I’m not Satan, and you ain’t Lucifer … even though you drink coffee, tea and/or koolaid.


OK, so I did it. I went to the local Coffee Party on Saturday, March 13th.

I’m conservative with a long track record of supporting whatever walks the right side of the street. Although born a Democrat, back in 1972 I even joined the ‘Democrats for Nixon’ campaign as a highschooler — in Florida there were no Republicans elected to state office until 1978. None. Long story short: I have never identified with liberal or Democratic groups, even though I was born a Democrat — registering as a Republican only when that other former Democrat ‘God bless Ronald Reagan’ ran for president.

Bottomline: I wasn’t sure how these Coffee folks would take to someone with an NRA ballcap, who openly describes themself as conservative, or how they would deal with someone willing to discuss issues from a more conservative perspective. Certainly I have seen how more liberal-minded people were treated by the opposing view in my community — not a pretty sight.

There were a few things said by fellow attendees that made my ears twitch. At one point a group moderator even pointed me out and said “OK, so you smiling. So why the smile?” Blink. Blink. “Oh, crap” thought I. “She mistaked my smirk for a smile.” Time to put up or to shut up. So I did. Blink. Blink. “OK, well that’s a helpful perspective to understand a different view”, said she … and on we moved in the conversation. Hmmm …

Our group conversation focused on issues that we all individually believe should be of interest and worthy of group investigation. The issues added up: 15, 20, 25 … perhaps 30 different issues got listed. Then each participant got two votes to select two issues that they personally would like the group to focus on. Issues with the most votes were rolled into four study groups.

Hmmm … so the rumors that I heard beforehand that this was just a disguised group pimping for liberal causes or the Democratic party were … they were … bogus. Solidly bogus.

By the day’s end I found myself in the ‘Financial Oversight’ issue study group responsible for issues such as taxation, banking regulation, etc.

Boom! So now we would get our agenda if it were ever to happen. Someone would surely guide the study groups to what breadcrumbs should be followed. Nope. Didn’t happen.

We six group members decided what topics we wanted to study, set our own agenda for meeting, created a Facebook page to exchange info and to build whitepapers that can be used within the group and for approaching our legislators. The Coffee leadership didn’t even get involved in asking what we had decided upon. They’ll find out when we report back later in the month.


I’m not Satan, and you ain’t Lucifer … even though you drink coffee, tea and/or koolaid.

America stands at a crossroads. We are always arriving at some crossroad but the issues today are huge and imminently in front of us. The outcome will directly affect our children and grandchildren, leaving them incredible debt.  We owe trillions to foreign countries and investors (and to Americans, too) — almost $2 trillion is due in October 2010 to pay back money borrowed in the early 2000s.

We have major healthcare issues that are at an impasse; our system is one of the best medicine that people can buy. Yet we rank just ahead of Cuba in the general health of our population. Obamacare to me is an abomination that will bankrupt the country and yet the alternative is “personal responsibility” — even though healthcare insurers are a monopolistic industry and some recently announced hikes of 25-36% in annual premiums.

Enough of labels. Enough of political party hacks and support groups — both the Democratic and Republican parties are focused on the next election. Neither can be trusted to hold real discussions and to make hard decisions. Each put party before country.

As for all the liberals, moderates, conservatives and wingers of every stripe: I’m not Satan, and you ain’t Lucifer … even though you drink coffee, tea and/or koolaid.

If you want to sit down with me and discuss issues then good. Check your name calling and label machines at the door — I don’t have time for you or that if that is what you are about.

Here is what I am about: God bless the U.S. Constitution, the 10th Amendment has real meaning, don’t put your hands in my pockets to pay for programs — unless we are both paying the same, and we should pay as we go. I don’t believe that “cut taxes” is the answer to everything, but taxes should be minimal and government intrusion into our lives should also be. But be assured “we” includes both you and me. We are both Americans — and I’ll drink any beer that you buy me. …  :^)

I’ll meet with you any time and any place — except Sunday afternoons when I’m either enjoying my Second Amendment rights or playing soccer, or doing both.

BTW – I drink both tea and coffee. Both are OK with me.


This post by Bill Golden, aka Bill4DogCatcher.com, an independent observer of American political life, economics, and workforce issues.

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149 Comments

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149 responses to “I’m not Satan, and you ain’t Lucifer … even though you drink coffee, tea and/or koolaid.

  1. IslandGyal

    You are not an independent.

    • Robert

      He doesn’t claim to be. He says he’s a conservative in the very first sentence.

      The only place he uses the word “independent” is where he describes himself as an independent observer. And since he’s not part of any political party machine or cover group, and this blog is critical of both parties, that seems an accurate assessment.

    • Fitz

      “Although born a Democrat, back in 1972 I even joined the ‘Democrats for Nixon’ campaign as a highschooler ”

      Am I the only one that notices this does not line up?

      • Is the concern how I was ‘born a Democrat?’

        There are places in the USA where there essentially is only one party, was and still is. You can be conservative, or liberal, or whatever but if you want to participate in politics then you have to belong to that one party.

        Where there is only one party (or religion or whatever) people tend to be socialized into that philosophy. Differences may exist but you end up rationalizing things as that is just way things are. That was Florida until 1978.

      • Nixon was Pres. from 1969-1974. Wouldn’t need
        to campaign for someone who is already Pres.

      • Nixon had to run for reelection in 1972. That requires a campaign.

      • Mr_Freedom

        Just FYI, Nixon was re-elected to the presidency in 1972. Democrats for Nixon formed prior to that election, I believe in 1970 or 1971. It was led by John Connally, the former Democratic Governor of Texas. Also, 1972 was the first time 18 year olds could vote in elections as the voting age had just been lowered because of the youth involvement in fighting the Viet Nam war.

      • epb

        One can be “born” politically when they become aware politically. And Nixon DEFINITELY needed to have people working for his reelection because he was wildly unpopular in many camps, plus Watergate was just starting to break.

      • At that time (1972) there was still a huge portion of the Democratic party that was conservative. The Democrats lost the South after 1972 and most (elected) conservative Democrats to this day are few in number and come primarily from rural areas.

        Democratic congressional members identifying with the ‘Blue Dog’ movement rarely number more than 55.

      • Joe

        I was curious about this also. And how are you “born” a Democrat? I proudly admit that I am a fourth generation Democrat but was never ‘born’ one. Dad and I talked at length about this. I was a senior in high school in 1972 and for my government class worked on the Nixon Campaign. I’m sure Dad was disappointed but never let me know it.

      • Hopefully, my earlier explanation made sense. I was born into a one party system, as were my family and everyone else for maybe 100 years or more. Of course, we Southerners consider ourselves born into something almost naturally. It is not uncommon to hear “American by birth, Southern by the grace of God” … but I digress.

        The above too is part of our dialogue. Often what we hear isn’t what is being said. We all have some nuance and culture that guides our approach to what and how we say (or write) things. If we listen harder and ask more questions — moving on past the rude people — we’ll all get through this together.

    • King Peacock

      Seriously that’s your response to this article? Aren’t you tired of the partisan f**kery? Why would you just immediately flame this guy and say he isn’t an independent? People like you are destroying the country. There. That’s a flame.

    • Bill,

      Good review of Saturday’s event. The great thing about the Coffee Party is that it will be whatever we want it to be and the only admission criteria is that you care about our Country. I felt that we were among Patriots Saturday… and was impressed by the number of Veterans of the various wars who showed up.
      Perhaps I can buy you a cup of coffee one of these days.

      By the way, great pictures on the Coffee Party Veterans website. When folks disparage the Coffee Party, they need to remember that a lot of vets who fought to protect the first amendment right that we are exercising showed up across the Country at those coffee parties… ironic, isn’t it?

  2. Ron Titus

    Nice to hear. I have my fears about Coffee due to the posts, labeling, name calling and other rants. I, too, am looking for a forum where the labels are left at the door and where problems can be discussed, enumerated, and prioritized for possible solutions by thinking people.

    It sounds like your group fulfilled the objective. Nice.

    • Sean S.

      As a left leaning moderate, I’m happy to hear that once the labels are gone, people can really talk about the problems we face. Bravo, Bill.

    • Chris

      Ron, understand that Coffee Party went from 2 to 130,000 in just a few weeks. Even though the sincere purpose is to change our political culture and get people at the grassroots level to break through the extreme partisan divisions, there will still be people involved who fall back into the old habits of name calling. It will take some time, patience, diligence, and a little practice to achieve the goals.

      I do appreciate the blogpost for reinforcing what the movement is all about.

  3. Paulj

    “Check your name calling and label machines at the door.” Maybe you should take your own exhortation to heart, e.g., “Obamacare to me is an abomination…”

    You just destroyed any credibility regarding your willingness to discuss issues with civility and an open mind.

    • While I could have come up with a better name, “Obamacare” is a widely used reference to the constant flux and undefined healthcare reform which has been moving through Congress.

      Commonly referred to as “Obamacare” by publications such as:

      * Huffington Post: “Will Obamacare Make the U.S. More Like Europe?”

      * Time Magazine: “The Fatal Flaw of Obamacare”

      * Forbes Magazine: “Obama’s Doctor Knocks ObamaCare”

      * Harpers Magazine: ”Understanding Obamacare”

      And you’ll find this term used by the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, the Wall Street Journal … almost every publication of whatever political stripe.

      As for my remark of “abomination” which means “detestation; loathing” — health care reform as we think we know it will cost a lot of money. The CBO just revised downwards its estimate of cost savings on Thursday, March 11th: http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/113xx/doc11307/Reid_Letter_HR3590.pdf — and wrote in a letter to Senator Harry Reid that if the new “Pay-As-You-Go Act” is adhered to then we would not see savings before 2015. Savings through 2015-2020 are possible but Pay-As-You-Go is a requirement for that to happen.

      The CBO has projected continuing federal tax shortfalls beginning in 2014 and continuing into the foreseeable future (2020+): http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/108xx/doc10871/BudgetOutlook2010_Jan.cfm

      So yes, it is an abomination to me that we can talk about increasing “obligated” U.S. government expenses and entitlements at a time when we know that U.S. will have to borrow the money and Pay-As-You-Go is already DOA with Congress just having voted to raise our debt ceiling and borrow ever more money.

      BTW – If you read other items in my blog you will see that I have written extensively on health care issues and am not an opponent of health care reform, but do not like Obamacare.

      • DownriverDem

        Three good things would happen right away with the bill:

        1) The end of pre-existing conditions as a way to deny health insurance.

