Before I get to the good news (and there is plenty) I have some thoughts about these family separations.
Months and months ago, when we were just starting down this long, dark path of the trump presidency, I found myself thinking a lot about the infamous Milgram electric shock experiments.
When people learn about the Milgram studies, in which participants were asked to give electric shocks to another participant, they are often asked to guess whether they would have given the other participant a shock of 300 volts. 300 volts was 2/3 of the way to the endpoint of 450 volts. 300 volts was a point at which the other participant had begun screaming in pain and begging to stop.
Almost every person asked says that she or he would not have given the 300 volt shock, and yet every participant in Milgram’s original study did go to 300 volts (and 2/3 went to the final 450 volts).
Why did they give that inhumane level of shock? Because evil begins with 15 volts. The first shock was just 15 volts – a minor shock. And then each shock increased by only 15 more volts. Each shock was only a little worse, and so participants got used to the increase slowly – what was inhumane became normal. Only the most sadistic among us would start with 300 volts, but all of us have the ability to get used to evil; to get used to cruelty; to get used to inhumanity.
My worry, those many months ago, was that we were on that path. I worried that each awful act by this despicable administration would bring us 15 volts closer to inhumanity. I worried that we would become numb to the suffering of others. I worried that we had begun the path towards acceptance of unimaginable cruelty.
Because we have seen this happen before. The Nazis dehumanized Jews before the mass murders began. They passed laws and increased violence in incremental steps until they reached the point at which no one protested as children were carted off to their death at concentration camps.
As we started to learn more and more about these family separations in the last weeks, my mind went back to those Milgram studies and I wondered: are we there? Have we moved so many increments down the chain of cruelty that we will allow this? Has this become the new normal?
But as this past week unfolded, the chorus of people speaking out against this policy began to grow. One of my senator’s aides told me that her office has been overwhelmed with calls — more than they have had about any other issue since health care. Dozens of cities across the country had protests yesterday about this. Congressional reps risked their own arrests as House Democrats tried civil disobedience to protest Trump’s family separation policy. Religious leaders have been standing up too. Catholic bishops rebuke Trump’s asylum changes, suggest ‘canonical penalties’ And religious leaders implore Trump White House: Stop separating immigrant families. The growing list of religious leaders and organizations writing letters and making statements includes several leading evangelical churches and institutions, which often align themselves with Republicans politically. The head of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston released his own statement blasting the policy. “This strategy is morally unacceptable and denies the clear danger weighing upon those seeking our assistance,” wrote Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley.Twenty-six Jewish groups signed a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen opposing the government policy of separating children from their migrant parents. And the press are being relentless in their covering of the separation of kids from their parents. Late night talk show hosts urged action. 40 senators now support Feinstein’s bill to bar children from being taken from their parents at the border. on Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) joined the chorus of lawmakers who voiced opposition to the Trump policy. Other Congressional Republicans are also starting to break from Trump on zero-tolerance border policy because even they see that this is not something we will let go. The press is (finally) calling the president a liar to his face about this.
But what heartens me is that this shows that in over 500 days of this nightmare, we have NOT become immune to the suffering of our fellow humans. We have NOT grown complacent. We have NOT stopped resisting.
The easiest thing to do in this world is to just go with the flow and focus on one’s own life when times get confusing and hard. It happens again and again in this world and it is exactly how evil takes root.
The most wonderful, amazing, and heartening thing about America right now is that we are NOT doing that. We are continuing to stand up for the most vulnerable amongst us. We are continuing to fight for the heart of our democracy.
We are the majority in this country and we will not allow it to take us down the path to evil.
There have always been those amongst us who didn’t care about our fellow humans. That is not new. But that there continue, in the face of this onslaught of awful acts, to be so many of us who refuse to become immune; who refuse to get used to evil; and who refuse to close our eyes to the suffering of others, is amazing. It is beautiful and hopeful and should stiffen all our spines and gladden our spirits.
Now onto the good news!
