The pictures are disheartening to me, because they reveal the degree to which many, many people are willing to accept patent malarky rather than the unpleasant realities with which we live. Our country seems to have become incredibly polarized and many people are all to willing to accept smears about the "other side," even ones that are profoundly misleading or simply untrue.
A favorite theme seems to be that Obama is a "liar," though I don't think he has lied about anything. I doubt these people were objecting when George W. Bush and Dick Cheney lied repeatedly, to Congress, to the U.N., and to the American people, about the need to go to war in Iraq. That fact, and the prevalance of mottos about "Marxism" (which is a caricature of Obama, who is surely not a Marxist) and "bankrupting the country" (they didn't squeal when Bush or even Reagan did the same) reveals that this is largely partisan rhetoric.
Much of the furor over the proposed health care reforms seems to have been orchestrated by industry groups (health insurance companies, pharmaceutical concerns, etc.) and right-wing groups that have spread a lot of misinformation, which these people have clearly bought into.
For something more reasoned, I attach a helpful memo from Bob Graves's congressman, Joe Sestak, which Bob forwarded to me some time ago--in which he answers the shrill and mostly false accusations of health care reform opponents with some un-shrill and patient explanations of what is actually in HR 3200 (at least as it was then). (webmaster's note: memo to be posted soon)
These big rallies are enjoyable--I greatly enjoyed attending the big one in January, 2003, opposing the buildup to war in Iraq, which something like 350,000 people attended. As with the one you attended, Cal, it was large, full of humorous signs, and extremely cordial--everyone from infants in strollers to octogenarians, ex-hippies to corporate execs, laborers and teachers and physicians, all united with one common concern. Our country is full of good, decent people! Our rally didn't seem to make a dent in Bush's policies, however, he ignored it--so maybe these things are mainly good for venting. One big difference between the two rallies--yours was in shirt-sleeves weather, whereas when we came up to the mall from the Metro at 9 AM it was 11 degrees!