Well-Coordinated Health Care Protests Target Swing Democrats

From TPM:

This weekend, a group of teabaggers showed up at a town hall in Philadelphia with Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. They shouted and booed to drown out remarks from both officials and questions from the audience. The Philadelphia Tea Party Patriots reportedly brought 40 people…

In Austin on Saturday, protesters followed Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) out of a forum at a grocery store, chanting “Just say no!” after he told the crowd he’d vote for a health care reform bill even if his constituents opposed it. Watch.

These aren’t the first incidents of this kind, but we think it’s a pretty safe bet they’ll continue and intensify throughout August.

Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY) has suspended town hall meetings after screaming protesters disrupted a June 22 forum in Long Island to the point where residents called the police to escort Bishop to his car.

Last week, a crowd erupted into thunderous applause after a soldier demanded an apology from Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) at a town hall with her staff. (The senator wasn’t there.) The meeting was moderated by Americans for Prosperity’s Missouri chapter. AFP was a major organizer of the tax day “tea party” protests…

You can check out a strategy memo produced for town hall crashers here. With most of the Colorado delegation scheduling many such events in the next few weeks, we expect Jeff Crank’s local Americans for Prosperity chapter will put the volunteer lists they gathered at recent “Tea Parties” to good use–leave the swastikas at home, though. Make sure that’s in the email.

And we don’t want to subsidize this astroturf belligerence by linking, but let us just say that Rep. Ed Perlmutter might want to bring some extra friends with him to the, um, grocery store in the near future. We’ll keep our eyes out for more such rightie-ID’ed “opportunities.”

59 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. dwyer says:

    They don’t need the stinking email lists, they have talk radio.

    The times for the town meetings are publicized; and then the

    participants are encouraged to call in and discuss what happened.  Listen to Bill Bennet in the morning.  Bennet, Hewuitt, and Gallagher has an online petition against “obamacare” with upwards of one million signatures…..

    For this strategy to work, it was absolutely critical for there to be no vote before the August recess so that the repubs could engineer the defeat of any health reform with this winning strategy.

    dems are dumb, dumb, dumb,…didn’t see this coming..didn’t prepare any defense….have been outsmarted again..and continue to belittle the participants…

    the gore/kerry response lives…dems are just tooooo smart and tooooooo well bred…..to deal with talk radio….

  2. rocco says:

    Into doing their bidding.

    Seriously, how can these people be so fucking stupid that they fall for a directive that tells them not to let the Rep. talk? To literally prevent people from getting hard answers to hard target questions.

    That should send a message to even these morons that the repubs along with a few shitbag bluedog dem’s) doing the bidding for their masters, the insurance/pharma lobbies, don’t want to risk debate.

    caldara no doubt has great health insurance through CC. Same with cunny bob, caplis, rosen, and all the conserve yakkers carrying the red water. These charlatans, by running the con they’re running, are in essence convincing gullable, herd mentality type people who are not in the same economic class as them that their interests are the same.

    They’re not. And caldara,caplis et al should be ashamed.

    They’re not.

    But some of these idiots believing cunny, rosen, et al are simply programmed to believe reds good Democrats bad and nothing will change their minds.

    This is a great example of “I got mine, you go to hell”. And the goobers aren’t even seeing it.

    • dwyer says:

      Well, we are smart enough to see right through this….that is why we got a health bill through Congress before the August recess…oh wait.

      • rocco says:

        Delayed through the bluedogs and we should have seen it coming.

        I tend to blame repubs for this, but fact is if the Dems stuck together and rammed this through, the reds wouldn’t even have been in the process.

        Olbermann had a special comment last night that showed Baucus and his cronies in the bluedog caucus as traitors.

        I expect reds to be reds, but when your own guys cut your throat it hurts.

