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In ur base stealin ur constituents


I believe Andy Slavitt, former Acting Administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, was the first to offer to hold town halls in areas where the GOP feared to tread (or anywhere else, for that matter). Sean Maloney (D-NY) has taken that idea one giant step beyond.

On Monday evening, about 500 residents of New York’s 19th Congressional District gathered at a wedding venue near the Hudson River to ask a local congressman about the American Health Care Act. But the congressman holding the town hall wasn’t the area’s newly elected representative, Republican John Faso, who had voted for the bill. Instead, they heard from Democrat Sean Patrick Maloney, who represents a neighboring district.

Members of Congress don’t often invade each other’s turf without an invitation—and Faso had most certainly not invited his colleague—but Maloney told the attendees he hoped to start a trend. “Let’s just imagine for a minute if in every district in this country where a member of Congress voted for this terrible health care bill [and] they won’t hold a town hall meeting, what if somebody else adopted that district?” he said. “Might be a Democrat! And [then] went in and did what we’re doing doing tonight. What do you think? We can adopt a district anywhere.”

It was a gloves-off affair from there. “He may be upset that I’m in his district, but I will just point out that he is not,” Maloney joked, noting that Faso was at a fundraiser in Albany. “I mean, they say nature abhors a vacuum, right?” Before Maloney began taking questions, he asked attendees to take out their phones and send a mass of tweets to Faso about the town hall. Maloney even brought an empty chair—just in case, he said, Faso decided to show up after all.

“This guy should not be on some milk carton—he’s your congressman,” Maloney said. “He should be here.”

Oh. Yes.

Of course, Maloney can’t really steal Frightened Faso’s constituents. All he can do is show up when Faso won’t, answer their questions, dunk on Faso a few times, be the politician who answered their questions when Faso wouldn’t, and – this is something I don’t think elected Republicans could do if they tried – show empathy and kindness to people who are frightened. And dunk on Faso a few more times.

If Faso is intelligent – it isn’t completely impossible – he should be wondering how people will react when the nice person who talked to them about health care shows up with a Democratic challenger who is gunning for his seat.

Even better, our Democrats is learning.

Maloney’s stunt may indeed mark the beginning of a trend. On Tuesday evening, Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) followed suit, appearing at a Tucson high school for a “Rally to Stop Trumpcare” in a district represented by one of its supporters, Republican Martha McSally. Unlike Maloney’s event, which he attended as part of his official duties, Gallego’s town hall was sponsored by the Arizona Democratic Party and more closely resembled a campaign function. McSally, who was not seriously opposed in 2016, is one of 14 Republican “yes” votes in districts won by Hillary Clinton.

Wisconsin Democrat Mark Pocan has planned a town hall in House Speaker Paul Ryan’s district.

*Eating popcorn gif*

It’s hard to imagine how Repubs might effectively counter this move. They don’t want to attend town halls in their own districts. They sure as hell don’t want Democrats attending town halls on their behalf. I guess they could hire actors, since that seems to work for the Trumpenfuher.

In the meantime, inviting a Democratic member of Congress to a town hall gives Democratic voters in red districts a way to protest and troll their Congressperson at the same time. Slavitt would be happy to come as well.

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  • Dennis Orphen

    This is a brilliant way to begin building something new on the burnt corpse of the old, the only way we can go foreward and rebuild. New and alternative shadow institutions, methodologies and norms must be created to replace the corrupted, decaying, dying and dead old.

  • Jordan

    This clearly violates standard norms of propriety and respect that congressMEN should show each other.

    • Mellano

      I hope more people express this sentiment in earnest, and that each time the Democrats offer Mark Pocan’s response:

      When asked if there was some disrespect meant in doing this, Rep. Pocan replied: “I think it’s disrespectful to drop 24 million people from having health insurance coverage.”

      • econoclast

        I never heard of Mark Pocan before this second, but right now I love him more than I love my own family.

        • dn

          Pocan is my rep (Tammy Baldwin’s old House seat) and I’ve been extremely pleased with him. He also took part in John Lewis’s gun control sit-in last year.

    • Hogan

      I believe it was Tom DeLay who said “There are no rules in a knife fight.”

      • twbb

        If Democrats have finally gotten that lesson drilled into their stupid Democratic heads then awesome.

  • Jackson87

    I’m pretty sure Cokie will be clutching pearls at how unseemly this is.

  • Sebastian_h

    This seems like a brilliant idea.

  • Hells Littlest Angel

    Brilliant. Yes. It’s particularly delicious that there’s not a thing Republicans can do about it.

    • Nobdy

      They’re all in on voter suppression. That’s basically their only move other than widespread lying and bigotry at this point.