        2) The end of kicking folks off their health insurance because of a health claim.

        3) “Kids” can stay on their parents health insurance until the age of 26.

        We can afford all the wars. There’s no reason we can’t get this done for the American people. History will prove that this is the right thing to do for the Americna people.

      • John

        Healthcare is an abomination? No, murder and war is an abomination. Get real about funding and priorities.

      • Murder and war are indeed an abomination. War to me should always be an action of last resort.

        Just for the record, when the 2002 Congressional Resolution authorizing force in Iraq was voted upon: a grand total of three (3) votes were cast opposing the use of force. Two of the 3 votes against the war were Republican. So ….. we all have some collective reasoning to do as to how we got here and do the things that we do.

      • JTot

        By the way, I’m not one who typically parses words or splits hairs, but since your primary post is about civility and “playing nice,” rather than an analysis of health care in general, I thought I’d offer something here.

        Your reply to Paulj indicates that the definition of “abomination” is “detestation or loathing.” Not quite. Detestation and loathing is an attitude toward a thing. Calling the thing itself an abomination is to indicate that the thing itself is worthy of loathing. And that’s a fairly important distinction when thinking about how to discuss these issues civily.

        There are plenty of people out there who support Obamacare. Characterizing the thing itself as loathsome is more likely to put people on the defensive (since they identify with the thing that you are denegrating) than simply saying that you, personally, detest that thing.

        Again, I know that this seems like an awfully fine point. But since this post is about how we can “play nice” on contentious issues, and since we (generally speaking) have gotten so bad at discussing contentious issues civily, it is these sorts of small steps and niceties that will allow us to discuss these issues without putting each other on the defensive.

      • Cheryl

        I am overall happy this person had a good constructive experience and is open to others.

        He may not have meant it as offensive, but.. “Obamacare” and abdomination are emotional words used in writing or advertising and offensive to supporters of Obama. I have been involved in both newspapers and advertising for 20 years. Having someone say it in an article, doesn’t change what it is.

        However, the truth of it is… Obama “does” care. He risks political and social pressure in the effort to push through help for us.

        It is incorrect to call it Obamacare…Obama didn’t write the original bill considered, he only gave guidelines…its congress that wrote it. Constantly blaming this president or other presidents is ignoring who actually writes the laws and lobbiests that influence congress.

        Obama has finally called both sides on the carpet and is trying to change things for the better. Both sides of the aisle have built up their defensives and attacks till there is no trust from Washington or from us as individuals.

        Obama has a tough job to help all of us change if we continue “all or nothing” attitude or don’t realize there is good and bad in everything. This bill is more positive than bad. There isn’t any program, govt, CEO’s, church, neighborhood or family members that are perfect.

        Both sides of the aisle tend to not see their own words as offensive when they agree with the subject. Hopefully this coffee group will help change the attitudes to where we can work together better.

      • hummm yet you take insult to the use of the word “teabagger” which was started by the tea party themselves.

        To be told that the use of the term “Obamacare” is offensive and then to see one defend themselves that it is appropriate, tells me what I have feared about this “movement”. It is morphing into another right wing idea log.

      • justme

        Using the term Obamacare is derogatory and offensive. Plus what does it even mean? Whatever bill the Dems are behind?

      • Does anyone even know what the bill is exactly?

        Since the Democrats themselves cannot find enough votes to pass the bill, an arcane rule for adopting amendments to normal bill is being adapted to “deem” the health care bill passed. The word “deem” is the word of choice by House Speaker Pelosi.

        If the Democrats do not need Republican votes to pass a bill with 51% of the vote then this should be easy, yes?

        Yet the Democrats cannot come up with 216 votes (51%) from their own party.

        So I would ask you, what bill are the Democrats behind if they cannot present a bill worthy of a majority of votes in Congress?

      • Michael

        I feel the issue comes down to the fact that the more liberal House has passed a more liberal version of the bill. The Senate, which has proceedures in place that allow the minority the capability to block legislation even though a stong majority would vote for it, is harder to navigate. So, there are two options. One is to indentify points where the two bills agree and reconcile them to a common bill that is assumed (rightly or wrongly, the proceedure exists) that when a vote is a yea, they support the entire bill. Thus those portions that overlap are “deemed” acceptable to both the House and the Senate. The second option is to go back to the House and have them vote on the Senate version. If it gets voted for in entirety, without change, then the bill the Senate has passed is the bill Obama would sign into law.

        I think there is a big lesson here for both sides to this debate. Be wary of the power you grant government while your party is in control. The other party will have access to it when you are no longer in control.

        Just like the idea of granting the executive branch the ability to sustain the idea of “war” without having a defined enemy. This opens the floodgates for the Presidency to basically point with little or no proof at anyone and call them “enemy combatants.”

        Not to chance the subject, but imagine if Obama would have decided the guy who crashed his plane into the IRS in TX was an enemy combatant supported by the TEA party. Obama would have the ability to point to TEA party members as being enemy combatants, and hold those people in military prison as prisoners of war (and be suceptable to the tourture methoods that don’t seem to legally apply to the “War on Terror”). I know the supreme court has ruled on this issue as Bush imprisoned a US citizen as an enemy combatant and held him in Gitmo. But the issue still exists.

        I personally feel we need to reduce the power of the Executive branch as it has become too dominate with the powers granted to it under the guise of being at war. I can guarantee, no President, regardless of political allignment will surrender those powers and we will be in a state of constant war against an undefined enemy.

      • 1111CB

        1- love your blog here- anyone who is straightforward and reasoned and speaks plainly has my support

        2-
        a more accurate term is Pelosicare, if we really want to use labels.

        The President does not write legislation. It is the fault of both sides that this bill is poorly written. But it is a creation of Congress. Constitutionally, all the president can do is facilitate and suggest. Based on my reading of his suggestions (not just the ones in the press), Pelosi and her Congress are not listening and both sides are playing partisan games while people die and money is wasted on the current failing health care system.
        Pelosi has rejected Obama’s suggestions at every turn

      • Bartley or 1111CB,

        I am more than willing to concede your points.

        Am absolutely in agreement that both sides are playing partisan games.

        Please continue to contribute your ideas, and you are always welcome to send me corrections.

        If you wish, please join me on Facebook. Just search for the email address bill@bill4dogcatcher.com

    • Carol Mohrbacher

      Okay. He made a mistake in his rhetoric. We all do. Separating oneself from a polarized culture is challenging for all of us. The Coffee Party is not (or should not) be reactive. We need to set a tone of welcome and overlook small misteps or we go nowhere, but back into the polarized swamp.

      • keithecho

        But, we also should understand and accept responsibility for our mistakes, then move on, better informed. Accepting responsibility de-flames emotional reaction-able rhetoric to passe gammon. Everyone makes mistakes, but in our current divisive political culture, no one want to admit theirs for fear they will be burned at the stake.

      • Keith,

        A good point about being burned at the stake for admitting errors. A major problem. Voting the party line or no goodies for you within Congress is another problem. Both parties do it.

        Bill4DogCatcher tries to be an honest broker — my biases sometimes displayed (too much), but hopefully honestly and respectfully displayed.

      • Thomas Spainhour

        Hand-waving this aside as a “mistake in… rhetoric” dismisses the distinction between hating the sin and hating the sinner. The former is much less likely to provoke a reflexively defensive response.

      • Carol

        @keithecho and Thomas Spainhour: Your responses make me doubt that the Coffee Party can work as a rational, calm and NON partisan alternative to the polarizing rhetoric (read: tea party) all around us. Instead of pointing out mistakes and looking for somewhere to lay blame, isn’t it more important to avoid alienating those with different viewpoints? Wouldn’t it be better to find common ground upon which to build a foundation for civilized discussion among differing perspectives?”

      • All groups have their grouches. If the Coffee movement lives up to its stated purpose then all to the good.

        I have tried getting active in many political groups that focus on policy issues but they always seem to align themselves as a political figure/party support group. No, I do not want to be a tool in someone’s pocket. I’ve made it clear to my Coffee buddies that I am out of here immediately if it appears that Coffee becomes just another political support group.

        For now I believe that the Coffee Party movement offers a chance to find common ground. If it lasts then good.

    • JTot

      Relax, Paulj. The whole point here is to stop with the “gotcha” rhetoric and the, “see?! see!? YOU’RE a hypocrite!” type of nonsense and actually have some meaningful, if not difficult discussions about important issues. We’ve been engaged too long in ad hominem arguments which are all about vilifying those who disagree with us rather than discussing the issues themselves, to try to come to some sort of common ground.

      Is it a bit silly and extreme to call Obamacare an “abomination”? Yeah, I’d say so, but we need not use that term as an excuse to simply stop talking about the issue. If we stop talking about these issues the moment someone makes a misstep in language, we’re never going to get anywhere.

    • Ellie O'Leary

      I was just about to say the same thing. People who use the term “Obamacare” generally use it as a way of saying it is about him and not the nation. It did not come into use because people were naming it after him as an honor. It is name calling.
      You can give a list of where the name calling has been repeated and just add your name to the list. To use the term, links you to the Tea Party style.

    • Chris

      I disagree. I think it is ok to consider a piece of legislation to be an abomination. That does not strike me as uncivil. If he can articulate his reasons, and is willing to listen to people who have their own reasons, well, thats a pretty good start.

      Frankly, my observation is that a VERY SMALL percentage of people actually know the mechanics of what the bill proposes to do (I include myself), and yet everyone seems to have a strong opinion about it.

      This is the problem we need to fix. Go Coffee Party!

      • Sue

        What I thought the commenter meant was not whether or not the blogger thinks it is an abomination, but calling it “Obamacare” which is said with a sneer. That’s a label that should have been dispensed with if you want to have real dialogue.

  4. Terry

    I enjoyed your post. There are many people who support the NRA and are not Republicans. Discussion is always good. My problem with the Tea partiers is the name calling and the attitude of their views are the only ones that count or are correct. You made some excellent points and I look forward to hearing more from you. There are no coffee groups in my town but I am hoping there will be soon.

    • DownriverDem

      My problem with them is that they appear to not have facts.

      “Get the governement out of my Medicare:”

      The government is Medicare. I question who these folks really are.

    • Cheryl

      Terry, good comments. We are Democrats, have several guns and believe in the second amendment. I can also understand there should be responsibility of gun owners and laws made so that people that go on shooting sprees can be prosecuted. Moderation in all things.

  5. zeke49

    Bill, I injoyed reading your post. Obamacare no matter how one looks at it, is a much better alternative to what WE have now. I personally do not like the term, medical care for American Citizens, seems more appropriate.