  3. twas brillig says:

    Here’s what Lloyd Doggett said in follow up:


    This mob, sent by the local Republican and Libertarian parties, did not come just to be heard, but to deny others the right to be heard. And this appears to be part of a coordinated, nationwide effort. What could be more appropriate for the “party of no” than having its stalwarts drowning out the voices of their neighbors by screaming “just say no!”  Their fanatical insistence on repealing Social Security and Medicare is not just about halting health care reform but rolling back 75 years of progress.  I am more committed than ever to win approval of legislation to offer more individual choice to access affordable health care.  An effective public plan is essential to achieve that goal.

  4. redstateblues says:

    is that Democratic activists have to show up at these town halls too. If the GOP has decided they’re going to turn the health care debate into a town hall screaming match, then they can have that fight.

    There used to be a time when these kinds of meetings would be used by constituents to actually reach out to their representatives. By enacting this last, desperate strategy, the GOP is making it clear that they’re only interested in a scorched earth plan. It’s last-ditch, but it will work unless there are Dems at those meetings to counteract the Pubs.

  5. DaftPunk says:

    I checked the websites of Bennett, Udall, and DeGette for any info on recess in district meetings, and found nothing.  I know, I could call, but any Pols have info?

  6. Laughing Boy says:

    There are plenty of non-tea party folks at these meetings that don’t want to pay more for less – it’s that simple.

    I love the selective defense of free speech, by the way.

    I remember well when you all were really pissed about this.  Wait – no I don’t.

    BTW, not a Tancredo fan.  

    Which mob is more threatening?  Who is shouting down speakers more?

    • redstateblues says:

      Especially when they were throwing rocks and breaking windows. http://www.squarestate.net/sho

      And nobody ever said they don’t have a right to attend these meetings and say whatever they want to say, but that doesn’t mean that an outright astrotufing strategy isn’t desperate. I would wager a guess that for every normal, soft-spoken, civil person at these “spontaneous” protests at town halls, there are a few dozen teabaggers.

      I’m sorry, but the GOP continuously proves that they’re incapable of creating an actual grassroots movement.

      If Republicans had actually tried, you know, talking to their Democratic colleagues instead of laughing them off and then proceeding to astroturf their way into the media, then maybe we’d have a bill more to your liking. But the fact is that the Republicans have been completely unwilling to have an actual conversation on health care. They’ve decided to make it “Obama’s Waterloo” and hedge their bets on health care reform failing.

      Now that the economy is starting to turn around, it’s their only strategy. Though it might end up working, it’s desperate and it’s the last resort of a party with no real ideas or alternatives in this conversation. Just my two cents.

      • Laughing Boy says:

        Really?  What are the jobs numbers going to look like from July?

        The freefall might be slowing, but unemployment is surging.  Things are not getting better, and all this idiotic deficit spending is only going to stifle a recovery.

        The essence of this bill to Obama is the public option.  Without it, there’s no reason for him to push it, and with it, the Republicans (and a lot of Dems) will never get on board, thank goodness.

        • SSG_Dan says:

          We’ve already got one – it’s called TriCare and it works amazing well.

          I know all the Useful Idiots hooting and screeching about Health Care reform always point to Medicare and Medicaid as “EVIL GOVERNMENT INSURANCE” but TriCare has been around for 15 years and was created by the GOP Congress of 1994.

          To most check-mailing nincompoop Extremist Repubs, this should automatically make it ok, since “one of them” invented it.

        • Known fact.  Home sales are rebounding, banks have stabilized, other sales figures look good.  Job recovery will lag by a number of months, just like it has after every other recession.

          • Laughing Boy says:

            Got an estimate on when that will be?

            What other sales figures look good?

            We’re going to be at 10% unemployment before the year is out.  

            • Danny the Red (hair) says:


              Usually you see productivity go up (doing more with less) as demand picks up.

              Then you see incomes go up (same number of employees, but they are working overtime) because employers don’t want to be whipsawed by expanding into a false recovery.

              Then you see a temp/contract hiring boom as employers take tentative steps in the face of increased demand.

              Finally once the economy is in full swing and employers have full confidence then they start hiring FTEs.

