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An open letter response to my last open letter

In Recent Headlines on March 24, 2010 at 11:42 am

Good morning, everyone.

I am going to start with an honest apology. I offended some of my friends who participate in the Tea Party movement with my open letter. While my intent was humor, the reality was it was offensive to some. Since the road to hell is paved with good intentions, I feel compelled to apologize.

I would like to rewind to the impetus behind my post. Perhaps this is viewed as closing the barn door after the horse ran away, but I still feel the need to expound.

It’s no secret that I lean left politically. That conjures all sorts of assumptions, some of which are true, but not all. I love the planet, I love my fellow-man, and I believe we should care for both with equal fervor. My life’s walk has shaped my belief system.

However, with last week’s landmark health care bill, it was not easy to slice through the sensationalism and into the true heart of the matter. I imagine it’s quite the same for a conservative. As a liberal, when I want to try to hear the other side, it’s really difficult for me to get past the insulting rhetoric. I don’t appreciate being told I’m an insane socialist, money waster, borderline communist because I have a different set of priorities than they do. Different is not right or wrong. It’s different. Again, we all prioritize things in our lives based on personal experiences.

One thing about my personality is that I live frugally and well within my means. Needless to say, the cost of the bill didn’t sit well with me. I know how to budget for my household, it upsets me that there isn’t a higher level of concern by our leadership. But truly, both sides escalated the deficit. Additionally, there were very few calls to control the costs. No incentives for doctors, pharmaceutical companies, or insurance companies to keep costs under control. Not to mention some tort reform. Another issue that bothered me was the lack if language about personal responsibility. It bothers me that people as a whole do not take better care of their bodies. When I read news stories about a 600 lb. woman whose goal is to reach 1000 lbs., to think that my taxes will pay for her horrific abuse to her body is insulting. I really wanted more information.  (actually I linked to both Huffington Post and FOX news for that story… YAY somewhere we agree!)

When I posted my tongue in cheek essay about what our taxes ought to pay for, I hoped to steer it towards dialogue that “since we have to pay for health care, where can we trim our budget?” I am sincerely grateful for the thoughtful input.

Now to the part I absolutely refuse, will not, cannot apologize for. There are people in this movement who are frightening and dangerous and I wrote about them. They destroy the credibility of the cause. When bricks are thrown, people are spit on, calls for assassination made, inflammatory words like n** and f** are used, all reasonable discourse is destroyed. I cannot believe any member of the movement who isn’t “like that” wasn’t equally horrified by what people were doing in their name.  I cannot believe the official news version is “that never happened, we never saw it.”

The best analogy I offer is as a sports fan. I am a lifelong Cleveland Browns fan. I say that with trepidation because there is a section of the stadium, the Dawg Pound, famous for its crazy fans. A few years ago, this section of fans threw projectile items at the referees, based on calls they didn’t agree with. I wasn’t in that section of the stadium, I wasn’t even at the game, so I never saw it happen. But I wrote a letter to the editor apologizing on behalf of the buffoon fans who made our city and the loyal fans look horrible on a national stage. Because I aligned myself with my home team, I felt it appropriate to apologize on their behalf.

Apologies and outrage are glaringly absent. It’s heartbreaking. When such fringe members are not called out on their disgusting antics, silence is considered endorsement. I cannot believe more tea party patriots are not concerned about their reputation as a grassroots movement. Extremism, wherever it comes from is terribly dangerous. I fear for the lives of those who disagree.  Truly.  This isn’t alarmist language. It only takes one crazy angry person with one bullet and good aim to kill someone.

My refusal to apologize for writing about the fringe members of the movement is a call for honesty, an open invitation for the mainstream members to speak up. Here is an opportunity. Denounce the extremists, speak about your real goals.

No humor, no satire, no tongue in cheek messages. Straight up.

The floor is open.


  1. And while you’re at it, Tea Party affiliates, could you also explain why, with actual factual information and not knee-jerk rhetoric or inflammatory nonsense, you believe a privately-run healthcare system (which is what we still have now and will have in the future, by the way) is “socialism?” I’m a bit baffled by that one.


  2. Let me take a two cent stab at your follow up query first. If you actually read the bill carefully there are provisions therein and throughout that threaten ultimately to drive insurance companies out of business. It is my observation that those who talk about the “socialist” healthcare system are referring to a state run system, taken over by the government because, in time, the private corporations will simply cease or diminish coverage because they cannot make a profit. You seek specificity and I will refrain from providing the pages of documentation by just one physician alone who has actually studied the bill with care and written about it, but I will certainly provide it for you via e-mail should you desire.

  3. Sorry Kim, my first response assumed your follow up query but I see it belongs to CF.

    Now regarding the extremists: I agree completely with you. The Republican leadership agrees with you and has said so on the floor, condemning those actions. Your piece does not mention that Republicans also received threats and broken windows. It was pretty much generalized violence, all to be condemned.

