House GOP votes to gut independent ethics office
January 3, 2017 1:36 AM   Subscribe

House Republicans voted in a closed-door meeting Monday night to strip the independent Office of Congressional Ethics of its powers to speak publicly, report crimes, get anonymous tips, and act independently. If this amendment is passed, the Office will now be under the control of the House Ethics Committee. The Ethics Committee is run by members of the House, the body that the Office was intended to investigate.

Voting in favor included Bob Goodlatte, Blake Farenthold, Peter Roskam, Sam Graves, and Steve Pearce.

Monday's vote was among members of the House Rules Committee. The decision to roll back the Ethics Office was slipped into the rules package which will set up the 115th Congress. The full House will vote on it Tuesday.

In 2010, Goodlatte, who spearheaded Monday's decision, said on Twitter that he would "work to ensure that people’s House is transparent & open. "
posted by Sleeper (343 comments total) 55 users marked this as a favorite
 
Even the most myopic and deluded Republican voters have to see that there is literally no reason to do this except that House Republicans want to be able to get away with committing crimes, right? That this serves absolutely no other purpose?

Who would vote for people like this?
posted by IAmUnaware at 2:03 AM on January 3, 2017 [94 favorites]


I saw this. It really feels like the sort of developing-world strongman government we used to be against.

I wonder how mainstream outlets will find something about Democrats to balance the reporting on this. Or maybe they'll just say something like, "Democrats say this is bad. Republicans disagree. Who is to say who is right? This is NPR."
posted by persona au gratin at 2:06 AM on January 3, 2017 [152 favorites]


Over at LGM Paul Campos had a post on Trump that clarified for me what we're dealing with, a Latin American style Claudillo.
posted by persona au gratin at 2:10 AM on January 3, 2017 [12 favorites]


Meanwhile, reports are coming in from Yorba Linda of a continuous 'chuckling' sound under the lawn behind the presidential library.
posted by quarsan at 2:10 AM on January 3, 2017 [29 favorites]


The police investigation into the shooting revealed no wrong-doing by the police.
posted by adept256 at 2:13 AM on January 3, 2017 [107 favorites]


Like racism, the need for ethics is over. Either way it's Obama's fault.
posted by XMLicious at 2:16 AM on January 3, 2017 [11 favorites]


> House Republicans voted in a closed-door meeting Monday [...] Voting in favor included Bob Goodlatte [...] he would "work to ensure that people’s House is transparent & open. "

Okay. That's always worked before.
posted by at by at 2:22 AM on January 3, 2017 [4 favorites]


Paul Krugman: America becomes a Stan

(I've been to Turkmenistan, and yes, while Trump is more a Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov than a Saparmurat 'Turkmenbashi' Niyazov, there is more than a whiff about him of the ludicrously blinged-up and almost self-parodic cult of personality that Turkmenbashi cultivated and Berdymukhamedov has only partly dismantled.)
posted by Major Clanger at 2:22 AM on January 3, 2017 [39 favorites]


From Goodlatte's Twitter feed a mere 3 months ago:
Midnight #regulations should be subjected to even greater transparency, public scrutiny, & congressional oversight.
posted by scalefree at 2:22 AM on January 3, 2017 [29 favorites]


Drain the swamp!
posted by Sangermaine at 2:25 AM on January 3, 2017 [8 favorites]


Where and how and to whom should we protest before the final vote this afternoon?
posted by OnceUponATime at 2:34 AM on January 3, 2017 [6 favorites]


Paul Krugman: America becomes a Stan

Apropos of nothing, and speaking as a grumpy-non-American, could I note for the record how distasteful I find this phrasing? (No offence to you Major Clanger, this use of 'Stan' just sets me off no end as a way of lumping together 'those weird more or less identical folks thataway not like us Americans no way, until TRUMP HAPPENED'.)
posted by tavegyl at 2:38 AM on January 3, 2017 [74 favorites]


House Democrats have an opportunity here to show they are not feckless and will throw all of the Trump Misadmistration's malfeasance, incompetence, and corruption squarely on the Republicans by not voting for this package, not a one. Republicans, who showed what they think of "bipartisanship" during the Obama Administration, will be looking for Democratic votes to give cover to all the measures that they know will prove unpopular.

It's be even nicer if Democrats started tying the Republican legacy of corruption to the recent revelations of Nixon's 1968 treason, for starters.
posted by Gelatin at 2:39 AM on January 3, 2017 [47 favorites]


So, the coyotes not only have access to the hen house, but are now also the bouncers.

Way to go.
posted by lmfsilva at 2:40 AM on January 3, 2017 [6 favorites]


To be fair, Krugman probably knows more about the former USSR countries and the problems the US has had since Reagan than anyone in this thread.
posted by persona au gratin at 2:40 AM on January 3, 2017 [11 favorites]


This is fine.
posted by mosk at 2:57 AM on January 3, 2017 [11 favorites]


Drain the swamp!

No, no, that only plays in a campaign, remember? Now it's FEED THE GATORS.
posted by duffell at 3:00 AM on January 3, 2017 [5 favorites]


I'm already nostalgic for 2016.
posted by maxwelton at 3:07 AM on January 3, 2017 [18 favorites]




I was listening to a podcast on the crackdown on university professors in Turkey, and I thought, well, that can't happen here. Then I thought, I'd have said the same about Trump. So I promptly deleted my FB account. Which was satisfying for many reasons, I must say.
posted by persona au gratin at 3:15 AM on January 3, 2017 [12 favorites]


I would like to suggest that, once the idiot is actually sitting in the oval office, we limit posts about illegal/stupid/unethical/racist/sexist/disgusting actions and behaviors by members of the current government to one post a day. Otherwise the blue is going to be overrun with this shit.
posted by HuronBob at 3:17 AM on January 3, 2017 [39 favorites]


I just left a message for my (Republican) Representative letting him know that I was aware of this issue, that there was no justifying this unless House members just wanted to get away with more ethics violations, and that I hoped MY representative would not vote for it.

You can find your representative here.
posted by OnceUponATime at 3:32 AM on January 3, 2017 [25 favorites]


Metafilter: Trump is more a Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov than a Saparmurat 'Turkmenbashi' Niyazov
posted by sammyo at 3:46 AM on January 3, 2017 [34 favorites]


My "Surely this..." macro is going to wear out from overuse by the time this month is over.
posted by briank at 3:53 AM on January 3, 2017 [8 favorites]


I will send a bottle of champagne to the first major-outlet journo who uses the term "oligarchs" to describe Trump's cabinet picks in a flagship publication, and a case to whoever manages to popularize calling the GOP caucus in Congress the Midnight Mafia.

We're deep in banana republic territory already.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 4:01 AM on January 3, 2017 [22 favorites]


persona au gratin: I saw this. It really feels like the sort of developing-world strongman government we used to be against.

In all fairness, we've only been against developing world strongmen when they are counter to our material interests, and our foreign policy has been at least as likely to impose strongmen on others by force if we find it convenient.

Here's hoping that this sort of blatant corruption will help us build a real resistance. Let's make them wish they could have centrist opponents like the Democratic party again.
posted by idiopath at 4:12 AM on January 3, 2017 [12 favorites]


Well, if we do now have our own Central Asian style kleptocrat, is it wrong for me to kind of hope he decides to build his own Ashgabat in Billings, Montana or somewhere?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:14 AM on January 3, 2017 [7 favorites]


This isn't even funny anymore.

I spent my last "incredulous chuckle" a loooong time ago, the "alarmed gasp" account is just about overdrawn, and find myself hoping to dig a couple "for fuck's sakes" from between the sofa cushions.
posted by Caxton1476 at 4:21 AM on January 3, 2017 [50 favorites]


They didn't even wait for the Reichstag to catch fire?!
posted by DigDoug at 4:21 AM on January 3, 2017 [28 favorites]




Jesus Christ, what the fuck is even happening?
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 4:30 AM on January 3, 2017 [24 favorites]


I saw this. It really feels like the sort of developing-world strongman government we used to be against.

Republican governance is going to be horrible, but this is a funny thing to say because the United States has supported or outright installed at least as many strongmen in the developing world as it has opposed.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 4:38 AM on January 3, 2017 [23 favorites]


I just left a message for my (Republican) Representative letting him know that I was aware of this issue, that there was no justifying this unless House members just wanted to get away with more ethics violations, and that I hoped MY representative would not vote for it.

I'll be calling my Democratic House rep to let him know that I support the stands he has been taking against Russian involvement in the White House and for ethical transparency in measures like this, just as soon as his office opens at 8:30.

Then it occurred to me that hey, the zip code finder actually can't work out who my rep is just from my zip code, because my district is so fucking gerrymandered that my zip code contains not one but three House rep voting districts. And you know, I lived for four years in Mike McCaul's district before I moved three miles up the road; it's not like I need an excuse to call him and tell him that I think he's a slimy louse with no ethics, nor do I need an excuse to publicize his vote among my fellow Austinites and neighbors. So.... hey, bonuses of gerrymandering, motherfucker, is that I am a member of the community served by multiple GOP districts. Let's get started.
posted by sciatrix at 4:48 AM on January 3, 2017 [39 favorites]


I'm scared to inquire what the right wing spin on this is.
posted by joyceanmachine at 5:05 AM on January 3, 2017 [3 favorites]


> I'm scared to inquire what the right wing spin on this is.

It's Obama's fault. And all those leaks, don't you know. Unfairly maligning honest Congressmen just trying to violate ethics in a stand-up manner.
posted by RedOrGreen at 5:07 AM on January 3, 2017 [6 favorites]


My supply of outrage ran out when Trump appointed all the Goldman Sachs vampire squids to his cabinet.
posted by bentpyramid at 5:16 AM on January 3, 2017 [8 favorites]


Oh but they are draining the swamp. Swamps are bio-diverse habitats that filter out pollutants. They're pouring asphalt right over that thing so that it floods with gross oily water every time it even looks like rain.
posted by jenjenc at 5:42 AM on January 3, 2017 [38 favorites]


And in the discussion in one of my action groups, one of the first reactions-- "Republicans are doing something evil? How horrible. Now allow me to somehow shift all the blame to Nancy Pelosi."

Where is the moment that the Left can agree that infighting is no longer useful? What's the point where what the Republicans do is so awful that we band together and stop relitigating the primaries?
posted by frumiousb at 5:46 AM on January 3, 2017 [43 favorites]


I wonder how mainstream outlets will find something about Democrats to balance the reporting on this. Or maybe they'll just say something like, "Democrats say this is bad. Republicans disagree. Who is to say who is right? This is NPR."

NPR began its government reporting today with the statement "This is the first day of a new era of one-party control," preceding a short pundit piece. Morning Edition prominently featured this story, as well as shorter summaries on the :20s: House GOP Votes to Strip Independence from Congressional Ethics Office. A tag links today's story to many past stories about the House Ethics Committee, providing very helpful context as to where this committee provides useful interventions that do not duplicate those provided by the House Ethics Committee.

I will send a bottle of champagne to the first major-outlet journo who uses the term "oligarchs" to describe Trump's cabinet picks in a flagship publication

Is the New Yorker's political reporter and former WSJ war correspondent Jane Mayer a "major-outlet journo?" How about Anne Appelbaum, columnist and former editor at the Washington Post and many other outlets, in this opinion piece? There are other pieces that describe Trump and his cabinet negatively without using the (admittedly editorializing) word "oligarch," but they are news pieces. These are opinion pieces. The application of a label is almost always an editorialization; there are other ways for reporters and editors to describe the relevant issues without opening oneself to an accusation of journalistic editorializing. Insisting that an outlet use that label in order to make it particularly clear to specific individuals that they are talking about oligarchy is not that different, to me, than insisting on using the phrase "radical Islam." I think we are capable of speaking in (and understanding) more than epithets.

These comments represent a concerning trend to paint the strongest news outlets we have as no better than the strongly slanted, partisan, less accountable and less truth-bound sources that have fueled such confusion over this election cycle. This notion of "false equivalence" cuts both ways. It's really important to think about who is best served by sowing distrust in major news outlets. The widespread rejection of solid journalistic work even by the left is an example of the effectiveness of a widespread disinformation campaign that has been running strong at least since October 7, 1996. The enemies of the people, if you will, discovered that by undermining the strongest sources we have, suggesting that they themselves were corrupt and biased instead of "fair and balanced," and ever since, that point of view has been intensely effective even among people who should know better.

This issue has become more and more important to me over the past few months. It is important (to borrow a Jessamyn term) to reject the very notion of a "post-truth society." If you're going to lob accusations at the "MSM," it would be a good idea to check beforehand to see if what you're suggesting actually came to pass.

Second, let's be very careful not to confuse the knee-jerk rejection of reported, vetted, edited, and accountable major news sources based on highly partisan perspectives with independent or critical thinking. Even if you are a very left-wing person in political philosophy, as I am, you can read the major outlets with a critical eye and think about and respond to their missed points, slants and leans, or outright mistakes; they have public accountability for those things, and a permeable system of letters to the editor, op-eds, and sometimes comments. No, they do not reflect the perspective I bring to political events. But they are fundamentally factually reliable an overwhelming amount of the time (within the inevitable constraint of human failing); they are responsive, reflective and responsible, even in their missteps - unlike many more partisan sources. To suggest they're useless garbage because they don't use the language or frame we might prefer, and more to the point, to expect and predict that their reporting is going to present characteristics that a few minutes' Googling shows that it actually does not, is not a pro-truth, pro-information, pro-reflection stance. It does not reflect critical thinking or a judicious mind.

We have precious few sources of vetted, edited information from accountable sources. I refuse to throw them under the bus. Of course, I am the first on line to critique their missteps and have done so many times, through writing the editors, sharing and supporting critical commentary, etc. But before we run at that let's at least be sure our critical jabs are grounded in truth, and consider how to be loyal critics and allies of truthful representation instead of lazy, prejudiced caricaturists.

Also, I called my reps before I commented here. If you can, you should too.
posted by Miko at 5:48 AM on January 3, 2017 [159 favorites]


persona au gratin: " a Latin American style Claudillo."

A 'Claudillo' would be a small Claudio, a fairly common name without any specific political connotations.
I think you meant Caudillo. It's good to be more precise when spouting racist, entitled stereotypes.

Seriously, I wish people would stop saying Trump is like a 'third world' this, or a 'Latin American' that.
Trump is a profoundly US phenomenon, building on decades of home grown idiocy which the rest of the world, including us backwards third worlders, have gaped at in wonder.

Own it, Trump is 100% american cheese.
posted by signal at 5:49 AM on January 3, 2017 [201 favorites]


Aside from anything else, that the congresspeople involved take the time to do this suggests they are planning to take full fucking advantage of more lax ethical oversight.
posted by Kattullus at 5:52 AM on January 3, 2017 [7 favorites]


Say what you want about Republicans, but they don't give a shit once they have power.
posted by anti social order at 5:53 AM on January 3, 2017 [12 favorites]


Own it, Trump is 100% american cheese.

Orange, oozing and pervasive?
posted by Molesome at 5:53 AM on January 3, 2017 [15 favorites]


NPR began its government reporting today

Did you hear the interview with the Obamacare "architect of the law" guy? Compromise is possible! Trump really wants there to be the best health care coverage, he said so! We can compromise because - get this - the Republicans didn't like that Obamacare passed with no Republican votes, so they won't want to repeal it that way. So, we should be able to get some great health stuff, in exchange for Democrats voting to repeal ACA.

The guy is Charlie Brown kicking the football. I'd smother him with a pillow if I could reach through the radio - "I can't stand to see him like this".
posted by thelonius at 5:53 AM on January 3, 2017 [16 favorites]


Republican governance is going to be horrible, but this is a funny thing to say because the United States has supported or outright installed at least as many strongmen in the developing world as it has opposed.

Yes, I think it's really important to see the problem as a systemic problem, with the US as primary but not exclusive driver. We brought corruption to smaller countries all around the world - we smashed every effort at moderate reform, never mind radical reform. We destabilized the Middle East, basically, so that our corporations could make a buck. And now the poison that we injected into the system has worked its way back to us.

It's not that no one in, eg, Chile or Indonesia or wherever was a corrupt oligarch; it's that we systematically undercut all the people who were not corrupt oligarchs. We wanted to deal with Pinochet rather than Allende, because Allende was a reformer and a good man instead of a murderous tyrant and he would not have stood for how our companies and our government behaved in Chile.

It's a system of oligarchic elites all around the world, and this country was powerful enough to put its foot down and say that there would, at the very least, be average sorta-okay democracies instead of oligarchies, but we wanted oligarchies.

It sucks, and I sure hope we can get our understanding right and get our act together, because even the most oblivious average person didn't really want the US to connive, for instance, at the murder of Allende and the installation of Pinochet - that was our government. But this is a systemic failure.

It may be that the best models of resistance for the US are the models from our very own hemisphere, where so much heroic work was done. And so many people's lives were destroyed, of course.
posted by Frowner at 5:58 AM on January 3, 2017 [41 favorites]


Did you hear the interview with the Obamacare "architect of the law" guy?

That's the piece that led with "new era of one-party control." Are you arguing with what he said, or the reporting of what he said? I personally think it was appropriately contextualized - this is a person who had every right to expect that the ACA would be immediately repealed. Instead, he now sees the possibility of saving it. The reality is it's either compromise and pass something, or let the whole thing die; as Greene says, it's better than "something rammed down the country's throat by the Republicans." I don't like that need to grasp back the scraps of the ACA any more than you, but I appreciate some contextual reporting on what's going on in these conversations and knowing what elements are likely to be preserved because they can win both GOP and Dem Congressional support - don't you? The Democrats are relatively powerless. That sucks but compromise to save existing levels of people's healthcare is just about the only route until 2018. Unfortunately, that's politics.
posted by Miko at 5:59 AM on January 3, 2017 [6 favorites]


Where is the moment that the Left can agree that infighting is no longer useful? What's the point where what the Republicans do is so awful that we band together and stop relitigating the primaries?


