Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Obligatory Health Reform Town Hall Angry Mob Quote Post (with Photos and Video), Part II

Mitch Albom:

I have no illusions about protesters at the recent town hall meetings on health care.
Town hall meeting with Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA):

Steven Pearlstein:
The recent attacks by Republican leaders and their ideological fellow-travelers on the effort to reform the health-care system have been so misleading, so disingenuous, that they could only spring from a cynical effort to gain partisan political advantage. By poisoning the political well, they've given up any pretense of being the loyal opposition. They've become political terrorists, willing to say or do anything to prevent the country from reaching a consensus on one of its most serious domestic problems.
Ed Morrissey:
The anger comes from the blatant disregard of even the pretense of legitimate governance. Elected representatives from Congress openly admit they’re not reading the bills, while leadership in both chambers try to ram through complicated bills without giving anyone a real chance to learn what they say and what they do. It doesn’t help that the bills in question — health care reform and cap-and-trade — are both elitist policies that essentially puts Washington in charge of decisions that people should make on their own. Put all that together, and the only surprise should be that the anger took this long to develop.
Who are these people? Aside from being almost entirely white and irritable?
Town hall meeting with Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-MA):

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD):
[I]t is now evident that an ugly campaign is underway not merely to misrepresent the health insurance reform legislation, but to disrupt public meetings and prevent members of Congress and constituents from conducting a civil dialogue. These tactics have included hanging in effigy one Democratic member of Congress in Maryland and protesters holding a sign displaying a tombstone with the name of another congressman in Texas, where protesters also shouted "Just say no!" drowning out those who wanted to hold a substantive discussion.
Mitch Albom:
Let's be honest. Those of us who grew up in the 1960s took great pride in storming events and yelling slogans. We didn't care who we interrupted. We were, in our minds, right and proud and arguing for our beliefs. And we look back on that era now with a certain pride.
Town hall meeting with Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL):

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD):
Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American.
CSEA/SEIU Local 2001:
Action: Opponents of reform are organizing counter-demonstrators to speak at this and several congressional town halls on the issue to defend the status quo. It is critical that our members with real, personal stories about the need for access to quality, affordable care come out in strong numbers to drown out their voices.
Town hall meeting with Sen. Arlen Specter (D, then R, then D again-PA):

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD):
These disruptions are occurring because opponents are afraid not just of differing views — but of the facts themselves ... Drowning out the facts is how we failed at this task for decades.
Jake Tapper:
In yet more disappointing news for Democrats pushing for health care reform, Douglas W. Elmendorf, director of the Congressional Budget Office, offered a skeptical view Friday of the cost savings that could result from preventive care -- an area that President Obama and congressional Democrats repeatedly had emphasized as a way health care reform would be less expensive in the long term.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA):
[I]t's always been a source, yes I will say frustration, for many of us in Congress that the CBO will always give you the worst-case scenario on one initiative ...
Cohen et al., New England Journal of Medicine:
Although some preventive measures do save money, the vast majority reviewed in the health economics literature do not.
Chris Matthews and Cynthia Tucker:

Mitch Albom:
[L]ike it or not, people perceive an enemy when they hear about a government health-care plan. Especially one so complex, confusing and undercooked that no one can really say what it will or won't allow, or who will or won't pay for it.
Ed Schultz:

Rasmussen Reports:
Support for the health care reform plan proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats has fallen to a new low. Just 42% favor the plan while 53% are opposed. Other data shows that 51% fear the federal government more than private insurance companies. Forty-one percent (41%) fear the insurance companies more. Overall, 32% favor a single-payer health care system for the U.S. while 57% are opposed.
Town hall meeting with Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX):

