This past Tuesday, the Campaign for Liberty, Harford County Maryland Chapter, tossed a protest outside the Bel Air office of Congressman Frank Kratovil (D-1). This soiree, which came a day after Senator Ben Cardin’s Health Care fiasco at Towson University, kicked off at 4PM and was slated to end two hours later.
Though I can’t vouch for the exact start and finish time, having arrived at fifteen minutes after the Horn-Blowing-A-Thon began and making my exit fifteen minutes prior to its scheduled end, I can tell you this much: These protesters meant business – although it seems, the protesters and the “politely staying close to the door” staffers from Kratovil’s office differed on what the protest was all about.
For clarity’s sake, I am going to pretty much split this long posting into three parts: General observations, Humorous observations, and then what each side had to say about what the Hell was actually going on.
By my estimate, about 255 protesters were present, holding signs, trying to not die of heat stroke, and venting their respective spleens. Of the 255 or so protesters, 250 were of the anti-Kratovil, anti-Obama Socialized Medicine variety. There were 5 or so youngsters in their late teens/early twenties present who were openly mocking the anti-Kratovil protester. I say this because these five, four guys and a gal, were holding up a slew of handmade signs which, among other sayings, variously read:
“I Like Cheese,” “Nixon in 2012: Just Kidding,” “Why are We Yelling?” “Why Didn’t My Mother Love Me?,” and “Anyone up for Scrabble?” One of these male protester-protesters at one point even shouted out “Play Freebird!” It was mildly amusing, yes, but also wholly ineffective to the hordes of drivers cruising by and blowing their horns in support of the 250 others who were actually protesting the escalating leftwing assault on America.
Of course, almost every one of these anti-Kratovil protesters were also holding signs, the vast majority of which were professionally made – black lettering on yellow background, reading: “No Obama Care: No Socialized Medicine.”
Others of the the anti-Kratovil/anti-Obama crowd held handmade signs bearing such slogans as, “Kratovil: You work for Us,” “Union Member Against ObamaCare,” “No to Cap and Trade, Yes to Free Markets,” and “ObamaCare Equals Slavery.” In addition, approximately 5 folks were toting flags bearing the slogan “Don’t Tread on Me.”
Unfortunately for everyone concerned, a late 30′s couple arrived around 5PM and roamed the crowd bearing professionally produced signs featuring a pic of President Obama sporting a Hitler mustache. Beneath the pic was the subtle slogan, “Obama’s Health Care Plan: Drop Dead.” Close inspection of the sign, however, showed that these idiots were not associated with anyone other than that nutcase, and one time perenniel Democratic and Labor Party presidential candidate, Lyndon LaRouche. Of course, even the fruit loops have First Amendment Rights…but this really doesn’t help the cause of the conservatives. libertarians, and constitutionalists.
Also unfortunate was the instance in which a man in his 20′s bearing an anti-ObamaCare sign stepped on a few of the signs the female protester-protester had laid on the street – just as she was bending to pick them up. This caused her signs, as nonsensical as they were, to bend in the middle, making them useless for the rest of the protest. This happened two feet in front of me, and was most certainly done on purpose and to intimidate. Most uncalled for and, again, not something that helps the protesters’ cause.
As for the effect the protesters had on passersby, well, it was impressive – at least if such things can be measured by the number of blowing horns and people shouting out support from inside their cars. Between that and the crowd occasionally breaking into chants of such things as “No Obama Care” and “Kratovil’s a Coward (for not being present),” they pretty much got their message across.
You knew there had to be some, and one of the most humorous of all was – looking as dapper as ever – “Ziggy” incessantly circling the block in his “Bring Back Ehrlich” truck. As always, the truck was complete with trailer carrying the billboard featuring a smiling Governor O’Malley lifting a few dollars out of a wallet and the slogan, “Welcome to Maryland: What’s in Your Wallet?”
Now, what made Ziggy’s “Bring Back Ehrlich” efforts especially humorous was that he was racing around the block with music blaring and occasionally speaking over a loudspeaker. What this accomplished on more than one occasion was to make it pretty much impossible to hear what various speakers were trying to impart to the crowd via their own loudspeaker. So, as a result of Ziggy’s high decibel meanderings – or perhaps as a result of a benevolent God – I was, for the most part, unable to hear Republican Delegate Rick Impallaria mangle the English language for more than a moment as he spoke. While I may have appreciated that, I can’t speak for others in the crowd.
