The Bozeman Tea Party and supporters clashed with paid union thugs outside the President’s Town Hall Meeting. The union hacks, modern-day brownshirts, included Service Employees International Union, a group affiliated with ACORN and the Montana AFL-CIO who bussed down union members and paid community organizers from Missoula and elsewhere around the state. While the Obama supporters arrived in the middle of the night, claimed our permitted area and had an early advantage with numbers, we eventually turned out 300-350 people and trounced them. The conflict which bordered on getting physically violent was in stark contrast to the tightly orchestrated event inside the hangar where the town hall meeting took place.
The Obama supporters, who turned out approximately 150 people only a few of whom I could recognize from Gallatin County, initially outfoxed and out-positioned us. We tried several times to remove them as soon as we arrived in the early morning. The police were not able to remove them. Bill Dove, chief of airport security, using a megaphone told all of us that he and his men were there to protect the President of the United States and the Town Hall event, told the Obama supporters to leave our area and urged us to keep our cool. The Obama supporters refused to heed his order. Instead they continued to goad us. It was bordering on getting out-of-control but we refused to take the bait. We were outnumbered at that time—our people arrived late—and decided to back off, set up camp and do our program. After all, you can’t win a mud fight against pigs in a pig pen.
While we were regrouping, we eventually overran their chants. When they said, “What do you want? Healthcare! When do you want it? Now!” We came back with “What do you want, Freedom. When do you want it? Now!” Overwhelmed, they tried, “Hey, hey. Ho, ho. The status quo has got to go.” We came back with, “Hey, hey. Ho, ho. Chicago thugs have got to go.”
Here’s one account from Tim Ravndal of Townsend, who provided much-needed on-the-ground support for the Tea Party protest.
“Tensions escalated, and several of the (Obama) protesters were drug away by the local police! After the (union-paid) bus pulled up, it was obvious that there was not going to be any intervention from the police. We discussed our options, and decided that we were best serving the people to back off and take the high ground morally. I can say that the scene was as close to a riot as one wants to get without actually crossing that line. These (Obama) protesters had no respect for private property or the Constitution!
I will be the first to say that after we got our wagons circled in a new location, ‘We won!’ We set up our sound system donated by a local band and the protesters were no longer audible spouting pro-Barack Obama slogans and other insanities.”
Mare Boustead, a local Tea Party activist called into my radio show last Thursday with this report:
“The Obama supporters were in the wrong. The thing about the liberals is that everything they accuse us of being is exactly who they are…
What I learned that day is that the best thing to do with people like that is to ignore them, turn our backs on them and get on with our message. Out-shoving them, out-shouting them doesn’t do anyone any good.”
Mare says that like Glenn Beck, she will not shut up, she will not sit down, and the Republic will survive. Mare, who said, “they’re a lot of hills I’m ready to die on” challenged Obama supporters at the rally with some pointed questions.
“I had to ask some of the heavier people what they were going to do when Obama told them they had to go on a diet or the smokers what they were going to do when Obama told them they had to stop smoking. They had no response. All they could do is get angry.
When you can’t stand on an idea or a principle, you have nothing left except hostility. It’s exactly what they have, no principles and a lot of hostility, It’s pretty sad for them.”
When our volunteer fire truck was set up with our loud PA system and put into position, we overwhelmed them and the battle was pretty much over. The fire truck was the perfect platform. I climbed on top and began our program welcoming our supporters to America’s Second Revolution. We kicked into high gear and pumped up the crowd. Tammy Hall also got it going. One guy, whom we never met before, Dr. David McKalip, a Florida-based neurosurgeon, took time from his Yellowstone Park vacation with his family and joined us when he heard about our rally. He gave a great speech. Dr. McKalip spoke about the need for accessible and affordable high-quality health care free from government intervention and the need to empower patients with the financial and decision-making power taking it from government and insurance companies. Anyone who wanted to speak got an opportunity. Janice Hall, an emergency room doctor from Billings and Jennifer Stillings, a local nurse both spoke. A woman from England discussed her country’s experience with government-run healthcare. Activists Bob Adney, Tom Tuck, Rep. Mike More (HD-70), Billie Orr and Stan Jones among others also spoke. Patient’s First, a national group was holding up the rear with their parked bus, gathering signatures on petitions and handing out information.
The opponents are led by paid hacks. In addition to union members, the Fund for Public Interest, a left-leaning pro-Obama non-profit organization is apparently paying $10-15 per hour, up to $600 per week for campaign workers to “go out in communities around the country and help make change happen.” With offices in Missoula, it is likely that the Fund sent people to the Friday protest.
A week prior to Obama Town Hall Meeting, the Gallatin Democrats ironically proposed a joint civility resolution for the Gallatin Republicans to sign. Local Republican leadership unanimously voted no, declaring that people have the right to voice dissent. Shortly after the Bozeman media reported the Republicans’ position on the civility pledge, local GOP officials were targeted with obscenity-laced phone calls. At the rally, paid union thugs goaded us into a fight and refused to honor the rule of law, the direction of the police and all attempts we made to have them leave. So much for civility and respect!
Unlike many of the pro-Obama reformers, we are volunteers and do our work not for free, but at a personal loss and are proud to pay this small price for freedom. We, like most Montanans have a high level of distrust, concern and outrage over government control over private industries, and in this case the healthcare industry which comprises17 percent of our total economy. We are tired of bank bailouts, massive unsustainable spending and government takeover of private industries such as the auto industry, the banking industry and the insurance industry started under the Bush Administration and dramatically escalated under Obama. While many of us agree that healthcare needs reform, we also feel that the best place to start is with tort reform to reduce the costs of physicians’ malpractice insurance and incentives for maintaining health.
