Friday, August 28, 2009

Town Hall in Texas: I Need a Despojo!

Yesterday, I received an email from my Congressman, Representative Ciro Rodriguez. Well, the email was actually from one of my Obama email lists, but it encouraged me to go to a town hall on health care reform right here in San Antonio! I was excited. I told Vincent and we signed right up. We are both in the process of moving, but we are both so passionate about health care reform, we were willing to make the time to go to Palo Alto College and get down with the politics. Now, I was a little surprised at how late I got the email - only 24 hours in advance? That didn't give most folks much time to find out about the town hall. And I didn't hear about it anywhere else but through my email list; not everyone has email. Hmmm. Oh, well! I heard about it and I was going to take advantage of it. I was going to be a productive citizen and show up and speak up! I printed out my little pro-health reform signs that came with my registration for the town hall and got ready to go after a day of writing follow-up reports for my teaching fellowship, perfecting syllabi, and packing a few things.

Vincent showed up at 5:00, so we jumped in the car to get to the venue because they would start letting people in at 5:30 p.m. We drove to the far away campus, on the south side of the city, and I was concerned about the access that other folks would have. Well, at least we had a car that would allow us to get there in time after work. As we walked in, and I noticed all of the red-white-and-blue shirts and caps, I got a little nervous. Palo Alto college is known for being diverse, but the crowd didn't look it at all. It was mainly an older crowd and they were not nearly as urban or cosmopolitan as the San Antonians that Vincent and I know. None of the people in line looked like they went to Palo Alto College or any other college in San Antonio. None of them looked like they even lived in San Antonio. We saw two people we knew: one is an activist and the other is a journalist. Where were all the people who we know are very interested in this debate? None of them were able to show up? I got more nervous. I remembered promising my friend Jenny to speak on her behalf. She is someone who had breast cancer a few years ago and she had a full masectomy. Jenny now pays $600 a month for her health insurance and the company is now denying her the option to get an MRI. Her insurance company says that her history with breast cancer is not cause to pay for it. Most women know that an MRI is more reliable and less invasive or dangerous than a mammogram, but I guess Jenny's insurance company doesn't care. She was happy when I said I'd try to speak on her behalf. Sorry, Jenny, but when I saw the crowd I was in line with, there was no way I was going to try to ask a question. There was a woman who said we couldn't even take our pro-health care reform signs in - and Ciro's email was the one that told us to print them out! We stood in line and started to freak out a little more.

These were the people who were in front of us in line: Man in a shirt with the flag and the Constitution emblazoned on it, eating Whataburger chicken strips, Texas toast and gravy, dipping everything into the gravy, wearing jeans with a belt made entirely out of velcro (why, you might ask - because he can adjust it to any size as his stomach grows - he adjusted his belt, making that weird velcro scraping noise, several times while we were in line); Woman, also eating Whataburger, planting her purse on a nearby chair, eating her burger in pieces (bread first, then cheese, then the tomato, then the burger patty), taking her time, ignoring the line moving in front of her, letting all of us wait behind her until she was ready to move her stuff off of the nearby chair. Behind us, two men spoke of how unions had served their purpose once but now they are all corrupt and serve no purpose, especially when all of us are being taken care of, anyway. I thought of the union formed at my old community college that allowed adjunct profs. to get paid more than below minimum wage finally.

We gave our tickets at the door and found aisle seats because I figured we may need to make a quick getaway. I didn't realize exactly how bad it would be. How could I have known? After watching kids do a color guard routine and listening to a young girl sing our national anthem better than Sheryl Crow, Henry Cisneros himself - da man! - came out and said he would be the moderator. Wow - he's like royalty down here and I was really shocked to see him head the event. He introduced Congressman Ciro, who then gave a brief slideshow on the finer points of the new bill. We were already running late and it seemed like Ciro didn't really want to be fielding questions. It was like he was putting the meat of the event off as long as possible. Cisneros pointed out that the auditorium was divided into six sections. They would field a question from each section, one at a time, and then return to the first section and start all over again. Vinny and I placed bets on how soon "crazy" would enter the auditorium. He said by the first question; I said by the third. We were both wrong. It came in at question two.

