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EDITORIAL: Eshoo sidesteps health care noise

Original post made on Aug 28, 2009

For Rep. Anna Eshoo, the low-tech telephone, coupled with a high-tech telephone network, proved to be the best way to filter out the noise — everything from incoherent right-wing ranting to straightforward but harsh talk from constituents — over pending health care legislation.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, August 28, 2009, 1:16 PM

Comments (18)

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Posted by Andy
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 28, 2009 at 6:49 pm

So you must be a right-winger if you don't form your questions properly.
Your newspaper is so one sided paper that I cannot stand it any more.

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Posted by Enough!
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 28, 2009 at 7:06 pm

The blatant bias may not be the best thing for generating advertising revenue for this paper. If I recall, Mountain View votes around 35% Republican in recent elections. That's a sizable chunk of the community to alienate, a chunk that tends to have plenty of money to go with it. A more balanced approach and view point to such a topic might serve the community better.

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Posted by Old Ben
a resident of Shoreline West
on Aug 28, 2009 at 8:15 pm

Vote her out! We need vertebrates in Congress, and aside from Dennis Kucinich, Bobby Byrd, and Ron Paul, there don't seem to be too many.

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Posted by Dominick
a resident of Waverly Park
on Aug 28, 2009 at 8:22 pm

Eshoo's automated calling system does not work. I am registered in this county and I am on the Do-Not Call list. Eshoo called me three times apologizing that she was sorry she missed me. The automated calling system obviously was a Gov't provided system.

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Posted by Seer
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Aug 28, 2009 at 10:45 pm

You can't be unhappy about the lack of in-person meetings and the problems with the phone meetings while ALSO supporting the democracy-killing heckling and selfish monopolization of live discussions by the right1e wingnuts.

If we don't have our politeness and decency, what do we really have?

It is the work of a few well-organized disruptors that has kept us from meeting our representatives in person. I consider them traitors to the democratic process and our country. Drowning out the opposition only creates conflict, not harmony and agreement.

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Posted by undrgrndgirl
a resident of another community
on Aug 29, 2009 at 3:07 am

old bob, you are's too bad dennis kucinich isn't president. we'd be out of iraq and afghanistan, we'd have insurance, the drug war would be over, and the banks wouldn't have gotten such cozy bail outs...i'm in the 14th congressional district, too and you can count on me to help oust not only eshoo, but feinstein and boxer, too...they're all a bunch of corporatist blue dogs...seems to me eshoo's tactic is to keep from hearing from her constituents at exactly will she hear from me, i don't have a land line and my cell phone has an out of state area code...yet i'm a palo alto resident - there are many of us in the same situation out here, especially younger voters...

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Posted by Steve
a resident of The Crossings
on Aug 29, 2009 at 7:11 am


"A few well-organized disruptors?" Give me a break. And you base your observation on the fact that you just know that this is what's going on? Soon the leaders of your democracy will just meet in a star chamber somewhere and decide things by a panel of "experts" who know what's best for the rest of us, while the vast majority of folks tied remain politically aloof, unable to articulate an argument that's not been boiled down to terms involving what's in it for them, i.e., free health care for all, etc., and live their whole life thinking that social security will cover them in old age.

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Posted by Disappointed
a resident of Monta Loma
on Aug 29, 2009 at 9:20 am

It is very sad that the paper has become so one sided as others point out above. The MV Voice acts like Pravda in promoting the extreme socialist agenda of Obama and his Marxist allies like rep Eshoo. Real democracy tolerates viewpoints from any direction. Screening calls to only get one viewpoint is not a valid form of behavior for our elected officials.

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Posted by God-frey
a resident of Monta Loma
on Aug 29, 2009 at 1:55 pm

We expect the general public to decide on healthcare when the readers of MV Voice cannot decide agree on who is left wing and who s right wind. (Most people the have health care do not know what is cover and what is not covered – they find out when they get sick.)

