Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Almost Diamonds posts a gem - what the shouting at townhalls is all about.

One of the handicaps of not being a professional writer is that I often stumble in trying to make a point. Stephanie Z of Almost Diamonds, however, doesn't. She posted this about the health care "debate" currently going on in our country,, and the behavior of so called conservatives:

It's easy to tell yourself you're not like them, that you merely disagree
with the changes that are happening. After all, you're not insane, just
conservative.

Will that matter when the next person dies over this? Representative David
Scott has had a swastika painted on his office sign. Another representative was hung in effigy. Representative Brad Miller received a death threat. Senator Arlen Specter invited people to tell him what they thought about health care reform--held back the police who were concerned about violence and disruption--and still people screamed
in his face
and called him a tyrant. A man showed up to protest the president's town hall meeting today wearing a gun and carrying a sign that said, "It is time to water the tree of liberty" (referencing Jefferson's "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.").

Those are just some of the politicians who are on the receiving end of violent anger. Fights are breaking out outside these meetings on health care. My husband was accused earlier this week, by someone who should know better, of planning to turn an old friend in for an "incorrect" political position. I can't buy ammunition right now to go target shooting because it's all sold out and has been for months. This whole thing is teetering on the edge. Someone else is going to die soon. Maybe lots of someone elses.

It will be your fault.


She is right - there is a definite fault line being drawn by conservatives in this battle. Tactics deployed against President Bush - which were necessary at the time to fight an emerging tyranny - are now somehow to be accepted because we're dealing with a domestic issue. the Republican Party, having so long sold its soul to both the ultra conservative Christians, and the corporatist oligarchs, now finds itself reaping what it sowed. If this is the best the party can do on a critical national economic issue (and health care IS an economic issue), then they have lost their place to speak to America morally.

Unlike Stephanie, and some of her commenters, I don't think we liberals should stop. We made as much, if not more, noise then this in the last Administration. We can do it again. MoveOn.org can drown out these voices. If we don't. they will pull the Nation I love dearly even further back to the days of the robber barons and white supremacist tyrants. We need to stop them.

14 comments:

Mike at The Big Stick said...

I'm impressed that at least you admit that liberals behaved the same way under Bush. Most of them can't do that and are pretending this is all new stuff.

To me it seems a silly issue to get worked up over, although the administration isn't helping itself when it does things like asking people to forward them anti-healthcare reform emails. My brother sent one out awhile back and is now genuinely fearful that he's on some kind of White House watch list. Maybe this is alarmism, but there is a certain segment of our population that freaks out about that kind of stuff. The way that healthcare reform opponents are being framed as traitorous only fuels the fire, just like it did under Bush with the Iraq opposition.

Philip H. said...

Mike,
As always you and I are in agreement that extremism serves no one. Sadly, we seem to be in the minority.

Thomas Joseph said...

Ah yes, the "blame game" argument. Stephanie seems good at making these arguments. If you're a Christian, you're to blame for the bad treatment against atheists by other Christians. If you're a conservative, you're to blame for the bad treatment against liberals by other conservatives. No one however ever seems to follow up on her slippery slopes.

Fact of the matter is, everyone has dirt on their hands, as you pointed out. However, where your argument falls apart is that you justify the bad behavior of your party. Sorry, but for me that doesn't play in Peoria.

Both parties have drawn lines in the sand, dug their heels in, and have tried at times to marginalize the other side. The country is split politically, ideologically, socially. We are not the United States of America, we are the Partisan State of America. If you ask me, the rhetoric coming from Congress has led up to this. If they had sat down with the minority party and figured out some concessions, we'd be better off in this process right now. Obama promised to do that, but it has not translated, if you take recent comments by Pelosi, Waxman, and Reid into account, into anything by those in power in Congress.

Yeah, yeah ... the Republicans are to blame for this because they acted like this when they were the majority. Sure, I can buy that. But do two wrongs make a right? Someone, ANYONE, has to take the first step into correcting this partisan problem, or we'll continue to be the fractured country we currently are.

Philip H. said...

Thomas,
Respectfully, I think there is adifference here that neither Stephanie nor I teased out very well.

