Free speech my ass

By now, everybody is familiar with the fake “town hall meetings” President Bush is conducting around the nation to support his proposal to dismantle Social Security through privatization. So afraid of being knocked off message by even the slightest display of independent thought, the audiences are all carefully screened to assure friendliness, and the questioners are not only pre-approved, but actually rehearsed beforehand.

But you’ve got to give all the president’s men credit for how meticulously faked these events are; apparently, even the invited guests of a Republican congressman aren’t welcome if their car sports the wrong bumper sticker.

The Secret Service is investigating the claims of three people who say they were removed from President Bush’s town hall meeting on Social Security last week because of a bumper sticker on their car that read: “No More Blood for Oil.”

The three said they had obtained tickets to the event through the office of Rep. Bob Beauprez, R-Colo., had passed through security and were preparing to take their seats when they were approached by what they thought was a Secret Service agent who asked them to leave.

Northwest Progressive Institute’s official blog has the details (via DailyKos.) The Secret Service has revealed that the three were ID’ed by local Republican staffers who saw the bumper sticker when the car drove into the parking lot. One can only assume that they were actively screening cars for infidels. Gotta give ‘em credit for their hard work at combatting free speech.

Speaking of NPI’s official blog, today marks its one year anniversary. Happy birthday. Andrew at NPI is a busy guy, as he’s also launched some changes today to his fast-growing Pacific Northwest Portal, including the much deserved addition of TJ’s Also Also to the portal’s front page.

Comments

  1. 1

    spyder spews:

    The reports from the latest trip to Europe were equally distasteful. Restriction of airspace including banning of all private flying, closing of all arterial and access roadways, and literally banning movement of civilian population. This is a US president in Europe, not some Euro royalty or heads of state. Just Bush feeling like going here and there in the most imperious of all possible ways. If they treat Europe like this, it won’t be long before more and more of the US events will begin to look similar. The car w/ the bumper sticker will be stopped at the three mile checkpoint.

  2. 2

    swatter spews:

    Darn that guy!! Straight from the Clinton playbook!!!

    Do any of these politicians have a real town hall meeting?

    I remember just recently a local US Representative had a town hall at the senior center and just invited his buds and seniors to talk about Social Security. Well, huh? Even the harshest Bush critic knows that the current seniors will have no cut in benefits.

    He should have gone to the local community college or boys and girls club to talk about their views of the future.

  3. 3

    Dubyasux spews:

    Dubya isn’t fooling anyone. Everyone knows these events are staged, scripted, and screened. However, using the Secret Service as “thought police” is inappropriate (abnd illegal?). I thought their job was to protect the president? Oh well. His staged Social Security propagandafests won’t do him any good. His SS plan is dead as a dodo. The more people find out about it, the fewer like it. This latest right-wing brainwave is DOA.

  4. 4

    Nindid spews:

    It always makes me laugh when Republicans get in trouble they blame Clinton somehow.

    So let me ask this of our conservative friends straight out… do you support Bush going around on a TAX-PAYER funded campaign swing and then throwing out citizens who went through the entire screening process, obtained tickets from thier Republican representative, and only made the horrible mistake of having the wrong bumper sticker? Sound like democracy to you?

  5. 5

    Nindid spews:

    Dubya@ 3 For what it is worth, it seems as though these were only Bush staffers and/or hired security pretending to be Secrect Service. That makes it all better….

  6. 6

    spyder spews:

    The Denver 3 Speak Out

    Alex Young, Karen Bauer and Leslie Weise were removed from a “town hall” event in Denver, CO last week where President Bush appeared to discuss his Social Security privatization plan. They sent DFA an update on their story after meeting with Secret Service agents today.

    Very rarely does the everyday public get a glimpse of what happens behind the scenes in a normally-secret Bush Administration.

    But today, the Secret Service called three everyday people (Alex Young, 25, an IT professional; Karen Bauer, 38, a marketing coordinator and Leslie Weise, 39, a lawyer) into their offices to discuss why we were kicked out of a presidential event in Denver last week where Bush promoted his plan to privatize Social Security. What they revealed to us and our lawyer was fascinating.

    There we were—three people who had personally picked up tickets from Republican Congressman Bob Beauprez’s office and went to a presidential event. But as we entered, we were told that we had been “ID’ed” and were warned that any disruption would get us arrested.