    What good is it for us to be the so-called richist nation on earth, if we REFUSE to care for our citizens’ medical needs at a mininal level. Fact is the current system is based solely on PROFITS to the middleman. Do they provide a service-YES; do they do it efficienly- NO. And everybody knows it.

    I refuse to be led into corporate America’s branding negatively, what interferes with there personal stake, one way or the other,to maintain their financial interest. The American people are the backbone of all this country does.Was it Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts, or tax cuts for the wealthy? I submit, it was tax cuts for the wealthy. The ones that needed the help the least.

    Now in the current healthcare debate; is it Obamacare, or healthcare for those that need it the most?

    In my opinion, something is always better than nothing!

    • Isaiah,

      I support a national healthcare network of some kind. And I truly believe that we can do it sooner than later.

      There is no reason that we cannot do it now. The issue is one of ‘one size fits all’ and who pays for us.

      If we pay for it through class warfare then we go nowhere politically; but your points are well understood.

      An example of class warfare descending into a dogfight: under the proposed healthcare bill, well-to-do union members would be exempt from a rise in their taxes to pay for healthcare. This leaves non-union members to pay both their share and to pick up the tab for those not kicking in to help pay for benefits received. This is the so-called “Cadillac Tax” … which could affect as many as 1 in 4 union members if the rules were applied to all Americans equally. And then there is Montana which won a 10 year exemption from having to pay into the fund. Things like this have poisoned the waters of cooperation.

      Want universal coverage? Oddly it is the Republican-governed states that have brought out near universal coverage for their citizens: Maine, Massachusetts, Tennessee.

      There is a lot we can do. And I truly wish that we could reset the clock a year because providing near universal healthcare is something worth doing.

      BTW – I have written extensively on this subject elsewhere on Bill4DogCatcher.

      Thanks for writing. Bill G.

      • ktwolf

        “Oddly it is the Republican-governed states that have brought out near universal coverage for their citizens: Maine, Massachusetts, Tennessee.”

        Although MA had a Republican Governor when their health care system was implemented, they had a Democratic legislature. This demonstrates that reform happens when the two parties work TOGETHER, not in opposition.

      • Agreed. And let me add Hawaii to the list of states where both parties came together for the good of their citizens. All of them.

      • ian

        You forgot Hawaii.

      • Ian,

        Thanks for the note about Hawaii. Will be exploring this issue more in the weeks ahead.

        Just FYI to all, conservatives/right-of-center opposition to some form of national health care policy generally fall into three groups: #1) It costs too much and there are too many loopholes as to who doesn’t pay. #2) Health Care is more properly a states rights issue — anything not ‘specfically’ mentioned in the Constitution is a power of the individual states; many folks use this a dodge for discussing the issue of health care reform, and yet many more truthfully believe in this (10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution); and #3) some folks are just contrary to anything that requires a signature in Washington.

        BUT!!! I think that many conservatives would support national health care at some level if it were well defined as to the services provided, limited in expense (if we budget $150B per year then we must live within that budget), and everyone above a certain income level paid the same amount, or were given credit if they purchased similar services from a private plan.

      • Drew Ann Paula

        Nicely put!

      • Michael

        I think the big problem is the fact that in order to pay for any Health care reform we need to have the upper class pay the majority of it. As an example, CEO’s in 2006 made 262x the mean salary in the US. Compared to 24x in 1965. The richer get richer or the poorer get poorer, either way, this is wrong.

        http://www.epi.org/economic_snapshots/entry/webfeatures_snapshots_20060621/

        This site may be biased, but the data presented is compelling. I’ve never heard of them before.

  6. Margy Rydzynski

    I really enjoyed your post. I’m glad you decided to give the coffee party a chance, without making your mind up about them first. I’m glad to see there might be a way all of us can get together to make progress on issues that are on the way to destroying us (regardless of political views!).

  7. Ev OutWest

    Hey, thanks for this. I’m thinking about going to a Coffee Party event my own self and hearing your experience makes me feel that maybe there is a possibility for some good dialogue and planning. Much appreciated!

  8. bill1013

    Enjoyed your post. We need to start talking to one another more and stop yelling at each other. no matter what our differences, we all share a love of country.

  9. Patty

    Thanks again for writing this. I started it with a winced look on my face preparing for another far-right rant….but I, like you, do enjoy hearing other points of view and find value in everyone’s perspectives. I was glad to read what was ‘just a man’ going to ‘just an event’ to gain and give knowledge and insight. Awesome!

  10. Lois Perillo

    Sounds to me that this is just another Tea Party under another name!! Doubt that I will be attending any soon! The “obamacare” label did it for me!! You are not there to change your mind or discuss things, you are there to change everyone else’s mind to your opinion!! I doubt you are willing to give this administration any time to prove itself. Your “God bless Reagan” tells it all!!!!!!

    • timmmahhhh

      It is your choice if you want to continue the devisive stance. I applaud this writer for making the effort to work with others that think differently than he does. We need a lot more of that.

      The Coffee Party movement IS different. It is not a fake grassroots movement organized by FreedomWorks like the teabag movement is. The CPM is everything the TB movement pretends to be.

    • Amy

      Lois, what about the post prompted your angry response? If you read it and don’t just scan for terms that upset you, it will be clear that the original poster was pleasantly surprised to find that conservatives and liberals (and “independents”) could sit down together and engage in civil, rational discourse. A person can have serious questions about the goals of elected officials and their approach to policy without frothing at the mouth and blaring falsehoods to the world. Nope, no tea party here. Just a much needed dose of civility and mutual respect between those who disagree.

    • Dan C

      Was it not Ronald Regan who trippled the national Debt, lied to congress and the American People with his Iran Contra scheme and in my time had more senior members of his administration found quilty of crimes for which he pardoned them!

      • Reagan had his moments. In an interview with his official biographer, Lou Cannon, Reagan went on record as regretting that his actions led to huge deficits and that he wasn’t able to master them.

        As for inter-Administration scandal and pardons, Reagan’s 393 pardons is bested just barely by Clinton’s 396.

        For interesting reading on all kinds of scandals across many different administrations try this Wikipedia article: Political scandals of the United States at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_scandals_of_the_United_States

    • Jo Osmer

      I’m with you Lois. And if this is the type of person who will attend this group, I’m going to drop out.

      • Doc411

        Lois and Jo:

        If you are the kind of people that refuse to consider the other side of the coin or tolerate opinions other than your own, then you’re probably not the kind of folks that fit in with the Coffee Party. Personally, I’m a fiscally just right of center, and socially WAY LEFT, but I’m still willing to have a conversation with someone who might disagree with me. Who knows, one of us (or maybe both) might learn something.

        I believe that “Obamacare,” or whatever you want to call it, is a heck of a lot better than “starting over” (code for Do Nothing). If there are flaws in the law, then guess what…its a law, you can fix it later.

        I’m only disaapointed that the nearest event was a 4 hour drive away.

  11. Dennis Martinez

    Well done.

  12. phlogiston

    There are many more out there that share the veiw that the issues are being clouded by dogma and revisionist history…..your candor is refreshing. It’s time we take our country back from the professional politicians and the media that distorts position in order to make it the news. Both sides suffer from idealism before pragmatism.

  13. Deranged LunaTech

    Thanks for sharing your experience. I was unable to attend the Coffee Party meetings held near me this weekend as I was attending a funeral. I know what the website says they are about – I had hoped that in practice it was the same. Sounds to me like you have confirmed that it is.

    Unfortunately, many people won’t read and find out for themselves. I found out (through an argument with a frined about coffee party) that WND has outright stated that it was a “leftwing movement meant as an answer to the tea parties” and gloated over the low turnout as compated to tea party turnouts. I fear many people will just accept that at face value and continue pursuing polarizing actions and positions, rather than trying to find a way to come together to make progress. I think it is a sad commentary on the state of American politics that the focus of the parties in charge seem to be more on obstructing the “other team” than actually making any progress to solving our problems, and it is sad to see how the American public is playing right into it.

  14. I too agree with many parts of your post. I am a Democrat and not afraid to take that label, despite the horrible name calling we are suffering through right now. I have seen much I like in the Coffee Parry, and goes along so much with the campaign my husband, Mike Clark, is running for Congress in East TN. Here, being a Democrat is sometimes considered the same as being a felon – our area is predominately Republican, and some of the worst namecalling you will ever experience comes out of our very poor hills and hollars. I understand the concept of a balanced budget (I’m an acounting/economics/geography major) but I also understand the need to take care of our own. My mind boggles at the people who will constantly vote against the people who are most looking out for their interests in our region. Our current congressman is a Doctor (I wonder who’s interests he’s looking out for?) – eh’s made his money and has voted “no” on anything that would even resemble helping our community. My husband aims to change that – and though he runs as a Democrat, his beliefs are not so far removed from those of the Coffee Party. His goals are to work for the community, put partisanship aside, and come together to solve the goals of this country, making both our area and our country a better place to live raise your children. We intend to stay above the fray of name-calling this election cycle – though there are already those in our community intent on insulting and belittling him for stepping out to run. I thank you for your post – because reading and understanding the needs and goals of the people is an essential part of what we hope to acheive. Bravo to you for daring to expand your mind and consider other alternatives.
    Stacie C.

    • Katrina Gepford

      I live in Louisville, Ky., (which perhaps has the most liberal leanings in the state, as our state too is quite conservative), yet the rhetoric among conservatives even in the big city is often “unkind” and void of compassionate understanding. Too often as well these people make sweeping assumptions about broad spectrums of society. They assume for instance that most people on unemployment are sitting idle, doing nothing. They often are totally uninformed as to how a government agency actually works. They tend to listen to every piece of misinformation and regard it as truth. I sometimes lose heart that my voice will be heard it the midst of such “loud and blistering” opinions, and wonder if the “voice of reason” will ever prevail. I am a full time substitute teacher, and also periodically score the school systems standardized tests, yet presently at age 55 I have no health insurance because I can’t afford it just now. My husband is a veteran so he gets it for free. My only “health insurance” right now is running 4 mi. on my days off, and 2 1/4 mi. after work. There is certainly no reason why my husband is more deserving than I to receive health coverage. My situation is commonplace. I’m in the company of so many in this country. How can we be heard? I found it appalling the other day to learn that the death rate for women giving birth in this country has actually gone up. If you’ve not known about it just check it out for yourself. Thanks for your comments and if you’d like please respond

      • Yes, the U.S. lags many other countries around the world in the quality of health of its citizens and for basic health care available to its citizens.

