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Mother Jones:

Many Americans eagerly awaited Congress' August recess so they could use town hall meetings and other public appearances to give their elected officials a piece of their mind. There's just one problem: most of Congress isn't scheduling any town halls. [...]

The think tank No Labels called the offices of all 430 active members of Congress and found that 60 percent of them weren't scheduling town hall meetings. According to No Labels' analysis, more Democrats than Republicans are shutting themselves off from their constituents: 68 percent of Dems and 51 percent of Republicans hadn't planned a town hall during Congress' weeks-long summer break.

But not to worry—you can still meet with your congresscritter, and for only a tiny fee:

Paul Ryan has made himself available during the recess—but for a price. That's right: Ryan and other lawmakers are now charging constituents to attend public events and ask them questions. Ryan wanted $15 a head. Rep. Dan Quayle (R-Ariz.), Politico reported, is charging $35 from attendees who want to ask him questions over a catered lunch at a Phoenix law firm. Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-Minn.) also wants money—$10 a person—to attend an his event, which is hosted by the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

I actually think Ryan is onto something here. I have to think "pay $15 to yell at Paul Ryan" could make at least a small dent in the nation's debt, if he were to donate that money to the government (note: he's not).

Why stop there, in fact? This could be quite the government fundraising opportunity. For $15 you can see Paul Ryan, but for $200, you can throw three balls at a dunk tank with him inside. Hitting John Boehner with a cream pie will set you back $1000, but would still be worth it. We'll call it the 'Pie'oneer level. And for each donation of $10,000 towards the national debt, Eric Cantor will spend one night in a cliffside shack built by unskilled laborers working entirely without benefit of building codes.

We can't exactly be surprised that our representatives aren't eager to hold town halls this summer. All-time low approval ratings coupled with (or rather, caused by) the debt ceiling fiasco and the beginnings of a new re-crappening of the economy don't make for good stump speech material. But have no doubt, your voices will be heard. You know, for a small fee.

Originally posted to Hunter on Tue Aug 23, 2011 at 02:50 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  good snark, nt (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bubbanomics, JeffW, mungley

    Please do not tell me you are involved by being a member of DK4....really get involved...... goal is not to bring your adversaries to their knees but to their senses. -- Mahatma Gandhi

    by Mindmover on Tue Aug 23, 2011 at 02:56:11 PM PDT

  •  Can't Be a Good Sign That More Dems Aren't (19+ / 0-)

    holding them.

    Whether voters actively throw them out or rank & file Dems repeat last fall and stay home dejected, Republican sweep can happen.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Tue Aug 23, 2011 at 03:07:46 PM PDT

  •  Political Prostitutes (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, mungley, cdreid, Marjmar

    If you pay them enough those Republicans will do anything for you.

    They'll even fcuk the planet.

    look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening. "It's the planet, stupid."

    by FishOutofWater on Tue Aug 23, 2011 at 05:32:34 PM PDT

  •  I know my GOP Representative (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, mungley

    Cathy McMorris Rogers, you know the only grinning lady every time you see the GOPers standing in front of a mic,  has posted on her website all the places she has been and how "busy" she has been, and I think only now is starting to talk about a town hall. Just what are they afraid of?????

  •  On the bright side, they only have to hold out... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, mungley, TAH from SLC

    ...for eight more days. I'd suggest chicken pox.

    Let us resolutely study and implement the resolutions of the 46th Convention of the Democratic Party!

    by Rich in PA on Tue Aug 23, 2011 at 05:36:14 PM PDT

  •  In the most partisan Rightwing era (7+ / 0-)

    since the Gilded Age, who is no labels trying to frame as running from their constituents?

    The Democratic Party.

    Which is hilarious, because No Labels is aways finding the Democratic Party mostly to blame for our ills. If there was a House of "Both Sides do it Too!" when 99% of the problem is Rightwing obstructionism, 1% always magically becomes 50% with this crowd.

    A Republican holds a town meeting where you can't come in unless you swear a loyalty oath, and a Democrat just hasn't scheduled one yet.

    The GOP is golden, and the Democrat is a coward.

    It's hilarious that these people think they have any credibility to do any such analysis, when they essentially exist only because the Democratic Party did not embrace Blue Doggism to such an extreme that only a gambit of Movement Conservative policy or things Joe Lieberman thinks are okay could effectively be passed in America 100% of the time.

