How not to win the health care debate (or, aren't they supposed to be a-holes, and not us?)

T.A. Barnhart

"They did it first!"

That is not a direct quote, but it might as well be. After the "Let's get it done!" rally for health care reform, hosted by Organizing for America and Health Care for America Now!, I wanted to speak to the two men who sat quietly through the event holding signs demonstrating their opposition to further government involvement in health care. I almost did not get the chance, not because they were unwilling to talk to me — they were quite willing — but because a few so-called supporters thought screaming in these guys' faces served some productive purpose.

Greg and Buddy, opposing the public option but forgetting to be assholes - Let's get it done! rally for health care - Aug 29 2009Greg and his unnamed buddy sat among 800 roaring and fervent supporters of health care reform — and especially of the public option, which was the two men's main objection — and they never said a word, never did a thing to interrupt the event or to be less than courteous. They behaved exactly the way people who want to display opposition to others ought to behave: They disrupted no one's speech, they mocked no one, they let their presence speak for itself. Too bad the assholes at the end could not follow their example.

Buddy (I didn't ask his name; he seemed disinclined to give it when introduced by Greg as "my buddy...", and I can't say I blamed him) spent most of the rally with a wry look on his face, shaking his head as if he could not believe this many people could be so wrong about something so fundamental. His t-shirt (9-12 Project) showed him to be a follower of Glenn Beck so I think most of the 800 reform supporters would shake their head about him. But for the duration of the rally, he was a good citizen, testifying peacefully to his beliefs. He knew he would not be able to say anything to change anyone's mind at this event, but he wanted to let people know where he stood on the matter.

As I said, a good citizen taking the right approach for that event.

Isn't that what we've been saying people opposed to Obama and the Dems should do? Be respectful? Not shout people down? Allow others the freedom of their speech? Greg and Buddy did just that, and while I have little respect for the content of their beliefs, I have tremendous respect for how they handled themselves on this morning.

When I first saw Greg, I must add, it was at the very start of the rally and he was yelling at some woman in front of him about his free speech rights. It appeared for a moment as if we had our own disruptive teabagger on-site, but it quickly subsided. Soon thereafter, Greg spotted Buddy and went to sit behind him. For the rest of the rally, he remained, as noted above, quiet and respectful of others. In retrospect, I'm pretty sure he popped off at the beginning because the people in front of him were trying to block him from either holding up his sign or getting through to sit by Buddy. If this is the case, it's another big disappointment for "our side".

When I approached Greg and Buddy after the rally to ask them a few questions for my new website (, they readily agreed to speak to me but I got no more than a few words out of my mouth when an older man started ranting at them. When I tried to stop him, he started screaming at me. It took me several minutes to get him to shut up and leave us alone; he was determined to harass and disrupt. I cannot imagine what good he thought it might do, but I doubt he wanted to do any good. It was simply a form of psychic masturbation: it made him feel good. However, like masturbation, not many people want to observe it in public. And we certainly don't want to be subjected to it.

And no sooner had the old guy left then another dumbass started up! I regret to report he was wearing a "We can do better" t-shirt, and I wish I had gotten his name so Dr Kitzhaber could go and personally take back that shirt because this idiot was not doing better. He just wanted to do his own weenie-waggling, but fortunately he was cowardly enough to leave when I confronted him on the destructive nature of his behavior. How sad that it was the opponents of health care reform who were demonstrating how democratic opposition to others should be conducted and not these "supporters" of reformers.

We finally got the chance to talk in peace, and it was a worthwhile conversation.

Greg understood that our differences of opinion and belief were countered, to some extent, by shared views: that Americans need to have better personal health care practices, that existing laws need to be enforced on corporations, that local control is better than federal (to which I would add, of course, "until local control proves inadequate"). He didn't try to ram his beliefs down my throat. He shared some key points in answer to my questions; I was giving him a chance to share his beliefs, and that's what he did.

Greg, Buddy and I had a spirited and respectful conversation for about seven minutes, but I could see they wanted to leave and, frankly, Buddy was starting to trot out a few too many talking points; there ain't no discussion when talking points are being utilized, just sloganeering. So we wrapped up, I thanked them, and, as they walked away — yes, that's right: Yet another pinhead decided they needed to be upbraided.

I gotta bring a super-soaker next time to douse those kinds of morons.

Fervent opposition to the beliefs of fellow human beings can be a great democratizing agent. People can deepen their understanding of their beliefs when being challenged by others and by getting involved in a passionate discussion of issues. The moment the discussion switches from seeking after truth to trying to win an argument, however, democratizing stops. People yelling at one another is just another step on the path to warfare.

I was totally disgusted by the behavior of these three men. Two respectful citizens who were not acting like the jerkwads we've seen on tv came to the rally, and these alleged supporters of this incredibly important issue decide they need to be treated with exactly the kind of disrespect and contempt of which we complain. Shameful, absolutely shameful. How weak and impotent these men are, and how ignorant. They confuse volume with knowledge, and they waste their energy tearing down what we are trying to build rather than do something productive.

What about you? Pissed off by the wingnuts? Angered by the tactics being used to block meaningful health care reform? Frustrated by the news coming out of DC? Attacking another human being, even if just verbally, will not fix a damn thing. Negative behavior feeds negative attitudes and emotions. If the Blue Dogs and teabaggers and Grassley obstructionists have you ready to burst with rage, do something that will matter:

Go to and sign up to help gather the names of supporters.