Russia Russia Russia
See below – just filed in the search warrant case. The second and third bullets could pose a huge problem for Mr. Cohen and ultimately Mr. Trump (especially the third bullet)!!BTW, so much for encryption protection! #Basta pic.twitter.com/RwdYjLAEp2
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) June 15, 2018
So that is 16 pages of shredded documents and 731 pages of messages that he was trying to hide — all in the prosecutors’ hands. Whoops!
If there are criminal charges in the offing (which seems likely) and Cohen is worried about a conviction (also likely), it gives authorities a powerful carrot to dangle in front of him: cooperation. And Cohen cooperating with the authorities — specifically, with Mueller and his team — is probably the biggest threat that Trump might face.
On Wednesday, multiple outlets reported that Cohen was considering cooperating with prosecutors, having parted ways with the legal team that had been representing him in an ongoing legal dispute over the material seized in that April raid. Cohen is reportedly in a difficult position. He reportedly needs new attorneys, per the New York Times, in part because he has unpaid bills with his representation — the sort of thing that might disincline a law firm to take him on as a client. Or he can reach an agreement with prosecutors to tell them what he knows in exchange for quickly wrapping up the investigation into him.
There are others who could provide a sweeping overview of Trump’s activity before, during and after the campaign, certainly. But the combination of dealing with Trump in all three of those phases, being involved with Trump to the extent that Cohen was and facing possible criminal charges that might inspire someone to flip? Only Cohen fits that bill.
Cohen possibly turning in trump is important because not only is Cohen involved in trump’s dirty business dealings, but it appears that Mueller has been very fixed on his role in the Russia stuff as well
Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who is continuing to investigate episodes involving Cohen, according to a witness who testified in front of a grand jury in Washington last week.
Andrii V. Artemenko, a former member of the Ukrainian parliament, said in an interview that many of the questions he faced during several hours of testimony Friday were focused on his interactions with Cohen. Artemenko met with Cohen in January 2017 to discuss a back-channel peace initiative for Ukraine.
“I realized that Michael Cohen is a target” of special interest to Mueller, Artemenko told The Washington Post this week, days after he was questioned.
The special counsel’s ongoing questions about Cohen’s activities indicate that Mueller remains intently focused on Trump’s attorney, even after referring a separate probe into Cohen’s business practices to federal prosecutors in Manhattan months ago.
Cohen has expressed anger with the treatment he has gotten from the President, who has minimized his relationship with Cohen, and comments from the President’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, the source said. The treatment has left him feeling isolated and more open to cooperating, the source said.
Remember, flipping doesn’t happen overnight. With Gates, we had this exact dance — the lawyers leaving, the denials, the word that he might flip through sources, the denials… right up until the moment when the flipping.
And nothing Cohen is doing is working out → Cohen loses bid for immediate restraining order against Avenatti
A federal judge on Friday refused to grant Michael Cohen, U.S. President Donald Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, an immediate restraining order against the attorney for adult film actress Stormy Daniels.
Also a threat to trump:
Paul Manafort is heading to jail, ahead of his trials for bank fraud and money laundering, Bloomberg News reports.
A judge in Washington revoked Manafort’s bail Friday after being told by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s lawyers that Manafort, Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, attempted to tamper with witnesses for his trial.
Manafort has “abused” the trust placed in him six months ago, the judge said.
-The chairman of a campaign whose unofficial slogan was "Lock her up" is going to jail
-The campaign adviser who personally led "Lock her up" chants and the deputy chairman are both awaiting sentencing.
— Benjy Sarlin (@BenjySarlin) June 15, 2018
nothing like prison to make cooperating seem like a better idea…
Why is Manafort a big deal? Well, Paul Manafort = Evidence of Collusion
Here are the facts about Paul Manafort, whose history with President Donald Trump dates back decades and who served as chairman of the Trump Campaign and remained something of an informal adviser after resigning. The following facts essentially speak for themselves. Simply put, any fair reading of the public record would surely come to the conclusion that there is significant evidence of collusion–or, to put it more precisely, evidence of a conspiracy with Russians and violations of federal campaign finance law.
