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Posts Tagged ‘public opinion’

How to get liberals to like the GOP tax plan

Posted by Richard on December 23, 2017

It’s easy! Just don’t let them know it’s the GOP’s plan.

[YouTube link]

[YouTube link]

There’s nothing new about this phenomenon. Back before the election, Jimmy Kimmel did a couple of similar “man/woman in the street” interviews attributing Trump’s tax proposals and some Trump quotes to Hillary. Predictably, Hillary supporters loved them.

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Conflicting stories

Posted by Richard on May 3, 2011

Last night, I cheered the President. First, because he authorized the mission to get bin Laden and it was a success. Second, because he informed the nation in a speech that was commendably short, to the point, and non-professorial. He even graciously acknowledged the role of his predecessor. Granted, there were an inordinate number of references to "I," "me," "my," and "mine" — but I can forgive that. He's had a rough year, and wanting to crow about this success is understandable.

But today, we've been treated to conflicting stories about one of the important aspects of the mission and the President's authorization of it. First, there was this (emphasis added): 

May 2 (Reuters) – The U.S. special forces team that hunted down Osama bin Laden was under orders to kill the al Qaeda mastermind, not capture him, a U.S. national security official told Reuters.

"This was a kill operation," the official said, making clear there was no desire to try to capture bin Laden alive in Pakistan.

And that account was echoed in many places. India's NDTV had the timeline: 

On April 29, 2011, Obama signed the "Kill Osama bin Laden order." He gave the final go ahead for the secret operation at 8.20 am that day.

Slate's John Dickerson informed us that not only was it a kill operation (a.k.a. "targeted assassination"), but that critical information came from those infamous Gitmo interrogations (emphasis added): 

Detainees being held at Guantanamo provided some of the strongest information about those who were trusted by Bin Laden. They identified a courier and his brother who lived in Abbottabad, Pakistan, an affluent suburb where a lot of retired Pakistani military officers live.

Early Friday morning before departing to view tornado damage in Alabama, the president gave the order to initiate the operation to kill Bin Laden. On Sunday, he met throughout the day in the Situation Room, making final preparations and receiving updates.

HuffPo's Earl Ofari Hutchison crowed that this "shattered the myth" that Obama and the Democrats are soft on terrorism (emphasis added): 

… He refused to soften any of the provisions of the Patriot Act, promptly issued a shoot-to-kill order against the Somali pirates to free American hostages, stepped up the drone attacks on the Taliban in Pakistan, and approved the massive expansion of troops, bases, and spending on the Afghan War. But most importantly, he issued tough and secret orders to the CIA to continue to do everything to destroy and disrupt l Qaeda and to take out the one man that Americans most wanted dead, and that was bin Laden. Obama's order to the CIA and military counter-terror teams hunting bin Laden was clear; do not capture, but kill.

But at some point, administration officials had second thoughts about going with the "orders to kill" narrative. Time's Michael Scherer quoted an unnamed source as denying the Reuters account: 

“No U.S. forces go in and, if someone surrenders to them, will kill them,” the official says. “There was a presumption that it would likely end in a kill,” the official continued, citing the U.S. government’s expectation that Bin Laden would resist capture. “But to say that it was a kill mission is wrong.”

And he later updated with a named source (emphasis added):

As expected, White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan confirmed that this was not a kill-only mission at the White House briefing. ” We certainly were planning for the possibility, which we thought was going to be remote,” Brennan said of capturing Bin Laden alive. ” If we had the opportunity to take him alive we would have done that.”

After that, things got even murkier, with multiple conflicting stories.

— Bin Laden was using a wife as a human shield. No, the woman was just caught in the crossfire. And it may have been a different woman in a different place.

— Bin Laden was shooting at the SEALs with an AK47. No, he was unarmed.

— He was given a chance to surrender, and shot when he didn't. Wait, is that narrative part of the "he was unarmed" story or part of the "he was resisting" story?

