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Follow Your Congressional Reps on Social Media

Are you active on social media, even a little bit? Are you thinking about signing on?

Please follow the pages and accounts of your Congressional representatives.

Pull up the web pages of your three Congressional reps–your two senators and your house rep. Social media platform logos tend to show up at the top of the home page or the bottom. If they’re not there, try the Contact page.

Most members of Congress are on Facebook and Twitter. If they’re on other platforms and you want to follow them there, go right ahead. But don’t feel like you must follow them on every platform. Do what makes sense for you.

If any of your reps are not on social media, or aren’t on the platform you like best, call their offices and ask them to join. You can bet there’s an intern or entry-level staffer who’s been chewing the rep’s ear off, trying to make their case. If enough constituents call to ask them to get on social media, or on a specific platform, that might change their minds.

Following your reps on social media is worth it. It keeps you up to date on what they’re saying and doing, and lets you know when they might appear at an event happening near you. It lets you show your support for them. And it helps move toward a world in which members of Congress take messages that arrive through social media as seriously as requests that come over the phone or through postal mail.

But don’t forget that for now (early 2017), social media is the least effective way to speak to your reps. If you need to ask your members of Congress to do something, use the phone. Do not use social media. Your message will not get through to them.

If you’re not on social media at all, consider signing up to follow your reps. You can have a private account on Twitter, and you can keep strict privacy settings on your Facebook page.

If you’re not on social media at all and have no wish to be, sign up for their e-newsletters and postal mailings instead, if you haven’t already. You should be able to do this through their web sites.

 

Escape Your Bubble · Read, Educate Yourself, Prepare

Escape Your Bubble By Joining Stand Up Republic

Escape your bubble by joining Stand Up Republic, an organization founded by former CIA officer Evan McMullin and digital politics wizard Mindy Finn.

McMullin, you might recall, jumped into the 2016 presidential race late, after the Republicans chose Trump as their candidate. Finn was McMullin’s running mate. Despite not getting started until August and their status as a third-party ticket, McMullin and Finn won three-quarters of a million votes.

Since the election ended, McMullin has been an outspoken critic of Trump, so much so that he’s actually gotten under Trump’s skin a few times.

He and Finn have also co-founded Stand Up Republic, an organization devoted to “build[ing] and organiz[ing] a grassroots movement in defense of liberty, equality, and truth in America. Our priorities will be to uphold the Constitution and defend the democratic norms and institutions upon which the protection of our basic rights depend.”

Please check out Stand Up Republic, follow it on social media, and follow its co-founders as well.

Obligatory warning, with apologies for bonking you all on the head about this fact: McMullin and Finn hold at least some different political beliefs than you do. That means they’ll sometimes say things and do things that don’t match your beliefs, and might piss you off well and thoroughly. That’s ok. Really, it’s OK. You’re being asked to look at what they’re doing and support what you like, not endorse every last little everything they do. They understand the danger of Trump–that’s the key thing. One of the reasons this country is so borked right now is we’re fiercely polarized and, in avoiding jerks who disagree with us, we end up avoiding decent people who happen to disagree with us. That’s got to stop if we want to make things better.

 

See the Stand Up Republic site:

https://standuprepublic.com

 

Like it on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/standuprepublic

 

Follow it on Twitter:

@StandUpRepublic

 

Donate to Stand Up Republic:

https://standuprepublic.com/donate

 

Follow Evan McMullin on Twitter:

@Evan_McMullin

 

Follow Mindy Finn on Twitter:

@mindyfinn

 

Read an Op-Ed McMullin wrote for CNN calling for Republicans to stand up to Trump:

http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/28/opinions/conservatives-stop-caving-to-trump-on-liberty-mcmullin/

 

Read a New Yorker profile on McMullin:

http://www.newyorker.com/culture/persons-of-interest/evan-mcmullins-quest-to-save-democracy

 

Read a good Washington Post opinion piece on McMullin:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2017/02/17/evan-mcmullin-and-senate-republicans-go-where-chaffetz-wont/?utm_term=.cadeb68c4ef5

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Thwart a Constitutional Convention by Electing Democrats to State Legislatures

Thwart any plans the Republicans might have to call a Constitutional Convention by helping to elect Democrats to state legislatures–your state’s, and other states. 

