So the media is all flipping out about my Congressman, Steve Cohen, calling propagandists, what they are… propagandists. In doing so he chose to use one of the most notorious propagandists of modern times, Joseph Goebbels.
Folks have said he called Republicans “Nazi’s”. That’s not what I heard. What I heard was a guy that’s tired of hearing a big lie repeated over and over again until it becomes conventional wisdom.
That is what the Big Lie is:
…a lie so “colossal” that no one would believe that someone “could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.”
It should, because as Congressman Cohen notes, the lie about the Healthcare Reform Bill being a “government takeover” of healthcare has been characterized as a falsehood again and again. Despite this fact, far too many Republican lawmakers, candidates and boosters have continued to repeat this lie for their personal and political gain with the help of a compliant media.
In effect, they have repeated the same lie enough times that it has infiltrated the American mind to the point that if you played word association with just about anyone and said “government takeover” they’d say “Obamacare”.
That is programming via propaganda.
But just because you invoke one of the world’s greatest propagandists, who also happens to be a Nazi, doesn’t mean you’re calling people a Nazi. It means you’re calling them propagandists.
It’s not as if Republicans didn’t know what they were doing. Frank Luntz “urged” it, and it was done. If only Democratic lawmakers would listen like this!
The point is, you don’t get a Pulitzer Prize winning media organization to call your rhetoric the Lie of the Year if what you’re saying ain’t a lie. And you can sit there and repeat your “winning phrase” all you want, you can vote to repeal, you can wave signs saying “Keep Government out of my Medicare” and it doesn’t make what you’re saying true.
“Government takeover” conjures a European approach where the government owns the hospitals and the doctors are public employees. But the law Congress passed, parts of which have already gone into effect, relies largely on the free market.
Free market? I thought you guys all had a hard on for all that free market stuff. Guess not.
In the end, if I say you’re like Walt Disney, I’m saying I think you’re creative and good with the marketing, not the creator of world recognized brand or owner of a slew of theme parks.
And if I say you’re like Joseph Goebbels, then I’m saying you’re not only a damn good ideology based liar, but pretty damn persistent and consistent as well as pretty damn good at getting away with it, not that you’re a Nazi.
Though I guess you’d be proving my point if you did stretch and say I was calling you a Nazi, wouldn’t you?
Republicans should either take the comment recognizing your largely successful effort to defraud the American people as a compliment and move on, or if being a propagandist that uses their propaganda in the service of creating one of the worst public health nightmares in human history is not your intention…stop being a propagandist and start telling the truth.
Here’s the whole speech.
I just got back from the Town Hall meeting held by Tennessee’s 9th Congressional District Rep. Steve Cohen. I have to tell you, the turnout was pretty impressive. I livetweeted the event under the hashtag #cohen, as did some others at the meeting. Right now twitter search isn’t working too well, probably because of the DOS attack earlier this week, but you can follow me or just read my tweets from the event.
Thankfully, the event didn’t have as much of the hostility that’s been reported at other events, though there were some very vocal dissenters. While they were a bit disruptive, and their outbursts occasionally made it difficult to hear, the meeting went down without any real incident.
I arrived about 20 min. before the event was scheduled to start. At that point, the line was making it’s way around the corner. As we stood, waiting to enter, the line continued to grow. I’m not good at estimating numbers, but I would guess about 400+ people were in attendance.
Luckily I was near the front half of the line and was able to pick a spot upon entering. There were a lot of Seniors in the line and both the Congressional staff, and many of the attendees on both sides of the healthcare issue were cool about making sure those people had seats.
The meeting began about 15 min late, due in large part to the over-capacity crowd. The venue was pretty crowded, as the pictures that follow will show. After the pledge, which was punctuated by a shouted “under God”, and some general instructions by employees at his local office, Cohen began introducing members of his staff to groans from the people there to protest healthcare reform. Cohen brought his DC staff down for a retreat to meet with the local staff, and said he felt it was important that people know who’s working for them in DC as well as here in Memphis. At one point the crowd started getting restless, but was shouted down by a man who stood up and said, “I’m want to hear my Congressman!”, which elicited both applause and groans.
After the introductions, a line of about 8 Doctors formed to talk about healthcare reform. Many expressed concern about the “public option”. Cohen made no attempts to disagree with them or anything, but allowed them each to talk for a few minutes about both the problems and their concerns. This was not scripted or pre-planned. I really think, in the end, it was an effective strategy to keep the opposition off their game, and some good points were raised, though they were difficult to hear and impossible to record due to all the mumbling and grumbling that was a constant at the event.
There were some interesting moments in the Doctor comments section, though they were hard to make out due to the noise in the room, but as I tweeted Cohen held his own for the most part. The anti-reformers interrupted just about anyone who spoke, even people who supported their position. At one point Cohen asked people to “chill”, and later challenged a guy with a ”No Government Healthcare” sign, to which he answered, “I guess you’re against the VA, Medicare and Medicaid”, which brought down the house. Also, one of the doctors noted to the anti-reformers that “yelling lies over and over doesn’t make it true”, and another said, “anger and fear was trumping truth and facts”, which brought an expected response from the anti’s.
Once questions started, it became even more difficult to hear. The questions came from cards, rather than calling on people in the audience, another effective strategy at keeping the meeting orderly. Most of the questions centered around Healthcare, but some touched on Cap and Trade and other issues.
