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Jack Kingston, R-GA-01, brought his travelling Town Hall to Valdosta State University today.  People kept hauling more chairs into the Magnolia Room to provide for the crowd, which remained standing room only.  I'd guess between 300 and 400 people: huge for a political event here.  
Kingston said was he was surprised: VSU had to open a third (larger) room; he'd never had that happen before; he usually gets between 20 and 40 people; and he would need to come back soon.
Many questions were asked.
We were vastly outnumbered, but by showing up and speaking, we made Kingston address some issues he didn't really like.  And we got on the local media; see below.
Updates: Over the jump.

Most of the attendees were elderly. I recognized some of them personally as well-known local Republicans.  However, there Democrats scattered around the room, and they spoke up and asked good questions.  Many Republicans spoke up too, no surprise, but many of them also asked good questions.  People are genuinely concerned about health care.

Update: more pictures and videos here:  http://www.flickr.com/...
Valdosta Daily Times article here: http://www.valdostadailytimes.com/...
Update 2: Write up your local town hall and send it to huffpo.
Update 3: Jack's Coming Back: attend a September town hall and ask your own question!
Update 4: Jim Parker's question, in four YouTube parts (see below).

Kingston surprisingly admitted there was a problem, but tried to minimize it to being only around 10 million people uninsured.  He cited 47 million as the usual count for uninsured.

  • He said 6.4 million are Medicaid undercount.

  • 4.3 M are on Medicaid or some other government program but they don't know it, he claimed.

  • 9.3 M non-citizens.  Not all illegals, but all not insured, he said.

  • He turned and asked someone from South Georgia Medical Center what he did if an illegal alien came to his ER.  The answer was of course that SGMC ER treats them, as they are required to by law.  Illegal alien bogeyman! Hey, he is Jack "Flag Pin" Kingston.

  • Kingston claimed another big category was those who are "19-34 years and they think they're invincible." They're in and out of jobs and they're "happy to go bare bones".

  • People who can afford to but don't want to pay.



Everybody else he claimed was happy with what they've got, so we should focus on just what was broken: the 10 million or so who really can't get health care.  Fortunately, a few people in the room took issue with that.

Kingston is a sharper, smoother, operator than people give him credit for.  He played up his doofus persona by claiming the slides probably wouldn't work.  But he didn't just follow the latest Republican talking points.  He even recommended living wills, bypassing a chance to play the "they're gonna ask you how you want to die!" bogeyman.  Instead he used it to play up the government intervention bogeyman: there was nobody in the room but me and my parent, and he doesn't want the government in there, too.  Nevermind that the insurance companies are in the room effectively all the time.

Consistency isn't his strong point.  Early on Kingston went on at great length about fraud in the medical system, yet later he bragged about how great it is.  He claimed that since doctors take the Hippocratic oath they won't do unnecessary operations.  Yet Kingston himself earlier said he has had repeated back surgeries and treatments ranging from epidurals to massage.  Nonetheless he thinks the health care system as is is mostly good and people like it and we shouldn't change it.

He asked for a show of hands on how many people who had Medicare also had supplemental insurance.  About half the people in the room raised their hands.  Yet later he asked who liked it that currently if you get Medicare you can't also get private medical insurance.  Nobody
raised their hands.  Apparently everybody in the room recognized the contradiction except Kingston.

Kingston: "If you ever really bought something that you wanted, maybe a new suit, car, a house, a jet ski, a boat, or whatever, but you just in the final analysis couldn't afford it..."

Voice from the back: "A war in Iraq?"

Kingston: "A war in Iraq?  A very legitimate point; I don't know who said that.  What we have got to do in Washington is to start acting like we're spending our own money."

Applause.

"Well I'll say this, as Republicans, we blew it, we spent lots of money."

Loud applause.

