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Riots at Town Hall Meetings

The theme of Wednesday’s edition of OTB Radio was “Crazy Politics.” Spurred by the bitterness of recent discussion threads on seemingly innocuous topics, Dave Schuler and I wondered where it was all headed.

Well, we got a pretty good clue last night.

Six people were arrested last night in St. Louis  after one of the many town hall meetings going on between Members of Congress and their constituents on the attempt to reform our health care delivery and payment system.

St. Louis County police on Thursday arrested at least four people, including a Post-Dispatch reporter, outside a town hall forum held by Rep. Russ Carnahan, said Dawn Majors, a Post-Dispatch photojournalist who witnessed everything unfold.

It happened about 8:30 p.m at Bernard Middle School on Forder Road in Mehlville. Carnahan, D-St. Louis, had drawn a rowdy crowd that overflowed the school gym and left dozens of people outside. Many of those who showed up at what had been billed as a forum on aging carried signs about the national health-care debate.

Dozens of people were kept out because there was no room for them inside. Members of the local Tea Party Coalition, a movement that has emerged to counter President Barack Obama’s policies, had urged their members to attend, which in turn spurred Democrats to establish a strong presence.

The event was winding down when Majors said she saw a police squad car turn its lights on and went to see what was happening. As she approached it, her eyes started to burn. “And that’s when I realized I’d walked through remnants of pepper spray,” Majors said. She turned her attention to taking pictures. She said she saw a woman in handcuffs who was complaining about the pain of the spray and asking to wash her face and eyes. The response of the officer who was arresting her was, “I warned you,” Majors said.

[...]

Two of those were arrested on suspicion of assault, one of resisting arrest and three on suspicion of committing peace disturbances. Carnahan was gone when the ruckus started.

Kenneth Gladney, a 38-year-old conservative activist from St. Louis, said he was attacked by some of those arrested as he handed out yellow flags with “Don’t tread on me” printed on them. He spoke to the Post-Dispatch from the emergency room of the St. John’s Mercy Medical Center, where he said he was waiting to be treated for injuries to his knee, back, elbow, shoulder and face that he suffered in the attack. Gladney, who is black, said one of his attackers, also a black man, used a racial slur against him before the attack started. “It just seems there’s no freedom of speech without being attacked,” he said.

Jim Hoft reports on the incident firsthand and claims that Carnahan’s folks were trying to sneak a thousand “union thugs” from the SEIU into the meeting as a counterweight to the Tea Party Taxpayers.  Of course, this meeting wasn’t supposed to be an open forum about health care but rather a meeting with seniors; thus, neither the protestors nor the union activists should have been there.

Meanwhile, in Florida,

Bitter divisions over reforming America’s health care system exploded Thursday night in Tampa amid cat calls, jeering and shoving at a town hall meeting.

“Tyranny! Tyranny! Tyranny!” dozens of people shouted as U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, struggled to talk about health insurance reforms under consideration in Washington, D.C.

“There is more consensus than there is disagreement when you get right down to it,” Castor offered, immediately drowned out by groans and boos.

She pressed on, mostly unheard among screams from the audience estimated by Tampa police to be about 1,500.

“Tell the truth! Tell the truth!” “Read the bill!” “Forty-million illegals! Forty million illegals!”

[...]

Thursday’s forum/near riot was sponsored by state Rep. Betty Reed, D-Tampa, and the Service Employees International Union, who apparently had hoped to hold something of a pep rally for President Barack Obama’s health care reform proposal.

Instead, hundreds of vocal critics turned out, many of them saying they had been spurred on through the Tampa 912 activist group promoted by conservative radio and television personality Glenn Beck. Others had received e-mails from the Hillsborough Republican Party that urged people to speak out against the plan and offered talking points.

An overflow crowd of critics was left waiting outside the building — and in some cases pounding on the meeting room doors — while health care reform activists complained that Democrats and union members were guided into the room for prime seats. Tampa police officers maintained control the entire night.

Let’s just say that this is no way for a civilized Republic to conduct its business.  And there’s no small irony that the protestor in St. Louis is carrying a sign mocking the fact that Paul Krugman and others have dubbed these people an angry mob.  What the hell else would you call them?

On the merits, I share my colleague Alex Knapp‘s sense that “On the one hand, the system we have sucks and there’s really no defending it. On the other hand, most of the reform proposals also suck.”  I come down on the side that the crappy status quo is better than the crappy alternatives and Alex sides with the crappy alternatives to the crappy status quo.

