Step Back from the Brink

I can’t stay quiet about this anymore. It’s too disturbing, and it’s frankly frightening.

I’ve been wondering for a while: what, exactly, is all the anger about the health care plan all about? Where is the anger that fuels the tea party protests coming from? Objectively, what’s happening is that there’s a watered-down health care bill moving through Congress that will almost certainly not change health care for most people in this country. There’s also a massive fiscal stimulus on top of a bailout for banks and car companies that has cost a lot of money, and will put us further into debt.

The sort of behavior on display at town halls across the country has nothing to do with any of that. This footage is from a Chris Murphy event. Watch:

There’s a lot that bugs me, here. The complete lack of knowledge about the health care bill is one, and the constant references to ACORN is another. These people do not have their facts straight. But that doesn’t matter.

What bothers me the most is the body language. I’ve been surrounded by people who wanted to hurt me, shout me down, or bully me before. They loom, they glare, they stare, they move and act a certain menacing, arrogant way.

That’s what I see here. These people are bullies. You can call me a liberal, an Obamabot, a socialist or whatever name you like that allows you to dismiss what I’m writing, but it doesn’t make it any less so. I know what I see.

They don’t want to debate. They want to yell loudest, and impose their will by force instead of working with others. There’s an air of menace to the entire thing, and while some of that may come from the fact that the videographer is asking pointed questions and taping them, most of it comes from the crowd itself.

Why is this happening? I don’t know all the reasons, but if I had to guess I’d imagine that these people have been told, or for whatever reason they have come to believe, that a Democratic administration will lead to the destruction of America. Several seem to believe their freedoms are going to be taken away. By whom? How? Which freedoms? Has anyone actually ever proposed that? Naturally there are no answers. To even ask is proof that you don’t get it, and should be dismissed as a hopeless case. Bullies do this.

Another thing they do is use extreme examples from the past to justify their own awful behavior. When the videographer asks if these protesters are the new Code Pink, everyone looks outraged. But that’s exactly what they are.

Speaking of, some people are comparing the tea partiers to the protests against the Iraq War, and I have to disagree. I attended many of those protests, and while there was fear and anger in the air in those awful days, we were not mobs. Some protesters behaved badly, but vast majority were peaceful and respectful. The mood was completely different.

In fact, I can tell you without hesitation that the people in the above video were the same kind of people who pulled over next to me as I stood on Windsor green in 2003 with my sign (“I love America and I love peace,” it read) and yelled, as loud as they could, that I was a traitor, that I should back the president, that I was letting terrorists win. We stood there anyway, and most of us took it in silence.

What’s happening this summer worries me. Everyone has a right to free assembly, and a right to speak their piece. But there’s a line between free speech and debate and just trying to bully the opposition into silence, and these people have crossed it.

They need to ask themselves: what are they hoping to achieve? What are the facts, really? And is this the best way to accomplish their aims?

And, the best question of all, where is this all going to end up?

I have a solution, and it’s the same one I remember trying to use back in 2003. We’re all patriots here. We all love our country. Can we put aside the fear and hate and meanness for a few minutes and just talk? No raised voices, no name-calling, no accusations, no rehashing of past battles. Tell me: what do you want? Why? And then I’ll tell you what I want, and why. We can go from there.

Let’s step away from the edge.

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70 responses to “Step Back from the Brink

  1. Bruce Rubenstein

    Chris….they and the “birthers” and the like are being egged on by many( not all) of the movement republican conservatives, in order to bring Obama and democratic government down. Facts and accuracy doesn’t matter to them. In my opinion,they would be storm troopers in Germany in the 1930’s if they were transported back in time.

  2. Both sides should have a right to speak freely. This video clearly states that healthcare continues to be a very polarizing issue for both sides. Congress will vote passage of the healthcare bill in some form and 2010 will be a referendum on congress.

    The debate for our country should be about job creation. Without job creation our government cannot both in CT and nationally sustain its current path.

  3. Come on, will’ya.

    Some people here are being just a little bit disingenuous. Who EVER expected Lincoln Douglass debates at protest sites? The difference between a protest and a debate is the difference between a news headline and a news story. In this particular video, the videographer decided to get in the face of protestors and the result was predictable.

    Bruce Rubenstein, as a member of the SDS, was a protestor during the Vietnam war, and he knows the difference.

    The guy who stalked Sen. Joe Lieberman at many campaign appearances by trucking around a paper mache representation showing former president Bush kissing Lieberman was not “debating” the issue of foreign policy during the early part of the now successful Iraq war. He was protesting what he thought to be an outrage.

    So, just to begin with, can we stop conflating things that do not belong together?

    The frustration many people feel about being stampeded into accepting bills rationally discussed here – http://spectator.org/archives/2009/06/08/downgrading-american-medical-c
    – is real, and it will not be dispelled by demagoguery on either side of the barricades.

    The ferocity of the debate has much to do with specific provisions in both the stimulus package and the health care package, but you will not find a rational articulation of those objections at protest sites.

  4. They lose the debate when the rhetoric is toned down and an actual nuanced debate with indoor speaking voices is had. (I also felt the same way about anti-war protesters after the US had entered Iraq as well who couldn’t coherently explain the “the what do we do next if we leave entirely” regarding foreign policy, the war on terror and stabilizing the Middle East. )

    This is irrational fear on display. Conservatives of this era have made the very idea of “government” the enemy, whereas conservatives of the past recognized governments role was to work where the private sector fails and that government should be pragmatic and helpful to all its citizens.

    The problem is, the is a very real argument to be made that healthcare is an area where the private sector is failing. They do not want to truly have that debate.

    Bottom line is this. 99.9% of the people on the video, plus myself and everyone commenting here doesn’t have the knowledge to truly understand the details and complexity of healthcare reform. Instead we have all just chosen our sides and we’re hoping that from the information we’ve been told through our biased lens, that we’re right. And the reality is this, whether in the end the guy taping the video is proven correct or whether the guy he is filming is proven correct it surely won’t be because either of them truly know what they are talking about, it will be by chance that they picked the right side to associate with.

