Thursday, August 06, 2009

The lieutenants in the Brown Shirts

They report all the way up through the chain of command to General Dick Armey. Outfits like Armey’s FreedomWorks and Bonner & Associates — which describes itself as an all purpose “grass roots” organization: meaning astroturf — are orchestrating the hooliganism taking place at Democratic congressional members town hall meetings across the country that Charlie described as amounting to a Kristalnacht.

But Armey and Bonner couldn’t do it alone. From the Strib today:

Farmfest is typically a genial event -- a stop elected and aspiring officials consider an easy political must-do.

But at this year's gathering in rural Redwood Falls, as First District U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn., put in an appearance, an audience member declared loudly that plans for national health reform were a "step toward communism."

Walz, a veteran, shot back: "I didn't spend 24 years in the military to be called a Communist, I can tell you that."

A similarly harsh reception confronted Fifth District Rep. Keith Ellison, when he struggled for control of the microphone at what should have been a friendly meeting on health care reform at a north Minneapolis clinic.

What Walz should have done was ask this individual to define communism. Undoubtedly s/he couldn’t do it with with any level of precision.

Was the Farmfest comment yours, Dave? Or just one of your fellow travelers: another cloaked Republican operative? It has already been admitted that the effort to disrupt town hall meetings is coordinated.

Here are a couple more grafs from the same article:

Remember the Tea Party protests [link is Spot’s] from earlier this year? Those same groups appear to have shifted to the health care front, armed with talking points, with horns painted on politician's pictures and, in at least one case, a sign with a Nazi "SS" logo.

The group Minnesota Tea Party Patriots is tracking the Minnesota delegation's plans for meetings in August and is planning its own Town Hall meeting next week in Minnetonka. They also intend to visit congressional field offices to protest two days after that.

The teabaggers claimed that the whole protest just popped up spontaneously, and they’re making a similar claim about the disruption of the town hall meetings. Frankly, this about as spontaneous as Kim Jong Il’s birthday party.

Clearly, the object is disruption, not discussion. The protesters are more interested in controlling and dominating the meetings — Keith Ellison is described as “struggling for control” of the microphone — and monopolizing the time with pedantic questions. Here’s the list from one of the right wing’s pedants in chief, King Banaian:

I could quote more [from one of the House bills], but if you are preparing for this you should read the section link above. Here are questions for your congressperson or Senator regarding Sec. 401.

  1. If my adult child is a dependent of mine, am I required under HR 3200 to buy insurance for her or him?
  2. If I become unemployed at any time during a year, am I required to get a qualified plan or enter a government plan to avoid this tax? (It appears this proration clause I ended on does impose that requirement. If someone can find a place where it says you're not taxed, please point me in the right direction.)
  3. If I am a millionaire and I choose to self-insure, am I required to pay both the 2.5% tax (which, you will note, is capped at average insurance premiums as determined by your Health Choice Commissioner) and the 5.4% surcharge in Sec. 441? Do you have an estimate of the amount of legal tax avoidance that will occur if you raise taxes by that amount?
  4. Who is required to document that I have the appropriate coverage? (This will be a test of whether they read 401. It's up to the Treasury Secretary. Follow the link for the exact language.) Doesn't this increase in paperwork defeat the purposes of cost control?

Now my note: My purpose in getting you these questions is to get you something that will tell give you information, get others in the room information, about whether the legislator understands the bill and to get you some real answers if they do. These are to be a substitute for yelling, not a complement. I agree with those who are saying to stop the shouting matches at the town halls. It's unhelpful, it plays into the hands of the Democrats and their love-slaves in the media. (Tapper not included.) Ask the questions, record the answers, then find a reporter and tell them what you thought of the answer. Get your opposition, if you are, in the newspaper and on the radio and TV in a way you'd be proud to show your grandchildren.

You could come up with a similar list of very specific things to ambush Erik Paulsen, Michele Bachmann, or John Kline (in the odd event they would actually have an open town hall meeting) about concerning defense authorization or supplemental defense spending bills, and chances are they would have no clue, either. They would probably demur and say, “That’s what gets hashed out in committee." (You might want to read the comments to Banaian’s post above; Spot will take the satirist-cum-senator over the B actor-cum-president any day.) Banaian’s just furnishing a script.

Spot doesn’t have a link at the moment, but it should be remembered that mandatory insurance is the route that Massachusetts took under then-(Republican) governor Mitt Romney. It is not as good an option as the “Medicare for All” public plan idea. But it may be all we’re left with when the heath care industry gets done with us.

Parenthetically, also funny are the senior citizens appearing at these meetings spouting, essentially, “Keep the government away from my Medicare!”

But, there’s nothing to do but keep plugging away and buck up the supporters of genuine health care reform.

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