Once again, I have to point out the hypocrisy of the right. Many of your elected (Republican) representatives now want to charge you for the right to ask them questions. From the idiotic freshman nut job Ben Quayle to the wacky’s wunderkind Paul Ryan, these people who were elected to represent all of their constituents are foregoing town hall meetings in favor of pay-for-access events.
Of course some – like my congressman (Allen West) are still holding events that they call “town hall meetings”. But, as I know from personal experience, they’re actually lectures where, if you dare to try to ask a question or say something in opposition to his position, you will be thrown out and risk arrest.
That’s the flavor of democracy, GOP-style, in August 2011.
But if you go back to August 2009, you’ll find reams of evidence that the Koch Brothers and Freedomworks-funded teabagger lemmings were being recruited to go to Democratic representative’s townhall meetings with the expressed goal of disrupting them.
In fact, Think Progress got hold of a leaked memo from Bob MacGuffie, a volunteer with the FreedomWorks website Tea Party Patriots, with details how members should be infiltrating town halls and harassing Democratic members of Congress:
– Artificially Inflate Your Numbers: “Spread out in the hall and try to be in the front half. The objective is to put the Rep on the defensive with your questions and follow-up. The Rep should be made to feel that a majority, and if not, a significant portion of at least the audience, opposes the socialist agenda of Washington.”
– Be Disruptive Early And Often: “You need to rock-the-boat early in the Rep’s presentation, Watch for an opportunity to yell out and challenge the Rep’s statements early.”
– Try To “Rattle Him,” Not Have An Intelligent Debate: “The goal is to rattle him, get him off his prepared script and agenda. If he says something outrageous,stand up and shout out and sit right back down. Look for these opportunities before he even takes questions.”
The Think Progress story continued:
The memo above also resembles the talking points being distributed by FreedomWorks for pushing an anti-health reform assault all summer. Patients United, a front group maintained by Americans for Prosperity, is currently busing people all over the country for more protests against Democratic members. Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), chairman of the NRCC, has endorsed the strategy, telling the Politico the days of civil town halls are now “over.”
News accounts of the actions of the town hall disrupters dominated the news (and comedy news)
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c|
But this year, when constituents go to town halls to try to ask actual questions of their representatives, they’re either thrown out and arrested or denied entrance if they don’t “PAY to say”! What ever happened to our first amendment rights? Somehow, I think the idea of members of Congress charging their constituents for the right to ask a question has got to be against the law.
Sometimes, you don’t even have to speak to be denied access to an official event with your representative. This morning, I spoke with Teresa Crawford, who wrote to me of her experience being denied entry to a publicly advertised forum to which she had RSVP’d! She wrote to me of her experience:
I tried to enter a forum on energy featuring my congressman Joe Heck. I was turned away, although my RSVP was accepted the day before by the local PR firm that organized the event on behalf of the American Petroleum Institute at a casino resort in Henderson, a few miles from my home.
Based on some quick research, I found that new state-based front groups sprang up this year–Nevada Energy Forum– in the wake of API’s decision to leverage Citizens United to add direct electoral cash to their robust lobbying program. At the door, the head PR flack maintained the event was never intended to be public, although it was advertised in a local paper and one of her staffers put posted a friendly invitation on my friend, blogger Andrew Davey’s wall.
Rep. Heck spoke at the event in his status as a House Member, on the taxpayers’ dime. I took it as an RSVP-only event, with limited or no Q&A, not a true Town Hall, but really wanted to hear his defense of supporting every vote to protect the interests of Big Oil, while opposing help for renewable energy at a fraction of the cost. Solar, wind and geothermal projects mean jobs for Nevada in construction, maintenance and most important manufacturing. We have one of the most skilled work forces in the nation and too many of them are idle in the wake of the construction bust.
By definition, private events are invitation only, not posted on Facebook and in the newspaper.
A small group, including myself, stood quietly outside the meeting room for a few minutes before the event started. I held a handmade sign that said Green Energy/Green Jobs and was wearing a yellow Sierra Club “Beyond Coal” T-shirt, admittedly in contrast to the business attire of attendees entering the room. My friends held a banner that read “Stop the oil Subsidies.” There were no personal attacks on the congressman, in stark contrast to the disruptive Tea Party behavior directed at former Congresswoman Dina Titus in the summers of 2009 and 2010. Because of holding the sign, although I did not attempt to carry it into the room, I was denied entry for being a protester on private property.
Here’s an odd twist: This woman who turned me away knows me by sight and name because I’ve volunteered for campaigns she’s managed, in other words, helped her earn her substantial living. Although she is a Republican, two local Democratic politicians hire her for their campaigns, hoping for the Republican contacts and donations they need to win.
I know no one ever said life was fair, but this is ridiculous!
Today’s show also included a conversation with Christopher Glenn Fichtner, M.D., author of the new book Cannabinomics: the Marijuana Policy Tipping Point, and my friend – author/pundit/strategist Cliff Schecter about Rick Perry, the Tea Party, the hypocrisy & cowardice that defines the Republican party and more…