Sunday, Aug. 16, 2009 | 2 a.m.
Denied the opportunity to embarrass themselves at any official health care town hall, about 900 angry Nevadans gathered at Stoney’s Rockin’ Country bar Friday evening. Several of them expressed thoughtful concerns about the proper role and size of government. And many, many more of them blamed the nation’s woes on illegal immigrants, a stealthy Marxist coup, a missing birth certificate or a conspiracy of international bankers.
The gathering was hosted by Heidi Harris, who does the angry thing on AM radio in the mornings. Harris and her station, KDWN 720, advertised their town hall as nonpartisan, which is — how to put this — like having a tailgate crowd of guys in spike-studded Oakland Raiders uniforms saying they would like to host an unbiased discussion on the merits of the Kansas City Chiefs. While drinking beer.
Nevada’s congressional delegation and the governor declined invitations, so were represented by empty chairs and cutouts of their heads mounted on sticks.
The speakers shouted at the puppets and demanded their resignations. The Harry Reid puppet came in for special abuse.
Danny Tarkanian, who wants Harry Reid’s Senate seat, was brought on stage by Harris. “What a great thrill it is to be here and see all of your passion and excitement,” he said. He announced that he would hold his own town-hall meetings.
Harris introduced the Republican primary challengers of Gov. Jim Gibbons: North Las Vegas Mayor Mike Montandon and recently ousted state Sen. Joe Heck. She also introduced a Republican challenger of newly elected Democratic Congresswoman Dina Titus, former bank executive John Guedry. “As you can see, he’s very good looking,” Harris said.
Guedry said the problem with a public health insurance option is that it would be cheaper than private insurance plans, so businesses would chose it. “It’s time for common sense in politics,” he said.
A woman from the audience took the microphone and read what she claimed were actual passages from the House bill, including that it would provide free health insurance to illegal immigrants thanks to new taxes on U.S. citizens and exempt illegal immigrants from all taxes.
In fact, here’s what the actual bill says:
“H.R. 3200: Sec 246 — NO FEDERAL PAYMENT FOR UNDOCUMENTED ALIENS
“Nothing in this subtitle shall allow Federal payments for affordability credits on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States.”
The woman also claimed there are provisions in the bill that would give the government direct access to everyone’s bank accounts. That’s not in the bill, either.
One proponent of health insurance reform was allowed onstage to speak. Tom Arthur, gray haired and middle aged, introduced himself as a small-business owner and said he thinks it’s a shame that there are millions of uninsured Americans.
The crowd booed loudly.
Arthur said it’s also a shame that there are thousands of uninsured children in Nevada.
The crowd booed louder and longer.
And finally Arthur said he thinks America’s health care system has failed.
The crowed screamed its boos, and added in calls of “Socialist!” and “Traitor!”
A scan of the crowd revealed signs that read “No Socialist Death Plan,” “Taxed Enough Already,” “Health Reform Say No To B.O.,” and “Death Before Slavery.” There was also an older woman in a hot pink T-shirt, the back of which read, “Get Naked.”
One man, with large springs attached to the heels of his shoes and a bumper sticker affixed to his bandana that read “9-11 Was an Inside Job,” denounced the Bilderberg Group, the Trilateral Commission and international bankers, to huge applause.
“They’re taking everything and they’re building the camps right now,” he warned.
The evening closed with a recording of Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.”