A number of us question the ability of the government to run healthcare. "If Obama felt he had to UPS lobsters in for his lunch banquet because he couldn’t trust the government-run postal service to deliver them, why would we trust the government to run our healthcare industry?" Kelly Wood said. It was the question Wood wanted to ask the president but did not get the chance. The other was, “why lobsters, when Montana has the best angus beef and fresh trout in the nation.”
Some question the president’s authority on the issue. Nick Landeros, 23, a Montana State University student was interviewed on CBS news along with other local protesters. Landeros wanted to ask the president a pointed question, “As a Constitutional lawyer, where in the Constitution do you have the authority for the federal government to get involved in this.” The answer: “No where.”
The Sunday prior to President Obama’s visit, Tea Party patriots gathered at the Museum of the Rockies to greet Senator Max Baucus. Baucus, who acted like John the Baptist clearing the way for the arrival of the Chosen One, was in town to promote the Make Health Happen Montana conference. The President chose to come to Bozeman because he realizes the importance of Montana, in part due to Baucus’ position as Chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee and wanted to pressure the Senator into backing his more aggressive healthcare reform agenda.
While Baucus showed courage in getting out of his car and addressing Tea Party patriots for an impromptu question and answer session, his comments to the media the next day diminished our respect for him. In an interview with the Daily Inter Lake, Baucus said “he tried to talk with people protesting outside the conference, but said they would not let him speak" which is a fabrication. He said that one demonstrator "was bused in from Texas" implying that others were also bussed in is also a lie. We don’t need to bus people in because our volunteers, who in overwhelming numbers live in Gallatin County and vicinity, were willing to come out in full force on a Sunday night to stage this protest. Baucus went further in insulting us calling us "the closest thing to a mob that I’ve ever experienced in my life." I guess he’s never been to a Cat-Griz game before.
Insulting Tea Party patriots and offering patent lies is the new political speak and modus operandi of the White House. It is a shameful attempt to denigrate us, dismiss our concerns, and project blame. Ken Champion, chairman of the Bozeman Tea Party, added “Montanans finally got a chance to discuss these important issues with their senior Senator and it was just a ruse. He threw mud at people who opposed him. His comments were disgraceful.” Bob Adney, a Tea Party organizer demanded an apology. “The Senator should be ashamed for his lies regarding our group and should apologize,” said Adney. Montanans have every right to speak out against nationalization of the health system and should be not attacked by Baucus just because they oppose his idea of reform.”
Baucus’ comments are unfortunate because we had some very credible people at the rally including Dr. JD Clark, a local podiatrist who asked Baucus a pressing question about government micromanagement of his practice; Peter O’Reilly, M.D., a retired anesthesiologist; and others spoke during the open mike session.
In contrast, Cong. Denny Rehberg held a listening session on Thursday, August 20 at the MSU SUB ballroom. Over 300 people attended and he fielded questions on a wide range of issues from healthcare reform to the wilderness bill. Senator Baucus has not held a town hall meeting and the brief Q&A session did not constitute one. Only one critic spoke at the Town Hall rally and she was dismissed by the crowd.
The use of SEIU and AFL-CIO union members to stir up antagonism is a part of the Obama team playbook. It was evident by the scene outside the President Town Hall meeting nearly a quarter mile away in the free speech zone. The confrontation caused by union members was in stark contrast to the kumbaya session inside the hangar. In the field, paid left-wing extremists led by members of the SEIU and community organizers, bused down along with Montana AFL-CIO members—the new brownshirts of our time—were trying to goad us into direct physical conflict. We ultimately refused, regrouped, got on message and blew them into silence once our program began. Some media were present but the stage for this confrontation was purposefully set far away from the President and the media entourage. It was barely reported on.
Contrary to the president and his supporters, healthcare is not a Constitutional right. Neither is it a human right. It is a service. However imperfectly delivered and insured, healthcare is still better off left in the private sector.
Tea Party patriots and other groups are organizing a 912 rally in Washington, DC and at state capitals throughout the country including the Helena Capital. The bottom line is that we, the people, surround them, the paid union members and their loyalists. We trounced them in Bozeman and will do it again in Helena and around the nation.
Henry Kriegel, a marketing professional, is one of the Bozeman Tea Party organizers and a talk show host of Open Range Thursdays broadcast on KMMS AM1450 and www.kmmsam.com from 4:00-600 pm.
Candace Chase, “Baucus says health-care plan should be bipartisan,” Daily Inter Lake, August 11, 2009.
Mark Leibovich, “Baucus, and the Debate on Health Care, Go West,” New York Times, August 19, 2009.
Video, Baucus addresses Tea Party Patriots in Impromptu Q&A session, Treasure State Network, August 10, 2009
Jessica Mayrer, “Civil Discourse,” Bozeman Daily Chronicle, August 15, 2009.
Charles S. Johnson, “Protesters mix it up over health reform outside Belgrade town hall meeting,” Missoulian, August 14, 2009.
Dr. David McKalip and Dr. Eugene Krebsbach Debate Healthcare, Open Range Thursdays with Henry Kriegel, on KMMS AM-1450, August 20, 2009.
Barrett Golding, “Health Care Tea Party,” Hearing Voices, National Public Radio, August 17, 2009.
“Montana Residents Oppose Reform,” CBS News Online, August, 14, 2009.
Dan Person, “Tea party strives to be staple of local politics,” Bozeman Daily Chronicle, August 23, 2009.