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Ear to the Ground

House Leaders Cite ‘Un-American’ Activities

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Posted on Aug 10, 2009

We’re sympathetic to members of the House who find themselves getting yelled at by hecklers with less-than-pure motives, but calling that behavior “un-American” is probably ill-advised when you represent a body of government that famously had a committee by the same name.

They’re no Richard Nixon, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer might have found a better way to describe the staged outbursts at town halls across America.

Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer in USA Today:

These disruptions are occurring because opponents are afraid not just of differing views — but of the facts themselves. Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American. Drowning out the facts is how we failed at this task for decades.

Health care is complex. It touches every American life. It drives our economy. People must be allowed to learn the facts.

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By e&co;., August 13, 2009 at 4:13 pm Link to this comment

I have heard one Republican speak intelligently about Health Care Reform, so I am hopeful there are others.  Rep. Darryl Issa (R-CA) has said what I’ve been saying for years, we need to learn from other MARKET economies that have “universal” health care (in whatever form that takes in their country).  We will not learn anything new from an industry that was created on the principle of amortizing cost across a swath of customers so that those who don’t need care help to pay for those who do, and now has just started kicking out those who do so they can take obscene profit.  (Amortizing cost is also how Medicare and/or a public option need to function if we don’t want them to go bankrupt.  Medicare and Medicaid currently don’t - they provide care primarily to those who need it, which is why they are already projected to go bankrupt in a matter of years.) 

Our founders made it law that we are endowed with the unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and made free speech a cornerstone of our system of checks and balances. That was not license to defame, mistreat, or influence others to do so with hate speech, which is supposed to be illegal by civil statutes for slander and libel, and criminal statutes for threatening public officials.  So Pelosi and Hoyer were essentially correct, although I agree that they did choose their words poorly.

Finally, about mandates.  When it’s a matter of direct threat to others (drinking and driving, second-hand smoke, etc.), we may not like it, but we accept it because we are social creatures, dependent on our communities.  But when it involves perceived personal choice (even if that choice has *indirect* public-health consequences), e.g., smoking privately, drinking, drugs, abortion, it just does not work.  Period.  Smokers still smoke, people still drink, and we’ll not even discuss the failure on every possible level of the so-called “war on drugs.”  The majority of Americans don’t like abortion but don’t believe it’s their right to dictate to someone else about it. 

As for health care mandates, they’re just wrong.  It doesn’t work in Massachusetts, people choose fines over being dictated to, and it hurts small business (which creates as much as 80 percent of all new jobs when able to effectively compete, which is why so many small businesses want the public option or single-payer and DO NOT WANT mandates).  Employer-based health care was ALWAYS intended as a band-aid, a partial concession to organized labor, which did not get what it really wanted, Frances Perkins’ single-payer system that was originally released with the New Deal proposals.  (Not that there is any such thing as starting from scratch in any country, as Mr. Obama insists on asserting inaccurately, that would have been the time, and special interests won then too.)  And it wasn’t intended so that employers would foot the bill (although some do), it was intended to create groups across which costs could be amortized.  What better group to amortize than the population of the U.S?  This is not socialism, this is INFRASTRUCTURE, and is actually required BY LAW.  We have to make our neighbors understand that they are being used by people who profit off misery, rather than being given genuinely useful information about health care options.  It’s unfortunate that Congress continues to muddle the debate with remarks like these.

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By Outraged, August 11, 2009 at 11:25 pm Link to this comment

Well, I feel “moved” to comment.

Re: RealFish

Your comment: “They are attempting to “union-bust” health care reform and other issues that threaten their monopolies with goon squads little different from the ones that they used to fight the IWW in the early years of the last century.

First is simple intimidation. Next, fists are thrown. Pretty soon, the guns may come out.”

You are spot on.  I have experienced much “conundrum” in this regard as well as concerning other issues.  Kinda funny, what some will engage in isn’t it?