    After being seated in the audience we were forcibly removed before the President arrived, even though we had not been disruptive. We were shocked when told that this presidential event was a “private event” and were commanded to leave.

    Ticket to Bush Event
    Expect to get in? Leave your bumper stickers at home.

    More astonishingly, when the Secret Service was contacted the next day they agreed to meet with us this Monday, March 28 to discuss the circumstances surrounding our removal. We had two big questions going into this meeting:

    1) How is the Bush Administration “ID’ing” citizens before presidential events?

    2) Why was an official taxpayer-funded event called a “private event”—leading to citizens being kicked out?

    Most shocking of all, we got answers to both questions.

    The Secret Service revealed that we were “ID’ed” when local Republican staffers saw a bumper sticker on the car we drove which said “No More Blood For Oil.” Evidently, the free speech expressed on one bumper sticker is cause enough to eject three citizens from a presidential event. (Similarly, someone was ejected from Bush’s Social Security privatization event in Arizona the same day simply for wearing a Democratic t-shirt.)

    The Secret Service also revealed that ticket distribution and staffing of the Social Security event was run by the local Republican Party. They wanted us to be clear that it was a Republican staffer—not the Secret Service—who kicked us out of the presidential event. But this revealed something else that should be startling to all Americans.

    After allowing taxpayers to finance his privatization events (let’s call them what they really are after all,) and after using the White House communications apparatus to set them up, Bush is privatizing the ticket distribution and security staffing at his events to the Republican Party. The losers are not just taxpayers, but anyone who values the First Amendment. Under the banner of a “private event” the Republican Party is excluding citizens from seeing their president because of the lone sin of expressing the wrong idea on a bumper sticker or t-shirt. The question for Americans is—will we allow our freedom to be privatized?

  7. 7

    chardonnay spews:

    hmmm, lets see, 1% return or 7% return, which one would I pick? I know, I know!!! I pick the same retirement plan as Patty Murray and Jim McDemocratt. TSP. oh ya, kinda like the Government employees in WA have. Ya, I pick that one. Lie and spin all you want you bunch of cry babies. You are clinging to the GRAND FDR plan for dear life, the ONE original thought the dems ever had and it failed, LOL

  8. 8

    JCH spews:

    Wouldn’t these three feel more comfortable at a rally for Hillary, Fidel, or Jung? I understand Castro and Dear Leader Jung oppose “private” investments in retirement accounts. [Hillary is “onboard” private investments, as she rolled one grand into 100 thousand in the cattle futures market! Just a back door illegal contibution that the Clintons did NOT pay taxes on until the evil VRWC made the event public.] Like Goldy, Hillary also tried to join the Marines. [hehe]

  9. 9

    spews:

    char @ 7

    Wow. You’ve managed to be off-topic, self-contradictory, hypocritical and equivocal, all with the span of a few short words. I suppose I should congratulate you on your terseness, because there’s nothing else for which one might offer you praise.

    Rick

  10. 10

    Wayne spews:

    If Bushes’ Social Security plan is so great, you would think he would have the cojones to defend it on its own merits against the hard questions, and not have to carefully stage his events so that only softballs get thrown his way.

    That’s the real topic here, JCH and Chard, not whether the plan is good or bad.

    Oh, I forgot, Bush and his amen chorus are so convinced he’s right, all the time, every time, its just a waste of his time to allow any poor ignorant fool who disagrees with him to bother him with their impertinent, irrelevant, and inconvenient questions.

  11. 12

    chardonnay spews:

    ok ricky, on topic now, re: SS
    why is it when the dems had their town hall meetings here they didn’t take questions from conservatives? they only took questions from their plants. reminds me of, & this is off topic again but to irresistable to pass up, Ron Sims at a town hall where he only took 3 questions. You liberals are such chicken shits. what are you afraid of?
    The public is already coming around to the SS ideas. They just needed to know the facts. 55 & up know they will not be touched. the younger workers now know they can own 4% of their money in a private account, an asset, they can pass on to their heir.
    pretty hard to spin those facts.
    but…but….but…nothing! you come up with an idea then. no democrat has yet.

