COLUMBUS -- Hundreds showed up at what was supposed to be a right wing attack on Congresswoman Mary Jo Kilroy's office yesterday in Columbus. The event, however, proved to be much different from what the "teabaggers" announced and had planned.
Dueling demonstrations, each with around 200-300 folks, lined Olentangy River Rd., the "teabaggers" attacking Kilroy for her strong support of health care reform, and an equal or greater force of people there supporting her stand.
"We just had to come out and stand with Mary Jo," said Tim Ely, a business agent for the Pipefitter's Union. "She's stood up for us in the legislature, and I'm just sick and tired of these right wing thugs lying about health care and going around intimidating people. That crap's going to stop, now!"
Chants of "Pass it Now," "People's Needs, not Corporate Greed," & Health Care, not Warfare" echoed against the building that housing Rep. Kilroy's office, and cars honked, answering signs stating; "Honk to support Health Care Reform!" Many of the signs were hand-printed, many carried by people that have had to fight insurance companies as well as diseases.
On the "teabagger" side, the mood was much different. Chants and signs called on Kilroy to "Kill the Bill," but the undercurrent was extreme levels of anger, paranoia and frustration.
Dave Hysell, who described himself as "a proud American," stated that he was there "because the government lies." "They made the Swine Flu virus," he said, "but didn't make enough vaccine for the seniors. They're trying to kill off the seniors."
Nearby, a woman named Mary, volunteered that "they have secret committees in place to decide who they can kill off." Asked how she'd know about them if they're secret, she stated that, "Oh, we have ways, we can find out."
Chris Grant, with the right wing group, said that he opposed the proposed reform for two reasons; ""First, he said," it's going raise taxes, and I'm against all taxes, and, second, the bill eliminates choice."
On the pro-reform side, there was more of a festive atmosphere. People seemed happy, and especially encouraged, at the big turnout to support Rep. Kilroy and oppose the "teabaggers."
Faith Van Horne, a local artist, spoke about her concerns. "I'm really happy to see all the people here," she said. "I'm just so sick of the lies they're telling about health care reform. I'd had a lump on my breast," she explained, "but I waited 6 months until my regular checkup to get it checked. The insurance wouldn't cover it and it would've cost me $1,500 that I didn't have, just to get it checked. We need to get rid of these insurance companies and get real health care coverage."
We were glad to hear that the exam had proved negative and she was here in good health.
While a police line separated the demonstrations, "teabaggers" yelled "Whore" and "b*tch" at women demonstrators and seemed anxious to create confrontations. A group of three "teabaggers" came across to the progressive side, standing behind folks, attempting to confront them. When Diane Smith approached the men, stating that she had M.S. and could not get insurance, one of the right wingers just laughed at her, stating "You've got health care, just go to the Emergency Room!"
"They are just disgusting," said Jeff St. Clair, who was there "because my wife has five incurable diseases and cannot get insurance coverage." He explained that his family was able to get some help from the MS Society, "But," he stated strongly, "we have a rich county. We should have health care coverage for everyone, with dignity! If every other nation can do it, we certainly can, as well!"
Norm Wernet, Ohio Director for the Alliance of Retired Americans, was struck by how many "teabaggers" held signs about keeping Medicare free of "government control."
"It's such a shame that people aren't getting the facts, that these right wingers put out so many lies. This Health Care reform bill will SAVE Medicare! Bush put private companies into Medicare and we are paying them 17% MORE than the norm," he said. "This bill will cut those funds and put Medicare on much stronger footing. We need this bill to save Medicare," (which, he stated with a grin, is, of course, a single-payer government run program that runs pretty darn well)!