Thursday, September 10, 2009

You Lie! No, YOU Lie! No, you DO!

Oh, man. So close! SO CLOSE!! I've been waiting for the US Congress to just completely succumb to the Jerry-Springer-Show-like antics of the recent town hall meetings. You know, people shouting out crazy things, fingers getting bitten off, folks stripping down to the waist and engaging in brazen fisticuffs with their opponents, stuff like that. That would be the best. To have some sort of a brawl akin to those of the Taiwanese Legislature where it's just a full mob riot, where almost all of the lawmakers are just flat out swinging at each other and there are just a few pages or bellhops or whatever they are trying to hold them back by their ties, that would be awesome. And we came really close to that last night during President Barry's speech to Congress about health care.

It would seem that the summer heat over there in Washington has gone to the heads of some of our Representatives and caused at least one of them to welcome the Silly Season with open arms. And an open mouth. Meet the Representative from South Carolina who forgot that he was a member of Congress who was listening to the President of the United States give a speech and who instead behaved like one of the town hall hecklers shouting down anyone who said something that he didn't like...Rep. Joe Wilson! Give him a hand! Behold!

I'll start by saying that there seemed to be a lot more in-audience mumbling and a lot more vocal (yet mostly muted) reactions to various points that President Barry covered. Maybe that's how it is every time the President addresses Congress, but I guess I don't remember it that way. To me, it has always seemed like the President talked, Congress listened and clapped at every pause or at the end of every sentence, and then everyone went home. Not so with the health care speech. Not so. It definitely had that "town halls of summer" feel to it. Just as Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-TX. Behold!

What the hell? Is that his way of relating to the people that he is supposed to represent and serve? By going to this speech with a handmade sign that reads, "What Bill?" I get the feeling that a lot of money could have been made by selling expired produce (suitable for hurling along with the insults) in the Congressional parking lot. He's from where? Texas? Yo, Texas! Don't vote for that guy again. He may be a member of Congress, but showing up to listen to the President address a joint session of Congress whilst holding a homemade heckling sign justifies ranking him just a small step above (just barely above) this guy. Behold!:

Heh-heh. Still funny. Anyway, back to the sophomoric antics of our elected officials. So about halfway through President Barry's speech about health care reform and why we need it, he starts in on debunking some of the ridiculous rumors that are flying around out there. (Thanks a lot mainstream media, for doing your job so incredibly poorly and so incredibly ineptly so that many, many people just believe these ridiculous lies out there because they're not being spelled out why they're not true.) And then he gets to the illegal immigrant topic and things start to get a little heated.

After throwing a bucket of tepid water on the "death panel" assertion, dared mention the words "illegal immigrants" in public. See, with an estimated 12 million illegal occupants of this country (all of whom are eligible for services that this fine nation willingly provides for them), that makes up a large portion of people who are uninsured. And the problem is what to do about it. A lot of people are quite angry at the thought that, if there is a government option, that it would be extended to those who have strayed off the path and wandered aimlessly into this fine land and never left. So to try and diffuse the notion that those who are not even supposed to be in this country would be covered by a government insurance plan, President Barry had this to say: "There are also those who claim that our reform effort will insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false - the reforms I'm proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally."

And that's when Joe Wilson had this to say : "You lie!" And he had it to say loudly. Video is below. Behold!

You lie. Yep. That's what he shouted. (Since when are joint sessions of Congress so shout-y?) Immediately a collective gasp could be heard through the room as uttered by folks who hadn't been that surprised since they watched The Crying Game and found out that chick was a man. Nancy Pelosi would have looked absolutely shocked if she could actually move the muscles in her face. Joe Biden looked like he wanted to kick someone's ass, but only because the gasp woke him up from his nap I think he was enjoying. This would have been the perfect time for a brawl to break out. Come on, Biden! Rip off your shirt and go kick that guy's arse! (Preferably with fake karate chop moves even though you don't know karate!)

Now,'s the thing: I understand that the guy is frustrated. I think that everyone is frustrated. Congress. The people. Even Bo. But regardless as to how frustrated you are, that is the President of the United States speaking and he deserves your respect. Period. You don't shout out "You lie!" You don't shout out anything! You don't show up carrying signs. (Seriously, what's next? Pithy sayings on sandwich boards worn by Representatives ringing large bells?) You know what you do? You listen. You moron.