Also humorous, and again involving Ziggy, was Ziggy’s insistence on getting the attention of the Maryland Chapter of Americans for Prosperity Director, GOP Young Turk and one time “Sign Boy,” David “Sloopy” Schwartz. Sitting at a red light in front of Kratovil’s office, Ziggy got on his loudspeaker and loudly called out “Dave! Dave!” Though it took a moment for Schwartz to notice and respond to Ziggy’s call, a number of people heard it and glanced around in abject confusion. Guess you had to be there…
However, the funniest sight I observed the entire time was that of an elderly, white haired, woman in conservative dress standing on the top step leading into Kratovil’s office. What made her funny? You mean besides the fact she was proudly holding a home made sign above her head which read, simply, “Led Zeppelin Rocks!”
And that gets us to most ironic “humor” of the day. Those 5 protester-protesters who were holding the other nonsensical signs? Well, at around 5:20 they entered Kratovil’s office, not to step back out for the rest of the time I was around. Before going in, they leaned their collection of signs against the steps leading into the office. Do the math. (Pssst, next time, don’t be so obvious. You punked yourself. It still doesn’t excuse the sign-standing incident that occured earlier, though.)
What each side said about what was actually going on:
Now, before I get into this, please know that I am opposed to any manner of Socialzed Medicine (including Medicare/Medicaid, but that’s a different story altogether). And don’t even start me on Cap and Trade and the Stimulus Package. Sheesh! That being said, here’s what reps of the respective sides at the protest had to say.
Let’s start with Kevin Lawler, press spokesman for Congressman Kratovil, the latter of which was in the Middle East on a “fact finding” mission. Wonder if he thought that was safer than dealing with protesters outside his own front door? Whatever…
When I asked Lawler what he thought of the protest, he said that the people protesting seemed to be protesting Obama’s health care bill, “HR 3200, which the Congressman is opposed to.” When I pressed him about the protesters themselves, he blithely replied “They have no interest in hearing anyone speak (meaning him). They are more interested in hearing people blowing their horns.”
Later, I asked Jeremy Walker, Campaign for Liberty, Harford County MD Coordinator, what he thought of Lawler’s statement that Kratovil opposed “ObamaCare.” Walker insisted that Kratovil favored the bill or was, at the very least, talking out of both sides of his mouth on this issue.
“He gave us the typical runaround that any politicians gives. He tells the audience what they want to hear.” In previous discussions (which Jeremy Walker has on video) Kratovil said “The way it stands now, I would’ve voted against it.” Yet…from a Fox-45 video, Kratovil says “If it deals with the issue of rising cost, I might support it.” According to Walker, in Forest Hill (MD) “He says that if Democrats and Republicans can agree on good things in the bill then he won’t rule it out if it makes the system better.”
Lastly, Walker states that Kratovil “clearly fails to mention that socialized medicine is unconstitutional. When asked about the constitutionality of the bill he wouldn’t answer the question.” For the record, I agree wholeheartedly with Campaign for Liberty’s Walker on that point: If it ain’t constitutional, don’t vote for it.
And, to Kratovil spokesman Lawler’s contention that the rally was only about healthcare, Walker had this to say: The rally “was to hold Kratovil responsible for voting for both the Stimulus Package and Cap & Trade, as well as to let him know his constituents do not support socialized medicine. He needed the reminder that he works for us.”
I’m sure he did need that reminder. They ALL do. Moreover, as concerns Congressman Kratovil specifically, it would at least serve his interest to know exactly why his constituents were protesting. Judging from what I saw, he – or at least his staff – really didn’t know.
Lastly, while the youth brigade holding the nonsense signs were mildy amusing, it also shows a disdain for the very real feelings of very real protesters – which is their right to show. However, and gain, this brigade disappeared into Kratovil’s office for an extended period of time. If they were strutting their stuff on the Congressman’s behalf at the behest of the Congressman’s staff…well Mr. Kratovil should learn to take his constitutents and their concerns a little more seriously and not so openly mock them.
But, hey, it’s his election to lose in 2010, and such sophmoric moves will pretty much guarantee that will be the result – at least it will be if the GOP nominates the right opponent.