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Town Hall Talk: The Latest Banter on Health Care

Here's a flavor of the latest bites taken at congressmen for their positions on health-care reform and a rundown of upcoming town hall meetings to monitor:

St. Louis County, Mo.-- Six people were arrested at a town hall meeting held by Rep. Russ Carnahan at Bernard Middle School last night. Two arrests were due to "suspicion of assault, one of resisting arrest and three on suspicion of committing peace disturbances," wrote Leah Thorsen of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The local Tea Party Coalition, a movement voicing opposition to President Obama's health-care reform plans, had reportedly urged members to attend. Although the meeting was pegged by Carnahan's team as "a forum on aging," protesters came armed with signs about the national health-care debate, said Thorsen.

The arrests followed Carnahan's exit. Thorsen wrote that Dawn Majors, also of The Post-Dispatch, "saw a police squad car turn its lights on and went to see what was happening. As she approached it, her eyes started to burn" from pepper spray used as arrests were made.

Thorsen said Majors identified one woman arrested as an audience member who "had been speaking very loudly and passionately in support of health-care reform earlier in the evening,"

Ybor City, Fla. -- "Hundreds of vocal critics" stormed a town hall meeting as Rep. Kathy Castor (D) delivered her health-care reform pitch, according to Adam Smith of the St. Petersburg Times. Smith said Castor's remarks were disrupted by "cat calls, jeering and shoving." One protester was arrested as dozens in the audience shouted, "tyranny, tyranny, tyranny!"

Smith reported other shouts at the event: "Tell the truth! Tell the truth!" "Read the bill!" "Forty-million illegals! Forty million illegals!"

Although the meeting, hosted by state Rep. Betty Reed (D-Tampa) and the SEIU, was intended to be "something of a pep rally" for President Obama's health-care reform plan, Smith said it reminded him more of a "wrestling cage match."

Today's Town Hall Meetings

Howards Grove and Manitowoc, Wisc. - Rep.Thomas Petri (R-Wisc.) holds town halls meetings at 10:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., respectively.

Denton and Gainesville, Tex. -- Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Tex.) holds town hall meetings at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., respectively.

Moorseville, N.C. -- Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) hosts a town hall meeting at Moorsesville Town Hall at 6:00 p.m.

By Washington Post editors  |  August 7, 2009; 7:11 AM ET
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Next: Gillibrand's 2010 Path Gets Easier


Although not at the meeting in St. Louis last evening, I understand 1 man had to be taken to the emergency room after being attacked. Where is this coverage?

Posted by: stlouisliberal | August 7, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Living in a heavy populated city of "arabs" in which the "American woman" is reminded daily of the extent and power that this culture of people possess,whether in a local supermarket or just walking the dog down the neighborhood sidewalk.The vehicles that sit in front of their houses or in their driveways,cost more than most people earn in a year,yet these "professionals","businesspeople",and people who have their own laws,such as sha're or muslim which they use to manipulate or dominant any situation to the extent that a local healthcare facility has the same logo as the Lebanese flag.Complain about these people and its like writing your own obituary which they would probably only run in their newspapers or televise on their radio stations or TV stations.NOW that would make a town hall meeting.

Posted by: formerheap | August 7, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Nice job WaPo of omitting the fact that the two people arrested for assault were SEIU union goons.

Posted by: bobaganoush | August 7, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Since many conservatives claim to be students of the Bible, I am not surprised that those shouting the loudest at these meetings have taken their cues from a Biblical narrative that most people are aware of.

It is the good Friday narrative where Pilate comes to the people of Jerusalem to offer to free one of two prisoners as was the custom on the Passover Sabbath. He offers them the choice of Jesus or Barabas, a thief and murderer. The religious leaders, all of whom were anxious to get rid of Jesus since they saw him as a threat to their agenda, made sure that there were plenty of people in the crowd whom they had coached to shout the words, "Crucify him!" loudly and drown out any calls for Jesus to be freed. So, that's what they did, and Pilate, assuming it was the will of the people, crucified Jesus.

Only a few days later did the religious leaders find out that their plan had backfired.