Maybe the chance to surrender was like on the cop shows, when they shout "Police, open up!" approximately 3/10ths of a second before smashing in the door. "Osama, surrender!" Bang! Bang! Bang!

The administration is apparently trying to walk a fine line. On the one hand, they want to portray the President as a strong, no-nonsense leader who's prepared to kill the bad guys and keep America safe (hey, there's an election in the offing).

On the other hand, they don't want him to appear to be a cowboy who ignored Reagan's 1981 executive order prohibiting assassinations and trampled on international law.

Personally, I've got no problem with the initial story. In any reasonably free and rational society, you could shoot bin Laden, claim the old Texas affirmative defense that "he needed killin'," and be confident that no jury would convict.

With the exception of whack-jobs like Cindy Sheehan and her ilk, I don't think the court of American public opinion has any problems with an order to take out this enemy of mankind. Like me, most people heartily agree with the President: "The world is safer: it is a better place because of the death of Osama bin Laden."

International public opinion is another matter.

But then, President Obama has always seemed more concerned about the latter than the former.

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Polling 101

Posted by Richard on March 7, 2011

Legal Insurrection is featuring a three-part series this week on polling by guest poster Matthew Knee. The first part appeared Monday, and based on it, the series looks to be a very valuable primer on the subject: 

Analyzing polls with only what polling companies release is a tricky business. Near-ideal poll analysis requires a database of actual, person-by-person responses, expensive software, and advanced mathematics. Ideal poll analysis requires actually being the pollster and having an overstuffed budget. However, there are a number of rules, tips, and tricks that anyone – with a bit of logic and a calculator – can use to draw meaningful conclusions from flawed polls and incomplete information.

I will be addressing these issues in three stages. In the first section, I will talk a bit about how people answer polling questions. In the second, I will discuss samples and biases. In the third, I will discuss techniques for evaluating the seriousness of bias.

All-purpose disclaimer: This series will include approximations and simplifications. It is for understanding media polls, not for writing articles for scholarly journals. It is also not exhaustive. The list of specific problems that can arise, especially in poll wording, is, obviously, enormously long.

Read the whole thing, and read parts 2 and 3 when they appear. You'll be better equipped to understand all that polling data that the MSM throw at you — and to view it with the appropriate amount of skepticism. 

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Help finalize the Contract From America

Posted by Richard on April 5, 2010

For almost a year, Tea Party Patriots, the umbrella organization for hundreds of local tea party groups, has been facilitating the creation of the Contract From America. Unlike the Republicans' 1994 Contract With America, the Contract From America has been a grassroots, bottom-up effort.

The planks were proposed by individuals from all walks of life throughout the country. Local tea party organizations discussed and debated them, helping to winnow the list down. And since January, over 360,000 people have voted for their top priorities. If you haven't, there's still time:

Right now, concerned citizens can visit the Contract FROM America website ( and choose their top ten priorities from a list of 21 planks proposed by committed Americans from all walks of life. By asking website visitors to propose and vote on the agenda, the result will be not a list handed down from on high by old-bull politicians, but one handed up from the true grassroots in this country. Once voting is complete on Monday, April 5, 2010, the Contract will be finalized into a blueprint that will serve notice to public officials about what the people want for their future.

The top priority to date, chosen by over 80% of respondents:

Require each bill to identify the specific provision of the Constitution that gives Congress the power to do what the bill does. (Proposed by: Brooke Storrs, Midland, MI)

Numbers two and three (virtually tied):

Stop costly new regulations that would increase unemployment, raise consumer prices, and weaken the nation's global competitiveness with virtually no impact on global temperatures. (Proposed by: Jan Heinricks, Spring, TX)

Begin the Constitutional amendment process to require a balanced budget with a two-thirds majority needed for any tax hike. (Proposed by: Erik Carter, San Diego, CA)

As Dafydd observed (emphasis in original): 

what the winning plank tells us is that, contrary not only to charges by devious Democrats, ludicrous liberals, and lying lefties, but also by some confusticated conservatives, laughable libertarians, and even asinine anarchists, the Tea-Party popular front is neither "populist" nor "fascist" but simply constitutionalist.

