Disruption strategy not about health care anyway

Blue Texan at Firedoglake, after noting that the disruptors at a Texas town hall last week were organized by the Travis County Republican Chair, and how the disruptors seemed also to opposed Social Security and Medicare:

They’re just throwing a temper tantrum over “SOCIALISM!” — which in their wingnut brains applies to everything from TARP to the stimulus bill, and yes — to Social Security and Medicare.

They’re fringe, anti-government nihilists and they’re not interested in the government reforming health care, or anything else. The media, however, continue to frame these events as a referendum on health care reform, which they are not. One side wants to reform health care, the other wants to lynch the federal government.

This kind of sums up the key points we need to understand about the disruptors. It’s not really about health care to begin with, and it’s being inflamed not just by far-right front groups funded by corporations, but the Republican Party itself has deliberately decided to encourage and organize people to throw gurgling, babbling hissy fits.

So while some on the right put on their Chesire cat grin and proclaim that Democrats are somehow against ordinary Americans expressing themselves, it’s pretty clear which side is trying to prevent real debate. Their claims that we did such things to them are false and the result of the fevered imagination born of right wing victimhood, a necessary and ever-present mental contortion they use to justify wrong actions. A few Code Pink and such protestors here and there are simply not the same thing. Anyone can go pick out random incidents and make a false equivalence, a favorite tactic of the right.

Imagine, if you will, that during the lie-up to war the DNC and labor had adopted a deliberate strategy of shouting down Republicans at their district meetings, or anywhere else they appeared. Imagine that they hired tons of lobbyists and spent millions of dollars to do so. Imagine the airwaves, mainstream and not, filled with crazy-ass claims that George W. Bush was actually from another country and thus not the president. You get the idea.

As we all know, not only did that not happen, progressives had to show Democrats that they could win at the ballot box by vigorously defending basic Constitutional principles and at least talking about real problems like health care.

The only protestors I recall, for the most part, were individual Americans forlornly taking to the streets of our cities while many Democrats went along with the madness, and the protestors were often met with pepper spray and derisive cries of “traitors” from the right. What so offended the righties is that anyone would dare to oppose their madness, and they have now conflated peaceful, non-violent protest with their desire to destroy civil discourse once and for all.

As many have noted, it was only a few years ago that some Oregon teachers were removed from a Bush rally for daring to wear pro-Constitution t-shirts. I recall a public lecture series here in Vancouver during the Bush era, held on public property, at which a few anti-war protestors who desired only to silently hold small placards were escorted out of the venue, at the mayor’s insistence, by uniformed police, because their views were “insulting” or some such nonsense. Public resources were used to squash free speech, and the local newspaper didn’t seem to have much problem with it.

Yet here we are being lectured at by some of the same fools who couldn’t stand to have their eyeballs scalded by the searing sight of someone else’s views about the wrong-headed invasion of Iraq. Forgive me if I have had enough of the lies, the double standards and faux outrage.

What we did to the Republicans was beat them at the polls, and they can’t stand it. They can’t stand it so much they are throwing yet another magnificent, reprehensible hissy fit, mostly because it makes us mad. I guess we should get mad easier.

While it’s understandable that individual constituents may be confused and angry because of right wing distortions, or even not confused and angry for good reason, reasonable people will agree that a major political party deliberately shutting down public meetings as a strategy is petulant at best and dangerous to democracy itself at worst.

Leaving aside the real possibility that mentally unstable people will do bad things, here we have the remains of a reactionary conservative movement that built itself on “law and order” in reaction to the excesses of the 1960’s now behaving in the very manner it supposedly found so loathsome. History doesn’t always repeat itself, but it hardly seems like a winning strategy.

Sure, the obvious thing to do would be to shut down Republican town halls at every opportunity, if you can find any, up and down the ticket, but that’s well, too obvious. Far better to find creative ways to have real discussions, with or without the disruptors, and see if we can’t somehow make the health care system less nuts for regular people. I guess people who want to are going to yell and scream no matter what, but after they get done shouting and being rude there will still be the matter of tens of millions of Americans who have no health care insurance.

If this is the path Republicans continue to follow in their struggle to regain even a modicum of respect from most Americans, I’d have to say that in the long run we’ve already won.


  1. 1

    Daddy Love spews:

    What’s even funnier is that the Republicans seem to think that “organizing” the crazy anti-government nihilists will lead them to electoral victory in 2010.

    It’s part of their cunning plan:
    1. Shrink the base to the crazies.
    2. ???
    3. Victory in 2010!

  2. 2

    gizmo spews:

    As long as we have corporate-owned media (and that includes you, NPR) we’re going to have a perverted, screwed up political culture. Nothing will change until we get media ownership out of the hands of the entrenched economic interests like General Electric.