      If that dam ever breaks for them they’re utterly and probably permanently fucked.

      • keta

        Republicans are like cockroaches, virtually impossible to exterminate.

    • Redwood Rhiadra

      Actually, there’s a very simple counter-tactic. Mobilizing their own supporters to flood the meeting and harass the guy from the neighboring district until he has to leave. There will be no shortage – these districts are by definition hostile territory for the Democrats.

      This is really the sort of stunt that works a couple of times at best.

    • Richard Gadsden

      Create formal House rules banning it and then suspend House members who persist.

  • Kubricks Rube

    Gerrymeandering. I love it.

    • keta


    • Pat

      Damn, that’s funny.

  • Phil Koop

    “I guess they could hire actors, since that seems to work for the Trumpenfuher.”

    I am reminded of an anecdote related by Detlev Peukert in his book Inside Nazi Germany, of

    … a rhyme that was circulating in the Ruhr. It referred to the rally held in the Berlin Sports Palace … where a specially selected audience, in response to Goebbels repeated question, ‘Do you want total war?’, had fanatically roared back ‘Yes’. The rhyme was addressed to the English bomber pilots …

    Lieber Tommy, fliege weiter,
    wir sind alle Bergarbeiter,
    fliege weiter nach Berlin,
    die haben alle ‘Ja’ geschrein.

    Richard Deveson translates this (rather freely to my eye, but with good sense and excellent English idiom) as:

    Tommy, please don’t drop that bomb,
    All we are is miners, Tom.
    Berlin’s where you want to drop it,
    They said ‘Yes’, so let them cop it.

  • Nobdy

    This is a great idea. The natural extension, of course, is for, next year, the candidate running against Faso to hold town halls as well. At the very least if Maloney is establishing a presence in the district he can be an important advocate and ally for that candidate and help them campaign.

    He actually can, in fact, effectively steal Faso’s constituents by gaining their loyalty and then acting as an advocate for Faso’s opponent.

    Now is the perfect time for Democrats to make inroads into Republican strongholds. Trump is very unpopular and congress is publicly and obviously feckless and evil. Constituents put off by Faso’s cowardice and cruelty should be shown what a decent rep looks like. And then told to vote for someone decent in 2018.

  • Scotius

    This is brilliant and fair play to Congressman Maloney. My only concern would be if Republicans were to send agents provocateurs to stir trouble in the crowds.

  • sleepyirv

    Great idea. I would add something though; have district Democrats on stage, who can tell people how to get involve in local races and events.

  • Gregor Sansa

    This would be the perfect place to link to one of my all-time favorite blog comment threads, in which a highly-literate commentariat posted mashups of classic poetry with internet memes. The highpoint of the utterly epic thread was a version of a classic renaissance ballade from the point of view of death, where the last-line refrain in each stanza was “I’m in ur base killing ur doods”.

    Alas, my combined memory and google fu is not up to finding it. Can anybody else here help me?

    • Hogan

      I remember it well. Occasional commenter ajay putting up one for the ages.

      Oh hell, I can’t just link:

      LOLcat for the Makers
      John Dunbar (c. 1500)

      I that in heill wes and gladnes
      Am trublit now with great sicknes
      My sicklie stait is no surprise:

      Death sovran is of all the tubez,
      Of rich, of poor, of l33t, of n00bz;
      No mortal shal escaip his eyis:

      Al flesh is dust; we are but bones;
      Baith knight and maid he freely pwns;
      Against his glanse brooks no disguyse;

      He draws al to his dark bucket;
      Whoe’er ye be, ye’re surely f***kit;
      The Walrus wil not sympathise;

      Our base are al belong to Death
      And have done since our natal breath
      (This point I’d like to emphasise):

      The Lovecraft/Winnie the Pooh mashups are also worth a look.

      • Hogan

        Never mind–Cthulpooh must be in another thread.

        • Hogan
          • Gregor Sansa

            This is as good a place as any for this:

            Early each day onto twitter dot com
            The little-hands turdblossom logs
            In his own special way he will make you facepalm:
            As he rants, insults, and demagogues.

            Come read my little turds, pathetic peons
            I’ll call people Sad! who don’t read.
            Your young ones are hungry, here’s who you blame on.
            Slurp up hashtag Trump/Pence’s feed.

            Read my turds, Trump/Pence’s hashtag,
            Trump/Pence, Trump/Pence, Trump/Pence’s hashtag

            “Read those turds,” that’s what he rants
            While tiny fingers pull up his pants.

            All inside of the beltway, the press and the pundits
            Add grammar, and sense, and goals.
            A child could see it, the madness abundant,
            But they can’t just call him asshole.