But if you still believe the MSM narrative of tea partiers as racist, misogynist, and homophobic angry white male Christian fundamentalist militia members — well, you might want to look at some recent polling.

According to Politico, much of the leadership of the various tea party groups is female, and a recent Quinnipiac poll found that the majority of the membership may be female, too. A Gallup poll released today found that tea party supporters were in most respects "quite representative of the public at large." Quinnipiac and Gallup aren't exactly right-leaning pollsters. 

Rasmussen — generally considered a more right-leaning pollster (largely because he surveys likely voters instead of just registered voters or all adults, like many other pollsters) — reported today that, although only 16% of voters identify themselves as part of the tea party movement, 48% of them think the average tea party member is closer to their views, while only 44% think the President is closer to their views.

So here's my take: The tea party movement is all about the Constitution, limited government, fiscal conservatism, and individual liberty. And it's becoming the new mainstream.

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Less respected?

Posted by Richard on March 9, 2010

It's not just the President's attempted government takeover of the health care industry that the American public rejects by ever-increasing margins. According to a new poll (sponsored by leftist organizations who no doubt hoped for an opposite result), Americans also reject Obama's foreign policy and national security competence:

A majority of Americans say the United States is less respected in the world than it was two years ago and think President Obama and other Democrats fall short of Republicans on the issue of national security, a new poll finds.

The Democracy Corps-Third Way survey released Monday finds that by a 10-point margin — 51 percent to 41 percent — Americans think the standing of the U.S. dropped during the first 13 months of Mr. Obama's presidency.

"This is surprising, given the global acclaim and Nobel peace prize that flowed to the new president after he took office," said pollsters for the liberal-leaning organizations.

On the national security front, a massive gap has emerged, with 50 percent of likely voters saying Republicans would likely do a better job than Democrats, a 14-point swing since May. Thirty-three percent favored Democrats.

"The erosion since May is especially strong among women, and among independents, who now favor Republicans on this question by a 56 to 20 percent margin," the pollsters said in their findings.

Mind you, I realize that just because Americans believe we're less respected in the world doesn't make it true (although there's been ample evidence in the past year that in fact it is; weakness, as usual, has led to contempt). But what ought to matter to Democrats is that those Americans who believe we're less respected are eligible to vote in American elections — the Euroweenies who may feel differently aren't. 

If independents lean 56-20 Republican on national security, this administration is in serious trouble, and every attempted attack on this country, whether successful or thwarted, will only reinforce their problem. Because with that much doubt about their competence on this issue, even the thwarting of an attack will be dismissed by many as just dumb luck (like the Christmas underwear bomber), not competence.

(HT: Instapundit)

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Tea Party Express II

Posted by Richard on October 1, 2009

They haven't quit in Washington. They're still working hard to come up with a government-controlled health care plan, to enact a crippling cap-and-tax energy bill, to regulate and control ever more of our economic activities, and to make more and more Americans beholden to the government and controlled by the government.

Well, we in "flyover country" haven't quit either. The tea party movement is alive, well, and growing. Just look at the recent polling data showing support for health care reform continues to drop, Americans are increasingly skeptical about what Congress is doing, and nearly two-thirds are angry about the current policies of the federal government

Our Country Deserves Better has announced the next vehicle for Americans to express their disapproval of the current administration's ongoing efforts to turn the U.S. into a socialist banana republic. Tea Party Express II is another cross-country bus tour with rallies scheduled in nearly three dozen locations (including Denver!): 

All throughout the recent Tea Party Express national tour we kept receiving emails and phone calls from people around the nation who lived far away from the route our buses took across America.  We vowed at the time to keep the Tea Party Express effort alive – and that’s exactly what we are doing.