If he had been the only one behaving like a member of the Taiwanese Legislature, I'd be a little more appalled, but he wasn't. No, pretty much a large number of Reps. were completely clueless as to what it means to be respectful when someone is speaking. Clearly the behaviors seen at some of the town hall meetings seemed like a good idea to some of those elected officials! After all, it's that sort of behavior that got sooooooo much accomplished. Whatever. Who else? Well.....

According to a one Ryan Grim over there at The Huffington Post, after the "You lie!" outburst, someone shouted, "Shame on you!" I don't know when the "shame on you" became the hot catch phrase of political disagreements, but I think we're all over it at this point and do respectfully request that you find a different way in which to voice your fake outrage. "Throw him out!" was also shouted by someone else. "First Lady Michelle Obama, seated behind and above Wilson, seemed to mouth a drawn-out "damn" at the scene unfolding before her." Michelle Obama. Look to her for great arms and look to her for an honest an appropriate reaction. Nice job, Michelle.

More summertime town hall influenced behaviors included "...a Republican member (saying) loudly enough to be heard in the press gallery, "Read the bill!" " Also, when President Barry said he had "no interest in putting insurance companies out of business," a Republican member responded with a loud, "Ha!" " What are you? Five?

Now, I'm not sure when it was that Joe Wilson realized that he had not behaved in the most appropriate manner, but I'm pretty sure it was before the end of the speech. He sure did high tail it out of there. (It was probably because Rahm Emanuel was headed his way. Hey, I'd high tail it if Rahm Emanuel was on the other side of the street from me. That dude can get a little bit intense at times.) And it didn't take too long before he had crafted a short apology and kind of apologized. Sort of. He said, “This evening I let my emotions get the best of me when listening to the President’s remarks regarding the coverage of illegal immigrants in the health care bill. While I disagree with the President’s statement, my comments were inappropriate and regrettable. I extend sincere apologies to the President for this lack of civility.”

So if he still disagrees, who is right? While I don't think President Barry was lying, I think I can guess where Joe Wilson was coming from. And if I'm wrong, then it's where I'm coming from. I understand what is meant when President Barry says "...the reforms I'm proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally." I totally get that and it makes partial sense. The part that doesn't make sense is that those who are here illegally don't have health insurance as it is. Does that stop them from being treated? No. Does it stop them from using the emergency room as their personal physician? No. Does it make them want to get health insurance? No. Do they have any incentive at all to get health insurance? No. So to say that the reforms would not apply to illegal immigrants, that's true. Unfortunately it's true. If you assume that the reforms don't apply to them, then can you also assume that they will continue doing things the way that they've been doing them and that won't change? I think you can assume that.

I think Joe Wilson's point was that just because you're going to reform health care, it doesn't mean that you're going to address the issue of what to do with almost 12 million people who are here illegally and who will likely need medical services at some point during their uninvited stay. Whatever programs, if any, end up in place, if you don't specifically address that issue, then you are automatically consenting to allow them to be treated regardless as to whether or not they're insured or if they can pay. THAT allowance does apply if the issue isn't taken care of. And I'd imagine it would be difficult to explain to millions of US citizens why they will have to pay for health insurance to get certain services, but those who are NOT US citizens will NOT have to pay for health insurance and WILL get those services. Yep, sounds tricky.

Really, I'm a little concerned that this health care thing is one of those issues like abortion or gay marriage. You either fundamentally believe that health care is a right or you don't and you're not likely to change your mind any time soon. And I don't know if we can get past Joe Wilson acting like a total arse and instead look at what it was that made him so angry. I'm guessing we can't. Sorry, Joe. Bad approach.

How is all of this going to turn out for ol' Joe Wilson? Well, as I type this, it's not even 12 hours after President Barry finished with his speech. In that time, Rob Miller, who is Joe Wilson's opponent in the upcoming election, has raised over $41,000 on a website called Act Blue, a fundraising website for Democrat party candidates. It would seem that donations just came pouring into the site just after "You lie!" came pouring out of Joe Wilson's mouth. Anyone got a fork? He's done.

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