Monday, August 17, 2009

Captain Renault is alive and well

I haven't written on the healthcare debate for two reasons: First, because Pfarrer Streccius has most of what I was going to say- keep up the good work, Bill!- and second, because this is an issue that will not be settled by logic and reasoned discussion. But there is one aspect I wanted to comment on: the tone of the debate.

There has been an endless stream of bloggery denouncing the anti-crowd for the tone of their rhetoric. President Morales sent out a letter about it, with some serious charges, like "We are witnessing cynical demagoguery that plays on fear in order to defend privilege". (At first I thought he was referring to Obama claiming your trusted family doctor would saw your feet off for profit if you showed a high fasting blood sugar, but evidently he meant something else) and "There is no place for intimidation in our public discussion." (And no, he didn't mean the White House requesting that you turn in the names of friends and relatives who say something "fishy" about healthcare in casual conversation). The left, who in their youth led riots in the streets over Vietnam, trashed ROTC offices, bombed recruiting centers, and encouraged their children to shout any conservative speakers off the stage at college, assault little old ladies who wear fur, lead bullhorn fueled protests wherever the previous president spoke, form groups like "Code Pink" for the express purpose of disrupting events, are shocked- SHOCKED- to hear raised voices at Town Hall meetings. Hilary Clinton, who in a speech told the Republicans "Don't you dare call protestors un-American!", and Nancy Pelosi, who publicly praised the disruption tactics of anti-war protestors, are now calling anyone who expresses anger and frustration fascist and un-American. (Funny how UU bloggers who have in recent years been so quick and eager to shout "Godwin's Law! Godwin's Law!", like Gomer Pyle shouting "Citizen's Arrest!" have been silent in this...)

Of course, I must admit the protestors are disgusting and frightening- here are some examples: "One protester even brandished a sign that seemed to advocate Obama's assassination. The man held a large photo of Obama that had been doctored to show a gun barrel pressed against his temple. "OBAMA: WANTED, DEAD OR ALIVE," read the placard, which had an X over the word "ALIVE." Another poster showed Obama's face with the words: "F--- YOU, MOTHERF---ER!" "...protesters were shrieking at Democratic donors epithets like "Slut!" "Whore!" and "Fascists!"
Frank Dulcich, president and CEO of Pacific Seafood Group, had a cup of liquid thrown into his face, and then was surrounded by a group of menacing protesters, including several who wore masks. Donald Tykeson, 75, who had multiple sclerosis and was confined to a wheelchair, was blocked by a thug who threatened him.
Protesters slashed the tires of several state patrol cruisers and leapt onto an occupied police car, slamming the hood and blocking the windshield with placards. A female police officer was knocked to the street by advancing protesters, badly injuring her wrist."
Scum like that ought to be in jail, right? Ooops... I made a little typo. Those were all from an
anti-Bush protest ; I changed the name on the placards in the quotes. So, Peter Morales, and Sara Robinson, and all the rest of the bloggers who have written on this issue, I know you're people of religious principle, and not just carrying water for the Democrats; and therefore you must have written denunciations of those protests, too. Oddly enough, though, I can't seem to find them...


ogre said...

Interesting claim, Joel. I went and read the linked story. I was disappointed to find that it's just text--assertion. No photos. No links to any coverage of the event at the time.

Given that there's a court case in which FOX asserted (and won) that it had no obligation to tell the truth--and could in fact flatly lie when presenting "news"--you'll understand that I want substantially more confirmation than a claim from FOX.

Something from the time. Showing the photos. Something that's not just FOX, or someone citing FOX after this... story... was deposited.

It reeks of fishwrap, used.

It claims 2002--the period between 9/11, when Shrub wrapped himself in the flag and the corpses of the victims of those criminal attacks on the USA, and the start of his grand little Mesopotamian adventure. Somehow, the notion that such things were happening seems highly suspect.