It is our pleasure to announce the “Tea Party Express: Countdown to Judgment Day” which will cross the nation from coast-to-coast, border-to-border October 25th – November 11th — 1 year ahead of the November 2010 congressional elections… or as our Czarina of the tea party movement, Amy Kremer, likes to refer to as “Judgment Day.”  The Tea Party Express will kick-off the tour with a rally in San Diego, California on October 25th and wind up the tour with a rally in Orlando, Florida on November 11th (Veteran’s Day).  We’ve just posted the new tour map and itinerary (with the dates of rallies in each city) at our website:

This won’t just be a continuation of the tour we just completed.  We will be having a lot of special surprises and additions as we grow this effort — and continue the fight against government-run healthcare, Cap & Trade, bailouts, out-of-control deficit spending and the growth in the size and intrusiveness of government.

Check out the route map and rally schedule here. And if there's a stop near you, get your ass out there! 

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9/12 rally time

Posted by Richard on September 12, 2009

If you're in the Denver area, I hope you'll join me in attending the rally Saturday at the State Capitol from 10 AM to 2 PM (I'll be the bearded guy wearing the "INFIDEL" t-shirt). Here's a description from Colorado Tea Party Patriots:

Please join a coalition of 9-12 and Tea Party groups from across the state for a "March on Denver". This event is in support of the national "March on DC" that is taking place on September 12th in Washington DC. March on Denver speakers will include: Jason Lewis, John Caldera, Amy Oliver and Ari Armstrong. Live entertainment will be provided by the rock band "Citizen Pain" and country singer Rich Owen. LET FREEDOM RING!

If you're elsewhere in the U.S., I bet there's a 9/12 event or rally near you. Go to Tea Party Patriots and scroll down to the list of states to access information for your area. Of course, there's the big 9.12.09 March on Washington if you're in that neighborhood, or you joined the Tea Party Express. If you can't be there (or anywhere), check the D.C. schedule and look for coverage on Fox News.

(BTW, if you're still wondering if all this tea party stuff is a real grassroots movement or astroturf, go to Tea Party Patriots and scroll down past the list of states to the list of local Tea Party Patriot Groups. OMG, there must be 500 of them!)

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Labor Day Tea Party rally draws 10,000+ in Illinois

Posted by Richard on September 8, 2009

You midwestern tea partiers are putting us westerners to shame. The Tea Party Express bus tour stopped for a Labor Day rally in New Lenox / Joliet, Illinois (outside of Chicago). According to the sheriff, the crowd was over 10,000, and they had to shut down a portion of Interstate 80 for a time. Wow! Illinois Review has video.

It's only going to get more exciting on Tuesday. Joe "The Plumber" Wurzelbacher is scheduled to speak at one of the Michigan stops. Here are the details (from Levi Russell via email): 

(ON THE ROAD NEAR SOUTH BEND, IN) — Joe The Plumber (Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher) has confirmed with organizers of the Tea Party Express that he will speak at Tuesday's Tea Party Express rally in Brighton, Michigan.

The Tea Party Express will cross into Michigan on Monday evening for a 7:30pm rally in Battle Creek. Then on Tuesday the Tea Party Express will conduct rallies in Jackson (12:00 Noon), Brighton (3:30pm) and Troy (6:30pm).

For Monday's rally supporters will join the Tea Party Express convoy and caravan from Jackson to Brighton and then on to Troy.

National media outlets are traveling with the Tea Party Express and will be broadcasting reports from each Michigan tea party rally.

Here are the details on our Michigan stops.

Friendship Park (northeast corner)
Capital Avenue NE & State Street
Battle Creek, MI 49017

Cascades Falls Park
1401 S. Brown Street
Jackson, MI 49203
*We then invite all participants to caravan over with us to the Brighton rally!

Mill Pond (by the gazebo)
W. Main Street & Mill Pond Lane
Brighton, MI 48116
*We then invite all participants to caravan over with us to the Troy rally!

City Hall (south lawn area)
500 W. Big Beaver Road
Troy, MI 48084

I wish I could be there in Brighton. I hope any Michigander readers I have will turn out for one or more of these events.