I asked that about Iraq.  Interesting how nobody in the room defended that war.  My, how times have changed in only a few years.  Let's change them further!
Somebody else brought up Republican spending, and he had to once again admit Republicans spent a lot of money.
Update: The VDT mentions that point: Several audience members brought up overspending during the Bush administration.

"That’s a good point," Kingston said. "The thing we have got to learn to do in Washington is start acting like we’re spending our own money, right now with our national debt. And I’ll say this, as a Republican, we blew it, we spent lots of money."

Somebody from Texas pointed out that W. ruined Texas as governor by privatizing everything before moving to DC and doing it to everybody else as well.

Kingston tried to defuse that by saying he'd rather live in Texas than in California or Massachusetts right now, to tepid applause.

Then he tried to tie in Dennis Marks, Chair of the Lowndes County Democratic Party Chair for GA-01 of the Georgia Democratic Party, by saying he was a friend even though Marks always has Kingston's opponent's yard signs on his yard and bumper stickers on his car.

My friend Amy Terrell muttered in my ear that the Markses never put up yard signs or bumper stickers.  (I verified this later.)  So Kingston was stretching a bit.

Kingston called on Amy first, and she asked how she, a waitress, could afford health care.  He colored her in his answer as one of the few legitimately uninsured whom we should help.  Later he referred to "my friend the waitress." Slick.

An (elderly white male) audience member came up to Amy and asked why she didn't qualify for Medicaid.  She said she was responsible and didn't want to get pregnant. He nodded and wandered off.

We did get 6 signatures on OFA's health care declaration from audience members.  Not bad for what was mostly a house full of Republicans.
Update: And the VDT printed the entire text of the OFA health care declaration.
You can sign the OFA declaration.
And you can help Jack Kingston out by filling out his health care survey.

George Rhynes asked what Kingston was going to do about health care for all the people locked up in prison who shouldn't be there, and he had written to Kingston and gotten no answer.  Kingston said he would get with George later.

Jim "you voted for every one of Bush's budgets" Parker got in some good points, which I had him summarize for me later:

ON January 15 2008 I had to go to the ER, SGMC, because of bleeding.  2 days later, after a colonoscopy.  Dr.: "I'm sorry, it's cancer."
Jan 25 surgery, took out 15" of intestine, including a tumor size of a tangerine.  I didn't have health insurance.  I'm thankful I'm standing before you today, and it's testimony and praise to the SGMC staff.

Applause.

But I have a friend who was in the same boat as me, a computer guy, business drying up.  By the time he got the care he needed it was too late; we buried him last January.

Insurance isn't rocket sicent: premiums in, pay out other side 100 years, all figured out; computers can do it.

Wall Street is forcing insurers not to pay out more than 77.4% medical loss, or stock price will suffer.  So insurers are running at 20-30-40% profit.

Who are these investors?  Not you and I.  People like Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and companies like that.

"Congressman, you're either with the insurance companies, or you're with us."

Huge applause.

Kingston: You're very fortunate; you got your health care.

Parker: Yes, but now I'm bankrupt.

WCTV, Channel 6, had their camera on Jim the whole time, interviewed him afterwards.
Update: And Jim Parker got his picture in the Valdosta Daily Times.

Update: Video of Jim Parker, starting about 1:50 Jim Parker's question, in four YouTube parts:
<H4>Part 1: Jim Parker's Health Care Story</H4>

<H4>Part 2: What is standing between us and our health care...</H4>

<H4>Part 3: Your health care is their medical loss</H4>

<H4>Part 4: Kingston: you did get care; Parker: but I'm bankrupt</H4>

<H4>Back to Jack</H4>
Oh yes. Kingston's biggest campaign donor?  AFLAC.
`

Originally posted to jayskew on Mon Aug 03, 2009 at 03:45 PM PDT.

Poll

Health care in GA-01?