Around these parts, we call them “leakers” which mainly means they kiss the “bosses ASS”.  I realize this is “oldspeak” therefore, will leave the unaware, well…. I guess wondering or relegated to attempting to pump the information out of the AWARE.  Who do you think will win this sordid, petty non-war?

There’s an adage which applies, “The bigger they are….. the HARDER they fall.”

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By jacksmith, August 11, 2009 at 9:11 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)


More than two thirds of the American people want a single payer health care system. And if they cant have a single payer system 76% of all Americans want a strong government-run public option on day one (85% of democrats, 71% of independents, and 60% of republicans). Basically everyone.

AND NO INSURANCE MANDATES WITHOUT A STRONG GOVERNMENT-RUN PUBLIC OPTION ON DAY ONE! An insurance mandate without a strong government-run public option choice on day one, would be a DISASTER! And it would be worse than the GREED DRIVEN PRIVATE FOR PROFIT HEALTH INSURANCE HORROR! SHOW you have now. YOU MUST MAKE CERTAIN!! THAT DOES NOT HAPPEN AMERICA.

The healthcare reform bills released by the first two committees of the House Of Representatives are excellent bills as I understand them. They are bills with a strong, robust, government-run public option, and an intelligent, reasonable initial funding plan to cover almost all of the American people. They are carefully written, and thoughtfully constructed, informed, prudent and wise. These bills will save trillions of dollars, and millions of your lives. They are also now supported by the AMA.

These are the type of bills that all Americans can feel good about. And these are the type of bills that have the potential to dramatically improve the quality of healthcare for all Americans.  Rich, middle class and poor a like. Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and all other party affiliations. These bills have the potential to dramatically improve the quality of life of every American.

The house healthcare bills released by the first two committees should be viewed as the minimum GOLD STANDARD by which all other proposed healthcare legislation should be judged. All supporters of true high quality healthcare reform should now place all your support behind these healthcare reform bills released by the first two committees of the United States House Of Representatives, as the minimum Gold standard for healthcare reform in America.
You should all now support the first two committees bills with all your might, and all of your unrelenting tenacity. These first two House committees healthcare bills are VERY, VERY GOOD! bills for all of the American people. Fight tooth, and nail for every bit of these bills if you have too. Be aggressive, creative, and relentless for these bills.

From this time forward, go BIGGER and DEEPER with the American people every day until passage of healthcare reform with a robust, government-run public option.

FIGHT!! like your life and the lives of your loved ones depends on it. BECAUSE IT DOES!


Senator Bernie Sanders on healthcare (

God Bless You

Jack Smith — Working Class

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By Justin, August 11, 2009 at 2:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If you think that the people who are disagreeing with these scumbag congresspeople are paid for by Insurance Lobbyists , you are completely ignorant of what is really happening. This Healthcare Bill will make every American pay for Private Insurance, whether they want to or not. It will allow the Insurance Companies more freedom to profit and take away freedom from the individual. Read the bill and you will be at these meetings calling out these Corporate Puppet Congress Scum yourself. WAKE UP AND QUIT FALLING FOR THE FAKE “LIBERAL VS CONSERVATIVE” BS. ITS THE BANKERS AND INSURANCE COMPANIES VS THE MIDDLE AND LOWER CLASSES. UNTIL YOU REALIZE THAT WE ARE GOING TO CONTINUE TO GET SCREWED!!!!!!

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By hippie4ever, August 11, 2009 at 11:57 am Link to this comment

The Astroturf movement to stifle free expression is financed by the health care industry. It’s aim is to shut down civil discussion regarding reform, to gut an already gutless bill, to enable continued HUGE CORPORATE PROFITS of 20%.

I’d argue that this is an American activity, unfortunately.

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By David, August 11, 2009 at 12:59 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It is annoying to read over and over that dissent by the opposition is being stifled by the Democrats. This just isn’t the case. For all of you who drown out and activity at these meetings, it is you that violate everyone’s right to free speech. Screaming and yelling may be considered debate on Fox but, in reality, it is boorish behavior demonstrated by the ignorant and childish.

