Town Falls

At first, I too was taken in by the vociferous opposition to the president’s health care plan in these various “town hall” meetings around the country, at least until one goon demanded, “Get your goddam government hands off my Medicare!” If you can’t parse the basic, ineluctable contradiction in that sentence, you too are qualified to bellow at the next “town hall.” Then I read this leaked memo. Why does it remind me of the “Izod mafia,” orchestrated by the unlamented Tom DeLay, which mobbed the Dade County recount in 2000 and scared the hell out of poll workers who were simply trying to do their jobs? That “grassroots uprising,” populated in part by Bush campaign workers flown down to Dade for just this purpose, is just as genuine as the current one (that is, not at all), fed by demagogues like Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity (and, to her eternal shame, Sarah Palin, whose “death panel” comments were too kooky even for many right-wingnuts). If I’m wrong, then why are so many other people also demanding we fight government health care while we lay off Medicare? Why? Because the howler monkeys of Fox News tell them to. After all, these geeks can, with a straight face, call the same guy a socialist and a fascist in a single segment!

Bill Maher did a beautiful job on American stupidity on a recent REAL TIME, but it’s nothing to laugh at. Lots of people, whipped up into a frenzy by wacko conservative groups, actually believe the Obama plan means to (1) use death squads to murder elderly people, (2) grab money directly out of your personal bank account, and (3) name your doctor and proscribe what he can do for you. Why do they believe such arrant bullshit? Because they saw it on TV.

Never mind that if anyone, anyone, planned to institute such “death panels,” then you, me, and nearly everyone else in the country would rise up to strike them down and run the creators out of Washington on a rail. It’s ridiculous: by that I mean worthy of ridicule. Yet the fearmongers have managed to work that up as an actual possibility! In 2004, John Kerry made the mistake of judging the Swift Boat smears as beneath contempt: so outré that no thinking person could possibly buy them. Look how that worked out for him. I remember a Republican consultant that spring saying, “By the time we get through with John Kerry, you won’t be sure which side he was fighting for.”

Karl Rove believed we were stupid, that the minority in the “reality-based community” couldn’t withstand the onslaught of a motivated mob. Look how that worked out for us. I’m tired of the mainstream media reporting these ginned-up “town halls” as reality. (This morning’s Times story about yet another “angry” “group,” this time shouting down Arlen Specter, at least reported that the mouth-breathers got there early enough to dominate the 250 seats available, leaving many of Specter’s supporters outside.) They’re no more representative of the country at large than were Fox’s “tea parties” earlier this year, though at least we didn’t have to face vandalism back then. The overwhelming majority of Americans wants health care reform, but I still expect to see some Looney-Tune tossing a shoe at some beleaguered Congressman before it’s all over. Wait till someone tells him that’s an Arab form of dissing!

EDIT, 8/13: A sickening Gail Collins column in this morning’s Times on the fact that increasing numbers of “jes’ folks” are bringing loaded guns to these meetings.


7 Responses to Town Falls

  1. Elizabeth says:

    We have government healthcare in England, and it’s something everyone is very happy with. There are no bills to pay, no forms to fill in, no denial of healthcare. You feel ill, you go see your doctor — mine is just around the corner from my house so I can walk — and get yourself sorted out.

    I’m shocked at the idiocy I see at the town hall meetings and then I wonder if that doesn’t reflect on the poor public schools in some areas of America. These people don’t seem very educated.

  2. brenda says:

    Yeah, if the government can do as brilliant a job with universal health care (why is it printed as one word?) as it did with public education for all, why, we’ll indeed be living in the best of all possible worlds!:):)

  3. Tom Dupree says:

    The public model for soldiers, cops and firefighters works just fine, and *everybody’s protected and served*. As for health care, that red-faced patriot up there would be *tres* upset if government ever *did* get its goddam hands off his Medicare!

  4. brenda says:

    Well,”works just fine” is a matter of defining “fine.” The “public model” for cops here in our fair city is pretty broken, although it works brilliantly in the better-tax-base exurbs of Ridgeland and Madison. You can’t sling a dead cat without hitting a patrolman in a Madison County area, alert and vigilant in his shiny car. But call 911 in inner-city Jackson when some worthless thug is smashing your window, then say a rosary, because without divine intervention, you ain’t fixin’ to see armed help roarin’ up any time soon, to blast the bad guys. I imagine this is the same scenario in many areas of America.

