Sunday, August 09, 2009

Linky Sunday, August 9, 2009

To try to understand better much of the craziness that is now going on over proposed health care reform, there's some good reading up within the links below:

Are Republicans and their thugs killing off the Town Hall as a democratic forum?
Does anyone remember when Town Hall forums were civil affairs that gave citizens a chance to speak freely to their elected representatives in a civil conversation?

Yeah, that would have been last week. In the days since, Republicans and their astroturf gangs of protesters have transformed town halls into outlets for their prearranged shoutfests ginned up by Fox talkers.

The old town-hall forum may never be the same. And the country is the worse for it.

Idiot Nation
The whole Republican party can absolutely make stuff up, no question about it, 100% lies, no factual basis whatsoever, outrageous, known false stuff about euthanasia and "death panels" and denying care to people that are no longer "productive", stuff that's right out of the most venomous propaganda playbooks around, weird-assed, depraved, paranoid stuff that would be perfectly at home in a Henry Ford tract about the secret methods of the evil Jews or the like -- and not a goddamned news outlet on the planet is making a story out of the fact that these supposed leaders of their party are gleefully lying through their teeth about all of it, or that the "teabaggers" carrying these selfsame lies into public meetings aren't just angry Americans with a different point of view, but people spreading known, 100%-goddamn-freaking-false-and-false-from-the-very-first-time-it-was-uttered bullshit, and intentionally doing it so loud that they hope nobody can possibly shout them down.

Just Throw Grandma From the Train
The health-care deniers are out in full force now since the feckless members of Congress decided to pack it in until September and these lying liars are scaring the elderly as much as they can. I wonder how many heart attacks these cretins are causing with their fearmongering tactics. But it's not surprising at all since we've seen this same flick over and over again. The Religious Right/Right-to-Life/Conservatives make this crap up all the time. They failed during the Terri Schiavo fiasco, but they are like ants. They always come back and find the cat food dish.

Shouting Down Reason
Instead of speaking to actual issues, waves of unruly crowds swarm scheduled events for the express purpose of preventing civilized, informative discourse from occurring. The most peculiar feature of this obstructionist conduct is that participants seem to lack any real understanding of what health-care reform would involve. "It's not my America anymore", one tearful attendee exclaimed. Oddly, many of the protesters are elderly, no doubt already receiving Social Security and Medicare benefits. By some contorted mental process, encouraged by unprincipled pundits and organizers, these folks seem not to grasp that the programs in which they are enrolled are in fact government-run.

And in what has become standard operating procedure among right wingers, crude methods are passed off as acceptable expressions of dissent.

The Only Prescription is Change
Make no mistake. This is the best opportunity America has ever had for the kind of universal health-care reform the rest of the Western democracies long ago embraced. For all the other important domestic priorities Democrats campaigned for last year, health care was the centerpiece of the homefront platform on which they were elected.

The insurance industry is acutely aware of this, just like its allies in Congress. Which is why we've seen the recent all-out, kitchen-sink campaign against reform. Knowing it could be in its death throes, the for-profit health industry is lashing out with all it has left.

Republicans Use Chaos as a Shock Doctrine to Create Authoritarian Rule
There is a method to this madness of chaos and obstructionism that is the hallmark of modern Republicanism.

It is to do politically what Naomi Klein detailed in her economic analysis in the "Shock Doctrine"; it is to so bollix and confuse and make feel vulnerable the displaced white working and middle class that they will turn to authoritarian leadership out of fear.

Star-spangled-bannered authoritarian brutes
They proclaim an extreme patriotic fidelity to national and traditional values, but are fascinated by, and attracted to, the undemocratic, the brutish, the brutal. One can't reason with them, because they're irrational (often along racial and anti-ethnic lines); and on a matter such as healthcare for all, one can't appeal to their sympathy for the deprived, because they regard sympathy as a human weakness. [...]

It's not that "they" are back; only that this twisted personality-type never left us.

Swiftboating Town Halls
With federal lawmakers returning home this week to begin their month-long recess, the far right is welcoming them with large, angry throngs at "town halls gone wild." "Screaming constituents, protesters dragged out by the cops [and] congressmen fearful for their safety" have marked the ugly scenes that have become the rule in recent days, as normally respectful meetings between representatives and their constituents have been inundated with right-wing protesters focused on killing health care reform. [...]