I've made another donation to the Tea Party Express to help them keep the momentum going all the way to Washington, DC, on September 12. If you'd like to help, too, go here

I can't wait until the big rally here in Denver next Saturday, Sept. 12, at the State Capitol, coinciding with the 9/12 March on Washington. I bet there's one near you, too — check the appropriate links in this post.

UPDATE (9/8): It sounds like they've had a great reception in Michigan, with thousands at each of the rallies despite off-and-on heavy rains. Check out the pictures and news videos at the tour blog's Michigan update, or just go to the home page and keep scrolling.

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The next Joe the Plumber

Posted by Richard on August 24, 2009

Barack Obama made a mistake last fall when, while walking a neighborhood, he approached "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher. This ordinary "common man" turned out to be an articulate, passionate, and courageous advocate for individual liberty, limited government, and the free market, and he became a hero to those of us who share those American values.

One of the reasons that I never remain pessimistic for very long is that this country seems to produce an endless supply of Joe the Plumbers. At an August 18 town hall meeting, Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA) made a mistake similar to Obama's when he called on Marine Corps veteran David Hedrick. Baird has found for us another Joe the Plumber. 

Via NewsBusters, here is Hedrick's statement about the video below: 

"I, David William Hedrick, a member of the silent majority, decided that I was not going to be silent anymore. So, I let U.S. Congressman Brian Baird have it. I was one questioner out of 38, that was called at random from an audience that started at 3,000 earlier in the evening. Not expecting to be called on, I quickly scratched what I wanted to say on a borrowed piece of paper and with a pen that I borrowed from someone else in the audience minutes before I spoke. So much for the planned talking points of the right wing conspiracy."

I cheered right along with the audience. Then I watched it again and cheered again. Bravo, David William Hedrick!

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Recess Rally report

Posted by Richard on August 22, 2009

Today was Nationwide Recess Rally Day, with opponents of government-controlled health care demonstrating at local congressional offices all across the country. So I headed over to Rep. Dianne DeGette's office at 600 Grant St., along with Jed Baer (who I'm sure will resurrect his blog Real Soon Now). We got there a little before the noon start of the event, and there were already about a dozen people there, including David Aitken (who's been silent for too long himself).

The DeGette office event was not a big deal (no media coverage). The main event apparently was something up in Thornton (a northern suburb) featuring Reps. Ed Perlmutter and Jared Polis. It was advertised by their offices as a "fair housing" event, but the Obama machine emailed supporters to show up in support of government-controlled health care. So of course, the pro-freedom movement got wind of that and urged their supporters to show up as well. Hear Us Now has a nice report of both events, noting this about the Thornton gathering (emphasis added): 

While we were very similar in number, 300 or so to each side of the issue, the way we got there was much different.

The majority of you came because of emails sent by Hear Us Now, sent by other groups, sent by individuals and by word of mouth. While they arrived mostly because of one email sent by Organize for America, the Barack Obama political machine.

The majority of you carried hand made signs and spoke based upon the facts which you have learned about health care by familiarizing yourselves with HR 3200. They carried mostly signs supplied by OFA and they spoke in OFA talking points.

The conversations I had were very frustrating as those I spoke to were frighteningly uninformed and could only repeat the same three to four points. Nearly every person I spoke to who was in favor of nationalizing health care spoke the very same words to me that the previous person had spoken to me.

At about 10:00 the crowd was spilt in half by the police and an area was cleared for Jared Polis to come speak to us. He spent about 15 min and took five to six questions.

Ed Perlmutter had previously beat a hasty retreat and was no where to be found.

So, to the credit of Mr. Polis he at least took the time to address the crowd, took questions from both sides of the issue and was honest in stating that he does support the government option.

Down in Denver, we had a nice, pleasant rally, with no crazies around on either side. The pro-freedom folks were a cheerful, friendly bunch. There were two or three pro-Obamacare people amongst us from the beginning, and I had a very nice long conversation with one of them.