Sign up at HCAN for daily news updates you can trust so you can know more about how you can help.

Phone Wyden (503.326.7525), Merkley (503.326.3386) and your local Representative. Or write them a letter. They will pay attention to your calls and letters.

Write a letter to the editor. Congressional staffers read these and pay attention to them.

Do something positive. Take an action to help reform become real. But whatever you do, however enraged and frustrated you are, do not take it out on a fellow citizen. That never works; it only proves to them how wrong you are.

Is someone making you crazy with their stupid beliefs? Feel like giving them a piece of your mind? I have a simple word of advice for you:


  • Rob (unverified)

    I want Obama to fail in all his socialist/fascist, freedom taking plans. I am writing and going to events and listening to talk show hosts that are simply stating what I have known since the racist Obama first stepped up. In the words of his evil mentor, "The chickens are commin' home to roost!"


  • BOHICA (unverified)

    The old DFH (TM Atrios) mantra: "Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit." - Desiderata

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    BO, thanks for that. it should apply to those of us who mainly write as well. i try to walk that way, and while it's not easy, i know it brings both better results and a happier life.

  • BOHICA (unverified)

    Its sort of a Zen thing. "He who would reform the world must first reform himself; and that, if he do it honestly, will keep him so employed that he will have no time to criticize his neighbor, nevertheless, his neighbor will be benefited---even as a man without a candle, who at last discerns another's light."

  • Not Convinced (unverified)

    TA - whiny people like you on our side can't even convince me our side is right. It's the smug, superior attitude displaying that attitude "if they just listened to our argument, they'd know we are right" that is the so off-putting.

    When I listen to both sides, I can see they aren't even talking about the same think, and while a lot of opponents to reform for sure don't know or care about what health insurance reform is really about, I have been struck how ignorant and smug in that ignorance most proponents I've bumped into are because they think this is their chance to hijack what should be a very limited but far reaching goal for their own health care agenda.

    When I as a proponent of reform have tried to engage them in a discussion about even the major cost drivers of our system and why their pet goals 1) are incidental to controlling costs, and 2) exactly the things giving opponents at least emotional ammunition, they have been obnoxious someone on our side would DARE challenge their ideas. Instead it ends up in a debate pretty much like your whiny post here.

    I don't find people like you credible or effective TA. And when I talk to undecideds neither to they. Can you even distinguish between the key points of disagreement over a public option the House Blue Dogs (the original Blue Dogs formed in 1995) as a group, southern House Democrats (some of whom are Blue Dogs), the gang of six as a group, western states Senate Democrats (notably Baucus and Conrad who are also in the gang of six), Wyden, Northeast Republicans, the new Midwest Senate Democrats like Bayh (only formed in Dec. 2008), and of course right wing Democrats (like Boehner), the prez's position(s)? Because they are all significantly different and generally misrepresented, given opponents openings.

    Even Wyden has been able to doubletalk his position so much that no one I know who is quite capable of discussing the policy and values differences between the positions those groups are taking in detail can confirm who he actually agrees with and disagrees with on specific details of the nature that would end up in a bill by calling his office.

    That's the problem I've run into --- superficial knowledge on our side and a whole lot of focus on superficial, judgmental comments about style of presentation.

    Well, in recent days Silver and Cook indicating we could lose 30-50 seats in 2010 and Silver says we have a 25 to 33 percent chance of losing the House. And I assure you, that is not because of a too little focus on the superficial that characterizes too many who claim they are for reform, but can't actually carry on a discussion about how their particular pet reform agenda actually materially contributes to controlling our out-of-control health care costs increases.

  • William T. (unverified)

    Sure hope you enjoyed your 4 years in power. The Repugnicans will soon be back in control and we'll still be no better off than we are now.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)

    "I want Obama to fail in all his socialist/fascist, freedom taking plans."

    Socialism in its basic form strives on national and international levels to reduce the inequalities that capitalism tends to produce. Fascism, as described in the Penguin Encyclopedia, is a "term applied to a variety of vehemently nationalistic and authoritarian movements that reached the peak of their influence in 1930-45."

    So, if socialism and fascism are opposites, how is a socialist/fascist system possible?

    Corporatism as it is now being practiced in the United States is one of the greatest forces threatening the liberty and freedom of the American people. People who are unemployed or working for less than a living wage have very little liberty or freedom to do what they might like to do for their own well-being and that of their families. And that is particularly true if they are in need of health care but have no security in this area.

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    When will this site go to some form of subscription model? Whatever value there is to anonymous commenting is totally outweighed by comments like those of "Not Convinced", who use their anonymity as cover for behaving badly in a consequence-free environment.

    Good job on the post, TA. Hopefully more will see the wisdom in your remarks.

  • Geoffrey Ludt (unverified)

    Surprising to see this POV here on BO. Reasonable.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)

    "Can you even distinguish between the key points of disagreement over a public option the House Blue Dogs (the original Blue Dogs formed in 1995) as a group, southern House Democrats (some of whom are Blue Dogs), the gang of six as a group, western states Senate Democrats (notably Baucus and Conrad who are also in the gang of six), Wyden, Northeast Republicans, the new Midwest Senate Democrats like Bayh (only formed in Dec. 2008), and of course right wing Democrats (like Boehner), the prez's position(s)?"