No doubt you have some more substantial evidence than a mere FOX claim?

Jim said...

You say, "this is an issue that will not be settled by logic and reasoned discussion." But isn't it at least worth a try? Please?

It's amazing to me how the focus has shifted away from heath insurance reform to the "tone" of the debate. Tone doesn't concern me nearly as much as having affordable health care.

In the last five years, my family's health insurance premiums have doubled, co-pays are up more than 50 percent, and we have fewer choices about which doctors we can see. About 30 percent of my gross income is now spent on health insurance and out of pocket expenses (and we're a reasonably healthy family).

I'm happy to condemn the 2002 Portland anti-Bush protesters if you'll help get meaningful health insurance reform enacted.

But please don't pretend that they're somehow related.

ogre said...

Ok, I've gone and spent a bunch of time scouring... and can't find any report of this from FOX (which would certainly not have been part of the maleficent librul media coverup, even then...) around that time.

It took FOX seven years to uncover this?

Shocking. (No wonder Bush had protesters isolated far, far away, out of sight and earshot, whenever possible.)

Joel Monka said...

ogre- Of that one case, as the whole point of the story was that no one printed it, it's unlikely I'll find much to convince you. But of a thousand other cases? Surely you're not going to tell me that you're unaware of the disruptive tactics of protestors? You've really never seen a Bush or Cheney or Rove protest, or an attempted "citizen's arrest", or seen things thrown at Condi Rice? Never heard of Code Pink? Or so many groups before them? Hells bells, any activist over thirty would be ashamed if he or she didn't have several arrests under their belts from disruptive protests- our last two UUA presidents did. People my age consider anyone without an arrest record, or scars, or some such souvenir a parlor pink.

Jim- yes, it's worth a try- but who's trying? The President is using lying scare tactics, such as the accusations of unnecessary surgery for profit, and the other side is doing the same, saying Grandma won't get the surgery at all... can you tell me who IS having a logical debate?

Bill Baar said...

Thanks Joel...appreciate it.

Funny thing about what's been proposed (besides the side deals with Pharma and I suspect Walmart) is how tame HR3200. More big Gov on top of an employer system. Same talk as in the 70s when I started with Health Care Financing Administration. The agency we all thought then would implement something like single payor.

We have an economy now where people jump from job to job, so we need a portable system...something link vouchers/credits to every American. Break the employer based system.

We don't have Donna Reed families anymore with a Dad working a job for 30 yeas, stay at home mom and two kids. Again, get rid of an employer based system that typicall offers a family option geared for just that kind of family.

It's a libertarian and mobile world...we need a health insurance system that reflects our autonomy and velocity.

UU's of all people should realize that (as I think we had a roll in creating that kind of society.)

Instead Liberals want to create a Gov bureaucracy dependent on Practice panels to strait jacket practice to try and save bucks inherent in the waste big bureaucracies create. A giant illiberal circle..

ogre said...

Joel, the assertion that a vast librul media (snort) conspiracy buried such a protest makes no sense--none at all.

After all, the whole point of protests is to be public, to be seen.

To claim that FOX must have been part of it--but is now revealing it, having been part of it--is deranged.

Photos, please.

Why should we believe the claim of this writer, describing images as he is, without *seeing* them?

Joel Monka said...

Good Goddess, ogre. The point of the post was not one protest, or any "librul media coverup"- I only used that particular story because it was about protests and conveniently at hand. The post was about the hypocrisy of people who have been using disruptive protests to shut down debate for fifty years being shocked that the other side is doing it too. I apologise for muddying the waters by using a Fox story- next time I'll use an unbiased source like MSNBC.

John A Arkansawyer said...

What, exactly, does PETA have to do with the Vietnam War?

You are correct to note that the Vietnam War was sometimes opposed with violence. Violence begets violence. Sometimes the violence is justifiable, more often it's not.