57%20 votes
11%4 votes
2%1 votes
5%2 votes
0%0 votes
17%6 votes
0%0 votes
0%0 votes
5%2 votes

| 35 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (19+ / 0-)

    "Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all." --Hypatia of Alexandria, c.400

    by jayskew on Mon Aug 03, 2009 at 03:45:59 PM PDT

  •  No rude, screaming mob? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SarahLee, JerichoJ8

    Oh that's right, they only do that to Democrats.

    A public option for health insurance is a national priority.

    by devtob on Mon Aug 03, 2009 at 03:55:14 PM PDT

    •  got a little rowdy towards the end (5+ / 0-)

      but the Democrats successfully asked about Iraq, cancer, bankruptcy, people who are employed yet can't get health care, etc.

      Will it change how Kingston votes?  Maybe not.  But everybody who watches local TV news can see his is not the only view, and that a lot of people are genuinely concerned about health care.

      "Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all." --Hypatia of Alexandria, c.400

      by jayskew on Mon Aug 03, 2009 at 03:57:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Good Job! When's his next event? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Creosote, ExStr8

    Keep it up.  I am waiting to see when my on the fence quasi-Bluedog will be in the area in So. Ill. so I can ask him a few questions.  

  •  That is a red district. There is no surprise (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SarahLee

    there really that most of them will most likely oppose health care.

    Take that town hall north to DeKalb county, in Decatur for instance, and you will see just the opposite.

    Don't give a damn a/t each & every politician currently alive in the US. Last time i voted for the top part of the ballot was 1972. Never missed SB election

    by Mutual Assured Destruction on Mon Aug 03, 2009 at 04:05:54 PM PDT

    •  every Lowndes Co. Dem. who ran local in 2008 won (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SarahLee, Creosote, Nellcote, ExStr8, JerichoJ8

      And are you claiming you have no teabaggers in DeKalb County?

      Meanwhile, it is not at all clear that the majority of people in Lowndes County
      oppose health care reform.  It was a Kingston meeting so it was stuffed with Republicans.

      The point is: Democrats showed up and made themselves heard, including on TV outside the meeting.

      "Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all." --Hypatia of Alexandria, c.400

      by jayskew on Mon Aug 03, 2009 at 04:11:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  First, it is not my district, and there are (0+ / 0-)

        crazy loonies in DeKald for sure, but there are not as many of them as in Valdosta.

        Second, GA 04 or 03, for instance, has been democratic for a while now. A big chunk of GA 04 used to be Cynthia McKinney's district. That tells you how democratic it is.

        Third, if i am not mistaken, GA-01 has Valdosta in it...I could be wrong, but i think it a red district and it goes from Wilmington Island to St Marys on the coast and it goes inland to Valdosta. So, the likelihood that you find more opposition to the health care bill is higher than finding it GA 03 or 04.

         

        Don't give a damn a/t each & every politician currently alive in the US. Last time i voted for the top part of the ballot was 1972. Never missed SB election

        by Mutual Assured Destruction on Mon Aug 03, 2009 at 05:11:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Amusing speculation. How does it help? n/t (0+ / 0-)

          "Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all." --Hypatia of Alexandria, c.400

          by jayskew on Mon Aug 03, 2009 at 05:52:06 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I might be speculating, but my speculations (0+ / 0-)

            are based on a simple fact: GA 03 or 04 has been reliably democratic district for a long time now.

            GA 01 is reliably republican.

            Anyway, I don't know why we are arguing about moot point.

            Don't give a damn a/t each & every politician currently alive in the US. Last time i voted for the top part of the ballot was 1972. Never missed SB election

            by Mutual Assured Destruction on Mon Aug 03, 2009 at 06:03:06 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  GA-01: only one R in modern history (0+ / 0-)

              Kingston came in as part of Newt's revolt against Bill Clinton, and Clinton's looking pretty good compared to W. Before that GA-01 was Democratic.  Every GA district around GA-01 is held by a Democrat right now.

              I ask again: how do your speculations help?

              For that matter, where do you live, and what did you do today?