Over time, the anti folks started checking out of the meeting. Many left 30+ min early because they weren’t getting the play they wanted. Of course, the hardcore folks stayed at it, shouting all kinds of things that I can’t even remember at this point. I wish I could remember because it was some of the stupidest crap I’ve ever heard in my life, and I listen to right wing talk radio from time to time to get a laugh or get motivated against their messaging.
In the back of the room, where I was standing, the hyperbole was thick, and there was a lot of passing around right-wing chain emails and such. From that vantage point, I can say that there were more signs in support of reform, or the public option specifically than there were from the anti-reform folks, though theirs were more, shall I say, creative…if that’s what you want to call it.
Cohen did his best to dispel the myths about killing grandma and the “Palin Death Panel”. I don’t think he convinced anyone on the other side, though by the end they were not feeling victorious.
After the meeting most of them just took their signs and grumbled their way out of the hall. Most of the supporters went up to say hi to the Congressman.
I wish I had been able to take better notes, though the livetweet from the phone made my juggling act pretty difficult. All in all it was a successful meeting, despite the attempts to disrupt.
Thanks to all the residents of the 9th District who gave up part of their Saturday to participate, and even those from Arkansas and the surrounding districts, whose intentions may not have been as constructive. It takes all kinds, and I hope that, perhaps some of the misgivings about healthcare reform were quieted…though I doubt it.
There are several Town Hall Meetings going on in the area as the week comes to a close.
Tonight is a meeting with Marsha Blackburn TN-07.
Date:Thursday, August 6, 2009
Time:7:00pm – 8:00pm
Street:6705 Poplar Ave
Tomorrow, Mayor Myron Lowery will host a town hall meeting at City Hall
Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) will host a Town Hall Saturday, August 8 from 10 a.m. to Noon at BRIDGES, 477 North Fifth Street, Memphis, TN 38105
I wonder if Mayor Herenton understands the office he is seeking? Surely the Mayor knows that as 1 of 435 in the US House, he will have to seek alliances, and that means making deals, if he is to get any amendments or legislation he sponsors to make it to the President’s desk. Should the Mayor become a Congressman, he will have to make deals. That he is not practiced in this art, is a huge strike against him.
I haven’t written about Herenton’s primary challenge, or any of the on goings here in Memphis pertaining to the Mayor, because I don’t believe any of it until Council Chairman Lowery assumes the Mayor’s office on an interim basis. Once that happens, I’ll start believin’. Still, the Mayor’s antics today, including the possibility of running in the Special Election if he doesn’t like the field cast some serious doubts on how serious he really is about anything.
What this is starting to look like now, is a man who more than anything else, just wants to be in the public eye, stirring the pot, for his personal enjoyment. By resigning, or at least threatening to, he took himself out of power to seek a new office. He’s losing the bully pulpit he alone has as City Mayor. Now he’s starting to realize this, and he’s making moves to maintain his relevance at it’s current level. It must be a very lonely place for the Mayor.
I don’t think anyone believes that after Herenton leaves the Mayor’s office that he’ll be irrelevant. Quite the contrary, Herenton will have time to carefully craft his verbal grenades to lob into the race for Congress. He will have lost the bully pulpit, but he will not have lost the thing that elevated him to the Mayor’s office in the first place, his tenacity.
What will be interesting is how much media play he’s given after his departure from City Hall in comparison to his current media value, and the media play Cohen receives. Broadcast and Print media have had a pass on covering the Mayor while he held that position because as mayor everything he said was potentially newsworthy. Once he is no longer Mayor, everything he says is a part of a political campaign, which still holds some newsworthiness, but also creates the potential for the appearance of favoritism one way or the other should the media not cover them both equally.
In the end, Herenton may not be a deal maker in his political life, but he’s definitely made a deal with the media. Herenton has made a conscious decision to put publicity over policy, his personality over effective management and governance. Memphis deserves better, but we, as a city, have to step up and stop this madness. If we don’t, we can expect nothing more than more of the same, which has been devastating to the city in the long run.
I’ve had some issues with the leadership in the Congress since they took control last January. Eventually, they figured out a way to work their respective legislative bodies in a way that is mostly in tune with the sentiment of Democrats, but it has, at times been a struggle, as Senator Harry Reid points out in this article at HuffPo. My favorite quote from the article:
“People think she [Pelosi] has a large margin, she doesn’t,” he said. “You add in the so-called Blue Dogs [conservative Democrats], she has trouble passing anything, because they are a pain in the wrong part of your body.”
That they are sir…that they are.
I just want to say to all those people who have busted my chops for being hard on Tanner, Cooper, and some of the other “Bush Dogs”, here’s your evidence. Certainly, we want Democrats whenever possible, but we also want the best Democrats we can get. To that end, give this a looksee, and if you can, drop Ed Fallon some coin to help build a more progressive Democratic Congress.
While you’re at it, give Steve Cohen some love too. He’s been great, both in the Congress and for Memphis the past 18 months. A truly progressive voice. If any Freshman Democrat deserves re-election, it’s him.
Update: Braisted beat me to the punch on this (by 11 min.) and has some commentary from John Spragens, spokesman for Blue Dog Rep. Jim Cooper.