        Health care is a complicated issue. This is the 100th year anniversary of when universal health care was first proposed by President Theodore Roosevelt. In all that time there have been many tries to develop a national system. President Eisenhower was incredibly frustrated about health care and the modern Medicare system can trace its ancestry directly to his efforts to provide universal health care for the elderly.

        I truly believe that President Obama lost a major opportunity to bring Republicans onboard when he did not actually propose any plan of his own. Opposition grew and stiffened last summer, as we all know, and then in a rush to get health care moving forward there were lots of deals made … and when discovered just made things much worse. There were easily 4-5 Republican senators willing to cross in aisle in early July 2009 but that was gone by late July when there was still no plan for anyone to read.

        I would be glad to discuss this anytime: Bill@Bill4DogCatcher.com

        Here is a timeline of the efforts over the last 100 years to get some form of national healthcare plan in the USA: http://www.ssa.gov/history/cornignappa.html

  15. Robert

    Bill, I just read your blog for the first time. Great stuff, nicely balanced, well supported viewpoints. Really like the fact that you included the blog list and the fact check links on the right margin. Accurate information is power. Thanks for your work.

  16. RBMICH (Robin)

    Loved your post. The one thing I have enjoyed most of all about the Coffee Party is reading all the different views. Like anyone I have my own opinions, I want HCR, believe there is room for a public option, with participation capped by income. Most of all I have renewed faith in my fellow Americans.who can come together, discuss and possibly come up with solutions. Unfortunately I don’t think they are in Congress.

  17. CoffeeDrinker

    Bill, thank you for this post; I joined the Coffee group on Facebook and was interested in seeing where they were coming from; though I am probably, to you, an extreme liberal, I am glad to see that the organization is doing what they stated they had set out to do, and Iam much more apt to become active in it after reading your post. Whose view is “correct” is not a valid question–there really is no objective answer to that; what we do need to do is talk about all these issues, come up with some workable solutions, some of which will surely be more “conservative” in their underlying ideas, while others will likely have “liberal” underpinnings. I look forward to hearing what everyone has to say, and politely disagreeing (or agreeing) after I listen.

  18. Whitelineman

    Your comments are what this group should be about. I’m sure I would not agree with you on all issues, but when we talk, we would find we agree on a lot of things. The best solutions to problems come when people with different perspectives commit to working together for the common good. Good solutions don’t come from a committee of toadies.

  19. Mary Vollrath

    Thanks so much for your post. I attended a Coffee Party this last weekend and hope more people like you show up. I consider myself a liberal/conservative, but do not attach myself to any party. Tea Party members are very welcomed, as they have the same concerns as anyone else. There are power in numbers, so if all these organizations never come together to find a common thread we will just continue to chase our own tails. There will always be people who will write damaging blogs. But the group I attended last weekend was nothing like what other presume it might be.

    • FlaRick

      Mary, most well adjusted and “normal” people have a wide range of opinions on various issues.

      While I am not opposed to business, entrepreneurship, and people making a few bucks, I think some things are just plain wrong like people lacking clean drinking water, people going to bed hungry, losing their houses and living under an overpass, lacking adequate health care, or an education, while others have gold embroidered shower cutrains (Jack Welch (sic) of GE fame), megayachts (no one ever died because they didn’t have a boat except, and million dollar plus bonuses, how much money can you really “use.”

      So, if the government has to step in to ensure these basic needs are met, then so be it.

      Similarly, I don’t believe some should profit at the expense of everyone else’s world. Yes I believe the notion of global warming/climate change and that we must do something about it. Even if the advocates of global warming are wrong what’s wrong with cleaning the place up a little or a lot, increasing the amount of forested land, making sure our kids can eat a codfish or watch a whale or a California Condor, live and in person rather than an old movie.

  20. chessnic

    I want universal health coverage at a reasonable cost. Why must the US spend twice as much as any other country while not covering 50 million people? Corporate control of health policy that spends millions of dollars on lobbying to the detriment of most citizens IS the number 1 Abomination in America.

    Abomination 2: Congressmen’s web sites express interest in hearing from their constituents but not so much from anyone outside their districts. Yet, they take money from anywhere — in some cases, most of their money comes from out of state, maybe from abroad.

    • FlaRick

      Just a point, I am not sure they can legally or ethically do that under current rules on their “.gov” websites. There are Congresspeople who have started “.com” websites for specific issues that they want to garner national attention. Case in point, Alan Grayson in Florida who started a “.com” regarding the Supreme Court decision vis-a-vis corporate advertising for political candidates.

      • I can’t think of a reason why Grayson’s actions would be either illegal or unethical.

        If he is advocating for a position and takes the money out of his pocket then he should have a website just like anyone else can.

        I don’t like Grayson (D-FL) but he has a voice and is entitled to make it heard.

        The corporate financing law concerns when people funnel money to/through you and use you like a sock puppet.

  21. Eley

    I have to say, finding this sort of thing in these polarized times we live in, is refreshing to say the least. It’s getting harder and harder to be able to discuss issues, in a civilized, RATIONAL way. The way I’ve always seen american politics, and more so lately, is that roughly half of the people are going to be angry. However, the level of anger is a lot higher than I’ve ever been aware of……..

    Anyways, I’m looking forward to reading/hearing more from this movement and possibly even joining it.

  22. Angela

    I have nothing much more to say except: Thank you.

    It’s nice to hear that people are willing to work together. Both “sides” have great ideas. We, as Americans, need to find a solution together.

    Good Luck, and God bless.

  23. Farsider

    A dyed in the wool conservative who can talk politics without slinging epithets or insults? Didn’t think that was possible. Interesting to say the least.

    It takes people of good will on both sides of the political spectrum to have civil discussion. From that standpoint I think the coffee party movement has merit.

    From a policy position, however there is no hypothetical “middle” that bridges the gap between the two parties. If that is the goal of the movement, I fear people will be disappointed.

    • Farsider — I don’t think that Coffee is about finding the middle. And while I believe that compromise is sometimes necessary I don’t believe that compromise is a starting point for any discussion. Hopefully Coffee is about ‘getting to yes’. Yes I could support a national health care program if it is explained how we can pay for it. (I even have ideas on how to do it.)

      To borrow from the Buddhists, there is however value in walking the middle path or the middle way.

      Buddhists define this as “The middle path does not mean a mid point in a straight line joining two extremes represented by points. The middle path represents a high middle point, like the apex of a triangle. Thus the high middle point is more value filled than a mere compromise.”

      What I’m looking for is something that gets us back to being solution oriented and not all anger and obstructionist.

  24. FlaRick

    Interesting meeting the “Dog Catcher” attended (by the way I like the name). Seems like they used consensus building tools 101, like the multivoting procedure to achieve consensus on the list of “issues” the group is interested in.

    Too often we bandy the word “consensus” without understanding what it means. The dictionary defines it as, “general or widespread agreement,” with the operative word being general not complete. Furthermore, in group dynamics and organizational development it means a position everyone can “live with,” meaning it may not be one’s ideal position, but it is “good enough.”

    I liken it to teaching soccer to young kids who are just beginners. You teach a certain skill until 60% of the players can execute it correctly 60% of the time then move on. It ain’t perfect, but perfection is the enemy of the good and keep in mind that it may cost you just as much to get the last 10% improvement as it cost you to get the first 90%.

    Regarding healhcare, Obamacare isn’t perfect, but it’s a start. My healthcare is paid for and Obamacare specifically prohibits touching it (lucky me), but no doubt our existing system is broken.

    Let’s realize though that there are those who argue health care is not a God given right under the Constitution, to counter arguments in favor of healthcare reform. Well, neither is being a corporation, or owning a small business. As your business grows, becomes more economically and politically powerful, and affects the lives of greater numbers of people, then it incurs the liability of becoming increasingly regulated, as it should. That’s called levelling the playing field, which is what government is all about.

    Just my two cents.

    Rick

    • Rick,

      Soccer! Soccer! I can’t get enough. I coach two teams of U19B boys. That is madness. And fun.

      Just a couple of notes about your post:

      — The health care proposal as passed by the Senate would appear to protect/prevent employer health care plans from abandoning their employees. Since you are in soccer then you know that a ‘yellow card’ is often a worthy price to pay to achieve a goal (from the aspect of an aggressive team).

      If employers gain more than they lose by dumping their employees and pushing them into a government/taxpayer financed plan then absolutely not good. Would they do that? A recent survey of major S&P 500 companies indicated that more than half are considering cutting back/shift health care benefits and costs in the year ahead.

      A really good source of information for “all sides” on health care issues is the Kaiser Family Foundation at http://www.kff.org/insurance/employer.cfm

      WARNING: Why you should be for a national plan: family health insurance premiums could rise to $30,000 with 10 years: http://www.kff.org/pullingittogether/091509_altman.cfm

      If I were Dog Catcher for a day, I would decree three levels of health care:

      — Level I – Basic/Preventative: this is the individual’s responsibility to pay for. Individuals making under a certain amount would receive a voucher to pay for this care. If your company provides this then good. But an illness prevented is a huge cost savings later. The cost to taxpayers would be about $600 per year per person covered. About $33 billion year is reimburse to folks walking into emergency rooms and not having insurance.

      — Level II – Elective Medicine: your choice = your wallet.

      — Level III – Catastrophic: No American should face total financial ruin due to major injury or end of life illnesses. But there must also be some limits. Lots of room here for reform both personal and within the industry. Every American should have this policy, although it should not be mandatory. Any American earning less than a certain wage or salary would receive a voucher for purchase of this policy. Those who can pay and choose to go without: your choice = your wallet.

      • Lillian

        Your health care plan sounds fair, all-encompassing, and well-informed. Run for office, and you will likely get my vote! And you have my thanks for participating in the recent Coffee Party meeting as you did. Open-mindedness is rare and beautiful.
        Some random points I want to make, after having read so many of the posts here:
        1. wdgoldenic, you make me wish more conservatives were like you, for I might then find some reason to feel a little more hopeful about the state of the country (and the planet) that my children are inheriting. As it stand now, though, I think we are an empire in decline, and that bodes ill for my children and their children.
        2. Vermont is a very Democratic state, but we have Catamount health care and are rapidly approaching statewide universal health coverage. As you would point out, our governor is a Republican, but we managed to get this far, anyway (gentle ribbing there…). BTW, I am originally from MA, left there around the time that most cars sported a bumper sticker that said “Don’t blame me, I’m from Massachusetts!”, after a Republican won the presidential race.
        3. Is no one embarrassed by our country’s abysmal state of health, in comparison to the rest of the developed nations? Or, for that matter, by our failure to educate our young? Just curious, for Americans seem to have blinders on, not seeing how we look from the other sides of the oceans. I live with a Canadian, who wouldn’t give up his citizenship benefits if you held a gun to his head, and he boasts (endlessly!) about his recent cardiac surgery, after which he simply walked out of the hospital and was never required to fill out forms or pay any bills before leaving. They can do this, but we in the US somehow can’t pull it off?
        Sorry, rambling on, will stop here.
        Thank you for being a sane voice straining to be heard despite the cacophony surrounding us.
        Coffee Party: THANK YOU FOR EXISTING!

