The San Antonio Express-News has the scoop on a story with a lot of questions in it:
Hours earlier, Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, held a similar, though less elaborate, forum in Schertz — an event that saw strong feelings, mostly against reform measures under discussion in Washington, heckling from a proponent and finally a brief altercation.
At his meeting, Gonzalez delivered a PowerPoint presentation on health-care reform that opened with George Washington’s Rules of Civility, a pointed statement on the often-testy exchanges heard at many town halls this summer. Father Eddie Bernal of St. Benedict’s delivered the invocation, and a translator provided a simultaneous Spanish-language translation to people who listened on headphones.
In other words, Charlie managed the meeting skillfully by trying to “guilt” the attendees through a priest’s presence and George Washington’s ghost. Groovy, Charlie, Groovy.
In Schertz, Smith questioned the premise of Democratic health-care reform efforts. Smith greeted the overflow crowd of 850 at Schertz Civic Center with a broad smile and a clear shot at Democrats, including President Barack Obama, who have decried what they perceive as a lack of civility among Republicans at Congressional health-care forums this summer.
The San Antonio Republican argued that Democrats have inflated the number of chronically uninsured Americans, insisting that the correct figure is closer to 10 million than the oft-quoted 47 million.
Tensions remained in check at Smith’s forum until the congressman took a question from Andy Arambula, 29, who described himself as a network-development specialist for the insurance industry. Arambula accused undocumented immigrants of unfairly burdening American taxpayers, which drew repeated shouts of “Racist!” from the back of the hall by Joel Benavente, 25.
I should point out both men have hispanic surnames. Funny.
Over the second half of the gathering, Benavente continued to shout insults at opponents of health-care reform, and Smith supporters responded by telling him to “Shut up” or “Take a number.”
At the end of the forum, a woman passing by Benavente’s aisle chair jabbed him in the ribs, according to Schertz Police Captain Marc Bane. Benavente responded by pushing the woman, who fell to the floor, Bane added.
A jab can be a mistake, or an error; like stepping on someone’s toes. A push is an assault, particularly when the person loses their balance and falls.
Schertz police officers briefly detained Benavente before deciding to release him.
And he disrupted a Town Hall Meeting — and Police declined to prosecute? Why, exactly?
At one point during the gathering, Smith asked the crowd for their opinion of the 1,400-page Democratic bill currently being considered by the U.S. House of Representatives. At least 90 percent of the attendees raised their hands in opposition.
Smith offered few policy specifics at the forum, but suggested that tort reform, increased private-sector competition in the insurance industry, and insurance protection for people with pre-existing conditions would vastly improve the American health-care system.
Smith predicted that vocal opposition to a public health-insurance option will push Congress to pass a “streamlined, less expansive, less intrusive” version of the plans they’ve considered this year.
How about this? Just fix what’s broken, and leave the rest alone? Tort Reform. Portability (no “pre-existing conditions” clauses.) Just for a strat, off the top of my head, that would fix a lot right there.
2010 cannot get here fast enough, I’m telling you!