I think right about the time the Republicans finish that planet-killer battle-station.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:05 AM on January 3, 2017 [15 favorites]


I wasn't arguing with it, I was mocking it.
posted by thelonius at 6:06 AM on January 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


Republicans, who showed what they think of "bipartisanship" during the Obama Administration, will be looking for Democratic votes to give cover to all the measures that they know will prove unpopular.

No they wont. They'll jump up and down and shout "Traitor, traitor, 'murica hater" and we'll all feel nostalgic for the days when the sharing economy was an academic curiosity, the internet brought people closer together, and the stars of reality TV were content to stick to their medium.
posted by Freelance Demiurge at 6:11 AM on January 3, 2017 [7 favorites]


The "Ethics in Game Journalism" crowd is unsurprisingly silent on the subject.
posted by Freen at 6:19 AM on January 3, 2017 [7 favorites]


For some context: the OCE was only 10 years old. It was instituted by a Democrat congress, and over the course of its lifetime it removed two Democrat reps and one Republican.

So yes, this absolutely is power consolidation by the GOP and the removal of a potential threat to their control over the House. But it's not like they're torching a venerable institution of justice that has historically kept GOP corruption in check. At a guess, they're making sure that if their base agitates for Trump to keep his promise to clean house, they can rig things so that only Democrat scalps will be on offer.
posted by xthlc at 6:20 AM on January 3, 2017 [19 favorites]


I assume the "drain the swamp" rhetoric will be shifted away from elected/appointed officials so that it refers to maintaining ideological purity among regular government employees.
posted by rmd1023 at 6:22 AM on January 3, 2017 [6 favorites]


Of course, the Limbaughs and Jonses and the Breitbarts of the world will support this move, largely because they support states rights and personal accountability and standing athwart history yelling 'stop'.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 6:30 AM on January 3, 2017


Own your policies.
posted by infini at 6:36 AM on January 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


I'm scared to inquire what the right wing spin on this is.

The only things I've seen that seem like they might (emphasis on might) be legit are a concern over due process during investigations, and the complaint that investigations were being made public as they were announced, which led to bad publicity for the Congresscritters even if they were later found innocent.

The first one might be worth looking into, the 2nd should be in "tough shit, congresscritter" territory.

It's perhaps also worth mentioning, per the WaPo, that NC Democrat congressman Mel Watt is among those who've called for reigning in the OCE in the recent past:

The pushback hasn’t come only from Republicans. In 2011, Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.) — who had been subject to an OCE investigation — drafted an amendment to slash funding from the OCE by 40 percent, calling the office “redundant and duplicative” of the House Ethics Committee. That amendment was rejected.

Watt was being investigated in a "preliminary review" for withdrawing an amendment that would have included auto finance companies under the new Consumer Financial Protection Agency, soon after a fundraiser for him at DNC national headquarters resulted in donations from some of the companies that would have been affected by his suggested change. At the time, he complained that the preliminary review being made public would "leave the impression that there has been some impropriety."

A little more than half of preliminary reviews go further, according to that last link.

Honestly, I bet there are plenty of Dems in Congress who are secretly happy with this new change.
posted by mediareport at 6:40 AM on January 3, 2017 [13 favorites]


Ok, So is there any chance that some of the representatives voted to bring this proposal to a vote in a secret ballot so that they could vote against it publicly and show their constituents that they aren't like the rest of this new corrupt administration. Basically a "make myself look good" vote? Or is this just what the brain does when faced with an unimaginably awful scenario?

Also, my representative is the literal embodiment of Satan's butthole, and I think calling his office in protest would actually make him enjoy voting "yes" that much more.
posted by bibliowench at 6:51 AM on January 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


Where is the moment that the Left can agree that infighting is no longer useful? What's the point where what the Republicans do is so awful that we band together and stop relitigating the primaries?

Much agreed. The latest election has ended in a resounding defeat after Democrats' long failure since 2010 to preserve and extend their control of Congress. Centrists should stop relitigating the primaries and unite behind a genuinely populistic program, such as that advanced by Keith Ellison, to undercut and defeat the fake one advanced by Trump's Republicans.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 6:52 AM on January 3, 2017 [14 favorites]


If you're wondering how the right is going to spin this, you needn't bother. They live in their own hermetically sealed news bubble in which only the stories that suit them and confirm their own views are permitted inside. This week, they're busy with "important" stories like "California Democrats Legalize Child Prostitution"* (fake news link).

*(What actually happened was that child prostitution--which remains illegal--will now be treated more like child sexual abuse as a crime, with the young people being treated as victims who need support rather than criminals who need prosecuting.)
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:52 AM on January 3, 2017 [12 favorites]


Assume all these guys don't know the specific historical or contemporary stories that would illustrate why this is a bad idea. Stories include psychological studies, sociological studies, etc.

Reasons why this is a bad idea include sudden near-future pivots in the political mood, people they semi-trust deciding that, for whatever reason, they don't "like" each other, good causes they believe in having a difficult time communicating why they are worthwhile, so many other very likely-seeming events. Stories make this kind of thing more immediate to people, and also help them make arguments to one another in reasonable, calm ways.

Those measures are there to protect them from the other party, too.

These people need to be given this kind of story information, in easy-to-digest bites, in ways that they will seek out the information. Maybe in a video game? Maybe in competitive quiz-mastery games? Maybe in some kind of TV show that seems approachable to them (maybe with guns and car chases)?

It's really possible; someone just needs the spirit of invention to get hold of it.
posted by amtho at 7:03 AM on January 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


Actually, isn't this just going to provide a pathway for members to be controlled more easily? That's what ethics abuses do, don't they?

So, when you call whomever you're going to call, mention that. Those guys hate the idea of being controlled.
posted by amtho at 7:05 AM on January 3, 2017


Thanks for posting this, Sleeper. I just called my representative (who, happily, is against this proposal). If you are U.S. citizen or live in the U.S., please call yours, too.* Even if yours is unlikely to agree with you, don't let them think that their votes are unnoticed. Add your voice to the political calculations they make with every vote and every statement.

I hate HATE HATE talking to strangers on the phone but I've found in the past few weeks that calling my congresspeople isn't so bad.

* Don't know who your representative is? Use whoismyrepresentative.com
posted by mcduff at 7:05 AM on January 3, 2017 [10 favorites]


fluffy battle kitten: Jesus Christ, what the fuck is even happening?

Everything that the Republicans wanted.

Assume all these guys don't know the specific historical or contemporary stories that would illustrate why this is a bad idea. Stories include psychological studies, sociological studies, etc.

Seems like something a scientist would say, and we know how biased those jerks are against the American Way or something.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:05 AM on January 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


I think I understand the logic. If electing a black man ended racism, electing a con man ended ethics.

Therefore, no need for ethical oversight.
posted by nubs at 7:06 AM on January 3, 2017 [7 favorites]


As noted above, For some context: the OCE was only 10 years old. It was instituted by a Democrat congress, and over the course of its lifetime it removed two Democrat reps and one Republican. Of the many alarm bells that are going off for me about 2017, this is not one of them.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:07 AM on January 3, 2017 [5 favorites]


Unfortunately, the 115th Congress will be sworn in today prior to this vote, so lame duck Republicans who might have demonstrated a little courage won't be around to help defeat it.
posted by carmicha at 7:08 AM on January 3, 2017


DJT is pissed, apparently: With all that Congress has to work on, do they really have to make the weakening of the Independent Ethics Watchdog, as unfair as it ........may be, their number one act and priority. Focus on tax reform, healthcare and so many other things of far greater importance! #DTS
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:09 AM on January 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


Where is the moment that the Left can agree that infighting is no longer useful? What's the point where what the Republicans do is so awful that we band together and stop relitigating the primaries?

I was thinking about this the other day in terms of The Hunger Games, and my comment will contain spoilers for Catching Fire.

One of the things that is so interesting to me in Catching Fire is that an enormous network of people are attempting to create an extended alliance of resistance to President Snow— a man who forces children to murder one another for sport, who poisons his political enemies, who forces celebrities into literal prostitution with his political allies— but Katniss resists joining the alliance because she doesn’t like the other people in it.

She dislikes Finnick (Finnick!) at first because she thinks he’s shallow and vapid, so she doesn’t want to work with him. She dislikes Johanna because she’s violent and reckless and doesn’t mind flaunting her nudity. She’s incredibly suspicious of Plutarch Heavensbee because of his power and the alliances and compromises he’s made to get into the position of Gamemaker. She dislikes Enobaria because of her violence and the way she won her games (ripping someone’s throat open with her spiked teeth), and because she’s from a “bad” District. Coin might not appear until the final book, but we all realize in retrospect that she was a part of this alliance as well, and we also know how Katniss ends up feeling about her.

The thing is, the books encourage us to agree with Katniss about these people. Many of them are scary! Many of them have gotten their hands very, very dirty! They are not the people you would normally want on your team, at all, ever.

But the books ALSO encourage us to see how myopic Katniss ends up being because of her belief that she should only have to partner with people she likes and trusts. If she had been allowed to stick with only the people she liked, she would have died, and the Games would have continued, all because she had a tendency to demand ideological purity from her allies. (It is why Haymitch always keeps her out of planning stages— he knows she’ll mess things up.)

Katniss is also painfully naive when it comes to judging people without considering their motivations. She is initially wary of Finnick because he seems flirtatious and shallow. In the third book she learns that his entire persona had to be crafted as a form of protection for himself and his loved ones, because he was consistently being pimped out as a sex toy for the rich and powerful, upon penalty of death. His shallow boytoy persona is what allowed him to gain leverage by learning about the secrets of the rich of powerful until they couldn’t threaten him as easily. Once she learns that, she realizes how naive her original impression was— but she never learns to ask similar questions about EVERYONE she meets.

To me, this is the terminal illness of the Left. If you have engaged in [X], no matter the reason, you are a monster and I don’t want you on my side. Context doesn’t matter, history doesn’t matter, the passage of decades doesn’t matter— if you did [X], get away from me. And so the Left keeps dying in the arena, because it doesn’t want YOUR help, or YOUR weapons, or YOUR rescue helicopter.

The Republicans are unabashedly destroying civic governance for profit and for revenge and for white supremacy, and there are STILL people who want to yell about how Hillary Clinton was a Goldwater Republican as a teenager, and that’s why they won’t vote for Democrats. I just— I can’t wrap my head around it.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 7:11 AM on January 3, 2017 [131 favorites]


Drain the swamp!

When you drain the swamp all you're left with are the gross bits. So this is exactly as expected.
posted by howling fantods at 7:13 AM on January 3, 2017


DJT is pissed, apparently: With all that Congress has to work on, do they really have to make the weakening of the Independent Ethics Watchdog, as unfair as it ........may be, their number one act and priority. Focus on tax reform, healthcare and so many other things of far greater importance! #DTS

FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!
posted by pretentious illiterate at 7:19 AM on January 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


Did you hear the interview with the Obamacare "architect of the law" guy? Compromise is possible!

NPR this morning also reported on one of the new ideas Trump is bringing to education reform.

Charter schools.

But to be fair, the report also made a point of acknowledging that teachers unions hate the idea.
posted by Gelatin at 7:20 AM on January 3, 2017




it's not like they're torching a venerable institution of justice that has historically kept GOP corruption in check.

No, it's not venerable, but it was put in place to respond directly to failures of ethics that were otherwise going unremarked:
The body was created after a string of serious ethical issues starting a decade ago, including bribery allegations against Representatives Duke Cunningham, Republican of California; William J. Jefferson, Democrat of Louisiana; and Bob Ney, Republican of Ohio. All three were ultimately convicted and served time in jail.
The New York Times did a workmanlike job covering the structure and history of this office and its proposed replacement:
The Office of Congressional Ethics, which is overseen by a six-member outside board, does not have subpoena power. But it has its own staff of investigators who spend weeks conducting confidential interviews and collecting documents based on complaints they receive from the public, or news media reports, before issuing findings that detail any possible violation of federal rules or laws. The board then votes on whether to refer the matter to the full House Ethics Committee, which conducts its own review.

But the House Ethics Committee, even if it dismisses the potential ethics violation as unfounded, is required to release the Office of Congressional Ethics report detailing the alleged wrongdoing, creating a deterrent to such questionable behavior by lawmakers.

Under the new arrangement, the Office of Congressional Complaint Review could not take anonymous complaints, and all of its investigations would be overseen by the House Ethics Committee itself, which is made up of lawmakers who answer to their own party...Bryson Morgan, who worked as an investigative lawyer at the Office of Congressional Ethics from 2013 until 2015, said that under his interpretation of the new rules, members of the House committee could move to stop an inquiry even before it was completed.
So, though of course it's always worthwhile to ask if a procedural move is being overblown, in this case it seems clear that it's a brick in the wall toward less governmental transparency. It removes a recently established program, yes, but it's one that (a) was needed and (b) has been working.
The Office of Congressional Ethics has been controversial since its creation and has faced intense criticism from many of its lawmaker targets — both Democrats and Republicans — as its investigations have consistently been more aggressive than those conducted by the House Ethics Committee.
Feature, not bug.
posted by Miko at 7:32 AM on January 3, 2017 [17 favorites]




One of the pleasures of being in Minnesota is that I don't need to call my Congressperson about this. My Congressperson is Keith Ellison.

He's calling me about it.
posted by maxsparber at 7:42 AM on January 3, 2017 [48 favorites]


Also, my representative is the literal embodiment of Satan's butthole, and I think calling his office in protest would actually make him enjoy voting "yes" that much more.

Oh, do you have Steve King too?
posted by jason_steakums at 7:44 AM on January 3, 2017 [7 favorites]


At this point, Trump could announce that he was foregoing taking the oath of office and would instead spend thirty minutes slowly sodomizing a bald eagle on live television, and somehow, this would be absorbed and quickly forgotten.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:46 AM on January 3, 2017 [8 favorites]


At this point, Trump could announce that he was foregoing taking the oath of office and would instead spend thirty minutes slowly sodomizing a bald eagle on live television, and somehow, this would be absorbed and quickly forgotten.

There might be some amazement that he would ever go near a bald eagle again.
posted by maxsparber at 7:47 AM on January 3, 2017 [4 favorites]


At this point, Trump could run a child sex ring from the Oval Office and Republicans would praise him for creating jobs for the nation's youth.
posted by fungible at 7:47 AM on January 3, 2017 [19 favorites]


The only things I've seen that seem like they might (emphasis on might) be legit are a concern over due process during investigations, and the complaint that investigations were being made public as they were announced, which led to bad publicity for the Congresscritters even if they were later found innocent.

That's what I heard too, and I made sure to mention that when I called my representative's office just now ("surely there is a way to fix that while retaining the unit's impartiality").
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:48 AM on January 3, 2017 [2 favorites]


"Let's dispel with the notion..."

I'm seeing this all the time now. Do people seriously not know that it's a nonsense phrase better worded as, "let's dispense with the notion"? Or are these people still chuckling over an obscure gaffe made in one of the three dozen Republican primary debates by someone who didn't even win?
posted by indubitable at 7:52 AM on January 3, 2017 [4 favorites]


One of the pleasures of being in Minnesota is that I don't need to call my Congressperson about this. My Congressperson is Keith Ellison.

He's calling me about it.


Weirdly, this is also one of the pleasures of living in my current Austin district; Lloyd Doggett's sending out his own emails and newsletters about fighting Russian influence in politics and holding GOP congressfolk accountable. I called him anyway, but mostly because I figured it doesn't hurt to send nice calls to elected officials too. His staff member seemed tired but otherwise very nice.
posted by sciatrix at 7:52 AM on January 3, 2017 [2 favorites]


(n)ever go near a bald eagle again

That story and the image are just priceless, allegorical perfection.
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 7:54 AM on January 3, 2017 [6 favorites]


I have been calling Reps and Senators enough in the last few months that I may have to put them in my contacts list on my phone. For some reason this annoys and alarms me.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:54 AM on January 3, 2017 [3 favorites]


I saw this. It really feels like the sort of developing-world strongman government we used to be against send arms and money to.
posted by klanawa at 7:54 AM on January 3, 2017 [3 favorites]


Oh, do you have Steve King too?

Doug "T*r B*by" Lamborn. The one who described his desire to defund public broadcasting as 'push[ing] Big Bird out of the nest."

God, I hate that guy.
posted by bibliowench at 7:59 AM on January 3, 2017 [4 favorites]


Once she learns that, she realizes how naive her original impression was— but she never learns to ask similar questions about EVERYONE she meets.

I've been thinking about this idea, too, especially in terms of people who regret voting for Trump, and framing it in terms of Bloom's Taxonomy. It seems like there are people who wish they hadn't voted for him, but are still in the "Remember" level of the pyramid (I initially learned it as "Knowledge"); if they could go back in time and do it differently they would but they don't have a strong sense of what happened and why. I think there are also some people who are on the "Understand" level of the pyramid where they know what's bad about him and can explain why they now don't want him to be President.

What I feel like I'm not seeing is a lot of the more complex thinking, e.g. "Apply - Use Information in New Situations" where people who regret having voted for Trump are figuring out what they should do differently next time. It is so frustrating to me, to see people who are upset but aren't reflecting on questions like "who did I trust who I shouldn't have trusted?" or "who warned me about this while I refused to listen?" and "how can I recognize when I'm in this situation in the future?". I think there are a lot of people of all political bents who just do not know how to use new information to change how they make choices in the future and it is so upsetting to see it happening.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:01 AM on January 3, 2017 [31 favorites]


Do people seriously not know that it's a nonsense phrase better worded as, "let's dispense with the notion"?