    I like what Bill Maher said, this country doesn’t need town hall forums, it needs study halls.

  5. That’s wildly entertaining.

    Show more! Do you have how it ends? Did they ever get that Chris Murphy guy? Where was he hiding? Did they string him up on the town square or stone him? Tar and feather? Hope they got him good…how dare he be part of the healthcare discussion, you know, the discussion. What’s wrong with him?

    Get him good teabaggers…man is that a clever name.

  6. Great comment, for reals.

    What’s perplexing is to see all those recipients of Medicare shouting against government healthcare. Not one of them can provide a rational example of how, or even IF, Medicare hasn’t worked for them. The more I see of these people the more I wonder about them: why do people act against (what seems to me to be) their own best interests?

    The fact is, we are not attempting health CARE reform, we are attempting health INSURANCE reform. As such, it seems to me that giving people the CHOICE of a public plan to cover the costs of their healthcare does not threaten even one of the people shown in that video — not those on Medicare, not those with employer-provided insurance, not those who pay for their own insurance. The only people “threatened” by a public OPTION are insurance company executives who might have to compete with a more efficient, lower-cost, less exclusionary plan: if a public option succeeds, people will drop their private insurance and move to the public option.

    So, where are these “teabaggers” getting their information and, more importantly, who are they getting it from? A quiet debate would show where their talking points are correct, or incorrect. And that is why those who oppose health insurance reform can’t afford a debate and instead have riled these people up into an angry mob by playing on their myriad fears that have nothing to do with healthcare OR insurance. An educated consumer is his own best customer — and it isn’t in the best interest of some
    circles to educate the consumer.

    I think it would be great to go to these mob events and circulate petition to abolish Medicare on the grounds that it is ineffective, expensive, corrupt and socialism, along with a pledge to withdraw from Medicare or refuse to sign up for it and obtain private insurance instead. I wonder how many of the protesters would sign it?

  7. This video is disturbing. Not because I support Obama’s healthcare proposal – I am strongly opposed to it – but because I hate to see these type of people as representatives of the opposition.

    These are the same neocons that were booing the libertarian at the Hartford Tea Party (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jnQAZJdHlI). They are partisan hacks who support everything that is done under a Republican administration, but oppose them under a Democratic one.

    They remind me of some of the Democrats who opposed Bush’s reckless foreign policy and assaults on civil liberties, but say nothing now that Obama is continuing and expanding upon those same policies.

    We need some independent thinkers who are respectful and knowledgeable. We need to stop pretending that we are going towards socialized medicine. We’re not going towards it – we’re already there. People have legitimate concerns about healthcare being too expensive, and we need to explain to them that the rising costs are a result of government intrusion.

  8. I have a solution, and it’s the same one I remember trying to use back in 2003. We’re all patriots here. We all love our country. Can we put aside the fear and hate and meanness for a few minutes and just talk? No raised voices, no name-calling, no accusations, no rehashing of past battles. Tell me: what do you want? Why? And then I’ll tell you what I want, and why. We can go from there.

    And that solution will work just about as well as it did in 2003 in the run-up to the war.

    What the rest of this post seems to be describing — a sudden realization of the poisonous method by which the modern conservative movement has long functioned — seems to be very much at odds with your conclusion, which is to keep on assuming that, as a movement (not as individuals) the authoritarian right really seeks honest debate and a functional democracy.

    That same conclusion might also serve as the mission statement for this website, which is something that in the rest of the post you appear to be rethinking, or else should be.

  9. So only left wingers can protest GC? No one else allowed?

  10. AndersonScooper

    Protest all you want Hank. We all have every right to speak up and get a message out at any political event.

    But that doesn’t mean any of us has a right to be purposely disruptive, and to thereby violate the democratic process and the rights of fellow citizens.

    Dissent need not be disruptive, and even then there is a difference between a minute’s worth of theater, (think of the streaker at a soccer match), and a concerted effort to shut down an event.

    These Republican Tea Baggers have every right to be heard, (just not to be overly disruptive), and I just wish the press would report on the true nature of their political beliefs, and paranoia.

  11. Mark,

    Please explain how government is currently driving up the costs of health care in the U.S. I’m truly confused by your contention that it is. Me, I’d place the costs of health care squarely in the laps of the insurance companies who are setting the rates and policies for consumers. Can you explain how that is not so?

  12. Hank Morgan,

    Why didn’t any of those people ask Congressman Murphy a thoughtful question based on any of the provisions actually in the bill currently being “debated?” The Congressman put himself in the public arena to answer those questions, yet not one of those people asked him one nor gave him the opportunity to answer any.

    Why wasn’t that large loud guy asking any questions? Why wasn’t he allowing anyone ELSE to ask any?

    Answer: because they were only there for the sole purpose of stopping questions from being asked.

  13. Please explain how government is currently driving up the costs of health care in the U.S. I’m truly confused by your contention that it is. Me, I’d place the costs of health care squarely in the laps of the insurance companies who are setting the rates and policies for consumers. Can you explain how that is not so?

    Sure thing. The first thing that needs to be established is that the current healthcare system is NOT capitalistic. It used to be. For decades, Americans had high-quality and affordable medical care, and thousands of charities covered the costs for the poor. People simply paid cash for basic services, and only chose to buy insurance as protection for unforeseen catastrophes. The relationship was between the doctor and the patient. Doctors were motivated by competition to keep costs down and quality high, because otherwise the patients would simply seek other doctors.

    Unfortunately, the government decided to get involved.

    In 1973, congress passed the HMO Act of 1973 which made it a requirement for most employers to offer their employees HMO coverage. Additionally, the tax code was structured to only allow businesses, but not individuals to deduct insurance premiums. This led to a combination of employment and health insurance, making it disastrous for the unemployed who struggled to get coverage for accidents. We have to think about this notion of employees providing health insurance. Employers don’t take care of your food, and food is just as important as healthcare. Removing individual decision from the equation has led to a bloated bureaucracy making health costs spiral.

