Tag Archive: teabaggers

A Message to New Jersey Campus Conservatives

Dear anti-tax college students,

Let me just say that as a supporter of free speech, we all believe that you have the right to express your opinions, even if we disagree with them. However, you are attending a public college, and there are some things you need to know.

A public college, by definition, is one in which part of tuition is defrayed by tax dollars. Yes, taxes, the thing you constantly harp about, and government, in turn, spends money on the costs to run the universities. Yes, government spending, the thing that, with exception of declaring war on the entire world even without the funds to cover it, you so vehemently oppose, so much so that you are willing to don 18th century fashion, co-opt a historical event that was relatively radical, and scream insults about how the current president is a Muslimnazicommunistnoncitizenrapistsocialistclowncanadianindonesianafricanwitchdoctorracisttrope, and about how Barney Frank is going to make your kids wear assless chaps to school or how zombie Ted Kennedy is going to tax your lemonade stand and force you to wait 12 months to see your gummint-appointed doctor. But I digress. The point is, since you people are all about rugged individualism and pulling oneself up by the bootstraps, why are you attending college on other people’s dimes.

Furthermore, in New Jersey, as well as across America, cuts to higher education are the latest trend, along with Taylor Swift and the choking game. Both parties are as guilty of cutting higher education (and some people from both parties are good on higher ed, such as the all-Republican delegation of New Jersey’s Legislative District 40 who opposed Democrat Jon Corzine’s higher ed cuts), although Republicans, conservatives, and libertarians tend to be philosophically more opposed to higher ed funding. We dunno why you conservatives/libertarians decided to attend a public college like this, maybe you wanted to make a wise investment or maybe you couldn’t afford a private institution. However, we find it funny that the average college Republican wouldn’t give a rat’s patootie if Governor Christie cut higher ed funding; why are you are not working within the party to insure higher ed gets funded???

These things being said, We would hereby ask all college conservatives and libertarians to transfer out of this college and continue their educational studies at a private institution . Now, we are not Stalinists, as you people seem to portray those on the left as, and we are not going to force you to leave this campus, that’s a decision you have to make. But if you are to put your bootstrap fetish where your mouth is and take personal responsibility for your education, maybe you should consider going to an institution not funded by tax dollars. We cannot tell you to stop your education at this college, but we will forever call you out for being hypocrites you are. And yes, there are conservative professors on campus, and no, they aren’t being mass fired for their beliefs, your psychosis and faux-populist temper tantrums and white guy concerns are unsubstantiated.

Also, if you are one of those conservatives who are cantankerously pro-war at the expense of college education, might I suggest a career in the armed forces?? Don’t be a chickenhawk, go to your local recruitment centre and sign up. Of course, most likely than not, you believe that only poor people of colour should be recruited. When you are being shot at, you will wish you were back at your taxpayer funded college campus screaming into the megaphone about keeping your government hands off our public colleges.

With loving regards,

Progressives and middle-class, working-class people at college campuses!!!

Rush Holt Health Care Town Hall – Middletown

UPDATE #1: Dan Preston has photos from the event in a link in Comments – here.

UPDATE #2: Winston Smith had an altogether different view of this event than I did. His diary is here.

Maybe it was the configuration of the room, shallow and wide and not narrow and deep, making no allowance for shouters to use distance from the stage to intimidate like at Frank Pallone’s Red Bank Town Hall. Maybe it was the Congressional District, NJ-12 not NJ-6. And this congressman doesn’t bear direct responsibility for the public option bill, the way Pallone does, with HR 3200 out of his Health Subcommittee, of House Energy & Commerce.

But the experience of sitting in on Rush Holt’s event, while contentious, was different. It lacked the manic surges, and lines of people demanding serial sessions. Questions were collected and read aloud by the congressman. That tended to lead to briefer, substantive audience feedback, rather than the set-up Pallone staggered under in Red Bank, grappling with questions from microphones louder than his own.

I saw Holt slip into a reactive posture only once, when he called some shouters “noisemakers.” Minor. Pallone, who I saw through nearly 9 hours on his feet over 2 nights, kept his cool completely. The tamer audience allowed for a better information flow. From both sides. And Holt got the chance to be eloquent.

Asked if public option meant rationed care:

As a matter of fact, health care is rationed right now. Some people don’t get it! And I prefer rational health care, which this would be, over rationed.

Why is this legislation moving so fast?

The situation as it is now is not sustainable. And it’s not morally or ethically acceptable. Further, the economy will not recover as long as we’re saddled with these escalating health care costs. In fact, this should have been done before this time.

To a similar question, about timing:

We’ve been working toward some of the elements of this for many years. It goes back to Roosevelt – Teddy Roosevelt, as well as FDR.

After the Town Hall, Holt met privately with three reporters. One of us asked where all this vitriol and opposition was coming from:

Well, I can certainly point you toward some websites that are the source of misinformation and upset. But where the anxiety of people is coming from is tougher to say. We are living through tough economic times. A lot of people are on edge. And, in fact, a lot of people are living on the edge.

We’re going to try to cover as many of the Congressional Town Halls as we can. Shoot us an email – contact@bluejersey.com – if you know one’s coming. If you go, we hope you’ll write about it here. Holt’s was last Wednesday. But I needed recovery time after the stress of two last week. Two more coming from Holt, both on Saturday, Sept. 12: 9:00am in Somerset & 2:30pm in Tinton Falls.  