Think back into our recent past for a moment. If Democrats had shown up for meetings and caused such disruptions, they would have and were removed from the building. Hecklers were never even allowed within miles of Bush or Cheney.

Now you whine that Democrats used to call Bush fascist so why the complaints now about the Right using the same tactics? I suggest that it was because the Republican White House WERE acting like fascists. We called you fascists because of your support of a president who DID squelch free speech at his appearances. We called you fascists because you supported a president who believed business and corporations could do no wrong. We called you fascists because you supported a president who believed the solution to all international dilemmas was “pre-emptive” military action. I could go on.

When loud mouths offer no solutions and only use mob tactics to stifle debate They are acting like Hitler’s brown shirts. If you don’t like the analogy, stop acting in this manner.

I hope you all will be happy with yourselves when some maniac interprets remarks made by Limbaugh, Savage or Beck as a call to arms and starts. shooting.

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By Fredric Dennis Williams, August 10, 2009 at 9:36 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As I understand the complaint of Democrats who control the White House and the Senate and the House of Representatives, it is that they cannot hold meetings in which they lecture to their supporters about what they will do in a big hurry with as little input from citizens as possible. The problem is that someone who disagrees want the other side to be presented. Life is so much simpler when you can just pass bills without reading them.

The result of all this noise is that the lies of neither side can be clearly heard and understood.

When we have a verbal battle between communist dupes and corporate dupes, the proper strategy for the rest of us is to turn off the TV and the computer and listen to some music. Those stupid enough to attend these fake “town meetings” deserve what they get—whether they came as cheerleaders or scoffers.

The politicians have the power to do to us whatever they want—and what they want most of all is more power, despite their proven lack of ability.

Democracy in America is limited to the chance to pick which form of tyranny you prefer. The losers are the American people, but fortunately their minds are sufficiently numbed that most cannot feel the pain.

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By Fat Freddy, August 10, 2009 at 8:18 pm Link to this comment

These disruptions are occurring because opponents are afraid not just of differing views — but of the facts themselves. Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American.

Ahhh, a new generation of “Flag Wavers”? I guess it’s as un-American as opposing the Iraq War.

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By LostHills, August 10, 2009 at 8:16 pm Link to this comment

See Richard Flacks on Pete Seeger.

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By hsr0601, August 10, 2009 at 8:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Let’s Respect others, discussion, not violence.

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By hsr0601, August 10, 2009 at 7:49 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The runaway premium similar to the peak fuel price last year and left so many folks in despair insists on staying the course with the attitude ‘unchanged’, clearly this trend could bankrupt individual, business, and government. Now the government subsequently is tasked with these two main assignments, first, to address premium inflation, second, to expand coverage to all in urgent need.
In order to cover all and not to add to the deficit, the public option can not set the same rates of private market, rather, it needs to have the function to keep it in check in terms of inflation, too. Unfortunately, this ‘unavoidable’ direction is aggressively being accused by the runaway premium, citing government ‘take-over’ .
Under the circumstances the energy bill to determine human future and the other major issues is presently piled up, who wants to waste time making enemies ?, which also does not benefit the forthcoming election.
On the other hand, to make things worse, critics say the savings from the proposed public option is not enough to meet the revenue goal. Furthermore, on another hand, some say ‘hands off’ .  Where do these No tax, No saving and the like intend to force this reform to go ?  The conclusion by ‘just-say-no’ is no doubt.  Ironically, the Deficit-sensitive groups have a distinctive common ground, they all have a Deficit-driven background out of question.