    Not the fucking Republicans, who are looking to hold fake town meetings where you have to be pre-screened to get in, or pay to get in, or are just Potemkin town meetings filled with pre-gathered Republican supporters.


    No Labels furrows its brow and crinkles its nose "Leftward".

    According to No Labels' analysis, more Democrats than Republicans are shutting themselves off from their constituents: 68 percent of Dems and 51 percent of Republicans hadn't planned a town hall during Congress' weeks-long summer break.
    •  What bothers me (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      is that Mother Jones is trusting "No Labels" to be straight here.

      I'm sorry, but it's 2011.

      Not 2001.

      Not 1995.

      There is no excuse for not looking for the anti-liberal anti-Democratic Party angle being played.

      If you are a liberal publication, and you have info, or a meme or a frame, that comes from "No Labels" or "Third Way" you simply have no excuse not to dig a little deeper.

      Shock of shocks, I bet you find an agenda that isn't very healthy to either liberalism or the Democratic Party.

      It's entirely possible that some Democrats are ducking these meetings because they are ducking getting yelled at by their angry constituents.  

      But it's also possible that they haven't scheduled town hall meetings not because they don't want to talk to their actual, and angry, constituents but because getting shouted down by professional bused in censervative activists from outside of their districts has rendered them less useful for touching base with the locals and the Democrats simply aren't willing to do Potemkin town meetings, or meetings with paid admission, or to hire a ring of goons to force out anyone who isn't clapping and cheering like a North Korean Up With People chapter to get around the disruptions like a GOPer will.


  •  Hunter (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mungley, JeffW, divineorder

    Thanks, interesting in that They can't take the heat.

  •  They are not in DC to represent their constituents (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, cdreid

    None of these Republican representatives has any interest in hearing from the the people.
    They didn't go to Congress to help Americans.
    They went to help themselves and the utra wealthy.

    Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn. - Poor Richard's Almanac 1755
    The government exists to protect us from the thugs who got rich ripping off our ancestors. - Mungley 2011

    by mungley on Tue Aug 23, 2011 at 05:42:36 PM PDT

  •  Wow, Dems even less likely (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cdreid, TAH from SLC

    to meet with constituents.

    What are you afraid of, Dems?

    Whatever it is, hiding probably isn't going to help.

    The heart is a bloom, shoots up through stony ground/But there's no room, no space to rent in this town

    by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Aug 23, 2011 at 05:45:22 PM PDT

    •  To be fair, after Gabrielle Giffords was shot, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I can understand the reluctance, out of sheer fear for their lives to meet with a possibly deranged right-winger (after a Democratic Congresswoman was targeted and shot in the head).

      •  OK, I get that. That is totally true. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Holy shit, what can we do about that?
        It was bad enough that the anthrax scare made it next to useless to send letters to Congress.

        More ways to cut us off from our government, hooray.

        The heart is a bloom, shoots up through stony ground/But there's no room, no space to rent in this town

        by SouthernLiberalinMD on Wed Aug 24, 2011 at 12:13:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think that's their whole objective, actually. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Maybe not the overt objective of either the Republican Powers That Be/Airways Overlords OR the nutballs that carry out the implicit directives of their "rhetoric," but I definitely think that the Republican Powers That Be would rather us be less involved in our government than more involved in it. Fewer nuisances from the minions the American people, umm, actually demanding more from their elected officials that way...

          The Dick Armey/FOX-funded Tea Party "grassroots" movement just gives them some good cover to at least pretend to be responsive to "concerned citizens" (as long as they're right-wingers, of course...)

  •  In Utah, Chaffetz has been holding (0+ / 0-)

    town halls OUT of his district.  Thus, fueling speculation he would run against Orrin Hatch.  Today, he announced he would not.

    No more excuses, Jason, let's see your face in front of your constituents.

    I won't hold my breath.

    Hey, Republicans, the whole world is watching.

    by TAH from SLC on Tue Aug 23, 2011 at 05:46:29 PM PDT

  •  Bribes Are Good era? (0+ / 0-)

    We are tending down to a bribe-for-services society.

    I hear that's how it's done in Mexico and many other counties.
    Just how long will Americans allow the wealthy greedheads to keep us on this path?

    -- We are just regular people informed on issues

    by mike101 on Tue Aug 23, 2011 at 05:48:19 PM PDT

    •  bribes-for-services (0+ / 0-)

      is the mark of a Third World society. When salaries are so low that an honest public servant can't "put food on his family", everybody either goes after bribes or quits.

