Monthly Archives: August 2009

Thoughts on the Disruption of Townhall Meetings in the USA

I’d mentioned during the time of the proposed Dion-Layton coalition that it was one of those times when Canadian politics were as easy to write about as US-American politics. US-American politics are painted in such bold contrasts, with such obvious villains and not-quite-as-villainous-but-you know-not-batshit crazy-insane-types. (It just occurred to me that the Democrats aren’t “heroes” by any stretch of the imagination, but their opponents are so demented that it’s still a clear choice which team you’d choose if you were forced to.)

So here we have something that’s easy to write about, coming from the stark contrasts of US-American politics, but which also involves issues that are universal in their application.
The questions under consideration are also so timeless that it doesn’t matter that I’m posting this a little late in the day. Democratic President, Barack Obama (a loathsome public relations character in my estimation) is proposing some god-awful healthcare “reform” bill that just MIGHT be a start to build genuine reform but which is inarguably an example of government intrusion into the right of private insurance companies to mismanage US healthcare as profit-minded capitalists see fit. As any sort of regulation is anathema to them, these private insurers are determined to kill Obama’s proposals however anemic they are.

A number of professional lobbyists and astro-turf organizers have tapped into the mentally-submerged 30 percent of the US-American population that supports the Repugnican Party to the bitter-end, building upon the ridiculous “Tea-Bagging” movement of anti-Democratic protest, calling upon this army of idiots to show up and shut-down “Town Hall” meetings held by Democratic Congresspersons to discuss Obama’s healthcare package.

Now, first of all, the term “astro-turf” isn’t exactly accurate with these mobs. “Astro-turf” (as opposed to genuine “grass-roots” organizations) exist on paper mainly. It’s generally beyond the means of “astro-turf” groups to get hundreds of people out in force in several communities at once. What we have here is a genuine social movement. A movement of really stupid people being manipulated into action by a tiny group of elites who don’t care about them. The FOX network has been the elites’ voice, talking to these sub-cretins, getting them genuinely stirred up about, … oh, nonsensical, insane things like Medicare being taken over by the government. [Note: Medicare is a government program.]

What I’d like to take issue with is the idea that their behaviour at these town-halls is bad, in and of itself. That shouting-down and harassing politicians who don’t do what you like but who do things that you really, really DON’T like is bad. I actually think it’s great. The fact that they’ve been given tips on how to shut a meeting down rather than to debate the issues is a drag, but that just makes it all the more justifiable for the other side to try to shut them down and then pummel them with the facts. To put it simply, if these citizens show themselves to be nothing more than ignorant, right-wing blowhards, get your own bully-boys to intimidate them, force them to try to explain themselves, and when they show themselves to be the dunces that they are, get it up on YouTube. It won’t be “polite” exchange of ideas, but for fuck’s sake, that sort of went out the window at the very beginning, didn’t it. There’s a lot of passion here and it can’t be confined into some polite, technocratic discourse. Decent Democrats are passionate about STARTING to do something about the 50 million US-Americans with no access to healthcare, the bankruptcies caused by medical bills and shitty insurance policies from despicable healthcare insurers. And the yahoos, idiots, fools, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Michael Savage fans and thugs and the confused, geriatric senile dimwits are passionate about how they think Obama is trying to …

To abandon a market-oriented society and transfer it to a Soviet-style, government-centered, bureaucratic-run and mandated program, that is the thing that will put the stake in the heart of freedom in this country. […] re-education camps for young people […] an American KGB […] They’ll take away guns, they’ll take way our sovereignty, they’ll take away our currency, our money. They’re already starting to put all the global framework in with this bullcrap called global warming. This is an effort to globalize, to tie together everybody on the planet! […] bureaucrats are going to decide who lives and dies […] 35 terrorist training camps spread across the U.S.A. […] Take a look a the FEMA camps — there are concentration camps in the U.S. today! […] There’s a cemetery somewhere in Arizona where they just dug 30,000 fresh graves, which wait now for the revolution. […] Baxter International — a major Obama contributor — developed a vaccine for bird flu that actually kills people. […] Google Congressman Alcee Hastings and House Bill 684 and you’ll see that they’re planning at least six civilian labor camps. […] Google an article in the San Francisco Chronicle about train cars with shackles.