This gentleman was curious about my sign, "Hands Off My HSA" (homemade, of course). He has an HSA himself and wondered why I thought it was in danger. I informed him that under H.R. 3200 (the House bill), HSA plans would be outlawed. He seemed skeptical. I asked if he'd read any of the bill. Of course, he hadn't. He'd only heard the "scare stories" of the opponents and the "refutations" of those. He admitted that he really didn't know the facts, he was just more inclined to believe what the side to which he was sympathetic was saying. 

I told him I'd read or skimmed about 2/3 of the 1018 pages and was familiar with its restrictions on health insurance plans. The bill describes in meticulous detail the four insurance plans, from Basic to Premium Plus, that could be offered as "qualified plans" (and everyone has to have a "qualified plan") — coverage, co-pays, out-of-pocket limits, etc. None of them would permit any kind of HSA plan. He seemed surprised, but not entirely sure I could be believed. 

We discussed some other issues in a very amiable and productive manner, with me admitting that HSAs don't solve the problem of the $8/hr. worker, and him admitting that it's cynical of the left to suddenly proclaim that they want "choice and competition." I think I scored some points with my arguments for a nationwide insurance market and tax deductibility of individual insurance premiums. All in all, a very nice discussion. I certainly didn't convert him to my point of view, but I gave him some things to think about and disabused him of the notion that anyone opposed to Obamacare must be an ignorant yahoo. 

A bit later, someone who had the air of "community organizer" about him arrived with a van-load of pro-Obama people, all equipped with professionally-printed signs. As he was shepherding them into our midst, he was also texting something back to Central Command or whatever on his Blackberry. At that point, I became the most obnoxious guy at the rally, taunting him with things like, "Are you guys from ACORN? Are the union goons on the way?" Some others picked up on my smack-talk, yelling "Astroturf! Astroturf!" He and his minions (hirelings? acolytes?) soon retreated to the other side of 6th Avenue (a major arterial). 

Once again, the difference in the signs struck me (and clearly put the lie to the left's claim that we're the astroturf side). All the signs on our side were either hand-lettered (like mine) or printed on someone's inkjet printer. There were a couple or three hand-made signs on the other side (including the gentleman I talked with), but the rest all had the same signs right from the commercial print shop.

My favorite sign read "Bureaucracy – the sodium silicate of the economy." The women carrying it said sheepishly, "it's a bit Dennis Milleresque," and I said that yes, it was, but that was a good thing.

I estimated our crowd at 40-50. Hear Us Now claims an actual count of 52. I estimated the l'Obamatized contingent at 10-12, and Hear Us Now counted 10.

Throughout the 90 minutes or so that we were there, passing cars honked and waved at us frequently and enthusiastically. Of course, there was also the occasional thumbs-down. All in all, it was a fun time, and I was quite pleased by how well-received we were by passers-by.

I can't wait until the big 9-12 Rally at the state capitol (and in Washington, and in many other locations across the country).

Hear Us Now has a photo page. They're mostly from Thornton, but a few are from Denver. Here are the two you need to see. I'm in the yellow Gadsden flag t-shirt, Jed has the huge beard and TRT t-shirt, and David is the one in the silly hat signing a letter to DeGette (first picture). Click the pictures to see larger versions.

Richard, Jed, and David at Recess Rally   Richard, Jed, and others at Recess Rally

So, was DeGette there, you're wondering. On a Saturday? In her office working? You must be kidding. Besides, she'd already done here "health care forum." It was a phone forum. With everyone muted, and a moderator controlling who could speak. "You will listen to me, and speak only when spoken to."

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Upcoming health care events

Posted by Richard on August 16, 2009

Here's some information about upcoming events that's a bit more timely and of broader interest than my post about the Grand Junction rally.

Nationwide Recess Rally: On Saturday, Aug. 22, the Sam Adams Alliance and other groups are jointly sponsoring a series of rallies in front of congressional offices across the country. Go to Recess Rally and click your state to see time, place, and contact information for your state's rallies. Then go to the Sam Adams health care portal for some intellectual ammunition (and be sure to sign the Free Our Health Care Now petition if you aren't one of the 1.1 million plus who've signed it already). 