      • Lillian,

        Thanks for your note. There are many, many thoughtful conservatives. And I believe that there are just as many thoughtful liberals … and what we need are more of those independent moderates in the middle that keep us all honest because they want the best deal possible at our political flea market.

        When our electorate is polarized and elections are won by mere percentage points then neither side sees the need to reach out. They strive to gain and few points in the polls and then pray that’s all they need.

        ======

        Here is the real dilemma for the health care debate: votes matters. Your income matters. The more income you make the more likely you are to vote.

        Many, many of those without good or any health care are more likely to be down in the income strata and much less likely to vote.

        Only 36% of Americans in the lower 20% of the economic strata vote. 59% vote in the upper 60%, 67% in the upper 40%, 63% in the upper 20%.

        People with education are also much more likely to vote; college grads vote at the 79% participation level. College grads are of course in the upper income strata and much more likely to have health care.

        So these folks are much less likely to appreciate or to understand the need for doing it different. It largely doesn’t affect them — and those that might be affected (preexisting conditions) are often within group plans where they are lucky to get coverage.

        That sounds like class warfare.

        But here is the real kicker: Arthur Laffer of the famous/infamous Reagan-era Laffer curve, believes that health care for the affluent is so subsidized corporately that they do not realize the real cost of health care. If they had to pay (so-called “personal responsibility”) the real costs then they would see things very differently.

        Laffer believes that the all-in-one-plan health care system that we have blinds most folks to the real costs. Have a cold? Covered. Car accident? Covered. Heart attack? Covered! Just one low premium for unlimited services paid through your employer’s group plan. See Laffer’s research into how current “health insurance” plans worsen the situation by making those of us more likely to vote believe that we have the best system in the world: http://lafferhealthcarereport.org/report/current-health-insurance

        Does this make sense? We have a system where them that has actually has it very good. They have no reason but to believe that we have the best system in the world. They vote. They will vote against a system which threatens to tax them for what they believe they (and everyone else) already has.

        ==========

        So how can the world have national systems and us not? Most of the world’s system emerged after World War II when they had destroyed economies and it was in their behalf to come up with a single integrated system. Germany and Canada are two exceptions; Germany had health care since the 1880s and Canada had so few doctors and so much territory to cover that most provinces instituted their own systems between 1947-1952.

        The U.S. however emerged from the war victorious with a booming economy and employer-based plans that enjoyed/enjoys a $300 billion tax write-off. Many conservatives believe that eliminating this tax write-off would cause the industry to reform itself because it would force individuals and companies to confront Laffer’s belief that subsidized one size fits all is the real impediment to health care reform.

        Some quick voter turnout facts: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voter_turnout

  25. Hey Bill, I was at the same meeting. The format was the same for when we do the neighborhood improvement circles. Bring together diverse people to discuss common issues. Narrow it down with the “dots” thing, split into small groups. The only thing different was, we would have brought small groups back for one person to report on and share what actions they plan to take. Then everyone goes forth. You either take action, or you don’t. Dialogue to action. Nobody controlling the message or forcing anyone to think a certain way. My small group on “voter education” meets March 23 at 5:30 pm upstairs at Wegmans on Rt 29 Gainesville. Anyone’s welcome to join us.

    • Cindy, thanks for the update. The format was great. I have NEVER seen the “dots” used before. What an ingenious approach to quickly getting to what people are really concerned about.

      I have two soccer teams (U19B) and will be at practice that day, else I’d be there. Am really impressed with the folks that I’ve met.

  26. Two Steps to the Left of Jesus

    Well, if you like soccer, you’ve got at least something on the ball. Er, so to speak.

    As a massive fan myself, I deal with Brits online on a daily basis, and on as broad a range of topics –footballing and otherwise– as you can imagine.

    It may not surprise you to note that even to the most archconservative spittle-spraying Toryboy wind-up merchant whom you’ll find on a messageboard, the fact that affordable universal access to healthcare isn’t an American’s birthright is utterly bemusing –it just leaves one chuckling and scratching one’s head in quasi-embarrassed incomprehension, and to the extent that one can’t really articulate why (and to a Brit, the healthcare “debate” hasn’t existed as such for generations, and only an ever-dwindling minority remember life in the UK without it; to them, national health isn’t right or wrong –it just *is*, and elements of its effectiveness can be praised and criticized on their own merits and not thru a prism of “Well, that’s what you get when you put healthcare in the realm of the public sector!”).

    Canadian Tories frame access to basic care as a matter of public order, in much the same manner as public schools and libraries, cops and firefighters and the generous distribution of public benefits to senior citizens and persons with disabilities; means, modalities, costs and accountability are always subject to debate and modification, but the question ceased to be one of “whether or not” a long time ago.

    Something that I wonder about: Why do people –Americans– get so up in arms when elected representatives raise their taxes…but passively comply anytime “private” industry, coddled and enabled by elected officials but not subject to electoral rebuke, jacks up fees and premiums?

    I mean, call it a tax or call it a fee hike –either way, it’s money out of your own pocket and into someone else’s (or, if you don’t like in the latter case, just doing without).

    One other thing: a significant reason that Barack Obama wasn’t able to wrap up his party’s nomination during the presidential primaries until the very end had to do with the fact that a lot of Democratic voters didn’t trust him on healthcare –but they were persuaded that Hillary Clinton, if nominated and subsequently elected, would be in there fighting full-tilt for them on a daily basis.

    While he only got 52 percent of the vote of those who bothered to cast a ballot, he was not elected president to maintain the status quo around here. There was an alternative, something closer to “more of the same,” in Sen. McCain, a decorated veteran of a foreign war who knows what it means to endure suffering for his country –and he lost by 7.25 percent nationally, which is a pretty substantial margin when it comes to presidential popular votes hereabouts anymore (and especially where incumbents are not involved).

    I mention it because I have a friend who’s constantly harping on the point that there are good many people staffing the barricades these days in revolt against “an administration run amok,” “creeping socialism” and all of the other buzzlines, perhaps the most genteel among them being “He’s trying to do too much all at once.”

    Yeah well. That’s the way it goes in a shipwreck, and not least of all when the lifeboats are shoddy and not in good repair. It’s kind of a matter of “Shut up and start bailing or grab an oar, or go find another lifeboat more to your liking –either way, stop carping and do something, or come up with a better idea that has a chance of working!”

    Again, he didn’t get elected just to stand there and wait, as though it were all a matter of Newtonian physics, for things to stabilize and then get better –and if they don’t, then many of the same people who claim to want “government out of our lives” will punish those running it for failing to improve them.

    We really are an odd breed of people. Anyway, it’s important to have a reasoned and reasonable debate about this stuff, and you’re to be applauded for making a constructive contribution to it.

    • Please don’t hold it against me that I like Arsenal or Manchester United if those are not your teams. Am also a big fan of Orange.

      We’ll all get there, but it will be painful. To many people we are the ‘United States’ of America and Washington is a foreign entity that is not part of none. (Not my view, but I only get one vote).

      Those ‘United States’ have unique powers defined by the 10th Amendment to our Constitution. Not all agree with this view, and many that do agree are hesitant to express it in that manner. Most Americans are clueless even to the existence of the 10th Amendment although they know that that number exists.

      ‘States Rights’ and the 10th Amendment are undergoing a surge in their popularity as a political concept. These two concepts — enshrined as they are in the Constitution — will continue to cause more aggressive debate than many would like to engage in.

  27. D Pierce

    Follow the money to find the crooks.
    99% of Hedge Fund managers, 99% of Wall Street Bankers, and 99% of Insurance company executives pull the Republican lever in the booth though they slather both sides with enough money to buy Congress…did you know that Evan Bayh’s wife is on the Board of Directors of Well Point – influence peddling all around and the “conservatives you think you admire seem to spend just as much as the liberals – look at the last 50 years including Reagan and the Bush clan. Only Gerald Ford held his own. Check out the yearly budgets. As to health plan vs rebuilding Iraq and Afghanistan – money spent in America stays in America – money spent in the Mid East is ….down a rat hole (IMHO of course).

    • Actually, Wall Street is stuffing money into the pockets of Democrats. Strange and hard to believe I know but … so says the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

      The Wall Street Journal Market Watch has an analysis of where the $370 million contributed for the 2010 elections is going: the bulk is going to Democrats.

      Sources: Wall Street Market Watch, “No tea for Wall Street in fall elections”, http://www.marketwatch.com/story/no-tea-for-you-wall-street-2010-03-09

      • Cheryl

        Wall Street is known to switch back and forth to whichever side they think will win. They are also only one piece of the puzzle. John McCain receives the most from insurance companies, John Boehner and Mitchell are also high up there, but Lieberman, Ben and many Democrats also get high amounts.

        I am more impressed when the individuals fight for insurance reform who get a good amount of money than those who get large amounts and fight against it.

      • jurginvoncelle

        So limit corporate funding!

  28. kevingt

    Thanks for the post Bill. I believe we would be on the opposite side of the fence on most issues BUT I think we could sit down and discuss our opinions reasonably over a cup of coffee or a beer, That’s what more Americans need to do. Move away from the name-calling, back-stabbing, and every other divisive tactic and have an honest talk, debate, discussion, etc. Glad to hear the Coffee Party was a good event from a different political perspective.

  29. i thought this was a good post. he was fair, although he didn’t pretend to be politically correct. he gave his opinion, and he was up front. the people who don’t like this expect everything to be neutral. no one lives or operates in a vacuum, and the only people who are truly neutral and have no opinions are the uninformed. the point of the ‘no labels’ issue is to remind people not to point fingers at each other and fight. it’s a call to civility. if no one expresses an opinion, then what’s the point of meeting.

  30. jana

    We have to come together as citizens, not as party members or MSMBC or FOX watchers.

    The Teabaggers know something is wrong, but only think it’s because of ‘liberals’.

    I think many conservatives are wondering where the jobs went just like liberals.

