Monday, August 10, 2009

The Weekly Strike-8/10-8/16

Good morning and welcome to the Weekly Strike. We've reached the official start of the August recess, so things are quieting down here in Washington. But fear not, you can still go to your local town hall meeting and start a fist fight.

THE WHITE HOUSE: The President starts his week in Mexico, where he holds trilateral meetings with Mexican President Felipe Calderon and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The leaders were expecting to talk about drug cartels (and Calderon's progress in stopping them), swine flu, and trade. Trade seems to be the most contentious subject for the leaders. Both Mexico and Canada (run by relatively conservative governments) are worried about two U.S. policies, one forbidding Mexican trucks from operating within the U.S., and the provision in the stimulus package that mandates that new spending come from American products. Both sides say that the summit has been cordial so far, but Calderon and Harper are worried that Obama's protectionist policies will make the recessions worse north and south of our borders. They may be right to a certain extent, but Obama needs to do what's in the best interest for the country. At least for the short term, it makes more economic sense to prop up domestic companies, so that we can help increase our tax revenue (which, as has been noted with increasing frequency, is a major cause of our deficit).

Tomorrow, the President travels to Portsmouth, NH to hold another town hall meeting on health care reform. It seems as if conservative activists are planning to raise a ruckus at the event. Since the Obama administration doesn't screen questioners, it could make for a pretty lively question and answer session. I, for one, really hope that Obama gets some wacky questions from the far right. He can draw a great contrast between himself, the responsible President who wants to solve problems, and wing nuts who are out to destroy his plan and shout down anyone who supports it.

I think the bizarre outbursts at town hall meetings across the country are starting to backfire. Even Republicans like John McCain and Sarah Palin are saying they are counter productive, and not helpful for democratic discussion. It seems like positive polarization is starting to help out the left. The more the opposition is represented by angry, old mobs screaming at members of Congress, the better off health care proponents come off in comparison. For generations, it was the other way around. When crazy leftists in the 1960's staged anti-war demonstrations deemed "too radical" for the general public, even war skeptics became more disillusioned with the protesters than the war itself.

Speaking of Sarah Palin, she is getting crazier and crazier. On Friday, she wrote a Facebook post about how the Obama health care plan will ration care so much so that a government "death panel" will decide whether members of society (like her down syndrome baby Trig) are productive enough to be spared. I can't believe the media didn't call her out more for this psycho talk. There is nothing like that in the bill, whatsoever. In fact, she got her information supposedly from Minnesota Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R), one of the few public figures crazier than her. I'm not one to complain about the media, but they cover these absolute falsehoods as if they are just "one of many perspectives" in the health care reform debate.

Later in the week, the President will embark on a western trip, where he will tour some of our nation's National Parks. The Big Picture and I would kill to be on that trip.

One other thing I should mention is that the President has set-up a website designed to debunk false rumors regarding health reform. He started a similar site last year to counter whisper campaigns about him being a closet Muslim, a native Kenyan. If you hear anyone you know pedal falsehoods about health care, send them to this site.

CONGRESS: Now that Congress is out of session, we don't have as much to talk about. So today, instead of going over what Congress is doing this week, I will give some suggestions for what YOU can do now that your representatives are home:

1. Go to a town hall meeting. The best way to counter the "grassroots" gatherings of right-wingers at Democratic town hall meetings is to show up yourself. Bring a group of people, and a lot of signs, and make sure that your voice is heard at least as much as theirs. Every time the member of Congress talks about the importance of health reform, cheer loudly. And if you've ever suffered at the hands of the American health system, share your story, so that people who are opposing the bill out of blind ideology can understand what they are opposing.

2. Donate money. Don't have time to attend a meeting? Can't stomach a fight or two? Donate a few bucks to Organizing for America, the arm of the Democratic National Committee keeping up the fight that Obama started last fall. They will help organized grassroots support for reform over the August recess. If you want to donate elsewhere, maybe Small Town Roots, an grassroots activist himself, can lead in you the right direction.

3. Call reticent members of Congress. Don't have a job? Too much time and not enough money? Pick up the phone and call members of Congress, especially Blue Dog Democrats in the House, and centrists in the Senate. Because of the talk radio echo chamber, I guarantee that these offices are getting 10 times more anti-health reform calls than pro. We should start to put a dent in that. Tell members that the country is counting on them, and that they were elected to make tough decisions.

That's it for today. See you this evening!

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