September 1, 2009

Ryan gets an earful at listening session

Kelly Gallaher asks Ryan for an apology

Rep. Paul Ryan got an earful at his listening session Tuesday.

Before the session was barely 15 minutes old he had been scolded by Community for Change member Kelly Gallaher and Iraqi war protester Miles Kristan.

Although the session was ostensibly for African-American issues, the audience of barely 40 was more than three-quarters white. The meagre crowd at the Douglas Avenue Flatiron Mall was a far contrast to previous Ryan listening sessions that overflowed the available space in much larger halls.

Ryan, R-WI, 1st District, started it off by calling on a surprised Gallaher who, when she found her rhythm, declared him guilty of "abuse of power" in the incident in which one of her emails to Community for Change members was faxed from Ryan's office to conservatives across the country -- bringing her a torrent of hate mail and phone calls.

""You did this for political reasons," Gallaher told Ryan; "You lit a fire that blew them toward me. It all came from your office. I want an apology."

Ryan only gave her a partial one. "Do I regret that these things happened to you? Yes," he said. But he added, "You're a spokesperson for a partisan organization" and one that threatened "to overwhelm" the listening sessions. Ryan defended the dissemination of Gallaher's email this way: "We were asked if we had knowledge of organizations trying to overwhelm the listening sessions. Yes..."

"I am sorry these things happened to you. I feel bad about that." But, "this is an issue people feel strongly about. I want people to come, individuals. We don't want partisan organizations to overwhelm these sessions."

At one point during his response, Gallaher attempted to break in, and Ryan said, "Don't interrupt, or I'll have to ask you to leave." That garnered a few boos from the crowd. After a few more minutes, he said, "We've already spent 12 minutes to give you the chance to speak your mind," and tried to turn the session to African-American concerns.

A black woman asked a question about getting help from the Racine County District Attorney's office, which Ryan said "is not a level of government I have control over."

Miles Kristan being escorted out of the session

The next question came from a white man, Miles Kristan, who asked, "Do you regret your vote on WMDs and Iraq?"

Ryan said, "I regret the way the war was prosecuted," and said "the administration made a couple of colossal blunders," referring to the disbanding of the Iraqi army and Baathification, which removed from office anyone who had served under Saddam Hussein. "The bad decisions made in spring of 2003...what I regret are the immediate aftermath of those."

Ryan referred to the present "success," crediting the surge. "The results are wonderful," he said: no genocide, no atrocities, women holding office. "Wonderful things are happening."

The session moved on to other issues at that point, but Kristan revived his objections to Ryan's votes in favor of the war toward the end of the session, calling the Congressman a "scumbag" and a "fascist" before Racine Police Chief Kurt Wahlen and two officers escorted him from the mall, his hands raised in the air as though being arrested, although he was merely told to go away. Previously, he had been kicked out of last week's Roma Lodge listening session as well.

Eventually, there were questions from African Americans, although the issues tended to concern all Americans. Craig Oliver, left, made the point when he asked/stated: "I thought we were all in this together. Not one health plan for black people and a different one for white people."

Ryan responded by giving the origin of these annual sessions: "Ken Lumpkin (former County Board supervisor -- who has just announced his intention to run for office again) said, 'Let's have a session for the African American community. I hope you're not offended that I thought Ken Lumpkin had a good idea."

Tessa Brown, a social worker, right, asked Ryan, "What can we do about the infant mortality and teen pregnancy rates," which are higher in Racine than anywhere else in Wisconsin. Ryan agreed the problem is severe and suggested she seek money from federal block grants, "which work pretty effectively." Brown said she had applied for these funds, which are oversubscribed, and noted that state funds have been cut. "We don't have the resources, so how do I do it?"

Ryan didn't have an answer, but said, "Let me do some more research, see if there are more resources." Alderman Jim Kaplan stood to say that the Racine Board of Health is also working on the issue, thanks to a state grant obtained by Rep. Cory Mason.

It was now about halfway through the 90-minute session and Keith Fair asked Ryan: "Do you believe that President Obama was born in the U.S.?" "Yes," said Ryan.

Fair then asked what Ryan's position is in response to the poor, and Ryan launched into his slide show presentation on the health care debate -- for what must have been the 18th time this week. "Health care costs are a huge issue," he said, adding, "The problem, Keith, is that we're not ready for the baby boomers. It's ugly stuff; if we don't reform it, costs will go through the roof."

After he got back to questions, David Corey noted that "the biggest health care facility in Kenosha is the jail. Your record is not very supportive of the poor," he told Ryan, mentioning Blackwater and other Iraq war spending. Returning to health care, he said: "You have excellent coverage (as a member of Congress); why can't we get it?"

Ryan replied, "I agree. Members of Congress should be in the same program as other Americans. That's fundamental."

He said he's been very careful of the language he's used, and said, "To say this (Obama's) bill 'has death panels and rationing'... I think that's going overboard. But do I think the bill will lead us down that path? Absolutely yes."

