LeStudio1 - 2018 / Flickr DONALD TRUMP...
LeStudio1 - 2018 / Flickr

I wanted to start with a column from Thursday’s NYT that really inspired me.  It was by Charles Blow, who is always outstanding and entitled “I want to hate.”  It is worth a read.

In it, he talks about how trump always reverts to hate.  How hatred is at the bottom of so much of what he says, and so many of his policies.

That is not news.  And it is certainly not good.

However, how he ended the column really inspired me.  He wrote:

So I remember that. I center that. I hear “I want to hate” every time I hear him speak. And I draw strength from the fact that I’m not fighting for or against a political party; I’m fighting hatred itself, as personified by the man who occupies the presidency. That is my spine stiffener.

Yes!  That should stiffen all of our spines and gladden our spirits.  This is not a battle for a political party or economic policy, this is a battle against the easy boost that comes from hatred.  It is a battle against the very worst in people.  It is a battle against lying, and cheating, and, most of all, hatred.

There are few times in one’s life when the moral equation is so clear.  There are few times in life when we have such a clear opportunity to be on the right side of history.

trump operates by appealing to the worst in people. He appeals to our proclivity to hate.  He appeals to our desire to feel better than others.  He appeals to our cynicism and selfishness.

And those attributes are real in humans, no doubt about it.  But they are not the only part of who we are.  The better part is love. The better part is acceptance.  The better part is hope.

When you feel doubt, when you feel weary, remember that you are fighting for the brighter side of humanity.  And it is the side that always, eventually, wins.  Just ask Gandhi:

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No doubt about it, these are tough times to live through.  But always, always keep in mind that this battle we are fighting is essential.  Keep in mind that you are on the side of love and acceptance and truth and honesty.

And never, even forget that you are not in it alone.  We are the majority. We are in this together.  And we will win in the end.

Eventually, Trump Will Lose

Trump Is Going to Lose His War on Football

his tantrum against the Philadelphia Eagles places him in a highly vulnerable position, potentially turning the tide of the culture wars against him decisively.

Trump is not clever. In the face of a challenge to his authority, he is no more capable of acting strategically than an amoeba is of considering the advantages and disadvantages of moving toward a bright light. Stung by the humiliation, Trump lashed out with a wild lie that the players “disagree with their president because he insists that they proudly stand for the national anthem.”

picking a cultural fight with the NFL is not like picking a cultural fight with the New York Times or Rosie O’Donnell. From the standpoint of many Americans, especially white working-class men, the NFL is the quintessentially patriotic institution. Sociologists have described sports fandom as a kind of ersatz patriotism, with tribal conflict taking the place of war. 

For several years, Joe McCarthy’s paranoid ravings about the communist conspiracy held Washington in a state of terror. He began to destroy himself when he turned his attacks against a fellow Republican, Dwight Eisenhower, and the Army. The Army-McCarthy hearings, during which the right-wing demagogue attempted to tear down an esteemed pillar of American life, set the stage for the disintegration of his public standing. Trump’s war with the NFL won’t destroy him, but he has placed himself on the wrong side of a cultural rift.

Trump is hurtling toward a Nixonian ending

Even in President Trump’s America, no man is above the law.

It may come as little relief to those unsettled by the commander in chief’s autocratic impulses that this president will likely face the same fate as Nixon if he acts upon his lawyers’ ignorant legal opinions. But perhaps take comfort from Meacham’s insight in “The Soul of America” that “to know what has come before is to be armed against despair.”

History does, in fact, show that a president cannot pardon himself. Days before Nixon resigned in 1974, the Justice Department issued an opinion that echoed centuries of American and English law by declaring, “Under the fundamental rule that no one may be a judge in his own case, the president cannot pardon himself.“

The history of Bill Clinton’s presidency also undermines recent claims from Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani that Trump is legally entitled as president to ignore a subpoena from Robert S. Mueller III. But do not take my word for it. Read instead Giuliani’s own words from 1998. “You gotta do it. I mean, you don’t have a choice,” the former U.S. attorney said of Clinton’s legal options if he received a federal subpoena to testify to Whitewater investigators.

as one who still sees America as perpetually redeemable, forgive me for believing this president’s worst instincts will be checked, our country’s rule of law will be preserved and the upward arc of American civilization that FDR once spoke of will again be restored.

Republicans broke with Trump a lot more than usual this week

The GOP may indeed be morphing into the party of President Trump, but some top Republican lawmakers don’t seem particularly happy with their president lately.