      Remember that when wingnuts (and some Democrats) while about "overpaid government employees". Some people figure they might be better off in a society where people who can't afford bribes don't get government services that everybody gets taxed for.

      Peak Oil is NOW! Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

      by alizard on Tue Aug 23, 2011 at 06:25:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The WHOLE lot of them want to HIDE Behind (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, alizard
    The SUPER Congress.
    I say if there is going to be a super congress, that makes ALL the decisions, then then ALL the others (in the spirit of deficit reduction) should take a major cut in pay.

    "The Internet is the Public Square of the 21st Century"- Sen. Al Franken

    by Kdoug on Tue Aug 23, 2011 at 05:49:58 PM PDT

  •  apparently not (0+ / 0-)

    seeing's how there's only a week left in Aug.

    time's wastin' where are our duly-electeds?

    "Show up. Pay attention. Tell the truth. And don't be attached to the results." -- Angeles Arrien

    by Sybil Liberty on Tue Aug 23, 2011 at 05:54:41 PM PDT

  •  How quickly they forget who they work for... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    alizard, boofdah

    wait, never mind, they know exactly who they work for.

    Live simply so that others may simply live.

    by Ann T Bush on Tue Aug 23, 2011 at 05:56:07 PM PDT

  •  This makes interesting reading.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "...Demoralization caused by vast unemployment is our greatest extravagance. Morally, it is the greatest menace to our social order." FDR

    by wrights on Tue Aug 23, 2011 at 05:56:21 PM PDT

    •  I'm sure they have no agenda... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      From the link above...

      Philip K. Howard, a prominent corporate lawyer and proponent of deregulation and cutting social programs, is on the Americans Elect Board of Advisors and has been a No Labels Citizen Leader.

      "...Demoralization caused by vast unemployment is our greatest extravagance. Morally, it is the greatest menace to our social order." FDR

      by wrights on Tue Aug 23, 2011 at 06:00:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  your point? (0+ / 0-)

        If you can demonstrate that their Democratic numbers are wrong, feel free to do so. Town hall events tend to be fairly well publicized in news media, a google on a Democratic congresscritter's name with the time set to "1 month" under the "any time" heading on the lower left of the page will find it.

        Peak Oil is NOW! Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

        by alizard on Tue Aug 23, 2011 at 06:45:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  My point is that they have an agenda (0+ / 0-)

          And destroying the safety net is part of that. As well as "Centrisim" as a fetish.

          Do I trust this bunch to tell the truth? No.

          I don't have to look any closer than that.

          "...Demoralization caused by vast unemployment is our greatest extravagance. Morally, it is the greatest menace to our social order." FDR

          by wrights on Tue Aug 23, 2011 at 06:58:56 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Expressed myself poorly perhaps. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          These guys have an agenda, I don't trust them. They might be telling the truth, but so what?

          Their "centrist" agenda includes flacking for big business, and destroying the safety net, as far as I can tell.

          Now who does it sound like they would prefer to win?

          "...Demoralization caused by vast unemployment is our greatest extravagance. Morally, it is the greatest menace to our social order." FDR

          by wrights on Tue Aug 23, 2011 at 07:14:46 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  KY-03, our very own (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    zett, PSzymeczek, alizard

    John Yarmuth (otherwise known as Congressman Awesome) held multiple open meetings last fall, and took on all questions and all comers with grace and aplomb.

    Tomorrow night the Metro Democratic Club (of which I am past president) will welcome John to our August meeting, as we have done every year since the year he first ran. He will speak for about 30 minutes, then take questions till they run out. The only rule we have is that questions have to be in writing -- that has helped keep the angst down, usually.

    So -- others may be running and hiding. John is out and meeting his constituents, whether Dem or Not-Dem.

    And that's one of the many reasons he will hold this seat as long as he wants it.

    Bruce in Louisville
    Visit me at

    Follow me on Twitter: @brucewriter

    by bmaples on Tue Aug 23, 2011 at 05:57:20 PM PDT

    •  Congressman Awesome? (0+ / 0-)

      Do you mean his political views, his constituent service (which may be superlative and given without bias) or snark?  

      "Politics should be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage." -- Lucille Ball

      by Yamaneko2 on Tue Aug 23, 2011 at 06:01:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not snark at all (0+ / 0-)

        John is a proud and unabashed liberal, just as he was all the years he published our local indie paper. I've known and worked with him for some time, and he is one of the best congress-folk we have. And, his local office is also very good.