You know the importance of electing Democrats at all levels–federal, state, and local. You’ve read our blog posts on state-level legislative elections, and you might have done something to help. But there’s another reason to stay alert to state legislative elections, both in your state and in other states, and work to ensure that Democrats get elected.

The country can call a Constitutional Convention if two-thirds of the states band together and ask for one. Such a convention would allow its members to amend or even rewrite the Constitution.

What’s the problem? In order to call a Constitutional Convention, 34 states would have to  pass bills in their own legislatures to ask for one. A total of 38 states are needed to pass any measures cooked up at the convention.

As of mid-2017, 32 states have Republican-controlled legislatures, and 24 of those states have Republican “trifectas”–Republican governors AND a Republican-controlled legislature. Democrats have only six trifectas, and six more legislatures are split.

Worse, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative think tank, has been steadily working toward changing the state legislative landscape to open the door to a Constitutional Convention. It’s agitating for a balanced budget amendment–which would prevent Congress from passing a budget that increases the national debt.

To lay it out plainly: If a Constitutional Convention happens anytime soon, it will be dominated by Republican-leaning states, and will almost certainly be dominated by measures that reflect Republican and conservative points of view. They could write amendments that bans gay marriage, or abortion. They could augment the second amendment in a dangerous way. Heck, they could rewrite the first amendment to curtail protests. They could get up to all sorts of nasty shenanigans. That’s not to say their amendments will convince 38 states to vote in favor, but still.

You can thwart this in many ways.

First, learn which party, if any, controls your state legislature, and assess the strength or weakness of the party’s control.

If your state is controlled by Democrats, learn how to strengthen the party’s control by increasing their numbers. This might mean spending time or money on electing, re-electing, and defending state candidates who need your help.

If your state splits control between the parties, see what you can do to broaden and boost Democratic control. Again, this might mean spending time or money on electing, re-electing, and defending state candidates who need your help.

If your state is controlled by Republicans, you will want to commit time and money to increasing the number of Democrats, especially if your state has a Republican trifecta.

If you want to help affect legislatures beyond your state, target states with Republican trifectas and do your damnedest to break them.

 

Learn about upcoming state elections through Flippable:

https://www.flippable.org

 

 

 

Read about Constitutional Conventions, the modern pro-convention movement, and what’s at stake:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/10/21/a-constitutional-convention-could-be-the-single-most-dangerous-way-to-fix-american-government/?utm_term=.5eaf6cce9a8e

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/were-surprisingly-close-to-a-new-constitutional-convention-bad-idea/2017/04/06/f6d5b76a-197d-11e7-855e-4824bbb5d748_story.html?utm_term=.bbdac53be324

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2016/01/_liberals_and_conservatives_are_teaming_up_to_call_a_new_constitutional.html

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/wisconsin/articles/2017-05-31/republicans-push-constitutional-convention-measures-forward

http://wuwm.com/post/wisconsin-could-become-30th-state-demand-constitutional-convention#stream/0

 

Check this Wikipedia page to see which party, if any, controls your state legislature:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_state_legislatures

 

Read about how Republicans now control many state legislatures:

https://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/barbara-hollingsworth/after-winning-7-more-seats-gop-dominance-state-legislatures-all

 

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Learn from How Italians Ultimately Defeated Silvio Berlusconi

 

Trump has been likened to Hitler, Mussolini, and other 20th-century autocrats, but his closest analog is Silvio Berlusconi, the blustering, womanizing media mogul who served as Italy’s prime minister from 1994 to 2001.