    We need to unite now and find out how to work together.

    • Many of those teabaggers are very good people. Many will crossover and join with Coffee folks. There are Coffee folks in the TEA Party.

      It may be a bit painful to read some of the exchange that goes on in the right-of-center groups, but I would encourage you to do so. Conservatives and the Right (not the same to me) hold very raucous conversations. There is a rude fringe … just as there is at the other end of the spectrum. But I think that you will find conservatives taking strong stands in favor of reasoned discourse, challenging supposed facts, and defending Americans as a whole as being in this all together.

      Recommended website for quick immersion into the raucousness: http://www.freerepublic.com — WARNING: take your high blood pressure medicine beforehand BUT you will find good people here. The Coffee Party needs to reach them and can with patience and being just as non-judgemental as you would wish them to be.

  31. sowhatelseisnew

    I truly appreciate Bill’s perspective. Having become more and more politically agnostic over the past several years, although I tend to lean liberal.

    There is definitely a need to step outside of party affiliation and deal with the core issues. There is definitely a need for a Healthcare solution now and we don’t need to scrap current offerings but do need to get out of the incrementalism mode that some are desiring.

    I find it hard to believe that so many in this country are falling prey to fear-mongering which is working against the best interests of the populace.

    The Coffee party movement is, I believe, a refreshingly open approach. There is value in both conservative and liberal solutions. Yielding to the fear-mongering of those who participate in such fringe groups and negative blogging offer nothing of value except to spur this group forward.

  32. Florida is a long, long way from Michigan but you seem like an alright guy Bill.
    If you make it this far up north, this dyed in the wool liberal would gladly buy you a drink.

  33. April Lange

    Thank you for sharing your story Bill. I started the Coffee Party in Minnesota and have also been asked by the founders of the movement to be one of it’s national spokespeople, so on behalf of myself and the movement – thank you for coming to meet us for coffee!

    What you experienced is what we were hoping for. In fact, Annabel Park had a similiar comment a couple of weeks ago on the Coffee Party fan page re: “check your labels at the door” We also came to a consensus early in our movement’s discussions online to stop using the term “teabagger” – a decision that alot of people coming into the movement didn’t like but our own “Civility Pledge” calls for. I just want people to know that if they hear a Coffee Partier use that term or other namecalling they are NOT representing the same movement that I am.

    It gives me great hope that we are talking. The media is writing lots of headlines that say this is a “versus” thing; “Coffee Vs. Tea!” but I think alot of us are realizing that a house divided can not stand. Being one of those people, I thank everyone that is coming to the table, regardless of the beverage you order when you get there!

    • The civility pledge is important to me. We do not have to agree. The best outcome will be when we acknowledge that we are all in this together.

      Civility doesn’t mean compromises either. But willingness to compromise where it makes sense is important and should always be on the table. What drives me up the wall are ‘party-line votes’. And both parties are guilty of that.

      The Washington Post has a very good tracking system: http://projects.washingtonpost.com/congress/ — I think that most people would be amazed at how lockstep both parties are in their votes. We need to find a way to separate votes from parties so Congress is capable of getting to serious work without the hammer falling from within on how they voted.

      You and I should be the ones that hold Congress accountable, not the guys in the back rooms.

    • Grey Deacon

      “We also came to a consensus early in our movement’s discussions online to stop using the term “teabagger”

      Okay, I can do that. But, it is like Bill points out with Obamacare it is a term used nationwide and by all the media. It is also the term/name used by individuals who are members of the group (my younger brother and wife for two) to describe themselves.

      Not using a term or a label does not mean that the item, philosophy or whatever does not exit. While I do not like the names/terms “elderly gentleman, old man, old fat guy, big old grumpy fellow, big belly…” it does not change the fact that I are one and none of the names changes who or what I am. It is only a description so others know who is being talked about.

      I accept the label Coffee Filter with a level of pride — the filter serves the very practical purpose — the separation of the waste from the grand beverage. So… I am not to use the offensive term T…….. what term or label am I to use?

      I am a member of a culture that believes to steal a person’s name removes from them all that is human. I would hate to feel my brother and his wife are such deplorable creatures as to not even be worthy of a name. Hey, we even allow the Crow to have a name. (lighten up people — it is an indian joke [feather not dot])

      • I hear “elderly gentleman, old man, old fat guy, big old grumpy fellow, big belly…” a lot. I tell my wife that I’m just full of love, and tell my soccer players that they should be out on field keeping in shape so they don’t end up like me.

  34. The Coffee Party is all about an open discussion based on facts. If we had more of that and less of the talking points politics as a sport thing, our country would be much better off.

    I really believe that liberal, moderate, and conservative voters have more in common than one would think from the discourse in Washington.

    I’m pretty sure that most voters can agree that there is too much corruption in Washington. That the politicians need to respond to the needs of average Americans rather than to the needs of special interests.

  35. I enjoyed reading this and like your point of view. I would like to invite you to visit PolitiLife and create a profile. I am going to share your post on the site. We are building a community of Americans who want to discuss the issues with civility and respect. We could use a few well-rounded people with conservative perspectives.

  36. Chris

    Kool-aid? Why even go there? It had noting to do with the coffee party. You could have just focused on the issues. I have no use for anything you have to say.

    • Michael Cobb

      Did you stop reading when you saw the word “koolaid?” If so then you missed great post that was fair and balanced. Maybe you shouldn’t be so close-minded!

  37. Roy

    nice to see people coming together to debate issues without the 2 party machine controlling the agenda, between the tea and coffee groups surely this is the time for a strong 3rd party without been behoven to the corpocracy !

  38. Mitch Carlson

    Our healthcare’s ahead of Cuba? In the post-“Sicko” world, that surprises me.
    In a nutshell, here’s what would signal a REAL change in the healthcare paradigm, “after the smoke clears” –

    1. I have the same access and rights to healthcare as an incarcerated, convicted felon.

    2. I have the same access and rights to healthcare as any citizen of any country outside the US to whom the US has sent a relief mission.

    Is THAT too much to ask/expect/wish for?

  39. George Winston

    I support the NRA and I am also a Liberal. I am against all the fraking bailouts and I am also a liberal. I am for Obamacare and I am probably the new face of conservatism in this nation because I believe the people and their continued good health, is the best investment this country can make for itself when it comes to paying back all those debts … It’s either that or we sell off the national forests to China.

    I am for taxes (yes, it is linked to patriotism) but I don’t think I should be paying more of my income to fix the roads when there are now more millionaires in this country than there were in 2008.

    I am angry that all the COLA’s were cut to retirees and disabled while at the same time prices at the checkout counter have been allowed to continue to spiral out of control and that the working poor are now the new Poverty-Level Poor with the lower middle-class earners in close pursuit of hitting the local food banks to make ends meet..

    • Eley

      FINALLY!!! your comment about taxes is DEAD on as far as I’m concerned. The way I see it, taxes are the cost of doing business, we can’t expect to reap the rewards and not fork out our share. I’m in a higher income bracket and I have no problem whatsoever paying a higher percentage than others, why? because I’m aware of how fortunate I am.

      I also agree with you that healthy (and let me add educated) people are the future and driving force of this country…

      • Chris

        Thank you, Eley, for saying this. Too many Americans forget that TANSTAAFL, and it’s taxes that covers the tab. If you are doing well in this country, it is your patriotic duty to pay a fair share of the taxes that provide for your good fortune. We have a system that rewards hard work more than a lot of other countries where its whose palm you grease.

        I appreciate that I was born a US citizen, and I served my country both for selfish and altruistic reasons. I enjoy a standard of living unimaginable to too many of the planet’s population, and my kids thrive while others do not. None of that would be diminished by a universal health care program. As a matter of fact, we would all benefit from the redirection of national resources away from the pockets of insurance companies and their CEOs and investors. Except for the CEOs, of course. Let them find a more competitive industry and work to earn their keep.

  40. Very good article!

    What this country needs on every issue, not just HCR is 435 people (not politicians) in DC that are willing to die on the cross and do what NEEDS to be done regardless of the political season.

    It is sad that we as a nation are not willing to “take care of our own”. This country is at a crossroads . I hope HCR passes, to control rate increases, prevent pre-existing condition discrimination and to get those without insurance an affordable option.

    I did join the Coffee Party on Facebook, I like the concept of people coming together to find common ground on a subject and MOVE FORWARD. I think/hope there are at least 51% of Americans that would agree with that.

  41. Hank

    I too was born a Democrat. And while I have seldom strayed from that registration, I have voted more as an Independent. I wholeheartedly concur with your exortation to leave labels and name-calling at the door. I believe that most informed and thinking people defy labels in their positions anyway. One can be a social “liberal” and a fiscal “conservative” or vice-versa, etc.. I am so pleased that you had a positive experience with a Coffee Party gathering. It incentivizes me to get involved in one also. Thanks for your thoughtful postings.

  42. Karen

    I enjoyed the post, till it got to the ‘God bless the US constitution”. I’m real tired of people talking about their imaginary friends. Which God are we discussing again? The one of the bible? the Koran? the flying spaghetti monster? The Hari Krishna? Zeus? Thor?

    Its hard to have a rational discussion with someone who believes in ghosts and fairy tales. Just saying.

  43. Kenneth

    What?!?! A sense of reason in politics? I think your point was lost on most of the people leaving comments as they’ve already resorted to name calling, etc. Yawn! Turn the page people. Your chapter is boring.

    While I consider myself a fierce independent, extreme liberals think I’m a conservative and extreme conservatives think I’m Satan. It’s too bad that so many Americans, and most politicians, claim to love their country, but can’t see past their political parties to show their love for their country.

    • Kenneth, welcome to the club. Most of my conservative friends think I’m too liberal because I’m willing to ask ‘why not?’ And a good many others think that I’m a grinch because I want to know first of all: how are we going to pay for this stuff?

      As for those who ask, well what about the cost of the wars? Yes, I want an answer too. It was not a bright idea to put the wars on our American Express card knowing that when the bill came it was due in full. So now the question is: can I use my MasterCard to pay my American Express bill?!

      If we want it then it needs to be paid for. I don’t care what it is.

  44. Ian

    Hi there,

    Thanks so much for posting this insightful entry about your experience at a “Coffee Party” gathering.

    I don’t necessarily agree with you on some political issues, but as a fellow American, I’m SO glad we have this kind of freedom to gather in the spirit of cooperation, respect, critique and clarity.

