Do Not Let These Dark Times Steal Your Good Nature and Your Generous Spirit: Thursday’s Good News

Vince Alongi / Flickr Hope is a belief in a...
Vince Alongi / Flickr

There is a friend-of-a-friend who comments on my friend’s social media posts in ways that consistently annoy me.  He seems totally trump, wrong, and offensive.  I don’t know the guy, but I kind of hate him.

The other day, my friend posted something about parenting, and the friend-of-a-friend posted the loveliest comment that really moved me.

It was jarring and reminded me that I only know the briefest outline of this man and even though that outline contains bad information, he is still a human being with both bad parts to him and good parts.

Just like all of us.

Why is it then, that instead of assuming other people are complicated and have both bad and good to them, we feel like we have to pick and assign people to either the “good” or “bad” pile?

I see this in the way people on the right look for any bad behavior of the women accusing Kavanaugh to discount them completely.  If they can find one flaw, one bad behavior, one mistake, then they can say that the women are wrong and bad and completely discount them.

They can forget that all people have both bad and good and all of us make mistakes.  We are, none of us, totally evil or totally good.  We are people.  Most of us strive to do right, but we have our failings.  I know I have a lot of them.

We want to see people as all good or all bad, but it is a false dichotomy.  It is not only contributing to this corrosive and dangerous tribalism that is tearing apart our society, but it is leading us to discount our heroes when we find one flaw.

For example, I saw lots of friends on the left who couldn’t support HRC (or do so enthusiastically) because they found a few decisions over the course of decades of her work that they disagreed with.  She did some things they disagreed with so she became “bad” and the good disappeared for them.  She couldn’t be both.

Why the all-or-nothing approach to anyone, let alone a politician?  Because we somehow believe on some deep level that someone is either “good” or “bad” and if one piece of evidence counts towards “bad” then we want to discount all the good, because it must be wrong.

When really, we are all both some good and some bad.

I see people post lots of memes and offensive images about trump supporters.  And I get it.  It feels good to have a laugh at people who put us in this situation.  It is normal to feel angry about people who can’t see the dangers of trump.  Honestly, I have done this myself.

But posting those images does no one any good.  It is putting a huge swath of our country in a “bad” pile.  We forget that they are people too, with both good and bad things about them.

This seeing people as all bad is dark and unhelpful; whether we are doing it or they are doing it.  We aren’t moving ourselves forward by tearing the other side apart.

We are all people with good and bad in us.  For example, I talked about people on the right looking for any flaw in Ford in order to discount her, well there were plenty of the people on the left who were looking for reasons to discount every accuser of Al Franken.  I read plenty of mean and horrible things written about those women by people on the left. Some of the same people who believe every word spoken by the women accusing Kavanaugh were brutal on those women.  They are inconsistent in how they judged accusers because their attitudes were pushed by their politics.

And I am not blaming those people whose attitudes are inconsistent and pushed by their politics because ALL of our attitudes are inconsistent and pushed by our politics.  We all discount information that does not fit with our attitudes.  We all pay attention to information that is consistent with what we want to believe.

Because we aren’t perfect.  We are human.  We are both good and bad.

And it is OK that you are imperfect. Think of how you look at your closest friends and you accept their imperfections along with their strengths. Do the same with yourself.  Do the same with your politicians.  And more difficultly, but still important, do the same with the politicians and people on the other side. And no, I am not talking about the people carrying torches in the streets and making death threats or traveling from town to town to scream at Trump rallies.  Let’s not start there.

Start with your neighbors.  Start with your family members.  Start with that friend-of-a-friend on social media.  Remember that they are seeing the world through a biased lens.  But so are you. So are all of us.  And if we can have some humanity and kindness in how we look at the world, we will all do better.

