At the end of July, Politico reported that congress members coming home to their districts were facing angry mobs at town hall meeting and listening sessions. The website reported "screaming constituents, protesters dragged out by the cops" and "congressmen fearful for their safety," as local town halls are taken over by "angry, sign-carrying mobs" who hate the idea of health care reform.
Are these spontaneous outbreaks of righteous anger from outraged citizens or just gullible chumps sent to scare the bejeezus out of congress critters? It's not really much of a question. Like the tea baggers and the birthers -- who both probably make up about 99% of the protesters -- these people couldn't organize a yard sale, let alone a nationwide campaign to shut down debate on health care reform. The big "tea party" protests were arranged by Republican operatives and special interest lobbyists and the word got out through infomercials on FOX News. These "grassroots" displays of citizen outrage had the distinct smell of astroturf. And the birthers? Well, they're just too stump-dumb to make a sandwich without step-by-step instructions. A big campaign to shout down debate on health care reform would be completely beyond them.
No, these people needed guidance here. And they got it.
[Talking Points Memo:]
...As Think Progress first reported, one tea-party friendly group has disseminated a strategy memo for other anti-reform and anti-government groups, outlining what they consider best-practices for protesters who plan to enter and disrupt town hall events hosted by members of Congress over the August recess--practices that, according to the memo, "could be useful to activists in just about any district where their Congressperson has supported the socialist agenda of the Democrat leadership in Washington."
Of course, the Republican party thinks this is just the best idea anyone ever had about anything. Stuck with their "party of no" label and offering no real ideas of their own, the GOP needs someone else to get out there and act like idiots, because doing it themselves is killing them.
In a very approving post at his blog, house GOP leader John Boehner writes, "Back home for the August recess, rank-and-file Democratic Members of the House are facing a backlash from their constituents, who are already fed up with Washington’s job-killing agenda and don’t support Democrats’ government takeover of health care."
The post is titled, "Democrats Face Angry Reaction Back Home on Health Care: Heartland Crowd Chants "Just Say No" to President Obama's Government Takeover of Health Care." I guess the "government takeover" part is the public option, which would be a government-run program that would compete with private insurers. You'd think a "government takeover of health care" would involve the government taking over the health care industry, but that's not the case here. Then again, expecting the Republicans to make sense these days is asking way too much -- every word is a dog whistle to the wingnut right. None of it has to be true, statements just have to contain buzzwords that freak out the chumps. If the GOP needs to step it up a bit, expect statements that read like "Government takeover Obama tax-and-spend big government socialism second amendment freedom 9/11!" As I say, it doesn't have to make any sense. That's why Sarah Palin talks that way.
And what's real the problem with a public option? Former Cigna insurance executive Wendell Potter explained it to PBS's Bill Moyers recently:
BILL MOYERS: Why is public insurance, a public option, so fiercely opposed by the industry?
WENDELL POTTER: The industry doesn’t want to have any competitor. In fact, over the course of the last few years, has been shrinking the number of competitors through a lot of acquisitions and mergers. So first of all, they don’t want any more competition period. They certainly don’t want it from a government plan that might be operating more efficiently than they are, that they operate. The Medicare program that we have here is a government-run program that has administrative expenses that are like three percent or so.
BILL MOYERS: Compared to the industry’s–
WENDELL POTTER: They spend about 20 cents of every premium dollar on overhead, which is administrative expense or profit. So they don’t want to compete against a more efficient competitor.
If government competes with the private sector, insurance companies find themselves facing a competitor who's as much as 700% more efficient. That stuff about the super-efficient private sector? Complete BS. Arguing in favor of what can barely be called a "health care system" that's so obviously failing is a loser. So Republicans aren't doing that. They're letting others do it.
"To the extent that Republicans are discussing healthcare, they’re relying on trite McCain-campaign talking points and old hands from the 1990s," writes Howard Dean. "In other words, they’ve outsourced the conversation to attack dogs and relinquished the serious debate about how to lower costs, increase access, and improve quality."
Those attack dogs are sicking their attack dogs on Democrats as they come home for summer recess. Blue Dog Democrats did Republicans a tremendous favor by pushing back a vote on a bill until after the recess and they're paying for it now. It's very likely that this stupid, stupid move will cost them the most. Associated Press reports that the GOP is targeting 70 house dems in what they see as vulnerable districts. According to the report, "Those targeted satisfy at least one of these requirements: They won less than 55 percent of the vote last year or they represent a district carried in 2008 by John McCain, the Republican presidential nominee." Democrats in reddish districts; i.e., centrists. If you want a list of Democrats most likely to be targeted by this GOP astroturf campaign, there you go.
Smooth move guys. I'd take comfort in the fact that you've completely screwed yourselves with this brainless maneuver if you hadn't raised the danger of screwing us all, too.
If you live in one of those 70 districts, get to town hall or listening session. Take a camera -- preferably video. These nuts are the same ones from the tea parties, so we can expect racism, ignorance, and stupidity. They simply can't avoid making complete fools of themselves, because they're almost entirely complete fools. The tea parties didn't make any real difference -- in fact, it probably hurt the GOP by encouraging the racists and the birthers and other Glenn Beck types. Part of that failure can attributed to the examples of teabagger idiocy that were posted all over the net.
Let them shriek, let them claw their eyes out, let them compare Obama to Hitler and say their local congress member is like Mao. Catch the birthers as they rant about Kenya and Indonesia. Catch the racists as they hold up signs calling the president "boy." Let them be exactly as crazy and idiotic as they want to be.
Give them enough rope...
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