Last night’s town hall meeting hosted by Congressman Pete Olson went off pretty much as expected. Predictable. Town hall meetings were the place to be last summer during the Angst of August when healthcare reform was being beaten about the heads of voters and votees alike. Not so this summer. The crowds stayed away.
Now it could be because the event was held on a weeknight and not on the weekend, but I doubt that had much to do with it. No, this was a town hall meeting attended by those who attend town hall meetings when there is nothing to talk about. And they get there fully fed because the Early Bird dinner hour is over at Luby’s.
Attendees were mostly white people, old white people.
And outside of one or three of us, all of the attendees seem to make it a habit to watch Fox News.
It was, in a word, a Republican Love Fest.
After the flag ceremony, the event began with an introduction from the County Judge, Bob Hebert who allowed that Olson was able to win in his election in 2008 without his help.
Then Olson had a 30 minute presentation where he outlined his views on four issues.
Energy Policy. Concentrating on the BP oil spill, and not necessarily on how it has impacted the lives of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people who are directly or indirectly related to fishing and tourism. Concentrating on the moratorium – that is, the idling of 33 offshore oil drilling rigs.
Figures lie and liars figure, but Olson finally admitted toward the end of the evening that whether there was a moratorium or not, not one of these rigs was going to spud a well in the deepwater any time in the near future. Olson intimated that this was due to uncertainty in having their work halted in court; not mentioning at all any that the oil industry itself may have concerns about its own internal readiness to react to an accident. Over whether those BOPs which work perfectly well in shallow water, have a tendency to malfunction in deepwater.
Healthcare. Or should I say “healthscare?” It’s back to the Angst of August where Olson marched out a small boy whose mother was afraid that insurance companies wouldn’t pay for the birth of her son. Did you know that as a direct result of healthcare reform doctors are not accepting Medicare/Medicaid patients and companies are going to drop healthcare coverage for their employees? Doctors are going to go out of business? Hospitals are going to go out of business? “This is all a result of this healthcare bill," said Olson.
Those dire predictions alone were enough to scare the bejesus out of the collection of geriatrics we had in the meeting. I give you the Republican Party - Scaring old people since 1952.
Then he rolled out the Republican plan to replace the historic healthcare reform bill, now law. What was amazing to me was that the plan he unveiled looked oddly like the one already passed. He left out the jargon, though. “Let [small businesses] pool together for insurance purposes.” That is exactly like the "insurance exchanges" created by the healthcare reform law. Add to that, though, torte reform.
That was nice for the doctors. But my medical bills didn’t go down. Did yours?“Every Texan here knows the benefit of medical torte reform. We passed it in 2003 and almost immediately in the next two years we saw over a 30% reduction in the insurance rate that the doctors were being charged for torte reform.”
Olson admitted that any attempt by Republicans (should they regain the majority) to overturn healthcare reform will be stopped by presidential veto. He promised, though, not to fund any portion of healthcare reform.
I actually look forward to having that conversation should it ever come up.
Economic Solutions. In four steps: Freeze then reduce federal spending, Energy solutions that are market-driven (i.e. coal, oil, nuclear), repeal healthcare reform, decrease government regulation.
Fun stuff that should make the Great Depression of the ‘30’s look like a walk in the park.
NASA. On Pete Olson’s watch, NASA dumped the “manned” part of “manned space exploration.” He admits to being caught completely unawares when the Aries/Constellation project was axed. He’s mad about that.
This despite the fact that NASA actually had a slight increase in its budget (he didn’t mention that). This despite the fact that, using his own analogy, when a family has to trim their budget during hard times, the annual family vacation to Gstaad is probably the first to go.
Then came the Q and A. This was when you become acutely aware, if you weren’t convinced before that this was a political event bought and paid for by federal taxpayers, that this was a Republican event for a Republican crowd.
One woman’s question wasn’t even a question. It was an expression of gratitude that Olson was her congressman. Other questions had to do with the unquestioned certainty that Republicans were going to retake both houses of congress in the fall and what were they going to do when that happened.
Two questions were revealing on Olson’s take in the whole area of privatization. One where he reminisced over Bush’s attempt to put Social Security in the hands of Wall Street which in retrospect, seems pretty much like the worst idea . . .ever, and the other where he speculated about privatizing the United States Postal Service. You know, like FedEx and UPS.
One question about his Hispanic business community outreach allowed Olson to branch into a discussion of a Republican/Teabagger issue on immigration. Olson defended Arizona’s SB 1070, saying it was “Arizona’s cry for help.” Defended the racial profiling that will ensue because “that can’t happen in the bill. It doesn’t sanction racial profiling.”
No, that’s what he said, I played it back over and over.
My fear is that in making this poor choice of words, he actually got it right.
And finally, confirming my speculation that the audience gets all of its news from Fox, this question came up:
“Can the House investigate the DOJ for dropping the Black Panther voter intimidation case?”Here is Olson's answer, minus a reference to American Indians:
“Yeah we’ll look at that. The House probably won’t do it because the majority won’t let us do that but that’s something to look at. I mean the Black Panthers . . . there were a lot of allegations of voter intimidation, voter fraud . . . and, ah, the Department of Justice – it’s pretty solid evidence from what I understand – the Department of Justice dropped it. They said we’re not going to pursue that case. Um, as my former boss Phil Gramm said, and I believe this from the bottom of my heart, uh, you know, voter fraud is one of the most serious offenses that an individual can commit under our constitution because you effectively take another person’s legal vote and cancel it you can make their vote irrelevant. And that is just, again, we’ve got men and women overseas today fighting for our rights and one of those is the right to vote. So voter fraud is something we can’t tolerate. And the Black Panther case right here is a great example of that. The DOJ needs to step up to the plate regardless of party affiliation what have you and make sure that there is justice.”
Fun stuff, huh? Yes, it is an absolute fact that the Department of Justice dropped the criminal charges against the New Black Panthers, preferring to pursue a civil case against them. And that happened on January 7th 2009.
Eleven days before Obama took office.
Eleven days before Obama took office.
But then those are facts and dates. What bearing do facts and dates have here when what we want to have is a taxpayer-supported Republican Love Fest?