Of all choices, the best thing would be savings through efficiency. Considering the wasteful structure, the highest premium in the world, and the most expensive part of medicare, with the prevention / wellness program in place, an American style innovation,  an ‘outcome’-based payment founded upon IT system may be enough to save more than 50 billions per year (500 / decade), both ‘improving quality’ and removing the unnecessary procedures (as pay is dependent on patient’s outcome). Young folks and advocates need to explain the notion of a pay for outcome agreement to the elderly misled by the disinformation.

Unlike private market, this public option includes large-scale investments, these large investments still does not get the fair score, instead seem to become a source of acute conflict, even so, this common sense-based program needs to develop further as early detection goes beyond monetary value.

In short, with the heartbreaking tears in mind (Nearly 11 Million Cancer Patients Without Health Insurance), private market also needs change and should join together to complete this reform , as promised, if not, the runaway premium only has itself to blame. Job-based coverage (indirect payment), mandate code, and ample capital might be favorable to the private market. And It can be said that fair competition starts with fair market value.
Over time, supposedly, the public plan will concentrate more on basic, primary cares, and the private insurers will provide their clients with differentiated services.

      Thank You !

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By Know1, August 10, 2009 at 6:50 pm Link to this comment

More Reichwing Corporate Astroturfing by Big Pharma Goons
Faked Grassroots:

The Ultra-right, so far right that they are 4th Reich, has launched another breakout Battle of the Bulge.

Sending in more busloads of stormtroopers who don’t have jobs, or home lives, or family obligations, across state lines to 35 cities is a front group called “Our Country Deserves Better PAC”.

According to false-messiah Sun Myung Moon’s Washington Times newspaper:

  The group’s Tea Party Express kicks off a bus caravan on Aug. 28 and will host 35 rallies in cities and towns from coast to coast that will end with a taxpayer rally in Washington on Sept. 12

  ... Mr. Wierzbicki, whose organization was formed during the 2008 elections and now boasts 350,000 supporters.

  The cross-country bus tour is being supported by many groups that have been active in the tea party protest movement, including FreedomWorks, the conservative advocacy group headed by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey of Texas, the National Tax Limitation Committee, and Tea Party Patriots.

  Other organizations were conducting their own lobbying campaigns against the administration’s health care plan, including the Washington-based Americans for Prosperity, which has launched a Patients First bus trip that has been touring through Virginia, North Carolina, Nebraska, and other states. The buses are emblazoned with the campaign’s banner logo

  The Tea Party Express caravan, which will include two 45-foot buses, several RVs and SUVs, and a moving van for additional equipment, will begin at a rally in Sacramento and head out across the country on 22-day tour of cities from Reno, Nev., to Bridgeport, Conn., before its Washington finale. Advance teams are promoting the rallies in each city, most of which are the hometowns of Democratic lawmakers who are considered vulnerable in the 2010 midterm elections.

Bridgeport Connecticut is the home of Sun Myung Moon’s university and theology school. Moon can always be counted on to bring out a crowd of cult-devotees on demand.

Correcting some falsehoods of the Moonie Times:

  1. The 350,000 members are mailing lists merged from several longstanding Reichwing organizations and have not signed up specifically and exclusively for this particular campaign.
  2. “Our Country Deserves Better PAC” is a republican-organized campaign limited to conservative republicans only plus any others who can be duped into falling for their spam.
  3. FreedomWorks, Tea Party Patriots, Americans for Prosperity, Patients First, are all one single organization with multiple names and with overlapping executives and decision-makers. For example: bosses Dick Armey and Killer Koch Brother David Koch are tied to all of them.
  4. While “they” claim 350,000 members, many who don’t know that they have joined or are counted because of the multiple fake organization names, Obama was elected by over 9,000,000 more votes than the loser, and the voters gave him a mandate to change healthcare for the better.

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By TheRealFish, August 10, 2009 at 5:15 pm Link to this comment

First, the House Un-American Activities Committee led by Sen. Joseph McCarthy in the late 40s through 50s consciously used tactics designed to stifle free expression of opinions and ideas running counter to the narrow framework of ideology held by the authoritarian powers controlling segments of the government.

