True lies from the opposition

I haven’t written much about Indivisible of late because they’re continuing their predictable slide into grifter status, perpetually begging for money from the unwashed but certainly collecting their real cash from the same monied interests that keep the entire political Left afloat.

That support is a subject surely to be avoided by an initiative I was alerted to a few weeks back that they portrayed as a “truth brigade.” Get a load of this:

Big news! We recently publicly launched a massive volunteer program to counter right-wing disinformation: the Truth Brigade. You may have seen this campaign featured in the Washington PostForbes, and other outlets — we’ve been running a pilot program for several months that has already engaged 4,750 people, driving posts that together generated over 82 million impressions on social media.

Now, because the stakes are so high, we’re taking this plan public and expanding even further, as the right wing continues their crusade to poison the discourse and undermine our democracy…

(Pause for fundraising appeal…of course.)

The Truth Brigade is our answer to the right-wing disinformation machine. Research shows that one of the best ways to counter disinformation is through interactions with real people in your network — so thousands of volunteers are getting the training and the tools they need to shift the narratives in their own communities.

We provide resources on best practices, from how to structure messages to understanding how social media amplifies lies. Then, every two weeks, volunteers receive careful explainers about the latest issues and work on a campaign tailored to push back against messaging trends from bad actors. And leaders are constantly evaluating success to build more effective campaigns.

Just like all our work, it’s guided by experts who monitor right-wing circles, follow the spread of disinformation, and build tested tactics to fight back. And it’s powered by real volunteers, channelling (sic) their anger into action to protect our democracy.

Indivisible, “Project Launch: The Truth Brigade,” July 16, 2021.

So do you get it? This “grassroots” group that works from the top down is sending out “careful explainers” (read: misinformation) to “push back against messaging trends” (in other words, the real truth) from “bad actors” (people like us.) In a different era, we would know these people for what they are: useful idiots. And those “experts” are the trolls who “fight back” by regularly invading our political discussions with their tired talking points. (They’re the people I call the “traveling roadshow.”)

And the thing is: most of these local people Indivisible is really targeting – as opposed to those like me who only follow to know what the other side is up to – aren’t bad people, they’re just misguided. (Sort of like the unsaved who live in a worldly manner because they haven’t yet understood the Good News. I’m betting many of them get caught up in the center of that Venn diagram, too.)

On that thought, there is one other passage which sticks out: “channeling their anger into action to protect our democracy.” Setting aside the incorrect assertion that we are a democracy, one needs to question what they are angry about? Are they angry because they aren’t in with the powerful and privileged and seek some Other to rectify the situation? Since it’s not likely those chosen few are going to allow you to join their club without selling your soul in the process, maybe you simply need something to dissipate your anger. All anger seems to do these days is to get people in trouble. As a conservative white male, one would think I have the most to be angry about but I let it roll off me like water off a duck because I know I have a higher purpose and better destination in the end.

So if I were to guess, the real truth is probably a little closer to what I’m telling you than the “careful explainers” that Indivisible is churning out.

But what got this post elevated from something that was still simmering on my back burner as a piece worth barely worth more than an odds and ends mention to actually writing it was this gem from Indivisible yesterday. The sender was Meagan Hatcher-Mays, who I gather is part of their policy team:

Normally we wouldn’t email you twice in one day but we just heard some very important intel on the For the People Act, and with the Senate headed for recess literally any day, it couldn’t wait.

This afternoon, our policy team (that’s me and my colleagues) heard from multiple sources that Delaware’s two senators, Tom Carper and Chris Coons, are both holding out on eliminating or even reforming the filibuster, effectively stalling passage of the For the People Act (S. 1). We’ve known for a while that they were both reluctant to upset the status quo even for important legislation — they’ve been telling Indivisible groups so for a while — but this is the clearest confirmation we’ve heard that they’re willing to put arcane Senate rules over the legislation the American people elected Democrats to pass. 

Having them standing in the way also provides cover for Sens. Manchin (WV) and Sinema (AZ), who can now pretend they aren’t the ones blocking progress. If you’re not part of the solution, Senators, you’re part of the problem. 

Depending on where you live, here’s what we need you to do:

If you live in Delaware, call Senators Coons and Carper at 1-877-684-7760 and tell them you’ve heard information that they’re wavering and it’s time to pick a side: Democracy or the filibuster. Remind them you’re paying attention. (If you want, fill out your information here and we’ll call you with a script and patch you through to their office directly.)

Indivisible, “Important new intel re: Delaware (and the country),”August 6, 2021.

First off, insofar as I know that’s not actually a Senate number. I suspect it’s part of Indivisible’s fundraising efforts. Secondly, maybe they finally figured out I live in Delaware because a lot of their other stuff was targeted more to my previous zip code. (Or maybe they figured I’m close enough.)

But this is a rare time I actually agree with my Senators because they understand the function of the Senate insofar as it’s constituted in the modern day. (If they wanted it to truly function properly, they would call for repeal of the Seventeenth Amendment but we all know that’s not going to happen.) They’ve figured out that the filibuster that may hold them back in this cycle could well be their protection next time when the pendulum swings back.

So perhaps we should call their offices or drop them a line to commend them on that stance in keeping the filibuster. Why let the Indivisible minions have all the fun?

How to really Fix Our Senate

If you know me, you know I’m not much of a TV watcher. But for whatever reason we had our local news on and it morphed into the network news, then back to local news and various other programming that became sort of background noise.