Ryan said Obama is "advocating a modification of the Hippocratic Oath," ("Above all, do no harm.") That generally refers solely to the patient, Ryan said, but "I also worry about society in general and the effect costs can have."

"If this (the current bill) doesn't pass, my hope is that bipartisan cooperation occurs... Look, I'm not saying this hasn't happened before," he said. "Democrats have decided to go it alone because they have the votes."


  1. We love the reporting of The Post. Thinking soon you be going the same way as the Journal and the J-S.
    Does C4C write the Obama stuff for you?

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. Pedro - Nice criminal record. If I were you, I'd keep a low profile.

  4. You usually apologize when you did something wrong right?


  5. Wahlen should have thumped that kook in the red t-shirt. I wish cops would start thumping people again like back in the 60's. These GD radicals need a real good whooping'!! Go smoke some more pot you hippy!!

  6. I want to see the photo of Kelly Gallaher's verbal public apology to Stepp for mocking her size/weight in a recent comment on Racine Post.

    ...still waiting...

  7. Kelly Gallaher - if Obama knew of you and your actions, he'd tell you to grow up and stop using his name and his ideals to enlarge your power in this community. If this is about community, not about you, then why are you the one plastered all over this site? You can tell by the glee with which you respond that you just love this attention. Its sad, really. C4C could really do something if it wasn't for thier "leader" who is so interested in self promotion.

  8. I saw that Stepp comment. Too bad Ryan cant just ask the administrators to delete his mistake like Gallaher did. =)

  9. Wow! Pete actually captured a picture of Kurt Wahlen doing something! I'm in complete shock!

    Even though he is out of uniform, I am just amazed he went out in public and did some work on top of it.

  10. The actual quote was " the biggest mental health care facility in Kenosha is the county jail".
    Yes, at this 'listening session' Ryan didn't have his blind followers giving him a standing ovation for voting for and supporting the Bush administrations failed domestic and foriegn policies! We need a new congressperson who will try to sell us snake oil

  11. 7:51 I agre with you totally but it should start with our stae rep's Mason and Lehman

  12. Sounds like Paul Ryan got his rear end handed to him today.

  13. Sounds like Anon 8:26 is a moron.

  14. A partial apology! Then Racine is "partially" satisfied.

  15. 8:29

    sorry but your quarterback got sacked

  16. Paul Ryan learned the hard don't mess with Racine.

    Score one for the little guy.

  17. I'm shocked Ryan or any other politician would apologize for anything...ever. Odd decision to up and single out Gallaher to give her the mic to speak. Sounds fishy to me.

    There must be more to this story that us common folk aren't aware of yet.

  18. 9:27

    Sorry but your tight end got nailed.

  19. Kelly, we get it. We see you. We know your name. Your 15 minutes are up, sister.

  20. This isn't about Kelly. I read the stories, and this is about what is the proper conduct for a United States Congressman.

    He wouldn't have apologized if he wasn't wrong. Who knows - this may not have only been wrong, but illegal.

    Which one of us could be next? The message Ryan sent was that if you dare oppose him, he will use his powerful position to bring you down. Don't dare to offer an opposing view, or you'll be vilified nationally.

  21. All you liberals - explain to me how this is any worse (actually I'd argue it's not nearly as bad) than Obama asking for reports on private citizens exercising their right to free speech (via e-mail or blog) and placing them on what is essentially an Obama Enemies List?

    Please, spare me the feigned indignation! I'm guessing Ms. Gallagher enjoys the power of being a leader of C4C, well, along with that comes the downside of accepting the responsibility when you have done essentially what Obama has been whining and crying about - and guess what, someone from your side ratted you out. Only difference, of course, the liberals can dish it out, they just can't take it!

  22. I am tired of the health care reform advocates blaming the baby boomers for the health care cost problems. The baby boomers have supported this nation all these years and now they are being disgraced by being selected as the burden of health care. The baby boomers are exactly the ones being riped off by insurance companies, drug companies, medical facilities, and the politicians.

  23. Ryan handled that pretty well.

    I didn't know what the post Kelly deleted talked about. It is pretty juvenile to pick on someone's size and weight. We are in Wisconsin after all and not in California. She should absolutely apologize.

    We should all be more tolerant of differences in each other and not quick to point our and make fun of faults.

  24. It is truly a shame the Racine Post has turned what could have been a nice thing into a completely leftist rag.

    Kelly, you can't play the I'm not a public figure card any more, you are.

  25. I was at this listening session and Paul Ryan never apologized to Kelly. He said he was sorry that some people called and emailed her with threatens and profanity, but he said that she is a spokesperson for a public organization and has to understand that will happen. He acknowledged he sent her email to reporters who asked for it and that he had that right to do so. Kelly and her organization members should do the apologizing for taking up so much time at this session over issues that had nothing to do with this session and denying others the chance to talk. Everyone there was far more polite to this group than they deserved.

  26. 9:30 - Well said.

  27. Paul Ryan asked Kelly to speak, which is odd in and of itself. She didn't raise her hand to be called on.

    Makes you wonder why he might do that......