Posted by: honestcitizen | August 8, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse

The union members of the SEIU surrounded a black man who was passing out buttons and flags saying "Don't tread on Me!" One of the SEIU people started yelling at him and destroyed his stand. Then 4 of the members hit him, threw him to the ground and began kicking him in the head, ribs and legs. He was taken to the hospital and kept overnight. Two of the SEIU members were arrested and charged with assault. I guess Obama'a "troops" were not only told to shout them down, but to "beat them up" as well. Why wasn't this shown or talked about on any other network except Fox?

Posted by: mmqhbm | August 8, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

I don't call the beating of that black man by SEIU union thugs "banter", I call it Chicago mob tactics! How do you feel about it America? And how about you African Americans? This man was beaten by union minions just because he had a different opinion than Obama, and he dared to express it! I think you should speak up for him too!

Posted by: mmqhbm | August 8, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

I've been watching the footage on all networks and what I'm seeing in most cases, is a small group of very vocal protesters shouting down anyone who dares to speak. The rest of the people in the room look bewildered and many have their arms folded or even have their hands over their ears trying to block out the din.

What these health industry shills are doing is preventing the free discourse that is the purpose of town meetings. They are preventing us from exercising our right to communicate with our elected officials.

I did watch the youtube footage of the street fight described in a prior post, and what I saw was an obvious set up, meant to be video taped, as evidenced by the overheard cell phone conversations taking place, such as "get that on video". The protesters deliberately provoked a group who they knew would stand up for themselves. Union members are accustomed to fighting for their rights and they are passionate about it.

I'm heartsick at the incivility being displayed.

Posted by: lonecrone | August 9, 2009 8:29 AM | Report abuse

You know, the sad thing with these "protesters"--clearly organized--is that they will actually influence non-thinking Americans to once again vote against their own self-interests in regards to overhauling or creating a new system of affordable health care coverage for every American. These "protesters" would have you think they represent mainstream America, but you'd have to go back decades in order to find such a "grassroots" display of discontent with a particular policy proposal; there wasn't THIS much "protest" when no WMD's were found in Iraq. These corporate dupes represent the paranoid fringe, and are supposed to get us to believe that the current system, one that is responsible for the majority of bankruptcies due to the inability to pay incredible (and still growing) health care costs, is better than creating a new system to cover everyone? Insanity!

Posted by: Beyond-The-Spectrum | August 10, 2009 7:55 AM | Report abuse

Town Hall Protesters Can’t Have it Both Ways

I have to say that some of the comments here are as shortsighted as the town hall protests. I don't understand a whole lot about the ongoing 'debate' about healthcare reforms and I suspect many Americans are in the same boat. However, I am trying to educate myself about the proposed reforms and assess how they will impact mine and my family’s future. Unfortunately the town hall protesters are standing in the way. In a recent New York Times column entitled “The Town Hall Mob,” Paul Krugman raised a simple straightforward question: what are they [the town hall mob] angry about? I believe that the answer is no one [including the mobsters themselves] knows why the ‘town hall mobs’ are angry. Let me explain why. If the protesters were really concerned about the reforms: 1) they would educate themselves about the issues before coming to the town hall meetings or at least have the courtesy of listening what the issues are during the meetings. Nothing from what we’ve been seeing suggests they folks are doing either. 2) they would use these town hall conversations or “listening tours” as they are called to raise specific questions and concerns and give the members of congress the opportunity to address these. 3) we would be hearing a wide variety of personal concerns and questions rather than the tired talking points of the sort "keep your government hands off my Medicare." I bet if you asked these folks what this phrase even means very few would be able to give you an answer. In short, what we have been seeing in these town hall meetings give little indication that these folks know what they are angry about.

So call the protests what you will. But please don’t call them free speech and certainly not democracy. It is true that the ability of one to voice their concerns is the essence of democracy. But there is a big difference between voicing one’s concerns and engaging in disruptive acts that don’t serve the interests of the American public. So, Town Hall Protesters have a choice to make: they can act as grownups and voice genuine concerns about the proposed reforms in a cal and ration manner (this would not only benefit them, but would also benefit us—the public at large who are struggling to learn about the issues at stake). If they [the protesters] can do this, then they will be proving who they really are: “Angry Town Hall Mobs.” In other worlds, they can’t have it both ways!

Eric N, New York City.

Posted by: NERIC6 | August 10, 2009 9:50 PM | Report abuse

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