    I highly encourage you to watch this ABC News special which shows what a true free market looks like, and how it makes healthcare better for everyone:

  14. Bruce,

    “In my opinion,they would be storm troopers in Germany in the 1930’s if they were transported back in time.”

    Or SDS or Weather Underground in 1970. Not that I approve of these senseless tactics anymore now, than I did then. I guess what goes around comes around. It just seems to make less sense and is much less appetizing when it comes from the other side of the table.

    After living through the late 60’s and early 70’s I have come to fear IMO that the biggest threat to our nation’s future comes from within, from us, not someplace else. Somehow we survived a far bigger divide in this country during the 60’s and 70’s…… We better learn fast to get past this as well because the world is now a far smaller place, and we simply can no longer afford to draw lines in the sand with each other.

  15. Bruce Rubenstein

    Al and Don…..In 1970 when i was in SDS and later the Weathermen, I was 22….I know better now….

  16. SouthernWreck

    Hard to gauge the age of the Lord of Bullies at the center of this creepy variation on Jackson’s short story, “The Lottery’, but let’s say he’s 56 – so, in less than a decade, let’s say, when he’s on six medications and has been in the local ICU twice (doc said lose forty pounds, he couldn’t – had to support Big Food), I hope he will be getting replays of his performance. Medicare will be providing a western European-style coverage for what ails him. Many of the oldsters in that crowd are on Medicare now – are they stupid, selfish, or just resignedly nasty (the Lottery…?)? My taxes are taking care of that old gal in the baseball cap in the foreground with the vicious tone – just like the guy who would not respond to Dodd.

    None of these foolish people will be paying for anything – damn, they’re paying now for the foolish decisions of Merrill, Lehman, BofA, and AIG! A Bush initiative, remember? Growing nothing. They are all middle class – their situation will stay the same, unless their current insurer [group] goes under or they have a catastrophic situation and they end up on Medicaid or federal welfare.

    It’s about white frustration, greed, ignorance, and the culture war. And oh yeah, there is a guy in the WH who’s only half-white. They only want to deny change – fear and ignorance – just like Pearlstein wrote in WaPo (no liberal my any measure).

    Here’s how you have a “town hall” that harks back to Philly 1776:

    [a commenter at Steve Benen’s blog]

    “It’s pretty simple to stop this crap. Simply have police/security “escorts” on hand and a big sign at the entrance to the venue informing participants that questions are welcome when you have the floor, that the purpose of the meeting is open dialogue, and that those who attempt to shut down open dialogue through shouting others down will be removed. And then, haul out anyone who refuses to abide by the rules of civil discourse. This gives them a choice – their voice can be heard – but only if they extend the courtesy to others. If they aren’t capable of doing that, they won’t be part of the discussion.

    There’s nothing wrong with imposing some rules of decorum…it’s nothing like the Bush “town halls” which were totally scripted events with pre-screened participants. Just put people on notice that attempts to shut down dialogue won’t be tolerated and those who engage in such attempts will be forced to leave, but they are welcome to voice their concerns if they are able to demonstrate the most basic manners. If they can’t do that, they aren’t there for any reason other than to prevent others from being heard and they need to be removed from the venue.”

    Just like that Rockwell painting, not like the Stop and Shop Bully.

  17. Mark,

    Didn’t the HMO Act require employers to offer HMO coverage *alongside* traditional indemnity coverage upon request? Was it not a “dual choice” option? If it was a choice, why do you think it became so widespread? Why would people chose an HMO over a traditional plan that was already offered — and if people are choosing a certain option over another, isn’t that the free market at work?

    Didn’t this “dual choice” provision expire in 1995?

    Why have costs for HMO coverage risen so much over the years? Is the government setting the rates for medical services — or is it the doctors and the insurance companies? Are the costs reflective of the true costs of procedures themselves?

    What is your solution to bringing down costs of medical care? Do we abolish HMO type care and put the expense of medical care onto each person individually? Do we only allow insurance companies to sell indemnity insurance?

    Do you believe we should abolish Medicare entirely?

  18. From the crowd that thinks 9-11 was an inside job pulled off by George Bush, it is amusing to watch them as critics of the conservative movement.

  19. From the crowd that thinks 9-11 was an inside job pulled off by George Bush, it is amusing to watch them as critics of the conservative movement.

    No one I have ever met in my entire life has ever believed that. No one. But what a lovely straw man.

  20. wtfdnucsailor

    GC – What a thoughtful post. I also have never met anyone who thought that the 9-11 attacks were “an inside job”. What really bothers me about the folks that are shouting and demanding “Read the Bill” and “Keep the government’s hands off of Medicare.” is the fact that they have not read the bill.

    Neither have I except for the portions that some folks claimed would lead to senior citizen euthanasia. What I found was a very reasonable Medicare benefit for seniors and those with life ending disease to have a counselling session regarding end of life decision making, living wills and durable powers of attorney. I also read the portion of the bill regarding the “health rationing” claim. Here the house legislation proposes a commission to review medical practice outcomes to determine what procedures are most effective so that these effective procedures would be the procedures of choice instead of an ineffective procedure. That sounded very reasonable to me.

    I could go on but I think the reader will get the idea. The conservative talk radio voices and blogs, and to a large extent, the official Republican Party spokespersons, have convinced some folks that the “Obama Health Plan”, which currently does not exist, will lead to the end of health care for that person, the death of unborn children, and the death of senior citizens.

    The Administration, and the Democrats in Congress have not helped the situation by proposing four to five (or maybe seven = I understand there are three more plans pending in various Senate committees) mutually contradictory plans. This has given the opposition many targets to shoot at.

    The underlying and unspoken, except by Mr. Limbaugh, fear of these people, is the fear that the White America they grew up in in the fifties and sixties, no longer exists because an African American is the President.
    Another thing that I find bemusing is the comparison of Democratic programs to those of the Nazies in pre WWII Germany.

    I thought the National Security programs of the Bush Administration such as the Patriot Act were more in keeping with Nazi policy than anything done by the current administration or Congress. However, I would not say something like that publically because it is really an unfair comparision. Nothing is as bad as what Hitler and his minions did in Germany.