In this November 2016 New York Times op-ed, Luigi Zingales shows us how to avoid the mistakes of Berlusconi opponents, which had the effect of prolonging his grip on power.

The key point to remember:

Attack what Trump does, not who he is. Yes, he’s morally bankrupt. Yes, he’s an awful human being. Yes, he’s unbelievably ignorant. Yes, his view of women is horrific. Yes, his twitter-squawkings are insane. Yes, he looks goddamn ridiculous.

If you need to complain about things like that, vent in a private Facebook group, or some other protected space. Empty it from your mind, then go out and shine a light on what he is doing, and explain why what he’s doing is bad.

You need to do it in a way that spotlights the consequences of his actions as president, and not on why Trump, the man, is repugnant. The instant you start attacking his character, you make him sympathetic. It’s not fair, but it’s what it is. The anti-Berlusconi crowd made that mistake and got seven years of his rule. Do you want eight years of Trump? Then lay off.

 

 

Read, Educate Yourself, Prepare

Learn How to Fact-Check in the Age of Trumpism, Thanks to Laura M. Browning

Read Fact-checking in the Age of Trumpism, a concise primer by Laura M. Browning, creator of the One Small Thing newsletter. 

Just after the election ended, much was made of an NPR interview with an admitted purveyor of fake news (by which we mean stories deliberately made up to get clicks and earn ad revenue) who claimed that while right-wing folks swallowed any article that reinforced what they already thought about Hillary Clinton, no matter how ludicrous, left-leaning folks never seemed to fall for fake news focused on Trump.

Specifically, he said: “We’ve tried to do similar things to liberals. It just has never worked, it never takes off. You’ll get debunked within the first two comments and then the whole thing just kind of fizzles out.”

What’s our point? Don’t get cocky. You might have rudimentary skills for spotting and rejecting fake news, but you’re vulnerable to believing things you’d like to be true, but aren’t. You need to hone and maintain your bullshit detector if you want it to work properly.

Laura M. Browning, she of the One Small Thing newsletter, wrote Fact-checking in the Age of Trumpism for a January presentation about how to spot and avoid fake news. It’s not about fact-checking Trump or your MAGA-spouting uncle. It’s about controlling and cultivating your news feed and keeping it free of garbage.

Also, pay special attention to the paragraph about checking your emotions. Does this news flatter your worldview? That’s all the more reason to kick it, pinch it, and generally jump up and down on it to make sure it’s solid before you retweet and repost it and tell friends about it.

Browning’s primer is the difference between eating a free fish lunch and learning to fish. It’s a must-read any day of the year, and doubly so on April Fool’s Day.

 

Read Fact-checking in the Age of Trumpism:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1E0m6GEQwwTnOk3-mWrC6zZs60wDJBh9IH-yfpl3TRvM/edit#

 

Sign up for Browning’s newsletter, One Small Thing:

http://tinyletter.com/onesmallthing

 

Follow Browning on Twitter:

@ellembee

 

Read that NPR interview with the creator of fake news who claimed that left-leaning readers were harder to trick:

http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2016/11/23/503146770/npr-finds-the-head-of-a-covert-fake-news-operation-in-the-suburbs

 

And for the sake of it, here’s a link to Snopes:

http://www.snopes.com

 

…and a link to Politifact. Browning recommends both sites for fact-checking:

http://www.politifact.com

Community Activism · Elections · Escape Your Bubble · Read, Educate Yourself, Prepare · Stand Up for Civilization · Stand Up for Norms

Removing Trump Is Not Enough

Just sayin’. Your work is not done when Trump is. We have to remove all the elected Republicans who installed him as a candidate, and all the Republicans who have placed country over party. 

If you learn nothing else from the Trump crisis, learn this: Democracy is fragile, and it needs you to make it work. Yes, you personally. The price of gaining a voice is gaining the responsibility to use it.