Liberals acted out against what we knew at the time (and know even more) to be an Administration that flaunted the rule of law, desecrated the Constitution, and engaged in the heinous act of torture of foreigners. Conservatives are now actin gout against a plan to reform the way the nation delivers and pays for health care. Last time I checked, the Bush Administration's behavior is both anathema to the American democracy, and an existential threat to our nation. The attempts to reform healthcare are neither. In addition, Democratic leaders and the supposedly liberal press condemned those actions against Mr. Bush loudly and soundly. Republican leaders are just calling it a venting of frustrations.

And none of that justifies comparing Mr. Obama to Hitler, or painting swastikas on the office signs of black Congressmen in Georgia.

rystefn said...

Don't forget that for quite a long time now, it's always been the left compromising. The right hasn't, and doesn't look like it's going to. Every time the left reaches a hand across the line, the right retreats further right, howling about socialism, or treason, or Christian morals, or whatever.

We don't have an actual left in this country anymore, if you haven't noticed. The most liberal politicians we have are really centrist at best. They'd count as full-on conservatives in most of the rest of the world.

More compromise means more normalization of the nutcases and moving this country further into the far right and we're too damned far that way already.

Philip H. said...

rystefn,
Yeah, I notice the lack of a real left all the bloody time. every once in a while on of my well-meaning friends suggests I abandon my work as a bureaucrat and run for office. I remind them that I'm unabashedly liberal, and thus unelectable for much other then dog catcher.

Thomas Joseph said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Philip H. said...

Thomas,
You asked about condemnations of the Bush is a Nazi statements by Move On.org in 2004. Glenn GReenwald has a summary, in which Terry MacCaulife, then Chair of the Democratic Party, is answers Wold Blitzer of CNN that he, MacCaulife, had already publically condemned the MOveOn.org ad. I'm still waiting for Michael Steele, and Chair of the Republican Party, to do the same for Rush Limbaugh.

Thomas Joseph said...

Yes, and the situations are not really comparable. A mainstream liberal organization compared George Bush. In the present day situation, it is a handful of wackaloons, not a mainstream conservative organization.

Nevertheless, watching Meet the Press yesterday morning, I saw Dick Armey categorically reject those comparisons and the "implied threats" in some of the other protesters signs, and said there was no place for any of it in the discussion. Armey is of course, a Republican.

Philip H. said...

Thomas, Actually, the MoveOn.org ad which you reference was posted to their website anonymously (supposedly) and as aprt of an ad contest they were running.

As to Mr. Armey, I missed the Sunday talk shows yesterday, so thanks for that piece of information. I had not, obviously, seen it. Sadly, he's the first nationally known Republican to say something.

Thomas Joseph said...

One last thing ... here is the danger of automatically labeling all anti-Obama propaganda as being Conservative and/or Republican in nature. You know that Joker/Obama picture that caused such a cry in the media a month or so ago?

It was done by a Kucinich supporter. Kucinich is, of course, a Democrat. Of course, people said it was a lowdown despicable Republican smear. They were wrong. Tough, controversial times allow all sorts of wackos to come out of the wood work, regardless of political affiliation, and allows them to spread their anonymous hate. It then becomes a convenient political tool to blame your opponents for it.

Thomas Joseph said...

And if we've forgotten the whole Obama/Joker affair, here is an article where Philip Kennicott of the Washington Post psychoanalyzed the poster A. Bit. Too. Much. I wonder if he'll post a retraction now that we know he was way off base.

Philip H. said...

Rush Limbaugh calling the President Nazi-like isn't automatic knee jerk labelling. And again, just because Democrats have done it - which I view as extremely wrong - doesn't mean Republicans get a free pass.

Still waiting on that Michael Steele press release . . . .

Thomas Joseph said...

I didn't hear what he had to say, but I will say this: Rush Limbaugh is a bag of hot wind. He intentionally likes to whip liberals into a frenzy. I also think it is becoming more and more apparent that he is pandering to a shrinking base. Just because someone is conservative does not mean Rush Limbaugh represents them. If we all spent our days apologizing or repudiating wackaloon comments by someone we are somehow linked to (either by race, gender, sexual preference, faith, political position) all we would do (all of us) is spend our days apologizing or repudiating.

I also never said "Hey, Dems did it. Repubs can do it now." What I said is that it is hypocritical to get on your soapbox and condemn practices of one group when your own group has done similar things. Somewhere, someone needs to stop the trend. That is a far cry different than "You did it, so we should be able to do so too."