On to the good news:

Russia Russia Russia

First, a reminder that this is still going on, and that the truth will come out:

Manafort meets with Mueller prosecutors

Paul Manafort met Monday with special counsel Robert Mueller’s office as part of his cooperation agreement in the special counsel’s investigation into Russia interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The sit-down at the special counsel’s downtown Washington D.C. office stems from Manafort’s guilty plea last month, which requires the former Trump campaign chairman to cooperate “fully, truthfully, completely, and forthrightly…in any and all matters as to which the government deems the cooperation relevant.”

And that is important because Manafort knows about some stuff:

During an MSNBC discussion about the news, host Nicolle Wallace made a list of things that Manafort has first-hand knowledge of that will be important for the investigation.

“The Trump Tower meeting,” she began. “The [Republican Party] platform change, where it became pro-Putin, for the first time in GOP platform change history. An offer to brief a Russian oligarch. He’s been convicted of — he was convicted of eight felonies.”

Bloomberg reporter Tim O’Brien noted that it’s clear the wagons are circling Donald Trump Jr. and that it sounds like he might be the architect behind the infamous Trump Tower meeting.

“There two things, the Trump Tower meeting, because that gets at whether or not in June of 2016 members of Trump’s campaign met with people who had compromising information on Hillary Clinton in an effort to tilt voters against her campaign,” he said. “That gets to things like fraud against the United States, et cetera. There’s a real problem.”

Wallace called it “the conspiracy” in the investigation.

“I think the president on some of the collusion and conspiracy stuff has less vulnerability than some people thought,” O’Brien said.

Wallace noted that Trump’s friends explain it as him being too stupid to collude, though the law doesn’t create an “out” for such an excuse.

“I think all of the people in the campaign at that point didn’t think he was going to get elected, so, they were reckless,” O’Brien explained. “Trump is going to be protective of his son. He was the architect of that meeting… I think one of the things looming over the mystery of Trump’s affection for Vladimir Putin and Vladimir Putin’s desire to play Trump is were the Russians going to get concrete policy changes out of owning the Trump campaign and the Trump Administration in some way.”

Not just Don jr, Roger Stone is likely going to have his time in the barrel too

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is combing through Roger Stone’s track record as a self-proclaimed “dirty trickster” amid its investigation into whether Stone was involved in Russian efforts to steal and disseminate damaging information about Democrats ahead of the 2016 election.

Investigators have been circling Stone, one of President Donald Trump’s longtime political advisers, interviewing a number of his associates and compiling voluminous evidence for a case related to him.

Witnesses have been presented with records of Stone’s emails and text messages during their interviews with investigators, according to sources familiar with the investigation, even though Stone himself has not provided those materials to Mueller’s team or congressional committees.

People familiar with the situation said investigators have primarily focused on Stone’s activities in 2016, when he traded messages with the hacker Guccifer 2.0 and publicly boasted about his communications with WikiLeaks.
so they have his texts and emails even though Stone didn’t give those to them.  THAT is good.

Star attorney Neal Katyal thinks Robert Mueller’s investigation will end in “fireworks”

Robert Mueller “will have the last laugh” when it comes to taking on Trump

Finally, a hint that we might be close to some major action:

2 additional prosecutors leave Mueller’s office

Kyle Freeny and Brandon Van Grack, two prosecutors who worked on Paul Manafort’s criminal cases, are ending their tenure working for special counsel Robert Mueller.

I know people are arguing that this is irrelevant to when the probe will end, but it seems to me it must mean something about them having at least a good chunk of what they need. Think about it.  Mueller has to know that his time may be limited.  Trump may very well do all he can to get rid of him right after the midterms.  Knowing that, if he felt like he still had a lot to do to get this done, do you really think he would be letting anyone go?  Nope.  To me, this suggests  that Mueller has his ducks in a row and is ready to go soon.  My guess is right after the midterms.

We Have Put Up One Heck of a Fight Against Kavanaugh And It Isn’t Over Yet

As of writing this, I have no idea if Kavanaugh is going to be confirmed or not.  Honestly, my guess is that he will not.  But I can’t know that for sure.