Today’s authoritarian powers are the religious right, the military/industrial complex, financial institutions and the obscenely bloated health care “providers”—all who are using tactics of intimidation to stifle free discussion of the issues.

It can easily be argued that they control a significant portion of today’s government. Any corporation is, by its nature and structure, totalitarian and/or a veritable dictatorship. It’s how they are built, and maybe how they best function.

They are attempting to “union-bust” health care reform and other issues that threaten their monopolies with goon squads little different from the ones that they used to fight the IWW in the early years of the last century.

First is simple intimidation. Next, fists are thrown. Pretty soon, the guns may come out.

After all, if you are an authoritarian-follower (low-information-voters who believed the right-wing gasbags’ warnings that Obama was going to take their guns away so that, when Obama was elected last fall, there was a run on the guns & ammo shops) and you’re loaded for bear with all your shiny new guns and no place to go… .

What do you do with the constant pile of BS your favorite authoritarian throws at you, like “Obama’s going to kill granny,” “Hitler made nice speeches too,” “stop socialism,” “Obamacare is going to socialize medicine (but keep your hands off my Medicare…)” and similar tripe?

What are you going to do with your shiny new gun when the authoritarian you trust convinces you Obama—or Nancy Pelosi or [name your Socialist Democrat congressperson]—is going to off granny?

Is that the democratic way of our republic as designed by the founders?

Or is it ever-so-slightly-disguised sedition? Is Glen Beck merely using his right to freedom of speech when he “jokes” about poisoning Nancy Pelosi on his TV show? Or is he maybe making suggestions to the unhinged who hear it that way?

These people are treading a razor-thin line here. Here’s a small discussion of both sedition and treason, to save a Wiki side-trip:

“The difference between sedition and treason consists primarily in the subjective ultimate object of the violation to the public peace. Sedition does not consist of levying war against a government nor of adhering to its enemies, giving enemies aid, and giving enemies comfort. Nor does it consist, in most representative democracies, of peaceful protest against a government, nor of attempting to change the government by democratic means (such as direct democracy or constitutional convention).

Sedition is the stirring up of rebellion against the government in power.”

Both are considered a little bit Anti- or un-American. And these people tread an almost invisibly thin line here.

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By M Currey, August 10, 2009 at 4:39 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I care for health care reform not for myself but for the future children, health care used to be offered for the fortunate few who had it from the job.

Now we have to share with the rest of the countries and compete with China, India, etc. etc.

There is such wrong information out there, like a man thinking that his son with ceberal palsey will be suject to mercy killing, execuse me people with CP are able to hold down jobs, there is noting wrong with their minds.

Same with being able to talk with a doctor about being put on life support.  When you are around 90 years old and quality of life is going downhill, I would not want to a live vegetable and having a machine breath for me and a tube feeding me.

There was a woman in Penna. kept on life support for twenty years and who paid for that, probably her family had a superior health care package or they had money and hope to keep her alive.  The result she never came out of the coma and died after being a living vegetable.

I of course want to live forever but at a certain point usually around 90 or 95 life does not seem worth living especially hooked up to tubes and the outcome will be maybe life will be extended a year but probably not.

What I am getting at is it possible to have a discussion in a civil manner.  You can reach agreement without shouting at each other.

I believe that people in congress are not all stupid and democracy means that both sides talk to each other and give each other ideas.  Or do the Republicians have any ideas as how to improve Health Care?  And not just for the lucky few.

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By mike112769, August 10, 2009 at 4:16 pm Link to this comment

The right to disagree with our “masters” is THE heart of being an American. This is what happens when a country lets its politicians repeatedly get away with murder, both literally and figuratively. The politicians now believe that WE are beholden to THEM, when it’s actually the other way around. Expect more comments like this from our “ruling elites.” Things are only going to get worse. Where’s Thomas Paine when you need him?

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