  28. When will we stop these special groups by race? If we truly want to be equal, than let's act equal. I oppose any group or community leader that endorses meetings by race. Invite all races or don't do these meeting at all. Black, White, Muslim does it really matter anymore?

    Lumpkin who organized this meeting continues to create a racial divide: "Let's have a session for the African American community." In the future focus on the "Racine Community", not just Black American's. We all all in this together.

  29. Kelly,
    When you put private information on the net or fax you are sending out to the world and at that point discarding any right to privacy.
    That's the law.
    It's the same for your trash at the curb. Anything discarded in your trash is now open to the public.
    When you enter a competition you open yourself to ridicule, especially in politics.So my advise is to take the heat like a big girl or get out of the kitchen. In whatever you decide, stop playing the victim cause your whining makes you look unprofessional and weak. Disrupting a health care debate because your feelings are hurt is juvenile at best.
    400 in Kenosha and 500 @ Roma Lodge and like Chris Mathews with a tingle running up you leg over a showing of (You say) 40 people who showed up for a designated African American listening session gets you so excited is sickening. I am waiting to go to the Italian American Listening session. The obvious, regrettable fact is the majority of Blacks that show up are paid union, or ACORN workers. Not to say that there are many Blacks who do care and are interested in showing up but don't want to be seen as radical lefties.
    By the way, if you truly want to stop racism, stop categorizing ethnic groups. WE ARE ALL JUST AMERICANS.

  30. I think Obama should pay the auto dealers the millions of dollars that are outstanding for cash for clunkers before he puts them out of business. If they can't even run a program this small, how do they think they will ever manage ObamaCare.

  31. So if I understand correctly, Paul Ryan apologizes for the consequences of actions that he alone took......but not for actually doing it.


  32. Does anyone find irony in the fact that when Keith Fair was running for Alderman, one of his big claims was that he worked in the field for the Obama campaign. Now he is questioning Obama's qualifications. He either should have done his homework before he devoted himself to Obama or he just jumped sides.

  33. When Ken Lumpkin interviewed Jody Harding during the mayoral primary he asked her what she would do for the black community of Racine. Her answer was that she refused to breakdown the city into racial groups and that we are all members of the same community and would only treat it as such. This is what Paul Ryan should have told those who sponsorded this black listening session. And by the turnout it would appear that the majority of the black community doesn't much care. Probably because most of them are on welfare and getting it all for free anyway, you know, on the backs of all those other blacks (and whites) who WORK for a living and couldn't attend because they were AT WORK.

  34. 2:44. Where is Keith Fair questioning Obama's qualifications?

  35. Wow. 4:19, 10:39. The funny part is that you don't think you're racists. Yet here you talk about the black community as welfare freeloaders and disengaged from public participation. Gee, that's real polite of you to acknowledge that some black people work for their living. Real enlightened.

  36. Keith Fair questioned Ryan in the Health Care listening session. He asked if Ryan thought Obama was born in Hawaii, trying to determine if our president was born in the United States. A person must be born in the US to be qualified to be president of the US. Early in Obama's presidency there was a debate about Obama's true birth place.

  37. Kelly put her information out there herself. It is pretty silly of her to expect an apology.

    You lead a group. You put out a challenge (rally) email with all your info on it.

    Oh brother I am shocked, someone published it and shared it.

    That is what happens. So you should always conduct yourself as it it is being published.

    There are moles in all groups. Waste time being paranoid or accept and get on with it.

  38. Anon 4:19, there's plenty of white-trash and latinos out there sucking off the government just as much as there are blacks. But this listening session was not targeting whites or latinos and therefore my statements were only directed toward the one particular group that the listening session was geared to.

    As far as being racist, I'm sorry if you feel that citing a statistical truth is racist. The truth is the truth, no matter who is depicted.

    And yes, there is a contingent of the black population that DOES work and is just as POed about the disporportionate number of blacks that sit back and collect government checks when they are just as able to get off their dead behinds and go to work. But they also realize that it is the liberals who continually perpetuate the welfare society, primarily targeting blacks, and making them slaves to the goverment handouts. And this is also why most of these hard working blacks are Republicans.

  39. Sorry, that was intended for ANON 6:39.

  40. 11:04. Wow. I can't believe you actually made your original ridiculous racist statements even worse.

    So only the Republican black Americans actually work. Wow! That's amazing, since less than 10% of black Americans are Republican. So your assertion is that 90% of black Americans are welfare freeloaders. You are true champion of idiotic bigotry.

    And when you claim to be stating "statistical truth" normally you back that up with a statistic! Jesus. Could you please learn to debate? This is pathetic.

  41. Also where's your tinfoil hat, 11:04? "Oooh, its a conspiracy! Everyone's in on the conspiracy!!"

  42. 10:31 Are you retarded? Fair was trying to find out if Paul Ryan was one of those psychotic birth certificate nutballs. If you read that as Fair questioning Obama's qualifications, you need to go back to third grade remedial reading class.