This week, they called  Trump “muddy and mercurial.”  They tweeted that his deal lifting sanctions on a major Chinese telecoms company was #verybad. They pushed legislation to limit his ability to levy tariffs on imports. They called his embattled Environmental Protection Agency head “swampy.” And they directly disagreed with him on some major conspiracies the president has been pushing about the Russia investigation.

On the whole, Republicans in Congress are still deferential to Trump, but this week was notable for just how many of them felt compelled to speak out against the president on different issues. Some of the criticism came from the usual corners of Republican criticism, but some of it came from people who normally defend the president.

It suggests that, after a year and a half of mostly keeping their lips zipped, Republicans are becoming more willing to criticize the president when they disagree with him. What’s really fascinating is that this dynamic is changing just five months before midterm elections, where Republicans would rather be presenting unity to keep control of Congress.

Great Election News

Democrats know what it will take to win

With the primary season reaching its halfway point, one of the most hopeful signs for the Democrats thus far is the fact that they are not letting their passions get the best of them. They are keeping their sights on what it will take to win.

Chief among those things it will take: appealing candidates who are capable of running competent campaigns.

On the stump, the more successful Democratic contenders are generally stressing local concerns and steering clear of impeachment talk or prejudging the outcome of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Why Democrats are happy with Tuesday’s primary results

Before Tuesday’s primaries, the media buzzed about the risk of Democrats getting locked out of seats thanks to California’s primary system, in which the top two candidates, regardless of party, go on to the general election. In New Jersey, commentators mused that Democrats might throw away pickup opportunities by nominating super-progressive candidates rather than moderates who fit well with suburban districts. Neither of those worries panned out. Instead, Democrats remained poised to boot out Republicans who have not been able to unshackle themselves from President Trump.

The top 10 House races of 2018 still heavily favor Democrats

California is a linchpin to Democrats’ path to taking back the House, but so are races in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and Minnesota. If Democrats win back the House for the first time in eight years, they’ll do it by winning in districts like the 10 below, which are scattered across the country.

10. California’s 49th district

9. Arizona’s 2nd district

8. Minnesota’s 2nd district 

7. Virginia’s 10th district

6. Iowa’s 1st district 

5. Minnesota’s 8th district

4. Florida 27th district

3. Pennsylvania’s 6th district

2. New Jersey’s 2nd district

1. Pennsylvania’s 5th district 

A record number of black women are running for office in Alabama

A record number of black women are fighting to unseat Republicans in this deep-red state, which has often struggled to get Democrats to run for office at all.

At least 70 African-American women are running in Alabama, according to Emerge America, a nonprofit group that trains women to run for political office. These women are running for seats on local school boards, and as county judges, state lawmakers, and members of Congress. Many are entering politics for the first time with the momentum from December’s special election, when Democrats turned out en masse to defeat Republican Roy Moore’s bid for US Senate and to elect Doug Jones.

Democratic women running for office are overperforming in 2018, in one chart

Special Election Data Looks Amazing for us (don’t tell the republicans)

The magic of special elections is that they can predict the future. Not with a high degree of specificity, but we can identify well ahead of time whether the November elections will be Good for Democrats, Bad for Democrats, or somewhere in between, if we have enough special elections to work with. And this year, the numbers are unmistakably saying Good for Democrats. Certainly we can’t expect every Democrat to perform 20 points better than Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama did in their state or district. But some will, even while others underperform.

look at how well the special elections have predicted the midterms in the past… and look at the numbers for this year (the furthest dot on the right).  boom!

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and the special election from this past week?

Democrats Smash Turnout Records in Iowa

By far the best news of the night for Democrats was the record turnout in many places around the state. Just over 100,000 voted in the 2016 Democratic primary. Only 72,388 showed up in 2014. Neither of those years had statewide contested primaries with big spending. 2006 was the last time that happened, and just under 150,000 came out then.

With a little over 90% of precincts reporting, Democrats already have a turnout of 175,000 in today’s primary. They will almost certainly surpass the turnout for the 2016 Iowa Caucus as well. That is, quite frankly, incredible

Republicans embrace a hideously unpopular position just before the elections

the administration is refusing to defend the ACA in court, even though it’s standard practice for the Justice Department to defend laws even when they don’t agree with them.

Most legal scholars seem to think this suit is unlikely to succeed. But take a moment to marvel at the position the administration has taken: They think insurance companies should once again be able to deny you coverage or charge you outrageous premiums because you have a pre-existing condition.