Trump will go, but you must not. He is the fetid product of decades of political rot promulgated and abetted by the leaders of the Republican party.

In order for democracy to work in America, we need at least two functional parties. Given the difficulty of launching a viable party in this country, we’re more likely to be stuck with the Republicans for a while yet. A malfunctioning heap of smoking rubble beats a shiny new political machine if the heap of rubble has name recognition and familiar infrastructure.

Trump is not the sole problem. Every Republican who assented to choosing Trump as its candidate is part of the problem, as is every Republican who side-steps rules and norms if they get in the way of what the party wants.

That said, not every Republican did those things, but too many did. Even after Trump is removed, we have to work to elect Republicans who respect facts and reality rather than making up their own versions and trying to group-think them into being.

 

The types of Republicans who have to go include:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who broke the rules by refusing to give Merrick Garland a hearing as a Supreme Court nominee when Obama was president, and pushed through a far-right candidate, Neil Gorsuch, under Trump. McConnell made up a bullshit excuse about presidents not getting to choose SCOTUS candidates in the last years of their terms to bar Garland, and later refused to entertain the notion that perhaps Trump’s pick shouldn’t get consideration while he was under investigation by the FBI–a far more serious set of circumstances.

McConnell also stopped Obama from going public about the Trump-Russia revelations in 2016 in a bipartisan way, and he threatened to accuse Obama of playing politics if he tried. Anyone who radiates that much bad faith shouldn’t hold elected office at all, never mind lead the Senate.

 

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who has demonstrated his lack of spine on multiple occasions. He has consistently pushed back against calls to investigate the scandals arising from Trump’s Russia scandals, and has downplayed other oddities that would have him screaming bloody murder had they been done by Democrats.

A regrettably routine example of his spinelessness appeared after Greg Gianforte won the special election for Montana’s open house seat the day after he body-slammed a reporter. Ryan decried the violence and called on Gianforte to apologize but said he would still seat him in good faith: “If he wins, he has been chosen by the people of Montana who their congressman is going to be. I’m going to let the people of Montana decide who they want as their representative.”

Not seating a guy who attacks a reporter who asked him a simple question that he should have expected is a no-brainer. If Gianforte can’t handle the stress of campaigning in Montana, one of our most rural states, how will he handle having mics shoved in his face all day, every day? Ryan should have insisted that he complete some anger-management classes first, at minimum. Failing to enforce norms teaches that it’s OK to body-slam a reporter who’s just doing his job. Not only is that not OK, it eats at the very foundations of our democracy–the first amendment is first for a reason.

 

And speaking of Gianforte, he’s another Republican who has to go–not just because he attacked a reporter, but because he lied about what happened in his official statement. This fact that gets glossed over in recounting the incident, and it’s vitally important that we not lose sight of it. Here, for the record, is the statement Gianforte released:

Bozeman, Mont. — “Tonight, as Greg was giving a separate interview in a private office, The Guardian’s Ben Jacobs entered the office without permission, aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg’s face, and began asking badgering questions. Jacobs was asked to leave. After asking Jacobs to lower the recorder, Jacobs declined. Greg then attempted to grab the phone that was pushed in his face. Jacobs grabbed Greg’s wrist, and spun away from Greg, pushing them both to the ground. It’s unfortunate that this aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene at our campaign volunteer BBQ.” — Shane Scanlon, spokesperson for Greg for Montana.

So, Gianforte didn’t just attack a reporter, his campaign spokesman wildly mischaracterized what happened. Anyone who’s heard the audio or read the account from the Fox news crew who saw the attack knows this statement is blatantly at odds with reality. Any candidate who lies in this manner about something so critical, knowing there are witnesses to his behavior (it’s not clear if Gianforte and his team were aware of the audio recording), is unfit for high office.

 

Yet another Republican who needs to go is Mick Mulvaney, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, for defending a $2 trillion error in the FY2018 and expressing confidence in the flagrantly borked numbers.