Here is just one point that people cannot agree on. Should everyone be covered, the poor legal or illegal? Adults without healthcare could be walking around in stores and have a non curable tuberculosis. Another bad situation; their children have not had shots or are coming down contagious diseases (whooping cough, swine flu, etc.) Their parent’s wait and have them out shopping until they become so sick that they need to go to the emergency room.

The people that cannot agree that everyone, I mean everyone, needs to be covered for basic healthcare for the good of the community, then they are too just too stupid to decide anything on healthcare.

Since Congress think US citizens are not venerable to diseases carried by the poor and the illegal residents of this country, they also are too dam stupid to be writing a healthcare bill!

This is not being discourteous or impolite; it is stated fact. Maybe Congress thinks they if they keep “Under god” in the pledge and “In god We Trust” on the money their mythical god will keep the privately insured people safe for illnesses.

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Posted by Henry
a resident of Jackson Park
on Aug 29, 2009 at 5:27 pm

So then, the government will be responsible to round up everyone and give them shots when they need them? What if people don't want the shots. Force it one them? Smoking is bad, but people smoke. Junk food is bad, but people eat themselves to death on it. You make a good point, though, that even if people are given health insurance, it won't stop them from taking their kids shopping until they become so sick that they need to go to the emergency room.

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Posted by Don Frances
Mountain View Voice Editor
on Aug 29, 2009 at 5:55 pm

Don Frances is a registered user.

Editorials are the paper's chance -- really the paper's owner's chance -- to give its point of view. They're for choosing sides, if you want to put it that way. It makes no sense to complain that an editorial is "one-sided." It's an opinion. If you don't agree, post your opposing opinion on Town Square. Or send us a letter. I will run it.

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Posted by Mike Laursen
a resident of Monta Loma
on Aug 29, 2009 at 9:36 pm

God-frey, just so you don't have to worry so much. Poor people are covered for those basic healthcare needs already. Although, as Henry alludes to, they often don't take advantage of services that are available.

The health care crisis really has to do with other problems regarding health care: high medical bills, the financial collapse of the Medicare program, the strong tie that's been created between employment and health insurance, the uninsured and rescission of insurance.

The first three are real, big problems. The last two are real, too, but the scope of those problems are often exaggerated .

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Posted by Andrew
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 30, 2009 at 1:14 am

Don, I agree a paper, with respect to the editorial or other opinion pieces inside, has the right to its opinion. However, I believe there is a difference between an editorial and one that includes the phrase "incoherent right-wing ranting". There are more professional ways to get one's point across, and I would hope this paper, and the paper's owner, could also reach this conclusion.

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Posted by Sid
a resident of Jackson Park
on Aug 30, 2009 at 1:51 am

While the teleconference might have merits in terms of an alternative means of communication, I don't feel it has a place within our political and democratic process. We might just conclude that Rep. Eshoo was deliberating sseking to avoid an unpleasant experience of confronting her constituents from either side of the political spectrum, on one of the biggest social policy issues of this generation. Without a precedent to make comparisons from, the suggestion that it was an effective means of blocking what is suggested to be the specter of right-wing provocateurs (i.e., there go those silly republicans again) is quite disturbing a comment.

When Congress lately makes no secret of the fact that they have been passing laws without reading them, namely because they are so loaded with special interests, coupled with the astronomical debt that is being thrown on the backs of generations to come, to suggest that shutting down the more confrontational aspects of town hall meetings, is a welcome and applauded strategy is simply irresponsible of an editor in a democracy to support. Throughout our history, the press has been a key instrument in preserving our democracy. (And by advocating this form of town hall meetings, this paper just put a nail in our democracy). Besides which, much of the hoopla over recent town hall meetings on health care this past month has largely been taken out of context by the press. It also ignores the possibility the it is part and parcel of some left-wing effort to impose an agenda by controlling access to a public figure who is supposed to recognize us all. From what I can see, it appears fueled more by old folks not wanting to lose the free ride that is called Medicare if that system has to compete with a larger public system.