    I received an e mail today from a right wing acquantance that claims the Obama administration is planning to set up concentration camps for those that do not agree with them and site some National Guard training document as the proof.

    Yikes! If folks will believe that, the ability to have a reasonable and civilized discussion is lost.

  21. No one I have ever met in my entire life has ever believed that. No one. But what a lovely straw man.

    GK,

    In this poll, 61% of the Democrats either believe Bush new about 9-11 or are not sure if he knew. I am happy to hear that you don’t know anybody who believes this but there is no denying, they are out there!

    “Democrats in America are evenly divided on the question of whether George W. Bush knew about the 9/11 terrorist attacks in advance. Thirty-five percent (35%) of Democrats believe he did know, 39% say he did not know, and 26% are not sure”.

    http://newsbusters.org/blogs/brent-baker/2009/08/04/flashback-35-democrats-think-bush-knew-9-11-attacks-advance

  22. sorry, knew about…I type too fast!

  23. GK & Sailor,

    Say hello to…Rosie O’Donnell

  24. Sadly Genghis, you’ve fallen for the nonsense the party in power wants you believe.

    That somehow their GOP bashing from 01-09 was different.

    Nope. Same stuff. You fall so hard for it too.

    Michelle Malkin’s August 5 column pointed the double standard:

    “The same Democrat Masters of Astroturf who encouraged their followers to use “in-your-face” tactics during the campaign season now balk at vocal opposition from their fiscally conservative neighbors and co-workers. Obama’s architects of Kabuki town halls have packed public forums with partisan plants. Now they accuse opponents gathering at impromptu rallies against the massive health care takeover legislation … of orchestrating “manufactured anger.”

    “In a comical missive issued Tuesday afternoon, Democratic National Committee spokesman Brad Woodhouse complained: “The Republicans and their allied groups — desperate after losing two consecutive elections and every major policy fight on Capitol Hill — are inciting angry mobs of a small number of rabid right-wing extremists funded by K Street Lobbyists to disrupt thoughtful discussions about the future of health care in America taking place in Congressional Districts across the country.”

    The DNC definition of “thoughtful:” Sitting silent about the lack of transparency, deliberation, truth in numbers and reciprocity on the Obamacare plan. The DNC definition of incitement: Asking out loud, “How can you manage health care when you can’t manage Cash for Clunkers?”

    “Talking Points Memo blogger Josh Marshall bemoaned a fiscal conservative activist’s memo offering advice on how to “pack the hall … spread out” and challenge a politician early “to rattle him, get him off his prepared script and agenda.” Horrors! “This amounts to a sort of civic vigilanteism,” Marshall fretted.

    No, showing up at a congressional town hall and booing a talking points-programmed political hack isn’t “civic vigilantism.” Throwing rocks, pouring cement on train tracks, blocking military shipments, smashing windows, hurling paint, slashing tires, vandalizing businesses and throwing shoes are vigilante acts.

    That is what the anti-war, anti-free trade, anti-Bush mobsters did over the last eight years — and there wasn’t a peep about those brute tactics from Obama’s blogging pals. ”

    …or Genghis

    Yep, you “took it in silence” alright.

    And now fall hook, line, etc.

    THAT is disappointing.

  25. It’s about white frustration, greed, ignorance, and the culture war. And oh yeah, there is a guy in the WH who’s only half-white. They only want to deny change – fear and ignorance – just like Pearlstein wrote in WaPo (no liberal my any measure).

    When I read ignorant crap like this I understand why there are those that would cut off their nose to spite their face and rant and rave in shopping lots.
    .

  26. pufnstuf,

    Do you think that Rosie O’Donnell saying dumb things somehow excuses the behavior of the people in the video? Does it make criticisms of them any less valid? You’re trying to change the subject by making the most outrageous accusations you can think of, and trying to peg them to all liberals. It won’t work, I’m not going for it.

  27. Do you think that Rosie O’Donnell saying dumb things somehow excuses the behavior of the people in the video? Does it make criticisms of them any less valid? You’re trying to change the subject by making the most outrageous accusations you can think of, and trying to peg them to all liberals. It won’t work, I’m not going for it.

    I think the people in the video are standing up for what they believe in and I would hope you would respect their 1st amendment rights to do so.
    I have presented facts to my claims that many Democrats think 9-11 is an inside job. I agree with you that the accusation is outrageous but I am not the one making that claim. The polling data speaks for itself.

    Now, I know you don’t believe that 9-11 was a set-up and I don’t believe that Obama is not an American citizen however; the insinuation that Republicans or conservatives are kooks because a couple of screwballs are running around claiming that Obama was born in Kenya is crazy. Yet, these absurd “birther” postings have occurred on this board a number of times as you remain in complete silence.

    I recognize the kooks on the right….I just hope you can recognize the kooks on the left.

  28. Kabong,

    I don’t care about what the DNC says, neither am I interested in the nonsense coming from Michelle Malkin. I know incivility and bullying behavior when I see it, and when people cross that line, I say so.

  29. I think the people in the video are standing up for what they believe in and I would hope you would respect their 1st amendment rights to do so.

    Reread:

    What’s happening this summer worries me. Everyone has a right to free assembly, and a right to speak their piece. But there’s a line between free speech and debate and just trying to bully the opposition into silence, and these people have crossed it.

  30. The guy who stalked Sen. Joe Lieberman at many campaign appearances by trucking around a paper mache representation showing former president Bush kissing Lieberman was not “debating” the issue of foreign policy during the early part of the now successful Iraq war. He was protesting what he thought to be an outrage.

    Don, the big difference in this (and let’s not even talk about your misuse of the word “stalking”) is that a paper mache float parked outside a campaign appearance isn’t going to stop anyone from engaging with the senator in a rational and open dialog.

    A howling, yammering crowd of dozens of whinging morons who won’t let the representative engage anyone in a meaningful exchange of ideas does.

    Big difference. How can you not see that?

  31. … I know incivility and bullying behavior when I see it, and when people cross that line, I say so.

