The long and vigorous debate about health care thatâ€™s been taking place over the past few months is a good thing. Itâ€™s what Americaâ€™s all about.
But letâ€™s make sure that we talk with one another, and not over one another. We are bound to disagree, but letâ€™s disagree over issues that are real, and not wild misrepresentations that bear no resemblance to anything that anyone has actually proposed. This is a complicated and critical issue, and it deserves a serious debate.
The project The Village Square is working on, referred to in the article below, is finding more voices from both sides of the aisle for our blog, to engage in a real conversation (unlike the ranting on talk radio or TV opinion “news” shows). We’re particularly interested in auditioning blogging teams of friends from different political camps. If you’re interested, give us a yell at firstname.lastname@example.org. We tried this first offline in the “real world” in our invitation to have a lunch across the aisle. It’s our way, as historian Patricia Nelson Limerick writes, to “let friendship redeem the republic.”
Two weeks ago, I had coffee with Liz Joyner, executive director of the Village Square, about a project she’s working on, and I enjoyed her passion for politics and ideas.
Yet there was this tincture in the discussion. I noticed a small distress, a weariness about the close-mindedness, extremity and partisanship of politics these days.
She pinned it on Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. Not in that liberal, nose-upheld NPR kind of way, but more earnestly and with profound regret. I felt her pain.
I’ve listened to Limbaugh only once or twice myself, much the same for Sean Hannity.
They have some function in this world, and for many people, I’d bet they have sparked an interest and, let’s hope, a passion enough to search out all views. Something in me is hoping but doubts it.
There’s demagoguery, obtuseness and silliness in some of their views. I chuckled at Limbaugh’s bizarre plan to sabotage Obama’s primary campaign in Pennsylvania, dubbed with the military craft cliche: Operation Hillary. Yet Limbaugh and Hannity, in a circumscribed sense most certainly, are great entertainers working in a crowded field of political entertainment.
Anyone who listens to them with the intention of getting something intelligent out of it is simply lost. But they have little to do with what’s wrong in politics.
It’s those in the higher journalism attached to small magazines such as the New Republic, Atlantic Monthly, Nation, American Conservative, Weekly Standard, Reason, Commentary and the National Review that offer not a principled defense of ideas but the false exploitation of ideas and a misuse of language that have a stultifying effect on political discourse and disarm thoughtful people like Joyner and threaten to disengage them from the process.
At least, after reading some of Jonah Goldberg’s “Liberal Fascism,” I have come to feel this way.
Its title is cheeky, a reverse insult to those liberals forever calling conservatives fascists, which historically we have not been.
I felt redeemed once I read the title, and because Goldberg writes crisply and with humor, I was looking for a quirky intellectual history. I didn’t get that, because Goldberg decided to go for something much smaller.
He wanted to rebut every New York Times columnist, New Yorker staff writer or Ivy League academic who ever uttered the words “fascism” and “conservatives” together. Really, he wanted to sock Gore Vidal in the mouth, in a literary sense.
So, we get liberalism is fascism. No, it’s a cousin of fascism. No, really, it has a resemblance to fascism. Hey, look at Hillary’s devious phrase “It takes a village to raise a child,” or Barack Obama’s equally menacing “We are the change we’ve been waiting for.”
It’s obvious: Fascism is back!
As Richard Posner wrote about a popularizer of academic ideas: No serious reader could be persuaded by his books.
When words have no meaning, ideas lose their substance, since both require honesty and mutual agreement about their definitions. In Jane Austen’s “Northanger Abbey,” the know-it-all Henry Tilney lectures the heroine on her careless use of words and the word, in particular, “nice.” “Every time (you say), this is a very nice day, and we are taking a very nice walk, and you are two very nice young ladies. Oh it’s a very nice word, indeed — it does for everything.”
It may seem a conservative cliche, a backward way of arguing for small government, but part of this distortion of ideas and words, the meanness and small-mindedness of our political arguments, comes from our having too many ideas on the table. Create a concept, somebody once said, and reality exits pretty fast.
The pundits and politicians have forgotten the serious stakes that all of the ideas on the table carry. We’ve seen cap-and-trade rushed through the U.S. House, the call for a new stimulus bill (somehow the other didn’t do the job), and now a renewed call by the president for an expedited health care bill by October.
