Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Schakowsky town hall report

Interest in last night's town hall meeting held by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL). I arrived at 4:15pm, doors didn't open until 5:00pm, but there were already 100 people in line to get into the Niles West Auditorium, along with 100 protesters and onlookers on Oakton Avenue--a busy thoroughfare in Skokie.

At 6:00pm, thiry minutes before the scheduled starting time, the auditorium's 1,300 seats were filled. In her opening remarks, the Evanston Democrat said there were "maybe 500-600 people outside."

About Schakowsky: She is arguably the most liberal member of the House of Representatives and an advocate (although she didn't say so last night) of a single-payer health care system.

Many in the audience were single-payer backers. I was sitting in the media area, next to what I'm calling "activist alley," and I'm basing my belief on the shouts--and mutterings--I heard.

More on "activist alley" later.

As for the crowd, my guess is that it was 60/40. Sixty percent in favor of Jan and ObamaCare, 40 percent against. Although that minority asked slightly more than half of the questions.

In her introductory remarks, Schakowsky stated, "You know, Ted Kennedy had said (health care) had been the great issue of his time," which was greeted by cheers--and boos. Unfazed, she continued: "This is great issue of my life. This is really the issue, more than any other, that has brought me to the Congress, health care--the dream of having affordable quality health care available to all Americans."

Well, who could be against that?

But my retort comes from P.J. O'Rourke, "If you think health care is expensive now, wait until it's free."

Schakowsky predicts health care reform will pass by the end of the year.

The inevitable question about government-run health care was asked early on: "If it's such a good deal, then why won't the 535 members of Congress sign up for it?"

Her reply was, "There are suggestions that if we think that this so great, why don't (members of Congress) have an option of joining it." She continued, "I agree with that, I agree with that." But she didn't make a pledge to sign up for ObamaCare--if it passes.

A questioner brought up Section 431a of House Bill 3200, the health care reform bill, that that part of the legislation will require the IRS to divulge financial information in order to determine who receives affordability credits. Initially, she comment on that query. But when that section of the bill brought up again, an audience member told her what page of the document (Page 195) it was on. Her answer was, "Let me look for this again later, I'm not finding it."

Later never came, and the town hall continued for another half -hour.

Schakowsky was asked about ObamaCare coverage for illegal immigrants; she flatly denied that the bill would cover them, but the Washington Examiner's Mark Tapcsott disagrees.

Only once did Schakowsky--spin excluded--attempt to veer the town hall into another direction. She announced that she would read some "very poignant stories" about health care from constituents. Smelling a rat, the audience booed, and she started taking questions again.

Activist alley: Tom Mannis of Chicago News Bench and I were able to snag media seats near the front of the auditorium. In the row behind us were the first arrivals, who, based upon the small talk they made before the town hall started, were clearly Democratic Party activists. Whenever a conservative questioner used words such as "socialism," they cackled, booed, shouted "Shut up!" or "Get on with it!" Granted some of the questioners were in serious need of brevity--on both sides of the issue--but they didn't scream "Shut up!" when the libs rambled.

When one woman made a point of thanking the troops fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, one of the alley cats sarcastically muttered, "Let's have three wars."

Now, exactly who is president right now?

I don't know if these were "astroturfers" I had warned about in earlier posts, but if it looks like a duck...shouts like a duck...

One questioner brought up the problems of Canadian government-run health care, and Schakowsky asked a young woman named Colleen, who has dual American and Canadian citizenship, to talk about how great Canadian ObamaCare is. Was she an astroturf plant?

We'll never know.

Oh, SEIU was there.

Speaking of that government union, an attendee questioned Schakowsky about a 2003 video, available on YouTube, where the Obama clearly lays out the "Trojan horse" strategy to institute single-payer health care. "My question is, was (Obama) lying then, or lying now."

She didn't directly answer that one.

But she threw in this "Capitalism sucks" statement:

My job, when I took the oath of the office, I did not swear to protect the profits of the very rich (insurance) companies.

Abortion? Not covered by HR 3200, although FactCheck.org views it differently.

The Sckakowsky town hall was among the better 90 minutes I've spent in the last few months. Not many minds were changed, and certainly not mine nor that of Schakowsky.

About the congresscritter: Until last night I had only seen her in action at community fairs where she and her assistants staffed a table. I'll give her credit: She didn't lose her cool, and although she had difficulty (self-inflicted?) in answering a couple of tricky questions, I believe her when she said that she had read the HR 3200 in its entirety.

Although there is some nuance about her, Schakowsky is an old-school Great Society liberal. She lives for that far-left stuff. Now I happen to believe--and I'm far from alone on this belief--that liberalism is a failed philosophy. Schakowsky needs to be replaced, although the Gerrymanderers in the Illinois General Assembly have carved a safe seat for her, which makes toppling her difficult. That could change by 2012. The Land of Lincoln will probably lose a House seat, and a new district might be fashioned for the inevitable return of Rahm Emanuel to Congress.

I would love to see a well-funded conservative, or even a moderate, oppose Schakowsky in 2010. She's never had a serious general election challenge as a member of Congress.

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pathickey said...

Did Endora slap any of the help? I love when she goes off on staff and volunteers. A heart tugging reminder of the genuine nature of Progressives.

Progressive America -

Where Teddy Kennedy can leave a girl at the bottom of a soggy Oldsmobile and be LLionized by the media and Progressive people grow to violently hate the mother of a Downs Syndome baby when she refuses to abort a child or play ball with Katie Couric.

I know people live there because I have visited, but still can not get over how weird it remains - Like Disney World on blotter acid . . . .

. . .Oh, Heavens, not that I'd knwo about taht of course.

Marathon Pundit said...

Jan never left the stage...although I can't vouch what happened behind the curtains before and after...

Mr. Right said...

Hey, John.

Here's a little video of Comrade Jan's brigade of Astroturfers being briefed before the battle!

Instructions on how to shout down and block out the opposition. Now that's democracy! Um... actually, no, it isn't.