    It’s unfortunate that when the other side was engaging in very similar tactics, we didn’t hear from you at that time.

    You’re playing into the double standard.

    Big time.

  32. johningreenwich

    Of course those protesters are disturbing, but in the same way we can’t dismiss all dissent during the Bush admin. because of Cindy Sheehan and Code Pink, we shouldn’t dismiss all of the current people opposed to national healthcare. There’s too much focus on these protesters. I’m quite sure if someone cares to put it on youtube you can find some national healthcare protesters that do know what they are talking about and still don’t like it.

  33. Thomas Hooker

    I think the people in the video are standing up for what they believe in and I would hope you would respect their 1st amendment rights to do so.
    I have presented facts to my claims that many Democrats think 9-11 is an inside job. I agree with you that the accusation is outrageous but I am not the one making that claim. The polling data speaks for itself.

    I went back to the Rasmussen Report summary that contained this “finding”, but I couldn’t find the actual questions put to respondents. It isn’t clear if those Democratic respondents answered that way because of the national security report that Bush was presented that was titled “al Qaeda Determined to Attack Within the U.S.”, or because of many other signals that our intelligence establishment had been receiving. One simply cannot draw the conclusion that Democrats are enamored with a conspiracy theory because of this one question. It is very vague and the source isn’t clear.

    In reality, most Americans would probably agree that President Bush should have realized that we were under threat from bin Laden after reading that security report fully a month before the attacks, and that he should have done something other than go on vacation at his ranch for a month. Most Americans will fault him for the attacks when Bill Clinton warned him clearly about al Qaeda when he took over and when Clinton’s counter-terrorism chief tried repeatedly to get him to pay attention to the threat, but was repeatedly rebuffed.

    That isn’t conspiracy theory, but a judgement on Bush’s actions in light of the numerous specific warnings he received during the nearly nine months that he was president before the attacks.

  34. Stamfordinho

    Spending is out of control and the American people do not want the deficit to increase as a result of this MAJOR health care reform that is being rushed through. The American people also believe that this health care bill will lead to a significant increase in the deficit. It’s not just “right-wing extremists” who are upset with Congress — it’s the typical/average Americans who are upset with Congress.

  35. Genghis,

    I am looking forward to your expose on the SEIU union leaders’ strong-arm tactics to get the rank and file to accept the ‘deal’ they cut with the Gov. earlier this year to avoid layoffs. Oh, I forgot, unions don’t advocate thugery, they just fight “for working families.” Give me a break.

  36. Stamfordinho

    Genghis forgot to talk about the Conservative who was physically beaten by union members in St. Louis …

  37. CT “Centrist” and Stamfordinho,

    That’s very nice, but can you explain how it excuses the behavior of the individuals in the video above?

  38. …excuses the behavior of the individuals in the video above?

    Doesn’t.

    Hopefully I at least have made it clear that it’ll be a cold day I show up with sign on a stick for any reason……..or get caught dead wearing a hat indoors for that matter.
    Some things simply will not happen ever.

    However; it does seem terribly inconsistent that aside of when masked hooligans physically attacked elderly members of the CT delegation at the Republican Convention that you have said nary a word prior to this regarding decorum.

  39. Speaking of, some people are comparing the tea partiers to the protests against the Iraq War, and I have to disagree. I attended many of those protests, and while there was fear and anger in the air in those awful days, we were not mobs. Some protesters behaved badly, but vast majority were peaceful and respectful. The mood was completely different.

    I remember that a bit differently.

    http://www.frontpagemag.com/media/Homepage/ShootOfficers3.gif
    http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3330/3254413945_ed3303bacb.jpg
    http://bit.ly/17LxSA

    “Some protesters behaved badly, but vast majority were peaceful and respectful” sums up my feelings on the health care/townhall/tea party protests. It depends on what angle you’re looking at things, I guess.

  40. The behavior of these people is completely unacceptable. The “bleachers” at the Republican National Convention were even worse.

    Bill O’Reilly shouts down his opponents. Keith Olbermann identifies the “Worst People in the World.”

    We need is a serious reconsideration of our political discourse. If someone has a problem with the health care proposals out there, study the issue and raise your concerns. Ask a thoughtful question, then wait for a response. There’s nothing wrong with heated debate. What has been happening far too long is that people demonize those who disagree with them as though it were some character flaw.

    This isn’t the worst form of political protest in history, but instead the straw that is currently breaking the camel’s back. The Right and Left are equally at fault for this disintegration of meaningful debate. Let’s stop assigning blame and start building a new approach to our politics.

    This blog might be a good place to start?

  41. KTinkel says: What is your solution to bringing down costs of medical care?

    There are 6 things that can be done described here. http://www.campaignforliberty.com/blog.php?view=22843

    I know for years Ron Paul has introduced bills to do some of those things, like allowing the importation of drugs and encouraging the use of negative outcomes insurance. This year he has a bill that would make 100% of all medical expenses tax deductable against both income and payroll taxes. The two things that have to happen to bring costs down a lot are the widespread use of both negative outcomes insurance to get a handle on the malpractice mess and a widespread use of only carrying major medical insurance.

    I’ve heard Peter Schiff layout a plan for encouraging the use of major medical insurance. He basically wants to fully tax employer provided health insurance while simultaneously providing everyone with a standard tax deduction for roughly the average amount of health insurance coverage. It would be revenue neutral from the taxpayer’s viewpoint. You wouldn’t have to pay any more in taxes. But what healthy people would do is drop their expensive health insurance that covers a lot, pick up cheap major medical insurance, and pay for routine care out of pocket. They could keep the difference between the standard deduction for expensive insurance and the cost of cheap major medical and a few routine visits. See the advantages of having a finance wiz in the Senate?

    For more on why most people would be better off with just major medical insurance: http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig4/howell4.html

  42. Genghis Conn: I’ve been wondering for a while: what, exactly, is all the anger about the health care plan all about? Where is the anger that fuels the tea party protests coming from?