But I noticed a political-style commercial that’s gotten some rotation, and once I saw it for the third time in two hours I decided to dig just a little bit. Turns out it’s a coalition of radical left-wing groups who believe that we could fix our Senate by getting rid of the filibuster – in reality that just puts a razor-thin majority in charge; one that could change at any time based on a sudden vacancy.

As they claim,  “Our highest priority is the elimination of the legislative filibuster, an outdated Senate rule that has been weaponized and abused by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to block overwhelmingly popular legislation supported by a majority of elected senators.” (What’s really popular among voters is photo voter ID, but no one seems to want to adopt that one. Not that it’s a proper federal role, anyway.)

But remember what happened in 2009 once Democrats were finally awarded a filibuster-proof majority that could ram Obamacare and the stimulus through? A month later Ted Kennedy was dead, and five months after that (after more dubious legerdemain from the Massachusetts General Court allowing Kennedy’s interim successor to be placed in office before a special election) that 60-seat majority was no more. I wish no ill will on any Senator, but in theory that Democrat majority is only as good as the health of any of its 48 Senators (plus the 2 “independents” who caucus with them.) Would they still be down with eliminating the filibuster if Joe Manchin decided to switch parties and suddenly Mitch McConnell was placed back in charge? Doubtful – they’d be back to where they were defending the filibuster just a few short years ago.

Being that we have two Democrat Senators here in Delaware (as that’s the state this series of spots seems to be aimed at) it seems like a bit of a waste to urge support unless they know that the people aren’t buying what’s being sold to back the move to eliminate the filibuster, which the FOS group describes as a relic of the last century.

Unlike the House, which has a strict majority rule and has, at times, decided key legislation by just a vote or two, the Senate is portrayed as the deliberative body. Eliminating the filibuster basically puts the Senate in the same role as the House, and that’s not what it was intended for.

But if we were to make a change in the Senate that would bring it even closer to its initial intent, we would take the real progressive step of repealing the Seventeenth Amendment. As envisioned, the Senate would return to representing the interests of the states, which has become more and more important in situations where Arizona wants to audit its election results and Texas wants to build a barrier at their border with Mexico because the federal government isn’t doing its job of border security. Perhaps such a move could hasten the necessary rightsizing of the federal government as well.

Of course, one would suspect this would put much of the electoral industry out of business – especially in a state like Delaware where there are more Senators than House members. But 2022 turns out to be a fallow year in the First State anyway since neither of our Senators is on the ballot, and it would make the local elections much more important as our General Assembly would eventually select the Senators. Imagine the emphasis shifting from a statewide race to races in swing districts around the state – districts that may see changes thanks to the new role the legislators would adopt.

Would that have an effect on the composition of the Senate? Of course, but not by as much as one might believe. At this point in time, there are 30 states where the legislature is Republican, 18 where it’s Democrat, and one mixed. (Nebraska is nonpartisan, but would likely lean GOP.) So eventually the GOP would get some degree of control, but in 2022 they would only gain three seats and it’s likely they would have done so anyway. (Mark Kelly in Arizona, Raphael Warnock in Georgia, and Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire are Democrats representing states that have GOP-c0ntrolled legislatures. Two of the three won special elections in 2020.) Make this an issue in state races and there could be states where Republicans lose control of the legislature.

Because the other side sees the Constitution as a hindrance and not a North Star of guidance, I probably have a better chance of hitting the jab lottery than seeing change like the one I propose. But it’s a change we need to bring government back to its proper place. After all, if one state screws up we have 49 others to take up the slack, but when Uncle Sam makes the mistake we all pay.

There’s nothing wrong with the system that repealing the Seventeenth can’t fix, but once the filibuster is gone, well, so is our republic.

Thoughts on #StandWithRand

I’ll admit it: last night I stayed up until almost 1 in the morning to the point where Rand Paul’s filibuster of CIA Director nominee John Brennan finally came to a close after 13 hours. That’s a lot of standing around and a study in endurance, and as one observer noted was all about policy – no one was reading out of a phone book.

It’s the longest filibuster since the civil rights era, but the important difference between Paul’s effort and the 24-plus hours Strom Thurmond held court was that there was no live television coverage of the Senate at the time. Back then, there were plans if need be to set up a bucket in an adjacent room for Thurmond, who spoke for practically the entire 24-hour period. This wasn’t the case last night, as several other Senators were yielded time to ask questions or otherwise pontificate on the subject while Paul held the floor.

But I came home and read today the Senate had indeed confirmed Brennan as CIA head, and as far as I know there was no answer provided by the White House on the drone question. Now perhaps that silence speaks volumes enough, but if you consider what the aim of the filibuster was I’m not sure it can be considered anything but a failure in the immediate aftermath.

Then again, Strom Thurmond had a pretty lengthy career in the Senate after his long-winded soliloquy so we don’t know what the future might bring for Rand Paul. Could he have vaulted himself into the 2016 Presidential race with this performance? A run for the Oval Office would mean Paul would likely have to give up his Senate seat; then again, Republicans and conservatives have rarely been as inspired as they were last night since the early Sarah Palin days and the eventual rise of the TEA Party. It may be a gamble worth taking, although liberals will surely try to equate father and son in that race just as they did the Bushes.

Again, though, I have to ponder the idea that I stayed up until nearly one in the morning to see how it came out. When was the last time a riveting political event (aside from an election) took place at that late hour? They don’t even do document dumps that time of night.

Update: This is what happens when you’re out of the loop during the day, as I was yesterday. An e-mail from the TEA Party Patriots quotes Attorney General Eric Holder as saying, “It has come to my attention that you have now asked an additional question: ‘Does the President have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil.’ The answer to that question is no.” This is based on a Fox News story from Thursday.