Monday, August 03, 2009

Hottest August on Record

If you're a congressman this is very likely to be the hottest August on record. This is traditionally the season for congressmen to go home and 'listen' to their constituents. Often those listening tours had been filled with friendly folks whose biggest concern has been getting Dad's disability payment untangled. Such is no longer the case.

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas). “The days of you having a town hall meeting where maybe 15 or 20 of your friends show up — they’re over. You’ve now got real people who are showing up — and that’s going to be a factor.” Politico
Real people. Not ACORN shills. Not party hacks. Real people with real concerns and questions about how Congress is handling and mishandling their lives. "I've never done this before" is a phrase I have heard over and over at various rallies. People are getting involved like never before and the tools to help them get involved have never been more readily available. In wonderful intergenerational moments grandchildren are teaching their grandparents about Twitter and YouTube.

Already YouTube is filling up with camera phone videos of uncomfortable and confrontational meetings between the rabble and their representatives. No pitchforks or tar and feathers yet but if congressmen don't get a clue soon, it's going to get ugly. Refusing to meet with constituents is not the best response. Legislators are going to have to allow a hefty amount of spleen venting AND they're going to have to actually have some common sense responses to questions that are going to be presented. Waving voters off as being too simple minded to understand the complexities of governing will be fuel, not water, to the embers. Telling them that it's such an emergency that time is of the essence won't work either. People understand that doing something can be worse than doing nothing at all.

What I know about embers from years of camping is that that fire can look cold in the morning but a scratch with a stick can reveal embers that are eager and able to create a conflagration. Voter discontent has been below the surface for a long time. Republicans and Democrats have added to the problem by not policing their own and accommodating bad policy in back room deals for what they want, by forgetting that they are servants and not masters, by forgetting that we do have a Constitution and citizens who can still read and understand its plain meaning. And let's not overlook the fact that many of these irate citizens are folks many of us predicted would feel the sting of betrayal for voting these folks into office.

Food for that citizen fire is a newly organized effort "Operation Embarass Your Congressman" from a Texan (thank God for Texas) which is encouraging folks to attend these Congressional town hall meetings carrying their own video equipment. This from the website:
"Simply use your freedom of speech in public forums to accomplish our mission. The Mission is this: "To expose the arrogance, ignorance, and insolence of our elected representatives." We want to do this on a LARGE SCALE - NATIONWIDE! These arrogant, ignorant, and insolent people have embarrassed America, trampled the Constitution, and ignored their constituents for far too long. Attend their townhall meetings during recess and press them with intelligent questions (unlike the main stream media), asked in an intelligent manner to see if they are really in touch and on board with "the will of the people."
We're ready for your close up Congressman.

UPDATE: Apparently, our commenter from Obamaland isn't the only one peeved that the right learned how to organize community support and influence legislators. Bill Hobbs tweets the following.


N.S. Allen said...

I can't help but imagine that, if the anti-Obama folks were really as vibrant and forceful a majority as their blog and event posts always seem to suggest, they would adopt slightly different tactics.

The organized, intentional disruption of town hall meetings that we've seen across the country, for instance, isn't the tack of a group convinced of its efficacy. It's a tactic that one would only engage in, given how shrill and offensive it is, if one's cause was under-represented and unlikely to carry the day without melodrama and distortion.

The baldfaced misinformation about Democratic proposals spread by Republican supporters and officials is another example of this. If the public really hated the idea of health care reform, no one would need to pretend that a provision in the House bill to extend Medicare payment to voluntary consulations on end-of-life issues is a sneaky plan to kill Grandma. If that was the case, people would presumably hate the stuff actually in the bill and not need to be lied to.

So, I don't know. Maybe this "grassroots"/astroturf movement is as powerful as its members seem to believe. But, if that's the case, it certainly seems to be adopting tactics that are a lot more politically poisonous and blatantly unethical than it really needs to.

Kay Brooks said...


ACORN, dude. A C O R N.

Ellen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ellen said...

Its called a public disruption. Where's the Cambridge police when you need them?

These idiots are on operating on such a low level of information and intelligence, you have to expect this. Fueled by Glenn Beck and the 'lunatic du jour' on Fox News, they've given rise to groups known as the 'birthers'... and now the 'deathers'. You know, their simple brains are incapable of complex reasoning but they can utter buzzwords like, "ACORN", "SOCIALIST", "BABY KILLER", "DRILL BABY DRILL," etc...

It's no surprise they have disdain for education. You have to remember what we're dealing with. These people are given their facts by the right wing whose pockets are lined by the insurance companies. Thier chief source for "facts" and "stats" is the Lewin Group that is OWNED by United Health, one of the nations largest insurers who in January, agreed to a $50 million settlement with the New York attorney general and a $350 million settlement with the AMA, covering conduct going back as far as 1994 that involved skewed data that shifted medical expenses to consumers.They paid $400 million for their lies. But even then, they still turned a handsome profit.

The Heritage foundation and Republicans are pimping this misinformation. Consider your sources.

Kay Brooks said...

I am considering my sources.

And no one is paying me a dime for my common sense view on this administration.

Medical expenses should be paid by consumers. DUH! Just like gasoline should be paid for by the driver of the car and electricity should be paid by the lamp owner.

And where is George Soros investing his political capital now days? Consider your own sources.

And I very much value education. It's why I started this blog and why I fight for a better public education system. What I don't value is mindless indoctrination passing itself off as critical thinking.

Ellen said...

Talk about mindless indoctrination,
this from the St. Petersburg Times on a public disruption by wingnuts where a townhall discussion was drowned out:

"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"

Come to Glen Beck and Fox News for your mindless indoctrination.

Kay Brooks said...

If all you can do is name us all a favor and move on.

And if you're concerned about partisan politics this quote from your linked article is exactly that:

"These groups are not concerned about Americans' access to quality heath care, but are extreme ideologues, only interested in 'breaking' the president and thwarting the change Americans voted for last November," said state Democratic chairwoman Karen Thurman.

However, an attendee is quoted as saying:

Protesters said there was nothing phony about their strong showing, just a bubbling of grass roots anger.

"It's the backlash to the arrogance of our government that you're seeing here,'' said Brad Grabill of Temple Terrace.

The later has been my experience also. People are absolutely shocked that the land of the free is this close to being history. Thankfully, they're brave enough to stand against this massive power grab.

Ellen said...

"And I very much value education."
I find it very scary for someone like you to be on the BOE, let alone be teaching... you who finds it OK for intelligent design to be taught in schools, in a state where your party nominated Huckabee (someone who doesn't even believe in evolutionary science).

I have a friend who is teaching 6th grade science and is using the Holt text. Conspicuously absent are any mention of evolution or Darwin. Instead words like 'adaptation' are used. Interesting to note that Holt apparently dumbed these books down for TN (and TX) because in their standard biology text, evolution IS discussed.

I know this is off the subject but I am shocked the widening gap of science literacy in America between the 'haves' and the 'have nots'... often due to the 'flat-earth conservatives.' BTW... It is not a theory, it is a fact that all living forms come from previous living forms. Therefore, all present forms of life arose from ancestral forms that were different. Birds arose from non-birds and humans from non-humans. No person who pretends to any understanding of the natural world can deny these facts any more than she or he can deny that the earth is round, rotates on its axis, and revolves around the sun.

Are you a flat-earther?

Kay Brooks said...

You're right. You've strayed off topic. I'll assume it's an attempt to distract from the topic in an effort to save face.