Saturday, July 2, 2011 PERMALINK
Push for Austerity Measures Coming to a U.S Congressional District Near You
The Honorable David Walker -- founder and CEO of the Comeback America Initiative and former Comptroller General of the United StatesRobert Bixby -- Executive Director of the Concord Coalition and member of the bipartisan Domenici-Rivlin Debt Reduction Task Force.
Alison has attached a link below to an excellent video of what took place at the town hall, where, despite her being the first person to raise her hand to ask a question, she was not called on or allowed to speak at all, and was forced to leave. In the face of this severe limitation on what it was possible to say, I think Chet, Rick, & Joyce did great jobs of getting in at least a couple of points for "the people"!!! You will hear them on the video.loneprotestor
Thinking back on it, it is now very clear that the entire thing was carefully choreographed ahead of time. I believe it was no accident that there was less than enough time allowed for all the things on the agenda. Then they made attendees feel hesitant to speak up by appealing to our sense of fairness by saying we needed to be brief "in order for everyone to have equal opportunity to speak." They kept all attendees busy, allowing no time for scrutinizing what was being done to us, or for figuring out a way to overcome the obstacles they were throwing up to curtail any free speech on the part of the constituents present.
Then, I am certain that there were a lot of "plants" in the audience. I believe that they purposefully placed at least one staff person or friend of a staff person at each table. Many (if not all) of these were dressed in coats and ties, which then probably resulted in the same thing that happened at my table.... the majority of people at the table looked at him and said, you look like you would understand this stuff... so why don't you be our Chair? As it turned out, he was a terrible Chair, and wasted tremendous amounts of our time (personally, I can't help but think that was part of the plan). He also was the tie-breaker, and "surprise"..... he always sided with those who leaned to the right in their votes.
I also believe that they purposefully did not explain any details ahead of time regarding the exercise we were to do, and to make matters even more confusing, we were given only one item-explanation booklet per table. This contained very wordy (often confusing) explanations of the items to be voted on. In fact, no one at our table even knew we had the book of explanations until I happened to see it and brought it to everyone's attention. Unfortunately, by then we had already voted on several of the items, without even understanding what some of them would do. At least one of the items was worded as a double negative, making it even harder to discern whether a yes vote or a no vote would actually do what you intended.
We were also told that we had only a short amount of time in which to complete the task. In addition (pardon the pun) the format they had us use to tally the monetary values of the various items (in terms of how much $$$ it added to, or subtracted from the deficit) was unnecessarily complicated and confusing, when it could (and should) have been very simple. Again, this was a perfect strategy on their part.
In the end, they did not even take up the packets where we recorded our votes, or make any effort to find out which items were voted for and which against, by the constituents attending.
The only wrap-up that was done after we completed the exercise, was a set of very brief interviews of only about 4 of the "randomly chosen" Chairs ( & there were quite a few tables). They were asked only how much they were able to reduce the deficit, and how smoothly the process went.
The packets recording our votes were never taken up. Instead, we were told to keep them for ourselves. So no one attending and no staff person was able to see how the majority of people in the room voted on any item or on any set of items.
I questioned a staff person afterward re this and had to insist that my packet be taken, so Giffords could get some feedback from at least one constituent (of course, I am sure they threw it into the "circular file" as soon as I left). I let the staff person know how appalled I was that there was no attempt to get any constituent feedback on the very items the House will be voting on (supposedly in behalf of consituents) !!!