    Most of the TEA Party people have no underlying philosophy guiding their actions. They point to one thing and say it’s bad. They point to something else and declare it good, even if it violates the same principles that they used to declare the first thing bad. They’re not really against s0cia1ism as they like to claim. They’re only against s0cia1ism when it comes from Democrats. That being said, some of the Ron Paul supporters have agreed to a… temporary working relationship… with the TEA Party activists. But we objected just as much to the actions of Bush as to the actions of Obama. We held our first tea party way back on December 16th 2007. Perhaps the new TEA Party folks can be educated. But watching that video brings up bad memories of McCain supporters on primary night. The working relationship may be very temporary.

    Ironically, what the TEA Party people really object to (from Democrats) is the use of coercion. And they’re perfectly willing to use coercion to get what they want. There was a provision in one of the health care bills (not sure if it’s still in there) that required everyone to have some kind of health insurance (approved by the government). It is the same objection to the GIVE Act which at one point had a provision that formed a committee to investigate ways to require “volunteer” service (approved by the government). Not sure, but I think that provision might have been taken out of the final bill. The bailouts and massive expansion of debt will lead to the requirement to pay more taxes, and so forth.

    But the TEA Party folks have no objection at all to requiring people to fund a war that some people want no part of. They’re perfectly fine with s0cia1izing the costs of a war. They’ll create all sorts of mental justifications to use coercion and s0cia1ism for the things they like. The phrase “tyranny of the majority” is as alien to them as it is to most Americans these days. Majority rules. Individual liberty dies.

  43. I’ve heard Peter Schiff layout a plan for encouraging the use of major medical insurance. He basically wants to fully tax employer provided health insurance while simultaneously providing everyone with a standard tax deduction for roughly the average amount of health insurance coverage. It would be revenue neutral from the taxpayer’s viewpoint. You wouldn’t have to pay any more in taxes. But what healthy people would do is drop their expensive health insurance that covers a lot, pick up cheap major medical insurance, and pay for routine care out of pocket. They could keep the difference between the standard deduction for expensive insurance and the cost of cheap major medical and a few routine visits. See the advantages of having a finance wiz in the Senate?

    I forgot to add that once a lot of people start dropping all that expensive insurance, the insurance companies will be forced to clean up their acts to try and draw people back. That will benefit the people who either can’t or never bothered to drop their expensive insurance in the first place.

  44. As long as the State and Federal Governments keep it illegal for doctors to advertise price, medical costs will never come down.

  45. Al and Don…..In 1970 when i was in SDS and later the Weathermen, I was 22….I know better now….

    I know that. I was simply making the point that a protest is not a debate and that your past experience acquainted you with the difference. A debate is what happened between Lincoln and Douglas; and such debates are infrequent in the modern period. The so called presidential debates are mostly press opportunities. Protest — see Abby Hoffman — is street theatre, sometimes instructive, sometimes not. I know you’re an honorable and a good man. So don’t take it personally.

    We can have a discussion as to whether the protestors should take health care reform personally, which tends to drive up the passion meter. I think they should, for the very simple reason that the reforms proposed will affect them personally. But in this sort of pressure cooker, reasoned debate is the first casualty.

  46. Bruce,

    For what it is worth ( while I do not know you personally) I believe you do now know better. For what it is also worth, I have come to respect your logic when expressing your point of view.

    What bothers me most about this thread is the suggestion that suddenly the anger and mindless protests and other unacceptable behavior shown by certain people as it relates to this health care issue is a new political tactic, being employed by those from the far right.

    I am sorry but it is not new, and it most certainly has never been limited to only those from the right who are currently childishly, (perhaps even almost criminally) choosing to conduct themselves in this manner.

    As long ago 40 years ago I clearly understood what it felt like to feel threatened because my point of view was different than those around me (the SDS for example). I saw people from the right shouted down, physically threatened, and forced silent because their views were different. I know because it happened to me. I didn’t like it then, and I don’t like it now

    We all saw riots, protests, and civil unrest far beyond what we are so far seeing here but that was all OK?

    Of course not. It was just as wrong then, and ever since, as it still is now……….. But what it is not, is new…….. What it also is not is limited to simply those on the right who are in many cases these days just as frustrated by what they think they see happening to this country as many those from the left did the last dozen or so years.

    What it is IMO is a result of a political system gone wild. Anything Democratic good, anything Republican bad, and visa versa, depending on which side of the table you come from. It is a result of those who become so consumed by their blind political partisanship and hatred of any other point of view that they conveniently are able to rationalize their refusal to see what is right in front of their eyes, or any idea from the other side.

    Ever needed police protection to be able to cross an angry picket line and go to work? Ever had listen to the threats, and the vile, vulgar words coming out of someone’s mouth directed at you then have to work side by side with those same people (people who days before you would have never thought could stoop so low) days latter, as if it was all just a bad day?

    No, none of this should suddenly seem new to anyone unless I guess you are only 22 and this is the first time you ever saw it, or you are 62 and this is the first time you ever really stopped to concern yourself about it. Our entire social structure is quickly losing the ability to intelligently engage each other in productive debate.

    To be very clear, I don’t disagree with GC’s concerns, I completely agree with them. Just don’t limit the concerns to those from the right, as if those the left have all been choir boys all these years.

    If we all want to step back from the edge, as someone above me suggested, this site could be a good place to start. I might suggest spell check being used for the names of those holding or running for office as a good small first adult step in the right direction.

  47. The problem as I see it ( and many others BTW) is that the Left feels very insulted that the normally quite and respectable Conservatives have found a voice and are actually using it.

    I can understand the leftists being upset that their Modus operandi has been hijacked, but alas it’s like chickens coming home to roost or something. It was all about to happen sooner or later.

    I think the most upsetting thing that Liberals really take to task is that Conservatives may have actually listened to the pre-election speeches by Obama…..you know stuff like ” “Argue, Get In Their Face” HIS QUOTE…. HIS WORDS, NOT MINE.

