Shuck and Jive

Friday, August 28, 2009

Mr. Roe Goes to Elizabethton

I attended the town hall meeting hosted by Rep. Phil Roe in Elizabethton yesterday. A good number of my church members were there and several of them spoke during the Q&A period. I am very proud of them.

I didn't speak. I thought of it. I didn't know exactly what to say or when. I did hold up my sign:

The U.S. Needs Universal Health Care Now!

And on the flip side:

Health Care is a Right (not a privilege)

Hoo haw.

As you may sense I am a bit discouraged about the whole thing.
So you all know our congressman is against the public option. He also wants to drill in Alaska. And he doesn't want us to worry about CO2 emissions or climate change.

You can read a report of the gathering in the
JC Press. I know the reporter, John Thompson. I like John. He is a good guy. He has reported on our church before. I didn't see it the same way John did. I wish John had reported more regarding those who spoke in favor of health care reform. He wrote:
A few people challenged Roe’s positions, but he corrected any mistakes or misconceptions in their statements.
I guess that is one way to see it. There were a lot of people who spoke in favor (and several quite eloquently) of the public option legislation making its way through congress.

For instance one woman said it is "morally indefensible" that we do not have health coverage for all Americans. I applauded.

Dr. Roe responded that it is morally indefensible to "ration care." What does that mean? It means that he thinks if we get a public option, care will be rationed like bowls of gruel in a Dickens novel. It is a corporate "scare" word and in his speech he used them all.

You can find most of his scare words on his web site. They are from the script he received from the health care industry.
I reported on that earlier.

Like a true thespian he followed the script that
Bill Moyers unearthed:
Moyers: I have a memo, from Frank Luntz. I have a memo written by Frank Luntz. He's the Republican strategist who we discovered, in the spring, has written the script for opponents of health care reform. "First," he says, "you have to pretend to support it. Then use phrases like, "government takeover," "delayed care is denied care," "consequences of rationing," "bureaucrats, not doctors prescribing medicine." That was a memo, by Frank Luntz, to the opponents of health care reform in this debate.
Dr. Roe began his speech telling us that there are 47-50 million uninsured people in the U.S. He told us that we need reform and that he is in favor of reform.

...he is against the legislation currently being debated. He used words like rationing and bureaucrats and the government between you and your doctor. This is from Dr. Roe's web page:
One proposal I am opposed to is a takeover of our healthcare system by Washington bureaucrats. Whether you call it a “public plan” or a “government-run option,” the long-term result is a system where care is dictated not based on need but based on a budget.
It is the same thing he is saying at every town hall meeting. It is from the script.

The problem is that health care is "rationed" right now. The holders of our ration coupons are insurance corporations. They are the ones who ration health care. They are the ones who are morally indefensible.

John reported on this interesting exchange:
He also corrected another member of the audience who accused him of taking contributions from medical associations. Roe told the audience he made it a point in his campaign to only use his own money or donations from individuals and to accept no PAC money.
The questioner never said he accepted PAC money. She said he accepted donations from the health industry.

One of the marvelous things about the internet is that you can look this stuff up.
Check out this website.

Phil Roe received contributions from individuals connected with various industries. Which industry topped the list? Health.

Health Professionals$168,877
General Contractors$91,900
Lawyers/Law Firms$27,200
Real Estate$25,041
Oil & Gas$20,700
Misc Business$15,182
Retail Sales$14,900
Civil Servants/Public Officials$14,132
Candidate Committees$12,000
Beer, Wine & Liquor$10,500
Building Materials & Equipment$9,400
Hospitals/Nursing Homes$9,250
Commercial Banks$9,200
Construction Services$8,500
Crop Production & Basic Processing$6,950
Misc Manufacturing & Distributing$5,600

This is what the questioner was talking about. The bottom line is that the health care industry has been lobbying and spending to defeat any kind of public option. We know why. It will hurt their profits.

Apparently the "Mr. Roe goes to Washington" schtick works pretty well. He uses it a lot. He presented stacks of bills that run 1,000 pages and contain fine print. How can he possibly read all of what is put in front of him? The point of this rhetoric is to convince you that "they" are pushing legislation without providing opportunity for discussion.

That is just lame. All of our representatives have a staff. Welcome to the big leagues, congressman.

What I found most discouraging in this entire exchange is the lack of care about others and our future. Not Roe so much but people. If you don't have health insurance you are an illegal immigrant or you are lazy.

Another person claimed that we need to be drilling for oil offshore and every where else. "We need to use it up!" he said.

Use it up? Then what? Do you people ever plan ahead?

One gentleman, a doctor who has lived in the United States for many years and has served the people of Johnson City as a physician, is from Peru. He speaks with a Peruvian accent. He spoke in favor of the public option. He spoke in favor of caring for others. That is what it means to be a member of a nation after all. That is what it means to be a participant in a government
by, for, and of the people. We care for each other. We care that our sisters and brothers have basic needs like health care. It is what it means to be human.

An audience member told him to go back to Peru.

Hi ho.


  1. And don't forget to send your personal stories about health care to the JC Press.

  2. John, we've lost the concept of the common good in this country, and that is quite depressing. I've got mine and the hell with you. The doctor from Peru was right.

    Landrieu has not made up her mind, or so she says, what she will vote for. I have more respect for her now than before the meeting, because she truly did listen. I admit that let her off the hook from having to say much about what she supports. She answered all the questions, but she sometimes did the politician's shuffle as she answered.

  3. "...we've lost the concept of the common good in this country,.."

    I wonder what it will take to get it back.

  4. According to one woman at the meeting yesterday, Gov. Landrieu has come out AGAINST the reform - yet Mr. Roe didn't "correct" the woman on her mistake. Hmmm.

    Here's another thing I thought was ironic - Roe and so many of the others are "pro-Capitalist" and don't think the government should tell Doctors or Insurance CEOs how much money they should make, but they were all for TORT reform and having the government tell lawyers how much THEY can make.

    It harkens back to Voltaire, I think: "First thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers!"

  5. The Elizabethton Star article was even more lopsided.

    He didn't even report the people who spoke in favor of health care reform and the public option.

    Here is a doozy:

    "As he wiped away tears, one guest told the audience, "Since when does freedom come with so many guarantees.""

    I remember this guy. His argument was that health care is not to be expected in a 'free' country.

    Roe's response was to agree:

    "You have to have some responsibility for yourself."

    So is freedom for these folks, anarchy?

  6. I'm really disappointed in John Thompson. That was simply bad reporting.

  7. I just googled "crowd supports health care reform" and the results show that today, August 29th, 1000 people rallied in Manhattan, 2000 in Austin, 800 in North Dakota, 1100 in Orlando. These are better numbers than seen at the tea parties supported by Fox and Friends. Bill Clinton and Al Gore spoke in support at a fund-raiser in Nashville.
    I wouldn't be too discouraged just yet.

  8. All right, David! I'll keep tending the fire! Thanks!