Regardless, however, we should be able to agree that shutting down public debate on the matter in the guise of “being heard” is not only unproductive but un-American.

Related Posts:

About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Hoodlumman says:

    I couldn’t think of a better way for Democrats to choke away more polling points for government health care than headlines showing union thugs beating up protesters.

    Hope ‘n’ change!

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  2. Dave Schuler says:

    I think that the very most modest conclusion that can be drawn from what we’re seeing is that there is no consensus on healthcare reform. It’s a large enough portion of our lives and economy that any reforms really call for consensus at some level.

    Unfortunately, neither disrupting meetings nor staging Potemkin town hall meetings seems to me to be a good way of producing consensus.

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  3. Dave Schuler says:

    I come down on the side that the crappy status quo is better than the crappy alternatives and Alex sides with the crappy alternatives to the crappy status quo.

    My view is that the status quo is unsustainable and, consequently, will not be sustained. The choices are not between bad change and no change. The choices are between designed change and uncontrolled change.

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  4. James Joyner says:

    My view is that the status quo is unsustainable and, consequently, will not be sustained. The choices are not between bad change and no change. The choices are between designed change and uncontrolled change.

    I don’t disagree. The problem is that the reforms that have a realistic chance of passing don’t actually address the issues of supply or demand and consequently aren’t going to fix the things that make the status quo unsustainable. Indeed, they’re likely to increase demand and make things worse.

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  5. PD Shaw says:

    I like the sign that says “Angry Mob.” It’s beyond dispute now.

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  6. Idiot says:

    Of course it is no way for a civilized Republic to run it’s business. However, these are the tactics perfected by the Left over the years to attain power and favoritism and now the middle wants to stop them. Think of all the phony protesters showing up the homes of AIG executives. How many times have union folks shown up to create a crowd for their causes?

    Yes, this is very ugly and upsetting, but calling and leaving messages for these people and letting them go on TV in front of adoring self selected crowds is only going to insure a British/Canadian style health care system and another 20% of the economy in the hands of government.

    Explain to me how a civilized Republic can function with financial services, health care, and energy compromising say 35% of GDP under the control of government. What are the checks on that?

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  7. Alex Knapp says:

    Let me save everybody some time:

    Strident Guys on the Right: “Oh sure, the Democrat Party complains now, but the Left has been doing this for years.”

    Strident Guys on the Left: “All we did was ASK questions. We never compared the other guys to Nazis!”

    Strident Guys on the Right: “You did too!”

    Strident Guys on the Left: “Did not!”

    Smartass on the Left: “Isn’t it funny how all the health care protesters are old enough to be on Medicare?”

    Smartass on the Right: “That’s because they don’t want to be euthanized by ObamaCare. It’s not change they can believe in.”

    Smartass on the Left: “I’m just saying it shows that socializing health care works.”

    Smartass on the Right: “But if the Left really cared about saving costs, they’d encourage smoking. They don’t, so it’s REALLY just about government control.”

    Smartass on the Left: “Is not!”

    Smartass on the Right: “Is too!”

    Stridents and Smartasses (in unison): “MOMMY! He’s being mean!”

    Reasonable people: (Shake heads sadly. Drink whiskey. Repeat.)

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  8. Steve Plunk says:

    I agree with Idiot, turn about is fair play. These are normal people who have seen how the left works and learned to do it themselves.

    There are better alternatives. Krauthammer lays out some simple changes that would yield results and cost the government little. Trying to change something this big with a complete overhaul will lead to even bigger problems. The unintended consequences will be huge and irreversible. Work slowly and see what actually improves things.

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  9. Steve Plunk says:

    Alex, Keep in mind sometimes smart reasonable people know they must act up to be taken seriously. They have learned the squeaky wheel thing.

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  10. It is very hard to feel sorry for the Democrats who aren’t able to stage, as Dave Schuler says, their Potemkin town hall meetings and their tightly controlled propoganda photo ops with a subservient populace. As I wrote yesterday by quoting Shakespeare, if anyone deserves a taste of their own, ahem, medicine, it would be the Democrats today. Is it possible to have an honest disagreement with them without being labeled as anything from an atroturfer to an angry mob to a Nazi? My favorite epithet was Nancy Pelosi’s “entrenched agent of the status quo” a couple weeks ago.