              ..of course then they think the party will last for ever and they over expand.

              Employment definitely lagging indicator.

              • harrydoby says:

                … he’s the one that confused Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman with Nobel Prize winning Putz Yasser Arafat.


                And many economists

                …including Mankiw and the author of the article in question, both Harvard Econ Profs disagree with Krugman.  Along with many, many others.

                Yasser Arafat won a Nobel prize.

                by: Laughing Boy @ Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 17:17:12 PM MST

                • Laughing Boy says:

                  Obviously, my point was that if a giant douche like Yasser Arafat could win a Nobel Prize, that it didn’t necessarily denote greatness.

                  But you knew that already.

                  • Aristotle says:

                    actually, any Nobel Prize aside from the Peace Prize does denote, if not greatness, then an extremely respectable level of achievement in the field it’s awarded.

                    The Peace Prize is completely separate from the ones for economics and fields of science; they even award it in a different city. Don’t impugn any of those prize winners because of all the belligerent douches who’ve won the Peace Prize.

        • dukeco1 says:

          the numbers get better and a growing number of economists are suggesting the bottom is behind us. Nice try on the employment numbers question, though, LB. Anyone who has gotten through Economics 101 can tell you that the LAST economic indicator to recover is always employment.

    • rocco says:

      The directive is urging people not to allow the Democratic Rep to even answer questions.

      The lobby groups are trying to squelch debate through the hoodwinked thugs.

      Who’s denying who free speach?

      And like I said, the goobers can’t even see it.  

      • Laughing Boy says:

        The anger came after Sibelius and Specter gave their answers.

        Nobody was shouted down.  People are just pissed at this crappy bill being ram-rodded through Congress, and that’s why it’s going to die.

        We need reform, but this bill ain’t it.  It’s an attempt at a government takeover of a huge segment of the economy.  People aren’t stupid, and they are seeing how non-transparent this administration really is, so the trust factor on these expensive bills that ‘simply must be passed immediately’ is in the basement.

        • rocco says:

          These protests aren’t about honest, concerned people coming for answers.

          They’re purposely interrupting so as to squelch debate.

          What constitutes interruption to you? 20 people screaming while he’s trying to speak? 100?

          What video did you watch?

          No, this is calculated to fluster the Rep and wreck the meeting. Should he have been smoother? Maybe. Should those assholes have let him answer? hell yes. That is if they’re there for legitimate reasons. But…the more answers the Rep gets out, the more concerns are allayed. Your side can’t risk that.

          But then again, both of us know they weren’t there for rational discussion, don’t we?

          As in the true tradition of reds, anything’s ok if it works.

          • Laughing Boy says:


            Same state as the Townhall I posted a video of above.

            By the way, these two gentlemen had a complaint against them dismissed by Holder’s Justice Department.  The Comission on Civil Rights isn’t to happy about it:

            The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is demanding that the Justice Department explain why it recently dismissed a civil complaint against members of the New Black Panther Party who disrupted a Philadelphia polling place during last year’s election, saying the department has offered only “weak justifications.”

            Commission Chairman Gerald A. Reynolds, a former deputy associate attorney general under President George W. Bush, said he fears the legal precedent set by the department in its May decision to drop the case might encourage “other hate groups” to act similarly at polling locations in the future.

            Mr. Reynolds also charged that other groups might not have been treated so leniently.

            “If you swap out the New Black Panther Party in this case for neo-Nazi groups or the Ku Klux Klan, you likely would have had a different outcome,” he told The Washington Times in a telephone interview Monday.

            “A single law, a single rule should be applied across the board. We are communicating with the department in hopes of gaining a better understanding of just what happened.”

              • Laughing Boy says:

                You made a blanket generalization that intimidation was somehow solely a Republican tactic.

                I maintain it’s solely an asshole tactic, but is displayed by both sides of any big debate.

                I also maintain that the kind of shouting down you claim is simply not happening at these healthcare townhalls, nor are they mostly contrived by some nefarious incredibly efficient Republican grassroots effort.