Really they are one in the same to me
posted by thelonius at 8:02 AM on January 3, 2017 [17 favorites]


I just had an epiphany: All the awkward, rambling messages I left for various congresspeople about Steve Bannon were not just about Steve Bannon. They were to prepare me for exactly this moment, when I heard about this and saw on NPR that Paul Ryan (and Trump) had criticized the move. I cracked my knuckles, grabbed my phone, pulled up Paul Ryan's DC office number (which is saved), and said "Hi good morning I'm calling to ask Congressman Ryan to block the move to weaken the independence of the Congressional Ethics Office. This is a bipartisan issue and we really need the ethics office right now. Thank you." For all the haters who are gonna tell me it doesn't matter since he's not my congressman, it will take you more effort to type that comment than it did for me to make the call, so can it. HAPPY NEW YEAR!
posted by sunset in snow country at 8:03 AM on January 3, 2017 [34 favorites]


Sorry if I'm being cynical here, but isn't the right move here to let the GOP hang themselves with this rather than fighting it? I don't trust a GOP-led Congress to police themselves properly with or without the COE. Is the little bit we get in terms of transparency and embarrassment of a couple of reps who find themselves on the wrong end worth the opportunity cost of throwing away a chance to remind voters that killing this the Office of Congressional Ethics was the first priority on their list?
posted by tonycpsu at 8:05 AM on January 3, 2017


Doug "T*r B*by" Lamborn. The one who described his desire to defund public broadcasting as 'push[ing] Big Bird out of the nest."

Well, to be fair, Sesame Street teaches kids to share and cooperate, which as we all know is just indoctrinating them to seize the means of production from the bourgeoisie.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:05 AM on January 3, 2017 [12 favorites]


One of the pleasures of being in Minnesota is that I don't need to call my Congressperson about this. My Congressperson is Keith Ellison.

This is something where I'm confused - I'm new to the "call your rep" game, but I live in NY and know that they all oppose this (and pretty much everything worth calling them for). Can anything else be done? Do you call anyway? Do I call someone else?
posted by windbox at 8:05 AM on January 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


With all that Congress has to work on, do they really have to make the weakening of the Independent Ethics Watchdog, as unfair as it may be, their number one act and priority. Focus on tax reform, healthcare and so many other things of far greater importance!

(where did this quote come from?)
posted by sammyo at 8:06 AM on January 3, 2017


This whole thing is a shit show. Looking at the sidebar of the NYT:

Trump Rebukes House Republicans Over Bid to Gut Ethics Office

So I'ma all like, wut? Mango-face knows ethics?

"President-elect Donald J. Trump on Tuesday criticized House Republicans for their surprise move to gut an independent congressional ethics office on the eve of a new legislative session, saying they should focus instead on domestic policy priorities such as health care and a tax overhaul.

In a pair of postings on Twitter, Mr. Trump called the Office of Congressional Ethics “unfair,” but said focusing on it now was a case of misplaced priorities."


Na, he's just flapping his baboon orifice paying lip service so that his followers will find him above reproach. More hand waving from those little fingers.
posted by BlueHorse at 8:07 AM on January 3, 2017 [8 favorites]


You call anyway
posted by The Whelk at 8:07 AM on January 3, 2017 [7 favorites]


specifically how is it "unfair"? that means something other than "I don't like it"
posted by thelonius at 8:09 AM on January 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


This is something where I'm confused - I'm new to the "call your rep" game, but I live in NY and know that they all oppose this (and pretty much everything worth calling them for). Can anything else be done? Do you call anyway? Do I call someone else?

Since my reps are Ellison, Klobuchar, and Franken, I'm mostly squirreling away money to send to tight Congressional races in the next midterm election and sending money to organizations that fight for voting rights. It's a long game, but it's the one that I think will have the biggest impact.

I have sent emails to my representatives to thank them for the job their doing. Will probably do that again soon.
posted by maxsparber at 8:09 AM on January 3, 2017 [9 favorites]


Welp this was the straw that overcame my phone terrors: I called my slimy, swamp dwelling congress creature. And the person who answered the phone actually said, "Oh, you're calling from Asheville" with an audible sigh, because what else can you expect from a weird place full of commies. That attitude has backfired on him badly, because now I know I'm pissing them off I will call frequently. The ice has been broken, McHenry. We're gonna chat a whole lot until the beautiful day you slither back off whence you came.
posted by mygothlaundry at 8:09 AM on January 3, 2017 [80 favorites]


Sorry if I'm being cynical here, but isn't the right move here to let the GOP hang themselves with this rather than fighting it?

Not really. The GOP electorate has shown that it will accept a certain amount of corruption or personal indiscretion so long as they heavily lean on the varieties of single issues that GOP constituents consistently support.

In short: Even a serial philanderer accepting kickbacks and selling their constituents out is better than voting for a Democrat who might vote for abortion/socialism/gun control/welfare/taxes.
posted by Talez at 8:09 AM on January 3, 2017 [13 favorites]


>This is something where I'm confused - I'm new to the "call your rep" game, but I live in NY and know that they all oppose this (and pretty much everything worth calling them for). Can anything else be done? Do you call anyway? Do I call someone else?

Call anyway. Your reps probably only get calls when someone is real pissed at them; calling with a pleased "thank you for your service and your action" note is disproportionately encouraging when it comes to getting them to continue doing the right thing. And it's good to get in the habit of keeping tabs on the things your reps vote for and let them know you're paying attention, too. Keeps them honest, and keeps the ones fighting hard for the rest of the nation in the House and Senate motivated.

If yours is doing good stuff for your local community, or your state reps are voting well, you might want to make a note on Facebook or whatever social media you connect with your local friends and family mentioning the stuff you approve of, and then you can tell your rep that when you call them. Again, it's the other end of the "if you do this horrible thing, I will not only vote you out of office but I will mobilize ALL MY FRIENDS to vote you out of office" thing. Saying "because of your good work and your good record, I will speak well for you in my community" is a surprisingly powerful thing to offer.
posted by sciatrix at 8:13 AM on January 3, 2017 [25 favorites]


> The GOP electorate has shown that it will accept a certain amount of corruption or personal indiscretion so long as they heavily lean on the varieties of single issues that GOP constituents consistently support.

OK, but Democrats generally aren't trying to win seats by appealing to Rush Limbaugh's audience, they're trying to win them by getting independents and leaners who aren't already in the tank. This would seem like a great opportunity to be on the right side of an issue when the opponent is insisting on stepping on a rake. Why get in their way?
posted by tonycpsu at 8:13 AM on January 3, 2017


This is something where I'm confused - I'm new to the "call your rep" game, but I live in NY and know that they all oppose this (and pretty much everything worth calling them for). Can anything else be done? Do you call anyway? Do I call someone else?

I think you call anyways, or at least drop a nice note. Telling your representatives that you support their initiatives can be just as important as telling them when you think they've screwed up. If nothing else, they can point to all the emails and letters and calls they've received as concrete examples of popular support. That's still important.

I haven't figured out the "who else do you call" part but maybe someone else here has.
posted by chrominance at 8:14 AM on January 3, 2017


"Do you call anyway?"

Here's how I've been thinking about it: Elected officials think about getting reelected every minute of every day. They calculate how each move they make affects their chances of getting votes. When I call and let them know how I feel about an issue, it pushes them just that little bit in my direction. If they disagree with me, my call makes them wonder if this is the issue that is going to cost them a reelection. When they agree with me, they feel that much more secure about their vote.
posted by mcduff at 8:14 AM on January 3, 2017 [7 favorites]




I have been calling Reps and Senators enough in the last few months that I may have to put them in my contacts list on my phone. For some reason this annoys and alarms me.

I dunno; I'm thinking of it like a plus. I'm getting involved enough in being a good and invested citizen that I need those numbers on shorthand. (I even subscribed to John Cornyn's facebook so I could more effectively shout insults at him when he tries to do a jammy PR fun-times thing. I hate him so much for slightly irrational and personal reasons, so I am happy to get in the habit of harassing him when he tries to slide past taking responsibility for his actions.)
posted by sciatrix at 8:16 AM on January 3, 2017 [5 favorites]


Mind you, this has been a thorn in the side of both parties for some time, and for all the posturing, I've no doubt there are some deep sighs of relief on the democratic side of the aisle that someone else is taking the heat for this. The democrats have, after all, had their share of embarrassments from this quarter.

It will be missed.
posted by IndigoJones at 8:16 AM on January 3, 2017


They should have gone a step further and renamed it the IOKIYAR Committee. Oh wait, that would be too honest.
posted by SisterHavana at 8:17 AM on January 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


Sorry if I'm being cynical here, but isn't the right move here to let the GOP hang themselves with this rather than fighting it?

If nothing else, part of both is making sure as many people as possible know about this and every other harmful, bad, and corrupt Republican move; they're not hanging themselves if their constituents don't know that this is happening.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:17 AM on January 3, 2017 [6 favorites]


You'd think they would at least observe the federal holiday. But I guess they couldn't wait to tear down the country.
posted by numaner at 8:17 AM on January 3, 2017


Did you know that the United States House Committee on Ethics essentially started as a result of one congressperson spitting tobacco juice on another? And then it got weird:

Griswold sought justice against the “gross indecency” by caning Lyon on the House Floor. Lyon defended himself with a pair of fire tongs.
posted by maxsparber at 8:19 AM on January 3, 2017 [3 favorites]


sammyo: "(where did this quote come from?)"

It came from Trump's twitter: https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/816298944456232960
posted by I-baLL at 8:19 AM on January 3, 2017


OK, but Democrats generally aren't trying to win seats by appealing to Rush Limbaugh's audience, they're trying to win them by getting independents and leaners who aren't already in the tank. This would seem like a great opportunity to be on the right side of an issue when the opponent is insisting on stepping on a rake. Why get in their way?

Because even if they step on it there's no consequence for stepping on the rake. Either they survive the primary challenge and the Rs turns out anyway to pull that lever or some other stuffed shirt gets parachuted into the seat to follow the agenda and the Rs still pull that lever.
posted by Talez at 8:22 AM on January 3, 2017 [3 favorites]


This would seem like a great opportunity to be on the right side of an issue when the opponent is insisting on stepping on a rake.

"Getting on the right side of this issue" means voting for independent oversight of ethics issues.

Some kind "entrapment" fanatasy where we stop investigating etgics violations to tempt people inti comittlting horrible ethics violations and then catch them in the act and punish them is really just a fantasy. There is no reason to think they'll be caught or punished if no one is investigating.
posted by OnceUponATime at 8:24 AM on January 3, 2017 [5 favorites]


Did you know that the United States House Committee on Ethics essentially started as a result of one congressperson spitting tobacco juice on another? And then it got weird:

This is totally a true history thing, but that's not where this Committee came from--the Committee is less than ten years old, not over 200 years old! In fact, about fifty years later there was another incident of violence between Congressmen when Rep Brooker beat the crap out of Senator Sumner with a cane on the Senate floor, so this thing doesn't seem to have been commissioned as a result of mitigating violence.
posted by sciatrix at 8:25 AM on January 3, 2017 [6 favorites]


> Some kind "entrapment" fanatasy where we stop investigating etgics violations to tempt people inti comittlting horrible ethics violations

That is not at all what I'm saying. Every Democrat should vote against the Goodlatte amendment, and we should relentlessly hound anyone who votes for it. That said, I don't see the point of whipping R members against it, because ethics scandals or no ethics scandals, the GOP will be the party on record wanting to gut oversight, and that's something Democrats can run on (as long as they voted to keep the office.)
posted by tonycpsu at 8:28 AM on January 3, 2017


Say what you want about Republicans, but they don't give a shit once they have power.

My (R) Senator is a firmly-entrenched incumbent with the clinging power of dog poo on sneaker treads, and he always replies to my letters with these concise, passive-aggressive, snide boilerplate form letters. I always imagine his outbox looking more like Santa's Naughty and Nice list.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:30 AM on January 3, 2017 [4 favorites]


The point is that if Republican members form a coalition with Democrat members, maybe we can stop the horrible thing from happening now instead of waiting two years and hoping we can elect someone who will magically be able to make the horrible thing not have happened.
posted by sciatrix at 8:30 AM on January 3, 2017 [2 favorites]


[ctrl]+[f]JCOPE[enter]

sad-trombone.mp3

lol.
posted by mikelieman at 8:30 AM on January 3, 2017


Spicer clarifies that Trump is annoyed by the timing, not the gutting itself.
posted by StrawberryPie at 8:35 AM on January 3, 2017 [5 favorites]


the Committee is less than ten years old

It's the newest incarnation of the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, which is over 200 years old in its various incarnations and was originally called, I believe, the Committee of Privileges.

It's like the Dr. Who of uselessly chastising Congress.
posted by maxsparber at 8:35 AM on January 3, 2017 [10 favorites]


Seriously, guys, going "well in two years (or worse, four years or eight years) we'll have a magically new Congress/President and then everything will be good, so all I have to do is batten down, grit my teeth, and survive right now while I squirrel up information that will be useful in the election!" is a strategy that seems to me to be, uh, misguided at best. First off, people don't remember this shit if we don't make a big fuss now, but I guarantee you that someone who has had to personally call their Republican, unfriendly House rep and followed up with their vote *will* remember that, because it's personalized the office to them. That helps in an election, and it makes the election more emotionally salient.

Second off, if we don't make a big fuss now, we let the GOP shift the Overton Window of what is right and acceptable, as well as the Democrats who will passively let this crap happen if their constituents don't stand up and go "will you fight this?" And then in two years, we're not dealing with the loss of an ethics committee, we're dealing with what happens when you aren't even pretending that ethics is valuable, or that Republicans can be expected to behave on incredibly basic shit. Which means that they can proceed to be as shamelessly corrupt as they like while in office, and the public won't say boo, so they can and will proceed to behave even more poorly while in office than they otherwise might. Low fucking bar here, dudes, low bar.

I am sick and tired of waiting for progress to happen with election years, or expecting elections to magically resolve the nation's many problems. Quit thinking of politics purely in terms of the horserace, and start thinking about it in terms of leveraging PR, public sentiment, and the opinions of your neighbors, friends, and families. Think about it in terms of public opinion. That's how we make actual movement forward, even if it's not as flashy and clear-cut as election results.
posted by sciatrix at 8:40 AM on January 3, 2017 [78 favorites]


It's not "magic" to run against high-profile own goals of your opposition -- it's basic politics in a system where the minority party has no power on its own.

And making a big fuss about this and pushing Dems to do the right thing is not mutually exclusive with being okay with Republicans doing the wrong thing.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:43 AM on January 3, 2017 [2 favorites]


People live up (or down) to your expectations. So set them high, and hold these sons of diseased possums and thieving weasels to their words and the expectations that you would have for any holder of their office, Republican or Democrat. That way, when they don't meet your high standards of behaving like a reasonable fucking human, as opposed to a theocratic slime vulture from the planet Zorgulon, you can be even angrier and more motivated to take them the fuck down. If you go "well, slime vultures, am I right?" then it's so much easier to lapse into apathy and letting someone else do the work.

We are all needed right now. I swear. Thank all of you who have called today, no matter how safe your congressional district. It's important, and I am so pleased to be here among all of you.
posted by sciatrix at 8:43 AM on January 3, 2017 [9 favorites]


Second off, if we don't make a big fuss now

Oh, I'm making a fuss. Have you even seen my Twitter page. It's nothing but fuss.
posted by maxsparber at 8:44 AM on January 3, 2017 [7 favorites]


I'm not saying Dems shouldn't run against those own goals, though! I'm saying that public opposition to those own goals, in the form of people talking to each other, in the form of news articles being shared around, and in the form of people chewing out their Republican reps for their support of those own goals are actually a method of increasing opposition and holding ground that would otherwise be lost. I'm saying that it matters to talk to Republicans and let them know you're pissed.
posted by sciatrix at 8:45 AM on January 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


(It's the apathy that has been getting up my nose, not the outrage. I can go "that slime vulture is never gonna act like a human," but if I keep loudly going "well why the fuck are we not getting the kind of basic transparency and shit we could expect out of an ethical human?" then suddenly the question of why we keep electing theocratic slime vultures is a lot more publically visible than just going "aw, it's a congresscritter, it's never gonna behave right because they're all slime vultures".)
posted by sciatrix at 8:47 AM on January 3, 2017 [3 favorites]


I just called Rep. Cummings, who is a good guy and usually does the right thing, but it was still worth passing the message along.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:48 AM on January 3, 2017 [3 favorites]


That said, I don't see the point of whipping R members against it,

Absolutely this:

The point is that if Republican members form a coalition with Democrat members, maybe we can stop the horrible thing from happening now

Since Democrats are the minority party, they can't stop this from happening without the help of "R members."

And if we don't stop this from happening, there will be no independent oversight of ethics investigations.

Are we REALLY opposed to lax ethical standards, or do we just want to APPEAR to be opposed to them? Because if we're really opposed to them, we need to try to stop them. Which means working with Republicans.

because ethics scandals or no ethics scandals, the GOP will be the party on record wanting to gut oversight, and that's something Democrats can run on (as long as they voted to keep the office.)
...
It's not "magic" to run against high-profile own goals of your opposition


Even setting aside the point that the goal is good government, not just scoring points against the opposition... There is no way this is going to be "high profile" TWO YEARS from now (unless we really do catch people in some major scandal that they were tempted into by this change...) The time to make this an issue is right now, while we can still do something about it.
posted by OnceUponATime at 8:49 AM on January 3, 2017 [6 favorites]


I am amused by the hope for 2018. The GOP is going to make a huge push into voter suppression over the next two years. There is nothing at the federal level to stop them. 2018 won't bring us back from the brink, it's the year Trump gets to make constitutional amendments.
posted by anti social order at 8:49 AM on January 3, 2017 [21 favorites]


FFS, no wonder people feel apathy.