    This demonstrates the absurdity of the way Congress and the White House have tackled health care reform, unless, as may very well be the case, they really don't want health care reform. If the United States is to improve its standards and availability of health care then the Obama administration and Congress need to turn the task of developing a system over to a NON-partisan commission that is open to public scrutiny.

    Given how the medical-insurance-pharmaceutical complex owns the key players in Congress and the White House it is probably realistic to say health care reform is going nowhere. If we do get health care reform from Washington there is a very high risk we will be worse off in the future than we are now.

    In the World Health Organization Report for Year 2000 the United States ranked 37th in the world for attainment and performance. Embargoed Cuba was 37th, Croatia was 43rd, and Jamaica was 53rd. Given the increases in health care costs in the United States since 2000 we might have dropped below Cuba and Croatia and gotten closer to Jamaica.

  • LT (unverified)

    TA is right, if the objective is to win over ordinary folks (the people who vote but are not activist, bloggers, etc. because their own lives fill 24 hours as it is).

    "Isn't that what we've been saying people opposed to Obama and the Dems should do? Be respectful? Not shout people down? Allow others the freedom of their speech? Greg and Buddy did just that, and while I have little respect for the content of their beliefs, I have tremendous respect for how they handled themselves on this morning."

    OK, here is where the philosophical debate comes in. Some people believe shrill works--yell loud enough and your "side" wins.

    Others claim history says such bullies lose eventually, however much publicity they get in the short run. And besides, having been brought up with good manners, abandoning those manners in support of a political cause doesn't seem either worthwhile or effective to them. Debate means people have the right to disagree and there is not one true path all are supposed to accept without question.

    Many years ago, a Democrat of the polarizing school of thought tried to break up an opponent's rally (which I attended) the day before the primary and it did not succeed. 2 years later he ran for office, was endorsed by a major organization he belonged to, and lost the primary. Gee, you don't suppose those 2 things are related, do you?

    I believe it is time to get back to basics. Sen. Hatch, on one of the Sunday shows, talked about how he and Sen. Kennedy passed children's health care as part of a balanced budget bill. Gee, that sure sounds like a precedent for passing health care reform with 51 vote reconciliation, if need be.

    It has been noted that there was not one big civil rights bill in the 1960s, there were multiple bills. Voting Rights Bill got passed first. Open Housing Bill (couldn't refuse lodging, rent, sale of a dwelling because of the color of someone's skin) didn't pass until 1968. One of the Republican votes for Open Housing was an Illinois Congressman who at one point in his life was Evangelical Layman of the Year. He was offended that anyone would shoot and kill Rev. M. L. King and as a memorial to King he voted for the bill.

    One never knows where votes might come from if bills come up for actual votes.

    Health care is as large an issue as civil rights was in the 1960s. The idea that whatever doesn't get done in 2009 doesn't get done is hogwash. How much are we paying members of the House and Senate for them to say they can't take tough votes in election years? For that salary, they should be taking tough votes every day of their term!

    In a town hall shown on CSPAN, Sen. Murkowski said she believes there is a health care crisis, but is not sure it should all be debated in one bill. Call her bluff. Vote in Finance Comm. starting a week after Senators return (on all amendments from any member of either party, like the Health committee did under Chris Dodd). Let's see who votes which way and then report out a bill with all the amendments that passed that process. Then let's have a debate about whether it should be one big bill or a bunch of small ones.

    Filibuster threat? Fine. The Senate stores cots so that there can be an around the clock session, if necessary. Let's see some real filibusters, or are the Republicans too lazy to talk that long?

    It has been reported that Ted Kennedy's last wish was to see just that happen---end the rhetoric and start the voting. What doesn't pass this year can be voted on next year. In other words, don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

    Hard work and common courtesy are traditional values that some on the moralizing right don't want people to remember. Let's enforce those values and see which Senators are earning their salary by hard work, and which are all just blowhards.

    Sen. DeMint--this is all about defeating the President? Fine, vote against everything that comes up. And then see if that is what your constituents really want. If it isn't, they can vote you out of office at the next opportunity.

    Time to end the game playing.

  • Green Peas (unverified)

    So I guess three people out of 800 were a-holes to these guys and that equals a finger-wagging tut-tut from T.A. That's 3/10% of the crowd, by the way.

    Maybe if you'd lifted your head up and looked around you would have noticed all the people rallying fervently for what you believe in and support. Wow, dool! We've got some momentum!

    This is why we have such a hard time winning. Not only do we need to we win everything we want, we have to win it "the correct way" or it's not good enough.

    Sorry your party got spoiled.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)

    TA, I couldn't agree more. Thanks for the post. Until the various parties engage in discussion, real discussion, no movememnt will happen.

    On another vein, I'll admit to drawing a huge line here, but in light of the Corbett Schools issue and NE Portland, would those who are so fervent about complete and total choice in healthcare willing to call for the same in public education? Just a thought and not meant to sidetrack the conversation.

  • mp97303 (unverified)

    Why is it that certain commenter's here get their panties in a bunch with anonymous posters ONLY when they disagree with the comment?

  • tl (in sw) (unverified)

    Excellent article in the Oregonian (from the Washington Post):

    Health care abroad: the myths

    As someone who has lived and traveled abroad, I am often discouraged by those who are so quick to judge and condemn systems they have never experienced, unquestionably parrot claims by those with ulterior motives, and ignore facts about the incredible costs we pay for a system that delivers significantly less than most other industrialized countries.

  • LT (unverified)

    Sal is right. At the very least, the sort of thing the Oregonian and Washington Post use for their comments: userename and password.