Now, of course, I’d like for the right-wing media buffoons, cowards and morons at FOX News and other loathsome places, who are working themselves into a lather about how their stupid “tea-baggers” are being portrayed as “mobs,” and who are screeching that the Democrats are trying to take away the right of citizens to protest, to either apologize for their vicious slanders against “CODE-PINK” and their bullying suggestions that they should be tazered or beaten to a pulp. If these moronic, imbecile “tea-baggers” are just citizens expressing their anger, then all the right-wing bullhorns who are defending their right to protest must first, get down on the sidewalk on all fours and grovel at the feet of a CODE-PINK activist, and live, on television, heartfully apologize for their past slanders and threats. Otherwise they’re just engaging in the full-on hypocrisy that makes one’s entire life a stupid, useless joke that would have been better lived by someone else.

[Scene: Dark hotel room in a tropical country. A pretty 14-year old native girl is pushing herself against the wall, quietly waiting for it all to end as Rush Limbaugh cries softly to himself, his last Viagra taken earlier in the afternoon, and his manhood now totally unable to rise to the occasion, past the barriers of his own self-loathing.]

There’s probably a right-wing memo somewhere saying that the guy with the gun strapped to his leg and holding the poster which reads “It’s time to water the tree of liberty” (a reference to Thomas Jefferson’s “the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s natural manure“) was a Democratic plant put there to make the genuine protestors look bad, but you can see for yourself that nobody is telling that guy to fuck-off because he’s just a trouble maker, the way the leftists did with the fake anarchists at Montebello.

Let’s face it people, we’re at war with the greedheads and the stupid people. I’ll repeat that: We’re at WAR with the GREEDHEADS and the STUPID PEOPLE, and in this war there can be no compromise. Because to a stupid-head, “compromise” means you only cut-off half of your opponent’s body and to a greedhead, “compromise” means something nasty that you have to try to wriggle out of. We cannot continue to allow the greedheads and the stupid heads to set the agenda and control the debate. If they want to get physical to try to enforce their agenda, they should expect that others will get physical back.

Finally, I’ll let David Lindorff say it a bit more eloquently than I have.

Never mind that you’ve got ignorant numbskulls demanding that Democrats in Congress “Keep your government hands off my Medicare!” or that you’ve got right-wing protesters in their 70’s who are all on Medicare irrationally shouting “Keep government out of health care!” The point is that confused and ignorant or not, these people are willing to make the effort to travel fair distances to make their voices heard, and they’re willing to stand up, shout, and even scuffle for the chance to make their point.
It’s not as if Democrats haven’t gone to great length to fill those same halls with earnest supporters.
The real question is why is the left in the US so goddamned polite and domesticated that these Right Wing cranks look positively rowdy.

Where is that passion today? For the most part, the left, in all its various guises–environmentalists, labor unions, civil rights advocates, health care reform advocates, anti-war activists–have become neutered office-chair potatoes, sending canned emails to their elected representatives or to the White House, occasionally marching politely inside of pre-approved, permitted and police-prescribed routes, and attending sponsored events like the current round of town meetings, perhaps to raise polite objections to aspects of a proposed piece of legislation.
The agenda of the left in today’s America is being written not by uncompromising radicals in the street as in earlier decades of struggle, but by the bought-and-paid Democrats in Washington. The left, such as it is, has become simply a reactive force, trying to make discrete little improvements in the truly horrible legislation–health care “reform,” cap-and-trade, the Employee Not-So-Free Choice Act, continued Iraq and Afghanistan War funding bills–that is being offered by a wholly corrupt Washington in thrall to corporate lobbyists.
We all need to take a lesson from the Right, and from those lusty, cantankerous folks who are raising hell at those pathetic “town meetings.”

Read the whole thing.