I used the contact number per Whelk's link, as well as the email, in an attempt to contact Goodlatte. "Your call can not be completed" and "mail undeliverable."

I've attempted to contact my state reps with the exact same results, and I've just blown 45 minutes on this bullshit and gotten nothing done.

It is to weep.
posted by BlueHorse at 8:50 AM on January 3, 2017 [5 favorites]


Believe it or not, registering voters is one of the tools in the toolkit that liberals have used to push for change. It works. It works so well that they used to kill people who tried it.

That's work that we can do now. There are a lot of organizations that are fighting voter suppression, and they need our help.
posted by maxsparber at 8:51 AM on January 3, 2017 [42 favorites]


I am amused by the hope for 2018.

Rebellions are built on hope.
posted by OnceUponATime at 8:54 AM on January 3, 2017 [31 favorites]


Here's all the Reps., sorted by state, with their phone number:
http://www.house.gov/representatives/

Click on their name to go into their web site, which should include a map indicating the boundaries of their district (if you're unsure which one of them works for you).
posted by wenestvedt at 8:54 AM on January 3, 2017 [5 favorites]


List of direct phone numbers for representatives, in case you're having trouble finding them. (h/t to Daniel Schuman.)
posted by StrawberryPie at 8:54 AM on January 3, 2017 [3 favorites]


To find which rep is appropriate, you can use this or this to search via zip code.

(On preview: ah, someone else already posted the second link. Sorry.)
posted by StrawberryPie at 8:55 AM on January 3, 2017 [3 favorites]


I do encourage you all to check by street address if the zip code thing doesn't work because your zip code has three fucking reps and also your district is shaped like an upside-down elephant, because it actually is important to know precisely who your rep is.

Then I encourage you to call all of 'em anyway and casually not mention your actual street address when they ask.
posted by sciatrix at 8:58 AM on January 3, 2017 [7 favorites]


Note that the 115th Congress was sworn in today, and if your rep is new, their contact information probably hasn't been listed on the House website yet. Not sure how long it usually takes to get their phone lines up and running, and their contact info listed.
posted by duffell at 9:04 AM on January 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


I am amused by the hope for 2018.

Rebellions are built on hope.


Rebellions are built on hope OUTRAGE!

FTFY
posted by BlueHorse at 9:05 AM on January 3, 2017 [5 favorites]


This isn't as terrible as it might appear. This office has very limited powers to do anything -- it can publish reports and make recommendations to the House Ethics Committee. It has very little in the way of investigative powers for example it can't issue subpoenas. Here is an example of a report they issued on Alan Grayson.
posted by humanfont at 9:06 AM on January 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


FYI I just saw a series of tweets in my feed that said there was an "emergency" meeting this AM and they are reconsidering the changes to the rules. One rep says they have received a surprising number of calls about it.
posted by StrawberryPie at 9:07 AM on January 3, 2017 [14 favorites]


My previous rep retired and we're getting a new one this year. The old one is still listed on the house.gov sites but his Web site basically indicates he's redirecting calls to our Senators.

Should I call him or the incoming Rep? Who's actually voting on this thing?
posted by valrus at 9:07 AM on January 3, 2017


Its worth noting that Alexandr Dugin, the man known as Putin's Brain, spoke about what "draining the swamp" meant not too long ago. Basically he says it means purging globalists ( which I assume is a code word for Jews) and liberals from government and has nothing to do with corruption as most people mean the term.
“swamp is a globalism, liberalism, the rule of transnational corporations, aggressive foreign policy … the global network of corruption, liberalism, sectarian ideologies of LGBT, civil society and human rights.”
video

And I think the Trumpers would generally agree. They aren't concerned with good Republicans looting the treasury, in fact I suspect they believe looting by Republicans is a good thing. Drain the swamp was never anything but a call for purging the government of anyone they don't like, it was just masked in a thin layer of anti-corruption bullshit that the media bought hook line and sinker.

Joe White Working Class is perfectly content with Trump abusing office for personal financial gain, as long as it also means all those hippies, and liberals, and black people get fucked sideways.
posted by sotonohito at 9:08 AM on January 3, 2017 [31 favorites]


This just in: the OCE rule amendment has been removed.
posted by StrawberryPie at 9:10 AM on January 3, 2017 [39 favorites]


Rebellions are built on hope OUTRAGE!

FTFY


Well, yes. Without hope, without high expectations to be violated, there can be no outrage. So: yes.
posted by sciatrix at 9:11 AM on January 3, 2017 [4 favorites]


I called the person who theoretically represents me and who in reality stands diametrically opposed to me on virtually every issue (Lamar Smith, gag). I politely asked if he had voted for the amendment, the secretary I spoke with said the vote hadn't happened yet, I explained I meant last night and she said she didn't have that information. I told her I was entirely opposed and could see no reason why Rep Smith would vote for it unless he planned on stealing things. She said she'd pass that along.

I suppose she incremented the "calls against" column in her spreadsheet, but I doubt it'll make Smith change his vote to no.

They don't care because they don't have to. They know the Trumpers will vote for them no matter what as long as they have an R by their name, strut and talk big, and abuse minorities enough.
posted by sotonohito at 9:11 AM on January 3, 2017 [9 favorites]


valrus, try the House switchboard and ask for your new rep. The number is (202) 224-3121.

If that doesn't work, your incoming rep probably still has a Facebook page for his/her campaign. You can try sending a message there, asking for contact info. Or call the campaign's phone number. Sometimes political campaign numbers remain active during transition to help provide information to constituents.
posted by duffell at 9:11 AM on January 3, 2017 [2 favorites]


So, what's the only slightly less onerous rule change that they managed to slip by us, thanks to this 24 hour diversion?
posted by toxic at 9:12 AM on January 3, 2017 [7 favorites]


Well, what do you know? VICTORY.

(I know it is not the whole victory. But it's a victory, and I am pleased to celebrate even victories over small battles and use the cheer that springs from them to fuel my enthusiasm for the larger war.)
posted by sciatrix at 9:12 AM on January 3, 2017 [13 favorites]


Dark Patterns: Government Edition
posted by b1tr0t at 9:13 AM on January 3, 2017 [2 favorites]


Rebellions are built on hope OUTRAGE!

FTFY


Now fix Gran Moff Tarkin so he doesn't look like a devil is using an old man as a puppet.
posted by maxsparber at 9:14 AM on January 3, 2017 [6 favorites]


And per Twitter the Goodlatte amendment has been withdrawn behind closed doors and is not part of the incoming rules.
posted by sotonohito at 9:15 AM on January 3, 2017 [5 favorites]


This just in: the OCE rule amendment has been removed.

It'd be nice to know what % of this decision was based on constituent response, and what % was based on Trump tweets, for y'know ... democracy reasons.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:16 AM on January 3, 2017 [5 favorites]


sciatrix Damn skippy. We take victories where we can, and we claim credit for them. We need to be spinning this as "Republicans back down in face of mass outrage", which is both truthful and politically advantageous.
posted by sotonohito at 9:16 AM on January 3, 2017 [19 favorites]


Robert Costa (WaPo politics reporter): Members spilling out of HC-5. Say the OCE change is dead for now but not forever. Many want to return to this issue soon...


So now we keep watch.
posted by rewil at 9:19 AM on January 3, 2017 [7 favorites]


The purpose of this move is not just to end investigations on Republicans, it's to turn the ethics organization into an attack dog on Democrats. The endless investigations into Clinton worked spectacularly. Now they will have endless "official" investigations for ginned-up scandals against Pelosi, other prominent Democrats and Democrats in vulnerable districts.

The change was dropped for now, but it will be sneaked back in.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:21 AM on January 3, 2017 [10 favorites]


They'll pick it up in August. Ya know, right before they recess.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:21 AM on January 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


I wish the Democrats would get onboard with at simple message about this, something like: "Is there a particular reason that politicians making 175K a year off tax payer money feel the need to hold secret meetings that dismantle a committee that oversees their ethics? This isn't how any hardworking real American starts their first day on the job."

Repeat and hammer home over the next four years, adjusting for specific situations.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:22 AM on January 3, 2017 [71 favorites]


Yes, BB!

Now back to the issue of why this kind of shit is done in closed meetings. Demand transparency. Insist that amendments not be attached to sneak through under cover of other issues.
posted by BlueHorse at 9:23 AM on January 3, 2017 [3 favorites]


I'm guessing constituent response added significant weight to the media coverage, which came out a lot sharper and more directly critical of the amendment than I would have expected. If the media is slowly coming around to reporting on these things without so much false equivalency, (I know, surely this...) then maybe divide and conquer could be a winning strategy for the Dems going forward when it hasn't been in the past. If nothing else, trying to make this move and then running away from it shows a weakness that can be exploited.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:24 AM on January 3, 2017 [8 favorites]


So now that that crisis of American democracy has been averted (for now), here's a new one for us:
Florida House of Representatives HM 125
A memorial to the Congress of the United States, urging Congress to propose to the states an amendment to the United States Constitution that allows Congress to deem a law that has been declared void by certain federal courts active and operational.
posted by scalefree at 9:24 AM on January 3, 2017 [5 favorites]


I wish there was some sort of committee to investigate the ethics of this attempt to gut the ethics committee.
posted by maxsparber at 9:24 AM on January 3, 2017 [8 favorites]


Welp this was the straw that overcame my phone terrors: I called my slimy, swamp dwelling congress creature. And the person who answered the phone actually said, "Oh, you're calling from Asheville" with an audible sigh, because what else can you expect from a weird place full of commies. That attitude has backfired on him badly, because now I know I'm pissing them off I will call frequently.

So, fun fact. One of the reasons that it is productive to call republican representatives is because it sucks up the time of their staff. It is not uncommon that the lower level staff tasked with answering phones only got the job because their parents have money and it is seen as a cushy job with connections. But if they are stuck answering calls all day and listening to people complain about how terrible everything is, they are going to decide pretty quick that their parents can get them a nicer, less stressful job elsewhere. They quit and it takes time and resources to find a replacement, which is inconvenient for the congressperson.

So calling your republican representative can still be useful, but do not worry about trying to change their mind. The main goal is to make their lives unpleasant. Take your time and let them know just how terrible everything is. Do not feel bad for them because they were handed this job on a silver plate and are more than happy to see your rights stripped away. So, if the person is rude to you when you call, call back and demand to speak to someone else. Complain about the person you spoke to and how rude they are, how poorly that reflects on the congressperson, and how you'll never vote for them again if this is how they treat their constituents.
posted by C'est la D.C. at 9:26 AM on January 3, 2017 [81 favorites]


If the media is slowly coming around to reporting on these things without so much false equivalency...

Well some of them seem to be crediting Trump's criticism so
posted by ODiV at 9:27 AM on January 3, 2017


So in the wake of this outrageous FU to the American electorate...

1. a flood of constituents email and call their representatives expressing their displeasure and disgust...
2. the media reports on the move with unusually honest and critical coverage ("Are there any Americans who think congress is TOO ethical?")...
3. and Donald tweets an ambiguous statement, even more incoherent than his usual remarks, that could maybe be read as condemnation.

And the narrative is already taking shape that Donald stood up to Republicans in Congress and forced them to stay ethical.

Unbelievable.
posted by the turtle's teeth at 9:29 AM on January 3, 2017 [27 favorites]


> Well some of them seem to be crediting Trump's criticism so

Baby steps. First get universal agreement that Earth is round, then try to convince them that its core is not made of seven-layer dip.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:30 AM on January 3, 2017 [7 favorites]


A memorial to the Congress of the United States, urging Congress to propose to the states an amendment to the United States Constitution that allows Congress to deem a law that has been declared void by certain federal courts active and operational.

So is this saying, until the Supremes strike a law down, it has to stay active...? I'm not clear on what the goal is. I mean I know it's evil, just not what the evil is.
posted by emjaybee at 9:31 AM on January 3, 2017 [2 favorites]


its core is not made of seven-layer dip.

wait, what
posted by cooker girl at 9:31 AM on January 3, 2017 [9 favorites]


Don't stop calling your reps, if you haven't yet. We don't know if these fuckers are going to try and pull the same stunt again AFTER Trump is inaugurated.
posted by SansPoint at 9:32 AM on January 3, 2017 [2 favorites]


Speaking of closed-door meetings, 2 Hours a Week's action item this week was to call your rep and Paul Ryan to stop Republicans from banning livestreaming in Congress. Here are their suggested scripts and additional info:

Suggested script for your representatives
I'm calling to urge Rep. _____ to vote against Rep. Ryan's proposal to ban live streaming and photography on the Congressional floor. It's an obvious attempt to silence and hobble the minority and goes against our Democracy's inherent spirit of transparency and openness with its constituency.

Suggested script for paul ryan
I'm calling to urge Rep. Ryan to withdraw his proposal to ban live streaming and photography on the Congressional floor. It's an unfair attempt to silence and hobble the minority and goes against our Democracy's inherent spirit of transparency and openness with its constituency.

WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT

Republicans want to fine Congressmen who violate the ban $500 for a first infraction and then $2,500 for subsequent infractions. This is a response to Democrats live streaming their sit-in protest on gun control after the Orlando shooting. After the sit-in began, Ryan ordered the C-Span cameras shut off and Democrats responded by live-streaming the protest themselves.

It’s vital that in a Republican controlled government that has shown no commitment to playing fair or following long-standing traditions of government, citizens are able to keep an eye on the daily actions in Congress. Without transparency and access by press and citizens alike, we cannot trust that the members of our government will act in the best interest of the citizenry.

Additionally, the law will also impose punishments for legislators protesting in Congress. This is just a first step that Republicans are taking to curb the only power that Democrats hold now - the power to protest.

posted by sunset in snow country at 9:33 AM on January 3, 2017 [15 favorites]


Hold on. People are conflating Trump with Congress. We have to choose our words wisely if we don't want to sound like we're making uninformed blanket statements. Sure, Trump and Congress are all "of a piece" now, but Trump didn't do this.
posted by tunewell at 9:33 AM on January 3, 2017 [4 favorites]


What could possibly go wrong?

Just days ago, Nixon's total corruption was further documented. The Republicans do change; they just keep getting worse.
posted by theora55 at 9:35 AM on January 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


So, wait.. they pulled it because Trump was against it?

I think we all got played on this one, good and hard.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 9:35 AM on January 3, 2017 [2 favorites]


Thank you, Tunewell. That very point has been bugging me all morning.
posted by double bubble at 9:36 AM on January 3, 2017


I think we all got played on this one, good and hard.

That presumes too much intelligence on the part of these buffoons. They reversed because of public pressure but couldn't admit it, so they are crediting Trump, because Trump will let them gut it in the future.
posted by maxsparber at 9:37 AM on January 3, 2017 [15 favorites]


I'm calling to urge Rep. _____ to vote against Rep. Ryan's proposal to ban live streaming and photography on the Congressional floor.

To be accurate, my understanding is that those things are already against the rules but are currently not enforced. He's just adding punishments to it, not 'banning' it. As someone said above, let's try to be accurate so we don't have to spend time dealing with dumb 'gotcha!'s.
posted by tofu_crouton at 9:39 AM on January 3, 2017 [2 favorites]


I'm not playing "what move is 8-dimensional chess by Republicans?" anymore. I'm just going to oppose bad shit. They are going to be shitty regardless.

BUT one of the things I oppose is AP/CNN/any other source implying Trump gets credit for this, while other sources say Reps got flooded with calls. I'm Tweeting them repeatedly today to call them on this unfairness.
posted by emjaybee at 9:39 AM on January 3, 2017 [30 favorites]


I don't think we've been played. I do think that it's on all of us who called to make the point that Trump was in no way the person who most forcefully criticized Republican congressmen about this. He was one of thousands, perhaps millions, and he criticized the congressmen very shallowly.

Folks can draw their own conclusions, especially if they have seen in their own networks the calls to demand accountability from Congress. And we can keep pushing the more likely narrative, which is that being flooded with calls from constituents at home played a pretty big role here.
posted by sciatrix at 9:41 AM on January 3, 2017 [2 favorites]


So is this saying, until the Supremes strike a law down, it has to stay active...?