        The tag of "Congressman Awesome" actually came from some local bloggers, and it has stuck. He is loved by most everyone on the left, and respected by most everyone across the board.

        Bruce in Louisville
        Visit me at

        Follow me on Twitter: @brucewriter

        by bmaples on Tue Aug 23, 2011 at 09:34:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  G.O.P. Reps in conservative Eastern Washington (0+ / 0-)

    are avoiding their rural constituents like they were members of Code Pink.

    Plutocracy too long tolerated leaves democracy on the auction block, subject to the highest bidder ~ BILL MOYERS

    by Lefty Coaster on Tue Aug 23, 2011 at 05:57:29 PM PDT

  •  When the first lawsuit is brought (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    will SCOTUS eventually rule that Congress must face their consituents?

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

    •  Don't see why they would. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Constitution provides for electing officials, but it doesn't have much to say about making those officials listen to anyone once elected. The implied remedy was to simply vote them out again.

      In this case, I think both parties aren't too eager to hear from their constituents right now, given that whole issue of them sucking so much. Hence all the representatives having catered lunch appearances: in addition to collecting a small bit of money, people are probably a lot less likely to yell at you if they've got their mouths stuffed full of potato salad.

  •  So, what's congress rated at these days? (0+ / 0-)

    Last I saw...they were rated 83% unacceptable...17% acceptable.  And, that's not party-specific.  

    If I'm a congresscritter...I'm not EVEN thinkin' about holding a town hall meeting.  The whole freakin' world is against them.  And, rightly so.

    - If you don't like gay marriage, blame straight people. They're the ones who keep having gay babies.

    by r2did2 on Tue Aug 23, 2011 at 06:09:51 PM PDT

  •  I think of Feingold going to every county (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    divineorder, buckeye74

    every year...I think of him giving back a campaign donation at one of his listening sessions and telling the person they couldn't do that he's out and we have cretins like this instead.  I could weep.

    (I know he was Senate and this is House - I'm just comparing integrity, or lack thereof)

  •  people are pissed off... (0+ / 0-)

    Obama is at 38% of adults in gallup?thats not registered or likely?if thats true he is in worse shape than I thought.Bush territory although I dont recall Bush being at 38% in his first term.

  •  Henry Waxman in CA Won't See Me (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    He "doesn't have room in his schedule".  It's the first time I tried to see a congresscritter.  I'm going to write a letter to the editor of the L.A. Times and hope it gets printed.  I don't know what else to do.

  •  Top story (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    at the moment.

  •  Oh how I miss Joe Sestak (7th Dist., PA) (0+ / 0-)

    He ran several town meetings on health care reform with aplomb, never let the crazies get out of control and listened to every last constituent even when it took more than three hours and he was clearly exhausted. And his opponents got very little if anything from those meetings to use in their campaign ads. It can be done and voters can go away feeling like they've been heard.  If only the current crop had his class. I'm still in mourning.

  •  Needs more Tarantino (0+ / 0-)
    For $15 you can see Paul Ryan, but for $200, you can throw three balls at a dunk tank with him inside.

    How much to come over with a pair of pliers and a blowtorch, and get Medieval on him?

    I'm sure his Medicare voucher will cover any resulting costs.

  •  How much (0+ / 0-)

    How much would it cost to punch him in the neck?

  •  Chuck Fleischmann (R) TN-3 (0+ / 0-)

    has scheduled our Town Hall on Signal Mountain for Friday, Sept. 2nd at 4pm.  This is the time everyone is going away for the Labor Day holiday.  How perfect of him.  How cowardly.

  •  My Congressman! Peter DeFazio-- (0+ / 0-)

    held his 11th Town Hall--of 14 scheduled for this August--last night, in Roseburg.
    Oregon is so fortunate to have him.
    He was just as informed, articulate, and principled last night as he was under the barrage of abuse that he endured during the healthcare reform nastiness.
    I'm proud of him. I don't always agree with him, but he is a mensch!
    And most of the crowd last night was supportive; and nearly all were respectful. There were some guano-insane rumors Peter had to dispel, and one nasty guy walked out in a huff, but otherwise it was pretty tame.

    Dear Ayn Rand fans: Please, would each of you just go all John Galt, immediately? Thank you.

    by CitizenJoe on Wed Aug 24, 2011 at 06:27:23 AM PDT

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