Jennifer Mercieca Profile picture
Sep 27, 2018 126 tweets 58 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
I’m only posting breaking news/ hot takes/pithy rhetorical analysis/puns/selfies from #TribFest18 for the next few days.

Starting now.
At registration I’ve already run into two people I know—a former student who wants to go into publishing marketing (and working the @BookPeople table) & a former Aggie Agora speaker. Also bought @TheRickWilson’s book and hoping to find him irl so he can sign it for me!
Y’all! So excited to see @DLind @cjane87 & @mattyglesias talk about the weeds of Trump’s boarder wall. #TribFest18
Great discussion on crime stats/reporting. Turns out perceptions of crime don’t represent stats. Americans think there is more crime than there is.

I asked a question: why do Americans see crime where there’s little, but don’t see violence against women where there’s a lot?
@mattyglesias gave a huge shoutout to @ProfHansNoel, listen for that on the podcast!
My first #TribFest18 famous person selfie. You guys, I have little selfie requesting shame & I’m here for this.

Thank you @mattyglesias!
Y’all, this is me and my new friend @TheRickWilson #TribFest18
Now @BillKristol is talking about a #never trump challenger in 2020. He says it’s likely.
Krystal now making a historical argument about presidents being typically challenged, that renomination isn’t always the norm.

Prepping America for a possible legitimate #2020 challenge.

Discussion of #Kavenaugh now. Krystal says that this hasn’t been handled well and needed to be more thoroughly investigated.
Great questions from @mattklewis, y’all should listen to his podcast if you don’t already.
Krystal is apparently on Tucker Carlson’s evil globalist list. Says he’s s great writer, but it’s sad what he’s become. Blames Fox for ruining him.
Y’all, @BillKristol called Trump a demagogue and he used the word properly. #TribFest18
The awesome @JTiloveTX wrote up a preview of our panel. Come see us and @cwarzel Saturday, 9am in the Walmart Partner tent, Open Congress. Y'all come! #TribFest18…
I may have passed along my free beer ticket in favor of a jack & ginger. Don’t be judgy, I’m way up here. John Kerry is soon #TribFest18
Kerry says that he believes our democracy is threatened.

I wonder if he’s read How Democracies Die?

During the American Revolution a “patriot” was someone who defended the common good, critiqued the government & avoided party and faction. (colonial Americans learned about patriotism from Bolingbroke’s Patriot King—you can read more in my book Founding Fictions) #tribfest18
Kerry says “the fix is in”—the system is corrupted by money in politics, gerrymandering (pronounced “garymandering, did you know?) #TribFest18
Kerry says that “bottom line, if John McCain and John Kerry can find common ground in a jail cell in Hanoi, then we can find common ground as a country.” #TribFest18
Kerry: “When this president says something is illegal does he have any credibility? This is a guy who thinks the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth are three different things!” Burn @realDonaldTrump #TribFest18
I’m going to laugh at that line for a while. Well played @JohnKerry
#asktrib (is that the right hashtag #TribFest18?)

Is US soft power significantly degraded by Trumpism? Does that make the world less safe? The US less safe?
You guys, he’s running.
Or, he’s not, not running.
Or, he’s not running now, but he might run in 2020
In the early republic (and for good reason) the Secretary of State position was seen as the stepping stone to the presidency. John Kerry is showing why at #TribFest18
Good question for Kerry: old guard Dems or new wave Dems?

Kerry says new wave. #TribFest18
(or maybe he didn’t. It’s hard to say. He might have tried to say that the guard is actually down with the new wave? Not sure)
“I’ve used those weapons in a foreign country when we were at war. I swear to God I’ve never thought of going out to shoot a woodchuck with an AK-47.” #TribFest18
Kerry says @BetoORourke doesn’t need his advice, he’s doing great. @evanasmith says it might not be enough because turnout is so low in Texas (it is).

I saw Beto at a College Station campaign event and the kids were into him. Maybe they will vote this year? #Tribfest2018
You guys, squee! @Indira_L
So nice to meet @waltshaub in person! #TribFest18
It’s a new day at #TribFest18! I’m at a panel about transportation in Texas. So far discussion of the massive deaths on Texas roadways and controversy over building a high speed rail.
One question here is eminent domain & the train.

I noticed a few years ago the TX leg voted that private corporations have eminent domain for oil pipelines, but do not have eminent domain for trains.