              "Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all." --Hypatia of Alexandria, c.400

              by jayskew on Mon Aug 03, 2009 at 06:19:43 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  What did i do today? Well, the list is pretty (0+ / 0-)

                long, but about 50% of my time was physical rehab, 20% reading 2 excellent books (do you want to know the titles? Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy, and Why It Matters for Global Capitalism by Akerlof and Shiller and the second one is Irrational Exuberance by Shiller. Excellent books, high recommended). What else? the rest of time was spent with my wife and played some bridge with some friends.

                Since 1994, that makes GA 01 pretty much a reliable red district.

                I explain to you my speculations: When you have a district that has been reliably red since 1994 (not even a marginal district), the likelihood of finding a greater percentage of constituents who are opposed to the health care bill is greater than the likelihood of finding the same amount of opposition to the same bill in a reliably blue district.

                How does this speculation help? I am not sure, but i bet if you map the opposition and the noise made about the health care bill and districts held by republicans, you can have a pretty good match.

                As for where i live, well Tampa, Florida. The bay is nice this time of the year, but i know Georgia a bit.

                Have a good night now.

                Don't give a damn a/t each & every politician currently alive in the US. Last time i voted for the top part of the ballot was 1972. Never missed SB election

                by Mutual Assured Destruction on Mon Aug 03, 2009 at 06:40:20 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  so it doesn't help; thanks for your time. n/t (0+ / 0-)

                  "Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all." --Hypatia of Alexandria, c.400

                  by jayskew on Mon Aug 03, 2009 at 07:01:50 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  It does because it is a means for forecasting and (0+ / 0-)

                    predicting with a margin of error of course.

                    Oh sorry, i should have let you have the last word.

                    Okay, you can reply to my comment and i am not going to reply,...promise...scout honor.

                    Don't give a damn a/t each & every politician currently alive in the US. Last time i voted for the top part of the ballot was 1972. Never missed SB election

                    by Mutual Assured Destruction on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 06:13:11 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  or we can organize and campaign and change (0+ / 0-)

                      the margin of error and the results, like we did in 2008.

                      Meanwhile, I've added a poll.  Go ahead and check "Atlanta!  Atlanta! Atlanta!"

                      "Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all." --Hypatia of Alexandria, c.400

                      by jayskew on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 06:25:16 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

  •  Great work, Jay! Many thanks! (0+ / 0-)

    Stonewall was a RIOT!

    by ExStr8 on Mon Aug 03, 2009 at 05:25:28 PM PDT

  •  For the life of me, I just don't get it, whether (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jayskew

    Republican or Democratic party.  Why in the world are Republicans so against health care reform?  Demographically speaking, they must suffer at near or the same rate as their fellow Democratic citizens, no?

    WTF?  Not only don't they want single payer, public option, abortion, immigrant, bla bla..., they don't seem to want anything to do with it at all.

    That is not a normal human response to a huge social issue.  It's as if they're lemmings being fed from above.  And they turn their throats up daily to gulp down their daily ration.  

    Though we don't like it, I say it is time that we Democrats acknowledge this phenomenon for what it is:  Vulnerability.

    Any large group of people who can be trained to vote in a specific way, in spite of common sense, leaves themselves vulnerable to takeover by normal thought.

    Now let's get busy and stop being fearful of this creepy and fraudulent Stepford factor.  

    •  yes, exactly: that's why we have to speak up (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      WiddieDawg

      We know why the R leaders hate health care; Bill Kristol said it in 1993:

      Its passage will give the Democrats a lock on the crucial middle-class vote and revive the reputation of the party.

      Kristol admitted last month that the government provides first class health care.  All the R talking points about government bureaucrats getting between you and your loved ones and people coming to your home to ask you how you want to die are just that: talking  points.

      Who's in charge of the talking points?  Why, Jack Kingston, chair of the GOP theme team, which meets weekly to make up that crap and make sure House members say it on the floor, R bloggers post it, R talking heads spout it, and the vestigial media picks it up.

      http://www.dailykos.com/...