No, they explicitly include the Supreme Court:
1 House Memorial
2 A memorial to the Congress of the United States,
3 urging Congress to propose to the states an amendment
4 to the United States Constitution that allows Congress
5 to deem a law that has been declared void by certain
6 federal courts active and operational.
7
8 WHEREAS, the judiciary branch of the Federal Government has
9 taken on an increasingly activist role aimed at molding
10 legislation according to the political beliefs of its members,
11 and
12 WHEREAS, such an activist posture tends to excessively
13 consolidate power in one branch of government, and as George
14 Washington observed, such encroachments eventually create "a
15 real despotism," and
16 WHEREAS, George Washington also wrote that the appropriate
17 method of effecting constitutional change is through amendment
18 and not by usurpation, as such encroachments would eventually
19 destroy free governments, and
20 WHEREAS, none of the members of the federal judiciary,
21 including the justices of the United States Supreme Court, are
22 elected officials subject to what Thomas Jefferson described as
23 "the elective control," and
24 WHEREAS, the United States Supreme Court currently
25 possesses ultimate and unchecked authority on matters of the
26 constitutionality of the United States' laws such that its
27 opinion on such matters has the same effect as amending the
28 United States Constitution, and
29 WHEREAS, Thomas Jefferson foresaw the dangers of "allowing
30 judges to be the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional
31 questions," calling this "a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and
32 one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy,"
33 and
34 WHEREAS, the presence of such unchecked and plenary
35 authority on determining the constitutional validity of a law of
36 the United States must be dismantled for the sake of our
37 republic and for the continued empowerment of its people, and
38 WHEREAS, the United States Congress may submit proposed
39 constitutional amendments for consideration and ratification by
40 the states, NOW, THEREFORE,
41
42 Be It Resolved by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
43
44 That the Florida Legislature respectfully petitions the
45 United States Congress to propose to the states an amendment to
46 the United States Constitution providing that any law,
47 resolution, or other legislative act declared void by the United
48 States Supreme Court or a United States court of appeals may be
49 deemed active and operational, notwithstanding the court's
50 ruling, if agreed to by Congress pursuant to a joint resolution
51 adopted by a 60 percent vote of each chamber of Congress within
52 5 years after the date the ruling becomes final. Such a joint
53 resolution shall take effect immediately upon passage.
54 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that copies of this memorial be
55 dispatched to the President of the United States, to the
56 President of the United States Senate, to the Speaker of the
57 United States House of Representatives, and to each member of
58 the Florida delegation to the United States Congress.
posted by scalefree at 9:41 AM on January 3, 2017


emjaybee, where are you seeing that? Can I have a link so that I can make some sharp comments to the press of my own?
posted by sciatrix at 9:42 AM on January 3, 2017


The other side of Trump getting credit is the entire GOP getting blame. Since it was a secret caucus vote and there was no final vote on the rules passage, they all own the attempt to gut the office no matter what Trump tries to take credit for. You can pretty much set your watch to some ethics scandals from them in the next two years, and I'd much rather be the party who criticized the move (see statements from Reps Pelosi, Capuano, and others) than the party who tried to do it and then got cold feet.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:42 AM on January 3, 2017 [7 favorites]


He's going to do this again and again and again. Because he has no loyalty and there is no defense against his cynically coopting a popular cause and taking credit for it. And it works the other way too. House GOP will respond by doing some minor reversal of his intentions along the way too. Meanwhile they sell democracy to the highest bidder with no compunction or debate. This is why we must not fall under the illusion that the enemy of our enemy is our friend. Stick to your values, and don't get distracted by the battles. All that matters is the war.

Destroy.
All.
Republicans.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:43 AM on January 3, 2017 [16 favorites]


So, wait.. they pulled it because Trump was against it?

They did not. Trump's tweet was this morning. The action on this has been going on since last night. He's being given credit for what was already a done deal before he said anything.
posted by scalefree at 9:43 AM on January 3, 2017 [4 favorites]


Dramatic measures taken and reversed in a 24 hour period is a pattern that abusers use to gain emotional control over someone.
posted by Annika Cicada at 9:44 AM on January 3, 2017 [69 favorites]


sciatrix: CNN tweet.

AP tweet.

Both imply Trump did this.
posted by emjaybee at 9:46 AM on January 3, 2017 [2 favorites]


Florida House of Representatives HM 125
A memorial to the Congress of the United States, urging Congress to propose to the states an amendment to the United States Constitution that allows Congress to deem a law that has been declared void by certain federal courts active and operational.


I don't think this passes muster, it's the Constitutional Amendment equivalent of wishing for more wishes. It could trigger a Constitutional crisis, but I think even a very conservative SCOTUS would have to refuse to apply it. It abrogates the Constitutional amendment process for anything that comes afterwards at the whim of the sitting Congress.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:47 AM on January 3, 2017


I don't think this passes muster

Marbury v. Madison, IIRC...
posted by mikelieman at 9:51 AM on January 3, 2017


I don't think this passes muster

No, obviously not. But it is another signpost of where we are & where we're headed.
posted by scalefree at 9:52 AM on January 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


Marbury v. Madison

Precisely.

No, obviously not. But it is another signpost of where we are & where we're headed.

Now that you mention it I do recall a moment during the primaries that involved some GOP notable being bold enough to call Marbury 'bad law'. Having trouble finding it now.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:55 AM on January 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


I just called my representative to express my outrage about this and I was told that the amendment had been "withdrawn from the rules package". I'm not sure exactly what these means but the person I spoke to stressed that the original amendment had not been approved unanimously for whatever that is worth. I stressed my outrage. I'm looking for confirmation that the amendment has actually been removed.
posted by bluesky43 at 9:56 AM on January 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


I'm looking for confirmation that the amendment has actually been removed.

Being reported everywhere now by mainstream media.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:58 AM on January 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


CNN is surely claiming it was because Trump objected. bah.
http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/02/politics/office-of-congressional-ethics-oversight-of-ethics-committee-amendment/
posted by bluesky43 at 9:58 AM on January 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


emjaybee: Thank you. I have blasted both of them for poor reporting and bad coverage--we don't need the media to be rushing to lick Trump's boots so early in the game, and following up on the whole story is their damned job.
posted by sciatrix at 9:59 AM on January 3, 2017 [5 favorites]




NPR is a bit more willing to spread the objections across other republicans.
http://www.npr.org/2017/01/03/508043376/after-trump-tweets-criticism-house-gop-drops-weakening-of-house-ethics-office
posted by bluesky43 at 9:59 AM on January 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


Progressive organizations spent the last 12 hrs whipping calls to House offices. That's the ONLY reason GOP backed away from gutting OCE.

Yep. It was us, not the Evil Orange. Well done all.
posted by scalefree at 10:00 AM on January 3, 2017 [10 favorites]


I have to think this was just a power play between the R Congress and Trump, and Trump's side rightly saw that any delay in response was going to help it leak over into a R vs D issue. Keeping it all on one side of the aisle preserves message control.
posted by rhizome at 10:02 AM on January 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


Good start. Now the job is to make sure that when the GOP staff thinks back on 2017, Jan. 3 looks like an easy day to man the phones.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:02 AM on January 3, 2017 [30 favorites]


Personally, I think it was a Republican power grab that Trump himself objected to on timing grounds after media had publicized it, in an attempt to curry his own favor with the nation. It's less a power play and more an evidence of weakness that we can target.

I don't actually think the Republican party has the brainpower to play N-dimensional chess with the nation. We are ascribing much more competence and planning to an "enemy" composed of a mass of human beings whose communication and organization skills are not noticeably different than the collective left's than we would do if we were not afraid.
posted by sciatrix at 10:05 AM on January 3, 2017 [15 favorites]


Does anyone have a list of the progressive organizations who organized calls? I'm on about every email alert there is and I didn't receive any alerts on this. My alert was the mefipost (go Metafilter!)
posted by bluesky43 at 10:07 AM on January 3, 2017 [2 favorites]


bluesky43, I got an email from Democrats.org early this morning.
posted by cooker girl at 10:08 AM on January 3, 2017 [3 favorites]


> Progressive organizations spent the last 12 hrs whipping calls to House offices. That's the ONLY reason GOP backed away from gutting OCE.

I *want* to believe this, but I don't think he has any evidence other than "we did this thing and then this other thing happened." Good way to fire up the troops, though.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:09 AM on January 3, 2017 [2 favorites]


I heard about it on my Pantsuit Republic group first, and then on Austin Women's Network, and then on a number of other smaller groups. Most of the organizing I was seeing was coming through Facebook, although the PSR group is quickly standing out to me as my personal activist home because it's got a lovely signal to noise ratio for Texas and I very much appreciate the lady running it.
posted by sciatrix at 10:10 AM on January 3, 2017 [6 favorites]


I *want* to believe this, but I don't think he has any evidence other than "we did this thing and then this other thing happened." Good way to fire up the troops, though.

To be fair, we also do not have any evidence that the changed decision came because of a single tweet from a President-elect with an uncertain relationship to his party in Congress. In the absence of that evidence, the narrative we choose comes in on other grounds. I prefer the one that gives me some momentum.
posted by sciatrix at 10:12 AM on January 3, 2017 [5 favorites]


TPM: To address, Sarah's point, sure they were very critical of the move thru the morning. But when GOP folded, they credited Trump.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:13 AM on January 3, 2017


Thanks Sciatrix and cookergirl. I don't have a FB account and had unsubscribed from democrats.org after getting so much email from them during the election for donations. But I've resigned up.
posted by bluesky43 at 10:14 AM on January 3, 2017 [2 favorites]


Just joined the PSR group. do they mostly use facebook for communication because ugh I can't bear to even log in to that damn site anymore.
posted by Annika Cicada at 10:15 AM on January 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


I don't actually care if it was the calls to representatives or Trump himself, as long as we stay on this shit. Maybe Trump realized how unpopular it was when he was on Twitter at 3am. Frankly, Trump making decisions based on taking the pulse of popular opinion because he is so narcisstic and needs the love of the people is about the best possible outcome.

Yes, I acknowledge this will come up again. And other shit. And that this was planned and we were being distracted. Everything is a conspiracy. It's just that that's not an interpretation of events with which I can usefully operate.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:16 AM on January 3, 2017 [11 favorites]


Trump could announce that he was foregoing taking the oath of office and would instead spend thirty minutes slowly sodomizing a bald eagle on live television

So he did appoint Milo as Press Secretary?
posted by flabdablet at 10:17 AM on January 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


Just joined the PSR group. do they mostly use facebook for communication because ugh I can't bear to even log in to that damn site anymore.

Yep, for the most part--it's one of the reasons I've been spending more time there than on Twitter. (Also because I have a more varied network on Facebook, and it's easier to rekindle connections to family and friends there. And that is also where the Austin Satanic Temple chapter is organizing itself--more local stuff there than in my Twitter feeds.) I bet you can get the Facebook posts ported to another service though if you want to set up an IFTTT to forward stuff to you, so you keep informed somewhere you already hang out?
posted by sciatrix at 10:19 AM on January 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


I don't actually care if it was the calls to representatives or Trump himself, as long as we stay on this shit

I agree! and this kind of activism is straight from the Tea Party playbook - call, don't email.
and I joined the PSR group as well. Thanks for the tip!
posted by bluesky43 at 10:20 AM on January 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


This is why we must not fall under the illusion that the enemy of our enemy is our friend. Stick to your values, and don't get distracted by the battles. All that matters is the war.

Destroy.
All.
Republicans.

This is NOT POSSIBLE. 46% of the country is Republican.

Those 46% are structurally over-represented (even separate from the advantages they have claimed through gerrymandering) because of the way the Constitution deliberately gives disproportionate votes in the electoral college and the House of Representatives to states with small populations, and the tendency of Democrats to be clustered in cities (and thus states) with big populations. So they have about 57% of the political power (306/538).

What's more, they have been (up until now) much more motivated than we are. They believe we are evil! Nothing we say can convince them otherwise! If a Democrat says the sky is blue that proves it must be orange. They believe they are fighting to save their country and their homes.

Also, a one party system is not likely or stable or desirable in America. There's always going to be a spectrum of political opinions, and the rightmost part of that spectrum might as well be called "Republican" because it doesn't really matter what we call it, it will always exist. (Though we can hope to push the whole distribution leftwards.)

So we cannot just "destroy them." They are too numerous, too powerful, and too motivated. And we can't, in a democracy, suppress the variations in political opinions that give rise to opposition.

And finally, we can't remove their political power without destroying our own country and constitution. Because they are not a foreign enemy. They are our friends and family and co-workers. They live among us. We can't hurt them without hurting ourselves.

They have been lied to. And they have believed the lies. And now they are putting pressure on their representatives to act in the service the people who have lied to them. And many (certainly not all) of their representatives would actually like to do what's right for the country, but can't, because they have to answer to their delusional/deceived constituents. Republicans in Congress will behave better when their constituents demand it of them. Right now their constituents are demanding terrible things of them. Their constituents nominated and then elected Donald Trump.

We can't and shouldn't "destroy all Republicans." What we can and must do is destroy all the LIES. If it weren't fueled by lies the Republican party could be the "loyal opposition" we need and deserve, helping to solve the real problems of our country through debate and compromise. But so long as its constituents refuse to acknowledge those real problems and persist in fear imaginary threats that cynical people keep selling them in the attempt to line their own pockets and increase their own power, they are dangerous.

The enemy isn't Republicans. The enemy is con artists and the lies they peddle. The enemy is ignorance.
posted by OnceUponATime at 10:27 AM on January 3, 2017 [21 favorites]


I meant politicians. I don't consider regular citizens to be representatives of their party.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:29 AM on January 3, 2017 [3 favorites]


I think you're reading WAY too much into Potomac Ave's comment? I read it as "destroy the modern obstructionist GOP that was started by Karl Rove back in the late 80's. The one that has ruinously fucked the world over".

I didn't read that as "destroy 46% of the US population".

Destroy the modern GOP throat-grip on this country? HELL YES.
posted by Annika Cicada at 10:30 AM on January 3, 2017 [29 favorites]


^Word.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:31 AM on January 3, 2017 [3 favorites]


So we cannot just "destroy them."

Not with that attitude.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:32 AM on January 3, 2017 [31 favorites]




Its like when Bender says 'Kill all humans' he doesn't mean kill allllll humans. He just means kill all humans.
posted by ian1977 at 10:34 AM on January 3, 2017 [8 favorites]


So, let's see if I've got this: The reason Obama couldn't use a recess appointment to fill the now 325-day vacancy in the Supreme Court is that the GOP was up late at night trying to gut independent oversight on themselves?
posted by ckape at 10:34 AM on January 3, 2017 [6 favorites]


Man, this is going to be just like the Ronald Reagan years...
posted by My Dad at 10:37 AM on January 3, 2017


I meant politicians. I don't consider people to be representatives of their party.

But have you met any regular, non-elected Republicans? Republican politicians are actually representing them VERY WELL. They are doing exactly what their voters want. So destroying these particular politicians wouldn't help. Their voters would just elect someone else just like them.

Now if you said "DESTROY. ALL. CONSERVATIVE. MEDIA OUTLETS" I'd be more on board. Breitbart, Fox News, Limbaugh, etc.. They are the liars who are creating this demand for terrible politicians among voters.
posted by OnceUponATime at 10:38 AM on January 3, 2017 [8 favorites]


I mean look at the primary opponents that McCain and Ryan faced, if you want to know why those guys have done such awful things... If they don't do awful things, their constituents will elect someone who WILL do awful things.
posted by OnceUponATime at 10:39 AM on January 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


Progressive organizations spent the last 12 hrs whipping calls to House offices. That's the ONLY reason GOP backed away from gutting OCE.

Ok, here's where I'm confused. Congress has never listened to the people before, why are they suddenly doing so now?
posted by Melismata at 10:40 AM on January 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


They have. The Tea Party have always (for the last decade) been the loudest people, so they get listened to.
posted by OnceUponATime at 10:42 AM on January 3, 2017 [4 favorites]


Man, this is going to be just like the Ronald Reagan years...

There was no social media or meaningful organizing during most of the Reagan years. Until the AIDS orgs and ACT-UP came along.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:42 AM on January 3, 2017 [4 favorites]


The enemy isn't Republicans.

I think it may be, actually.

The enemy is con artists and the lies they peddle.

What about the bad things that Republicans do or attempt which are not at all secretive?

The enemy is ignorance.

I'm sure that, once we explain this simple fact to GOP voters and politicians, they will happily recognize the error of their ways.
posted by clockzero at 10:43 AM on January 3, 2017 [13 favorites]


If they become activists they are no longer regular people. I'm down to destroy them too.

Anyway, this bill seems much much worse than this Ethics thing. Who do we call about that?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:44 AM on January 3, 2017 [3 favorites]


I'm mostly on board with destroying the cis white hetero kyriarchy and I'm starting with the modern GOP first. Gotta start somewhere.
posted by Annika Cicada at 10:45 AM on January 3, 2017 [15 favorites]


Ok, here's where I'm confused. Congress has never listened to the people before, so why are they suddenly doing so now?

They have before. And this case is even less remarkable than the other examples just cited, because here there was an immediate negative response from citizens, the media and Trump. There just wasn't much of an upside to fighting it out when it can just be re-floated later.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:45 AM on January 3, 2017 [5 favorites]


Anyway, this bill seems much much worse than this Ethics thing. Who do we call about that?

Same people. If you don't like what Congress is doing, the answer is always to call your representative and Senators' offices and tell them why. Because Congress is currently run by a bunch of flagrant kelptocrats and fascists, this means you will be calling daily. That's a good strategy -- it and primary turnout are how the far right took over the GOP.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:46 AM on January 3, 2017 [12 favorites]


The enemy is con artists and the lies they peddle.

What about the bad things that Republicans do or attempt which are not at all secretive?


Those are the things I'm talking about. The stuff Republican politicians don't keep secret because it's exactly what their constituents want. Why do they want that bad stuff? Stuff that hurts them? They've been lied to.

The enemy is ignorance.

I'm sure that, once we explain this simple fact to GOP voters and politicians, they will happily recognize the error of their ways.


I didn't say it would be easy.
posted by OnceUponATime at 10:48 AM on January 3, 2017 [3 favorites]


>>Man, this is going to be just like the Ronald Reagan years...

There was no social media or meaningful organizing during most of the Reagan years. Until the AIDS orgs and ACT-UP came along.


For sure, but there are a lot of parallels: pres who is not especially policy or details-oriented, resulting in a vacuum that is filled by competing courtiers and factions; an utterly amoral worldview that is going to result in some pretty weird scandals (e.g., Iran-Contra)... Like James Baker, you've got a staffer, Steve Bannon (who has had a pretty low profile lately) who will be, at least for the first year, acting as de facto president.
posted by My Dad at 10:48 AM on January 3, 2017 [2 favorites]


46% of the country is Republican.