Texas is an oil state. 🤔
I asked: how do the leaders of TX transportation weigh the competing values of protecting the environment, moving people around TX, & the economic imperative of the oil & gas.

No one on the panel wanted to talk about weighing competing values. Doesn’t bode well.
Breaking: my diet.

Everyone at #TribFest18 needs to go to the Driskill and get one of these amazing, ginormous cinnamon rolls. Seriously.
With the amazing @1lisameid (aka best bestie 👭) About to see @wendydavis & other kickass women talk about women & politics. #TribFest18
Power women. #TribFest18
Wendy Brown starts by saying “today, I am raging.”
#TribFest18 just got really real.
“I now feel more committed than I ever felt before to checking white male privilege.” @wendydavis at #tribfest18
TX Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman says we need civility. She says she cried when both testified yesterday. Says we need to respect the Constitution.

Guzman says she doesn’t want anyone to vote for her because she is a woman or because she is Latina, but because she is the most qualified. #Tribfest18
A democracy requires that we have elected officials that reflect who we are based on race, class, gender, says Wendy Davis. She doesn’t see this state or nationwide. #TribFest18
#BelieveSurviors silent protest (with occasional snaps) at #TribFest18
Wendy Davis started @_deedsnotwords to address women’s issues in politics. #TribFest18
Wendy Davis just told us about TX State Senator Charles Schwertner who is accused of sending graphic sexy text messages & dick pics to young women. Just looked him up & he’s my Senator. Can’t wait to vote! #TribFest18
Y’all Wendy Davis, “either get on board or get out of the way”
Ethics panel with @waltshaub @RWPUSA @davelevinthal

Double dare me to ask about Aristotle’s Nicomachen Ethics and justice as “civic friendship”?

@waltshaub “in 2001 I used to go to parties and some wiseacre would think he was the first guy to make the joke about government ethics being an oxymoron.” #TribFest18
“Prior to this administration there was a serious & professional approach to government ethics, that no longer exists during the Trump Administration.”

Says that the legislature has abrogated its oversight role, which means there is no one to expose corruption to. #TribFest18
I scampered off to watch the ethics panel, but @1lisameid got a selfie with awesome @wendydavis ! #TribFest18
“If people don’t want to follow the rules, then they can go get another job!” @RWPUSA got a huge applause. #TribFest18
Question: “do most public officials want to do the right thing?” From @davelevinthal draws audience laughter.

That’s not funny y’all. #TribFest18
“Both sides are obsessed with ideology and cash. Focus on facts and law” @RWPUSA
“Facts, facts, and law is what we should be focusing on. And stop focusing only on abortion, on both sides, or we’re not going to have a country anymore.” @RWPUSA #TribFest18
Y’all. Folks in this room are PSYCHED for ridding the government of corruption.

So much cheering and clapping and laughing.

“We don’t have a score that low” says @waltshaub when asked to grade @realDonaldTrump’s ethics. #TribFest18
Great discussion from @waltshaub on the difference between having laws on the books and having a values & ethics culture in government. Laws can be ignored, but a culture of ethics can prevent abuse. #TribFest18
We’re at a crisis of distrust of government, largely because of the culture of corruption.

Historians know that the “decline theory” of government (Aristotle, Machiavelli) would say that all governments become rotten over time and citizens have to be vigilant. #TribFest18

(says me, the speech teacher)
I mean, honestly, if a student went up on speech day in class and just threw money out at the audience, would you say that student gave a speech?

Why do we say that money=speech in politics? Culture of corruption.

Question about electing judges is a good one: we don’t trust them to run, we don’t want them to be appointed.

Shows that we don’t trust any part of the system or any possible system. #TribFest18
“This administration hides behinds the word “protocol” when it makes ethics violations.” Says @waltshaub “They act like they’re talking about a diplomat crooking his finger when he drinks tea instead of breaking the law.” #TribFest18
An impassioned plea from @RWPUSA to put our country over party. Country first. #TribFest18
Y’all! #TribFest18
This is the #TribFest18 line to get into the @MichaelAvanatti panel. 👈🏽🤞🏼(editorial emoji assurance from @1lisameid)
We got in! So psyched! #TribFest18
Will tell you the juicy bits. @MichaelAvenatti live at #TribFest18
Breaking: “I am also a virgin”

Every hand went up when asked who voted for Clinton in 2016.
Crowd cheers when @jheil breaks the news that Flake won’t support #Kavanaugh unless there is a week long FBI probe.