    Be well, friend/stranger.
    Ian

  45. clancop

    You guys do realize that when plans like RomneyCare were put in place they failed right? Hawaii ditched the plan a few months after it adopted it due to overwhelming costs. There is nothing to celebrate when the plan fails and it costs the tax payers billions, and yet that is what you are doing. You also speak about how insurance companies aren’t the way to go, yet the largest denier of care (by number and percentage) was Medicare.

    http://biggovernment.com/ptuohe/2009/10/05/ama-endorses-largest-denier-of-health-care-claims/

    Claims may be denier from time to time with insurance companies, but at least when that happens, you can take them to court, something you won’t be able to do with socialized health care. Here’s the issue. Competition across state lines would help drive down costs (which ObamaCare doesn’t want to deal with), Tort reform would also help drive down premiums which have been going up due to “defensive medicine”, and to cover those who aren’t covered already, why not provide tax incentives and tax breaks for those who get their own coverage/ provide coverage for their employees just to name a few. Did you happen to know that Wal-Mart is America’s largest provider of health care? Think about that for a second…

    As for how I would know this, I am a Canadian and having put up with my system, I would hate to see your system get torn apart, especially when so many Canadians depend on American health care. Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams couldn’t get treatment in his province so he went down south for it. Let me repeat that, THE PREMIER COULDN’T GET TREATMENT THOUGH HE WAS “COVERED”! Is that what you want?

    Truly pathetic to see so many ill-informed people looking to through away their system for something that is costing us (Canada, Britain, etc) billions of dollars and thousands of lives a year… Pathetic…

    • You make some good points. We in the U.S. are obviously in the midst of great disagreement — but there is lots of misinformation coming from all around.

      Hawaii’s near universal health care system makes for a good business case of what can go wrong and become a money pit. In Tennessee the TennCare system is generally thought to have done well but buckled when the economy no longer provide the revenue to fund it as before.

      I do not support the national health care proposal that currently exists. But I also believe that there are two or more sides to this story. Most of what has passed for conversation is smoke and mirrors and anger.

      What I find different and positive about the Coffee Party is that we are choosing to sit down and to work together purposely looking to filter out the smoke and mirrors. It doesn’t mean that we’ll come to any agreement.

      • clancop

        Midst of a great disagreement? Don’t make me laugh. 53% of the public strong disapproves of this reform action, while 80+% want at the very least this legislation scrapped. If you are too blind to see that this is nothing more than a power grab and a pork filled mess (what do student loans have to do with health care), I shouldn’t waste my time commenting.

        Also, don’t pretend the Coffee Party is nothing but astroturf. Been covering this story since Annabel Park announced it, followed up with a brilliant post from Legal Insurrection, and then concluded with Lee Doren’s video from the Potter’s Coffee House of the meeting there.

        You want to be played with like a puppet on a string, fine, but don’t think that your idiocy about “smoke and mirrors” is going to fool me. Put down the “Kool-Aid”, you have had enough… Pathetic…
        http://clancop.wordpress.com/

        P.S. You have ignored the point about medicare systems denying more than insurance companies, as well as the point others have made about medicare/medicaid going broke. You want to have a socialized health care system (because let’s face it, that is what this will be eventually) come up here and see how awful the Canadian system is. When I have to keep watch over my friend for 6 hours in the hospital because an entire staff of nurses would rather surf the internet for lewd jokes then do their job, the system is broken.

  46. mhbenton

    Bill, you and I are of a certain age where we remember Nixon from our high school days. Man, now that was a time to grow up! I too was born into the Democratic fold, bu I was lucky enough to have Sam Nunn as a guiding force being from Georgia. While I do not support either party, it is individuals like Senator Nunn I take my lead from. One time when asked why he, as a Democrat, sometime voted in support of Republican sponsored legislation he said something along the lines of “they’re not always wrong ya know.” He always looked to the idea rather when where it came from.

    I like your take on ideas, an idea that cannot stand questioning is not much of an idea to begin with. One should never be afraid to hear dissenting opinions. It will either strengthen your position or refine it, there is no downside.

    Glad to see the Coffee Party, at the very least, was open to ideas from varied points of view.

  47. Thomas Helms

    Seems to me he got it about right…we need more diversity and parties to break up the Democrats and Republicans. Once either get into power their goal is to stay in power. I think this movement, if I can call it that, helps us keep the dialogue open because the pledge is to be civil and that is sorely lacking.

  48. Marty

    Exactly, we may have similar goals, like improved health care, but different views on how to go about it. Since this is a democracy, we have to find a way to agree on this. The name of the political party is not important. We are all Americans. The major parties will never agree. You are right, they put party before country. The only type of government that lets one group get its own way all of the time is some sort of dictatorship.

  49. lee can

    Bill, nice article.
    I am an insurance agent for health care reform. Reform could mean the end of my job and I am still for it. We have to put the good of the country before individuals. Wish we could get elected officials to put country ahead of elections. I too consider myself a centralist, just right of center, only I register as a democrat; voted for Nixon and Regan, several republican governors and senators. I vote for the best person for the job no regard for party lines and I resist labels. Call me a liberal I’ll call you a communist!!
    While we enjoy the best medical services in the world, there is no doubt uncontrolled cost in affect today will break this country if we do not take action.
    A few of points not readily made clear.
    Pre existing conditions has to go. I recently sat with an overweight lady who has a 2 year old overweight baby girl. I could get the mother on a medical plan with a rate up. The insurance company would not accept the baby! Understand if the insurance company has to accept pre-X, they will raise the bar on coverage for all to cover their higher risk.
    We cannot continue down the road of ignoring health care because cost is spiraling downhill quickly. Without Obama the topic would not be on the table. “IF” done correctly health care reform will save hundreds a billions each year and reduce mass waste of recourses as well as funds. My view is something is better than nothing. GET IT DONE is the right thing to do. Then tweak it refining as we go would be my approach. Supporting facts follow.
    Some states report insurance rate increases in the 40% range this last week, California among them.
    Doctors collect about 50% of billed services from clients than rape insurance companies on the remainder to recover. If you visit your doctor and tell him / she you have no insurance the rate they charge will be much less then if you do have insurance. A hospital will (and does) the same. In addition medical facilities charge ridicules amounts for goods and services. Thousand dollar aspirin’s for example in not uncommon. I could write at length about abuse being charged to insurance companies, because they can.. An insurance company does not look at charges below a threshold, medical entities know that and take full advantage costing the healthcare system billions of dollars each and every year. Insurance companies then charge all of us in rate hikes in premiums. The cycle goes round and round with no end in sight. This country will go broke if we do nothing.
    Did you know on average insurance companies make 3-4% profit? Some CEO’s make a million a year while others make 20 Million a year. Thinking we could loose a couple insurance companies and be better off for it!!
    Each state has its own insurance Czar or commissioner. What this means is what I sell in one state cannot be sold in a neighboring state. This means COST. Insurance companies have to reproduce brochures; cost of coverage is affected accordingly and so on. Selling a crossed state line is reported to save huge dollars, but is impossible currently.
    Prescription drugs as we know it is a racket. The cost to manufacture is over charged. What pharmacies the average person includes several hundred percent mark-up.
    Currently if you have blood taken by one doctor information is not shared with other medical facilities. So see another doctor the next day, and they take blood as well. MORE COST for the insurance to pick up mean higher premiums for all for us.
    These issues need to be addressed once and for all. I am not for federal interference unless a situation is out of control. HEALTH CARE is out of control and we need to stand together and get it fixed.
    So stand opposed to health care reform readers if you will. But understand someone stood up to the plate when no one else would and tried to make a difference. This bill is flawed no doubt. We are a year down the road and more divided then before. Progress on other important issues await

    • I am lucky to have military health care as a reward for having served my countries for 20 years. However, I know that I probably would not be able to get healthcare on my own — or at least not without paying a ton of money.

      Have not been really sick a day since the mid-1990s. Yet when I applied for life in insurance in 1995 or 1996 you would have thought that I was about to die. My liver tests kept showing high GGT score results. No one really knows what a high GGT score means — but to the insurance companies it was well beyond the parameter that they had set.

      Long story short: after many medical tests and several years of frustration — but no change in results — I finally got good term life insurance BUT at $348/month. I’ve got a business and two kids plus a wonderful wife. Didn’t want anything to happen to them.

      My prior job gave me COBRA when I was laid off. The cost for that was $900/month. A megasum. When benefits ran out the cost rose to $1800/month if I wished to keep it. Ouch. Luckily I had relocated to a location near to the military by then.

      Bottomline: I do get it. I am all for universal health care of basic services and catastrophic services just so long as we pay as we go, and we all pay equally.

  50. rachelroust

    Great post, Bill – thank you. It’s good to know that on occasion both sides can have an open mind; it’s the closed ones (Liberals or Conservatives, take your choice) that scare me the most. I’m usually a liberal but often sway to fiscally conservative; my boyfriend is usually a conservative but is disgusted enough to consider himself independent … and yet amazingly we get along quite well and have great political discussions without arguing. Thanks for the encouraging post, I’ll have to look into my local chapter of the Coffee Party.

  51. epb

    Congratulations on having the courage to come to the Coffee event as a conservative, since as you stated, your expectation was that the Coffee folks would be as vitriolic as the Tea folks. I believe the key to the Coffee movement is that we are weary of all the vitriol that as been perpetuated by those types. We are grateful and hopeful for honest and open dialog instead of just yelling and wanting to win at all costs.

  52. olderamerican voter

    I am the offspring of a 2 party family. Mom a Democrat. Dad a Republican. I am an independent (go figure). I know that if I owned a company and the people I payed to do the work for me sat around and argued all day I would give everyone 2 weeks notice and start hiring new help. I think that to avoid my grandkids from living in a 3rd world country, we need to forget Tea and Coffee Parties and get something done. Even if we don’t like everything, maybe a start would be a good place to begin. Let all of us push our representatives to sit down and get something done for their employers.
    P.S. Bill thanks for the blog

    • CJ, we should not need either the TEA or the Coffee party. Agreed. Life has gotten a bit polarized though with most elections won by just mere percentage points. Both parties have dug in and focus on the next election rather than ‘getting it done’.

      My suggestion: if both houses of Congress were to SECRETLY VOTE on issues then we would win. They could vote their conscience, and then lie to each other about how they really voted — rather than telling us that they know they represent us but voting along party lines anyway to preserve the status quo.

      • Rob

        The problem with the secret congressional vote you suggest, though, is that then we, the voters, would have no way to hold members of congress accountable. The problem is not too much accountability to party, but too little accountability to voters and too little adherence to fact.