    And 97303, that should apply to all. The comments on those sites are sometimes brainless, but generally not as nasty as here. And don't think for a minute I believe all brainless, nasty comments are on the same end of the political spectrum.

  • Theresa Kohlhoff (unverified)

    I was at the rally and it was just great. I saw the two guys in front. I understood that some woman got in front of our friend, the protester, and he flipped his lid, screaming and carrying on. The guy in front motioned for him to go in front. He did and that was that. BFD. We were there to rally for insurance reform and it was our time to speak and to be heard. We need to keep our focus on getting this passed and not on the silliness you took up space to write about. This may get a little messy and we may just not be as PC as we would like. Be we are right and we have things to do. So pay attention.

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    in case anyone simply skimmed the post, the nonsense i'm describing happened after the event. the rally was great, and everyone seemed to be having a good time. what pissed me off was after, when i was trying to have a conversation with the 2 guys (i had a freaking microphone up, too, but that made no difference to the yahoos interupting us) and then when they were just trying to leave. no one should have to be subjected to that kind of disrespect when they had shown plenty of respect to others.

    it's called manners. a good tool to use when seeking to influence other people.

  • LT (unverified)

    "it's called manners. a good tool to use when seeking to influence other people."

    Thanks, TA. As a friend from a campaign years ago said, "manners cost nothing but they can have huge rewards".

    JFK Inaugural: Civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof".

    Barry Goldwater used to say, "you can catch more flies with honey than by hitting them over the head".

    And don't forget what can happen with individuals, "I respect this one guy who engaged us in a very intelligent debate, but those idiots who were nasty as we were leaving, see if either of us ever supports anything they support!".

  • Bill R. (unverified)

    Well stated, T.A. And not only is it manners, and a rule of respect, but it's also the boundaries and requirements of democratic process. Without it the argument simply degenerates into who has the biggest club, or the biggest gun, and that's real fascism, organized barbarism, contrary to what Glenn Beck or his ilk might say.

    The teabaggers (or the lefty equivalent) can name call and shout all the "isms" in the world, but they don't win people over with disrespect or intimidation. Nobody ever does.

  • Patrick Story (unverified)

    I have not seen any media coverage of the rally. Where can I find some?

  • joel dan walls (unverified)

    This is where Joe White is supposed to post something protesting that HE has always been quiet and respectful and that it's only those extremists birthers who aren't: you know, that half of GOP voters who think Obama was born in Kenya.

  • Henri Lutteur (unverified)

    MLK took the non-violent route in the sixties, but he was assassinated anyway. He was also backed up by the likes of Malcolm X, the Black Panthers, etc. It takes a DIVERSITY of tactics and strategies to reach a goal. You who keep saying that only your supposedly Ghandian way will work are ignoring history.

    Have some respect for others.

    By any means necessary.

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    Patrick, i saw KGW there (i think it was them, tho KOIN usually is the one covering these). Matt Davis of the Merc was there most of the time.

    oh, and i was there. you can listen to the whole thing (speaker by speaker; i broke it up to make it easier) and find pictures and commentary at

  • Joe White (unverified)

    Not Convinced wrote:

    "TA - whiny people like you on our side "

    I don't see this post by TA as 'whiny'.

    He gave an honest effort at listening to someone who disagreed with him.

    Give him some credit for that.

  • Green Peas (unverified)

    Now that T.A. has clarified that this douchey behavior happened AFTER the event it begs the question, why is this even a story? Two a-holes are jerks on sidewalk. And a dog bit a man.

    Actually in answer to your question about "winning the debate?" Winning health care reform will not come about from our earnestly listening to opponents who have their minds made up so much so that they made a sign to counter-protest. And then point-by-point enumerating to them all the wise proposals and smart policies we are pushing. They don't care.

    Winning comes from organizing our people and going out to listen to the concerns of the undecided, the frightened, or the people who aren't paying attention. It would've done the cause more good to go to senior center or talk to people in the waiting room of a hospital.

    You wasted your time.

  • Pedro (unverified)

    T. A. is absolutely right. It's not only what you say, it's how you say it that counts. Dick Armey's crew were told to be a** holes and they did exactly as told. We have the moral high ground on this issue. Let's not shoot ourselves in the foot descending to their level.

  • Roy McAvoy (unverified)

    Keep on calling people “tea baggers” when they oppose your idea of health care reform. Keep on calling people “homophobes” when they oppose gay marriage as defined by progressives. Keep on calling people “right wing Christian wing nuts” (even though they really are not) because they happen to believe a baby’s right to live supersedes a mother’s right to choose. Keep on calling people “killers” or “violent” because they choose to hunt or own firearms. Keep on calling people “selfish” and “mean spirited” just because they think government could do more with what they have, instead of raising taxes again and again.

    Keep on burning all the bridges and you will find yourselves out on an island with a few others, stranded and alone. And by the way, that island will be smaller than the one now occupied by republicans.

  • Not Convinced (unverified)

    It's pretty ironic that people applaud TA "I gotta bring a super-soaker next time to douse those kinds of morons" Barnhart for his supposed "civility", but have a problem with someone challenging TA as to his depth of knowledge behind a pandering snark like "If the Blue Dogs and teabaggers and Grassley obstructionists have you ready to burst with rage" that he uses to justify a rather condescending screed on how others should behave to suit him.

    Funny thing is that while I disagree with all of those and the other factions I cited, I manage to have very in-depth conversations with them about their concerns. As I noted, it's in part because right off the bat I can acknowledge too many on our side are actually quite ignorant in their advocacy, actually are quite disrespectful of the concerns those opponents have (true civility is not about finding common ground but acknowledging difference --- look it up), and largely see it as their own little self-centered opportunity to push their own agenda.

    It's a hoot that a lot of people here would undoubtedly have nothing but contempt for smoothing talking "civil" politicians who are nothing but smoothing talking "civil" politicians. Want me to rattle off the list of all those Democrats who are enough to block this reform without the help of any Republicans, who fall into that category? But those same people really get their bowels in a uproar if someone doesn't blow smoke about how great they are and instead calls them out for cliches, stereotypes, and mainly just being control freaks who want to dictate how others should express themselves. But only when those others question on the merits the integrity of their arguments, values, and positions.

    Like I said, how many of you can actually discuss the differences between the objections of all those groups? Or is it the truth that as far as you care to delve into the matter "the Blue Dogs and teabaggers and Grassley obstructionists have you ready to burst with rage" just because they oppose you? Or don't express themselves the way you condescendingly think they should? That in fact is true incivility

  • Not Convinced (unverified)

    Interesting point in this:

    What's Karen Ignagni's Copay?

    But despite Ignagni's role as what some lefties might consider the Darth Vader of health care reform, she has not launched World War III on President Obama's health care reform plan. Instead, she's taken a more conciliatory approach, getting the industry to take a seat at the table and adopting the strategy of trying to shape the legislation to her liking rather than seeking to block it outright. She's promised that insurers will stop denying coverage to people with preexisting conditions and will end a bunch of other heinous but common practices. (Of course, any reform plan that includes a mandate for people to buy insurance is good for insurance companies, as it brings in more paying customers.) A former Democratic Hill staffer and union official, Ignagni sounds eminently reasonable on TV and in interviews when she talks about how important it is to make sure all Americans have access to health insurance.

    Beware when you hear Wyden supporters you think are on your side by trying to paint the "others" as the problem --- particularly when they don't present themselves in a way that you think gives you proper deference so you can whine about "civility" --- and instead blow smoke about how they agree with your own irrelevant agenda. Petty, incivil agendas which mainly are about a selfish desire to control others (by shared views: that Americans need to have better personal health care practices,) rather than this being about compassion and intelligent market reforms that get insurance companies out of the picture to the maximum extent possible.

    Beware "allies" like a lot of people here who are "allies" for the wrong reasons. Your first tip-off ought to be when they start wanting to control how others express themselves in the debate. A public option which intelligent, civil, advocates support confines itself purely to re-ordering the health insurance payment system, not health care issues in which most of you people who scream about incivility have little or no real expertise.

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    they call themselves teabaggers. with pride. it's their frikkin logo. they brought teabags to their rallies. i have other names for them.

    Not, pay attention: i wanted to super-soak the people for health care reform who were behaving like bratty 4-year-olds. and it was hyperbolic anyway. sheesh. no wonder so many people don't use their real names: they'd be embarrassed to have their friends & family know they write and think such things.

  • Joe White (unverified)

    TA wrote:

    "they call themselves teabaggers. with pride."

    No, actually the media started using this crude homosexual term as a smear during the Tea Party movements early days. (It's rather ironic that the 'tolerant' left would use a homosexual term to be derisive, but they did.)

    The Tea Party participants do not refer to themselves as 'teabaggers'. (If you can find a reference to the contrary, please post it.)

  • Jeff (unverified)

    As one of the folks on "the other side" of the health care debate, I'm also embarrassed when my team acts irresponsibly. Like you, I call on them to show the respect they'd like to receive, and sometimes they hear me. I hope your team hears you.

    However, I was disappointed to see you use a slur in the midst of an article talking about treating an opposing point of view with respect. The correct term is "tea-partiers". Calling them "tea-baggers" is as bad as any racial slur as it has a offensive sexual connotation.

    I hope you can accept this in the spirit it's offered, and encourage others to treat opposition with respect rather than name-calling. You've made a good start in the article; all I ask is that you see it through.

  • LT (unverified)

    "Calling them "tea-baggers" is as bad as any racial slur as it has a offensive sexual connotation."

    The Taxed Enough Already (TEA) Coalition has bumperstickers and has held rallies, incl. on the capitol steps. They named themselves. Sorry, I don't see a slur in naming people after the name on their bumper stickers.

    Interestingly, only some House Republicans were at the rally, not all of them.

    What term would you prefer--anti-taxers?

  • Joe White (unverified)

    TA wrote:

    "it's their frikkin logo"

    It's like calling a Democrat a j*s because their symbol is a donkey.

  • Robert Harris (unverified)

    T.A. reveals how this is going to be won.

    Patience is going to overcome ignorance and overheated rhetoric. As the vast middle is getting over the initial shock of the anti-reform protesters displays, they see that the anti reform protesters have no substance. Just a political viewpoint that gov't is bad.

    Ultimately the MOR, semi informed voter wants a debate. Not a protest. They want solutions, not slogans. Time will educate these voters, and they'll soon ignore the anti-reformer protests as not only uninformative, but also revealing a lack of viable solutions to real problems.

    Time, patience and education. Those are the keys. As soon as the protesters burn out, and the silent majority makes it clear that there will be major changes, the Republicans will start to drift back to the table, at the urging of their industry backers, in order to influence the details and preserve their viability in the next general election.

