no one on the right is happy about how things are going. That's why people are angry at the town hall meetings. So why is the left doing their best to provoke fights with their relentless push for fascism? It seems if anyone is happy with how things are going, it's the left.

Posted by: pj | Aug 11, 2009 10:21:29 AM

Both sides escalate the non confirmation process to new levels of jobs and both sides then blame the other. At present, the only people who get confirmed easily for any position are those who have taken care never to have taken a position on anything which might offend anybody. The recently confirmed FCC Commissioners are typical. The Sunstein story is also typical of the other experience. If ever anyone was qualified for a position,Cass Sunstein is well suited to evaluate the cost effectiveness of regulations, a subject to which he has devoted a public and scholarly lifetime. Ironically, liberals think he is too conservative and cost conscious. But he once wrote an article speculating about whether animals might have rights in certain respects and certain contexts( a subject which has nothing to do with the position to which he has been nominated) and that has meant the torture of rotating "holds" for seven months. He probably will make it after a cloture vote but he has had to put up with this idiocy and the country has been denied the benefit of his intelligence in doing his job. You don't think that Eugene Scalia or someone from the Right Coast won't get similarly unfair treatment in the future?
Again, why is this a good thing or something to encourage by one's actions?

"Union thug" is the phrase usually used. They don't say "a thug employed by a union." It is clearly intended as a slur at unions. Please don't deceive yourself about that.

Lastly, and with this I sign off and leave this debate whatever others may have an interest, please don't use "Fascism" as a description for what Obama wants.
Fascism is not a synonym for "big government." It is,inter alia, about ethnic nationalism, the leader principle, organizing society on corporatist lines, one single ruling party ruled by one person, and racism, always racism. Obama is a politician in a democracy. He is not a Fascist. Read more. Think more.

Posted by: Peter Connolly | Aug 11, 2009 10:46:53 AM

"working with this adminstration in counterpoint to how they acted agaisnt the prior administration"

krome, where were you from 2001-2006?

Posted by: Johnny | Aug 11, 2009 12:07:46 PM

Mr. Connolly,

I hope you have not checked out, as I just now saw your comment about executive-appointment confirmations, and I'd like to respond with some critical facts. You said that

"In Congress the new extremity is reflected by conservatives' bitter end filibustering opposition to sub cabinet appointments like that of Cass Sunstein and Dawn Johnsen. Presidents should get the people they want in non lifetime jobs. Bush did."

In 2001, the Democrats opposed, on party-line or near-party-line votes, not only John Ashcroft for AG, but also Ted Olson for Solicitor General. Bolton and Van Spassovsky (or something like that?) also ran into trouble, including filibusters, I believe.

So this is not new, and nothing the GOP has newly started.

Posted by: fact checker | Aug 12, 2009 7:12:15 AM

I disagree strongly with Obama's proposed healthcare reforms, not surprising from a registered Libertarian. What I don't see is a disinformation campaign against parties opposing his plan (originating from either the Obama administration or big media). I also don't see a smear campaign to suggest that Obama's opponents are unpatriotic. The reality is that there ARE a lot of conservative nutbars out there. The Richard Posners and Megan McArdles are definitely part of the national debate on this issue; unfortunately they get associated with birthers and their ilk.

I know I have an uphill battle convincing many other conservatives that there is not massive media bias against us (more for social conservatives than for fiscal conservatives like myself). What we need is some kind of objective measure that we can all agree on. I'm open to suggestion, but in the meantime, every time I hear "death panel" or "forged birth certificate", I cringe. There are real issues to debate here, beyond shock-value soundbite rhetoric, and if we really can only win by shouting, then we deserve to lose.

Posted by: Mike Caton | Aug 17, 2009 8:39:30 AM