‘Big Brother’ barges into health care fray

The Unablogger

The Unablogger

Public reaction to the President’s plan to spread existing health care resources around to everyone (at the expense of those who have it now, including seniors on Medicare) has not been as planned. But even scarier than the plan itself is the government’s heavy handed suppression of public dissent over the plan. Here’s a brief outline of what Big Brother has done so far, just for starters:

1. Snitch on your neighbor (the notorious flag@whitehouse.gov).

Last week, Macon Phillips, White House Director of New Media who is in charge of the official government web site for the Obama Administration, posted an official blog entry inviting citizens to report emails or anything on the web about health insurance reform that “seems fishy” to a special email address at the White House ( flag@whitehouse.gov ) created for the specific purpose of collecting such information. The Administration is seeking information about “rumors” in chain emails or even (in the blog post’s own words) “casual conversation,” because (again in the blog post’s own words) “we can’t keep track of all of them.” In other words, with your help, they will keep track of all of them. Press secretary Robert Gibbs specifically denied that the White House was compiling an “enemies list” reminiscent of President Nixon during Watergate, which only means one thing: the White House is damned sure compiling an “enemies list.” But even Tricky Dick wouldn’t have openly solicited snitches.

2. Demonize citizen participation.

Instead of defending the substance of their health care proposals, Democrats are responding by attacking and demonizing the citizens who have questioned them. The Democratic National Committee fired the first major salvo, airing a television ad depicting town hall audiences as “angry mobs” duped into hostile actions by special interest groups.

Then, according to the Associated Press, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid accused the protesters of trying to sabotage the democratic process. And then this morning, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer published an op-ed piece in USA Today, the nation’s highest circulation newspaper, calling the protests “un-American.” They accused protesters of misrepresenting the proposed legislation, disrupting public meetings and preventing members of Congress and constituents from conducting a civil dialogue, and being “afraid” of the facts.

These aren’t just the words and actions of bloggers or commentators, but of the ruling party and high-level members of the government. The implied threat couldn’t be more real.

Democrats’ actions are backfiring. The totally unmoblike participants are enjoying their ludicrous characterization as an angry mob, and are using that absurd, over-the-top description as a rallying cry.

3. Intimidate the enemy.

The government and its ruling party, having come late to the party, are now trying to make up lost ground. One strategy is to discredit protesters by inciting violence and trying to blame it on the protesters. Ads for paid “progressive activists” have surfaced on craigslist and the web, only to be pulled when conservatives got wind of them. The organized hit on black conservative Kenneth Gladney outside Congressman Russ Carnahan (D-MO)’s town hall was by thugs uniformly dressed in purple SEIU t-shirts who were seen getting out of the same bus. An audience member supporting the government plan admitted having come there from Kentucky. Mike Sola, the independent voter who confronted Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) about the impact of the proposed plan on his handicapped son, reports that he is now getting late night threats against his life and the life of his son.

Instigators do so with the confidence that their criminal acts will go unpunished. The Obama Administration set the tone shortly after the inauguration, when the Justice Department dismissed its “default judgment” case against Black Panthers charged with armed voter intimidation. The Justice Department had brought the charges and won the case during the Bush Administration, but Obama’s DOJ ordered the charges dismissed. The message was clear: Obama has their back.

Nevertheless, the intimidation strategy hasn’t worked out as planned. While the Democrats naturally assumed that the mainstream media would spin the events their way, the video of what actually happened has been too compelling for even the leftist press to ignore.

4. Orchestrate the meetings.

Another strategy is to offset spontaneous participation by protesters by stacking future meetings with their own supporters. Coordinating with the Democratic congressmen and their staffs, they seek to maximize the effectiveness of their presence with preferred seating for those agreeing with them. I am personally aware of a self-identified member of the St. Louis Young Democrats calling a liberal blogger I know to recruit him to help “stack our supporters at the front of the room” at Tuesday’s McCaskill town hall in Hillsboro. That precisely follows the playbook of Health Care for American Now (HCAN), whose national field director is former SEIU organizing director Margarida Jorge, which calls for “stack[ing] our folks in the front to create a wall around [a liberal congressman].” (hat tip: Lowell Ponte) My blogger friend noted that since he had no connection with the Young Democrats, their calling lists must have been really extensive to include a guy in his 60s like him.

Also part of HCAN’s playbook:  “make a blanket rule that no one can bring signs or leaflets” and “confiscate signs or leaflets that [opponents] may bring. . . .” Update: Signs were in fact prohibited at the McCaskill town hall in Hillsboro.

The audience orchestration strategy works hand-in-glove with the intimidation strategy. The government’s hope is that fear of violence will reduce future attendance, creating a false impression of a momentum change and that the public is now more comfortable with the government’s plans.

But we will not be deterred. Worst case scenario, we will have a wonderful party together in Obama’s re-education camps after he rounds us up and concentrates us there!

One response to this post.

  1. There has been a great deal of talk in the media — print, radio, tv — just about everywhere about the behavior and tactics being employed by various organizations. There have been comments about well behaved and polite citizenry attending meetings to voice their opinions. There have been stories of those who haven’t conducted themselves well. I suspect these stories will go on throughout the month of August and perhaps beyond. For one, I hope they do go on well beyond.

    I think both sides have taken essentially the same tactics. Labeling each other with invectives, giving their supporters a ‘playbook’, and attempting to use the media to their advantage. All of this is okay. It is okay because in America we have the right to freedom of speech, assembly and freedom of the press. These are rights that thousands have given their lives to protect. The debate on health care which consumes nearly a fifth of the national economy and involves everyone is something that we should openly debate and understand the intended and unintended consequences of before we change an entire system.

    It is important to provide better access, bend the cost curve so that health care is affordable (and not just through shifting costs by taxing) as well as sustainable, and improving the quality of the care delivered.

    We are a country that leads the world in health care innovation. We have to zealously protect that aspect. No other country in the world is positioned to take our place if we take our eye off this important work.

    But above all democracy demands that citizens get involved and voice their opinions. Follow the healthcare debate and other important health care system issues at http://www.ilovebenefits.wordpress.com


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