Mother Jones used to have a great slogan: “You trust your mother, but you cut the cards.”
One mother I trust is Cory Doctorow, who posted The White House closed its public comment lines, so activists launched a tool to call Trump properties instead yesterday in BoingBoing. Pull quote: "The White House closed its public comments line has been closed for four days now; Trump says that people who want to leave a comment for the President can write a Facebook message instead.”
Nowhere in the comments is there any disagreement with that. But I cut the cards anyway, and called the White House at 202-456-1111. Then I recorded what the greeting there said. Here are the opening lines
"Thank you for calling the White House comment line. The comment line is currently closed, but your comment is important to the President, and we urge you to send us a comment online at www.whitehouse.gov/contact, or send us a message through Facebook Messenger. For government information by topic…”
The full URL is this: https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact. There is a form to fill out there, and a place to enter one’s comment. The same page can also be reached by going to https://www.whitehouse.gov/ and clicking on the “Participate” heading, which brings down a menu with “Contact the White House” on it, which goes to the page above.
I'm guessing that Facebook Messenger yesterday (when the BoingBoing piece went up) was the only way one could send a comment to the White House then. And it could be that President Trump told people to use Facebook Messenger. (I looked and can’t find evidence of that, but maybe he did.)
My point with this: in Our Time of Constant Outrage, we need to check all the facts we can, which change over time. In other words, cut the cards.
I also think we need to budget our outrage and be as strategic as possible in dealing with the real damage Trump's wrecking crew is doing, on a pretty much constant basis. Especially since, as Glenn Reynolds says here, he's playing us. (The word for how is gaslighting. Another word: trolling.)
Cory's piece shares one tactic: "Revolution Messaging's White House Inc is a tool that connects your phone to the main switchboard of a random Trump property somewhere in the world, because 'Until Trump steps away from his businesses for real, their property is no different from the Oval Office.'" The BBC relays the same advice.
Yet I sense that doing the usual lefty things will mostly play into Trump’s short-fingered hands. We need to budget our outrage and come at the problems he causes from angles that enlarge our constituency. Meaning we need people who voted for Trump to fight him too. They have plenty of reason already.
So, toward that goal, here’s one possibility, which I offer without comment: