Sunday, August 30, 2009

Pictures & Press Coverage of Carol Shea-Porter's Portsmouth Town Hall

Right: Seacoast for Changers Bill Duncan and Larry Drake. Photo courtesy of Daily Kos.

Saturday morning was cold, wet, and windy -- but that didn't discourage local health care voters from turning out early and en masse for Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter's town hall at the Thomas J. McIntyre Federal Building in Downtown Portsmouth (August 29, 2009).

Supporters of affordable, quality health care outnumbered tea party protesters by nearly 3-to-1 in the waiting line. There were no serious altercations outside the event (although a few of my fellow Democrats tried to cut to the front of line, which was bad form and irked the tea party folks so much they asked to police to intervene).

Members of the Leftist Marching Band stopped by around noon and played a lively and suitably patriotic set. By the time the doors opened at 1:00 PM, over 200 people were standing in line to get a seat (only 150 were allowed to enter the building).

There are some terrific pictures of the sign-waving action outside Saturday's event on Daily Kos; a reporter from the Portsmouth Herald also interviewed people who were waiting to get into the event. Details about the heated discussion inside the town hall are reported in the Portsmouth Herald, Foster's, the Concord Monitor, and the Manchester Union Leader.

Lunatic Fringe Department: People leaving the building after the event were serenaded by the vocal harmonies of several Lyndon LaRouche culties carrying a larger-than-life poster of President Obama rendered to resemble Adolf Hitler. No lie, the singing was not too bad -- except for the part about the President's Nazi plan for a government takeover of the health care system and killing grandma.

Seacoast for Change volunteers supported Change That Works organizers and Organizing for America in building early-morning supporter turnout for the Portsmouth event.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

We Have Fan Mail! "You are too nice for your own good..."

I received an unsigned email from this morning in response to my post about our whoppingly successful visibility outside Judd Gregg's health care forum at the Red Hook Brewery last week.

Mr. (or Ms.) Classic had quite a lot to say, so I'll share the entire text of the email with you (below). I do want to respond directly to Mr. (or Ms.) Classic's concern that the comment function on this blog is disabled. The primary reason is that the Seacoast for Change blog is a broadcast tool, and not a discussion space. The other reason is that I have no desire to offer a free public forum to anonymous blog trolls who are ideologically opposed to all forms of fairness and progress, and I'm too busy doing the serious work of organizing for change (as opposed to, say, spreading a scatter shot of inane and/or nasty chatter across the progressive/pro-Obama/pro-health care reform blogosphere) to moderate random and generally unhelpful comments from visitors who don't share my values and goals.

For dissatisfied readers who take the initiative to email me directly, I will be happy to periodically publish your emails and email address in this space, because you seem to feel that people like me are not sufficiently aware of your position on the perils of health care reform and need to be reminded that creating a public health insurance option that will reduce costs, ensure consumer choice, keep the private insurance industry honest, and expand affordable coverage options for working families and the uninsured is the de-facto equivalent of sending our great country to Hell In A Handbasket. So, thanks for sharing.

Judy Stadtman
Lead Organizer, Seacoast for Change Grassroot Network

Subject: No place for comments on your blog so.....
Date: Sat, 22 Aug 2009 23:05:15 -0400

On your article here:

You ask a question of Gregg:
Hey, Judd Gregg! How 'bout a public health insurance option?

... and I have the answer for you.

This is not about giving insurance to those who don't have it. Otherwise the bill would be 10 pages long. (And by the way, the rest of us should not be taxed to pay for it... none of the gov'ts purview!)

This is about control of society.... a utopian dream of Obama's world communist handlers Soros, Kissinger and Rockefeller.

And Gregg doesn't want it because Gregg knows this is what the Nazis did after they stole the money, devalued the dollar, took over the car companies, and now want to nationalize the health care so they can decide if someone doesn't agree with them politically they can pull the plug?

This stuff is only done in Cuba, Venezuela, and Nazi Germany.. NOT in a free country.

Please educate yourself to what you and your wingnut president are doing to this country. You are too nice for your own good, wanting to 'help' people and are too willing to swallow a bill of goods to do it. Obama is a sly criminal to take advantage of you all.

Have you studied the RECENT writings Zeke Emanuel, John Holdren and Cass Sunstein to find out how they feel about YOUR LIFE and YOUR RIGHT TO LIVE? They believe in EUGENICS!!!!!!!!!!!!! They are advising this scary monster.

Does it make you wonder the parallels? Obama just stole $23 trillion to GIVE to his euro-trash banking oligarchs, the ones we fought to get rid of in the revolution, then he takes over the car companies and now the health care. Education was already lost and gone to the brainwashers.

NO.YOU.WON'T make this country into Nazi Germany!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Hey, Judd Gregg! How 'bout a public health insurance option?

August 20, 2009: Over three dozen supporters took a stand for real health insurance reform outside of Judd Gregg's health care forum at the Red Hook Brewery. A lone counter-protester showed up to oppose President Obama's plan, but spent the entire time texting on his phone. Below: After our visibility we dropped by Senator Gregg's Portsmouth office to deliver our prescriptions for real health care reform.

More than three dozen volunteers and advocates gathered at the Red Hook Brewery in Portsmouth on Thursday to stand up for health care reform during Senator Judd Gregg's meeting with members of the Portsmouth Rotary Club (August 20). Although he endorses President Obama's goal to bring skyrocketing health care costs under control, Senator Gregg is strongly opposed to creating a government-administered non-profit plan to provide fair competition for the private insurance industry and expand affordable options for working families and the uninsured.

