Reports: Glenn Beck fans turn health forum into ‘near riot’
Reports: Glenn Beck fans turn health forum into ‘near riot’
By Stephen C. Webster
Published: August 6, 2009
Updated 5 hours ago
Update (at bottom): Video of town hall disruption surfaces on YouTube
In a stunning display of anger, Florida Republicans and fans of Fox editorialist Glenn Beck turned a Tampa healthcare forum into a “near riot,” one reporter said, as they attempted to enter the meeting hall and drown out a group of community organizers and a member of congress.
There were at least two reports of violence at the forum.
“The meeting which was scheduled to begin at 6:00 at the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County drew hundreds of people who quickly began to overwhelm staff and event organizers at the front entrance,” reported Tampa news station 10 Connects.
The channel added: “10 Connects photojournalist Kevin Carlson, [who was] inside the meeting reports at least one fist fight breaking out inside.”
Tensions were raised as Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL) attempted to convene the meeting, only to be drowned out by protesters banging on the windows and jeering, “Tyranny!” and “40 million illegals.”
“Thursday’s forum/near riot was sponsored by state Rep. Betty Reed, D-Tampa, and the Service Employees International Union, who apparently had hoped to hold something of a pep rally for President Obama’s health care reform proposal,” noted St. Petersburg Times reporter Adam Smith.
He continued: “Instead, hundreds of vocal critics turned out, many of them saying they had been spurred on through the Tampa 912 activist group promoted by conservative radio and television personality Glenn Beck. Others had received e-mails from the Hillsborough Republican party that urged people to speak out against the plan and offered talking points to challenge supporters.”
Outside the meeting hall, one Randy Arthur, of Oldsmar, Florida, was injured by door minders, according to one report. “[Hall] said he would file a police report,” reported Tampa Bay Online.
“He and his wife, Kathy, were outside the meeting room when organizers tried to close the doors,” the publication continued. “Randy Arthur and others tried to stop them ‘and he didn’t give up,” Kathy Arthur said.”
Mrs. Authur reportedly said her husband was “slammed into a wall,” suffering a ripped shirt and scratches on his chest.
Because of all the commotion, the forum ended early, 10 Connects noted. Those in support of the president’s health reform agenda were reportedly outnumbered at the meeting by nearly three-to-one.
Such “mobs” have been denounced in recent days by Democratic lawmakers, while journalists like MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow have revealed the corporate interests and Republican operatives that bankroll and organize these town hall disruptions.
In a prepared statement, Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Karen Thurman echoed her party’s stance on the healthcare “mobs.”
“Recently, [our] thoughtful discussions are being interrupted by angry mobs - well funded and organized by Washington special interests - attempting to drown out the voices of the hard-working Floridians who are desperate for health insurance reform,” she said. “These groups are not concerned about Americans’ access to quality heath care, but are extreme ideologues, only interested in ‘breaking’ the President and thwarting the change Americans voted for last November.”
Additionally, Fox editorialist Glenn Beck, who promoted the group that arranged this particular protest, earlier this week pleaded with his viewers to resist turning violent.
A recent CNN poll found a slim majority — 50 percent — support the president’s health reforms.
The United States has almost 50 million uninsured citizens who face tremendous financial hardship should they ever fall ill or require hospital care. Obama’s proposed reforms seek to create a “public option” that would extend low-cost coverage to those who are ineligible for or otherwise cannot afford private insurance.
This video was published to YouTube on August 6, 2009.
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This video is from Tampa’s local Fox News affiliate, broadcast Thursday, August 6, 2009.
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By Brad Friedman on 8/3/2009 12:42PM
Wingnuts Receive Marching Orders On How to Disrupt Upcoming Town Halls With Phony Outrage
Corporate media stand ready to help as usual...
[Updated: Right on cue, the Teabaggers turn out to disrupt town hall meetings over the weekend. Video and details at end of article. ... UPDATED AGAIN: Lots more video now, the zombies come out all over the country.]
Are there simply no democratic (small "d") processes left that the Right isn't willing to corrupt to their own corporatized, nefarious purposes? It would seem not.
This from ThinkProgress, concerning the rightwing, corporate-sponsored (read: astroturf) "grassroots" FreedomWatch coalition, and their conveniently leaked talking points instruction memo [PDF] on how to create an appearance of dissension --- "Yell...Stand up and shout out...Rattle Him...Be Disruptive Early and Often" --- at upcoming town hall meetings back in Congressional districts over the August recess...
Rocking the Town Halls - Best Practices
A Political Action Memo
We here in Fairfield County Connecticut conducted an action at Congressman Jim Hime's Town Hall meeting in May 2009. We believe there are some best practices which emberged from the event and our experience, which could be useful to activists in just about any district where their Congressperson has supported the socialist agenda of the Democrat leadership in Washington.
-- Artificially Inflate Your Numbers: “Spread out in the hall and try to be in the front half. The objective is to put the Rep on the defensive with your questions and follow-up. The Rep should be made to feel that a majority, and if not, a significant portion of at least the audience, opposes the socialist agenda of Washington.”