    I concur that shouting and uncivil behavior are unhelpful and not conducive to good government, but how else are the majority of the people who don’t want to have these monstrosities shoved down their throats going to get the attention of these Masters of the Universe?

    The responses to some organized community feedback by the Democrat leadership are quite telling. Rather than using this as an, ahem, teachable moment to be civil and engaging their opponents they are unleashing their thugs and proganda to demonize them. There’s no time to listen to arguments or counter-proposals. This has to be done today!

    Shame. Shame. Shame.

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  11. [...] Outside The Beltway: Riots at Town Hall Meetings [...]

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  12. Fog says:

    “Explain to me how a civilized Republic can function with financial services, health care, and energy compromising say 35% of GDP under the control of government. What are the checks on that?”

    In this country, the check is called an “election.” We stage them periodically, so if we don’t like the direction the country is taking, we can change it. We had one of these about 6 months ago.

    “It is very hard to feel sorry for the Democrats who aren’t able to stage, as Dave Schuler says, their Potemkin town hall meetings and their tightly controlled propoganda photo ops with a subservient populace.”

    Like W’s Social Security town halls, where the protesters were limited to the outside of the hall, and anyone not on the bandwagon was barred from the hall? You mean like that?

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  13. Alex Knapp says:

    Alex, Keep in mind sometimes smart reasonable people know they must act up to be taken seriously. They have learned the squeaky wheel thing.

    Yeah, because being yelled at changes minds? If anything, when confronted with that kind of anger, most people retrench and get defensive.

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  14. Alex:

    I was going to argue that not all reasonable people drink whiskey. But then I realized: yeah, they do.

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  15. DavidL says:

    The major excuse to socialize healthcare to eliminate the unisured. Yet the uninsured are largely a myth. If you eliminate the self-insured, people who can afford insurance but choose not buy it and the illegals, who no business being in the country much less being on the public dole, the problem of the unisured largely gooes away.

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  16. [...] put this in the comments to James Joyner’s discussion of the Town Hall Meeting riots, but I thought it was worth repeating here, because this [...]

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  17. badger says:

    I concur that shouting and uncivil behavior are unhelpful and not conducive to good government, but how else are the majority of the people who don’t want to have these monstrosities shoved down their throats going to get the attention of these Masters of the Universe?

    I’d suggest you read up about these things called “elections” in which true majorities of Americans go to their polling places and decide what course for their country to take. You may be surprised to learn that if you are really a majority, you could simply take control of the government and stop the policies you disfavor. No screaming like jackasses at town hall meetings required!

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  18. Dave Schuler says:

    I was going to argue that not all reasonable people drink whiskey. But then I realized: yeah, they do.

    I wish this discussion would turn into a debate over whether they drink whiskey or they drink whisky.

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  19. steve says:

    “I don’t disagree. The problem is that the reforms that have a realistic chance of passing don’t actually address the issues of supply or demand and consequently aren’t going to fix the things that make the status quo unsustainable.”

    Any plan with enough details to be worth voting on, will probably be attacked by a very large majority, or at least a noisy one. The amount of lies coming out just serve to make both sides angry. I am quite disappointed that the press/media is not doing a better job in this area. They just repeat lies, rather than expose them.

    Steve

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  20. anjin-san says:

    union thugs beating up protesters.

    Proof of this please? BTW, rants from Red State do not constitute proof…

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  21. Dave:

    I drink both Scotch Whisky and Bourbon (or Tennessee) Whiskey. (No, I don’t mix them.) At the moment, since I’m on a diet and crave sweets, it’s whiskey.

    This is a fit topic for a town hall meeting. It would start reasonably enough and end with fist fights and embarrassing man-hugs.

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  22. PD Shaw says:

    A black man is subjected to a racial slur and then attacked?

    Is it too early to call the beer summit a failure? Or is this another teaching moment?

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  23. Alex Knapp says:

    Dave and Michael:

    As the writer of Ecclesiastes said, “To everything there is a season.” I prefer whiskey, both American and Irish, in the Spring and Summertimes. Whisky, of the Scotch and Canadian varieties, is my preferred fall and winter companion.

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  24. just me says:

    It is very hard to feel sorry for the Democrats who aren’t able to stage, as Dave Schuler says, their Potemkin town hall meetings and their tightly controlled propoganda photo ops with a subservient populace.

    This is kind of where I am on the issue.