  12. 13

    spews:

    char @ 11>

    Oh, my. You’ve retained all the qualities of your earlier remarks, but have reverted to verbosity.

    The “but they do it too” defense doesn’t work, particularly when you can’t come up with a set of facts even remotely as reprehensible as the facts cited here. Our President’s bambooblapalooza tour consists entirely of events that are funded by our tax dollars, yet are deemed “private” because the organization of these events is outsourced. Where’s the fiscal responsibility? Republicans have reneged on the Contract with America.

    We’ve already debated the merits of the President’s attempts to privatize Social Security. Not sure why we should do it here, but your errors of omission are egregious. You’ve cited an allegedly improved rate of return by converting to private accounts. Let’s ignore, for now, the fact that the same economic assumptions that lead us to believe that private accounts would return 4% also leave Social Security soluable for the forseeable future. Rather, let’s simply note that our President is selling an increased rate of return on one’s money without saying anything about the attendant increase in risk. In general, investment advisors who do the same thing are, quite rightly, prosecuted for fraud.

    As for alternatives, I’ve gone on record, in several comments on this blog, as being in favor of both increasing the limit on income for which FICA is taxed (a measure that would affect me adversely, by the way) and reducing benefits for those who have other incomes at retirement. Both measures would solve the Social Security problem entirely, and they don’t involve converting a zero-risk insurance policy into a much more risky capital asset.

    That said, I really have difficulty understanding what makes you tick. Do you defend these clearly reprehensible acts because you think President Bush is just a nice guy? Does your admiration for him blind you to the astounding stupidity of his most recent decisions on domestic policy? How much further off the deep end do this President and his cronies in Congress have to wander before it becomes obvious to you that their character is as gutter-prone as anyone else’s?

  13. 14

    chardonnay spews:

    Ricky, It’s all about you.
    Write Jim McDemocrat and Patty Murray with your brilliant idea. I am sure they are desperate for ideas while they wait for the big D’s to tell them what to think next.

  14. 15

    nindid spews:

    Char @13 I really don’t need to hear you repeat talking points… I honestly would like to hear your opinion on the ‘filtering’ at tax-payer funded ‘private’ events. You say that Democrats don’t call on conservatives, but even if you could prove that somehow it is not the same and you seem to disaprove. So do you actually disapprove of what Bush is doing?

  15. 16

    Diggindude spews:

    I like the argument about, “we used to have x amount paying in for every retiree.”
    They claim s.s. will go broke, because there will only be one paying in for every retiree.
    Well wtf is privatization going to be?
    1 on 1!
    7% payout is bullshit,
    After borrowing trillions to get the plan going, they will have to overcome inflation, and interest, let alone the principle payback, and commission fees, before they will ever make a dime.
    If you figure all that in, s.s. is already a better payback.
    Also, bush’s “NON-PLAN”, will bring the insolvency back in time by 20 years.
    Bush’s “NON-PLAN” is just like all his other plans, smoke and mirrors.
    Privatization is to fixing s.s., like the war on terror was, to attacking civilians in Iraq.

  16. 18

    nindid spews:

    Oh, and before I sign off for the night, all evidence points to the fact that the more people know about Bush’s plan – even though he claims not to have one while attacking Democrats for not having one either (!?!)- the less they like it. That is not to say that Rove won’t have Bush do something completely different and claim victory, but just thought those facts might help.

  17. 19

    Dubyasux spews:

    Nindid @ 5

    If they’re not Secret Service, fine. If Bush wants to an intelligent question, I guess if Shrub wants to use staffers or hired goons to throw out anyone who poses a risk of asking an intelligent question — then go for it. Nothing this Texas hick does shocks me anymore. I have no expectations, zero, none, nada. It’s absolutely clear he’s not interested in what we citizens think, he’s only a snake oil salesman passing through town, and if you don’t want to buy his poison then just walk away and keep your lips sealed while he fleeces the fools.

  18. 20

    Dubyasux spews:

    spyder @ 6

    If bush only wants to be seen at private republican party events that’s fine with me. Good place for him. But they should be paying for it, instead of sticking taxpayers for the tab.

  19. 21

    Dubyasux spews:

    chardummy @ 11

    If that’s so, then why does support for shrub’s Social Security plan drop in the polls as people learn more about it? It would appear that FDR’s legacy is safe (for the time being) because the public has seen through the rightwingers’ scam.