-- Be Disruptive Early And Often: “You need to rock-the-boat early in the Rep's presentation, Watch for an opportunity to yell out and challenge the Rep's statements early.”
-- Try To “Rattle Him,” Not Have An Intelligent Debate: “The goal is to rattle him, get him off his prepared script and agenda. If he says something outrageous, stand up and shout out and sit right back down. Look for these opportunities before he even takes questions.”
As detailed in the full memo, the strategy "worked," and media took the bait in the Himes' Town Hall event mentioned.
Over the weekend, far-right kook Michelle Malkin, for some reason, was allowed a seat at the roundtable on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos as if she was a legitimate voice.
She predicted (video here) that where Democrats and the White House have "vastly underestimated just how grassroots this movement is," they would soon face "townhalls-gone-wild" in the weeks ahead...
"These YouTube videos are viral," she noted before mentioning a town hall event where Hillary Clinton "was booed" some time ago, and promised that "we're gonna see a replay of that" in meetings across the country in the weeks ahead. So that's the plan. A "counter-insurgency," as Malkin called it, hatched and funded by the corporate sponsors of the phony "grassroots," and publicized for all on ABC and, no doubt, soon to be covered by them, Fox, MSNBC, CNN and all the rest as soon as the video tapes are in.
All of that in contrast to the massive and real grassroots protests that occurred over the last eight years over disastrous and actually illegal Bush Administration policies that were carried out with nary a peep of corporate media coverage (other than to marginalize, lampoon, and otherwise disparage them as "unAmerican").
Anyway, that's the plan for the next month, and it will likely play out, as carefully stage-managed and pre-ordained as it all is, without a hitch over your public airwaves and government-subsidized cable outlets. It will then be reported and perceived as "Democrats and Obama under pressure from the public over their healthcare plans and massive government spending!"
Got it? Enjoy the phony show.
Right.... so its the evil corporations and the GOP are the ones who started this debacle. "Its not a grassroots get together"... Please tune out the bs from msnbc and fox. The taking heads are on the sidelines at this moment wanting a piece of the action late in the game. This debate started on its own by concerned citizens that believe health care is not a right. Now you have the Obama administration sending out their wonderful organizational brown shirts (Unions, Acorn, etc) to counter logic.
"Phony show".... Americans for the past year have been watching the media tell us how we should all get a thrill going up their leg when the dear leader speaks. Now they want you to believe that this isn't grassroots. Talk about a "phony show". Funny that this type of organizational get together isn't condemned when its on the other spectrum. Its "democracy at work". But when the other side does it its somehow tampering the process of. Its time for those in congress to go back to the drawing board.
"Dissent is patriotic!!" . . .unless, of course, you happen to be a Republican, or a conservative, or a non-partisan Democrat. . .then you're a racist nazi paid off by corporations who can't handle a black person in office.
By Peter Orvetti
The Chilling Effect
There was an ugly turn in the national debate over health care policy last week. Reasoned arguments were cast aside, and threats, name-calling, and coercion took center stage. Oh, and some of the critics of President Obama’s plan got out of hand too.
Aggression, intimidation, and physical violence of the sort seen at some of the so-called "town hall" meetings on health care have no place in public discourse. Such tactics are despicable, not to mention counterproductive. But those in the halls of power are employing subtler, though still insidious, tactics to suppress dissent.
"If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org." That’s the message posted last Tuesday, not by the Democratic National Committee, nor by Obama’s re-election campaign-in-utero Organizing for America, but on the official White House website by a government employee. Can you imagine if the last administration had posted something like that about the Iraq war?
In a letter to Obama, Sen. John Cornyn wrote, "I am not aware of any precedent for a President asking American citizens to report their fellow citizens to the White House for pure political speech that is deemed ‘fishy’ or otherwise inimical to the White House's political interests. ... I can only imagine the level of justifiable outrage had your predecessor asked Americans to forward emails critical of his policies to the White House. I suspect that you would have been leading the charge in condemning such a program-and I would have been at your side denouncing such heavy-handed government action."
The White House website message called on readers to rat out "disinformation" about the President’s agenda -- which legal analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano warns may be a violation of the Privacy Act of 1974. But a lot of the Democratic criticism of the opposition is not even about its message -- it’s about the method of delivery. Sen. Barbara Boxer said on MSNBC, "This is just all organized. You in the media have to take a look at what’s going on here. This is all planned. It’s to hurt our president and it’s to change the Congress."
Well, yes, some of the actions have been organized -- just as demonstrations against the Iraq war have been organized, just as demonstrations against Vietnam and in favor of civil rights were organized. That’s called "the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." And yes, it is aimed at changing the direction of policy, or, failing that, to change the policy makers. Isn’t that the point of all activism in a free society?
While his partisans were making these complaints, Obama himself -- with that hypocritical speed that only political types can withstand without getting whiplash -- sent an email to supporters. The former community organizer wrote, "We’ve got to get out there. These canvasses, town halls and gatherings only make a difference if you turn up to knock on doors, share your views and show your support."