If Democrats don’t repeat that sentence a thousand times a day between now and November, they’re nuts.

Indeed, polls have shown over and over again that the policy issue most on voters’ minds right now is health care. In Virginia’s 2017 elections, for instance, exit polls showed health care far and away the most important issue for voters, and those who said it was their top issue picked Democrat Ralph Northam over Republican Ed Gillespie in the governor’s race by a margin of 77-22 percent. A recent HuffPost/YouGov poll also found that health care is voters’ top issue. As much as president Trump may dominate the headlines, the increasing cost of care is weighing heavily on voters.

Russia Russia Russia

Special counsel Robert Mueller files witness tampering indictment against Paul Manafort and Russian citizen Konstantin Kilimnik

Special counsel Robert Mueller on Friday filed new witness tampering criminal charges against ex-Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort as well against Russian citizen and former Manafort operative Konstantin Kilimnik.

The superseding indictment — the third against Manafort issued by a Washington, D.C., federal grand jury — came days after Mueller asked a judge to revoke Manafort’s $10 million bail and jail him because of alleged efforts to tamper with potential witnesses at his upcoming trials.

Manafort, 69, and the 48-year-old Moscow resident Kilimnik were both charged with obstructing justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice by using intimidation or force against a witness, and also with tampering with a witness, victim or informant.

Senate Investigators May Have Found a Missing Piece in the Russia Probe

Curt Weldon, a Republican and former Pennsylvania congressman, lost his re-election campaign more than a decade ago following an FBI probe into his ties to two Russian companies. He has “connections to both Russia and the Trump campaign” that are raising suspicions among senators, a spokeswoman for Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein said.

The reasons for the committee’s interest in Weldon are murky, but his ties to Russia are significant. Members of Congress believe, for example, that Weldon may lead to answers about why the Trump administration sought to lift sanctions on Russia in the aftermath of the 2016 election despite a public statement by intelligence agencies that the Kremlin tried to help Trump win. Weldon may also have information about the role a Russian oligarch may have played in trying to influence the Trump administration—though Weldon denied this when I asked him about it.

Additionally, Weldon appears to have knowledge of a key instance in which a foreign national sought to influence the president through one of his closest advisers—a central theme of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation into Russia’s election interference.

Cohen’s friend hints he might flip….

The Paul Manafort Witness-Tampering Evidence Is Really, Really Strong

The case against him easily meets the necessary standard for probable cause.

With Mueller Closing In, Manafort’s Allies Abandon Him

The special counsel’s accusation this week that Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, tried to tamper with potential witnesses originated with two veteran journalists who turned on Mr. Manafort after working closely with him to prop up the former Russia-aligned president of Ukraine, interviews and documents show.

Mr. Manafort’s associates say he feels betrayed by the former business partners, to whom he collectively steered millions of dollars over the years for consulting, lobbying and legal work intended to bolster the reputation of Viktor F. Yanukovych, the former president of Ukraine. Mr. Manafort has told associates that he believes Mr. Mueller’s team is using the business partners to pressure him to flip on Mr. Trump in a manner similar to the one used to prosecute the energy giant Enron in the early 2000s by a Justice Department task force that included some lawyers now serving on Mr. Mueller’s team.

A Dish Best Served Cold

The Law Is Not Up to Donald Trump. It May Be Up to Merrick Garland.

And ultimately, of course, the question of limits on presidential power will likely be decided by the courts. By “the courts,” I mean two: The D.C. Court of Appeals, the most important federal circuit court in the country, and of course the Supreme Court.

Let’s start with the DC Circuit Court. And this is delicious.

Who is the current chief judge of the DC Circuit?

Answer: Merrick Garland.

Watch out, Republicans. You may wish you’d have let him get to the Supreme Court after all.

Democrats are Awesome

It is hard for all the good work Democrats are doing to slip through the 24 hour trump show.  But they are there, fighting for our democracy, our freedom, and our values.

It might help if we magnify what they are doing in our own worlds.  Perhaps consider sharing an article or two with your friends and/or social media followers.  We may not have bots or Russians to amplify our voices, but we have millions and millions of real, honest, and hard working Americans to do so!

This might be a good one to start with:

Democrats are trying to stop Trump from separating families at the border

As public outrage over the Trump administration’s policy of separating immigrant families apprehended at the US-Mexico border continues to simmer, Democrats are beginning to go on the offensive, in Washington and on social media.