    Thank god for the Internets….

  3. 3

    Rujax! spews:

    Just keep it up y’all. And MORE Sara please…Joe the (dumber) Plumber…and even St. John.

    Bring ‘em back with the Oreo Man for a terrific new reality show. FUCK that would be good! As long as Bill Kristol and O’Liely are on it too.

    We’re talkin’ a PPV quality clusterfuck here!!!

  4. 4

    Marvin Stamn spews:

    “Disruption strategy not about health care anyway”

    Couldn’t the war protests during the bush term be described as the same?
    We are still at war in afghanistan and the obama has sent troops into pakistan.
    Where did the war protesters go. The ones that chanted “war is not the answer” have gone AWOL. We are still at war, troops are being killed. Yet, the anti-war protesters have gone silent since a democrat was in the whitehouse.
    Even olbermann is no longer giving nightly updates on troop deaths.

  5. 5

    mr. smitty spews:

    Marvin – I don’t recall war protesters shouting down elected officials during town halls to cut off debate and discussion. If anything they were trying to start a debate about the right course of action.

    Maybe I’m missing an isolated incident or two, but there was no organized effort by Democratic officials or lobbyists that compares to what we’ve seen at the health care forums in the past week.

  6. 6

    WatchmanOnTheWall spews:

    You know JON Bull craaaaaaaaaaaaaaappp again,Americans have the right to oppose any thing they believe is not good for the people including themselves as Americans citizens what they and those big time ralliers OMG old people look very dangerous. That is just a bunch of bought and paid for media hype bulllll craapppp. Don’t count on 2010 because alot of these people are democrats. How do i know, i was there.The facts are they are not opposing social security and medicare they are opposing the way it is being managed and if you have any sense at all you know it is mis managed to the max. Most of these people are baby boomers that have worked all of thier lives paid into both social programs and there is nothing for them,they are wondering if this social program will be the same.So bull crappp one more time to this post and watch out for this bunch of big ole meanie people of both parties that disagree with this plan,OMG

  7. 7

    ArtFart spews:

    @5 I don’t recall any elected officals ever holding “town hall” meetings to discuss the pros and cons of a war…with the possible exception of a few like Jim McDermott who were decidedly opposed.

    I also can’t recall a war which this country has become involved in in my lifetime, (and I daresay I’ve been around quite a bit longer than many of you) where all the decisions hadn’t already been made before anyone started talking about it.

  8. 8

    ArtFart spews:

    Several members of the Republican leadership stated long ago what this is really all about. They intend to “break” Obama by blocking any substantive programs on which he’s hung his political hat. After screeching about his “radicalism” they want to approach the next election cycle with the mantra that he’s a “do-nothing failure”.

    Trouble is, they can’t stop him in Congress because they don’t have the votes–as shown by the vote on Sotomayer’s confirmation after all the speeches and posturing. So, instead they’ve mobilized an army of goons to try and conduct a series of “beer-hall putsches”, attempting to scare enough Democrats into bailing out. This may end up working all too well–all it’s going to take is one of these idiots marching into a meeting with a Smith And Wesson “megaphone” instead of shooting up a women’s aerobics class. I hope to hell I’m wrong, but this whole thing may have already reached the point where such an event is unavoidable. And once that kind of shit hits the fan, the stench will remain on all of us for a very, very long time.

  9. 9

    Mr. Cynical spews:


    Obama is doing a fine job of breaking HIMSELF and splitting the Democrat Party without the assistance of “inept” Republicans.

    Obama is experience a lot of self-inflicted wounds…..because of his actions. Porkulous, Auto Bailouts, Cash for Klunkers and over-reaching Health Care all add up to massive DEFICIT SPENDING and BIG GOVERNMENT.

    The vast majority of people in most polls DO NOT like the way the country is headed.
    Obama is the head.

    Try to BLAME others AF.
    It never works for people in power. Never.

  10. 11

    Crusader spews:

    BTW, I have yet to hear a rational explanation about why stopping Obama’s agenda will destroy the nation. I agree with Rush. Obama failing = good for America.

  11. 12

    Daddy Love spews:

    Trouble is, they can’t stop him in Congress because they don’t have the votes–as shown by the vote on Sotomayer’s confirmation after all the speeches and posturing.

    And after all of the screaming, and all of the crazy old SS/Medicare recipients screeching about governmen takeovers, the health insurance reform bill will PASS, and we’ll have a public option, coverage will always be available despite pre-existing conditions, one will not have to worry about losing one’s coverage when losing or changing a job, recission (insurance cancellation after contracting an illness or suffering an injury) will be a thing of the past. Even for Republicans.

    Impotence is a glorious thing to watch.