    I am not certain, and I surely hope you do not take offense, but it seems you only make note Tea Party advocates when referring to extremists of the “movement”. I believe there are two sides in this issue, as in most, and I know there are extremists on both sides hurling epithets if not bricks. I condemn all of them. I do not apologize for any of them because I am not one of them.

    What can we do? Well, at this point I honestly do not have an answer of any credence. The bill that has been forced down our throats, and please think very carefully before you condemn that statement, is SO much trouble that I do not even know where to begin. I believe perhaps several smaller bills dealing with more specificity in important areas like tort reform, mobility of coverage, fraud control, acessibility and usage of coverage, etc would have provided us with a better alternative. This bill provides far too much government intrusion into yours and my lives, and it tries to fix all the ills with one sweep. Lawmakers, one would think, by now should know that doesn’t work well. Additionally, I want to know just how we are going to pay for it. Before the bill was passed we, as a nation, were 9.8 trillion in debt. The interest we are paying on that debt amounts to a Billion dollars every 40 hours. We cannot, as you know from running a home, overcome that debt by spending more.

    The doctors I know personally are in debt up to their ears coming out of med school. Equipment is terribly expensive, even prohibitive, and then there is liability insurance. Their insurance is so high because of inordinate law suit awards. The trial lawyers will not ever support tort reform as a means of limiting healthcare costs. I would be interested in some good workable ideas for improvement because, frankly, the only one I have ever come up with is to eat healthy and take good care of myself.

  4. Hawken, I absolutely condemn any acts of violence or extremism by ANYONE that I knew of at the time I posted this.

    Since then, other reports have come forth and I’ve written harshly about them in several venues. Violence will NEVER promote a thinking person’s cause. It only muddles it and confuses the issue.

    Are you aware that the bill that just passed is almost identical to one that was proposed by the Republican party in 1993?

    I point this out because I don’t recall in 1993 the same level of horror or concern for our nation.

    Is it possible that when the administration is a black man, a female speaker of the house, and a newly appointed Hispanic on the supreme court, there may be some professional jealousy? Why are minorities accomplishing what the majority could not?

  5. Life expectancy @ birth by country—source CIA world fact book.

    1. Macau 84.36
    2. Andorra 82.51
    3. Japan 82.12
    4. Singapore 81.98
    5. Hong Kong 81.86
    6. Australia 81.63
    7. Canada 81.23
    8. France 80.98
    9. Sweden 80.86
    10.Switzerland 80.85

    49. USA 78.11

    I believe all those countries ahead of us have universal health care to all citizens.

    The death rate per 1000 of population is higher in the US than in China, Cuba and even North Korea. Cuba also has less infant mortality rate than the US.

  6. While I certainly do find these to be interesting statistics I am not quite ready to jump the the conclusion that “universal health care” is the common denomenator. Study after current study in this country points out how we are killing ourselves with what we eat. Over processed foods, genetically modified foods, fast foods, junk foods, obesity, and on ad infinitum, are causing us to be a diseased people. All of the nations on the list have a long way to go to “catch up” with us on a nutrient depleted diet and statistically speaking, the more westerized they become, the closer they come to our health standards. Or, should I say lack thereof?

    Just this past year the FDA finally came out and announced the acetaminophen will destroy your liver and kidneys. Those of us who study these things have been well aware of that danger for over 20 years and have preached it to deaf ears. The science has been there all the time. Diet sodas are another nightmare. Their use is rampant among Americans and they are killing us slowly. Fresh fruit and vegetables are the most absent food item on American plates yet are the most important items we need.

  7. Hawken, I absolutely agree with you that we MUST take care of our bodies. We must educate ourselves about the stuff we call “fuel” that we put into it, and really really think about every bite we allow to cross our lips.

    We’re slowly poisoning ourselves and then wondering “gee whiz” why we’re sick.

    What I do find laudable is that Michelle Obama has made it a priority to live healthier and educate the public how to do such things. She has brought a garden to the White House, appeared with TV chefs cooking the healthy and fresh foods, and appeared on children’s programs.

    I also applaud the current administration for doing SOMETHING. Both parties, for years have been talking talking talking about the need to fix our health care system. Personally, I’m not in love with this plan, but it’s a START. It’s a place to begin and I support those who worked on it. Change is frightening, no question.

    The cost is staggering. Numbers that blow my mind are tossed around and it does make me nervous. So what other ways can we get spending under control? In an interview with the Today Show, President Obama made some very wise comments about the Tea Party movement. I commend him addressing the concerns.

    “… I think that there’s a broader circle around that core group of people who are legitimately concerned about the deficit, who are legitimately concerned that the federal government may be taking on too much. And I think those are folks who have legitimate concerns. And my hope is that as we move forward and we’re tackling things like the deficit, imposing a freeze on domestic spending, taking steps that show we are sincere about dealing with our long-term problems, that some of that group will dissipate.”

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