It’s no secret that the Republicans crave tax cuts for the rich like vampires crave blood, but they’ve never resorted to alternative math on quite this big a scale before. Embracing a $2 trillion error on top of math that was already a fantasy (the budget assumed a three percent growth rate, which economists say just doesn’t happen) shows that too many Republicans are just not serious-minded enough to handle the hard, tedious, unglamorous work of governing.

 

Electing Democrats is not enough. We have to work to elect sane Republicans as well. Republicans such as John McCain and Mitt Romney.

We heard that groan, and we feel you. But! We won’t be able to elect a Congress of 100 percent Democrats–not gonna happen, ever. Sorry. And sitting aside bemusedly, election after election, as sane Republicans got knocked out in primaries by mendacious loony-cuckoopants Republicans helped get us into this mess.

To be clear: sane Republicans are Republicans who you don’t agree with on much, or at all, but who act like grownups nonetheless.

They are people who would never pull the shit that McConnell did. They are people who would react far more strongly to Gianforte’s transgressions than Ryan did. They are people who would seek tax cuts through talking to the whole Congress and making their case, not by waiting till they have a majority and putting out budget numbers that are so wrong and unworkable as to be insulting.

As much as it might pain you, you need to be alert to the sane Republicans in your midst, and you need to support them with time and money. Please think about it.

 

Read about how McConnell blocked Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland, and how Trump thanked him subsequently for his efforts:

http://www.npr.org/2016/03/16/470664561/mcconnell-blocking-supreme-court-nomination-about-a-principle-not-a-person

http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/04/trump-thanks-mcconnell-for-all-that-he-did-to-ruin-merrick-garland

 

Read about how McConnell tanked Obama’s effort to get a bi-partisan admission of Russian interference while the 2016 campaign was still live:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/obama-orders-review-of-russian-hacking-during-presidential-campaign/2016/12/09/31d6b300-be2a-11e6-94ac-3d324840106c_story.html?utm_term=.763c3e1ce37c

 

Read about how Ryan said he would seat Greg Gianforte even though he assaulted a reporter:

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/paul-ryan-signals-he-would-still-seat-greg-gianforte-if-he-wins-special-election/

 

Read reactions to Gianforte’s attack:

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/5/25/15689924/greg-gianforte-defense-assault

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2017/may/25/parsing-statement-montana-politician-who-allegedly/

http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/25/politics/greg-gianforte-statement-defense/

 

Read about the $2 trillion budget error and Mulvaney’s admission that it’s an error, and he nonetheless stands by the numbers:

http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/05/trumps-entire-budget-is-based-on-a-2-trillion-accounting-trick

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/05/mick-mulvaney-tried-to-explain-math-error-in-trump-budget.html

Ethics · Read, Educate Yourself, Prepare · Russian Scandal, Emoluments Clause · Stand Up for Civilization · Stand Up for Norms

Follow Richard W. Painter and Norm Eisen on Twitter

Follow Richard W. Painter and Norm Eisen on Twitter–two former White House ethics lawyers who have been explaining Trump’s violations in real time since the election.

Richard W. Painter was the chief White House ethics lawyer under George W. Bush from 2005 to 2007. Norm Eisen played the same role for Barack Obama from 2009 to 2011. Both are involved with Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a nonprofit founded in 2003. CREW is the entity that filed suit against Trump the first instant they could for contravening the emoluments clause of the Constitution.

Both men have spoken out, consistently and speedily, on the many and varied ethics violations accrued by Trump since November 8, 2016. Both have since become active on Twitter (Eisen already was; Painter brought himself up to speed).

Following their feeds will by turns outrage you and keep you sane, in that you will see professional ethicists confirm that what Trump just did was indeed wrong and worth being angry about.

Follow Richard W. Painter on Twitter:

@RWPUSA

Follow Norm Eisen on Twitter:

@NormEisen

And heck, follow CREW on Twitter too:

@CREWcrew