    I don’t think screaming and hollering and holding signs is going to go a long way to fix anything, but when the democrats seem to mostly be looking for photo ops and nice, quiet, easy town halls, I can hardly feel sorry for them, when those opposed refuse to give them what they want.

    My personal opinion on the whole healthcare issue is that congress is trying to break what does work in order to fix was isn’t working. I would rather take a little time, and consider fixing what isn’t working.

    I would also like to see a series of smaller bills addressing very specific problem areas instead of 1,000 plus page laws that nobody reads-and i would love to see them come with sunset provisions in case they don’t work. Personally i would love to see any new program that comes with an expenditure to come with a sun set.

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  25. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Representatives are supposed to listen to those they represent, not try to educate them in to believing the lies their party leader spout. One of those townhalls, the rep. said Obama does not favor a single payer system. They have him on tape saying exactly the opposite. That is the whole purpose of this exercise. To get government control over the healthcare system. Your freedom to choose isl being stolen and you defend the thieves. We will remember you Joyner.

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  26. Ben says:

    I’ve been a Bourbon drinker since college, but my friends are slowly dragging me kicking and screaming toward sophistication (Scotch).

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  27. hallo says:

    I would like to see the Republicans have overwhelming majorities in all branches for about 20 years. It would be fascinating to watch and I don’t have any children to worry about.

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  28. Alex Knapp says:

    Ben,

    No reason why you can’t enjoy good Bourbon AND good Scotch. They each are enjoyable. Have you tried Buffalo Trace? That’s my current favorite Bourbon.

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  29. Anderson says:

    I come down on the side that the crappy status quo is better than the crappy alternatives and Alex sides with the crappy alternatives to the crappy status quo.

    Bierce put it more suavely:

    CONSERVATIVE, n. – A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal, who wishes to replace them with others.

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  30. James and Alex, I do not accept the premise. The system of health care we have today is in fact quite defensible in many respects and has produced more drugs and treatments that have improved so many more lives so much more than any other system held up as a preferred replacement. I am quite happy with my health care and my insurance. My employees are quite happy with their health care and insurance. Don’t our opinions (and dollars) matter?

    It is the perfect as the enemy of the good that must be opposed at all costs. Of course there are some problems, some people that are uncovered to varying degrees for varying reasons, and costs cannot escalate as they have much longer, but those are all very different problems that need to be addressed by very different solutions. We need to stop conflating and confusing health care and health insurance. They are not the same thing. And while were at it, how about asking the Democratic leadership to stop demonizing their opponents, insurance companies and everyone else who doesn’t think they have all the answers?

    I know this may come as a a shock to some, though presumably not each of you, but socialized medicine is not the answer to all these problems. How about starting with some incremental solutions to address the specific problems at hand instead of something that is going to change what works for a majority of the population in the name of, well, what exactly? Fairness? Wealth redistribution? Forced labor at government mandated wages for health care professionals? The hubris of smug social engineers? Vote buying? Ever burgeoning statist control over our lives? What?

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  31. I will not disparage any preference for the different varieties of the water of life, but I prefer single malts myself. A 25 year old Macallan is a good place to start.

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  32. kth says:

    Unfortunately, neither disrupting meetings nor staging Potemkin town hall meetings seems to me to be a good way of producing consensus.

    If you have evidence that health care town hall attendees are being screened, the way they were during Bush’s 2005 push to overhaul Social Security, by all means show it.

    Alternately, if you have video that shows supporters of Social Security being as raucous as the anti-Obama protestors at the Tampa event, by all means show it (pretty unlikely, given the widespread screening of attendees for the 2005 events).

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  33. Herb says:

    I agree that the status quo sucks and the reform proposals blow. I also agree that these town halls have been hijacked by thugs from both sides.

    But I disagree that bad behavior justifies bad behavior. (There goes the “But the left/right does it too!” excuses.) I also disagree that the 1000 bill proposal can’t be read. It can be…if we weren’t so busy watching Beck/Olbermann tell us what it says. (Incidentally, I don’t trust either of them to give an honest accounting of the merits of the debate.)

    Have you seen the bill? Yes, it’s over a thousand pages. But the margins are two inches on either side and it’s double-spaced and it’s even numbered! It’s esoteric legalese, sure, but it’s still in English.