A Republican senator says this is the president’s Waterloo. The president cynically says Republicans are playing politics. Speaker Nancy Pelosi causally dismisses citizen’s concerns about a real and unprecedented power grab by the federal government.
It should surprise no one that, once ideas and words are scrambled only for effect and no one thinks thoroughly and thoughtfully about them, it’s easy to have four different health care bills, major miscommunication or noncommunication, spin and political calculation, inflamed citizens — and all the rest.
At the president’s news conference, for example, his bill was defined as an extension of the free-market concept. It is anything but, yet the president indulges in this because he knows that explaining ideas honestly doesn’t work in this political season.
In a letter, Mrs. Humphrey Ward chastises Henry James about his boredom and cynicism about politics. For her, politics and ideas are the “salt and sauce” of life. I’m starting to reject her views and embrace James’s.
To me, this unreasoning, vulgar, groundless, deafening and sapping partisanship is the “very measure of insipidity” for those who love ideas, politics and the village square.
Today Village Square founder and board of directors co-chair Allan Katz has announced he is resigning his City Commission seat.
To watch Allan during his many years of service to Tallahassee was to have the pleasure of seeing the consummate citizen in action. Despite the dizzying speed that he moved from one commitment to the next, he was always up on the latest news and working to fully grasp the complexities required to make a good decision for the City of Tallahassee.
For those of us who know Allan best, we know he is brave. And we’re not talking vanilla brave… he is a nerves of steel, emperor has no clothes unflinching kind of brave that is sadly rare among the too many finger-in-the-wind elected officials of our day. Agree with him or not, he has never taken the easy way if it sacrifices what he thinks is the right way. He steadfastly put the best interest of Tallahassee well ahead of how he’d be perceived or whether he’d be re-elected.
When Allan launched an initially one-man effort to oppose buying into the Taylor coal plant, his re-election campaign was right around the corner. While he knew it would be a harder slog because of the coal fight, it wasn’t even a consideration. In the no-nonsense common sense signature characteristic of Allan, he called the coal plant “like buying into the last buggy whip factory.” When he later supported biomass, he set himself against many of his no-coal allies. Didn’t matter, Allan thought it was the right thing for Tallahassee, so he took the steeper climb.
The Village Square was inspired by the way that Allan has done his public service. Despite his devotion to the Democratic party, Allan has never been limited by the ideology or party membership that most of us find ourselves boxed into. He is committed to the world of great ideas, wherever they come from. Allan has deep and meaningful friendships across the aisle which we built on to start our tilting-at-windmills-pie-in-the-sky-civility-in-politics effort.
If The Village Square is even half as successful as Allan was, we’re good.
While your favorite explanation for the partisan divide might be that the folks who disagree with you are dumb-as-dirt, turns out our current political environment may be a nearly inevitable result of certain sociological and economic trends – stir in a helping of behavioral psychology and, tada, we’re attending town halls with fistfights and swastikas.
Rewind to the middle of last century (screen gets wavy, cue up appropriate piano riff and fade to black and white)… Generation Happy Days was pleasantly ensconced in the suburbs, becoming members of the PTA, joining bridge clubs and bowling leagues. We flipped on the evening news at night and turned the dial to a choice of three stations. (Yes, for the kiddos among us there was an actual dial and it was hard enough to turn that you needed a running start.) We grabbed our local paper off the door stoop every morning and on Sundays many of us trotted off to our neighborhood church, one of a handful of denominations that were close enough to be kissing cousins. (Forgive the absence of synagogues in my story; I’m painting with broad strokes.) While we were growing economically comfortable as a society, reverberations of the depression kept our basic gene pool constructively austere. In the lives we led, we spent plenty of time with people who didn’t see it our way politically – they were our friends, our neighbors, even our spouses. We were busy having a national conversation; very much in keeping with the founders’ vision of America – we had turned diversity into strength, a balance for excess and a creative force.
But soon enough, American prosperity brought into existence a highly mobile populace that had forgotten about the depression, was no longer primarily concerned with mere surviving and naturally turned their attention to the “pursuit of happiness” portion of the American dream. (Think Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs with basic needs mostly met.) So naturally, we moved to cities with a center of gravity we liked and joined groups plum filled with people like – well – us. Old-fashioned neighborhood, and the diversity it brought, wasn’t quite as fun as the newfound made-to-fit.