Town Hall Meetings: Check the Club for Growth congressional town hall calendar for meetings in your area. Note that all times are Eastern, so be sure to adjust for your time zone.

Tea Party Express: From Aug. 28 to Sept. 12, the Tea Party Express bus tour will host tea parties in nearly three dozen cities across the country, starting in Sacramento and ending in Washington, D.C. Check the schedule for a stop in your area (it's no accident that many of the stops are in the home towns of Democratic congresscritters who may be vulnerable in 2010). 

09.12.09 March on Washington: On Saturday, Sept. 12, FreedomWorks Foundation and 25 other organizations are sponsoring a march to and rally at the U.S. Capitol. Related activities will begin the preceding Thursday. For an event schedule, map, and to register (free), go here. Visit for more information, news, and to order the official t-shirts. 

Other events around the country: There will be plenty of other events around the country before, on, and after Sept. 12. To see what's happening near you and get contact info for local groups, visit Tea Party Patriots. If you can't go to Washington on Sept. 12 (and most of us can't), there is most likely a local event on that date that you can take part in. Please, please, please do so.

Get involved. Get active. Do something. We're on The Road to Serfdom, my friends, and guy behind the wheel has his foot on the accelerator. We need to scream "stop!" at the top of our lungs.

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The people are supposed to listen, not speak

Posted by Richard on August 14, 2009

If you're waiting to hear what the citizens of Montana and western Colorado have to say to their President about health care, don't hold your breath. What press secretary Robert Gibbs called a "conversation" in New Hampshire the other day was a decidedly one-sided conversation:

Much has been made of the chance for true, interactive democracy offered by the freewheeling town hall format that lawmakers are using in health care forums across the country. 

But what the White House is calling a "town hall meeting" does not quite follow in the tradition of the public-driven forums that sprouted centuries ago in New England. 

It's more like a press conference for the public. 

In an orderly fashion, selected members of the audience pose brief questions, and the president elaborates. 

And elaborates. And elaborates. 

A look at President Obama's health care "town hall" Tuesday in Portsmouth, N.H., shows the president out-spoke his audience by a ratio of nearly 9-to-1. 

Here's the scorecard. 

Obama: 8,619 words. 

Audience: 1,186 words. 

That's hardly the kind of even-handed exchange of ideas that marked the town meetings of colonial America.

The President's attitude appears to be, "If I want your opinion, I'll give it to you."

Contrast that with what sounds like an excellent, productive town hall meeting by Indiana Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly: 

Two hours before Mr. Donnelly's scheduled arrival Wednesday in Kokoma, 75 people were lined up for 72 seats. By the meeting's start time of 6 p.m., the number had swelled to about 500. Mr. Donnelly's staff plunked speakers in the parking lot outside the meeting room and, microphone in hand, the lawmaker waded into the opinionated and skeptical crowd to field questions. With the exception of some brief asides about energy and the climate bill, the topic never strayed from the proposed health-care overhaul.

"I have not stated a position on this one way or another," Mr. Donnelly said as he introduced himself and welcomed constituents. He added that he favored some sort of cost-neutral overhaul that would cover people with pre-existing medical conditions. "I wanted to come home for a month and get a chance…to hear what everyone has to say," he said.

"To hear what everyone has to say" — what a refreshing and welcome thing for a representative of the people to do.

A number of people carried signs supporting an overhaul. But the majority of questioners voiced strong skepticism about handing more responsibility for health care to the government.

"I just want to know, when do these entitlements stop?" asked Ron Ammerman, a 35-year-old who has been laid off from his job as a splicer for AT&T Corp. He was the first to take the microphone and earned applause. "I'm responsible for myself and I'm not responsible for other people. I should get the fruits of my labor and I shouldn't have to divvy it up with other people."