    So the Dem's should politely acknowledge to their Rep. colleagues that they understand that they can't engage in legislation discussions because of their party activists, and the Dem's can just start drafting legislation themselves. That way, the plan is framed from a progressive starting point, and any changes aren't to the actual tenets of the plan, but can only come around the edges.

    So Basically, I disagree that we need something now. And that something fast is better than nothing at all. I think we need time and patience and the willingness to develop a progressive plan without any Republican input.

  • (Show?)

    Robert, my main argument to you is that if a good, strong health care reform package is not passed this year, the right wing will believe they can defeat anything that Obama is trying to do. this is becoming less about any particular policy and more about if the Dems have whatever it takes to defend the victory of 2008. the Blue Dogs are clueless in that regard and don't understand that they will lose their seats not by being too "liberal" but by being candy-assed wusses.

  • LT (unverified)

    I agree with TA. I have called both our Senators' offices and said the time to stop talking and start voting is mid-Sept.

    To the extent Blue Dogs (or anyone else) seems to be obstructing the process and not voting for any kind of reform if it isn't perfect in their eyes, there is time to find a challenger for them.

    Also liked what Robert Harris had to say. I've been listening to audiobook of J. Alter's history of the first 100 Days of FDR. What FDR understood and others have since then is that it is possible to word a bill favorably but woo those who wanted different wording, pass a bill, and do something.

    Interesting break in the GOP between DeMint's "we must defeat Obama" and Sen. Murkowski's "we have a problem that needs to be solved, but the details must be discussed".

    That is not about a point on the political spectrum, but rather that Murkowski is an adult being paid to solve problems for her state, and DeMint just acts like a partisan hack.

    A bill, for instance, that treats states individually (Medicare re-imbursement rates need to be studied, Alaskans often need to go farther to a hospital than even folks in E. Oregon, etc.) would be a step in the right direction, even if it isn't all passed this year.

    I saw Cong. Chris Van Hollen's town hall meeting on CSPAN. He makes as much sense as anyone I have heard.

  • Bob (unverified)

    The account Mr Barnhart has written is accurate and I actually gave my name, but he was unable to hear it because of the first screaming crazy guy… It was obvious to all three of us that during the small amount of time we had together we were of far different opinions about socialized healthcare.

    I believe the “talking points” that Mr Barnhart is referring to would be what I call “fundamentals”. Liberals and conservatives are deeply divided on fundamental issues concerning the involvement of government in our society. This division is now being fueled by what most well educated conservatives consider to be a Marxist congress and government, where I believe most liberals embrace this minus the name of course.

    It was very obvious that we were in no way going to convince the other, that they were wrong. In the end I shook Mr Barnhart’s hand and told him not to forget that the reason we were able to stand in a public place and express are adamant opposition is because of our Constitution. The greatest legal document ever written.

    We were then interrupted by the third screaming crazy guy…

    After meeting and reading the article Mr Barnhart wrote I am again reminded about how the screaming in instigated. He states at the end that conservatives are “wingnuts” and alludes to the fact that we use tactics that anger liberals.

    They do not seem to understand that conservatives want healthcare reform and that the government IS the problem and NOT the answer. obama is proving himself very masterful at several things, such as dividing the country deeper than it has ever been before, which I feel is by design and spending enough money to finally break America. I also feel this is by design, and it’s not a new one.

    I do like the pic though, I look like I’m really enjoying myself…

    Buddy, Bob in the front row.

  • (Show?)

    Bob, buddy! thanks for dropping by. i gotta disagree with your last long paragraph, of course; fundamentals to me include support of a government that aids the needy, looks outward optimistically to the world and not inwardly in fear, that controls the proven (over and over and over) greed of the corporate world, that isn't afraid to act on behalf of the people. i believe FDR saved the nation and we need to follow in his wheel-tracks.

    but you know i agree with you on how great it is we can disagree so fundamentally without coming to blows. thanks again for you respectfulness in the face of so much dickheadery. and excuse me if i say, i hope you remain frustated for a few more years until you realize it's Obama, and not Beck, who got things right. or, should i say, correct!

  • Bob (unverified)

    Hi Mr Barnhart, or I guess its T.A. I had never been on your board before but a friend sent me a link so I decided to come back at ya!

    Yes I can of course imagine that you would disagree with me and once again I vehemently disagree with you (respectively of course). It is not our government’s job to be charitable with our money. We are the most charitable country in the world and in general we embrace being charitable because it makes us feel good to help people.

    I give to several charities and have helped many friends and acquaintances thru the years and even open my home to them. But I despise the government taking my money and forcing me to be charitable to someone, or some group that I do not choose to support.

    We as a country give the most money and aid to the rest of the world, we are second to none, so yes no surprise, I disagrees with you that we are not optimistic and are “inwardly in fear”. That is simply not true.

    FRD was a Marxist / Socialist and caused this country great harm. Again a fundamental disagreement. obama is the same only more dangerous, and I’m not saying this to ruffle feathers, it’s my opinion as someone who has lets say, looked into history with an open mind.

    It was my pleasure to act as I did on Saturday and it only proved that both sides are not willing to move or discuss anything. They are only ready and willing to argue about it, dead set in their beliefs.

    I was frustrated during the bush, clinton and bush years, but now I am seeing many people who have mustered the guts to question their own party, and look into history. Not only our history but world history, and they are seeing something that appalls them.