These encounters are being orchestrated by the same lobbyist-run groups -- Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks -- that brought together the tax day tea parties in April. While trying to give the appearance of a "grassroots" uprising, the demonstrations are cover for a corporate-lobbyist engineered harassment strategy that encourages participants to "yell," "stand up and shout," and "rattle" elected officials in favor of reforming health care. Their goal -- recently outlined by an influential lobbyist as "delay" then "kill" -- is apparent: Having successfully delayed a vote until after the August recess, lobbyists are seizing on town halls to ambush lawmakers in an attempt to fool them and the greater public into thinking there is wide opposition to health care reform.

Health Care Town Halls "Gone Wild": Right-Wingers on the Rampage
Patients United, a front group maintained by AFP, is busing people all over the country to protest health care reform. America's Health Insurance Plans, the trade group and lobbying juggernaut representing the health insurance industry, is also sending staffers to monitor town halls in 30 states. Meanwhile, Conservatives for Patients' Rights (CPR), led by disgraced hospital executive Rick Scott, is running a national campaign against a public health care option. Yesterday, the group took credit for "helping gin up the sometimes-rowdy outbursts targeting House Dems at town hall meetings around the country, raising questions about their spontaneity." Earlier in the week, a representative of CPR "sent an email to a list serve (called the Tea Party Patriots Health Care Reform Committee) containing a spreadsheet that lists over one hundred congressional town halls from late July into September." And last weekend, CPR announced it will send staff to "confront" lawmakers at town halls and then transition to negative ads.

Are Republicans and their thugs killing off the Town Hall as a democratic forum?
No one has a problem with right-wingers marching in protest of the health-care plans. That's certainly their right. And no one minds that they choose to participate in these forums. But town halls were never designed to be vehicles for protest. They have always been about enabling real democratic discourse in a civil setting.

When someone's entire purpose in coming out to a town-hall forum is to chant and shout and protest and disrupt, they aren't just expressing their opinions -- they are actively shutting down democracy.

And that, folks, is a classically fascist thing to do.

'Brown Shirts'? Town Hall teabaggers' ranks are indeed riddled with right-wing extremists
Along with their extremist beliefs -- including a bevy of conspiracy theories and scapegoating narratives, as well as an unmistakable racial animus -- the violent and thuggish tendencies of the Patriot movement is a matter of well-established public record. So it is not a surprise to see such behavior bubbling up whenever and wherever they are involving themselves. [...]

All of this tends to lead to Sara's question: Are we there yet? Are we looking at an outbreak of fascist behavior on a large scale?

My own take: Real fascism is always violent. We’re getting some light violence around the edges here, but fascism always openly embraces the ethos of violence, and that’s not present here ... yet. But we’re getting closer all the time, and the town-hall-forum hooliganism -- particularly the growing presence of right-wing extremists in their ranks -- is definitely a significant step down that road. We may not be there, but we are cruising the parking lot.

Fascist America: Are We There Yet?
Unfortunately, all the noise and bluster actually obscures the danger. These people are as serious as a lynch mob, and have already taken the first steps toward becoming one. And they're going to walk taller and louder and prouder now that their bumbling efforts at civil disobedience are being committed with the full sanction and support of the country's most powerful people, who are cynically using them in a last-ditch effort to save their own places of profit and prestige.

We've arrived.

Right-Wing Turncoat Gives the Inside Scoop on Why Conservatives Are Rampaging Town Halls
There is no daylight between the Republican Party, the health-care insurance industry, far right leaders like Dick Armey, the legion of insurance lobbyists, and now, a small army of thugs. All we're missing is actual uniforms, otherwise we now have a full blown American version of the Nazi Brown Shirts. [...]

It's time that this whole shabby (and insane) business be exposed, vilified in run out of town on a rail by whatever responsible Republicans -- if any -- that are still in the party and who want to see the fortunes of their party revived. Republican leaders taking insurance industry money via lobbying firms and using it to organize what amounts to roving bands of thugs not only need to be exposed but thrown out of the public debate forever. They should become absolute pariahs.

It's time to give this garbage a name: insurance industry funded fascism.


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