1. Manafort proposes to Putin-linked, Russian oligarch a plan to “greatly benefit Putin,” and they get to work (2005-)
2. Manafort joins Trump Campaign and stays in frequent contact with a Kiev-based operative with active ties to Russian military intelligence (March 2016-)
3. Manafort remains an unregistered foreign agent of Kremlin-linked Ukraine political forces
4. Trump Campaign is told Russia has damaging information against Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails,” and Manafort and Campaign then continue to try to set up meeting with Campaign representatives and senior Russian officials (April 2016 -)
5. Manafort and two senior Campaign officials meet with Russian government emissaries offering damaging information on Clinton (June 2016)
6. Manafort offers “private briefings” on the campaign to Putin-linked Russian oligarch (July 2016)
7. Manafort oversees Campaign when it intervenes to defeat a call for Republican Party platform to include a provision for arming Ukraine to defend itself against Russian incursions
8. Russian operatives reportedly discuss Russia’s efforts to coordinate with Manafort on the election and Manafort’s encouraging help from the Kremlin
9. Manafort officially resigns from the campaign, but reportedly continues to be involved up through the transition (August 2016-).
Manafort’s activities during the campaign are only one thread among others. Whether or not there will ever be “proof of collusion” established in a courtroom for example, there is significant evidence of collusion already in the public record.
No wonder trump is freaking out….
Other Legal Headaches for Trump
Donald Trump has always acted as if all is fair in love and war, and that his life is never-ending combat. In this battle, he was always willing to do what others wouldn’t — stiff contractors, declare multiple bankruptcies, lie and distort — in order to win. This disregard for decency is now hurting his children, and threatens his standing as President of the United States.The New York attorney general’s new lawsuit against the Donald J. Trump Foundation contains the bombshell revelation that 2016 campaign manager Corey Lewandowski sought to distribute foundation funds at the onset of the primaries, a propitious moment for candidate Trump. “Is there any way we can make disbursements this week while in Iowa?” he asked in an email to the Trump Foundation CFO and treasurer. At least five Iowa organizations received $100,000 gifts from the Trump foundation.At a time when special prosecutor Robert Mueller is making strides in his investigation on Russian interference in the 2016 election, and Trump’s longtime fixer Michael Cohen is in serious legal jeopardy, the New York attorney general’s complaint represents one more ray of light beamed into the darkness of the President’s past. Soon there may be no shadows left.
The New York Court Appeals denied Donald Trump’s motion to dismiss the Summer Zervos defamation lawsuit against him. This is the third time the president has tried and failed to get the case tossed or delayed, reports ABC News.
Thursday‘s decision allows discovery in the case to move forward — something that Trump‘s legal team likely fears because it could force the president to testify about his treatment of women, among other things, under oath.
Good Election News
A new poll conducted by George Washington University released Wednesday suggests Democratic voters are more engaged in multiple respects than Republican voters ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.
Forty-six percent of Democrats polled said they used social media to share an opinion, while 37 percent of Republicans said they did the same, according to an analysis of the poll published by The Washington Post.
Forty-two percent of Democrats said they had spoken to anyone about how to vote, while 33 percent of Republicans said they too had spoken with people on the subject, according to the Post.
The poll also found that Democratic voters were more active in campaign activities such as attending rallies, displaying campaign merchandise, and making donations.
Organizing for Action, the group formed out of Barack Obama’s old campaign apparatus, is moving more directly into politics than ever before, deploying in 27 House races around the country this year.
Through an existing partnership with the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, OFA will also work in nine states to campaign for ballot initiatives and Democrats running for governor and state legislature positions. The group is pushing for greater Democratic control over redistricting ahead of the 2020 Census.
“When we started there were 10 states we looked at to hold,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a recent interview. “Now, he said, “there are only four that are really close.”
Democratic incumbents look increasingly safe in four Rust Belt states President Trump carried in 2016 — Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, where Republicans are locked in a bitter primary until August. Both parties agree a core universe of states are truly in play: Republicans are targeting Democratic incumbents in Missouri, Indiana, Florida and North Dakota, while Democrats are contesting GOP-held seats in Nevada, Arizona and Tennessee. There is disagreement on how competitive West Virginia and Montana are.