    What bothers me about this health care thing is that it obligates the careful and mindful to bear the burden of the careless and heedless. I don’t eat animal fats, I don’t smoke, I exercise, I eschew sugar, I eat lots of veggies—and under the Brave New System, if I understand it rightly (and I probably don’t, who COULD read that 1,000+ page bit of governmentese?) I count exactly the same as some fatass redneck here in my fair state, who stuffs him/herself with all manner of nasty processed/fried/refined s**t. Oh, and sits on his/her Callipygean ass all day watching daytime TV instead of taking a brisk walk.

    Point me to the chapter and verse in the proposal where mindful folk, stewards of their own health, are given a bit of a tax break, as insurance companies now do for health-conscious people and proven safe drivers, and where it’s suggested that mindless idiots have to sacrifice a bit to pay for their thoughtless habits? Then I’ll jump on the reform bandwagon, and happily.

    I’ve not shouted at a town hall, but then the Trojans probably didn’t make much noise then that big horse rolled in the gate, either.

  5. Tom Dupree says:

    You mean all the millions of mindless idiots who don’t have health care are McDonalds gluttons? Then it becomes so simple! Let’s levy a health care tax on junk food, cigarettes, sugary soft drinks, etc. You as a health-conscious American won’t have to incur those fees: that’s your tax break. The fatties will either pay their own way or quit scarfing Wendy’s; same net effect. But something tells me most of these same patriotic town-hall criers will take issue over Big Mac Attax as a Russkie plot against their God-given right to cheap glop, if they forget to heed Bill O’Reilly’s inevitable bleating spittle against “fascist socialist new taxes.”

    I’ll skip the moral argument, helping one’s fellow man and all. If something doesn’t happen soon, you’ll wind up paying eventually, at least in reduced services, until we finally go bust once and for all. Then privatization will be your only option, which is basically what neocons have wanted all along. Hope you enjoy your all-mercenary army; maybe Commander-In-Perpetuity Blackwater will take a likin’ to ya. You might need a little more dough than you expected (after all, private contractors have made a science out of blowing gov’t budgets; imagine if there were no watchdog at all!) to keep the Madison County peace officers nice and content. As for firefighters, George Lucas has his own already, but they were pipsqueaks this past week compared to the many government employees who prevented a huge, destructive brushfire from raging into Skywalker Ranch. You’ll need to do better than George Lucas could where *you* live. And those nice, fair private insurance companies, which would now be the only game in town? Good luck on collecting *anything* — and by the way, where’s that overdue premium?

    Ridiculous? No more so than the dramatic inferno, starring “death panels,” being conjured by the same people who think you can fight two wars on credit cards and never have to repay the piper. We are either going to change or we’re going down, and the bar on “well-off” will be raised higher than most of us, you and I included, will ever see. But one thing may save us yet. As the great George W. Bush once said, clumsily mis-paraphrasing a John Maynard Keynes quote evidently taught on a day he cut class: “History? We’ll all be dead!”

  6. brenda says:

    Yes, Tom, I do think that lots of the idiots are mindless McDonald’s gluttons. Remember, I live in Mississippi. And many is the time I’ve stood behind a gigantesque mama with a cart loaded full of sheer crap, who paid for it all by flipping out food stamps.

    Sorry, no sympathy here. If we are paying for the sins of our fathers, , well, so be it. I reckon we gotta. But that doesn’t mean I have to clap my hands and like it.

  7. Phil Allen says:

    Who you calling fat, fella?
    I see as the biggest problem with the health care thingy, is it being run by the feds. It’s hard to recall any government program that hasn’t become a giant boondogle.
    It’s hard to find anything that either the right-wing wackos or the left-wing flakes say that makes real sense. Trying to read a bill from either the house or the senate makes one want to rush to the nearest hospital and plead for a frontal lobotomy. Neither side seems to be telling the truth but that’s politics as usual.
    I have yet to hear a political platform that I can believe in 100% or even 75%. I heard a term the other day that is exactly the way I feel about politics. I will now and forever after consider myself a “bleeding heart conservative”.

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