While we were busy custom ordering our lives, there was an information explosion befitting our increased desire to “Have It Your Way.” Now we had choose-your-news sources that we could tune into to bathe in the warm waters of agreement and oh did we ever love the warm waters of agreement (and we told them we liked it in the ratings so they gave us more and more). Our mainline churches began breaking clean in half as people left to worship with the people they most agreed with. New churches representing every stripe of individualism sprung up all over the map.
Unbeknownst to us, we were busy sorting ourselves into tribes. Think Shia and Sunni. 100 years of social psychology experiments are amazingly consistent about what happens next, and it is not pretty: Likeminded groups consistently grow more extreme in the direction of the majority view. In them, the fascinating phenomenon of the “risky shift” plays out: A group of homogeneous people will make riskier choices as a group than any one individual makes inside that very same group. Likeminded groups are veritable breeding grounds for extremism.
Now here we sit in the United States of “Those People.“ We watch TV opinion news to experience what Bill Bishop, author of “The Big Sort” (required reading), calls the “righteousness that is the special entitlement of homogeneous groups.” We serve it up with a beer and munchies and the smug knowledge that everyone who isn’t on “our side” isn’t just wrong, they’re stupid and evil (and ugly to boot). It’s the mental equivalent of being a couch potato and leads directly to town halls run amuck.
Why tea bags are more American than apple pie (and slightly more dangerous) Â From the moment the first European foot hit the ground in the New World, America wasnâ€™t a place for the faint of heart. Â Ours is a legacy of bold moves, not the least of which was un-tethering ourselves from the way that everyone-else-on-planet-earth-had-ever-done-government-in-recorded-human-history and letting our â€œmasses yearning to breathe freeâ€ be in charge. Â Â What were we thinking? Â Â Â
Snarling town hall free-breathing masses have given the whole notion a body blow this week. Â On the bold moves front, the Boston Tea Party was hardly for the faint-hearted sissified believer in democracy either. Â Our founders had to really mean it when they stood up to The King And His Taxes, as the cause put their very lives squarely in the balance. Â Our American DNA holds this founding moment so central because it was when we steadfastly stood for what is right and refused to back down, regardless of the consequences thank-you-very-much. Â More than just a few of our fellow citizens have drawn on the American bloodline of the tea party in recent months, and surely they feel the power of the remarkable story of our founding coursing through their veins when theyâ€™re doing the tea-bagging. Â Then there is the other America, just as American by family tree and love of country despite too-frequent suggestions to the contrary, who simply scratch their heads as they watch the melee and say â€œhuh?â€ Â The cause looks unmoored from fact, circumstance and reason and so feels more than just a little bit scary. Â Â Since the start of this whole democracy shindig weâ€™ve always had crosscurrents in the electorate who donâ€™t agree on much of anything. Â In a country full of people all pursuing life, liberty and happiness on their own terms, while still having to come together to make a group decision as big as whoâ€™s going to be Top Bananaâ€¦ well, itâ€™s no wonder â€œpolitics ainâ€™t beanbag.â€ Â And weâ€™ve always had a bit of a bent toward electoral hyperbole, like the John Adams partisan who predicted if Jefferson were elected, we would see a devastation of â€œthose morals which protect our lives from the knife of the assassin â€“which guard the chastity of our wives and daughters from seduction and violence.â€ And then there are the founders who â€“ uh â€“ shot each other.
If that kind of ugly is old hat, whatâ€™s so different now? Â Maybe itâ€™s the yelling. Â Maybe itâ€™s the yelling in the town hall that feels like a canary in the coal mine of democracy, the refusal to listen to anyone or speak in a way that a fellow American might understand in a country where lots of people have died to protect the right to hear and speak. Â And in doing the yelling, no matter how many tea bags are tossed, no matter how many anthems sung or pledges pledged, the American mark is missed. Â Our founders were men of big ideas and one of the biggest is that you could make one country out of people as different as we are, not because we agreed, but by the inevitable clashing of our opinions. Â James Madison called this â€œfactionalismâ€ which secured our freedoms by promoting deliberation and circumspection. Â Madison thought it did the job of protecting us from tyranny better than the Bill of Rights, a mere â€œparchment barrier.â€ Â They knew weâ€™d fight and they knew weâ€™d fight hard, because they did. But as they fought their fight of ideas for this country they loved, they knew they didnâ€™t have the luxury to stop talking to each other. Â Â In this all-hands-on-deck, best-solutions-out-front point in human history, does anyone want to argue that we have the luxury to write off the people taking the other side in todayâ€™s argument of democracy? Â The foundersâ€™ bequest to us is a country that requires us to continue to talk to each other, no matter how unpleasant. Perhaps as a shout out back to them we might grab a handful of teabags and this time throw them overboard for being in this one together. Â Howâ€™s that for the next bold move? Â
America, we have a problem. Ok, so it doesnâ€™t sound as good as that classic line from Apollo 13, but hear me out.