    Which brings me to whiskey, wherein I quote the eminently quotable Pantera:

    Your trust is in whiskey and weed and Black Sabbath

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  34. Steve Plunk says:

    Alex, Your point about yelling and changing minds is absolutely correct but are these town hall meetings really a place for reasonable policy debates or are they photos ops? By disrupting a photo op a powerful message is being sent to those congressmen who will actually vote on this. That’s the mind being changed and yelling is doing it.

    I’d like to hear the argument against a slower more incremental approach to correcting some of the problems is our current system. Like Charles said it may have problems but overall it’s pretty darn good for most people. Specifically what about Krauthammer’s point of tort reform that saves money on liability insurance and unneeded preventative medicine? And his point of decoupling health insurance and employment.

    I don’t drink whiskey like all you booze hounds. Beer and wine do the job nicely.

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  35. Neo says:

    It’s so good to see how President Obama has brought us all together … a national “Kumbaya” moment.

    Everybody sing …

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  36. kth says:

    Steve’s right about beer and wine versus distilled spirits. If you can’t buy it in a grocery store in the South, it was made by Satan.

    Half-serious about that; especially in the old days, package stores were kind of freaky places, with every manner of quasi-pornographic party/novelty item along with the booze (obviously I don’t mean really raunchy stuff like dildoes or whatever, just napkins and coasters with cartoons of topless women on them, etc.

    Or cocktail glasses that, at room temperature, showed a clothed woman on them, but when a cold drink was added, the clothes disappeared. Weird.)

    By disrupting a photo op a powerful message is being sent to those congressmen who will actually vote on this. That’s the mind being changed and yelling is doing it.

    The town halls aren’t conceived as photo ops, but, if you will, as campaign speeches to try to persuade people that health care reform is good for them. The meeting is the object, not getting it placed in the local paper a day later. And the object of the protestor isn’t to change the mind of the representative, since it’s painfully unlikely that that rep had any chance whatsoever at getting the vote of that yelling constituent, and most likely the rep knows this. The object is to shut the town hall meeting down, so the rep can’t make his/her pitch to someone whose mind isn’t already made up.

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  37. Steve Verdon says:

    According to the non-partisan CBO the reform measures could make things considerably worse…how can that be reform and how can anyone subscribe to it is something I’d like to see explained.

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  38. Our Paul says:

    Alex, on Friday July 31, you had a post about the “birthers” where you considered them a fringe crazy group. To which I responded as follows:

    Alex, it is worse than you think. First of all, the birthers have linked up with the Tea Party crowd. Now you have two fringe groups feeding off their own crazy ideas.

    I also quoted Lee Fang of Think Progres as follows:

    The lobbyist-run groups Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks, which orchestrated the anti-Obama tea parties earlier this year, are now pursuing an aggressive strategy to create an image of mass public opposition to health care and clean energy reform. A leaked memo from Bob MacGuffie, a volunteer with the FreedomWorks website Tea Party Patriots, details how members should be infiltrating town halls and harassing Democratic members of Congress. I further stated this: The link at the Think Progress has a copy of the memo, it deserves a careful read. We can expect the tactics shown on the U-Tube clip you showed to be repeated.

    Got to tell you this: When conservatives decided to remain silent when John Kerry was swiftboated in the 2004 elections they empowered the lice that infested the body politics of today. You ain’t seen anything yet, for the swiftboaters are warming up their engines…

    And James, on August 5th, you had a post titled The Other, in which you tried to equate the birthers with such fringe protest movements as PETA (animal rights) and Greenpeace (environmental activist). In my view, a poor comparison. I had this to say:

    When there is a national movement to disrupt political figures, legislators, or Cabinet members from discussing policy with the electorate we are facing a profoundly anti-democratic tactic. You may call the demonstrators crazy, part of a fringe group. But, if they are being organized and instructed on how to disrupt an open forum, they are thugs, direct descendants of the brown shirts that roamed Europe in the 30’s.

    The question is not what the PETA or Greenpeace has done, the question is why the super patriots on the right have kept silent when our cherished democracy is being subverted…

    Sadly, I think health care reform is a dead duck. It cannot resist the assault of the brown shirt crowd, and the constant harping of the conservative intellectuals who criticize, but offer no alternatives.

    For reasons that escape my aging and rum sodden brain, folks like James Joiner keep bringing up the fact that up to 80%of Americans are satisfied with their health insurance. Had they asked Gulf Coast residents if they were satisfied with their storm insurance before Katrina struck you probably could have hit 80% without batting an eyelash. But after the storm, I doubt you would go over 20%.