  20. 22

    Dubyasux spews:

    Diggindude @ 15

    Bush sounds a whole lot like those salespeople of the 1980s who were touting 30% to 40% annual returns on “units” in REITs. These sharks see every new generation as another flock to be sheared.

  21. 23

    chardonnay spews:

    Ricky @ 16
    What an ego “YOU” have. It’s ALL about YOU!! Don’t you get it? EGO! Your incredibly large ego. and you thought….that is funny. Liberal men are not attractive, ok? maybe it’s that ego thing, I don’t know.

    Are you familiar with the Ryan/Sununu Bill? there is a start. What can Democrats bring to the table, besides taking money from people and controlling it? if they have ideas, lets hear them. Are they going to fight, lie and obstruct the entire time.
    The idea of private accounts is a powerful thing for people, it’s called ownership. The problem is within your parties ideology, you don’t want the people to be in control.
    We are already paying 12.5% into the system, how much higher can we be taxed? For 50 years the Democrats were in control of the Congress, all the while spending and writing IOU’s. Now is the time to do something. IDEAS WELCOME.

  22. 24

    Dubyasux spews:

    rancidvinegar @ 23

    The interesting thing about Democrats taking my money and controlling it is that I get it back with interest. When Republicans take my money and control it, on the other hand, it somehow ends up in their pockets.

  23. 25

    Nindid spews:

    Don’t forget about their nasty little habit of borrowing money from China and the next generation to line their pockets as well. Wouldn’t want to short-change them on their borrow and spend ways.

  24. 26

    spews:

    char @ 23

    My ego, whatever its size, is irrelevant. Why bring it up? Do you think that by attacking my character you’ll somehow manage to obscure the fact that you have yet to address even one of the points I’ve raised?

    I am familiar with the Ryan-Sununu bill. It has the same flaws as the President’s current plan–it tries to replace an insurance program with a program based on capital assets, and it conveniently ignores the fact that an insurance program has zero risk while capital assets represent a significant risk.

    You said, “We are already paying 12.5% into the system.” Anyone with an AGI greater than $95,000 pays less than 12.5%, and every single one of them can certainly afford to pay up to 12.5%.

    Note that the “IDEA” I, and others, have floated is to raise the income limit at which FICA is drawn. None of us have suggested that we need to increase the tax rate on people who don’t max out their FICA contributions.

    As for the idea of ownership, it certainly is a powerful idea. That’s why we have 401(k) accounts–a compelling reason to not turn Social Security’s insurance benefit into yet another investment vehicle.

    After all that, I note that you still haven’t answered nindid @ 15.

    By the way, my wife says you’re FoS. She knows I’m liberal-minded, but she still finds me rather attractive. But, as my mother would say, there’s no accounting for some people’s tastes.

  25. 27

    Dubyasux spews:

    RNC @ 25

    If you get an e-mail from the RNC don’t open the attachment, and whatever you do — don’t let the GOPers get your Social Security number!!

  26. 29

    jpgee spews:

    Dubyasux @ 26 I don’t think she is actually a man hater, she hates everyone period. Especially those that do not go along with her idiotic rantings……world beware, the vinegar is fermenting and is losing control

  27. 30

    Chee spews:

    There is no such an animal as absolute free speech. The powers-that-be pay to have a spokesman dodge their issues. The courts are filled with libel (printed word) and slander (spoken word) law suits. Besides that, try attending one those monitored political forums where they have a fancy FACILITATOR controling free speech, you will see your speech is meant to be abridged.

  28. 31

    angryvoter spews:

    I just want the same guarntee that todays seniors get and right now it isnt the case. What is wrong with people keeping their own money?

  29. 32

    swatter spews:

    Don @3 and 24

    I give your guy a pat on the back and I get rewarded with a back-handed slap. Pavlov treated his subjects better.

    That playbook is awesome. And my point still stands. No one holds a real town hall meeting.

    And Don, I hate to be the one to let you in on the secret, but anytime you give money to a Republican or a Democrat, it is gone. You don’t get it back. Sorry.