    I think, uhmmm no, let me re-phrase, I know that the outrage from the left is not genuine, it’s way to phoney and over the top. SEIU Union thugs actually attack a man in St. Louis, send him to the hospital and the MSM looks the other way and the UNION uses the footage in a online video as a way of turning the story around……what balls they have. 6, yes 6! Union thugs were arrested for the assault, not “ONE” conservative was arrested, only “ONE” was sent to the hospital, and he was Black.
    Please Don’t ask where Jeese or Rev.Al or the ACLU were, he was only a Black Conservative, you know those who are considered only 1/3rd human. http://gatewaypundit.blogspot.com/2009/08/st-louis-holds-protest-against-democrat.html

    The punk in this video is trying his best to illicit some sort of response that they could use…..EPIC FAIL.
    http://ctprogress.com/blog/?p=826

  48. Good to see 9/11 skepicism being discussed, and I’ll leave a couple of links for all of you to ponder:

    http://whatreallyhappened.com/WRHARTICLES/911q.html?q=911q.html

    http://911truth.org/article.php?story=20041221155307646

  49. Stamfordinho

    Obama definitely wants to inflame the hate. He says to punch back twice as hard. Yet Genghis certainly still thinks that Obama is some sort of post-partisan angel. Shows how phoney Genghis is … wake up …

  50. This comment thread is a prime example of why “friendly, reasoned debate” doesn’t take place on issues like this. Most of what I’m reading is unsubstantiated, and a whole lot of name calling – on both sides. I don’t see a whole lot of reasoned argument. So I’ll post my comments from an earlier comment thread:

    “With regard to the healthcare townhalls, whether it’s union organization or insurance industry folks showing up, we’re all citizens, and have the right to assemble and have our voices heard, regardless of the industry we’re associated with. Trying to to discredit an entire assembly based on film of a single protester, or union speech-giver is ridiculous, and takes away from the primary debate – whether or not public sector bureaucrats can provide better, more affordable healthcare, to a broader population than the current system, or whether the current employer-provided system of health insurance should be abandonded in favor of a return to a broader free-market insurance system where consumers pay directly for their health-insurance policies, much the same way they do for all their other insurance policies. The current system, which is somewhere in the middle of a fully public, and a free-market system, and could be viewed as somewhat of a “bipartisan compromise”, the type of idea so popular amongst “moderates” and “independents” these days, has a lot of problems. The question then is; do we move to the left towards full public sector control, or towards the right, and greater consumer responsibility, liberty, and free-market options? I personally prefer the latter, as though it may not be perfect, it is truly the only affordable option, and that encourages innovation, and offers the most choices.”

    With regard to this video, nearly everyone is behaving badly, including the harassing videographer, who insists on antagonizing these people, and shoving his camera as close into their faces as possible, and trying to portray himself as non partisan. I don’t think anyone likes to be filmed without their consent, especially by someone trying to portray them in a poor light.

    On the other side, shouting down a congressman is not the most effective tactic either. I do find it interesting to note that the film ends once Murphy comes over and addressed his protesters (kudos to him), and they seem to be taking a more reasonable tone.

    On the whole, though, as far as this video is concerned, I don’t see what the big deal is, or understand GC’s reaction to it.

  51. On the whole, though, as far as this video is concerned, I don’t see what the big deal is, or understand GC’s reaction to it.

    I think it’s all quite clear, hyperbole and “manufactured” reactionary fraud, plain and easy to understand.

  52. AndersonScooper

    CarGuy–

    Nice spin, but let’s keep to the facts shall we?

    It’s called “zoom”, and I didn’t put my camera in anyone’s face, although some of the TB’ers did get very close to me in attempted physical intimidation.

    In terms of “baiting” them, if you’re arguing that asking about their purpose and intent is such I think you’re way off base. I made a concerted effort to be as polite as possible.

    In terms of when the film ends, the change of tone happened once the police arrived in force. Before that the situation was potentially violent.

  53. In terms of when the film ends, the change of tone happened once the police arrived in force. Before that the situation was potentially violent.

    Oh please.

  54. Good to see 9/11 skepicism being discussed, and I’ll leave a couple of links for all of you to ponder:

    Swell – you won’t want to miss these exciting sites either!

    Masons worship the devil

    Proof that the Pope is the antichrist

    The Queen of England is a drug dealer

    The day I met Bigfoot

  55. In terms of when the film ends, the change of tone happened once the police arrived in force. Before that the situation was potentially violent.

    Did anyone accost you at the Stratford tea party?

    No?

    Get over yourself already.

  56. AndersonScooper

    It’s not about me ACR. It’s about the democratic process.

    Maybe you’re okay with an angry mob shouting down a United Stated Congressperson. Most of the rest of us are not.

    The Tea Baggers have every right to ask questions and get their Republican messages out, but the disruptiveness and threatened chaos is un-American.

  57. Maybe the crowds are as hostile and rude as these people…

    http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalradar/2008/07/protesters-inte.html

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/27/AR2007012700629.html

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1202606/posts

    http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=86702

    …but then again, if 86% of America is pleased with its health coverage, according to Time Magazine, isn’t it natural for people to get a bit upset when they perceive a threat to that coverage?

  58. But this lack of “wanting to have a serious discussion” does not come only from Republicans. Peter Schiff, leading fundraiser and potential candidate against Chris Dodd, appeared on MSNBC to talk about healthcare. Those host wouldn’t let him talk at all!

  59. AndersonScooper – now that you’re standing up to take credit for this footage (did GC forget to mention that?) ; let me be the first to thank you for so bravely withstanding the slings and arrows of this “angry mob” of elderly “intimidators” and sign-holders armed only with your wits and a video camera, all for the good of the democratic process. You must have left the clips of “threatened chaos” on the cutting room floor, but nevertheless, for your stupendously brave attempt at engaging these ruffians, and that mountain of a man leading them, Jim, you truly deserve some recognition. Your name should be etched in record next to the great documentarians like Michael Moore, whose brave, non-partisan work has done much to advance the democratic process and conversation in our great nation!

  60. Nice Jack Dobb, great links.

    It seems protesting and such is only deemed acceptable if you smell bad, dress down and carry a Democrat Voter ID.
    Oh and screaming and threatening people is patriotic too, well if you’re on the left side of politiking that is.