America was founded on the idea of freedom of speech. Our founders thought it was so important they wrote it down in some document we call the Bill of Rights, that just SOUNDS important. From the belief in the freedom of speech came town hall meetings or county fairs for the Southern readers. In the old fashioned town halls, everyone would speak their mind, and the leaders would listen and then make decisions based off of the concerns of their citizens. Many small towns in the Northeast still meet this way. One town in New Hampshire has to approve the budget for the entire city through a town hall. Sounds like Democracy in action right? Well today we have more of Democracy inaction than anything.
At the beginning of the week it was leaked that an organization called Freedom Works was distributing a document entitled â€œRocking the Town Halls â€“ Best Practices.â€ If you havenâ€™t read or seen in the news, some folks are getting pretty upset at their representative, and instead of talking to them like adults theyâ€™ve resorted to shouting matches at town halls. Imagine if George Washington had gotten into a shouting match with Joe Schmo, would your image of him be tainted?
In the document, Freedom Works gives supporters a plan of attack on how to handle their representative. My personal favorites come from the â€œInside the Hallâ€ section where supporters are instructed to: â€œSpread out in the hallâ€¦The objective is to put the Rep on the defensiveâ€ or to â€œRock the boat early in the Repâ€™s presentationâ€¦Watch out for an opportunity to yell out and challenge the Repâ€™s statements.â€
Yesterday, the Left struck back with its own plan of attack. In their playbook, supporters were instructed to get to the events early and to â€œform a wall around the Representative.â€
Is that what we have come to America? Is this honestly how low we have sunk? Not only are we planning strategic attacks on our Representatives through yelling, protests, and in some cases violence, but we are planning counterattacks on the attacks.
Iâ€™m all for the marketplace of ideas. That is the foundation this country rests upon, but there is a difference between disagreeing with someone, and working together to find common solutions or agreeing to just disagree, and planning a strategy that blatantly disrupts the conversation.
In America we have a way to get rid of Representatives you donâ€™t like. Itâ€™s called the ballot box. Itâ€™s a lot easier to yell and scream at someone than it is to have a conversation with them, but thatâ€™s what makes us uniquely American: We were never afraid to have that conversation before. Letâ€™s work out our differences through conversation, try to find common ground, and at the end of the day if we still donâ€™t agree than we can agree to disagree. Thatâ€™s the America I know. Or you could just yell and scream.
This analysis of a recent e-mail purporting to analyze the health care bill, from the Pulizer Prize winning fact check website PolitiFact, by Florida’s own St. Petersburg Times:
It may be the longest chain e-mail we’ve ever received. A page-by-page analysis of the House health care bill argues that reform will end the health care system as we know it: “Page 29: Admission: your health care will be rationed! … Page 42: The ‘Health Choices Commissioner’ will decide health benefits for you. You will have no choice. … Page 50: All non-US citizens, illegal or not, will be provided with free health care services.”
Most of what the e-mail says is wrong. In fact, it’s a clearinghouse of bad information circulating around the Web about proposed health care changes, so we thought it would be helpful to address a bunch of its claims…
“It’s awful,” she said. “It’s flat-out, blatant lies. It’s unbelievable to me how they can claim to reference the legislation and then make claims that are blatantly false.”
The claim that the bill provides free health care for illegal immigrants is particularly egregious, Tolbert said. “No one’s provided with free health care. That’s ridiculous,” she said.
We looked for promises of free health care for immigrants and found nothing. So we’ve rated this claim Pants on Fire!
Another claim that’s Pants on Fire! is the following: “Page 42: The ‘Health Choices Commissioner’ will decide health benefits for you. You will have no choice. None.”
The Muslim practice of worshiping five times daily can subconsciously convey militancy to an average American. But just 45 minutes of worship at a mosque helped me to understand that frequent prayer is far more about incorporating a desire to serve God through every day. It’s like the sense of higher purpose a Christian might feel walking out of church on Sunday morning… multiplied 35 times a week.