But even if he is, here are some things to keep in mind:

We Are Fighting Like Heck:

Even if he gets in, it won’t be over

If Republicans lose the majority in one or both chambers in the November midterms, the Democrats will use their majority power to pick up the FBI  investigation precisely where it left off.

First, there may be compelling evidence Kavanaugh did what he was accused of and then misled the Senate. In that case, Nadler and his committee will waste little time drafting articles of impeachment. The Senate is then required to hold a trial to determine if Kavanaugh should be removed.

Alternatively, compelling evidence may be brought that Kavanaugh lied about his drinking, his calendar entries, his social life and matters like knowledge of Ramirez’s claims. The House doesn’t have to conclude he committed perjury to find that his answers were so misleading that he should be disqualified from serving on any court. Republicans feign amazement we are talking about “minor” matters,  but no lie under oath is too little to disqualify a Supreme Court judge. (Even President Trump said so!)

Democrats, if convinced he lied, will surely mount an impeachment effort.

If he gets in, it will galvanize our base for November:  Educated white women were already recoiling from Trump. Then came Kavanaugh.

Even before Christine Blasey Ford delivered her controlled but explosive testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, college-educated white women like her represented a rising threat to Republican prospects in the November election.

“College-educated white women have identified very strongly with Dr. Ford and relate to her as a person, and will be turned off by the angry diatribes of Brett Kavanaugh,” says Democratic pollster Ben Tulchin. “This dynamic will likely further boost college-educated women’s engagement in this election.”

New polling released Monday showed how the confrontation over Ford’s allegations could reinforce these dynamics. A national Quinnipiac University survey found that 61% of college-educated white women said they believed Ford over Kavanaugh; 58% of such well-educated women said the Senate should reject his nomination, according to detailed results provided by Quinnipiac.

More Americans believe Ford.

More Independents want reps to oppose Kavanaugh

and this:

And that seems to be happening.

Keep up the fight!  Giant thanks to all of you who live in states where your calls and action make a difference.  Keep at it!!

Great Legal News

U.S. Supreme Court declines to take Martins Beach case — a win for California’s landmark coastal access law

In a significant victory for coastal access rights in California, the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected a Silicon Valley billionaire’s appeal to keep a beach to himself.

How Republicans such as Holly Harris are fighting for criminal-justice reform

“People think that throwing people in prison makes us safer. And in fact, what we’ve found is that it does just the opposite.”

Where have you heard this before? Oh, right, Karol Mason, president of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, was on the podcast this summer saying pretty much the same thing. But that sentiment is to be expected from a former Justice Department official who served under President Barack Obama. Not from Holly Harris, former general counsel to the Kentucky Republican Party and current executive director of the Justice Action Network, a three-year-old organization coming at criminal-justice reform from the political right.

“What’s happening is, the low-level nonviolent offenders are coming out worse off than they were when they came in,” said Harris in the latest episode of “Cape Up.” She has been very active in trying to change state laws and federal laws that have exacerbated the problems they were hoped to correct. And she wasn’t shy about pointing a finger at politicians clinging to an outdated view of crime-fighting.

See?  People aren’t all good or all bad.  Here we have Republicans who can be allies on important issues.

And NYS is on this tax thing from Trump.  As is NYC:

Judge blocks US from ending protections for some immigrants

A judge on Wednesday blocked the Trump administration from ending protections that let immigrants from four countries live and work legally in the United States, saying the move would cause “irreparable harm and great hardship.”

U.S. District Judge Edward Chen in San Francisco granted a request for a preliminary injunction against the administration’s decision to discontinue temporary protected status for people from Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti and El Salvador.

Good Corporate News (really!)

Amazon’s Surrender Is Inspiring

There are two ways to fight the long stagnation in living standards for most Americans. The first is probably the more obvious and the one I spend more time writing about: through government policy.

But they’re not the only way to lift living standards. For much of the past century, another approach has been even more important: As the economy grew, American companies paid workers their fair share of the growth.