The Cook Report just moved another one closer to our column → TX-32: Sessions Moves from Lean Republican to Toss Up
Multiple Republican operatives familiar with Texas polling data are convinced GOP Rep. Pete Sessions (TX-32) is, at the moment, the most vulnerable incumbent in the Lone Star State. The powerful House Rules Committee chair’s rapidly moderating Dallas district voted for Hillary Clinton 48 percent to 47 percent in 2016. And despite serving as NRCC chair in 2010 and 2012, Sessions hasn’t had to run a competitive race since 2004.
President Trump appeared awfully eager to throw his support to Corey Stewart, the new GOP nominee for Senate in Virginia, despite the fact that he is an apologist for white supremacy who has been condemned by other Republicans.
Now Democrats are planning to try to tag the Republican Party with Stewart, much as they tried to do with Moore.
“This latest recruitment failure immediately becomes a massive headache for the NRSC and the national Republican Party,” David Bergstein, a spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, emailed me this morning. “They’ll have to decide the extent to which they will back him, even symbolically, and elevate him even further as a part of the Republican Party brand.”
It’s possible Stewart may become an issue in other Senate races as well, such as in Pennsylvania, a state where Trump narrowly won but the GOP nominee, Rep. Lou Barletta, is a die-hard Trump acolyte. “Every Republican candidate, including in places like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Missouri, will be asked whether they stand with someone like Corey Stewart and want to serve with him,” a Democratic strategist in Pennsylvania told me. “This will be an example of the Republican Party’s descent into Trumpism in its most vile form.”
Fiercely and undeniably, the Republican Party this week confirmed its rebranding as the party of Trump.
As a result, the Republican Party appears united now not by fealty to ideas or policies but to a man, one who defied the odds to win the presidency and who has magnetically drawn the party’s power bases to himself.
Sure, this may help some of their candidates in the primaries, but will it help them in November (spoiler alert: it will not)
Yet even if that decision is the only rational way forward for ambitious Republicans, it is also fraught with danger.
Republicans face a conflict in five months because most of the races that will determine control of the House are being fought in suburban districts, filled with women and independent voters who have been less in thrall to Trump than have elected officials and strongly Republican voters.
Already in Virginia, outside fundraising groups have backed away from embracing the controversial new U.S. Senate nominee, Corey A. Stewart. But Stewart, strongly supported by Trump, remains on the ballot, and his presence there threatens to diminish the turnout levels Republicans need to hit to hold on to several suburban House seats amid rampant Democratic enthusiasm.
not only are loonies running on the R ticket due to the cult of trump, but all previous data suggests that trump has no coattails when it comes to general elections
The results in elections so far show that Trump has one of Obama’s most vexing problems, the inability to transfer power down the ballot.
Adding to that, although the cult member republicans are showing up, it appears that those Rs still not in the cult are staying away from the voting booths, which will hurt even more in November.
In Tuesday’s primary elections, even some Republicans who have bound themselves to Trump ran into difficulty.
Similar signs of disinterest bedeviled Republicans in other primary states. In Maine, while just 90 percent of precincts had been counted, Republicans were likely to fall roughly 30,000 votes short of their 2010 turnout. In Nevada, roughly 30,000 fewer Republicans voted than in 2010; Adam Laxalt, who tied himself more closely to Trump than to the state’s outgoing Republican governor, had gotten a last-minute Trump endorsement in the gubernatorial race.
In Virginia, Republican turnout was lower than it had been for 2017’s gubernatorial primary; Stewart, who had lost that race with 155,780 votes, won Tuesday’s Senate primary with 136,410 votes.
in summary →
“Trump is king, and the party has a suicide pact,” Murphy said. “You would hope we could see it coming, that there is enough evidence with polling and the special election results, or with him coddling dictators. But it’s clear primary voters disagree.”
First, sticking by Trump is no guarantee of success either. After all, candidates backed by Trump (i.e., Luther Strange, Roy Moore, Rick Saccone, Ed Gillespie) also lost. Republicans are obsessed with the instances in which a Trump heretic lost, but they don’t consider whether those candidates lost for reasons unrelated to Trump.
Second, many faithful Republicans running in competitive seats in either purple and blue states will get wiped out if they cling to Trump and defend his policies — including an unpopular tax plan, cruel immigration policies, etc. That’s why you see so many races in the “Toss Up” or “Lean Democrat” column for November’s midterm elections. In many places other than deep red America, an “R” after one’s name is a badge of shame, not of honor.