    My advice is lay of the whisky, judging by some of the correspondents, it puts holes in your brain. Drink rum, and do not get sick before you reach the magical age of 65 when Medicare kicks in. If you must drink a martini, forget James Bond. Stir with ice cubes in a glass container with a glass rod. Anything else will bruise the Gin. If your plan is seduction, Pisco Sour preserves the wallop, while easing the restraints.

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  39. Drew says:

    Thank you, Steve V, for bringing an essential issue into focus.

    Much of this seems to be “singing songs, and carrying signs, mostly say ‘hooray for our side’..”

    Neither side is showing well here. But I think the level of anger is understandable as a human reaction. People get angry when they feel they are getting jammed. They don’t want to sip whiskey or wine and have esoteric discussions about policy when the pipe is being inserted and shoved.

    People, criticize the mob like town hall response if you like, but observe the jam job being attempted in Congress, and the mob like tactics to suppress debate by the left.

    Its ugly all around.

    And then there is Steve with a crucial observation…….

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  40. Anderson says:

    especially in the old days, package stores were kind of freaky places, with every manner of quasi-pornographic party/novelty item along with the booze

    Not just quasi-. Shortly after my family moved to Miami, my mom took me in the liquor store with her, where copies of Oui and other such journals were in a rack in front of the register (not behind the counter). Being 10 or so, I took a healthy scientific interest in the cover illustrations.

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  41. sam says:

    @Drew

    They don’t want to sip whiskey or wine and have esoteric discussions about policy when the pipe is being inserted and shoved.

    Well, that presupposes they are informed about what’s being discussed. Most, from what I’ve seen, are like the guy who screamed, “Keep the government’s hands off my Medicare!!”

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  42. PD Shaw says:

    Had they asked Gulf Coast residents if they were satisfied with their storm insurance before Katrina struck you probably could have hit 80% without batting an eyelash. But after the storm, I doubt you would go over 20%.

    Do you mean the residents that had purchased federal flood insurance, or the greater number that went without?

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  43. Wayne says:

    Compare how these town halls are display with the protestors versus a photo op selected town hall meeting with selected prescreen questioners of the past.

    Sometime the only way to get someone attention is to act up. Sometimes violence is the only answer. Other methods should be tried first but sometimes civil talk is not enough.

    As for “wait for the next election to voice your opposition” is B.S. on many levels. They are trying to pass B.S. bills now. Elections are so corrupt anymore that we don’t get true representation. 51% of the population shouldn’t be allowed to suppress 49% of the population. That is why we were created to be a Republic not a pure Democracy although many have forgotten that.

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  44. Our Paul – Are you calling me a brownshirt?

    As for your other comments, alternatives are being offered. That you don’t like them doesn’t alter that fact. But thanks for poisoning the well by trying to bring Katrina into it, with all its baggage, mythology, and misrepresentations. Yeah, that’s the ticket. That’s how we’ll all reach a reasonable solution.

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  45. Drew says:

    Sam –

    Here’s $100 bucks that says most of them are better informed than the Congress.

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  46. brainy435 says:

    “Regardless, however, we should be able to agree that shutting down public debate on the matter in the guise of “being heard” is not only unproductive but un-American”

    So, Barak Obama saying that the time for debate is through is un-American, correct? Or is that only true when constituents want their voices heard and not applicable to the President?
    http://www.unionleader.com/article.aspx?headline=Reform+can+wait%3A+The+time+for+talk+is+now&articleId=c4cf4a9c-7cec-4524-b2d1-5e2177f3fee3

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  47. muffler says:

    Townhalls are supposed to be a way to ask questions and make comments to representatives and the community. It’s not a place to shout out and protest. Protests are meant for the street and parks. I don’t care which side has the “moral high ground” at any one moment cause it’s an immature way to solve a national problem. It is completely understandable that this whole thing is out of hand with the media acting like commentators at a rugby match, company lobbyists stoking the fire and everyone in power jockeying for political gain.

    Does anyone really know what is in the bill? Really know what is the current state? Know what the real statistics and issues are? Most don’t and they would rather rely on general biased views then have to actually understand the situation. That is what the power brokers expect – laziness!

    Learn the issues, learn the legislation and learn the fact. Your health and life might depend on the outcome. Oh BTW you know that Liberals are actually nice people and are right wingers. It’s not about left or right, but good and bad ideas. Both sides have some you just are letting the my team is better thinking get in the way of rational thought.