        I think we’d solve a lot of things and force both major parties to be more responsible by
        a) implementing sweeping finance reform (not a new idea, I know) and
        b) making it illegal for any politician,or any political, news, or religious organization to deliberately lie or misrepresent a) the actual content of any legislation, whether current or under consideration, or b) the actions, voting record or stated policies of another politician or public figure.

        Oh, and to require any news organization reporting on such a lie to expose it as such any and every time they play a clip of it.
        Senator Whoever: “This bill says (fill in the blank).”
        Anchorperson: “The bill does not actually say (blank).”

        In other words, they should feel free to object to or promote any policy they like, and speculate and predict outcomes of said policy–But they shouldn’t be allowed to lie about what the policy actually IS.

        If such a law could be passed and enforced (which won’t happen), it would force those in power and with the biggest voices to deal with facts instead of trying to confuse voters with falsehoods or non-existent issues. Let voters make decisions based on reality and force the discussion to revolve around actual policy and legislation instead of wild fabrications.

        Opinion? Sure. Accusations, okay, but a public figure should have to give the actual facts.

        A public figure wants to claim that the health care reform bill would lead to “death panels?” Okay, as long as he admits that it is just a fear or personal belief, and that there is no language in the bill at all whatsoever that even hints in the most oblique manner at the possibility of such a thing.

        The greatest threat to American democracy is not Al Queda or any other outside group; it is the deliberate misleading of the American voter. No one who truly believes in democracy can in good conscience attempt to trick people into voting for or against something by withholding or fabricating information.

        The First Amendment is wonderful, but we do have laws against slander and libel. It is illegal to tell someone you’re going to kill them, too. These laws are to protect individuals. Why not a law that protects democracy itself by making it more difficult for propagandists to subvert it?

        As I said, a law like this will never be passed. The closest we can come is to work toward educating people–hard to do when so many have no interest in hearing any facts that might interfere with their preconceived notions–and for each of us to use our votes to hold our leaders accountable. I don’t mean telling them what to think, just give them the actual facts and let them decide on their own what to think about them. That’s how democracy works.

        Democracy has always depended on intelligent, informed debate, since way back when the Greeks first invented it. As history has shown, when you take away the “informed” part, democracy dies. Therefore, any politician who lies about a voting issue actively opposes democracy.

        And we need to fire them. If we start doing that, many of our other problems will solve themselves.

  53. I hosted a Coffee Party in Garland TX and we had two tea party members. They were looking for a fight, but soon found out that we welcome differing opinions in a civil and respectful manner. It was an incredibly productive meeting and gave me hope for the America’s future.
    -JACKiE

    PS, Here is the event page for the next meeting, including notes from the March 13th meeting. http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=416556224324

    • Jackie,

      Good to hear. There are many, many, many fine people in the TEA Party.

      Some folks also worked over time to make various claims, like George Soros is financing the COFFEE party … Soros always makes for a good boogeyman …

      With time we will all see where this journey takes us.

  54. Rob

    It’s refreshing to see some informed dialogue going on. We’re not going to agree on everything, but like many people–including you, it seems–my biggest frustration is not differences in opinion, but out-and-out falsehoods.

    I’m a social progressive and a fiscal conservative who, like you, actually READS legislation before spouting off about it, and while you and I are likely to disagree on some points, at least we can have a discussion based on fact without first having to debunk the sort of falsehoods spread by so many.

    It is important to hear from those with whom we disagree. If someone can poke holes in my ideas with FACTS and LOGIC, then maybe I should change my ideas instead of calling names.

    I do admit that I’ve been known to do a bit of name-calling myself–Mostly directed at those who propagate blatant falsehoods for personal gain at the expense of our democracy, no matter what their leanings, and at those who believe them uncritically. I’m working on it, though. 😉

  55. tastytone

    “But be assured “we” includes both you and me. We are both Americans — and I’ll drink any beer that you buy me.”

    Right back at ya. Odd as it sounds, this post made my day.

  56. Katrina Gepford

    Built in incentives for maintaining a healthy lifestyle should be expected policy with health care insurance. I’m assuming that this is taken into consideration though not sure, and not sure how such a lifestyle would be monitored and how one would be made accountable. While health care should be available to all I do wonder to what extent we allow for the wonton self-destructive tendendencies of some, (ie. repeat addicts) to play a part in coverage for instance. Health insurance should be more about prevention of health problems before they become problems, (ie. attending to issues of becoming overweight, before one becomes morbidly obese, not to mention the other risks connected to obesity such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.) In other words, health insurance should offer incentives for living a healthy life style, and not as a crutch which permits us to be self destructive or even merely “negligent” of our own health.

    • Lillian

      With over 40 years of experience as an RN, I wholeheartedly agree with Katrina’s comments re placing responsibility for one’s own health where it belongs, i.e., on one’s own shoulders. Admitted there are plenty of conditions that no one can foresee or prevent, but following a healthy diet and maintaining a reasonable habit of exercise can go a long way towards reducing health care costs. People who willfully make poor choices just might need some kind of meaningful consequences to follow those decisions. It is not reasonable to expect society as a whole to suffer for the poor choices made by the few (however, the word “few” is probably not quite correct, these days).

  57. Annette

    I enjoyed reading your commentary. What I liked about the Coffee Party event I went to was the way we checked politics at the door and really worked on civil discussion to come to an agreement about where to start. Only one time did someone forget and start a rant but when reminded, he apologized and stopped. The one thing I did find amusing was the number of people sitting nearby who assumed everyone there was a democrat and wanted to be moved to another table. My hope is that if they were able to listen in on the conversations they would have found this was not so.

  58. Maria

    Bill, Thank you for coming to a coffee party. I think most of those who are participating in this genuinely care about people and this country. There wasn’t any name calling at our meeting because we went right to what we were concerned about. In fact, when we introduced ourselves, I said we needed to thank the Tea Party because if it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t be here. I work along side so many different individuals. And they all have different views. Isn’t that what makes life colorful? I hope more conservatives join. I want to add that much of what Americans think they know about liberals and such, in the last 20 years has been defined by the right. When I hear (from the right) what our motives, moves and agenda are it’s usually like “HUH?? They’re talking about me? What guns? I don’t remember anyone saying anything about guns. What socialist propaganda are we pushing in schools? SBA? ” and so on. On some levels it’s very funny. However, I don’t care for anyone making judgements about me based on someone elses description as I’m sure most people don’t. You did the right thing by going to see for yourself. (no pun intended).

  59. Drew Ann Paula

    I agree! Enough of labels and partisan nonsense..really! I liked this article and I like the fact that someone had the audacity to stand up and act like an adult. I have watched the news this past summer and I was never so embarrased in my life when I saw grown men and women screaming, fighting, name calling, and divided. My God we are Americans. We are supposed to be the beacon of light for the rest of the world. We are suppose to be helping other nations with democracy. The whole world watched Americans act like morons, and then we want to dictate to dictators? Geez folks stop. Our nation is made up of Republicans, Democratics and Independents. Gentiles, Jews, Christians, Muslims and Athetist. Black, White, Hindu, Asian, Hispanics. We are Americans 1st please do not forget that. I am so embarrased by so called political leaders like Sarah Palin using terms that divide us and trying to be a leader? Really Sarah? Soccer Mom? Joe Six pack? Really? Well as an American with 2 children serving our great nation, owing taxes at the end of each year (no cheating) and cry when I hear “I am proud to be an American” when it is played I don’t think you would envison me as a soccer mom, nor would my husband come to mind as Joe six pack. Yet we are as American as apple pie so why do people keep blindly following hateful people with mean spirited views. I am sad for our nation that the status quo has to remain or parties of decisiveness are created to “rally the mob”. Thanks for stepping up sir and taking a chance. In the end we are Americans first like it or lump it . America had a war monger in office for the past 8 years and yes I prayed for him and spoke well of him also…God Bless

  60. Gretchen

    Thanks for the article. 🙂

  61. Michael

    I think your comment page says it all. The fact is, our society has gotten so disconnected from interaction with real people, it has gotten very easy to become jadded and extreme. Being able to have a live conversation with the people of opposing viewpoints across the table or, better yet, sitting next to you is what the country is missing. Our country desperately needs civil discourse about the problems plauging our nation.

    And as for everyone ranting and raving about the words used, calm down and listen to the substance of the writing. If a supporter of the current health care reform bill gets upset at someone using a label and expressing their opinion, then you are being a detriment to the value of the sessions. Understand that everyone uses labels. As long as the opinion stated is defensible, it shouldn’t be viewed as negative.

    I suggest we treat this movement for what it is. That being, a forum to discuss problems and not act like any media outlet and putting spin on the hot button issues. Don’t be a playground bully…

  62. Linda

    Tea party–coffee party–they’re both just labels. Our country needs to pass this health care legislation. Call it “Obamacare” if you want but he isn’t the one who will benefit, our citizens will. It may not be and ideal plan but it’s a start.

    My son lives in France; my daughter lives in England; and one of my best friends, though American born and reared, now has dual citizenship and lives in Australia. Each of them loves the government-run health care they receive in those respective countries. In fact, my best friend was here visiting and developed a serious health problem and immediately flew back to Australia because he said the health care he’d receive there was far better than he’d receive here in America. There is something wrong with this picture! I could cite several other examples but will spare you that for the time being.

    The U.S. represents itself as a world leader. But in what are we leading? Certainly not in education and not in health care. It is a matter of priorities. We find the money to send people into space and to fund wars but we can’t provide basic health care to fellow Americans? I love it when people tell me that this is the best country in the world but they’ve never lived anywhere else to base their statement upon fact. Their opinions are based on things they’ve heard or read–propaganda embraced and disseminated by external sources: family, friends, newspapers, political groups and commentators to name a few.

    Hawaii has been had government-run health care for 40 years and it has been very successful. England began providing health care immediately after the war when they could ill afford to do it. Their country was war torn and depleted of funds. Yet, they managed. I think we’re on a slippery slope unless we start to look inward and make some serious changes. There is no perfect system but our health care is rated among the lowest of all developed countries. Thats unacceptable! The Congress needs to quit focusing on their personal agendas and pass this bill before they lose all credibility.

  63. Tish

    I went to a coffee party here in Michigan. It was so relaxing, so opened minded and everyone there was blind. It was like babies learning to walk. That was the best thing I have seen in many years. I can’t wait until the 27th of March to go back. They have me to work on that day I won’t be at work, I’m going to relax and hear others concerns. We talked about our concern, with Republicans, Democrats and Indepences. We were all on the same page.

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