Over the weekend, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) traveled to Texas to see detention centers where undocumented children are being held by border authorities. His trip to a Brownsville facility that refused him entry went viral, and brought renewed attention to the plight of the immigrant children in federal custody. In a call with reporters Wednesday, he blasted the Trump administration’s immigration policy as “morally bankrupt … wrong on every level.”

Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, Democratic Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard of California has renewed a push for two bills that would help reunify parents and children who have been separated at the border.

She’s one of two main sponsors of the Help Separated Families Act of 2018, along with fellow California Democratic Rep. Norma Torres.

“The Trump administration’s heartless anti-immigrant policies are tearing children from the loving arms of their undocumented parents,” Roybal-Allard said in a statement. “It is time for our government to affirm that your immigration status should not prohibit you from being a parent.”

Fellow House Democratic Reps. Pramila Jayapal of Washington, Bennie Johnson of Mississippi, and Zoe Lofgren of California are leading a group of 108 Democrats calling for Congress to say that no DHS budget funds can be used for family separation.

or maybe this one: 200 Democratic lawmakers sue trump over violating the emoluments clause

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who, together with Rep. Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, is leading the case, told me in a phone interview, “The judge asked some tough questions, all the right questions.” He said he was “very encouraged” but couldn’t predict how the judge would rule. He recalled from the hearing that the judge asked, looking at the lawmakers, if it was right that Congress couldn’t do its job without a court order. Yes, Blumenthal says, that’s the point.

Blumenthal said that while Congress has the power to approve or not approve the president’s receipt of foreign monies, “We can’t approve what we don’t know.” He explained that the plaintiffs are merely seeking an order requiring the president to tell what foreign monies he is getting and get permission before pocketing them. (This would apply both retroactively and prospectively.)

Other Good News

GOP megadonor: ‘I’m not writing one penny to any of them’ until DACA is resolved

A billionaire Florida healthcare mogul and Republican megadonor says he will cut off contributions to elected officials and candidates who refuse to fix immigration laws.

Mike Fernandez, long at odds with President Donald Trump over deportations, told POLITICO in a phone interview he’s behind a broadening strategy among donors to punish politicians who will not sign a discharge petition in the House that would trigger a congressional showdown over the fate of hundreds of thousands of so-called Dreamers.

In Malaysia, a victory for democracy

While Washington wasn’t looking, democracy won a major battle over authoritarianism in Malaysia, a Muslim-majority nation that just voted out its crooked, illiberal leader and has embarked on a peaceful transition to a new era of hope.

You Are Not Alone

Politics aside, this was a difficult week.  We learned that suicide rates have dramatically risen tin the united states over the last couple of decades.   And we lost two prominent public figures to suicide.

If you are struggling, you are not alone and help is available.  Here are some options:

Crisis Text Line: Text START to 741741 from anywhere in the USA, at any time, about any type of crisis

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

The Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386

Outside the US:

The International Association for Suicide Prevention lists a number of suicide hotlines by country. Click here to find them.

Befrienders Worldwide

Please reach out.

And to anyone struggling with mental illness: you are not alone.  The majority of people struggle with some kind of mental illness at some point in their lives.  There should be no shame in this.  I struggled with depression in my youth and currently (and likely will always) struggle with anxiety.  There are times when it is better, and there are times when it is worse.  I have found many tools that help — therapy, friends, getting outside, meditation, exercise, writing the GNR, and medication.  Sometimes I just have to wait it out.

The hardest part about struggling with mental illness is that when you are in the thick of it, the pain and darkness seem real.  It doesn’t feel like your view is being clouded by mental illness but as if the world and your life really are hopeless and awful and there is no way out.  When you are surrounded by the forest, it is hard to believe that the clearing is real.  When you are in the dark, light seems like an illusion.

But it is real.  There is great beauty and joy and peace in this life and in this world.  We can’t always live in the sunshine, but we have to try to remember that the sunshine is out there.  And the sunshine is in us too.  And if we can keep trying and searching for ways to deal with the hard times and the sadness and anxiety, we can find a life filled with more and more light and more and more joy and more and more love.

So if you are struggling, you are not alone.  If you are struggling there is help. If you are struggling, there is a clearing ahead, filled with light and love, and if you keep at it and are kind to yourself, you can make it there.  And on the way there, we are all with you ❤️ You are not in the darkness alone.

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