    Do you really think Americans want to beat each other up? If you do then maybe we deserve to “hang separately”.

    BTW just ignore all comments with ACORN, Socialism, Tyranny, Nazi, brownshirts, Hitler, Chamberlain, Barry, or any WWII, Cold War, last century miss-associations. It doesn’t help the debate.

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  48. davod says:

    This is a debate the Leader of the Free World did not want. The 1000 page bill was supposed to be passed without comment.

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  49. hallo says:

    If this nonsense doesn’t stop soon I’m gonna have my goons buy up all the Ben Gay and Polygrip they can find on the shelves all across this great nation. And then we’re gonna squish it all up on the YouTube. I’m not kidding, we’re gonna squish it.

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  50. [...] a theme I’ve written about before, James Joyner comments on the recent town hall incidents such as the ones in Tampa and St. Louis: Let’s just [...]

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  51. Our Paul says:

    Charles Austin (August 7, 2009 | 02:16 pm), I stand by statement, to wit:

    But, if they are being organized and instructed on how to disrupt an open forum, they are thugs, direct descendants of the brown shirts that roamed Europe in the 30’s.

    If you attended a forum for the purpose of disrupting it, and to prevent other participants to engage in a dialogue, you are using tactics that “brown shirts” used in the 30’s. If you view these folks as “expressing their opinion” you are giving license to a profoundly anti-democratic action. If you support their “movement”, be it either “birthers” or “tea baggers” you are not a “brown shirt”, you are profoundly ignorant. If you think their behaviors is a reasonable expression of anger, you have no concept civility.

    Fortunately, I am confident that you fall into non of the groups I have listed above. Normally I would have ignored your comment, but when somebody lobs you a soft ball, one should at least be courteous and take a swing at it.

    Take care, and may all your days be good days, until you reach the age of sixty five, at which point in time you will be eligible (gasp, horrors) for socialized medicine…

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  52. brainy435 says:

    Any one who uses the term “tea bagger” is profoundly ignorant and intolerant. You can’t invalidate the argument, so you attempt to invalidate those making the argument.

    Also, if you have to stack the meeting with union filler who are guaranteed to be sympathetic to your cause, how much “dialogue” do you think was occuring?

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  53. Tlaloc says:

    Krauthammer lays out…

    You can (should) stop there. Seriously.

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  54. Tlaloc says:

    Any one who uses the term “tea bagger” is profoundly ignorant and intolerant.

    I agree!

    Oh, you were aware that the teabaggers used the term about themselves first of all, weren’t you? See that’s what made it so priceless. These gentle people, just so determined to show how very serious they were went right out and named themselves after the act of slapping someone with a scrotum.

    Hi-larious. You can hardly blame the, apparently more worldly, left for running with the name.

    And if the teabaggers were corporate shills and douche bags I might feel bad for them but, you know, they are.

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  55. G.A.Phillips says:

    6 punk *** liberals jumping a Conservative. Whats new? Here or there?

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  56. davod says:

    “Oh, you were aware that the tea baggers used the term about themselves first of all”

    Who would a thunk that tea bagging was term for a homosexual sex act.

    The ratags are correct – the protesters are ignorant.

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  57. This Guy says:

    In my work I have the daily pleasure (most of the time the daily agony) of reading thru page after page of American voter’s unscripted, uncoached,and definitely unorganized thoughts about this and other policy issues and can tell you, these people are genuine in their feelings, they are pissed and there may be someone asking them to come out to express their opinions but it doesn’t make them any less sincere and real. these are not fringe groups, they are average Americans who don’t like what Congress is doing.

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  58. sam says:

    @Drew

    Here’s $100 bucks that says most of them are better informed than the Congress.

    Gosh, buddy, you got me. I won’t take the bet. I mean a lot of them know all about the provision in the bill for the euthanization of the elderly. I’m absolutely sure nobody in Congress knows about that provision. Geez, since I’m elderly, what do you suggest I do to protect myself?

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  59. Franklin says:

    These are not fringe groups, they are average Americans who don’t like what Congress is doing.

    I mostly agree. While they are certainly being encouraged and organized by special interest groups, I don’t think this is a case of paying homeless people to protest something.

    I just don’t happen to find protests and “open forums” to be much of what I would consider real debate. Naive soundbites tend to dominate the events. Seriously, I could learn as much from reading people’s bumper stickers: “Impeach Obama” – OK, what for? “My Choice, My Body” – Wow, profound. “Anarchy” – Ooh, how rebellious.