      It's a sign of vulnerability that Mr. Theme Team himself didn't spout all the talking points and went out of his way to try to be a voice of civility. He carefully steered clear of the craziest nonesense.  Notice not one word of birther insanity.

      Valdosta is a college town.  VSU has 13,000 students.  When it's in session; not so many in the summer, and only about 3 of them were there.  Students apparently don't get it that it's their problem, too.  But don't count them out.  These students voted so many in 2008 that they're getting their own on-campus precinct this year. And they voted massively for Obama.

      Back to your question.  Yes, the majority of Republicans are led by a tiny clique of which Kingston is a key member.  Why?  Because they want to be led: that's why many of them are Republicans.  Because they don't hear anything else; they watch Fox News all day and all night.  Because they usually don't read anything else; the local newspaper filled its front page before the 2008 election with a story on the county has always been Republican and always will be (nevermind that's just not true).

      But Republicans do watch the local news on WCTV, and yesterday they saw Jim Parker talk about how only rich people can afford good insurance.  And in the VDT they saw a picture of Jim and they read OFA's health care principles, and they saw Jack Kingston quoted as admitting Republicans spent too much money.

      Will that convert all the Republicans to Dems?  Of course not!  But it will sow doubt in the minds of a few.  Not just because of what was said, but because of who said it. Kingston may not have recognized who asked about the war in Iraq, but I guarantee you several of my R neighbors and elected officials did. Kingston may not have recognized "my friend the waitress" but a lot of people around town did. Kingston may not have known Jim Parker from Adam, but Jim was wearing a suit and was on TV and in the newspaper.  Kingston may not have thought George Rhynes was worth responding to, but now he knows what many locals already knew: George has been campaigning for prison reform for years, and he isn't going to stop.

      Even better: all this lets Democrats here see they're not alone and we're not scared. That will help turnout. That will help get more OFA signatures.  That will help organizing.

      Republicans are using scare tactics because they're scared.  That means they're vulnerable. We can win health care.  You can help:
      http://my.barackobama.com/...

      "Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all." --Hypatia of Alexandria, c.400

      by jayskew on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 06:18:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not only does government provide (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jayskew

        first class health care, it does it cheaper, because there is no need for a profit to be built in.

        With the current system, there must be profit not only for health care providers, but also for the health insurance industry.

        I am in favor of S.960, which would extend Medicare to those who are uninsured and between the ages of 55 to 65.  There is no reason this cannot be continued over a period of years, to give insurance companies some other field to get into.

      •  Thank you. It's good (0+ / 0-)

        to know I'm not alone.  I've recently departed Georgia after 11 exceptional years.  Now relocated back to Florida after a 3+ decade absence.  Lots of work to do down here too.  Keeping pace is important, yes absolutely.  

  •  Amy (0+ / 0-)

    How can you consider "Amy" to be responsible?  Why is she still waitressing if it doesn't meet her needs?  Why did she become one in the first place?  It isn't really meant to be a career.

    With that said, there are restaurants that provide benefits.  Why isn't she working there?  Why isn't she working her way up to restaurant manager or tranferring to a better job in the food industry?

    Simply having a job does not make one responsible.

    •  sure, it's all Amy's fault, and (0+ / 0-)

      no waitress should have health care; it isn't really meant to be a way to stay alive.

      "Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all." --Hypatia of Alexandria, c.400

      by jayskew on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 05:36:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Iraq (0+ / 0-)

    Nobody commented on the stupid Iraq comment because time was limited, and people didn't go to the meeting to talk about Iraq.

    •  quite a change from 2 years ago, when (0+ / 0-)

      most of the room would have vociferously defended the Iraq war.

      Evidence that conservatives can learn by experience!

      Not to mention that Kingston did comment on my Iraq comment, by admitting at length that Republicans had spent too much money.

      "Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all." --Hypatia of Alexandria, c.400

      by jayskew on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 05:38:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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