                Remember – Republicans have jobs.  We don’t do grassroots marching-in-the-streets protests very well.

                People don’t want this shitty bill.  It’s overreach.

                • rocco says:

                  “reds have jobs. We don’t do grassroots…..”

                  What are you, 12?

                  You can’t change the subject, we’re on it. The directive by the lobbyists, through the rnc, it to disrupt the meetings

                  Denying that refutes what’s out there, in print, on the news, in the leaked lobby emails. I’m not gonna do your wet work. A tiny bit of research will educate you.

                  Yes, the reds are engaging in this. Just because thugs did it last winter, that doesn’t make the repubs comitting these acts ok now.

                  • Laughing Boy says:

                    Between calling elected officials to account in front of a crowd and trying to drown them out.  The video I posted showed the former, not the latter.

                    I’m not 12, but I’m not constantly referring to people as “Reds”, either.

                    I’m actually really enjoying going back and forth with you on this one.  Thanks for the good conversation.

        • dwyer says:

          Let us just wait for a “better reform” bill, one that the insurance companies can work with…one that won’t reward “bad behavior…like getting cancer or ms”….like the bill that the repubs presented…oh wait.

          • Laughing Boy says:

            Let’s just push this crappy one through without reading or debating it.

            There’s a middle ground in there somewhere.

            I don’t want the government running my healthcare.  This bill would do just that.

            • rocco says:

              No matter what beck tells you.

              You like yours?

              Keep it.

              I think the very idea that maybe, just maybe, you might somehow, some way, have to be included in helping others be insured goes against the ronnie reagan in ya.

              The old “I got mine, you go to hell” phylosophy that reagan taught some of us, even as he broke PATCO, trickled down, etc.

              At least now I know what I’m dealing with.

              • Laughing Boy says:

                Beck makes me sick.  He’s a clown.  The male version of Rosie O’Donnell with the same level of credibility.

                I think it’s essential that we cover others.  The costs of uninsured hospital visits are killing all of us.  There are a lot of ideas out there.  How about a public catastrophic plan that includes a number of PCP visits every year?  

                But this bill starts from the other end of the pragmatic scale and makes the government both a participant and a regulator in healthcare, and that’s going to jack all of us.

                • rocco says:

                  Are you saying the government allows previously uninsured or under insured people a certain amount of visits, then pays the uncovered amount for the procedure if something is found and there’s a need for treatment?

                  That does sound like medicare, but I’m not sure.


                • What exactly do you mean by a catastrophic plan?  Do you envision everyone getting the public catastrophic insurance?  Or is this for people who can’t get covered otherwise?  This is a topic I’d love to respond to in detail, but I don’t know what you’re envisioning.

                  If having the government as regulator and insurer led to a screw-up of any sort, it would be exceptional public option pricing that private plans couldn’t compete with…  That wouldn’t screw all of us – just the insurance companies (and the many, many employees thereof).  We’d be getting a great bargain out of it.

                  • rocco says:

                    Talk about competition.

                    The costs will plummet.

                    The insurance companies won’t be making decisions based on money, instead of patient needs.

                  • Laughing Boy says:

                    Not bailing, but I have to run out for the rest of the night.

                    I will hit this tomorrow and tell you what I’m thinking might be good ideas for a health plan, but yes, and yes to start.

                    Great conversation today.  Cheers, you freaks.

  7. Laughing Boy says:

    There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care.  These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation.  Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to flag@whitehouse.gov.

    From the freaking White House Website.

    Since when does the White House collect “tips” on opposition to policy?

    What do they plan to do with these emails?

    “Casual conversation”?

    Ok, RSB.  Who’s really desperate?

    • rocco says:


      The more the disinformation is debunked, the better off we all are.

      All of us.  

      • Fidel's dirt nap says:

        willful misinformation like Obama is a Muslim, he will ban all of your guns, that the government will takeover all of your healthcare, etc.