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  60. Derrick says:

    Here’s $100 bucks that says most of them are better informed than the Congress.

    Yes, the US Congress isn’t aware that Obama is just like the Nazi’s and was born in Kenya. It’s good that they are more like Sarah Palin in their awareness of Obama’s secret evil plan to kill Trig.

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  61. G.A.Phillips says:

    Geez, since I’m elderly, what do you suggest I do to protect myself?

    Nancy BelaLugosi’s plastic surgeon and DarthObama’s document forger?

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  62. odograph says:

    Just do big long drawn out town halls and let it burn itself out.

    A few fringe folk on video will embarass the reasonable, send them home to their Scotch.

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  63. This Guy says:

    I just don’t happen to find protests and “open forums” to be much of what I would consider real debate.Naive soundbites tend to dominate the events. Seriously, I could learn as much from reading people’s bumper stickers:

    Right, like I said these are average Americans. They live in a world of sound bytes…ironically usually from the very people they are shouting down, their representative.

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  64. hcantrall says:

    Yes, everyone stay home and drown in your liquor bottles, just be quiet until there’s another election. Surely if we’re quiet, we’ll be taken care of – the government knows what is best for us and is just trying to help.

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  65. G.A.Phillips says:

    If you attended a forum for the purpose of disrupting it, and to prevent other participants to engage in a dialogue, you are using tactics that “brown shirts” used in the 30’s. If you view these folks as “expressing their opinion” you are giving license to a profoundly anti-democratic action. If you support their “movement”, be it either “birthers” or “tea baggers” you are not a “brown shirt”, you are profoundly ignorant. If you think their behaviors is a reasonable expression of anger, you have no concept civility.

    Dude why? Forum lol….

    They are demanding to be heard, not to have their Idiotic whims fulfilled, there is a difference!

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  66. G.A.Phillips says:

    I smell fear…..lol.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Tb8Jo11uGo

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  67. davod says:

    When did the reasoned debate about health care options stop the Obama express from proceeding?

    Was it reasoned debate that has the media saying Obama’s numbers are dropping?

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  68. Herb says:

    Reasoned debate…..riiiiiiight.

    The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.

    Sarah Palin, proving once again that you can always win an argument against a straw man.

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  69. [...] those who ignored his warning that Obama and his minions were frightening and excelled at threats, intimidation, and violence, well, we ignored him.  When David Axelrod said to punch back twice as [...]

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  70. Joe Camel says:

    Propaganda on the left or right is still propaganda. Yes, Bush did it, yes Obama does it. They all believe we are just idiots, all of us. Fact is, since most of the populace is not engaged just shows they are right. I just thank goodness that others are waking up to what is going on, alas it is a long way in the game.
    The fact that the press does not report the facts to the populace, cherry picks it’s reporting is not helping much either. So, here we are..

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  71. davod says:

    Herb:

    Where is the straw man argument?

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  72. G.A.Phillips says:

    Grass roots or grass soup, you make the choice!

    Fight the power!!!!!!

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  73. Our Paul says:

    G.A.Phillips | August 7, 2009 | 09:37 pm | The term forum was chosen as “birthers” and “tea baggers” are an eclectic crowd. One never knows when or where they will pop up. I do not mind protest, speeches, posters or signs.

    However, I consider organized disruption of an open meeting where discussion of idea or policy will occur to be vile and the antithesis of civility. If civility is the mark of a civilized person, then a person that disrupts an open meeting, preventing an exchange of ideas, is as I said previously a “brown shirt” or a thug.

    Correspondent Charles Austin called me out for using the term “brown shirt”, and perhaps he was right. The term is rather weak. I should have been more forceful. When somebody disrupts a forum where an exchange of ideas is taking place, that person is a barbarian.

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  74. Herb says:

    Davod, Where is the straw man argument? you ask.

    Um…death panels? Here’s Jake Tapper tearing that nonsense apart.

    Tapper calls Palin’s “death panel” argument “a curious reading of page 425 of the House Democrats’ bill.” I call it a straw man.

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  75. anjin-san says:

    How does Palin know about the Obama death panels?? Everyone who knows was supposed to be rounded up by the Acorn thought suppression squads and put in the FEMA concentration camps…

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  76. [...] I’ve dubbed shouting down others’ free speech un-American. Twice. But evil?  [...]

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