This is what happened at the Texas Town Hall:

1) A bunch of KKK members or whatever you want to call 'em got together earlier in the week and decided they were all going to the town hall in great numbers and they were going to ask questions that had absolutely nothing to do with the health care bill or health care reform.

2) They planted themselves in each of the six sections, as if they were strangers, even though they knew each other, so that they could be called on more often.

3) They made sure they had enough numbers so that when each one of them spoke, they could cheer very loudly and drown out any dissent from any of the rest of us.

4) If a normal person without any inbreeding in their background actually got a question in, they made loud noises and rude remarks so that person's question could not be heard.

5) Some of the distractions included: a statement by a plant who spoke of a woman on Medicare who died of cancer because she was denied coverage (still don't know how that relates to the new bill); the ever present assumption that the elderly are going to be killed by the new bill; and (this is what made me leave the joint), the implication that Congressman Rodriguez believes in killing human beings because he has not directly stated that he will make sure that the new bill does not cover abortion and the murder of fetuses.

I saw these freaks in line and they all knew each other. They came in together and they all sat in different locations in the auditorium. There were people around us who were just as stunned as we were at the ignorance of the questions/statements that were coming from the mouths of these mongrels, but no one would have known it because all of these a-holes had so many of their friends there, when they cheered each other on, it felt like the whole auditorium agreed with them. I told Vincent I was ready to go. We immediately went to our favorite gay-friendly restaurant, Candlelight, in order to feel better and to begin the despojo. Pa fuera con el diablo!

After talking about this horrid event over dinner, Vincent and I agreed that town halls are a great idea and these vermin are attempting to make democracy into a repulsive, vomit-inducing orgy of troglodytic behavior. That is, they want people like us, who want to be involved and have the time to be involved, to be repulsed and leave. They don't want sane, educated citizens with decent minds and spirits to come together and have a real conversation. Who is "they?" I'm not sure. Certainly not President Obama, who proposed the town hall meetings. Perhaps some of you may have some theories, but all I can say is that I truly believe that I have been to my first and, hopefully, only KKK rally. When I saw all of those angry people hoot and holler for each other and very effectively shut down any voice of reason in the room, I was frightened for my life.

What's worse is that the cameras, of course, were totally focused on these swamp larvae, so now when future generations look back on who we were during present times, they will have a digital record of the worst of us. There were fights in the audience!!! People were hitting each other! This is what I became an adult for??Nowhere will our great grandchildren see the quiet folks on the sidelines, interested in exposing the corruption of insurance companies, wishing to take care of each other with kind and wise programs that provide for all. They'll just see a bunch of poorly coiffed, fast-food eating weasels who have probably never stepped outside of their small towns except for this moment, when they drove to San Antonio and purported to represent a city that they still believe they took away from the Mexicans. Let me tell you something: you predatory scum rats never took anything away from anyone...just look around. San Antonio is still a Spanish name, as far as I know. I can't wait 'til your Whataburger waistlines kick in. Then who'll be asking for health reform? Should be reforming that messed up quadruple X hiney of yours. Maybe some of Obama's suggested preventative care could take care of that, get your booty to the damn gym, have Ciro create more bike paths and walkways.

I don't mean to get petty, but I simply cannot explain how violent this event was. I said it before and I'll say it again: it felt like a KKK rally. I feel bad that my time was wasted but also that Ciro's time was wasted on this ignorance.

Ciro had some stunning statistics during his presentation, and that is what I'll leave you with:

- 40% of businesses said they will try to stop providing healthcare for their workers in the next five years (they can't do it economically)

- 60% of bankruptcies in 2007 were due to medical bills

- in 1987, healthcare cost an average family about 7% of their income; today it is about 17% of their income (don't forget that rent/mortgage percentages have also gone up)

For more stats on Ciro's site, click here.

For the latest article on the event, click here.

I wish I could say the despojo was complete, but I don't think so. Maybe some of you have words of encouragement? Until then, I'll try burning some incense. Wish me luck!