What, exactly, in this debate is so violent that it requires those opposing Obama to take guns to his appearances? Is there any credible way to cast that behavior as defensive or proportionate?

By the way, Godwin's Law, in its popular formulation, is crap. It was originally a simple, empirically-verified observation about the likelihood of Nazis coming into long-running discussions. Sometimes the appropriate analogy is to Nazism and Facsism, and tacitly shutting down that line of argument is the use of the corrupt popular formulation. I reject it.

ogre said...

Perhaps using an example of a real offensive, appalling, disruptive protest would be better, Joel.

This one looks like it comes right out of another one of Palin's projective fantasies.

Code Pink's good at being annoying--but my recollection of their protests is being hauled out of the Capitol for being disruptive.

But you're making a good point, I guess, when you use an example that appears to be on a factual par with the Polish invasion of the Reich, that the issue won't be settled by logic and reasoned discussion.

Bring on the birth certificates and death panels, then, I guess. They belong with the black helicopters, and the lists of Communists known to exist in the State Dept....

Joel Monka said...

John- "What, exactly, does PETA have to do with the Vietnam War?" Not related directly to each other, but both in the category of disruptive protests.

"What, exactly, in this debate is so violent that it requires those opposing Obama to take guns to his appearances?" I don't know the details of the instances reported in the news, but I strongly suspect having the guns had nothing to do with Obama. Half my friends and all my family (save myself) have concealed carry permits, and they carry everywhere they go- it would never occur to them to leave the house naked just because they were going to a protest. In other cases, the protesters were 2nd amendment protesters, in which case the gun is the point of the protest. In this example the man is carrying an assault rifle (so described in the story, though it is not in fact) to raise conciousness on the fact that open-carry is legal without a permit. I would think that if someone had nefarious intent, he would conceal the gun until time to use it.

Joel Monka said...

ogre- "Perhaps using an example of a real offensive, appalling, disruptive protest would be better, Joel...when you use an example that appears to be on a factual par with the Polish invasion of the Reich..."

Wow... ok, how about an account from 7/25/2003 referring to the 2002 protest in question? This is from, NewsChannel8 Portland (an NBC affiliate, by the way) "Bush’s father, former president George Bush, referred to Portland as “Little Beirut” because of the demonstrators he encountered during his visits here.
Indeed, during his son’s last visit in August 2002, Portland lived up to its nickname. Bush’s stop touched off a protest involving more than a thousand demonstrators outside the downtown Hilton, where Republicans held a fundraiser for U.S. Senator Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) ... The protest was marred by clashes between anarchists and police in riot gear. Violent demonstrators threw water bottles at police, sprayed graffiti on downtown buildings, bullied Republican donors, and damaged police cars."
same source, August 21, 2003 "Authorities are also concerned. Police found plastic bottle caps spiked with nails lying near campus, Foxworth said. They are similar to devices that were scattered on streets during past protests of Bush and are designed to puncture car tires.
“Our history and experience has taught us because of these types of devices and things we have encountered in the past, we must be prepared for those who are intent on blocking intersections, closing down freeways, and committing property damage,” Foxworth said."
Gee the only thing missing is the profanity- but I guess it's impossible that anarchist rioters would be rude enough to be profane, so yeah, I guess the Fox story is just "another one of Palin's projective fantasies."

ogre said...

Thanks, Joel.

That there were protests against Bush (or any president in recent times) is not news, nor particularly newsworthy. It's the details that matter in the case you're making, I think. So...

First report doesn't indicate that the people are liberals or progressives or Democrats.

"The protest was marred by clashes between anarchists and police in riot gear."

Were there images of people indicating Bush should be shot? None of that's indicated. The inflammatory claims made in the FOX account (7 years later) don't seem to be supported. But the actions of the violent protesters were met with rubber bullets and pepper fog--which suggests that mere signage and nasty comments weren't the issue. One might feel that violence was met with some level (appropriate? dunno.) of violence in return.