I learned in the sermon that there are three fundamental parts of a prayer:
SubhannallahÂ (God is far from any imperfection) Alhamdullilah (All praise is due to God) Allahu Akbar (God is Most Great) Â From Dr. Necati Aydin, who led the prayer:
The meaning of the prayers is the offering of glorification, praise, and thanks to Almighty God. That is to say, uttering Glory be to God by word and action before Godâ€™s glory and sublimity, it is to hallow and worship Him. And declaring God is Most Great through word and act before His sheer perfection, it is to exalt and magnify Him. And saying All praise be to God with the heart, tongue, and body, it is to offer thanks before His utter beauty. That is to say, glorification, exaltation, and praise are like the seeds of the prayers. That is why these three things are present in every part of the prayers, in all the actions and words. It is also why these blessed words are each repeated thirty-three times after the prayers, in order to strengthen and reiterate the prayersâ€™ meaning.
The abiding feeling I left with is that I had experienced a deep act of humility towards God and a profound appreciation for God’s earth and His creatures on it. I asked a Muslim woman about extremism in Islam after the prayers. She said it simply wasn’t the faith she knew. What I heard that Friday – at its core – was the message I heard in just about any church I’ve been to.
There are clearly enduring problems between these worlds and to pretend otherwise isn’t realistic. But surely in attempting to solve them – at the very least – we should start by truly understanding, which might start just one doorway and 45 minutes away.
I supported Barack Obama when he ran for president. Still do. But he made a fatal mistake allowing Congress to generate his health care reform bill. Congress invited affected industry groups to the table and excluded us regular taxpayers from the sausage-making.
Proposals were generated in the House and Senate that protect industry profits and expand their markets but soak us and future generations. The result is awful. Unsustainable, unaffordable, doomed to fail. Little or no cost-control measures and little reform. Most of the current health system’s flaws remain. Perhaps one or two minor features of the proposal are worth saving, but in general both the House and Senate proposals must be completely discarded. Let me elaborate.
I confess to not having read the more-than-1,000-page House bill or studied emerging details of what the Senate has ginned up. But I have followed the process for months with increasing alarm. Now a very worthwhile executive summary of the impact of the House bill is available (http://www.pnhp.org/news/2009/july/more_of_the_same_is_.php), “More of the Same is not Health Care Reform, It’s a Placebo” by Leonard Rodberg, a professor of urban studies in New York. If you were inclined to support this attempt to cover the health care needs of all Americans, you need to read this short explanation of why you should not.
# The massive wasted administrative expense in the present system, estimated at 31 percent, remains intact. The journal Health Affairs published a May article estimating each physician wastes two hours a week just wrestling with the many insurers. That waste remains, perhaps increases, with Congress’ proposal.
# No serious cost-control measures. The Med Pac feature and some effort to deal with disparity between reimbursement in Medicare between rural and urban areas are minor exceptions.
# Employers must either provide insurance, likely to be more expensive, or pay a fee. Everyone is required to have insurance, and if your employer offers insurance you must take the plan offered unless you cannot afford it. The only access to the insurance exchange is to people who are not covered by their employer; they cannot choose the public option.
# The public option, originally envisioned by Jacob Hatcher of Berkeley, was to cover 130 million of us at affordable rates and lead to single payer, eventually. To assuage critics’ concerns, it would now be available only to the uninsured on a limited basis, expected to cover about 10 million of us, and we are assured by Obama Health Secretary Kathleen Sibelius that the public option will not be allowed to eventuate in single payer.
# Medicaid is to be expanded to those who earn less than 133 percent of the federal poverty level. States should take note, as Florida currently pays $17 billion as its share of Medicaid, the largest item in our state budget.
# Subsidies to help the poor pay insurance premiums are inadequate and, although there is a mandate to purchase insurance, there are no limits on the cost of premiums or the amount of deductibles or copays or on drug prices.
The House bill is patterned after the Massachusetts Plan, which was apparently authored in large part by Blue Cross. Like all other state plans with goals to cover all their citizens, it seems to be failing in its third year because of cost overruns. Some 45,000 taxpaying Massachusetts citizens were cut from the insured rolls in the last 10 days to save $117 million in the stressed state budget. Since much of the safety net infrastructure of neighborhood health clinics has been dismantled in that state, those unfortunately dropped from coverage will have to go to the ER for care.