What? Gallup:


You're both right. There are a lot of R leaning and voting folks in the big middle group that self identifies as Independent .

I have high hopes that in 2 years when the House turns over and a third of the Senate is up, however, this middle group will be leaning the other way.
posted by bearwife at 10:50 AM on January 3, 2017 [6 favorites]


My theory is that the number of people who are bonafide conservative republicans who have thought out their positions is actually quite low. the number of low-info 'its just common sense' people who default to thinking republican positions and candidates are more sensible, manly and pro-American however is much much higher than it should be.
posted by ian1977 at 10:52 AM on January 3, 2017 [7 favorites]


Yeah, "low-info." Trump was elected by low information (and misinformation-fed) voters. We need more informed and more well-informed voters.

The question is how can we get the real information out there, when the con artists have poisoned the well against us?
posted by OnceUponATime at 10:53 AM on January 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


We need more informed and more well-informed voters.

You go to the polls with the voters you have, not the voters you wish you had.
posted by Annika Cicada at 10:59 AM on January 3, 2017 [22 favorites]


I think the ungainly truth is that we need equally attractive easy peasy low-info positions to create a path to sway low-info voters into the left
posted by ian1977 at 11:01 AM on January 3, 2017 [11 favorites]


Washington Post: House Republicans back off gutting ethics watchdog after backlash from Trump

He's totally going to get all the credit for fixing this made up crisis.
posted by octothorpe at 11:02 AM on January 3, 2017 [9 favorites]


As with all things, the war against misinformation will not be fought on a single front. Sure, we need "easy peasy low-info positions." And we need hyper-local-scale teach-ins and education drives. And we need people to share their personal stories with emotional appeal. And we need to support responsible and courageous investigative journalism. And we need to hold platforms like Facebook and Google accountable for their algorithms.

And whether or not any of this works, we need to get out the fucking vote, because as Annika Cicada has said, at the end of the day you go to the polls with the voters you have. We need to make sure there are more of us voting than there are of them.
posted by duffell at 11:07 AM on January 3, 2017 [10 favorites]


He's totally going to get all the credit for fixing this made up crisis.

TPM makes the point here about the media narrative and the reality.

Don't be fooled. This was the result of lots of people calling their Congresscritter. Don't stop phoning, don't stop writing, don't stop putting pressure on. And that applies to the media too; find out who the ombuds or the public editors are and write them when they get it wrong or are being misleading.

Democracy is more than just voting, it's about staying involved in the process and using your voice.

I'm not an American, but the election result down there has me paying far more attention to the politics up here in Canada and part of my plan for the New Year is to be a bit more engaged in calling and writing my reps - when they do something bad, and when they do something good.
posted by nubs at 11:10 AM on January 3, 2017 [16 favorites]


I think the ungainly truth is that we need equally attractive easy peasy low-info positions to create a path to sway low-info voters into the left

I have no problem with this at all. It's advertising 101.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:12 AM on January 3, 2017 [6 favorites]


The $64,000 question: how do you overcome the reality distortion bubble that our darling Internet/social media has created for people to live in? Where it's all-confirmation-bias-all-the-time and truth is only what you agree with and click "like".

My FB feed during the election season was a barrage of half-truths and outright crap. My calling it out as such made me a "dupe of the corrupt media". Maybe you can reach people on the fence, but when you go so far down the rabbit hole that a person can sincerely believe that a U.S. major political party is running a child sex ring out of a pizza parlour, is that too far gone?
posted by dr_dank at 11:13 AM on January 3, 2017 [4 favorites]




ow do you overcome the reality distortion bubble
with the hammer of solidarity
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:16 AM on January 3, 2017 [11 favorites]


Brandon Blatcher: "Is there a particular reason that politicians making 175K a year off tax payer money feel the need to hold secret meetings that dismantle a committee that oversees their ethics? This isn't how any hardworking real American starts their first day on the job."

You know, I just don't do politics on Facebook, but as spoon as I read that, I copied and pasted it as my status. Hope you don't mind, B.B.
posted by wenestvedt at 11:20 AM on January 3, 2017 [14 favorites]


Where it's all-confirmation-bias-all-the-time and truth is only what you agree with and click "like".

Imagine a world where Stephen King wrote the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. That's the world we live in.
posted by Annika Cicada at 11:21 AM on January 3, 2017 [12 favorites]


Ok, So is there any chance that some of the representatives voted to bring this proposal to a vote in a secret ballot so that they could vote against it publicly and show their constituents that they aren't like the rest of this new corrupt administration. Basically a "make myself look good" vote?

No, but rest assured that when there's enough votes safely secured for this to pass a few Republicans who are already under investigation will be allowed to change their votes to "No" so that they can play it off like they weren't afraid of the truth.
posted by dances with hamsters at 11:25 AM on January 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


The $64,000 question: how do you overcome the reality distortion bubble that our darling Internet/social media has created for people to live in? Where it's all-confirmation-bias-all-the-time and truth is only what you agree with and click "like".

I keep wondering about some kind of organization that identifies popular misinformation as it crops up and then uses crowd funding to send out factual corrections as targeted Facebook ads, like a mirror universe Cambridge Analytica working for good.
posted by jason_steakums at 11:27 AM on January 3, 2017 [3 favorites]


I keep wondering about some kind of organization that identifies popular misinformation as it crops up and then uses crowd funding to send out factual corrections

Politifact and Snopes are already seen as suspect by conservatives, though. Anyone who accuses a conservative leader of lying must themselves be lying. It's so frustrating.

And then there's this true tweet:

Trump doesn't care if we think he's telling the truth - he just wants his supporters to doubt that anyone's telling the truth.

And in the responses to that, this Hannah Arendt quote:

"The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (ie the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (ie the standards of thought) no longer exist."

posted by OnceUponATime at 11:33 AM on January 3, 2017 [27 favorites]


To me, this is the terminal illness of the Left. If you have engaged in [X], no matter the reason, you are a monster and I don’t want you on my side. Context doesn’t matter, history doesn’t matter, the passage of decades doesn’t matter— if you did [X], get away from me. And so the Left keeps dying in the arena, because it doesn’t want YOUR help, or YOUR weapons, or YOUR rescue helicopter.

I think this may be the terminal illness of principled people in politics, regardless of leanings. So we wind up voting in people who are spin-doctors from both extremes because they do the best job of telling us what we want to hear.
posted by randomkeystrike at 11:38 AM on January 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


He's totally going to get all the credit for fixing this made up crisis.

This narrative is so damn dangerous, and it's making me furious. I've seen several people argue that Democrats lose elections because they have a hard time mustering voters to the polls. I'd like to think after this last election fiasco that democrats (and non-crazy republicans, I guess) would be more motivated to vote, but I'm also probably not alone in thinking that modern political maneuvering has made me essentially powerless. Clinton got millions more votes; didn't matter - Trump won. North Carolina elected a democratic governor; didn't matter - republicans changed the rules. Hell, Pew Research released a report today showing that 7 in 10 Americans don't want to overturn Roe vs. Wade, including 53% of Republicans; doesn't matter, as long as Trump gets one of more Supreme Court Justices from the Heritage Foundation's list rubber-stamped into a life appointment of restricting civil rights.

But dammit, we did something today. We spoke up, and those spineless congresscritter bastards listened to us. And Trump and several media outlets are going to take all the credit, sending the message that, once again, it doesn't fucking matter what we do. And although I plan on voting in every single election for the rest of my life, I'm also probably not alone in feeling like I don't matter, that gerrymandering, money, big business, and religion are going to reshape our political system so that my voice, and the voices of people who feel the same way I do are simply going to be there for show.

I'm not saying that we have no power. But I'm saying it sure does feel that way more and more each day, especially with stories like this one.
posted by bibliowench at 11:40 AM on January 3, 2017 [31 favorites]


I keep wondering about some kind of organization that identifies popular misinformation as it crops up and then uses crowd funding to send out factual corrections

You have to *earn* moral authority. Being right is simply not enough. Anyway, the backtracking today has to possible lessons:

1) Politics still works; or,
2) No one wants to mess with Trump's Twitter account
posted by My Dad at 11:45 AM on January 3, 2017 [2 favorites]


I'm not saying that we have no power. But I'm saying it sure does feel that way more and more each day, especially with stories like this one.

For what it is worth, acting on a more local basis is just as important and can feel less like screaming into the void. One of my resolutions for this year is to identify the policy positions of DC agencies that I like (e.g., move toward greater reliance on renewables) and tell them that's awesome, how can I help? (e.g., lobbying local businesses to buy in).
posted by C'est la D.C. at 11:47 AM on January 3, 2017 [4 favorites]


The $64,000 question: how do you overcome the reality distortion bubble that our darling Internet/social media has created for people to live in?

Read traditional media - don't get all your news just in secondhand online sources like Facebook, nor from The Daily Show - and think for yourself.
posted by Miko at 11:51 AM on January 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


I'm on about every email alert there is and I didn't receive any alerts on this. My alert was the mefipost (go Metafilter!)

My husband saw it on his NYT phone feed yesterday afternoon, so I researched it and did my calls this morning. I also went on our local Action Together page and it was one of the day's action items.
posted by Miko at 11:51 AM on January 3, 2017


Read traditional media - don't get all your news just in secondhand online sources like Facebook, nor from The Daily Show - and think for yourself.

This works for those of us who trust traditional media. The people we're fighting against don't trust traditional media. That's the problem.
posted by cooker girl at 11:52 AM on January 3, 2017 [7 favorites]


If folks in New York are looking for something to do, it looks like the New York Senate will be held by the Republicans despite Democrats holding a one-seat majority. Why? Fucking "independent Democrats" caucusing with the Republicans.

New York State Senators are elected to two-year terms. Primary elections are a thing.
posted by duffell at 11:53 AM on January 3, 2017 [19 favorites]


This was the first skirmish of 2017 and I'm counting it as a win. We can (and should) talk about the details but for just this moment I'm relishing that we pushed back on an odious thing and they backed down. This will keep me making phone calls and will help me make the case to friends that they should call too. Yay us!
posted by mcduff at 11:56 AM on January 3, 2017 [17 favorites]


I keep wondering about some kind of organization that identifies popular misinformation as it crops up and then uses crowd funding to send out factual corrections

Hannah Arendt:

In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and nothing was true… The totalitarian mass leaders based their propaganda on the correct psychological assumption that, under such conditions, one could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust that if the next day they were given irrefutable proof of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism; instead of deserting the leaders who had lied to them, they would protest that they had known all along that the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness.

We should have learned this lesson from the Holocaust, we must learn it from this election: Our fact checking will not save us.
posted by maxsparber at 11:59 AM on January 3, 2017 [33 favorites]


Praising Trump for this sounds like what we do when we praise our 6 year old for brushing his teeth. "Yay, you have achived baseline human! Keep it up!"
posted by robocop is bleeding at 12:00 PM on January 3, 2017 [4 favorites]


>He's totally going to get all the credit for fixing this made up crisis.

This narrative is so damn dangerous, and it's making me furious.


Yes and no. On the one hand, I agree with commenters above that we should do what we can to push the narrative that the outcry from citizens concerned about Congressional corruption is what stopped this amendment. (It's at least as consistent with the facts as the Trump-tweeted, Congress-listened narrative.)

But yes, one of Trump's major weak points is that he is susceptible to public opinion himself, and we can leverage that. The objective outcome here was that a bad thing was stopped from happening. Trump is always going to try to take credit, and sometimes he will get away with it even when it seems grossly unfair. But this shows that he can be manuvered and it shows that he's at some level concerned about his own reputation for being "anti-Washington". It will be harder and harder for him to maintain that image as he is now no longer an outsider -- he's the chief insider.

So we keep pushing, and pitting Congress and the President against each other, and doing what we can at the margins to defend the good things and stop the bad reforms.
posted by tivalasvegas at 12:01 PM on January 3, 2017 [15 favorites]


You have to *earn* moral authority. Being right is simply not enough.

Oh for sure, if you're asking people to make the effort to really listen to you. I guess I was more thinking of something along the lines of the same easily-digestible hit-and-run posts that are utilized by the propagandists, where attribution to a trusted source isn't all that important. What I wonder is if there's a needle you can thread where you take messaging and image signifiers of low-information right wing propaganda and utilize it to convey facts counter to the right wing narrative. Typically I'd think that's a really tall order, but then you see things like the Republican approval rating of Putin flipping in a matter of weeks and realize that there's no core ideological center to hold, there's only tribalism which has a communication signal you can hijack: see all the blatant and effective attempts to peel off Bernie supporters on Reddit by right wing posters utilizing the language of the left to further drive that wedge into the Democratic party. If you can use those methods to deliver a payload of facts like a parent sneaking vegetables into family meals, Facebook is the perfect system to deploy it. Idk, I think it's worth thinking on.
posted by jason_steakums at 12:02 PM on January 3, 2017 [4 favorites]


The danger is that he can leverage his "credit" into political power". But the upside is that he gets the credit by doing good things (or not doing bad things), which is an objective win for Team Sanity.
posted by tivalasvegas at 12:03 PM on January 3, 2017 [2 favorites]


Praising Trump for this sounds like what we do when we praise our 6 year old for brushing his teeth. "Yay, you have achived baseline human! Keep it up!"

Also applicable to the nevertrumpers who have evinced support for most of what his administration picks espouse.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:03 PM on January 3, 2017 [2 favorites]


Hannah Arendt:
In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and nothing was true… The totalitarian mass leaders based their propaganda on the correct psychological assumption that, under such conditions, one could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust that if the next day they were given irrefutable proof of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism; instead of deserting the leaders who had lied to them, they would protest that they had known all along that the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness.
We should have learned this lesson from the Holocaust, we must learn it from this election: Our fact checking will not save us.


This is true, absolutely.

This is also a piss-poor reason for giving up on the truth without exhausting every tactic you can think of.
posted by jason_steakums at 12:14 PM on January 3, 2017 [10 favorites]


Oh I don't think anyone is saying give up on truth. I read it as it's going to take more than truth to save our asses.
posted by Annika Cicada at 12:19 PM on January 3, 2017 [6 favorites]


I spent the past half hour contacting Republican reps who voted against this. I only stopped because my phone battery ran out. Here's hoping they remember this positive reinforcement when Toupee Fiasco does the next cringeworthy thing.
posted by pxe2000 at 12:31 PM on January 3, 2017 [3 favorites]


Seriously, when even Jack Abramoff is dunking on you, what the fuck are you even doing
posted by Existential Dread at 12:40 PM on January 3, 2017


Which is traditional media, out of curiosity? (Actual genuine curiosity.)
posted by XtinaS at 12:41 PM on January 3, 2017


Robert Costa:

Did Trump tilt House Rs away from ethics change? Consensus inside House GOP is that it was already on path to being shelved. But there is an acknowledgement that media frenzy + Trump tweets hung over the House & ldrshp as they made final decision today. This is their new world. Internal party moves never stay inside the room. Everything is a tweet away from becoming a nat'l firestorm. Most members tell me blizzard of angry constituent calls were most impt factor in getting the House to sideline the amdt “Every left wing organization is calling my office." Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), chairman of the rules committee

Emphasis mine.
posted by zabuni at 12:41 PM on January 3, 2017 [18 favorites]


Most members tell me blizzard of angry constituent calls were most impt factor in getting the House to sideline the amdt “Every left wing organization is calling my office." Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), chairman of the rules committee

Again, they haven't listened to their constituents before, so why are they now? Since when does a Republican chairman listen to left wing organizations? What am I missing here?
posted by Melismata at 12:43 PM on January 3, 2017 [3 favorites]


What am I missing here?

That it's all an act so that they have enough political cover to sneak it in with some other bill, which is basically what Trump asked them to do.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:46 PM on January 3, 2017 [2 favorites]


I often think the question is how do you get a sports-fan to stop supporting their team? One which they've likely identified with as long as they've followed sports.

It feels, to this outsider at least, that there's so much identity wrapped up in your politics that it's hard to disentangle it to allow honest conversations about policy and their outcomes.

If a party put forth an empty chair as their presidential candidate with the promise to fill it with a really great pick just before inauguration, how much do you really think the balance of the vote would swing?
posted by Static Vagabond at 12:48 PM on January 3, 2017 [4 favorites]


Oh I don't think anyone is saying give up on truth. I read it as it's going to take more than truth to save our asses.

Nobody is saying give up on truth. But the newspapers spent endless amounts of time fact checking Hitler, and, in the end, it didn't matter. Arendt pointed out that it didn't matter Hitler didn't make true statements, he made statements to justify what he intended to do. It didn't matter if Jews were actually responsible for Germany losing World War I, it was just what needed to be true to justify murdering them.

Truth is important. I believe in living in a fact-based world. I believe in making decisions based on verifiable facts, and having discussions based on shared facts.

But when you're dealing with people for whom facts are unimportant, facts are surprisingly useless. And because we believe in them, we believe in the power of them, we return to them again and again, going through Trump's speeches and pointing out where he has lied.

It did nothing. Because for him, and his voters, the truth was, at best, unprovable, at worst didn't exist. Statements function to promote something or to attack something, and if those statements serve their function, they are valuable. Truth doesn't enter into it.

And you can't fight that with facts. You can't fight it with fact checking. Because that's the wrong game. They are playing a game of amassing power while we're busy correcting their grammar. And this is the way it always happens with totalitarians, and the press, and the fact checkers, and the truth, never gets in their way.