Amen, Ammerman!

Questioners were chosen at random by Mr. Donnelly as he walked through a crowd of mostly older people, many of whom wore baseball hats and sunglasses to keep the setting sun out of their eyes. There were a few men in union T-shirts, but no obvious organized groups attempting to fill the meeting with questioners from one side or the other.

A few people spoke up in favor of revamping the current system, including one woman who warned of the power of private insurers.

Another woman said she was unable to wade through the Veterans Affairs bureaucracy to get her husband help before he died.

"Because of government paperwork he never got the assistance he needed," Lynnette Hammond said as she began to cry.

The anger that has settled around similar events in other states never hit Mr. Donnelly, who deftly parried complaints about too much government with questions about which entitlements the audience would be willing to sacrifice.

The anger didn't hit Rep. Donnelly because unlike so many of his peers, he was actually there to listen, and he gave his constituents every opportunity to be heard. He engaged in a true conversation.

"If [reform] doesn't work, it screws up an awful lot," he said. "But the other thing I want to ask is, of those with Medicare, how many want to give it up? That's why we need some kind of reform."

Aaron Williford, 35, a landscaper, said he was troubled by the amount of money the federal government was spending. "I see the federal government is like an individual that maxes out one credit card then goes out and gets another," he said.

Now that, folks, is democracy in action. Bravo, Rep. Donnelly! Good job!

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Rasmussen: voters favor GOP on health care

Posted by Richard on August 13, 2009

Judging from Rasmussen's latest poll of likely voters, the Democrats are practically engaging in assisted suicide (assisted by the mainstream media) by pushing government-controlled health care:

For the first time in over two years of polling, voters trust Republicans slightly more than Democrats on the handling of the issue of health care. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that voters favor the GOP on the issue 44% to 41%.

Democrats held a four-point lead on the issue last month and a 10-point lead in June. For most of the past two years, more than 50% of voters said they trusted Democrats on health care. The latest results mark the lowest level of support measured for the party on the now-contentious issue.

Public support for the health care reform plan proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats has fallen to a new low with just 42% of U.S. voters now in favor of it. That’s down five points from two weeks ago and down eight points from six weeks ago.

Overall, Republicans lead Democrats in terms of voter trust on eight out of 10 key issues for the second consecutive month, and the two are tied on one issue.

Republican candidates continue to hold a modest lead over Democrats for the seventh straight week in the Generic Congressional Ballot.

Only on the issue of government ethics do voters trust the Democrats more than the Republicans. But the lead is narrow, 34% – 31%, and the combined total of a mere 65% suggests that many, many people don't trust either party very much. 

In Rasmussen's daily tracking poll , the Presidential Approval Index is at -8. The index is calculated by subtracting the percentage who strongly disapprove, 37%, from the percentage who strongly approve, 29%. Obama's total approval score (strongly plus somewhat) is now at 47%, the lowest level Rasmussen has yet recorded, while 52% disapprove. It should be especially worrisome to Democrats that 65% of unaffiliated voters now disapprove. 

Sen. Arlen Specter's switch to the Democrats and support for government-controlled health care have thrown a one-two punch at his re-election hopes. In the span of two months, Specter has gone from a double-digit lead over Republican Pat Toomey (of the Club for Growth) to a double-digit deficit (36% – 48%), and his lead in the Democratic primary race is starting to slip. 

It warms the cockles of my heart that apparently there are still plenty of Americans who have no use for arrogant, condescending busybodies who think they know what's best for us and are thus entitled to run our lives.

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Reasons for optimism

Posted by Richard on October 17, 2008

John Samples at Cato@Liberty looked at public opinion trends regarding government spending and saw reasons for limited-government advocates to be optimistic even if Obama wins:

If history is any guide, Obama will not have as much public support for more spending as Clinton or LBJ and such support as he has will begin to decline almost immediately after he takes power.

One can only hope. 

And the same trend might come in handy if McCain wins, too. 

HT: Booker Rising

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