Dear Senator Cornyn,
Friday, you said on the floor of the US Senate: “We will not be bullied by the screams of paid protesters and name-calling by the mob.”
To my knowledge, it is not illegal for people to be paid to protest. I know that lobbyists are paid to make their opinion known to you. I know that political organizations provide grants and scholarships for research and opinion pieces. I also know that the overwhelming majority of people who participate in rallies are doing it not primarily for financial reasons but to express their political values. I’m generally fine with that. I know many people who protest without receiving any form of compensation. I also know that political activism is often organized by political groups, which requires some expenses (for signs, etc.) From my limited experience, I know that large donors have deep pockets, while the smaller organizations they support are often run on very little money. And the volunteers they solicit are certainly not paid at all (except through T-shirts and buttons and that sort of thing).
Referring specifically to the Kavanaugh protests, I suspect that the overwhelming majority of protesters were not paid in any fashion. I have googled around and I have seen no supporting information about this claim (except for a gofundme set up to help defray Ms. Blasey Ford’s expenses — which seems reasonable under the circumstances).
Yet you feel comfortable making this poisonous claim without evidence.
Recently, I saw the above photo which is hilarious/disturbing on so many levels.
First, the men outnumber the women here! Second, these signs weren’t hand made; somebody paid for the t-shirts, signs and even the bus. Update: The 501(c)(3) “Concerned Women For America” which has a 2 score on Charity Navigator, is funded by the Koch Brothers network including Freedom Partners, the Center To Protect Patient Rights, Tc4 Trust, and DonorsTrust. (Source).
Personally, I’m more bothered by these polite but well-funded activists funded by fossil fuel billionaires than the rowdy people who probably had minimal access to this kind of funding.
I have never voted for you, but it so happens that you and I both graduated from Trinity University (which I was able to attend only because of an academic scholarship).
In early 2004, after a Republican Administration supported by you launched a needless war in Iraq on the flimsiest of evidence, there was a Trinity alumni event which both you and I attended. It was an event intended to help new alumni to do job networking. Your appearance was added to the agenda at the last minute.
I’m guessing that at least half of the Trinity alumns attending had no idea that you were coming — much less who you were. Yet I certainly looked forward to the opportunity to shake your hand and express in a minute or so my concerns about what the US was doing in Iraq.
As you know, some Trinity alumni are politically-minded, but we are generally middle of the road and follow a certain decorum at alumni functions. It was extremely unlikely for anyone to turn it into a protest or shouting match.
To my dismay, when you showed up at the event (where 100 alumni already were present at), you promptly moved to a part of the house which prevented people from talking to you. Talking to you was not the MAIN reason I was there, but I kept an eye out for an opportunity to have a minute of your time. This event was for job networking — talking to strangers for 1 or 2 minutes was PRECISELY THE POINT of this event.
As far as I know, during that event, you talked to NOBODY. You didn’t shake hands with anyone but the event’s organizer; all you did was come up to the front when you were introduced.
At that point, you talked for 4-5 minutes about returning from a trip you had just made to Iraq and what great things the US government was doing there. You talked about how proud we should be of US soldiers in Iraq. At that point, you left.
Your hasty departure left me speechless. Was the whole point of your visit to lecture Trinity alumni about how great the war effort was?
Perhaps on that particular day you were feeling unwell, or had personal business to attend to. But I was always struck by your rushed exit. You didn’t even make a minimal effort to meet with and talk to people who basically had no axe to grind or message to deliver. Trinity alumni are not necessarily representative of Texas demographics; to be frank, many are affluent and Republican-leaning. Yet I was a loss to understand why you were so unwilling to talk to any of them. Do you treat your constituents merely as people to lecture at rather than to listen to?
Personally I’m outraged about the Kavanaugh hearings for a variety of reasons.
First, on substantive grounds I thought Kavanaugh’s rulings on environmental cases was crazy and dangerous. I was concerned that Kavanaugh was involved in numerous partisan activities that was unbecoming for a judge.
Second, I think the Senate and White House blocked the releases of a lot of records related to Kavanaugh’s past.
Third, I thought Kavanaugh’s testimony about the accusations was belligerent and immoderate; some of his answers bordered on the risible. This is not the desired temperament for a Supreme Court justice.
Fourth, the way the Senate and White House attacked the accusers was pretty awful. I thought Ms. Swetnick’s claims were very credible. Even if they didn’t implicate Kavanaugh directly, they came from one of many eyewitnesses who say that Mr. Kavanaugh engaged in a considerable amount of drinking and boorish behavior in high school and college. They suggest a pattern of youthful behavior which I found disturbing. I am Kavanaugh’s age and like him attended an all-boys Jesuit high school — and yet I never drank. Most of the smart and responsible people I knew at Strake Jesuit in Houston rarely or never drank. As much as I would like to say that people outgrow their excesses of high school and college, I have to wonder whether Mr. Kavanaugh has properly owned up to his past and whether other judges with less excessive pasts are out there.
Fifth, I was really disturbed by the way Senate Republicans released sensitive sexual history information of Ms. Swetnick, a witness who made a very serious claim about Kavanaugh’s behavior in high school. The National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic violence condemned this practice:
We are appalled and outraged that the Senate Judiciary Committee leadership has released a statement about comments of a sexual nature allegedly made by Julie Swetnick. Such a statement is unacceptable in all events, but particularly because it attempts to smear someone who has not had the opportunity to be interviewed by the FBI. The release of this statement violates the intent of the Rape Shield Rule drafted by the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991 and voted into law by Congress in the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) of 1994. This federal rule is meant to safeguard the victim against the invasion of privacy, potential embarrassment and sexual stereotyping that is associated with public disclosure of intimate sexual details and the infusion of sexual innuendo into the factfinding process. The Senate Judiciary Committee has posted this statement on its website, in violation of the spirit of its own Rule.
In a sworn statement, Ms. Swetnick states she was sexually assaulted. Yet to date, she has not been interviewed by the FBI. Nevertheless, Senate leadership has engaged in a no-holds-barred personal attack on her. It is not unusual for a survivor to describe an experience of sexual violence in ways that do not reveal the full reality of the experience or to try and normalize the experience. However, even aside from these very common reactions, it is unthinkable that the Senate Judiciary Committee would have released this statement publicly and attacked her in this way.
I have written you in the past about climate change and health care and possibly other issues. In general, your position have upheld corporate interests and showed a lack of concern for the underclass.
Perhaps you have been listening to the wrong kinds of people.
Robert Nagle is a Houston writer and blogger who dreams one day of being paid to protest — or being paid in general. He runs the ebook press, Personville Press.
Update 1. Washington Post debunks the nation perpetrated by Trump and others that Soros is bankrolling Kavanaugh protesters.