Until the mid-1970s or so, this was the norm

How can the country return to a time when companies feel the need to pay a decent wage to their workers? Empowering labor unions would make a big difference, but unions aren’t likely to return to their previous strength. So it’s also important to look for other ways to put political pressure on corporate America.

Which brings me to the story about Senator Bernie Sanders and Amazon. For months, Sanders has been criticizing the company for paying its workers too little. He went so far as to offer a bill called the “Stop BEZOS Act,” for Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s C.E.O. The bill was deeply flawed, but it still served to call more attention to the issue. Eventually, the criticism of the company started spreading to the political right, as Jordan Weissmann of Slate points out.

All of this attention wasn’t pleasant for Amazon. It cares about its image. It’s in the middle of a high-profile process to open a second headquarters in a major city. Many of its executives, no doubt, genuinely want both to earn a profit and to improve people’s lives — just as the executives in the mid-20th century did.

This is how democracy and capitalism are supposed to work.

Major ‘Men’s Rights’ Site Shuts Down After Paypal, Amazon Bans

One of the internet’s leading “men’s right activists” is shuttering his website after being banned from Paypal, Amazon, and a number of other tech giants.

The “indefinite hiatus” for Return of Kings, a misogynist website run by pick-up artist Daryush “Roosh” Valizadeh, marks another win for liberal activists who have pushed tech companies to kick extremist personalities and groups off their platforms.

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Leslie Knope is my spirit animal

Father Of World Wide Web Launches Platform Which Aims To Radically Decentralize The Internet

For people who want to make sure the Web serves humanity, we have to concern ourselves with what people are building on top of it,” Tim Berners-Lee told Vanity Fair last month.

That’s why “the Father of the World Wide Web” has launched a start-up that intends to end the dominance of Facebook, Google, and Amazon, while in the process letting individuals take back control of their own data.

Blue Wave

EIGHT more changes — ALL in our direction!!!!

Voter registration surges in Texas

Texas officials reported a record-breaking voter registration figure of 15.6 millions last week, with just about two weeks remaining until the registration cutoff on Tuesday, Oct 9.

The Houston Chronicle reports that over 400,000 new registrations came in between March and the state primaries, and election officials are saying that they are buried in registration requests as the deadline approaches. They should be on track to have the highest levels of registered voters since 2004 (when a favored son and no-longer-the-worst-President was on the ballot).

Perhaps most encouraging, the biggest spikes in registration are in Democratic areas, notably around Austin and Dallas. Also, the specific areas that are seeing the biggest spikes seem to be the suburban areas we need.

Sorry, President Trump, Decency Beats Dollars

A blue wave in the midterms would be a validation of the best American values.

James Carville boiled this down into a political catchphrase so endlessly repeated and boundlessly revered that it will probably be engraved on his tombstone: It’s the economy, stupid.

Except it’s not — at least not always and probably not for the 2018 midterms.

part explodes the idea that we Americans are irredeemably materialistic creatures, fixated on our possessions. What happens on Nov. 6 may demonstrate that we care about more than that. It may bring our better angels into play and best values into relief.

“It’s NOT the Economy, Stupid!” was the headline on a recent columnby CNN’s Chris Cillizza. In Roll Call, Stuart Rothenberg, a veteran analyst of congressional races, went with “Why It’s NOT the Economy, Stupid.”

“People think the economy is doing well, but that’s not what they’re voting on,” Glen Bolger, a Republican pollster, said in an article last month by my Times colleagues Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin. “They’re voting on the chaos of the guy in the White House.”

If that’s so, maybe there’s a bright side to this dark presidency. It’s reminding us that we aren’t what we own. We’re what we disown, including the sexism, racism, jingoism and other ugliness to which Trump and his enablers merrily play midwife. There’s something above dollars. It’s called decency.

Elijah Cummings is ready to take on Trump if we Take the House

When Donald Trump and Republicans warn about what could happen if Democrats retake the House, Rep. Elijah Cummings is one of the major things they’re warning about. Cummings would take the chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and he is already making his list of things to investigate.