    As for Beck, I watched him go from a clown to someone that had the guts to question what was going on. I do not agree with everything he stands for but in the end he will join with real patriots to return us to a Constitutional government.

    Anyway, it was great meeting you and I hope that terms like “wingnuts” and other rhetoric can be calmed down on both sides. My greatest fear is that our current government will succeed in inciting violence thus creating the “crisis” they need to impose Martial law, and then the real battle and revolution will start…


  • Bob's sister (unverified)

    T.A., this is (Buddy) Bob's sister. I was also at the event on Saturday. My husband and I were carrying a sign in opposition to Health Care reform. We were at the back of the crowd and I must say, we were the main attraction in our area. We were unable to listen to the speakers because the people around us were constantly confronting us. A couple of people were civil, however, most were not and we were taking crap from all sides. I was at one point physically threatened and I've attached video of the incident. The guy was over 6 feet tall and about 300 pounds and he started backing me down. I had to take several steps backwards so that he didn't make body contact with me. Some of the very people who had been confrontational did step in to stop him. The video begins with the last two steps towards me. Here is another clip of a guy who was telling my husband he needed to go back to Russia. I must say, I was really unimpressed with the civility of the people attending your event. I was hoping that Obama supporters still believed in tolerance and freedom of peaceful opposition. Is this the Hope and Change that we can expect in the future?

    Bob's Sister

  • Not Convinced (unverified)

    Bob and Bob's Sister --- If you have read the comments above, you already know I have an extremely libertarian value in that I don't have much time for the condescending attitude TA and some supposedly on my side display as to how others should express themselves. Or the fact that I have no hesitancy at calling out counterproductive intellectual dishonesty in some on our side who are attempting to hijack reform of our health insurance system to push irrelevant health care agendas.

    You certainly are entitled to your opinions about Obama. You have a right to be upset you and those who share your views overwhelmingly lost the election. But overwrought personal displeasure and a refusal to accept reality is all that is evidenced by utter nonsense like Obama is dividing the country deeper than it has ever been before.

    I also have no problem if people on your side want to scream in my face: It's actually healthy for the blood pressure to not bottle up emotions and it is in fact socially beneficial for those who feel their values are being challenged to express themselves in such a way the other side gets the message just how threatening that challenge is perceived to be. At the same time, you have an obligation to give the other side the respect that they have the right to scream right back at you for exactly the same reasons. If we could get past the screaming quickly that would be great. Otherwise maybe we need to scream at each other for a while just to get it out of our systems.

    That side, I resent your arrogant, false claim that you somehow are patriots defending the Constitution while those who oppose you are not. I see nothing in your arguments that demonstrate you have the any serious knowledge of our Constitution and I damn sure will not stand for you challenging the patriotism of those of us who you don't agree with in your ignorance. Do I make that point absolutely clear? Or do I need to scream in your face a little louder to make my point that I'm not going to be intimidated for a moment by likes of people like you screaming in my face about this? We can do this forever if you so chose.

    You are opposed to what you BELIEVE to be health care reform. I suspect I even agree with you on those issues which I've already suggested some advocates have illegitimately tried to make part of reform debate. But your rhetoric about why you are opposed to "health care reform" provides no information specifically what you even think "health care reform" is, much less if you have a correct understanding. Or if you grasp the clear distinction between reform of our corrupt, dysfunctional, private health insurance system before it destroys our economy, and what I already mentioned are irrelevant and counterproductive efforts to hijack the reform effort for other health care agendas.

    If we were to come to an understanding of the true dimensions of the debate, we could then talk about why it is true patriotism in defense of the Constitution if "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, ..., to promote the general welfare" act through our elected to representatives to create a public health insurance option people can freely chose as an alternative to the over-priced insurance products with poor benefits offered by the corrupt, dysfunctional, private health insurance industry.

    That is the one debate the politicians and self-serving instigators like Beck absolutely don't want the people to have. Are you just a puppet whose strings they pull as some reform advocates like TA shows himself to be, at least in this case? Or do you believe in true liberty, which is "We the People" exercising self-government rather than retreating to self-centered isolation? Everyone is entitled to their ignorance and to refuse to be a contributing member of our representative democracy, but no one is entitled to be respected for it.

  • Not Convinced (unverified)

    To the extent Blue Dogs (or anyone else) seems to be obstructing the process and not voting for any kind of reform if it isn't perfect in their eyes, there is time to find a challenger for them.

    Glad to see LT apparently is calling here for Democrats to put up a challenger to Wyden unless it turns out he backs off from his previously held obstructionist position on mandates. In his own bill, and in his support for other legislation he has made a mandate a requirement, even as those who support a public option have said he must drop his insistence on a mandate that we buy insurance from private health insurance companies that if he will not also actively insist the bill include a public option as an alternative.

    Fortunately, it increasingly appears we will have the chance to see organized labor weigh in Oregon unless Wyden does insist on a mandate but doesn't insist on a public option. Yesterday once again Trumka drew the line and said Democratic lawmakers will not be able to count on the AFL-CIO's support if they drop the public insurance option from the health care reform legislation

    I'll be letting them know they should add you to their supporters list LT if Wyden shows himself in the next couple of weeks to be an true obstructionist by insisting on a mandate but not insisting on a genuine public option.

  • Ron Morgan (unverified)

    "I was hoping that Obama supporters still believed in tolerance and freedom of peaceful opposition. Is this the Hope and Change that we can expect in the future?"