@MichaelAvenatti speaks to the cameras to explain why his client now has a hope of a fair hearing.
One of the things I’ve been advocating behind the scenes is that another picture of #ford that showed her in a professional setting would circulate.

Difference between Thomas & #Kavanaugh was harassment v a criminal act, he says. #TribFest18
“He was overly aggressive. But, is this the temperament of a man who we want on the Supreme Court of the United States?” gets a big applause. Republicans amplified the aggression, Graham was auditioning for Attorny General.” #TribFest18
“The Republicans only care about winning and if the Democrats don’t get smart about this then they are going to keep losing.”

I disagree with this (see, for example @BetoORourke). A 2020 primary with Beto and Avanatti? #TribFest18
US politics has turned into a telenovela. #Tribfest2018
“Does this guy think that we didn’t go to high school? I mean, what does this guy think? No one went to high school?” @MichaelAvenatti at #TribFest18
He’s on message. He’s good at being on message. He’s speaking to the camera as much as to the #TribFest18 audience. No secrets here.
“She’s going to indicated that there are reasons to believe that Ford and Kavanaugh participated in that conduct (gang rape) and that there are reasons to believe that they didn’t participate in that conduct.”
“Tactically, do you think it would have been better to not use the term “gang rape?”

“This isn’t my statement, this is my client’s statement.”
Says he’s received way more death threats over this than he did over Stormy Daniels. Interesting.


Cheers! #TribFest18
“What’s your level of certainty that he has committed something between sexual assault and sexual violence?”

“100%. If you look at the Fox News interview you realize that he’s completely full of shit.” @MichaelAvenatti on #Kavenaugh at #TribFest18
“Are you running for president in 2020?”

“I’m seriously considering it (because reasons).
Says “Trump beat the single most qualified person ever to run for office in American history: Hillary Clinton.”

Everyone here said they voted for her, but there was only a smattering of applause for that applause line.

Interesting. #tribfest18
“Do I think that I’m the only one who can beat Trump? No, but Democrats need a fighter.”

“If I’m a creep pornlawyer, then he’s a creepy porn president.”

“If Trump does not run, then my appetite for running goes down 50%. If Pence also says he won’t run, then I will never run for president for the rest of my life.” @MichaelAvenatti at #TribFest18
“That sound you heard is Brett Kavanaugh puckering.” @MichaelAvenatti
We listened. He’s super entertaining, but y’all, when asked “are you open for voting for Avanatti,” our answer was No. nononononon. No.
Also. Class of ‘89!
Eric Holder has taken the stage at #TribFest18
#asktrib can you explain more about why you think that Supreme Court Justices should not serve for more than 18 years?
Holder name & book checks @TheRickWilson when he says, maybe it’s true that everything Trump touches dies. #TribFest18
“How do you get Americans excited about s good government change like gerrymandering that is anti-partisan.” asked @emilybazelon

“People have to recognize that gerrymandering affects their lives every day.” Holder.
#askTrib why don’t we have:

1. Automatic voter registration
2. Same day voter registration
3. Election Day holiday
4. Online voting?

Why are the rules skewed toward increasing voter turnout?

Holder explains that they tried to prosecute people responsible for the 2008 financial collapse. He says they tried, but they couldn’t make cases & that it should be easier to prosecute for those kinds of crimes. #TribFest18
#asktrib: why do Americans perceive that crime is high or increasing (when it’s not), but don’t recognize the real widespread violence against women as crime? #TribFest18
“I will campaign against Democrats using gerrymandering” says @EricHolder demonstrating that he’s committed to the democratic rules of the game.

I support this. #TribFest18
I finally got to meet @sivavaid in real life! #TribFest18
We’re waiting in line to see @NancyPelosi at #TribFest18. If I can get a selfie with Nancy I’m going to send it immediately to my dad who (for some reason I do not understand) does not care for her.
There are plenty of seats at the @larrywilmore @NancyPelosi panel at #TribFest18 Y’all come!
This @larrywilmore & @NancyPelosi at #TribFest18

Y’all, where would you rather be right now? There is nowhere else.
Pelosi says that she thinks that Trump was trying to break the #metoo movement by pushing #KavanaghHearing through.

That’s a really interesting and probably true take.

Pelosi refers to Trump as “the president.”

