Wednesday, August 5, 2009

5 facts about the anti-reform mobs

1. These disruptions are being funded and organized by out-of-district special-interest groups and insurance companies who fear that health insurance reform could help Americans, but hurt their bottom line. A group run by the same folks who made the "Swiftboat" ads against John Kerry is compiling a list of congressional events in August to disrupt. An insurance company coalition has stationed employees in 30 states to track where local lawmakers hold town-hall meetings.

2. People are scared because they are being fed frightening lies. These crowds are being riled up by anti-reform lies being spread by industry front groups that invent smears to tarnish the President's plan and scare voters. But as the President has repeatedly said, health insurance reform will create more health care choices for the American people, not reduce them. If you like your insurance or your doctor, you can keep them, and there is no "government takeover" in any part of any plan supported by the President or Congress.

3. Their actions are getting more extreme. Texas protesters brought signs displaying a tombstone for Rep. Lloyd Doggett and using the "SS" symbol to compare President Obama's policies to Nazism. Maryland Rep. Frank Kratovil was hanged in effigy outside his district office. Rep. Tim Bishop of New York had to be escorted to his car by police after an angry few disrupted his town hall meeting -- and more examples like this come in every day. And they have gone beyond just trying to derail the President's health insurance reform plans, they are trying to "break" the President himself and ruin his Presidency.

4. Their goal is to disrupt and shut down legitimate conversation. Protesters have routinely shouted down representatives trying to engage in constructive dialogue with voters, and done everything they can to intimidate and silence regular people who just want more information. One attack group has even published a manual instructing protesters to "stand up and shout" and try to "rattle" lawmakers to prevent them from talking peacefully with their constituents.

5. Republican leadership is irresponsibly cheering on the thuggish crowds. Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner issued a statement applauding and promoting a video of the disruptions and looking forward to "a long, hot August for Democrats in Congress."

Monday, August 3, 2009

No News is Good News

For the last few months, I've read very little news. The only reason this means anything is that for the previous 35 years I was a voracious reader of at least one newspaper a day, and often two or three. Part of this goes back to my days as a journalism major in college, when newspaper reading was required. And another part of it goes back to my parents, who faithfully read the newspaper every single day.

Maybe it's just my perception, but it seems that most of what passes for daily news these days is incessant nattering about very narrow and short-lived subjects. There is so little truly insightful and, more important, original reporting and analysis--at least it seems that way to me.

What I'm relying on is online daily headlines from several newspapers, mostly to be reassured that there has not been a catastrophe somewhere. Much more valuable than this is the time I spend with a handful of thinkers who bring a wealth of intelligence and perspective to things--Hendrick Hertzberg in The New Yorker, Frank Rich in The New York Times and Lewis Lapham in Harper's (sadly, he writes there only occasionally these days). The only TV personality who seems to be thinking originally, non-pompously and with great perspective is Rachel Maddow. When I tune in most others all I can hear the are the axes grinding, and the personal promotional machines going ka-ching!

Now that I've said all that, be sure to read Frank Rich's column this week. He casts a shining light on the resentment we hear expressed in the guise of "commentary" or even "reporting" these days. Think people like Lou Dobbs, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh. Rich brings to bear the long-term shift in the demographics of America, and how so many really don't like what they're seeing.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Where Has the Time Gone?

Well, well, well. Seven months of 2009 have elapsed since I've updated here. I admit I experience the very slightest pang (rhymes with twang) of regret when I saw recently that 94% of blogs are inactive. Far be it from me to be so ordinary.

It's not surprising that most blogs are inactive. They are a lot of work to keep up. These days, people are paid, sometimes a lot, to keep blogs. And just since the beginning of the year, Twitter has attained a new level of acceptance. Between it and Facebook keeping one's fans apprised of every motion and plan, blogs have lost their purpose for many people.

I haven't actually planned to start blogging again. I just stumbled on it while I was doing some other things this afternoon. As always, who knows what's to come?