  12. 13

    Daddy Love spews:

    Cash for Clunkers (CFC) sure was a big failure wasn’t it? Such a failure that they already paid out all of the initial money for the program. Such a failure that they just tripled it in size (rejecting all amendments so that it could go straight to the president’s desk). Such a failure that Ford, who makes one of the top CFC models, made a Q2 profit this quarter.

    This is what Cynical and Crusader want to stop.

  13. 14

    Daddy Love spews:

    Remember when president Obama was elected? That was awesome.

    89 Months to go, motherfuckers.

  14. 16

    headless lucy spews:

    re 4: “Couldn’t the war protests during the bush term be described as the same?”

    No. Both issues are about life and death (of non-embryos), and you are on the wrong side of each.

  15. 18

    Crusader spews:

    Why is that I find “Daddy Love” to be an inherently creepy moniker and creepy photo too?

  16. 19

    headless lucy spews:

    re 9: You are such a TOOL. Even you know that you are full of shit.

    Do you think that any of these clowns protesting their own healthcare could possibly abstract what you mean by ‘porkulous’ — any more than we can get them to understand corporate welfare.

    Good luck….

    They’ll end up at your door in a Brown Shirt uniform with a machine gun as well as mine. Don’t play with fire.

  17. 20

    headless lucy spews:

    re 18: Because he says things that intelligently de-fang your talking points?

  18. 21

    headless lucy spews:

    re 11: You are just another 50 cent in Rush’s pocket. He calls you a ‘dittohead’ for Christ’s sake!!

    Name one liberal radio show host who denigrates his fans like that.

    You fuckin’ DITTOHEAD.

  19. 22

    mark spews:

    @13 How long is this program sustainable? So we all get to feel good for a couple of weeks? What about next month? Next year? Why don’t we start a $400 dollars off a new 60″ flatscreen program? How about a new boat? Thats it, new boats for everyone! You tards are fucking insane. Next problem will be all the new car owners will be behind on payments then we’ll have to hire a car payment csar. You couldn’t write a movie this retarded. Fucking retarded.

  20. 23

    Marvin Stamn spews:

    13. Daddy Love spews:
    Cash for Clunkers (CFC) sure was a big failure wasn’t it? Such a failure that they already paid out all of the initial money for the program.

    Exactly the point.
    After a week the cost had gone from 1 billion to 3 billion.
    Excellent planning.
    Is the same administration “estimating” the cost of free government healthcare?

  21. 24

    mark spews:

    21 Are there any left?(Talk radio hosts who are liberal) HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA Left radio doesn’t work because liberals don’t or aren’t capable of listening. Thats why they’re
    so stupid! Any questions?

  22. 28

    ArtFart spews:

    It would appear that the comments posted to this thread by the trollfucks provide plenty of indication that Jon is absolutely right.

  23. 30

    ArtFart spews:

    The right is so convinced that Obama’s agenda would destroy America that they’re willing, if necessary, to destroy America to stop Obama’s agenda.

  24. 33

    YLB spews:

    Lots of delusional right wing bullshit in this thread.

    I love how Jon brings out the worst in these right wing fiends.

    Public option is going to happen. It will pass by reconciliation.

    If it was good enough for the Bush idiot tax cuts, it will be good enough for the most progressive legislation.

  25. 34

    Steve spews:

    @33 Actually, there’s lots of delusional right-wing bullshit polluting every HA thread. Mark is in rare form. Perhaps he’s giddy about shouting down the democratic process in some town hall meeting today. Is there any doubt here that participating in the destruction of democracy in America gives Mark that “tingle up his leg”? The thought of destroying America likely gets his dick harder than even his fantasies about Marvin’s hapless goat.

  26. 37

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @6 “Americans have the right to oppose any thing they believe is not good for the people …”

    When did this epiphany finally come to you — on Jan. 20, 2009?

  27. 38

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @10 “I say stop Obama at ALL costs, even it destroys the nation!!!”

    Why don’t you guys run on this platform in 2010 — and see how it plays with the voters?

  28. 39

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    If all these senile teabaggers hate socialism so much, why don’t they mail their SS checks back to the gummint?

    Any of you wingnuts want to bet that every single one of those gray-haired Texas disrupters cashed his SS check last month?

  29. 40

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @24 Yes, I have a question. Were you born this stupid, or do you have to work out every day to stay stupid?

  30. 42

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @25 et seq.: I have another question for you, mark! That pot you’re smoking is potent stuff — can I have some, and where did you get it?

  31. 44

    mark spews:

    40 Its true, liberal talk radio won’t work because it doesn’t hold up to three hours of scrutiny let alone three minutes. Just how long is your ponytail? It will answer alot of questions.