We need different tactics. That's what I'm saying.
posted by maxsparber at 12:48 PM on January 3, 2017 [49 favorites]


What am I missing here?
Internal Republican politics. The actual leadership of the House of Representatives (Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy) were also against. Nobody wanted this thing, and McCarthy called their asses out about this 1)Not being on the agenda, and 2) Not having enough votes to pass.

So unlike Obamacare, which the entire Republican party supports destroying, the people that tried to float this didn't have enough political power not to wilt under pressure.
posted by zabuni at 12:53 PM on January 3, 2017 [7 favorites]


Can there be a morning soon where I don't wake up and think "yeah, we are fucked?"
posted by LuckyMonkey21 at 12:53 PM on January 3, 2017


Can there be a morning soon where I don't wake up and think "yeah, we are fucked

sure! first, you want to shove a crayon up your nose until you feel a soft crunch
posted by entropicamericana at 12:58 PM on January 3, 2017 [16 favorites]


sure! first, you want to shove a crayon up your nose until you feel a soft crunch

you want me to stick a crayon up there and ruin the perfectly good dorito I have stashed??
posted by ian1977 at 1:01 PM on January 3, 2017 [9 favorites]


Speaking of closed-door meetings, 2 Hours a Week's action item this week was to call your rep and Paul Ryan to stop Republicans from banning livestreaming in Congress. Here are their suggested scripts and additional info:
Hi. I used to work in the office that filmed the Senate for TV.

There are some very good reasons for keeping the press out of the House/Senate chambers themselves. There's very little to be gained by turning the chamber into more of a show/media circus than it already is, or by pushing even more of the debates off of the floor.

The floor broadcasts are fairly tightly-controlled by the House and Senate rules, and are executed by a quasi-independent body (in the case of the Senate, it's the Sergeant at Arms). There's a very specific formula that dictates where the cameras are pointed, and when. (NB: It's (much) easier to change the rules of the House, which is why things tend to be a bit more loosely-organized on that side)

Where appropriate, we should push for better versions of those rules (such as allowing the cameras to indicate when a Congressperson is speaking to an empty room, and preventing the shenanigans that Ryan attempted). If we are going to concede that filming/televising the chamber is a good idea at all*, then I'd argue that the current arrangement is adequate.

*Broadcasting Congress on TV has had the effect of promoting showboating and pushing almost all substantive debate behind closed doors. It's arguably led to less transparency.

Also, don't blindly assume that C-SPAN is a benign actor, or automatically equate C-SPAN's TV product with the House/Senate floor broadcasts. AFAIK, C-SPAN does not have any special status (anybody with the appropriate infrastructure can access the House/Senate pool feed), and the cable/media companies that fund it certainly have their own agenda.

posted by schmod at 1:05 PM on January 3, 2017 [11 favorites]


So weak. If we have no private oversight, who is going to keep these politicians in check?
posted by pizzakats708 at 1:08 PM on January 3, 2017


What am I missing here?

That it's dead for now. Just wait until Americans are distracted by another shiny object and I'm sure it will pass then.
posted by SisterHavana at 1:16 PM on January 3, 2017 [2 favorites]


Well done everyone! Now please, someone start a thread on some animal cuteness, or good music or culture, or just something to get my mind off the terror we have just averted.
posted by Ber at 2:15 PM on January 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


Thanks so much to all of you that post how to call your reps and what you say. That really helps me figure out how I'm going to do it, what I'm going to say, and then helps me encourage non-mefi people on social media and irl to do likewise. Please keep doing that!
posted by dog food sugar at 2:32 PM on January 3, 2017 [6 favorites]


But then we learn this:
1. Trump, upset by all the complaints heard about this GOP gambet, changed their minds on closing that group down.
1. a. shows that a loud enough complaint can sometimes work
2. Now the Clintons, hubby and wife, as well as George Bush have decided to attend the inauguration
2a. that then will undercut the massive protests planned against the president elect and seem to legitimize his role/rule
posted by Postroad at 2:35 PM on January 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


Well, I kind of tossed off "traditional media" but what I really mean is "legacy media" - media organizations that predate the Internet. Now, of course many of them also suck (cable TV news, talk radio). But the journalistic ones, that have spent a century or so achieving and honing their reputation, are still reliable sources of fact-based news. Most of them started out as newspapers (or books, broadcasts, or journals/magazines) and most are now also on the web. it's not the media format but the organization itself that lends reliability. Of course, there are also some very solid hybrids and born-digital outlets, but the good ones share with good legacy media an editorial structure dependent on original reporting, a journalistic process, editing, and accountability. Pro Publica, for instance, hasn't been around long but it is headed by old newspaper staffers and mostly distributes through old news orgs.

On a second note: I agree facts aren't everything, and of course the idea that some people (left AND right) reject facts is what prompted this whole subthread. But I also know that *I* need the facts in order to know what and whom to fight. We don't fight them with the facts - as maxsparber says, that doesn't work - but we need the facts for the fight. We need our own solid grip on a shared reality that we can show to be some degree of real.
posted by Miko at 2:37 PM on January 3, 2017 [12 favorites]


My current prescription to myself (yours may vary):

-Less hand-wringing, more angry protesting.
-Not looking for deep dark subtle motives when plain ugly motives are clearly there
-Not counting on Democrats to do everything right
-Not being devastated when they do something stupid/objectionable
-Refuse to be nice to people doing or saying terrible things
-Refuse to shut up about said terrible things
-Refuse to be afraid
-Seek out and support allies, and if you have more privilege, try to use it in their favor/to advance them.
-Raise your kid(s) to do same.
-Pace yourself, because this is not a short-term thing. Make it a normal part of your life.
posted by emjaybee at 2:58 PM on January 3, 2017 [31 favorites]


So is this going to be a pattern going forward? Trump plays good cop to the GOP's bad cop and the press happily prints the narrative?
posted by octothorpe at 3:15 PM on January 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


On a second note: I agree facts aren't everything, and of course the idea that some people (left AND right) reject facts is what prompted this whole subthread. But I also know that *I* need the facts in order to know what and whom to fight. We don't fight them with the facts - as maxsparber says, that doesn't work - but we need the facts for the fight. We need our own solid grip on a shared reality that we can show to be some degree of real.

Yes, this. We actually don't live in a fact-free world. This is another lie brought to us by the people who want 'truth' to be another weapon wielded by the power-hungry. We're being told to live in a world of distortions and shadows, of parades of horrors that hoist up one or two anecdotes as if they were the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Turkey balloon.

But reality is a thing. The sea really is rising. Our nation really is multi-racial. Black and brown and LGBTQ lives really do matter.

We must not join the propaganda parade. We keep our feet on the ground, we remain appropriately self-critical, and we remind ourselves constantly that we are committed to understanding the world as it is, insofar as we are able.
posted by tivalasvegas at 3:18 PM on January 3, 2017 [15 favorites]


So I got an email today from my union:

"In advance of a vote yesterday, we sent a letter to House Republicans opposing proposed changes to rules that govern legislative procedure for the House of Representatives.

The change re-institutes a process known as the Holman Rule. Under that process, certain amendments would be allowed on appropriations measures that are legislative in nature which are generally banned.

Amendments that seek to reduce the number of federal employee positions at agencies, as well as reduce federal employee salaries and compensation could be offered.

We supported an effort to strike that provision from the Rules package but that effort was voted down. In our letter to the House we stayed that, 'Funding for federal agencies and employees should be determined through the course of a deliberative process, and should not be at the mercy of political floor statements that only serve to destroy Congress’ inherent role to provide funding for the federal government’s operations and personnel.'"

So basically it seems like Republicans are currently throwing everything at the wall right now and seeing what sticks. We don't get to rest for even one second.
posted by C'est la D.C. at 3:25 PM on January 3, 2017 [8 favorites]


Trump is claiming he will hold a "general" press conference on Jan 11th, so I'm sure he'll clear everything up.
posted by JenMarie at 4:08 PM on January 3, 2017


Trump is claiming he will hold a "general" press conference on Jan 11th, so I'm sure he'll clear everything up.

If a press conference happens I will eat my left shoe.
posted by Talez at 4:21 PM on January 3, 2017 [4 favorites]


Trump is claiming he will hold a "general" press conference on Jan 11th, so I'm sure he'll clear everything up.

He's nominating more generals to his cabinet?
posted by indubitable at 4:25 PM on January 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


I'm not saying that we have no power. But I'm saying it sure does feel that way more and more each day, especially with stories like this one.

Well, that's what I'm saying upthread about the stories we tell ourselves and the ones we demand to hear told. Whatever the media is saying, the evidence is at least as good that the phones ringing off the hook worked this time. So take that as heartening and keep pushing. Remind yourself of wins and times when people pushing against the forces of ignorance, hatred, bigotry and oppressive rule have triumphed and study their tactics... but more than that, remember that winning is possible, with enough effort.

At least, that is the thing I am doing as I plan my sustainable strategy. I'll try to share here the stories of small victories that led to decisive changes in hearts and minds every Monday, in case they help anyone else.
posted by sciatrix at 4:37 PM on January 3, 2017 [13 favorites]


Trump is claiming he will hold a "general" press conference on Jan 11th, so I'm sure he'll clear everything up.

It's not a coincidence, or even a mystery, really:
@BraddJaffy: Same day as Rex Tillerson's confirmation hearing is tentatively scheduled to be held
He knows the press, who he's deliberately starving of direct contact, will leap at the chance because they can't resist the shiny objects. If the date for the confirmation hearings change, so will the press conference. Whenever it happens to be, he'll definitely say something outrageous as the GOP dutifully confirms his appointment while almost no one is watching.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:38 PM on January 3, 2017 [5 favorites]


Did anyone notice this Kellyanne Conway quote?
posted by smudgedlens at 5:26 PM on January 3, 2017




I think you meant Caudillo. It's good to be more precise when spouting racist, entitled stereotypes.

You're right, it was a typo on my iPad. And that comment is really unnecessarily hostile. What's wrong with you? There are people on the other end of these nicknames.

And the name isn't racist, as least so far as I've ever heard. And it's a pretty common connection being drawn. Here's one at Politico. Another at Foreign Affairs.
posted by persona au gratin at 7:19 PM on January 3, 2017 [2 favorites]


I'm already getting weekly emails from re:act, but does anyone know of a group that will send me a daily text message with important daily actions I can take? I'm a little hesitant to sign up for a lot of groups because I fear I will then be constantly bombarded with texts. A daily text would be good for me (or fewer if there's not much going on / more than one a day if something super important comes up). I tend to be more protective of my phone number than I am with my email address, which means I pay closer attention to the texts I do get and am more likely to act on something in a timely manner.
posted by triggerfinger at 7:23 PM on January 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


Yes, triggerfinger, I do! I have been finding the Daily Action very helpful, and they do exactly what you are asking for, usually with very practical and doable daily goals.
posted by sciatrix at 7:25 PM on January 3, 2017 [5 favorites]


THANK YOU sciatrix! I just signed up! :)
posted by triggerfinger at 7:34 PM on January 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


Potomac Avenue asked this upstream but I didn't see a follow up, and reading about REINS and the "Midnight Rules" bill I am really concerned about them. How can I find out about and help promote the same kind of massive response & call effort on this new issue?

(I realize it's not the topic of this thread, but this seems like a very good place to ask.)
posted by StrawberryPie at 7:44 PM on January 3, 2017


if you want another place to ask, I have a MeTa about stuff to do, too! Might be easier to search than megathreads. Also, I am going to keep posting there just as a record for myself every week, but it feels slightly awkward. I'd love to hear about things all of you are doing or want to do, too--even if they are small!

Like I said, I have been checking in on this sort of thing for those bills and actually mentioned them in previous calls, but I'm going to be making another set of calls to both the House and Senate reps tomorrow morning on REINS in particular. I've been following up with people taking action on these through Pantsuit Republic, like I said, but that group is Texas-specific. If you want to find a similar outfit more local to you, the Action Together Network has a listing function that at least provides names or links to a lot of local orgs that are networking together to keep too many people from re-inventing the wheel. Also good is finding folks in your local area to follow on whatever social media you like best and keeping each other informed that way, which is also something you can do here on MeFi.
posted by sciatrix at 7:52 PM on January 3, 2017 [3 favorites]


Article in Politico: So Goodlatte, backed by a group of lawmakers who felt they had been wrongly accused by the OCE, devised a plan to rein in the office. They worked in secret for weeks, making sure word didn’t leak out to Democrats or the media. Then, just before House Republicans met to approve their rules package for the new Congress, they unveiled their amendment to scale back the powers of the OCE and put it under the House Ethics Committee’s jurisdiction.
posted by StrawberryPie at 7:55 PM on January 3, 2017


Then, just before House Republicans met to approve their rules package for the new Congress, they unveiled their amendment to scale back the powers of the OCE and put it under the House Ethics Committee’s jurisdiction.

This implies that Paul Ryan is totally clueless and powerless as Speaker of the House. You have to wonder what his game is now. He might have been expecting Trump to lose leaving an opening for him in 2020, but what is his future as a neutered leader?
posted by JackFlash at 8:17 PM on January 3, 2017 [3 favorites]


GOP Congressional OCE vote checklist

Naturally my scumbag asshole used-car-salesman* of a Trumpnik voted yes.

*Literally! He owns several car dealerships!
posted by dirigibleman at 8:24 PM on January 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


The current structure survives, at least for the moment.

Paying attention can still apparently have some impact (cynically, I'd add "at least if the issue is easy to understand in a sentence or two.")

Apologies if the reversal was already linked, didn't see it yet . . .
posted by mark k at 8:59 PM on January 3, 2017


OK, my thread reading comprehension is low and that was already posted and discussed. I was maybe on a stale refresh from this morning. Or something. Sorry.
posted by mark k at 9:19 PM on January 3, 2017


What in the christ? Someone please.

He's doing what he can to increase uncertainty about the report, in this case lying about the schedule. It was always going to be presented to Obama on Thursday & Friday to the rest of us, nothing has changed. But now people who listen to him will think it has. To him that's a win.
posted by scalefree at 10:21 PM on January 3, 2017


I [heart?] my gerrymandered district t-shirts.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:21 PM on January 3, 2017 [6 favorites]


I contacted my rep's office here in Alaska, Don Young, before the vote came up but in the end he was on a flight so could not vote. His spokesperson said he would have voted for it because he thinks the office is "in need of reforms."

Of course he has been under investigation more than once by both the Office of Congressional Ethics and the House Committee on Ethics and has had to pay back many thousands of dollars because of it. I guess those reforms he wants are the kind where he doesn't have to pay back the graft or have anyone question his right to take it.

Not that this is surprising in any way, he's not all that strong on morality or ethics. Don Young is the kind of guy who goes to speak at a high school about something else and ends up telling the kids that their friend who recently killed themself was kind of a loser because of mental health problems, oh and all you kids failed to help that kid anyway. If your friend was suicidal and you didn't stop him it is your fault. Also learn some respect and don't talk back to Don Young. The kids at the assembly called him out in a public forum, because they are awesome. (Seriously, kids yelling at him at an assembly and him freaking out was beautiful, not that it stopped him from being elected again IOKIYAR).

He is a disgusting human being and it is amazing to me every time he gets re-elected. I hope those kids won't forget him telling them they failed to help their friend because they are coming to voting age now.
posted by Belle O'Cosity at 2:49 AM on January 4, 2017 [11 favorites]


Potomac Avenue asked this upstream but I didn't see a follow up, and reading about REINS and the "Midnight Rules" bill I am really concerned about them. How can I find out about and help promote the same kind of massive response & call effort on this new issue?

Advocacy groups that push for stronger government regulations, e.g. on the environment, are going to be leading the charge on both of those and a separate "regulatory reform" package that our favorite person in the whole world, Bob Goodlatte, will be unveiling Friday. Aside from general-purpose progressive groups I'd look to the AFL-CIO, NRDC, Sierra Club, etc., on this one.

Also, unlike with the ethics commission attacks, the House GOP is united around these bills and has been for some time -- previous iterations have passed the House with near-unanimous Republican support. Opposition should focus on the Senate.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:32 AM on January 4, 2017


So here's what House Republicans felt was such an overreach by OCE that it needed to be reined in. Rep. Duncan Hunter was flagged for using campaign funds to pay for an airplane seat for the family pet rabbit. Words truly fail me.
posted by scalefree at 4:41 AM on January 4, 2017 [12 favorites]


Way upthread, but I needed to comment:

Oh, I'm making a fuss. Have you even seen my Twitter page. It's nothing but fuss.

With all due respect, "fuss" on one's Twitter or Facebook page ain't worth a bucket of warm spit.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:53 AM on January 4, 2017 [5 favorites]


I've been only half-following this story but what blows my mind is that anyone thought the optics of this made any sense. Surely even a half-competent evil mastermind would have tried renaming the ethics office in question to something less obviously "good guys", right? Like, just first attach a rider to unrelated legislation renaming "Office of Congressional Ethics" to "Commission of Internal Compliance". That sounds good and bureaucratic. Then a few months down the line you can easily just kill it and use the paltry little 1.4m budget to fly your rabbit first class around the world a few times. Nobody is going to miss a legislative adjunct body with such a boring-sounding name.

But seriously, doing a bunch of cloak-and-daggering to literally kill the office responsible for enforcing your own adherence to basic human decency as the very first activity out the gate in a new Congress?? Who even does that? Did they seriously think nobody would notice? What the fuck kind of amateurs are these guys?
posted by potrzebie at 4:59 AM on January 4, 2017 [5 favorites]


But seriously, doing a bunch of cloak-and-daggering to literally kill the office responsible for enforcing your own adherence to basic human decency as the very first activity out the gate in a new Congress?? Who even does that? Did they seriously think nobody would notice? What the fuck kind of amateurs are these guys?

