Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) pretended dark money isn't a problem unless someone is bribing a judge? Lisa Graves, Sen. Leahy's former chief counsel for judicial nominations, schooled him, and told him to nix the hick shtick.
March 12, 2021

At Wednesday's Senate hearing on dark money's influence on the Judiciary, Oxford-educated attorney Sen. John Kennedy played his, "I'm just a Southern hick" character. He pushed the idea that if the dark money isn't a bribe, it's okay.
Lisa Graves schooled him. He cut her off.

Sen. Kennedy knows that millions in dark money don't go out to people in brown paper bags of cash. But pretending that's the only way the judicial system is influenced is part of his corn porn act. (Or is it corn pone? I don't know, I didn't graduate from Oxford with first class honours. I'm just a simple Vulcan from the 23rd Century)

Here's Kennedy's whole line of bad faith questioning. Be sure to note how Graves avoids falling into Kennedy's traps, like determining what was in Trump's head..

I watched the whole Senate hearing, March 10, 2021. What's Wrong with the Supreme Court: The Big-Money Assault on Our Judiciary

Lisa provided a through brief with details that Sen Whitehouse praised. The right pushed a false equivalency narrative, whined that the dark money on the left is bigger and pretended that the only way to influence people is with huge bags of cash. The "both sides use massive amounts of dark money to influence the Judiciary" line of BS came from Cruz, Tillis, and Lee. (I would include clips of Cruz, but he makes my skin crawl.)

Finally, at the end of the session Senator Blumenthal asked Graves a question that let her point out just how big Leonard Leo and the Federalist Society's influence was/is on the judicial system.

I'm glad there was a hearing. I learned a lot, just from Graves' opening remarks, which I annotated here.

Sen. Whitehouse pointed out that this is the first hearing of its kind. I want to see more and I want more than just a show. I want to see action. Lisa Graves addressed this in her response to the demand by Ted "My longtime friend Leonard Leo" Cruz that groups on the left instantly disclose donors, without doing the same for groups on the right.

But what matters is that if we had this disclosure, we would all know definitively the answer to those questions. And as Senator Hirono said, quite frankly, the only members of Congress who are supporting this kind of disclosure in HR 1 in the DISCLOSE Act in the travel bill that you propose are Democrats.

And that's a shame because quite frankly, this should not be a partisan issue. Everyone should be in favor of this kind of transparency and the effort to try to command that a particular group, like a People for the American Way, instantly disclose their donors when there's not the same parity, is sort of a way to have a show, but not to actually do anything to embrace and support laws that would level the playing field for everyone.

All the World's a Zoom Meeting, How Do I UnMute?
One of the things that the late Joel Silberman and I talked about was understanding the theater that is part of these events. That means if you are doing the questioning or testifying, you should be prepared with your own narrative, and look for opportunities to shoot down their narratives. The right will use false equivalencies, bad faith arguments and unsupported data all the time. I've seen them use so many of the same attacks they can be anticipated, both real and funny answers can be created and turned into a clip that I know will be picked up by MSNBC or the late night comedy shows.

But that involves thinking beyond the liberal misconception that "If we just present the facts, people will agree with us!" Make sure your facts are compelling! Don't let them box you into their bogus frame of "both sides do it" even when the press feels compelled to use that set up no matter how ONE SIDED it is.

Messaging on an issue is about more than putting out your message, it's also about figuring out how to dismantle theirs at every opportunity.

*Full Disclosure: Lisa is a friend of mine and I've worked with her before. I'm not backed by George Soros, but I would happily disclose that if I was.

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