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Rowdy protesters overrun health care meetings

Original post made by What a Shame on Aug 7, 2009

" his office received a death threat from a caller who said Miller "could lose his life over this. "



Rowdy protesters overrun health care meetings
Joe Garofoli, Chronicle Staff Writer
Thursday, August 6, 2009
________________________________________

(08-05) 20:25 PDT -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent her chamber home for the summer recess with a list of talking points to respond to constituents' questions about pending health care legislation.


But those traditionally sleepy town hall meetings have become ROWDY SHOUT FESTS across the nation, including Northern California, with opponents hanging members in effigy and MOCKING THEM WITH with NAZI and DEVIL IMIGERY in an EFFORT TO DERAIL DISCUSSIONS of health care.
They're organized in part by conservative think tanks like FreedomWorks, which offers tips on how to disrupt a meeting ("Watch for an opportunity to yell out and challenge the Rep's statements early," says one) and helped in some cases by anti-tax "Tea Party" sympathizers.
More than 500 people packed a Napa town hall hosted this week by Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, some shouting down panelists by yelling "This is America!" and "What's wrong with profit?"




Three Aug. 15 East Bay town halls scheduled by Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, one of the health care legislation co-authors, are the targets of one Tea Party group calling for a "counterprotest."
A spokesman for Rep. Brad Miller, D-N.C., said this week he wouldn't be holding any town halls after his office received a death threat from a caller who said Miller "could lose his life over this."
The Democratic National Committee fought back Wednesday with an online ad calling the protesters "mobs" embittered by Republican losses last fall. A Republican National Committee spokesman said Democrats "have reduced the concerns and opinions of millions of Americans to 'manufactured' and have labeled them as 'angry extremists.' "
'Astroturf'
When asked if the protests represented grassroots opposition to health care legislation, Pelosi, D-San Francisco, told The Chronicle this week, "I think they're Astroturf" - artificial grassroots support.
"These are a few hundred people, the wingnuts, the far right extreme," said Morris Fiorina, a professor of political science at Stanford University, fellow at the Hoover Institution and author of "Culture War? The Myth of a Polarized America." "This is all sound and fury, designed to get the attention of the media, which it has been."
As for its effectiveness: "There are doubts out there among the American people" about health care legislation, Fiorina said. "And to the extent that they can get people to pause and say, 'Hmm. I wonder how I do feel about this,' they've succeeded."
While the Campaign Media Analysis Group estimates that $52 million has been spent on health care reform-related TV ads so far in 2009, others want to voice their opinion in person: Seventy-one percent of the respondents to a CNN poll said they were likely to attend a meeting where they could tell a member of Congress what they thought of health care.
Some believe that Obama's vaunted online and grassroots operation has been outgunned. "I don't think they were prepared for the opposition to come out to the local meetings like this," said Nancy Scola, an associate editor for TechPresident.com, a nonpartisan site that examines the intersection of media and politics. "They're being too genteel."
Town hall protests are nothing new. During her 1994 national road trip to promote health care reform, then-first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton was widely heckled - with comments ripping the Clinton administration policy on everything from gays to abortion, contributing to the program's defeat. And liberal organizations and labor groups massed online and in person to help derail the Bush administration's 2005 effort to overhaul Social Security.
YouTube's role
The difference now is that these town hall protests take on greater significance when they are quickly posted afterward on YouTube and then picked up by the video-starved cable news channels. And there seems to be less interest in discussion than disruption, analysts said, which may start to backfire on conservatives.
On Wednesday, an editorial in the Napa Valley Register - which endorsed Republican Sen. John McCain for president last fall - opined, "The display (at Thompson's town hall Monday) was unwelcome - and unsuccessful if it was meant to move health care reform supporters toward considering the concerns of the critics. Several callers to the Register on Tuesday reported they were repulsed by the aggressive tactics of some members of the crowd."
In the 36 years that he's represented the East Bay in Congress, Stark said 30 to 50 people usually attend his town hall meetings - many of them familiar faces. He acknowledged that the protesters aren't doing anything illegal and that hearty discussion is part of democracy - until it prevents people from getting their questions answered.
"It's my sense that these disruptions are orchestrated by hired guns," Stark said Wednesday. "If it gets to be too much, we'll just hold class outside."
Visitors to a health care town hall scheduled for Aug. 29 in San Carlos by Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough, are invited to "bring a blanket or lawn chair for a relaxing discussion with Jackie."
"Maybe," quipped Speier spokesman Mike Larsen Wednesday, "we should take out the word 'relaxing.' "


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Comments (4)

Posted by More Shame, a resident of Downtown
on Aug 7, 2009 at 7:46 am

Glenn Bech and Rush Limaugh promote Violence! Way to Go Conservative Radical! Motive? DERAIL talks on Health Care! Sweet! Not Cool!


Florida Town Hall Turns Into Violent Scuffle
8/7/09 at 09:30 AM Comment 5Comment 5Comments "The spectacle at the Children's Board in Ybor City sounded more like a wrestling cage match than a panel discussion on national policy," explains today's St. Petersburg Times, describing the scene at a health-care town hall organized for Representative Kathy Castor (Democrat, Tampa). The overfull meeting was filled with angry voters on both sides of the issue, but it was protesters outside who chanted loudest, did their best to interrupt the proceedings, and eventually GOT VIOLENT. The impromptu ralliers arrived on the scene after being urged on by activist group Tampa 912 (which is promoted, according to the paper, by Glenn BECK), the local Republican Party, which sent out talking points, and RUSH Limbaugh, who mentioned the town hall on his show. "Obama has mobilized union thugs to go out and also attend these town meetings to intimidate the genuine citizens out there who are upset about [his health-care initiative]," Limbaugh said on the radio. "Paid activists are going to be showing up. And that's why — so the Democrats are going to get brave now. They're going to have protection there. The mob's showing up. The real, genuine mob is showing up to defend these Democrats from the unruly Nazis that are showing up to protest the health care bill."

Democrats in favor of the health-care bill will likely use this as an example today in their increasingly aggressive counterattacks against their foes. Expect to hear the term "astroturf" more and more to describe these sorts of unruly "grassroots" protests. A senseless, hysterical protest that turns violent is exactly the type of evidence the White House needs to paint their opponents as reactionaries organized by well-funded anti-reform groups who are only interested in sensational YouTube phenomena and not reasonable dialogue.

Meanwhile, did anybody see the CEO of AstroTurf on Fox News complaining about liberals using his brand to describe these protests? Dude, this is amazing free publicity. This is the most relevant a synthetic grass product has been since soap operas gave up on filming "outdoor scenes"!

Protesters in Ybor City drown out health care summit on Obama's proposal [St. Petersburg Times]
Update: Six people were arrested in a similar flare-up outside of a town hall in St. Louis, where a forum on aging TURNED VIOLENT after a local Tea Party group organized a protest on health care.

By: Chris Rovzar


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 7, 2009 at 8:11 am

Stacey is a registered user.

I already posted that article in another thread...


Posted by Not Cool, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 7, 2009 at 8:17 am

"And there seems to be less interest in discussion than disruption, analysts said, which may start to backfire on conservatives."


"A senseless, hysterical protest that turns violent is exactly the type of evidence the White House needs to paint their opponents as reactionaries organized by well-funded anti-reform groups who are only interested in sensational YouTube phenomena and not reasonable dialogue"


Posted by SteveP, a resident of Parkside
on Aug 7, 2009 at 10:14 am

SteveP is a registered user.

I have not seen any evidence that anyone has promoted violence (got proof?) other than second hand accounts from union reps and other Obama supporters that have an agenda to squash all debate and dissenting opinions.
The people at debates shown on YouTube are emotional, just as the the Dems have made the whole healthcare debate emotional (poor people are suffering, big, mean copr. is profiting, people are dying, etc.)
The responses of people opposed to the rushed Dems plans are predictable since it's a huge issue and cannot be solved by government, especially on such a tight schedule.
The rushed agenda is an attempt to avoid public input in order to ram through a flawed plan that will only empower politicians further.


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