I don’t know why I find that so jarring. Even he refers to himself as “Mr. Trump”
“Any time you have five children in six years you come talk to me about birth control” says @NancyPelosi who had five childrenin six years and knows some stuff. She says it’s no one’s business what people do.

@larrywilmore says that the #metoo movement should not be politicized.

Pelosi asks what he means by that?

Interesting #TribFest18
“Brent Kavanaugh was a political operative who is now being sent to the Supreme Court” he is there to effect an agenda, says Pelosi. #TribFest18
“We have an obligation to find common ground on as many issues as possible, but where we cannot find common ground we must stand our ground.”

Nancy Pelosi on the Dem agenda once they take the majority. #Tribfest2018
“People say when is Congress going to turn on the president? Never, he’s their guy. He’s doing what they want.” Pelosi at #TribFest18
“Nothing is more wholesome in politics than the increased participation of women.” Says @NancyPelosi at #TribFest18
Nancy Pelosi is actually really charming. #tribfest18

She’s telling us about Trump’s post-inaugural meeting with Congressional leadership. It was a disaster.
Is there a capital building growing out of my head? Yes, yes, there is. #tribfest18
Me & smartypants @JTiloveTX are in search of coffee before our 9am panel #TribFest18
Friends, this is Alex Jones. He came to our #TribFest18 panel today with a megaphone and accused us of silencing him. I invited him to join us, take a seat, get a mic. He declined. He wasn’t here for conversation. I wish he would have joined us to chat.
Y’all this is InfoWars-slayer @cwarzel himself!
I’m at the talking heads panel with @TheRickWilson @KevinMaddenDC @SykesCharlie @conservmillen Big crowd! #tribfest18
“It’s the reverse Midas touch, I say” said @TheRickWilson. “It’s fecal Midas,” he says.

Everything Trump touches dies. #tribfest18
I’m in the @SlateGist green room! Can’t wait to chat with Mike, wonder if this morning’s Alex Jones panel crash will come up? #TribFest18
Y’all we’re about to tape @SlateGist with @neal_katyal & me at #TribFest18
He’s really so smart and funny! Thank you for having me on your show @pescami! #TribFest18
Last #TribFest18 panel is the best. @BetoORourke
Beto often (I can’t say always because I have studied him for long enough, but from what I’ve seen) makes the move to transcendence.

Whatever he talks about, he moves from the individual to the collective. He highlights what we have in common over what divides us. #Tribfest18
Beto trolls Cruz be repeatedly referring him as the “junior Senator from Texas.”

Says Cruz mischaracterizes Beto’s positions with an argument absurdum—taking an position to an absurd conclusion. #tribfest18
Beto is taking advantage of the platform provided by #TribFest18 to deliver set campaign pieces in response to Evan Smith’s questions.

Platform is a metaphor and also literal here.
“I don’t care how blue a Democrat you are or how red a Republican you are, you want us to work together to solve problems.” @BetoORourke at #TribFest18
Beto says that the police report was incorrect and he did not flee the scene of his dwi accident. #tribfest18
Beto says that if he wins in 2018, then he won’t run for president in 2020.

(Extreme editor voice: if he loses in 2018, then he becomes Lincoln in 2020).
Last selfies is the best. #tribfest18
My sincere thanks to @evanasmith for a really fantastic, well organized #Tribfest18.

I don’t think that there’s a better politics festival than TribFest.
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More from @jenmercieca

Jul 13, 2018
Someone asked me today if I thought that our democracy is compromised by Trump's dishonest rhetoric. This was my answer:
According to Aristotle rhetoric is a method of decision making in the absence of absolute philosophical truth, so it is always vulnerable to lies and bad faith distortions of truth.
Aristotle thought that justice required giving your neighbor what was owed to them & what was good for them. For an ethics of rhetoric we could argue that a just rhetoric requires us to demonstrate good will by abiding by previously made decisions & honestly conveying information
Read 8 tweets
May 3, 2018
OK friends, we've previously discussed how stasis arguments can be used to try to wiggle out of difficult situations by trying to help your audience understand new information (ex: that Trump repaid his attorney for the 130k hush money).
Stasis arguments: 1) What happened? 2) How should we understand what happened? 3) How should we value what happened? 4) What should we do about what happened?
Now, let's talk more specifically about how that works, using Trump's tweets this morning as examples. Trump's tweets are known as "apologia," or the speech of self defense (I know it sounds like apology, but typically folks don't apologize, they defend).
Read 17 tweets

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