Overall, a disappointing piece in terms of a local journal which would do better to present issues affecting us from a more objective standpoint. And it makes me wonder... just where are to be found supporters of right-wing rantings in this community? Republicans in this area are by and large moderates and seldom if never from my recollection manifest or present themselves as an organized group in public pushing a message. The only group I can recall that advances such tactics are the Raging Grannies, and they too weren't exactly pleased by Rep. Eshoo's efforts to shut out voices in her last town hall meeting.

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Posted by An American
a resident of The Crossings
on Aug 30, 2009 at 2:07 am

Your support of a strategy that prevents Americans from gathering in public to let their multitude of voices be heard to their Congressional representative--be they left, right, or somewhere in between--reveals an elitism on the editor's part and a total lack of appreciation for our democratic heritage. Who can assure that the entire process is not rigged to control the message? Can you Don Frances?

What the editor calls "noise" is the voices of Americans, past, present, and future, whose individual voices, no matter how weak, strong, coherent, incoherent, young, old, left, or right, have combined to make this nation great. Take those voices away, and we lose a big part of who we are.

Eshoo loses might vote next time she's up. And this coming from a die-hard dem.

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Posted by Curt
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 30, 2009 at 9:01 am

I think your piece is better titled "Eshoo sidesteps helathcare discussion." While teleconferencing technology has been around for years, this (and the other events like it around the country) is the first time I recall it being employed in this manner. Yes, I am very cynical when it comes to any politician, and I see this tactic for what it is: a conscious effort to bypass truly open and honest discussion on an obviously controversial subject by controlling the medium. Seeking to avoid unexpected and uncomfortable questions and present an image of support by constituents, lawmakers are hiding behind a system that gives them and their staff complete control over who speaks and what is heard by participants and the press.

Of course, the healthcare forums around the country have, at times, gotten out of hand, but should anyone be surprised by this? The sweeping nature of the proposed reforms and the efforts within Congress to force speedy passage of this voluminous legislation with very little debate should concern any honest observer, whether they be a supporter or an opponent of the various proposals. Citizens with legitimate questions and a desire for their voices to be heard are rightly frustrated by the lack of communication with their elected representatives. It is this frustration that drives many constituents to "let their emotions do the talking." How dare you be so dismissive of these people! Why wouldn't they sometimes get emotional? Until the emotions started boiling over, our elected representatives were making no effort to consider any input from the folks back home. It sounds to me like our system is starting to work as designed.

While, these events have at times gotten a bit loud and disorganized in recent months, making reasoned sharing of information and opinions difficult or impossible, their volume level is nowhere near that of the frequent protests we have witnessed over the past several years. Yet, I don't recall the editors of the Voice wringing their hands over "heckling, chanting or other childish behavior" during that time period. Hmmm, I wonder, why the concern now?

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Posted by Bill
a resident of Waverly Park
on Aug 30, 2009 at 6:32 pm

Issues of such national importance are better left to editors of more prominent papers. How about just sticking to the local news here? I could understand the local high school paper taking up the topic by way of a lesson, but seriously, the editors comments only suggest someone just itching to get up on a soap box and preach.

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Posted by Don Frances
Mountain View Voice Editor
on Aug 31, 2009 at 11:11 am

Don Frances is a registered user.

An American and Curt:

Here's my two cents on the difference between a "town hall meeting" and a rally or protest:

A meeting is not about excluding voices. To the contrary, it should be a relatively quiet and rational sharing of ideas, and everyone should get a chance to share them. The word "meeting" means, to me, a group of people getting together to discuss something. Note that word discuss.

But when a subset of people at that meeting start shouting, chanting, etc., the meeting then gets hijacked into becoming a rally or protest. These are different -- rallies are not for sharing ideas. They're for emotional venting. And I'm all for them. I never minded people protesting the war in Iraq, for example (even though those protests also were often incoherent to me -- I mean, what's Mumia got to do with it?), and I don't have any problem with the current rallies and protests against health care reform, however wild and strange they get.

I believe that when people start disrupting the current town hall meetings, and ruin everyone's chances to share ideas, they should leave or be ejected. Invariably, there's a big rally going on right outside. There they can exercise their Constitutional right to shout and chant whatever they want.

Bill: Why shouldn't we little people get to discuss national concerns too?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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