    You reap what you sow. As long as your movement embraces the disruption of public meetings and shouting down opposition as a core tactic, as happened at the Congressional town halls last month, then you're going to get met with corresponding hostility and your intent to peacefully demonstrate in opposition will be viewed suspiciously. I mean, this is kind of a no-brainer, but I suppose that we have become so immersed in the culture of victimization that we think we can get away with acting surprised when our provocative actions actually provoke people... but the fact that you were ready to document the provocation with a video camera leads me to believe that you have absorbed the lessons of victimhood all too well.

    As I was leaving the rally I saw you standing on a corner, and approached to tell you that although I disagreed with you 100% I supported your right to be there 100%.

    We spoke briefly about the Larouchites and Jones supporters who have become your fellow travelers. Your response was that "they aren't us". But they're successfully coopting your movement, using tactics Larouche learned long ago as a Trotskyite. As a veteran of leftist politics, I've seen this again and again, and I have to say that it's kind of a relief to observe it happening to somebody else's movement. Believe me, to the Larouchites you guys are nothing more than useful idiots...

  • Jeff (unverified)

    To LT -

    I know of no bumper sticker that refers to the Tea Party movement in general or the Tax Enough Already as "tea-bagger". As I said in my comment, the proper term is "tea-partier", although I suspect most of us would accept the label "anti-tax".

    The bottom line is we as a nation managed to do pretty well before government started taking an active and intrusive role in our lives. Now that we've seen program after program and tax after new tax, it's difficult to impossible to find things government does better than people, charities and communities can do without taxation. We've reached the same point the founders did where taxes have become a burden on all, particularly on the poor and most disadvantaged.

    Enough is enough, and it's a fine American tradition to say so. T.A. points out a good way to do so at an event for the opposing point of view; all I ask is that he - and you - show the same sort of respect you ask for.

  • Sarah White (unverified)

    I am disappointed. Maybe people are so busy chanting their party lines they forget their own values.

    The "tea parties" were and are fueled by Dems, Indy, Libertarian, and Reps. If any of you were upset with Bush and his politics of bailing out corporations, giving big business special treatment, and leaving the little guys to fight for themselves: Where are you?

    Also, I thought all ideas and opinions were welcome in the health care reform discussion. I guess not. Look at Mackey. The CEO of Whole Foods (who has declined to receive a paycheck since 2007) has been isolated and boycotted because he had an idea that didn't go along with the agenda.

  • tl (in sw) (unverified)

    For all the folks who distrust the government, who believe costs would go up under a public plan, etc.:

    What is your explanation that the vast majority Canadians rate their health coverage favorably to very favorably and in 1994 voted Tommy Douglas who championed universal coverage in Saskatchewan (which spread to the rest of the country) the title of “The Greatest Canadian.”

    Do you believe: - Canada's government is more trustworthy than that of the US? - Canadian citizens are ignorant and/or confused into thinking they receive more than they actually do (i.e. Canadians don't realize how bad they have it, how much the government meddles in their daily lives, how many freedoms they have given up, etc.)? - There is a fundamental difference between citizens of Canada and the US with regards to quality of health service?


  • tl (in sw) (unverified)

    Also, I thought all ideas and opinions were welcome in the health care reform discussion. I guess not. Look at Mackey. The CEO of Whole Foods (who has declined to receive a paycheck since 2007) has been isolated and boycotted because he had an idea that didn't go along with the agenda.

    Mackey has every right to state his beliefs. And consumers have every right to agree or disagree with him. I know of no action to censor him. Disagreeing, boycotting, isolating, whatever, are forms of expression, not a forms of censorship, imho.

    Declining a paycheck may be admirable, but it does not add weight or persuasiveness to the merits of one's opinion. All it says to me is that one is wealthy enough to make that choice.

  • Joe White (unverified)

    tl (in sw) wrote:

    "Do you believe:

    • Canadian citizens are ignorant and/or confused into thinking they receive more than they actually do (i.e. Canadians don't realize how bad they have it, how much the government meddles in their daily lives, how many freedoms they have given up, etc.)?"

    The incoming President of the Canadian Medical Assn, Dr Anne Doig said "We all agree that the system is imploding, we all agree that things are more precarious than perhaps Canadians realize"

  • Bob (unverified)

    Hi, Not Convinced:

    Utter nonsense? You have now discredited yourself as an open minded observer. obama is the most divisive prez in the last 50 years. Open your eyes…

    There are people on all sides that are so angry, that screaming is all they have left. I have fallen to this myself, after withstanding extended verbal assaults I have twice now stooped to that level. But I scream so loudly and so violently that in both cases all screaming stopped. Did I win? No… But the screaming stopped.

    Resent all you want, but people that are for socialized healthcare ARE pushing an unconstitutional agenda. James Madison, the “Father of the Constitution,” explained very clearly that the “general welfare” clause granted no power to congress and was limited. If the “General Welfare” clause gives congress the power to promote the general welfare, then why specifically list the other powers in Article I, such as the power to establish post offices and to coin money? Wouldn’t it be redundant to list them?

    I know you will have a lot more to say and more insults, I for one have a lot of work to do with my fellow patriots to save this country from the Marxist / Socialists that are trying to ruin it so I will not be rebutting.

    Maybe we can meet up sometime in the future so you can try to scream me down. Get a good nights rest, you will need it.



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