The proposal out of Congress does not meet Obama’s goals, which I share, of universality (at least 10 million would not be covered), does not meet the affordability goal, and does not meet the guaranteed choice goal, since employees must take the plan offered to them at work.
The scrambling about in Congress to “find some more savings” should ring alarm bells. Already, in order to gain the endorsement of the American Medical Association, a $245 billion fix of the Sustainable Growth Rate for Medicare has been promised, with the entire $245 billion not to be counted in calculations of cost for the “deficit-neutral” aspect of this plan.
(The Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate formula is an annual sticking point and has been for years, and sometimes nearly shuts down government and stops payment to MDs for a few weeks causing cash flow problems.)
It appears the pharmaceutical industry also has garnered promises that it will not be subjected to demands for volume discounts in return for nonbinding promises by Big Pharma of $80 billion in savings.
Perhaps we are faced with something akin to the situation when a massive sports stadium is being sold to taxpayers. The cost of the project is low-balled, then, when the stadium is half-built and the money has run out, the taxpayers find they must finish the project by coming up with more money or leave the unfinished stadium as an eyesore.
I agree with the Congressional Budget Office analysis that there are few cost controls and no savings in the proposal. My fellow physicians would predict massive cost increases just as in Massachusetts, and eventual failure of the plan.
I agree with Obama’s goals and with his observation that doing nothing is not an option, as we have reached a crisis in this country with unsustainable costs in health care. Let’s be honest with the American people; rationing will be necessary.
Major restructuring of our delivery system is urgently needed. However, the proposals churned out by Congress, with only affected industries providing input, are indeed only placebo. A very expensive placebo. Taxpayers deserve much better.
In my dreams, I imagine an America where politicians are immune to the need to constantly raise funds for re-election. That is not likely to happen in my lifetime. But just maybe, when legislators have tried everything else and realized that all of their proposals to “build on the present system” are unaffordable, they will reluctantly come to the realization that the only affordable and sustainable pathway to universal health coverage is a single-payer system, a variation of what almost all industrialized countries have adopted.
Cost controls, reasonable decisions about rationing, most of the money spent on health care going to help people rather than to wrestle with insurance companies, universal coverage from the day of birth, no medical bankruptcies â€” then we will have arrived. This would actually be the most fiscally responsible position.
There’s this, and then there is The Village Square…
Screaming constituents, protesters dragged out by the cops, congressmen fearful for their safety â€” welcome to the new town-hall-style meeting, the once-staid forum that is rapidly turning into a house of horrors for members of Congress.
On the eve of the August recess, members are reporting meetings that have gone terribly awry, marked by angry, sign-carrying mobs and disruptive behavior. In at least one case, a congressman has stopped holding town hall events because the situation has spiraled so far out of control.
â€œI had felt they would be pointless,â€ Rep. Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.) told POLITICO, referring to his recent decision to temporarily suspend the events in his Long Island district. â€œThere is no point in meeting with my constituents and [to] listen to them and have them listen to you if what is basically an unruly mob prevents you from having an intelligent conversation.”
In Bishopâ€™s case, his decision came on the heels of a June 22 event he held in Setauket, N.Y., in which protesters dominated the meeting by shouting criticisms at the congressman for his positions on energy policy, health care and the bailout of the auto industry.
Within an hour of the disruption, police were called in to escort the 59-year-old Democrat â€” who has held more than 100 town hall meetings since he was elected in 2002 â€” to his car safely.
â€œI have no problem with someone disagreeing with positions I hold,â€ Bishop said, noting that, for the time being, he was using other platforms to communicate with his constituents. â€œBut I also believe no one is served if you canâ€™t talk through differences.â€
Bishop isnâ€™t the only one confronted by boiling anger and rising incivility. At a health care town hall event in Syracuse, N.Y., earlier this month, police were called in to restore order, and at least one heckler was taken away by local police. Close to 100 sign-carrying protesters greeted Rep. Allen Boyd (D-Fla.) at a late June community college small-business development forum in Panama City, Fla. Last week, Danville, Va., anti-tax tea party activists claimed they were â€œrefused an opportunityâ€ to ask Rep. Thomas Perriello (D-Va.) a question at a town hall event and instructed by a plainclothes police officer to leave the property after they attempted to hold up protest signs.