News Roundup for 7/31/09

Angry mob from 'Simpsons' movie
Typical town hall meeting

-Headline of the day-
"Town halls gone wild."

Democratic congress members going back to their districts are finding that their listening sessions and town hall meetings are being dominated by angry wingnuts. According to the report, "On the eve of the August recess, members are reporting meetings that have gone terribly awry, marked by angry, sign-carrying mobs and disruptive behavior. In at least one case, a congressman has stopped holding town hall events because the situation has spiraled so far out of control."

That congressman is New York Democrat Rep. Tim Bishop. "I had felt they would be pointless," Bishop told Politico. "There is no point in meeting with my constituents and [to] listen to them and have them listen to you if what is basically an unruly mob prevents you from having an intelligent conversation." Bishop's decision to end the town halls "came on the heels of a June 22 event he held in Setauket," when the wingnuts got so nasty that "police were called in to escort the 59-year-old Democrat -- who has held more than 100 town hall meetings since he was elected in 2002 -- to his car safely."

While dems seem to be bearing the brunt of the nutbag assault on reasoned discussion, Republicans are feeling a little battered as well. Birthers and teabaggers are dominating their meetings too. And it's probably hurting the Republicans more than the Democrats.

"It's a risk that [Republicans] align themselves with such a small minority in the party," said Brian Smoot, who served as political director at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in the past election cycle. "They risk alienating moderates."

Risk it? Dude, that ship has sailed. New polling shows that 28% of Republicans think Obama's an illegal alien and another 30% think that 28% might have a valid point. When almost 60% of your party's voters are demonstrably squirrelly, I think attracting middle-of-the-road types isn't really all that realistic.

But hey, if you guys want to turn every event you show up at into a circus freak show, you go right ahead. That big smoking hole in your clown shoe's from your own gun. Just try not to actually kill anyone, OK? (Politico)

-Cartoon time with Mark Fiore-
Hey kids, got a big problem you need to solve? Well, if you're a kid, you're pretty much screwed, but if you're an adult then there's "Beerplomacy!"

Click for animation

Seriously though... I love you man... Hey, is your sister seeing anyone?... *hic*... cuz she's hot...

You gonna eat those nachos?... (MarkFiore.com)

-The fake people demographic-
Last month, freshman Rep. Tom Perriello -- a Democrat in a red-leaning district -- was faced with a tough decision; would he vote for the climate bill then moving through congress? According to the report, "As he was weighing the issue, he got a letter from a non-profit group in his district that focuses on issues of importance to Hispanics. The letter urged Perriello to oppose the bill because it could raise low-income members' utility bills. 'Many of our members are on tight budgets and the sizes of their monthly utility bills are important expense items,' it read in part."

Turns out, the letter didn't come from the non-profit it said it did, it came from the DC lobbying firm Bonner and Associates. "They stole our name. They stole our logo. They created a position title and made up the name of someone to fill it. They forged a letter and sent it to our congressman without our authorization," said Tim Freilich, who sits on the executive committee of Creciendo Juntos, a nonprofit network that tackles issues related to Charlottesville's Hispanic community. "It's this type of activity that undermines Americans' faith in democracy."

Since discovering this forgery, Perriello has turned up five more fake letters. These were supposedly from the local NAACP.

In 1994, the Washington Post reported that "if you’ve got the money and need some 'regular people' to flog your issue, Bonner will find them for you."

Or just pull them out of their ass, I guess.

Bonner says it fired the employee responsible, but the firm has a long history of dirty tricks. They also won't say who hired them to lobby Perriello. "Something tells us Periello wasn't the only wavering Democrat who got that fake letter," writes Zachary Roth. "And there's more to this story that's going to get shaken loose sooner or later..." On the bright side, the trick didn't work. Rep. Tom voted for the bill.

If you're wondering why this isn't totally illegal, welcome to the club. Seriously, WTF? If the NAACP and Creciendo Juntos doesn't at least sue the pants off Bonner and Associates, then they're just not thinking straight. I mean, Bonner's just plain stealing whatever influence they have with Perriello and ripping off their membership's dues.

Really? That's not illegal? (Talking Points Memo)

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