    See, thats called wonderfully Democratic Americana, even when bussed in wearing SEIU , Acorn or OFA Obama shirts, oh my how very spontaneous and genuine.

    OB is calling on his thugs to go out and intimidate, to gather info and report back , wow I love the direction this country is going.

    Is Flag@whitehouse.gov even legal? I thought we stopped that sort of thing after Nixon.

  61. Maybe you’re okay with an angry mob shouting down a United Stated Congressperson. Most of the rest of us are not.

    We’re underwhelmed by your sincerity.

    Murphy responds to his constituents almost exclusively via form letters; his arrogance is already legend and far beyond even that of Dodd or (CT record holder) Dick Blumenthal.

    Yet you’re surprised that some of his constituents are irked with him?

    Clearly you didn’t really mean to post that did you?

    Let’s face it Ed, you’re not respectful of others ever.
    You didn’t even remove your hat (which you were wearing indoors no-less) when you met my wife.

    Never-the-less you’re in here rambling on about proper decorum?
    That makes about as much sense as attending a Sunday sermon led by Madalyn Murray O’Hair.

    Take the links Dobbs posted at #57

    Then take this one; for a Yale boy you should know better.
    EVIL SWEDE’S GUIDE TO PROPER HAT ETIQUETTE
    It is considered a sign of contempt and/or disrespect to leave your hat on when it would be proper to remove it.

  62. With regard to this video, nearly everyone is behaving badly, including the harassing videographer, who insists on antagonizing these people, and shoving his camera as close into their faces as possible, and trying to portray himself as non partisan. I don’t think anyone likes to be filmed without their consent, especially by someone trying to portray them in a poor light.

    I too was bothered by this. I hate having cameras pushed in my space. Like bad karma the clip went from an indictment of one single teabagger to an indictment against the photographer.

    These vocal teabaggers are getting too much press. lt only encourages them.

    I’d think supporters of a public option would be much more concerned about this retreat:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/08/09/another-blow-to-public-op_n_254961.html

  63. That’s very nice, but can you explain how it excuses the behavior of the individuals in the video above?

    Genghis, it doesn’t excuse the behavior in the videos. Those guys came across as clowns, and no one will be bumping into any of them any time soon at a MENSA meeting. However, that’s not the point. The point here is the selective outrage on your part. Whether its Tea Party Patriots, Code Pink, or a union leader twisting the arm of a rank and file member, there are many examples of Neanderthal tactics on BOTH sides of the political spectrum. My only point is that you have failed to rail against any”left-leaning” yahoos when they cross the line, at least to date.

  64. nice find by Colin McEnroe:

    How is that a “nice find”? I don’t know Red Hat Man, but doesn’t it make sense that when two of the biggest supporters for the President’s health care plan are from the same tiny state, it might be possible for one person who disagrees with the plan to attend both events?

    My point is, simply, to you and to Colin, that Red Hat Man isn’t exactly the second gunman on the Grassy Knoll.

  65. Bruce Rubenstein

    Al and Don P have raised good points….I also believe in a good debate and Al and Don accomplish this often on here. I do not believe in shouting someone down and bullying…which Ive seen by birthers and tea bag types.

  66. Where is all the outrage for the SEIU union thugs that Obama and gang asked to show up at these things. Where is the outrage for the beating of Kenneth Gladney in Missouri?
    The Democrat party thinks we are stupid, how dare we speak up to the “One” and all the little peons that didn’t even read the bill.

  67. Republitarian

    Nice job egging these people on Genghis (or who ever took this footage).

    You know why these people are pissed off Genghis? It’s all about access. These people have been ignored, and now they are being mocked and marginalized. The woman happened to be correct? Where was left calling for the “civil debate” with Code Pink and other Lefty’s who disrupted meetings?

    When these folks write, fax and phone their congressmen they get stupid form letters back and are summarily brushed off.
    They have had it.
    These people are not all Republicans either.
    These are people who are genuinely annoyed by their unresponsive government. A government that is stealing their money AND their liberties, and a government that is hell bent on shoving through Congress legislation that hasn’t even been properly read and examined or debated.
    They didn’t someone poking a camera in their face and asking for” polite debate” . They weren’t there to give a message to the cameraman – they were there to give a message to Chris Murphy – and he better listen up. That is not a threat – that is reality – and that is how the system works. When your constituents come out – as these 150+ did – then you better sit up and take notice.
    I don’t think these protesters are disturbing at all. They are exercising their rights to bitch and complain to their elected official whom THEY pay and whose expenses THEY pay! So far, Murphy has ignored them and so this is what he and his colleagues can fully expect and what they fully deserve.

    Are they angry – you bet your arse they are, and calling them a mob or paid operatives or whatever other damn silly names you wish to attach to them is only going to provoke them more – as will sending out the union thugs to deal with them. Healthcare is a life and death issue not to be screwed with.

    It’s simple:
    They want these Congressional clowns to read the bills.
    They want these Congressional clowns to stop spending OUR tax money and wrecking our economy.
    They want these Congressional clowns to stop ignoring them.
    They want answers; not more lies and sweet platitudes.
    Most of all they want their rights to be respected and upheld.
    That’s why we have a damned Constitution, and if Murphy et al. continue to trample on our rights and continue to pass unconstitutional laws, and laws the people do not want, then they can expect this reaction.

  68. I just found this article today. CLEARLY, the videographer is an instigator, antagonist, provocateur and the REAL trouble-maker in that video. And all you who attack the “old” guy are blind followers of blind reporters.

    Do you think our revolutionary fathers were not this passionate and angry? Of course they were. But the lying, liberal agenda would squash passion because it could lead to revolution. And if that were to ever happen (I doubt it) which side do you suppose “genghis conn” (nice name) or the videographer (probably one and the same) would be on? Well, on the side they perceive to be winning, of course. I find it suspicious that the videographer would not identify himself.

    Americans who see it coming will not have their freedoms trampled on.

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