Second report describes the classic "free speech zone" at a distance -- in this case, it would appear at least a block away from the campus (and no doubt farther from the actual building) where Bush was speaking.

The second report ("Police found plastic bottle caps spiked with nails lying near campus") makes it clear -- twice! -- that the problem group with which police are clashing are *anarchists*.

The anarchists are not part of the Democratic party. There's no anarchist caucus. They're not the liberals of the Democratic party.

No more than, say... W.A.R. represents the GOP.

Looks like Bill was right. No reasoned discussion...

Chalicechick said...

The difference to me is the disruptions and the regularity of the disruptions. IMHO, it's one thing to harass someone outside the meeting but leave the meeting itself alone. It's another to interrupt a guy who is asking a question at a town hall meeting to call him Hitler and make fun of his medical problems and try to silence his question.

And yes, you could probably come up with evidence that liberals treated conservatives a few times the way that conservatives are treating liberals on pretty regular basis.

But even I'm with the liberals on this one. At best, Bush's distate for protestors and dissent meant that the liberal equivalent of these people couldn't show up to any of Bush's events. But the liberals are still winning the PR war IMHO as they get to let extremists make conservatives look like buffoons, then say that their commitment to free speech means that they have to tolerate it.


Joel Monka said...

I, too, am with the liberals in distaste for and denunciation of disruptive protests. I, too, think it makes conservatives look like buffoons. But I didn't participate in such things, praise and encourage them when it was my issues, then act outraged when someone else does exactly the same thing, like Nancy Pelosi did And maybe my research skills are failing me, but I can't find any posts by the bloggers who are so outraged by teabaggers disrupting healthcare townhall meetings that denounce Code Pink disrupting townhall meetings and other events on a regular basis.

Shawna said...

Actually, I did have a post about how much I hate PETA's ads and protests. I don't like extremists on either side because it makes reasonable folks look crazy. No one wants to try veganism because they think it requires you carry around fake blood to throw on the next person you see wearing a fur coat. (the anti-peta post was on my green sanctuary blog which is now gone, but I did say it and catch flack for it.) So if you're looking for evidence of people on the left denouncing leftist extremists, I gave you one. It violates our principles to accept extremists violating human dignity whether we agree with the message or not. I do agree with your general point that most, on both sides, do not honor this.

PG said...

When did Code Pink disrupt town-hall meetings? I don't recall there being townhalls to discuss the PATRIOT Act, or the AUMF for invading Iraq, or the revision of FISA to excuse Bush's warrant-less wiretapping or ... well, anything that was controversial and opposed more on the left than on the right. When was my opportunity to get up in front of Sen. John Warner, while he explained why he was going to vote to empower Bush to pre-emptively invade another country while our troops were already in Afghanistan, and say "You should be afraid of Bush! We are all afraid of Bush!"?

I was around Columbia when both John Ashcroft and the Minutemen came to campus, so I'm well aware that liberals -- especially "progressives" aged 18-25 -- can be obnoxious in their protests. But they only seem to get the opportunity to interrupt stuff that doesn't matter that much (Ashcroft not even AG anymore; the Minutemen a rightwing freakshow), whereas conservatives are breaking up the very rare opportunity (at least for those of us living in states and Congressional districts with more than a few hundred thousand voters) to speak directly with one's political representatives about one of the most important policy changes of our lifetimes.

Every time a Code Pinker yelled at Laura Bush... well, what was the impact on democracy? In contrast, every time these meetings get broken up by people screaming at their Rep or Senator while she's trying to speak is one more lost opportunity for direct dialogue with our representatives. Drawing equivalences between a speech or campaign rally, and these town-hall meetings, misses what's so important about the latter for the folks who show up in good faith to ask questions, listen and learn.

Joel Monka said...

PG, the founder of Code Pink approves of the Town Hall protestors, and says they bring needed attention to the question. An interview in which she says that appears here