Third, the dichotomy between what Republicans want and what the country at large wants is becoming so vast that it’s difficult for Republicans to run toward Trump in the primary and then away from him in the general election. They wind up looking like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) — unprincipled and insincere.
Fourth, if many of those endangered Republicans lose, the Trump party left behind will be more radical, nativist, protectionist and irrational (because they blindly follow an irrational president). Thanks to Trump’s the-base-is-everything strategy, the GOP will become even less racially and geographically diverse. At that point, candidates in the general election who can appeal to the other 60 percent to 65 percent of the electorate would be in good shape.
Fifth, with some exceptions, Democratic primary voters haven’t gone far left and, therefore, have preserved (they hope) the chance to win in mixed districts. Conversely, if they fail in November, the forces behind Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will go nuts and insist the Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential nominee come from the far left.
Democrats understandably want to hold each and every Republican responsible for the threat to remove preexisting protection. In Texas, the Senate campaign of Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Tex.) sent out a statement blasting Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) for deciding to “throw his full support behind unwinding them and repealing healthcare for Texans,”
Republicans cannot have it both ways. They can summon the gumption to oppose the president (either by defending the ACA or by passing a stand-alone protection, as Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana suggests), or they can tell millions of Americans with preexisting conditions who will soon be uninsurable to take a hike. If that is a major issue in November’s midterms, look for a blue tidal wave.
So lots of good signs for November but the ONLY thing that will assure our victory is good old fashioned hard work. Check out this diary for every idea imaginable for helping us win in November. Don’t be overwhelmed by the many options. Instead, see if you can pick out the one that appeals to you the most and dedicate yourself to it!
Together, we will WIN!! ❤️ ✊
Other Good News
The New York City Pride March on June 24 will feature the largest collection of professional sports leagues ever for an LGBTQ Pride March or Parade.
Virtually all of the major professional sports leagues based in the United States will all be taking part in the Pride March. The NFL, NHL, MLB, NBA and WNBA are all registered as leagues to march in the parade and will have floats. Major League Soccer and the National Women’s Hockey League will have employees and players marching as well.
In addition, other sports entities — like Outsports, whose contingent will feature 100+ LGBTQ athletes, coaches and others in sports — will take part. And a vast array of local LGBTQ sports leagues will participate as well.
This will be the sportiest Pride March ever.
Think back 10 years, 20 years…. try to imagine ANY sports teams marching in a pride parade. The times have changed, my friends… for the better!
Congress is determined to have the final say over any deal President Donald Trump strikes with North Korea.
As Trump signed a joint statement with Kim Jong Un that offered few details on how the North Korean leader would make good on his vow to denuclearize, Republicans on Capitol Hill said Tuesday that they want and expect the White House to submit any final agreement for their approval.
well at least they are showing backbone on something….
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) signed six bills on Wednesday to further tighten the state’s already tough gun control laws, according to the Associated Press.
These are heady days for Turkey’s opposition parties, which are charging toward elections for president and parliament in just over a week with a rare sense of unity and a hunch that Erdogan, who has dominated Turkish politics for a decade and a half, may be more vulnerable than he has been in years.
Their sense of optimism has been fueled by what they say are gaffes by the president, including comments he made that sent the Turkish currency tumbling and revived questions about his stewardship of the economy — a pillar of the president’s appeal.
LGBTQ rights supporters and people celebrating Pride welcomed Vice President Mike Pence to Columbus, Ohio, on Friday with a “Big LGBTQ Dance Party.”Crowds converged on a small stretch of Gay Street — you read that right — outside the hotel where Pence was speaking to a separate group about tax reform.Videos posted to social media showed crowd members raising rainbow flags and dancing to loud music. They were celebrating the kickoff of Columbus’ Pride Festival, but organizers also wanted to send a message to the vice president.
That is it for today. Lots and lots of reasons for hope in these dark and stressful times.
Take care of yourselves. Take care of one another. Choose kindness.
I remain so proud and so lucky to be in this with all of you ❤️ ✊ ❤️