            Though his words are unhinged and crazed
            Follow, retweet; he goes on unfazed:
            “Read my turds, Trump/Pence’s hashtag
            Trump/Pence, Trump/Pence, Trump/Pence’s hashtag

            Though his words are unhinged and crazed
            Follow, retweet; he goes on unfazed:
            “Read my turds, Trump/Pence’s hashtag
            Trump/Pence, Trump/Pence, Trump/Pence’s hashtag

      • Gregor Sansa

        Thank you. Entirely as luminous as I remembered. I didn’t remember at all my own contribution to that thread which was decidedly second rate (based on Atwood’s “Up In A Tree”).

      • Hogan
      • keta

        That is delicious. Thanks for this…and kudos to ajay.

      • sibusisodan

        Oh my. That’s wonderful.

        Plus, Dante’s Inferno Interactive Fiction!

  • redbike

    I’m not defending Faso (he promoted the Tonawanda Shonda in the house-passed healthcare legislation), but it’s worth noting: unlike some other congresscritters, Faso’s not been hiding. This includes being available for questions in less-than-friendly settings, e.g.: a call-in show on WAMC. Some of his constituents like the health care bill’s Five-Finger-Lake Discount.

    But yes, politics ain’t beanbag, and this is a great tactic to deploy.

    • Nobdy

      Faso isn’t the point. He’s bad. It doesn’t really matter how bad. Democratic strategy is the point.

      Faso would be defensible if he were voting against Trump’s agenda but he’s not.

      • JDM

        The whole “Not as bad as Hitler”, “Not as bad as the Civil War” thing the Republicans are doing seems tailor made for Democratic campaigning. Seems to me the lowest the bar should go is “not bad”.

      • mojrim

        I agree with but one caveat. This is not Trump’s agenda, hsi is entirely about selling golf properties, pumping up his brand, and getting sweetheart deals from foreign governments. This is the same Ryan/Priebus/R-donor class agenda that has been in place for nearly a decade.

        Which is why things like this are so important. Impeaching Trump just puts Pence in the oval office, which would be far worse because the many actually knows how to operate the levers of the state. Denying the GOP a majority in the legislature is the only real path at this point.

        • Nobdy

          This is kind of a distinction without a difference. I call it the Trump agenda mostly to brand Republicanism as Trumpism because Trump is a brand that is becoming more and more toxic. He needs to be tied around every Republican’s neck for a generation.

          • cleter

            For that reason people should be referring to all the scandals as Trump-Pence scandals. Trump-Pence ties to Russia. The corrupt Trump-Pence administration. Don’t let Pence skate. He’s not a clean alternative to Trump, he’s fruit from the same poisoned tree.

            • mojrim

              It’s important in deciding what to do and to whom we should do it. For branding, he’s got a point, and “Trumpism” has a nice ring. My concern is that, once he’s gone to history’s dustbin, we’ll be left with the same folks in congress and no simple moniker for them.

      • redbike

        I said in my initial comment “I’m not defending Faso…” and I’m still not.

        And as to using “not bad” as a standard, realize: many of Faso’s constituents regard the Tonawanda Shonda as “not bad”: it holds out the hope (maybe illusory) of lowering their property taxes.

        I’m still not defending Faso. I’m glad to see a tactic deployed that may have caused him unease. But missing from the Kingston gathering was a credible opponent. You can’t beat somebody with nobody.

        • Nobdy

          Building the Democratic brand is a good in and of itself. People are voting straight party tickets more than ever. It would be better to bring a strong candidate but if the republicans have shown ANYTHING it is that you can, in fact, beat somebody with a TBD.

          • randy khan

            Exactly. There’s no need to wait for a candidate to build the brand. And, while it’s good to identify candidates as early as possible, it’s hardly too late to do that.

    • Sly

      His constituents probably don’t like the fact that all New York State residents are ineligible for Federal tax credits to buy insurance policies because (a) the AHCA prevents those credits from being used to pay for any insurance policy that covers abortion and (b) all insurance policies sold in New York are required by state law to cover abortions without charging additional out-of-pocket costs.

      Then again, the overwhelming majority of them probably don’t know that because the NY Republican House Delegation, with the exception of Dan Donovan (who voted against it precisely for this reason), haven’t exactly been advertising this neat little feature.

      • Trump’s little buddy Chris Collins (R-NY) is either a great actor or actually was surprised by that fact when asked about it on one of the talking head shows. I hope nobody lets him forget it.

    • twbb

      Well I would certainly not want to be unsporting when going against the people who are trying to kill millions of Americans in exchange for tax cuts for the wealthy while trying to destroy America.

  • twbb

    “Even better, our Democrats is learning”

    I understand those words individually but not when put in that order.

  • Shakezula, I worship to wherever I stumble across your posts. That is all.

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