Cummings is prepping targets—from the security clearances of Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and former national security adviser Michael Flynn, to digging into how former EPA chief Scott Pruitt was able to keep his job for so long—and the list is getting longer by the week.

Will he trust administration officials, even when they’re under oath?

“Oh no, no. Uh-uh. No,” Cummings said. “I worry more about getting documents. If I can get documents, it doesn’t matter.”

Democrats shatter fundraising for third quarter

The third fundraising quarter of 2018 ended on Sunday night, and smart campaigns have already started sharing their hauls ahead of the FEC’s Oct. 15 filing deadline. The numbers have been eye-popping, with four candidates—all Democrats—announcing seven-figure takes.

We are in the home stretch people and remember:

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Can you do a little more to help?  Please?  Check out this amazing diary for ideas. 

Honestly, we are only a month out. Keep working!  We really really really really need to do all we can for November! DO MORE!  ❤️

Finding Hope

Two great articles today about finding hope in these times.  The first points out that hope is in our actions, even when the outcome seems so grim.  The second points out that the outcome likely isn’t that grim.

How to Fight Back the Doom in the Age of Kavanaugh

In the era of Trump, it’s often tempting to give in to despair.

What makes despair so particularly tempting is the seemingly immovable will of the few in power. Patrick Blanchfield, a leftist writer, has called our system of government a “gerontophallocracy”—a polity led by old white men—and he isn’t wrong.

This week, the gerontophallic Senate Judiciary Committee moved forward the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, a man profoundly unpopular with the general public, under a cloud of alleged sexual misconduct, and despite the hue and cry raised by activists and sexual abuse survivors

But let’s linger for a moment on Sisyphus, the Greek figure whose curse to eternally roll a boulder up a mountain, then retrieve it and begin again, has come to symbolize pointless, unending drudgery. It’s as good a time as any to revisit his most famous philosophical appearance, in Camus’ The Myth of Sisyphus, written at the height of World War II, in 1942. The essay itself is one of the best-known works of modern philosophy, so there is no need to reiterate it at great length here. The Myth of Sisyphus posits that the most logical response to the certain knowledge that one will die and fade into oblivion is suicide, but that “the absurd man”—Camus’ hero, embodied by Sisyphus himself—accepts this fate fully, and rejoices in it. “The struggle itself toward the heights,” Camus writes, “is enough to fill a man’s heart.”

To live in a time such as this—in which children are separated from their parents and incarcerated; in which racism and spite and greed and theocratic zeal seem the only animating forces of our government—it is worth remembering that there have been worse and blacker times, and there were those, even then, who fought on in the bilious dark.

Depressed About the Future of Democracy? Study History

The liberal project has faced far greater challenges before.

On my first day as United States ambassador in Prague in 2011, I found, branded beneath the surface of an antique table in my official residence, a small black swastika. It was one of many swastikas hidden throughout the palace, relics of the days when it was occupied by the Nazis.

My reaction was not one of horror or dismay, but of triumph. The swastikas were not only a reminder of the evil they represented — they were also a reminder of the Allies’ destruction of that bestial regime.

But I am hopeful. I believe that democracy will beat back the illiberal wave, and that President Trump will be one of the first to go. My faith is based on the lessons of history. The liberal project has faced down much worse: the First World War, the Depression, World War II, the Cold War. And democracy overcame them all.

Finally, if you have half an hour today and haven’t seen it yet, this John Oliver piece on Brett Kavanuagh is amazing

that is it for today.  Sending love to OldHippieDude who is sitting this Thursday out.  Sending love to all of you and even the people (not here) whose opinions and actions I deplore.  After two weeks filled with anger and fury I have decided that for the time being, I am exhausted from the anger and am going to try to follow MLK instead:

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Happy Thursday everyone.  Keep hope alive.  Keep love in your hearts.  Don’t let these times steal your good nature and generous spirit.  If you aren’t able or ready or wanting to let go of the anger, I get that too. Either way, I remain so lucky and proud to be in this with all of you.❤️ ✊ ❤️

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