Political journalist A.B. Stoddard said of the Obama Administration’s efforts, "They obviously feel that they have to fight back against these ‘mobs’. . . but this is democracy in action. There is nothing they can do. The more they complain about it at the White House level, I think the worse it becomes."
The issue here is not whether or not an expanded government role in paying for health care is a good idea. You do not need to be an opponent of the President’s plan to be concerned by this orchestrated -- dare I say, organized -- effort to stifle and marginalize any criticism of the President’s views. It was bad when Bush did it, it was bad when Nixon did it, and it’s bad when Obama is doing it.
It does seem that one good thing has come of all this, however. The atmosphere at the "town hall" events has become so toxic that some members of Congress have cancelled the large, staged events in favor of actually scheduling one-on-one meetings with their bosses -- their constituents -- to discuss their concerns. That’s change we can believe in.
Campaign For Liberty — The Chilling Effect
10% of the nation does not have health insurance, and about half of those people don't even attempt to attain it. It isn't even a concern. The rest can not afford it. So everyone believes that we should sacrifice our current system to help this small percentage?
The people in these town hall meetings are about as well informed as you can find in the public and are hard working people. I am sure both sides are promoting "staged protests and staged support". Make no mistake everyone of us is going to lose if this passes, maybe not today, but sometime in the future and those that supported it will regret it.
It sounds great that "everyone will be covered", but it's not that simple. I am in health care, and the system now isn't great, but health care isn't cheap and to think that the goverment can provide it for cheap is ignorance. Health insurance can be attainable for most that do not have it, just like so many things in this country it is a matter of priority. Most don't make it a top priority.
I don't know how many young people I have seen (including myself at one time) make a monthly payment for a new car and/or cell phone or whatever else without ever considering they might want health insurance.
I won't say health care is not a right, but at the same time it's not the governments place to dictate distribution of health care to the entire population. With this plan, we will at some point lose the resources and personel to support this type of system and that is when we will see rationing. Trust me, there will not be college students willing to spend another decade of their life along with thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars to be a part of a profession that is at the mercy of the government and has little reward for that type of investment. The quality of health care and the efficiency of the system will decline. Throw in the aging baby boomers that will still be collecting social security, and it starts to look pretty bad.
Why don't you say something with some substance instead of bashing someone. And I am sorry, but MSNBC, CBS, NYT, and all of the other media sources are no longer credible sources. We should question everything we read or hear and not accept it with blind faith.
I'd like to believe you Bryhn, but you basically spieled a bunch of bias predictions without much to back it up yourself.
Health care isn't cheap for many reasons. The health care industry is composed of many entities private to their own fields combined to provide care for the people.
This would not be an issue if the governement offered subsidy as they do in the agriculture/farm and ranch industry.
Nationalisation of health care will cause the issues as described above.
After experience with those close to me in the many fields associated with health care (Physician, Pharmaceutical, Insurance, Hospitals, Etc.) I have come to know that all extreme costs associated with health care in general are attributed to fraud, malpractice and greed.
If government resorts to providing health care for every individual then individuals will loose out in many cases less than adequate health care.
But regulation of cost for ordinary office visits to physicians would help lower insurance rates. (I know our family doctor charges $75 for a visit to their office when all we might spend is 15 minutes in consultation)
Not allowing insurance companies to place people in a "death spiral" regarding renewal and/or claims would help eliviate many who once carried insurance but cannot anymore because of this practice.
Pharmaceutical compannies if subsidized by the government could absorb much of the costs involved in research and development of medications and prescriptions thus reducing the over all cost of purchasing these items.
Point is...there are already ways privately and substantive to help make health care affordable to all without the government becoming the sole entity of provision. Government as the provider is not the answer if you want to remain free to make your own decesion.
FTP John Cornyn
It's got to be a meeting of the minds. A give and take. It CANNOT be allowed to be run by any single entity...governemnt or otherwise.
IMO...government subsidy and rate regulation along with private enterprise can make this work. Much in the same way subsidization has worked for the agriculture/farm/ranch industry.
Food costs to all Americans would be astronomical if it weren't for the way it works now.
I thank God every day that my husband had his bone marrow transplant before I lost my job. And he had complications, came very close to dying and is now back in the hospital. I have United Health Care for which I am paying almost double the amount I was paying last year. No, I have not lost my job but being that I am in the airline industry nothing is safe. If I were to lose my job, Cobra payments are outrageous.
How many of you have ever had a treatment denied because the insurance company said it wasn't covered? My husband did. Isn't that rationing? The insurance company telling the doctor what is medically necessary. We got a bill for one of his hospitalizations one time stating that we owed the whole amount until the doctors proof the medical necessity. Gee, just that he would have bled to death without the blood transfusions.
We are grateful that UHC decided to cover the transplant and that I still have my job and that insurance. Oh, we could have gone with Aetna or Blue Shield which would have been less out of my pocket but what stopped us was the fear that they would not cover a preexisting condition. That is definitely one thing that should never happen.
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