  32. 45

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @36 When I was a state employee, I used only 1 side of the post-it notes, because 3M Co. put the sticky stuff on only one side of the paper. If you wrote a note on the backside and tried to stick it to the wall it fell to the floor. I think this is a conspiracy by 3M Co. to waste half the pulp trees in America.

    Disclaimer: I don’t own any 3M stock, but I might by the end of this week, because I’m thinking about taking my profits (40% in 2 months) on HOG (Harley Davidson) and using the $$$ to buy 3M. I love to own stocks in raunchy companies because they make the most money.

  33. 46

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @34 Uh, I think it was your wingnut buddy Crusader who brought up the subject of “destroying America,” see #10 …

  34. 48

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @44 I don’t have a ponytail but I do have a cute cottontail and you can lick it for only $12.95 a minute. For a good time, call 1-900-LICK-ROG … all proceeds go to the Help Roger Rabbit Live Like A Republican Fund.

  35. 51

    BillyBilly spews:

    Jon wrote: “Imagine, if you will, that during the lie-up to war the DNC and labor had adopted a deliberate strategy of shouting down Republicans at their district meetings, or anywhere else they appeared.”

    I don’t need to imagine, I witnessed it in Seattle, Bellevue, Portland, the University of Iowa, UW, Washington DC and elsewhere. For example:

    “News outlets that are focusing on the incendiary rhetoric of conservatives outside President Obama’s town hall meeting Tuesday ignored the incendiary rhetoric — and even violence — of liberals outside an appearance by former President George W. Bush in 2002.

    When Bush visited Portland, Ore., for a fundraiser, protesters stalked his motorcade, assailed his limousine and stoned a car containing his advisers. Chanting “Bush is a terrorist!”, the demonstrators bullied passers-by, including gay softball players and a wheelchair-bound grandfather with multiple sclerosis.

    One protester even brandished a sign that seemed to advocate Bush’s assassination. The man held a large photo of Bush that had been doctored to show a gun barrel pressed against his temple.

    “BUSH: WANTED, DEAD OR ALIVE,” read the placard, which had an X over the word “ALIVE.”

    Another poster showed Bush’s face with the words: “F— YOU, MOTHERF—ER!”

    A third sign urged motorists to “HONK IF YOU HATE BUSH.” A fourth declared: “CHRISTIAN FASCISM,” with a swastika in place of the letter S in each word.

    Although reporters from numerous national news organizations were traveling with Bush and witnessed the protest, none reported that protesters were shrieking at Republican donors epithets like “Slut!” “Whore!” and “Fascists!”

    Frank Dulcich, president and CEO of Pacific Seafood Group, had a cup of liquid thrown into his face, and then was surrounded by a group of menacing protesters, including several who wore masks. Donald Tykeson, 75, who had multiple sclerosis and was confined to a wheelchair, was blocked by a thug who threatened him.

    Protesters slashed the tires of several state patrol cruisers and leapt onto an occupied police car, slamming the hood and blocking the windshield with placards. A female police officer was knocked to the street by advancing protesters, badly injuring her wrist.

    The angry protest grew so violent that the Secret Service was forced to take the highly unusual step of using a backup route for Bush’s motorcade because the primary route had been compromised by protesters, one of whom pounded his fist on the president’s moving limousine.

    All the while, angry demonstrators brandished signs with incendiary rhetoric, such as “9/11 – YOU LET IT HAPPEN, SHRUB,” and “BUSH: BASTARD CHILD OF THE SUPREME COURT.” One sign read: “IMPEACH THE COURT-APPOINTED JUNTA AND THE FASCIST, EGOMANIACAL, BLOOD-SWILLING BEAST!”

    Yet none of these signs were cited in the national media’s coverage of the event. By contrast, the press focused extensively on over-the-top signs held by Obama critics at the president’s town hall event held Tuesday in New Hampshire.

    The lead story in Wednesday’s Washington Post, for example, is headlined: “Obama Faces ‘Scare Tactics’ Head-On.”

    “As the president spoke, demonstrators outside held posters declaring him a socialist and dubbing him ‘Obamahdinejad,’ in reference to Iran’s president,” the Post reported. “People screamed into bullhorns to protest a bigger government role in health care. ‘Nobama Deathcare!’ one sign read. A young girl held up a sign that said: ‘Obama Lies, Grandma Dies.’ Images of a protester wearing what appeared to be a gun were shown on television.”

    On Sunday, The New York Times reported that a Democratic congressman discovered that “an opponent of health care reform hanged him in effigy” and was confronted by “200 angry conservatives.” The article lamented “increasingly ugly scenes of partisan screaming matches, scuffles, threats and even arrests.”

    No such coverage was given to the Portland protest of Bush by The New York Times or the Washington Post, which witnessed the protest.”