President Barack Obama:
Now, let me just start by setting the record straight on a few things I've been hearing out here -- (laughter) -- about reform. Under the reform we're proposing, if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.
Rich Lowry:
If the public option in ObamaCare underpays providers in a [fashion similar to Medicare], it will charge cheaper premiums than private insurance. Employers will dump their employees into the public plan, and a massive "crowding out" will occur ... whether Obama considers it logical or not.
Michael Barone:
[Y]ou can't keep [your insurance] if your employer stops offering it.
Atlas Shrugs:

Robert Reich:
Why are these meetings brimming with so much anger? Because Republican Astroturfers have joined the same old right-wing broadcast demagogues that have been spewing hate and fear for years, to create a tempest.
Mitch Albom:
What did Democrats expect with a bill like this? Roses and hosannas? Many who supported Obama's campaign promises of health care for everyone wouldn't have done so if they read how he now plans to pay for and administer it.
Leah from New Hampshire:

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA):
There’s a lot of people out there making a lot of money on this system, and they don’t want to change it. They just like it just the way it is, so whatever they can do to disrupt it, to stop it, they’re money ahead. We can’t let them stop us from changing this system.
New York Times:
The drug industry has authorized its lobbyists to spend as much as $150 million on television commercials supporting President Obama’s health care overhaul, beginning over the August Congressional recess, people briefed on the plans said Saturday.
Town hall meeting with Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO):

Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA):
The medical industry wants to maintain their access to unlimited corporate profits by maintaining limited medical access for the American people. And, they have cranked up the right wing fear and smear machine to make you afraid. Well, here is something to fear. Today, insurance companies control the medical care you receive, not you or your doctor, if you are fortunate enough to have one.

Town hall meeting with Rep. Peter Griffin (D-RI):

Mitch Albom:
[I] know some of these protesters are sent by dubiously named groups like Americans for Prosperity, which sounds harmless enough, until you check and see the group's leader once organized for Enron and worked with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
Greg Sargent:
Aides to Senator Dianne Feinstein have complained to the White House about a deluge of visits to her offices by constituents who thought they had an appointment after O[President Obama's political operation, Organizing for America] called on supporters to visit members of Congress, Feinstein’s office confirms to me.

OFA recently blasted out an email to its list asking supporters to “visit” the office of their representatives. OFA asked supporters to sign up in shifts to avoid overwhelming the offices, whereupon supporters received follow-up emails reminding them of the “scheduled visit” they’d chosen. OFA advised them to “call ahead” before visiting.

But some constituents took the follow-up email to mean that they had a hard-and-fast scheduled meeting with their members of Congress, and around 100 such people showed up at Feinstein’s offices in San Francisco and Los Angeles, Feinstein spokesperson Gil Duran says. The visitors got upset when they learned they didn’t have a scheduled meeting, Duran says, adding that Feinstein’s office “expressed their concerns” to the White House.

The hostility goes back to what I was pondering in my Sunday essay: that the aggressive, furious attempts to even shut down the possibility of a political discussion is reminiscent of the anti-desegregation movement, a point that becomes noteworthy when you aggregate the motives of the "birthers", who loudly deny Obama's citizenship, the "teabaggers", who loudly declare that the same taxes they paid under Bush are tyrannical under Obama, the "deathers", who loudly assert that healthcare reform is secret plot to euthanize seniors and others that the government deems unproductive. None of these positions makes a lick of sense or has any evidence to back it up, but in large part it is the same group of hard-right, almost entirely white conservatives that believes all three at once. If you believe the shouters themselves, in their own words, the healthcare debate isn't about healthcare but about a conspiratorial government and the end of the Republic.
Either [political independents] have suddenly developed a taste for Nazi mobs of political terrorists or the Democrats’ message war on ObamaCare opponents is a rather epic fail.

Given the left’s monopoly on wisdom and virtue, I must reluctantly conclude it’s the former. When did independents start hating America?
Town hall with Rep. John Dingell (D-MI):

Mitch Albom:
It may not be pretty, but shouting and confrontations are part of this country. They have been from the start. More manners would be better. But silence would be worse.