        You know, that kind of willful misinformation, designed to manipulate the fears of the teabaggers/birthers/useful idiots.  

    • sxp151 says:

      by the whole “the government is coming to kill all the old people” thing that’s been going around.

      Hard to imagine how much worse the campaign will get. Maybe the next rumor is that they’ll start harvesting white people’s organs so that minorities can become superhuman cyborgs.

      And you’ll have plenty of “respectable” Republicans saying, “Of course they’re not harvesting organs, but the Orgers do have a point and should be listened to since they might help us win the next election.”

  8. dwyer says:

    on page such and such of the bill there were directions on how the old folks were going to be pushed into assisted suicide…..so what is wrong with letting the White House know what the lies are???

    You are not old, so you don’t know how easily old people can be scared…..  I am old.  I know what is being said.

    • Laughing Boy says:

      You are a respected civil libertarian.

      You don’t see a problem with forwarding an email that I author and send to you in which I protest healthcare policy to the White House?

      • Hell, I’d be sure to strip the header envelope information before sending it on to the White House if it helps…

        But the best way to counter some of the (to be frank) shit that’s passing for counter-arguments is to give it over to the bully pulpit where it can be ridiculed in front of millions.

        My new favorite: Arthur Laffer

        If you like the Post Office and the Department of Motor Vehicles and you think they’re run well, just wait till you see Medicare, Medicaid and health care done by the government.

        It’s kind of a self-parody…

        • Fidel's dirt nap says:

          stellar economist that he is:

          I know we’ve all seen this video before but it bears posting again to demonstrate that NO ONE SHOULD EVER LISTEN TO ART LAFFER.

          Woo hoo, everythings fine, no recession here !  Fucking idiot.

        • DaftPunk says:

          I sell lots of stuff on EBay (mostly high-end bike parts), and the post office gets it there fast, well-priced, and reliably.

          If my health benefits worked as low-maintenance as USPS, I’d be psyched.

          FWIW, the Denver DMV @ Dartmouth and Sheridan has me in and out in 10 minutes.

  9. dwyer says:

    Not to scare you off.  I agree a personal email is one thing. An email that you authored protesting the healthcare reform and presenting cogent arguments would be saved with the proper respect,  I would never dream of forwarding on personal emails to anyone.

    However, blast emails from pseudo sounding groups with lies in them, I would.  

    • Laughing Boy says:

      The White House site doesn’t make that distinction and talks about the dangers of ‘casual conversation’.

      Does that creep you out at all?

      Would the same paragraph posted on the White House site make you feel any different if it was Bush’s White House?

      • dwyer says:

        I wasn’t really kidding about Homeland Security.  Year and half ago, the Bush Administration was ordered by the Supreme Court to curtail indiscriminate eavesdropping on internet and phone communications.  The day before the order was to take effect, an old buddy of mine emailed me the website for the municipality where I worked in a third world country decades ago.  I logged on right away and it was great to see what had changed and what had not changed…..what I did not pick up right away was that the country was targeted as a potential haven for terrorists and my old site was also deep in narcoland.  Ya, I have ever reason to believe I wound up on the list….inside this country to another country…that was all it took.

        However, I will grant you that I now do see your side and I  can appreciate  the civil liberty concerns.  However, it is a citizen to the White House, and not vis a versa.

  10. dwyer says:

    Steve Benen of the Washington Monthly magazine online has a blog/column called Political Animal.  It is worth checking out.  He has documentation about who is coordinating the “grassroot efforts.  Here is the link:


    He also has the news that Beauprez is in the race.

  11. Gilpin Guy says:

    of this kind of intimidation from some good Germans who were concerned about the issues of their day.  History books call it Kristallnacht.

    Republicans have always been imitators who can’t think up anything original on their own.

  12. DavidThi808 says:

    Democracy is fundamentally about everyone having a shot to persuade others to their point of view. What we have here is an attempt to not allow any alternative arguments to be presented.

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