Ledger Live video of Rep. Pallone’s Red Bank Health Care Forum

Can there be any room for a centrist at a health care reform town hall meeting

Brian Donohue of Ledger Live, a self-described centrist, describes how attending Congressman Frank Pallone’s Red Bank Town Hall on Health Care changed his mind about health care reform.

Check out :55 seconds in. See the guy in the blue tee shirt? He’s the guy I talked about in my diary, The Crucible yesterday. Whipping the room into a complete incoherent frenzy.

Says Donohue:

Anything those people are against, I should be for.

And check out 5:23! Donohue captures a lady outside, manic, wild-eyed, and wailing about the Death Plan of Obama.

Wow. Just wow.

The Crucible

Last night’s Health Care Town Hall with Frank Pallone in Red Bank was at once a magnificent exercise in democracy, and an unsettling display of ignorance and free-floating right-wing resentments – abortion, “illegals,” guns – spilling out of people willing to treat politics as sport, and shout down all comers.

A few people came with intelligently-expressed questions, support, or objections. But last night was owned by the loons. It all spun down to rabble early, and it almost never let up.

In 1953, Arthur Miller wrote a play about the 1692 Salem, Massachusetts witch trials, his allegorical commentary on his own time, when when HUAC and Senator Joe McCarthy manufactured enemies of ordinary Americans. Sitting there last night, I was reminded of The Crucible.

In it, Abigail Williams is the teenager who whips the girls around her into a frenzy, shouting out wild accusations, utterly taken by the passion of the moment, and completely manipulated by a girl acting in her own self-interest, and willing to ruin peoples’ lives. When another girl, Mary, is about to prove her a fraud, she whips her friends into a delirious panic, screaming they’re freezing, that Mary has bewitched them. Within moments, Abilgail’s cries are the girls’ cries, and they are all screaming the same word. It’s a neat trick.

Last night’s Abigail Williams was a man in a light blue tee shirt bearing the date the next Congress is seated. His were the words that rifled around the room, in seconds. And it was all stupid.

To a woman fearful of losing her house to medical bills: Good! Lose your house! Lose your house! House! House! Houuuuuuuse!

When Margaret Mead was mentioned: What part of the jungle did you come from? Kumbaya! Kumbaya! Kumbayaaaaaaa!

When a mother tried to say how her disabled daughter and mentally disabled husband were dropped by their insurance: His fault! He couldn’t fill out the form because he’s an idiot! idiot! idiot!

Many times, the room just erupted in disconnected, incoherent drivel:

I wish your mother believed in abortion, Frankie!

Drill, baby, drill!

ACORN! ACORN! ACORN!

And this: Is Ted Kennedy dead yet?

Real objections – and support, and questions – about the public option were drowned out by a mob certain they had no power and so determined to flex it, and so sure their rights to “the First Amendment” were being taken, that they made certain no one else could be heard.

Frank Pallone Health Care Town Hall – Piscataway

Frank Pallone took questions about health care reform in an increasingly heated room for more than 3.5 hours last night, at Piscataway Municipal Hall. Overhead lighting was harsh and the room filled to capacity, with people standing eight deep in back, and down both sides.

So many, that Pallone ran 3 full sessions, emptying out each time for a new crop of people. Each session, its own rhythm. The first had the most organized agitators from the teabag movement. Their antagonizing started outside, even before the doors were opened. Section 2, the most substantive questions – on both sides – and people willing to listen to the answers. The weary third session – most people waiting hours hours to get in – the largest, and the most concerned with preventive care, and with the side issue of abortion.

It was also the only session with many young people.

I was glad to see them show up. Particularly given this, noting that young Obama supprters are AWOL from the health care fight. And that’s messed up. This is signature legislation from the Obama era and change still needs the life, drive and energy of young progressives.

Most of the people walked into the room with opinions gelled, looking for that microphone. Pallone, even-tempered even when the room got shouty, sometimes veered into the wonky.

Substantive questions were on mental health parity, fraud prevention, impact of public option on the deficit, and impact on the disabled. But those were high points.

Cuckoo. Liars. Nazis. Socialists. “He hasn’t even read the bill!” You heard this, too. People angry, mistrustful of government, certain they’re getting bamboozled. A stunning number expressing complete indifference to people without care.

Here’s what surprised me:

I expected misperceptions, even deliberate misdirection. Got that. I wasn’t prepared for so many of the anti-reform agitators fully believing that what HR 3200is, is single-payer health care.  

Make the distinction more effecitvely between the public option and single-payer. Dial down the anger (both sides, I hope).Get me some young blood. And then, maybe we got ourselves a ballgame.

Pallone has another Town Hall TONIGHT 7pm, Red Bank Middle School, 101 Harding Road, Red Bank, 07701. Rush Holt’s is Wed 7pm: Middletown Arts Center, 36 Church St., Middletown 07748. John Adler’s Wed 4pm: Energy Expo, Burlington County Inst. of Technology, Westampton Campus, 695 Woodlane Road, Westampton, 08060. And Adler needs your help on a course correction.