They're pros. It's the furtherest time out from the election and the electorate has the retention ability of a goldfish. If you wanted to try to throw all your evil shit at the wall and see what sticks now would be the exact time to throw it.
posted by Talez at 5:03 AM on January 4, 2017 [8 favorites]


I've been only half-following this story but what blows my mind is that anyone thought the optics of this made any sense.

It was part of the routine rules vote for the new Congress. It came up via the subcommittee on rules and had been voted by them to go forward for a full vote. As such it was buried in a morass of other rules set out for the 115th Congress. It's entirely possible that in a slightly less observant climate, nobody would have noticed. The fact that we noticed at all is down to the D Congresspeople who raised it up (and, well, Ryan) and the journalists who cover Congress and the editors who realized it was headline material.
posted by Miko at 5:29 AM on January 4, 2017 [2 favorites]


With all due respect, "fuss" on one's Twitter or Facebook page ain't worth a bucket of warm spit.

Truer words have never been spoken.
posted by bentpyramid at 5:50 AM on January 4, 2017


With all due respect, "fuss" on one's Twitter or Facebook page ain't worth a bucket of warm spit.

With all due respect, that was a joke, although I did later provide links to a large number of agencies that work for voters rights, ask that people help fund them, and do have a pretty descent-sized following, so I'm not sure it's as worthless as you suggest.
posted by maxsparber at 5:50 AM on January 4, 2017 [5 favorites]


The Irish Times (!) used the headline "Trump tweets save ethics watchdog." Now the Irish Times has nothing to fear from DT, but they are rowing in with the lamentable narrative anyway. Incensed letter to editor sent.
posted by stonepharisee at 6:08 AM on January 4, 2017 [2 favorites]


You know, thinking about it, I spent a half hour yesterday going through responses to a Tweet from John Carpenter. He had protested that the aliens in They Live are not supposed to be Jews, and so there were dozens, hundreds of overtly anti Semitic responses, which I reported and the blocked.

Lindy West wrote an article yesterday about leaving Twitter. She didn't leave because it's a bad platform for activism, but because the alt right had so effectively used it for their campaigns. While we poo poo Twitter, the other side has spent years turning into a mechanism of activism and normalization.

It's worth a hell of a lot more than a bucket of spit. It just shouldn't be the only thing we do. And isn't, in my case.
posted by maxsparber at 6:15 AM on January 4, 2017 [6 favorites]


She didn't leave because it's a bad platform for activism, but because the alt right had so effectively used it for their campaigns.

That is inaccurate. She very specifically states in her article that the reason wasn't the alt-right, but Twitter's flat refusal to do anything about widespread harassment and normalization of hate: I hate to disappoint anyone, but the breaking point for me wasn’t the trolls themselves... it was the global repercussions of Twitter’s refusal to stop them.
posted by duffell at 6:29 AM on January 4, 2017 [8 favorites]


That's a bit orthogonal to my point, which is that Twitter can be an effective tool for organizing. West herself talks about the extent to which the platform has been a tool for her political self-education, which is one of her regrets in leaving it.
posted by maxsparber at 6:40 AM on January 4, 2017 [1 favorite]


I've become concerned about these tools - all of them - Facebook, Twitter, and Google, especially Docs, which has been a linchpin of my own organizing. They are very powerful in the near term. However, I think we'd be wise to start thinking of them as transitional. They are all proprietary, and none are secure. Things could get to the point where we can't or shouldn't use these as places to recruit, galvanize, organize and strategize. I am interested in exploring alternative platforms that we can shift to, digitally driven of course, but also up to and including reviving some of the analog communications know-how that fueled past resistance efforts. I am thinking of the scene in To Be Or Not To Be where there's a bookstore with a copy of Hamlet that people used to post messages to each other! It may not get to that point, but I feel I must necessarily limit my praise of how effective Facebook, Twitter, and Google are as organizing tools because of the wider issues around their ownership and moderation.
posted by Miko at 7:02 AM on January 4, 2017 [7 favorites]


It may be premature, but I think it is useful to consider the ways people organized in totalitarian environments. I mean, we may be a long way off from recording albums on old x-rays, but we're never really that far off.
posted by maxsparber at 7:14 AM on January 4, 2017 [2 favorites]


I've become concerned about these tools - all of them - Facebook, Twitter, and Google, especially Docs, which has been a linchpin of my own organizing. They are very powerful in the near term. However, I think we'd be wise to start thinking of them as transitional. They are all proprietary, and none are secure.

To me, the big issue is that require an internet connection and "cloud". Take that away, which is pretty easy, and suddenly you grind to a halt.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:20 AM on January 4, 2017 [3 favorites]


While we poo poo Twitter, the other side has spent years turning into a mechanism of activism and normalization.

On the other hand, the alt-right, having had some of its favorites kicked off of Twitter, is now gravitating to Gab.

Like attracts like, so I expect there will be similar platforms in future for varying tastes.
posted by IndigoJones at 7:25 AM on January 4, 2017 [2 favorites]


I tend to view those platforms as being equivalent of talking or publishing pamphlets--good to have, helpful to get information out now now now and to, as maxsparber points out, build momentum, normalize ideas, and communicate widely. I don't really worry too much about things getting lost, although I do approve of things like the Indivisible guide being moved off google docs and to a formal website. For short term organizing, I rely pretty heavily on the point that people are not looking hard for this stuff right now and the probability of being able to leverage public outrage if Google starts deciding to pull people's shit without warning for innocuous things--and pushing hard to keep those things defined in mainstream culture as innocuous.

I am as always primarily concerned with accessibility and meeting folks where they are. The things I worry about using non-normalized social media tools for conversation is just that they're harder to find and harder to organize around than using platforms where critical masses of people are already used to using to go about their day. And mass exoduses of people from community platforms is, um, difficult to achieve--usually it's a slow process that only happens in large numbers when a) large amounts of people are congregating somewhere else, so networks have somewhere to go, and b) the existing network does something fuck-off stupid that pisses off large amounts of the community, so large amounts of people have a reason to leave.

So my goals are to make it easy to get involved, easy to help out, and easy to normalize many small people doing small things with relatively low personal costs. Those are the tactics that I've seen getting stuff done. My other opinion is that security is accomplished via social norms and public opinion at least as safely as it is using technical expertise, and that talking visibly in easy-to-access spaces is the best way to secure that public opinion and safety. It's easy to keep your shit from getting stolen if everyone in your community knows it's yours and believes that taking things has major consequences than it is to find a lock that will keep out the most determined human who wants to get in and take things.

Social norms. Social norms are what will keep us safe. Not technology, and not Luddite tactics either. We can use each tool as each is effective--social media for reaching many people fast; luddite storage of printed copies of words for being nigh untraceable if necessary--but neither of them will actually keep us safe. Social norms and public opinion will.
posted by sciatrix at 7:44 AM on January 4, 2017 [5 favorites]


I'm not sure what you mean by "social norms will keep us safe" -- can you elaborate?
posted by tivalasvegas at 7:46 AM on January 4, 2017


Ah, yeah. The thing that is sitting foremost in my head is the idea that democracy, political institutions, hell, even norms about how you treat minorities and who even counts as a minority--those are all socially constructed. They exist, yes, and they have tangible consequences, but they exist because critical numbers of people believe they exist. That's what I'm getting at with the stealing metaphor--the idea that stuff can be owned, and that a particular person owns a particular thing, that idea only has weight because enough of us believe that it does that we can enforce that idea if someone tries to overturn it.

Now, right now as a queer person, I see the overarching public belief in most cis/straight majority opinions being that people like me are people, that people like me might be your family member or your friend, and that we aren't necessarily dirty or disgusting. In most of the places I have lived, most of the uneducated and random cis/straight people have kind of gotten that far, even if they get weird feelings about marriage--although even that is something which majority cis/straight groups seem to be in favor of, assuming it looks normal enough to them--and the outliers haven't been able to convince folks as well as queer people have about the reality of queer peoples' humanity.

That is, as far as I am concerned, one of the wars. The battle to have people like me--buzzed head, flannel hoodie, female-passing spouse and all--seen by Joe Rando off the street as a human being with a family. Because if Joe Rando thinks I am a person, Joe Rando won't vote for legislation designed to harass and intimidate people like me. Joe Rando won't be persuaded to vote for a politician based on how much frothing hatred he can drum up at people like me, either, and so the canny politicians will start quietly trying to pander to all the Joe Randos in their area in different ways. They'll quit passing laws targeting me and will target some other idea that Joe Randos care about. I'm never going to be able to amass a critical majority of queer people, but if I can get a critical mass of straight/cis people to decide that I and people like me are people, that's how I create lasting safety for me and mine. That's why coming out is so fucking political.

Now. Take the same concept--the opinions of a critical mass of people in a geographical area--and apply it to the institutions of democracy, or the idea of freedom of speech, or the idea of honorable dissent. When critical masses of people lose faith in those ideas, that is how the nation falls. But in times of erosion of those ideas, at the same time, if rhetoric and moral arguments and persuasion can rebuild critical masses of people's faith in them, you can undo some of the damage and return to a more stable democracy. That's how we, the nation, survived McCarthy: by casting McCarthy's inquisitions as immoral attacks that hurt people, not inhuman "commies." (And McCarthy, of course, got as far as he did by eroding people's belief in honorable dissent and freedom of speech in exchange for stoking fear against a dehumanized enemy.)

From my perspective, all of the technology in the world is fucking useless if your local social norms erode to the point that you don't count as human, whether that's because you are a queer person or a political dissident or an immigrant or or or or. No matter what technology you use to keep yourself safe, at that point you are fighting a losing battle until you can get out of there. That's because humans are stubborn and numerous and if you don't count as a person against a hostile state, if your neighbors don't think you are a person, well.... they only have to get lucky once, or maybe it's more accurate to say that you only have to make one mistake and you're fucked. The odds are bad.

But if you are a person, minority viewpoint and all, it stops being a matter of luck and avoiding all mistakes. The more people you have, the more pull you have on those social norms, and the harder it is for that hostile state to target any single individual--especially if you all agree and trust each other to turn and shout for the single person to be released. That's the reason I've been getting more public, more loud, more easy to find and associate my legal identity to as I become more convinced that we're in deep shit--it's because I am trying to influence social norms as hard as I can, and I am hoping that by being public and unashamed and visible that I can prevent the social norm erosion from agreeing that I am not really human.
posted by sciatrix at 8:04 AM on January 4, 2017 [16 favorites]


So basically, that enormous long text is a much, much longer way of saying that actually I think ranting on Twitter or Facebook is really important, as long as you are reaching out to a mixed group of people and connecting to folks who don't always agree with you on everything and not being a one-topic echo chamber. Also good: going out and having discussions in public about stuff going on around you, even if it is on social media. Talking to people and having polite, gentle arguments with them is powerful. It's not by any stretch of the matter the only thing that we need to do and by itself it will do nothing, but that doesn't make it not valuable. And the less you talk about politics normally, the more valuable it is to see you talking about it now.
posted by sciatrix at 8:20 AM on January 4, 2017 [6 favorites]


(I mean, shouting at people doing asshole things and visibly making people see that you strongly feel that what the assholes are doing is shameful, shameful stuff and just terrible because it fucks over their friends, that: also important. The gentleness isn't actually the important bit; we need both gentle and harsh demands for the public consciousness to shift, ideally coming from different people.

Just. It's the volume and the number of people saying "hey, this matters" that matters to me and the argument I'm making. To each according to their own skill and comfort level, that's my thought; I'm not in any way trying to argue that gentleness or politeness is the One True Path to making sustainable changes to social norms.

I'm gonna go skitter off and call my rep about the Midnight Rule now, and also probably REINS, since those are being voted on today and tomorrow.)
posted by sciatrix at 8:34 AM on January 4, 2017 [1 favorite]


OK. Thanks for elaborating. I completely agree.

From my perspective, all of the technology in the world is fucking useless if your local social norms erode to the point that you don't count as human, whether that's because you are a queer person or a political dissident or an immigrant or or or or. No matter what technology you use to keep yourself safe, at that point you are fighting a losing battle until you can get out of there.

I think this is the central thesis, actually. We have to stop thinking of technology as magic. It isn't; it's a tool. (And also, like every new tool, it is not only the product of human activity but also affects the shaping of human culture going forward. McLuhan, of course, pointed this out specifically in regard to communications technology.)

My concern is that if and when the tools we're used to using for organization (and I mean that broadly -- not just "organizing politically", but as simple as planning a holiday party with friends, or having a conversation with colleagues across the country) are compromised -- and they will be: have we retained the skills to organize in ways that the State can't easily track?

As maxsparber points out above, "It may be premature, but I think it is useful to consider the ways people organized in totalitarian environments. I mean, we may be a long way off from recording albums on old x-rays, but we're never really that far off."

What this means is that there needs to be human, one-to-one trust between organizers of... what do we call it? the opposition? the resistance? I have to be able to rely on you, and you on me, if we're going to engage in any project more complex (or more fraught) than "Let's all go downtown on Inauguration Day to protest in front of Trump Tower" or "Let's all call our Congressperson about Issue X today". (Not that these aren't important, but they're not sustained projects of resistance in the way that, I fear, we may need to contemplate.)
posted by tivalasvegas at 8:47 AM on January 4, 2017 [4 favorites]


I don't disagree with a lot of what you said, sciatrix. At the same time, I think we have to simultaneously But it's not like they're torching a venerable institution of justice that has historically kept GOP corruption in check. our face-to-face, in person local and regional networks, and also be mindful that online tools are where critical mass is for certain communities, but not others, particularly low-income people non-desk workers, children, teens, many of the elderly, and in some cases non-English speakers, among others. We need all the tools in the toolbox but being inclusive means developing tools outside the online toolbox, too- even if we never lose those proprietary online tools.
posted by Miko at 9:08 AM on January 4, 2017 [3 favorites]


Now Trump is tweeting that Wikileaks is more trustworthy than the CIA or the FBI.

Undoubtedly, there are already conspiracy theorists saying one of those agencies will have him killed for this kind of thing. I usually argue against those kinds of theories, but I'm not sure how fervently I could manage in this case.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:21 AM on January 4, 2017


I don't disagree at all with most of what you guys are saying, either! I am just in favor of getting out and making those messages as accessible as possible using whatever tools are available at hand, and I worry that discounting social popular media networks is abandoning a tool before you've extracted all the use out of it.
posted by sciatrix at 9:21 AM on January 4, 2017 [3 favorites]


One tool used to confront the HUAC nightmare was the telegram. One from a doctor at Yale, was worried when a witness had a fatal heart attack. The wording is much more critical then then bootlick messages Hoover received praising the committes "good".
posted by clavdivs at 9:32 AM on January 4, 2017


Jack Dorsey should just shut down Trump's Twitter account. There is no reason why that could not happen.
posted by My Dad at 11:52 AM on January 4, 2017 [5 favorites]


Except that the main thing keeping Twitter afloat is that they have successfully monetized bigotry without chasing everyone else away (yet). We'll see how long that will be a sustainable business model.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:07 PM on January 4, 2017 [3 favorites]


Now Trump is tweeting that Wikileaks is more trustworthy than the CIA or the FBI.

Is it obliviousness to the internal national dirty laundry being washed on global platform (given who exactly is tweeting this, as a geopolitical actor (human) on planetary scale) OR is it the first signals of an internal schism within the most powerful planetary actor's (nationstate) center of power?
posted by infini at 12:59 PM on January 4, 2017


In my opinion, there are always schisms within a ruling coalition, and not to mention within a national polity. The leadup to the Iraq War also saw the same schism.
posted by My Dad at 1:39 PM on January 4, 2017 [1 favorite]


Though perhaps a little more controlled in its narratives of the CIA's failure, iirc, since we all had to depend upon the local newspaper back then and not the next US president shooting his mouth off on a microblogging website to support a wanted man hiding out in a South American embassy in London..
posted by infini at 2:17 PM on January 4, 2017




I worry that discounting social popular media networks is abandoning a tool before you've extracted all the use out of it.

Totally not abandoning. Just want redundnant/backup systems and more extensive ones to layer on.
posted by Miko at 2:31 PM on January 4, 2017 [1 favorite]


MeFi defending the FBI over Wikileaks. Well now I've seen everything.
posted by humanfont at 4:49 PM on January 4, 2017 [3 favorites]


So, from what I understand...

The US House of Representatives independent ethics office was created largely in response to the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal that surfaced in 2005. Representative Bob Ney was implicated and eventually went to jail. At the time, Corey Lewandowski worked for Ney, and wrote a letter to the court asking for leniency for his boss, who had pled guilty to a charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States and other charges. Lewandowski was the President-Elect's campaign manager, but "resigned" following allegations that he assaulted a reporter. He went to work as an election commentator for CNN despite being subject to a Trump campaign non-disclosure agreement, and continued to be paid "severance" by the campaign. He resigned from CNN after the election and has started his own lobbying firm, Avenue Strategies.

Meanwhile, the House GOP suddenly decided it would be a great time to gut the independent ethics office by taking away their ability to even accept anonymous complaints or report complaints or findings to law enforcement without approval. They are called this an improvement for the rights of members of Congress. This moved a bipartisan function to the control of the ruling party, which is no good no matter who's in charge. If the ethics office needs reform, this is not the way. This, especially in light of the constant fundraising problem, has every appearance of members of Congress trying create a secure money funnel.

They will try again.
posted by zennie at 6:18 PM on January 4, 2017 [5 favorites]


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