  30. 34

    Chee spews:

    CHAR@23. “Liberal men are not attractive, ok? maybe it’s that ego thing, I don’t know.” WOW. Your wide-lens broad-base telescope is showing again. Everyone has an ego. If you don’t, heard tell you can get one on Ebay. They are auctioning off the itty-bitty size, SUPER size and Oh My God size. I recommend the later, it’s been a sell out, ass-tra-nomical favorite among extreme right-wingers. About your false impression, I did not know that God was so prejudical or a Republican. God creating all liberal men unattractive and conservatives attractive? I thought God created all men equal.

  31. 35

    Diggindude spews:

    ag@31
    What you have right now, without touching s.s. at all, will amount to a larger payout than retirees receive today.
    Larger check, after inflation.
    What is claimed as a shortfall, is a shortfall of the projected payout. The checks, will still be larger than today.
    what if the investment vehicle you and others choose, takes a shit? Then what? Will you want a mulligan? Every investment has the chance for failure.
    Christ, if we dont know this by now, we’re all nuts.
    S.s., is the guarantee, when all else fails.
    Its an insurance policy. If you dont think so, read Myers’ interview on the s.s. administrations website.
    If you take revenue out of s.s., all those that opt out of private investments, lose.
    Also, all those that choose the wrong private investments, lose.
    How is increasing the odds of losing, helping to secure, s.s.?
    It isn’t, and all the arguments for privatization, are based on erroneous information, and outright lies, from bush, and the bush administration.
    How much has bush wasted in trying to ram this broken plan down our throats?
    What does it cost every day to fly all over the country, set up security, close neighborhoods, eliminate participation from those with their own views, post ad after ad on tv, and pay production companies, to “make up” news, in support of this “wall street bail out”?
    Isn’t this just compounding the problem, sure it’s not making a huge impact on the s.s. deficit, but its all wasted. Its like bluffing at poker, while sitting in front of a wall of mirrors.
    Bush has proven one thing. One thing of which we can all be certain; he “WILL” lie, when it fits his agenda.

  32. 36

    Another TJ spews:

    Everyone has an ego. If you don’t, heard tell you can get one on Ebay.

    Yep. I got an ego on E-Bay. It’s shaped like Jesus (or John the Baptist – I can never tell them apart).

  33. 37

    Chee spews:

    Diddindude@35..
    “Bush has proven one thing. One thing of which we can all be certain; he “WILL” lie, when it fits his agenda.” Long ago several men commented on lying. Owen said, “One lie must be thatched with another, or it will soon rain through.” F. Jacox said, ” One lie engenders another, once committed, the liar has to go on in his course of lying; it is the penalty for his transgressions.”

    Moral is: Lying has become a vicious circle for Bush, his tongue has got the knack, so he is subjected to the vice.

  34. 38

    basrailian spews:

    That is why, my friends, when I infiltrate an event, I park down the street and walk! Of course, you have to be a good actor and react to the talking points with the appropriate enthusiasm or indignity!

  35. 42

    Union Business Agent spews:

    swatter @ 32

    Number one, I don’t see a compliment anywhere in your post, and furthermore comparing Bush to Clinton is horse shit; and number two, you are lying when you insinuate that people who pay into Social Security don’t get their money back — there has never been a SS recipient who DIDN’T get the promised bennies! Keep your compliments to yourself if this is the best you can do!

  36. 43

    swatter spews:

    Wow, sounds like someone swatted down from another post. I love it when you talk dirty. Reminds me of my friend, TJ.

    I thought Social Security was in a ‘lock box’? But what has that to do with giving money to Republicans or Democrats? No matter who you give it to it is lost. Neither party represents you and I.

    Why so touchy about something everyone knows about?

    Clinton and Bush are both presidents. Clinton has praised Bush’s political savvy even though he says he disagrees with Bush’s politics.

    And again, when has any of these politicians ever held a true town hall meeting? Clinton’s were staged, too. I really think this is a no big deal topic but we have made it fun, though.

  37. 45

    Dubyasux spews:

    I don’t think BIAW should be using L & I taxes for political purposes. Doesn’t seem right to me.

  38. 46

    Chee spews:

    Dubyasux@45. Have you checked of late? BIAW using L & I funds for political reasons may have donated to the Swindler’s fund or at least bought the Kool-Aid for Jesse to pass out to the Schiavo protestors.