Although he debunked claims that proposed legislation authorizes the creation of "death panels" to pull the plug on grandma, in the past Senator Gregg has resorted to standard-issue GOP talking points to put the scare into Granite Staters who are likely to benefit from the President's plan for health insurance reform. (In a May 28 OpEd in the Concord Monitor, Gregg stated that "the proposals that have been put forward to move to a public plan, or essentially a nationalization of health care in this country, will lead to a Washington bureaucrat being inserted between you and your doctor, long delays in delivery of care and the likelihood of rationing." Or, you know, maybe not.)

At the Rotary Club meeting, Gregg pitched a policy solution that would limit legal recourse for medical malpractice, create incentives for disease prevention, and reward healthy lifestyles - without mentioning that a bi-partisan bill he cosponsored would require employers and individuals to pay into the private health insurance system. Our uneventful visibility was covered by WMUR-TV, the Portsmouth Herald, and the Concord Monitor. Oh yeah, there was one lone anti-Obama protester there, too.

After the visibility, a small group of volunteers paid a drop-in visit to Senator Gregg's Portsmouth office to deliver a "prescription pad" of 30 supporters' personal Rx for real health care reform (see photo) and a copy of a full-page newspaper advertisement featuring the names of 180 NH small business owners who support health insurance reform that includes a public plan option. The noon-time action was organized by Change That Works and the Seacoast for Change Grassroots Network.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

President Obama's Portsmouth Town Hall's one thing I've got to say: I never said this was going to be easy. I never said change would be easy. If it were easy, it would have already been done. Change is hard. And it doesn't start in Washington. It begins in places like Portsmouth, with people... who have the courage to share their stories and fight for something better.

That's what we need to do right now. And I need your help. If you want a health care system that works for the American people as well as it works for the insurance companies, I need your help -- knocking on doors, talking to your neighbors. Spread the facts. Let's get this done.

President Barack Obama, Portsmouth, NH, August 11, 2009

Tuesday, August 11 was an exhilarating and gratifying occasion for President Obama's long-time supporters in the Seacoast region. Although stalwart health care voters who showed up for early morning rallies at Portsmouth High and Lafayette Park got a good soaking from an unexpected downpour (while those waiting in long lines to get into the Town Hall event later in the day sweltered in the searing heat), the take-away from the day's events was that local support for the President's agenda for health insurance reform remains strong.

Outside the venue, Tea Party protesters turned out in force to fear-monger and voice their radical opposition to change, while inside the Portsmouth High School gym President Obama calmly debunked groundless right-wing claims that creating a public health insurance option will destroy the private insurance industry, and that the U.S. House of Representatives voted for "death panels" that will be authorized to "pull the plug on grandma because we've decided it's too expensive to let her live."

This week, the White House launched a new web site, Health Care Reform Reality Check, to actively counter misinformation spread by health care reform opponents ( Visit the site for talking points and more factual information you can use when talking to neighbors and co-workers about why you support President Obama's goal to pass meaningful health care reform this year.

From making hand-lettered rally signs to staffing the Sunday night phone bank to notify Town Hall ticket holders when & where to pick up their much-sought-after tix, local volunteers were instrumental to making the event a success. On Friday and Saturday, Seacoast volunteers also collected over 500 declarations in support of President Obama's priorities for health care reform. Thanks to everyone who volunteered during the lead up to the event and all those who helped out on the big day. I'm incredibly proud of how quickly and efficiently we were able to mobilize our local team to support White House advance operations. (An NHPR reporter covered our pre-event preparations; you can listen to the story here.) Special shout out to Dave O'Connor, our new Regional Field Director for Organizing for America NH, who worked tirelessly to keep up with the mercurial needs of White House advance staff and pulled it all together on extremely short notice. Change That Works/NH for Health Care organizers, NHDP, and other coalition groups get credit for turning out hundreds of pro-health care reform demonstrators to counteract the the hateful noise and rage of Tea Party protesters with the message that we can't wait for health care reform that includes a public plan option. (For more of Walter Weizenauer's photo from the rallies and Town Hall event, visit his flickr album.)

As President Obama remarked on Tuesday, change is hard - and it begins right here. Organizing for America and Change That Works will be planning a number of outreach events and actions in the coming weeks - please participate, because the status quo isn't working for you, it's not working for our community, and it's not working for New Hampshire families and small businesses. It's time to get this done.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Follow Up: Portsmouth Forum on Community Health & Health Care Reform

Left: Panelists address a rapt audience at the Portsmouth Public Forum on Community Health & Health Care Reform on Wednesday, July 29, 2009.

Event organizers had a packed house for last week's Public Forum on Community Health & Health Care Reform at the Portsmouth Public Library (Wednesday, July 29, 2009). The forum was organized by Change That Works/NH for Health Care and Seacoast for Change in collaboration with Organizing for America NH and South Church UU Outreach Associates.

The evening program featured a presentation by Wendy Frosh on national trends in health care costs and access, an update on legislative developments by Lisa Kaplan Howe of NH Voices fro Health, and panel presentations by Rich DiPentima, Helen Taft of Families First Community Health Center, small business owner Meredith Stolper, and Catherine DiPentima on the urgent need for health care reform from her perspective as a health care provider.

The panel and question & answer session were adroitly moderated by Rich DiPentima. The final half-hour of the forum was dedicated to a call to action, with organizers from Seacoast for Change, Change That Works, and Organizing for America NH describing the activities of local campaigns to win affordable, quality health care for all and next steps for action.