Monday, August 24, 2009

TEA Party protests health care reform plan

TEA Party members railed against proposed health care reforms Saturday at a busy intersection in Scottsdale.

They came from all over that morning, thinly crowded on the four corners of Scottsdale and Camelback roads.

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Holding anti-health care reform signs, soliciting car honks; the tenor of the shallow sea of signs the same.

Except for one counterprotester, apparently the only one within shouting distance. The man would only give his first name as he stood alone, wearing a Yankee baseball team shirt, a handgun on his hip, holding a contrary sign.
TAKING A STAND: Protesters surround the intersection of Camelback and Scottsdale roads in Scottsdale on Saturday to show their opinions on health care reform.

Josh, who explained he would only give his first name because of the type of work he does, said he was a Democrat among a sea of non-Democrats, touting health care reform, but not reforms over his right to bear arms.

“Part of my passion as a Democrat is the right to bear arms,” Josh said.

A veteran, and from a long family history of veterans, the man who was very much alone in the small crowd of protesters said he believed in fighting for the less fortunate.

“I am a firm supporter of health care for every American,” he said.

Someone nearby noticed that Josh had what looked like a picture of Hitler on his sign, which boasted a contrary message to the many signs surrounding it — a construction-paper cacophony of anti-health care reform themes.

Josh’s sign simply read: “Teabaggers — Fail.”

There were a lot of stats on his board, pasted or taped methodically; some of the pages had sentences that were highlighted. But nearby protesters took issue with a picture on his large board — what they saw as an unfair comparison of their group to Nazis.

“Why do you have a picture of Hitler on your board?” one woman asked from a distance.

Josh just smiled. The Phoenician stood very much alone in the lively morning crowd, but he had a gun.

Moving in closer than anyone, an older man, Jim Johnson of Chandler, pointed to the sign.

“Why are you comparing the TEA Party to Nazis?” asked Johnson, much the armed man’s senior, regarding the party that stands for Taxed Enough Already.

“I’m not,” Josh replied.

Upon closer examination, the large, illustrated sticker on the board was actually of Obama, rendered graphically in red and blue — wearing a Hitler mustache.

Johnson just scratched his head — confused, smiled.

The younger man didn’t explain, except to say, “It’s irrelevant whether it’s Democrats or Republicans.” He said legislators and leaders need to work together to ensure equal health care reforms in the country.

A woman standing nearby who only gave her first name, Vera, said she had come from Germany, but was an American citizen who had lived abroad.

"What Washington is trying to do is create socialized medicine, and I don’t want the same system as France, Germany or Canada,” she said.

While Vera was for reform, she wasn’t buying the current plan, she said.

“I implore everyone to read what they are proposing; this concerns your freedom,” she said.

Vera’s sign had a quote from Hitler extolling the government’s right to control health care, and said that was where America was heading.

Tim McBride, a member of the Army on leave in his home state, wore a gun on his hip and held a sign that said in fewer words that he did support reform, but not the current plan.

“Not socialism,” said McBride. “But we do need more efficient health care.”

Elsewhere in the state, there were reports of demonstrations in support of the current health care reform proposal.

In parts of Flagstaff and Tucson, members of the Health Care for America Now held door-to-door information drives Saturday to explain the merits of the current health care reform proposal, according to the group.


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