Oh say can you see, or else

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On the roster: Oh say can you see, or else - FBI, DOJ brief lawmakers on Russia probe - Rep. Garrett denies resignation rumors - McConnell sets stage for 2019 spending - Oops!

OH SAY CAN YOU SEE, OR ELSE
The stories are so common that they start to run into each other. 

This time it takes place at Mount Holyoke College, an elite women’s school in Western Massachusetts. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was addressing the graduating class last weekend, but one of the graduates, Kassy Dillon, dissented.

Dillon adorned her mortarboard with political stickers and pins for her preferred causes, which, as a member of the school’s College Republicans, included a Trump-Pence bumper sticker. When she stepped forward to receive her diploma, Dillon got booed

Now, being an outspoken conservative activist at a famously liberal school, Dillon is no doubt accustomed to getting blowback from her classmates, but at graduation? Boo, indeed. 

Out in Oregon, we have the case of a student at a high school in suburban Portland who suspended for refusing to cover his “Donald J. Trump Border Wall Construction Co.” t-shirt in class.

Back in New York is the story of the guy who said he was refused service at a Greenwich Village bar because he was wearing a MAGA hat.

Whether they admit it or not, many Trump supporters love these stories. They are evidence that, despite all of the rhetoric about how President Trump is intolerant, divisive and cruel, it’s really his opponents who are the bigots. Imagine being able to support the majority party and the president in power and still getting to feel like an insurgent fighting oppression. Talk about double coupons.

We have some experience with this kind of thing ourselves. A hallmark of Trump’s 2016 campaign rallies was the audience-participation portion in which candidate Trump urged his supporters to show their disdain for the press loudly. Reporters and producers sat in the back of event halls penned like stoats as Trump supporters spewed their rage, sometimes profanely, at them. Before, during and after events, heckling the press was just part of the fun for some Trump supporters. 

It was scary for reporters sometimes and more than a little uncomfortable feeling. But it was also affirming in a strange way. Covering an ordinary campaign rally where reporters are treated like VIPs and celebrities doesn’t exactly give one the sense of guerrilla journalism. But doing it in the face of hooting mobs at rallies that had seen outbursts of violence made our work seem newly vital and virtuous. 

That’s not to take anything away from Dillon or others who have been subjected to the boorish behavior of their peers and superiors over their political views. And to her credit, Dillon seems to be using the incident to further her own activism, not to seek sanctions against the offenders. And given the width of the streak of intolerance for opposing views in academia, she’ll have plenty to work with.

But in the other two cases, the responses have been different. The aggrieved Trump-attire wearers took their cases to federal court to fight for their right to offend the sensibilities of their fellows. In the case of the man who wore the MAGA hat to the bar in one of the most liberal enclaves in the country, his lawyer told a federal judge that MAGAing was part of his religion and that by forbidding him service, the saloon keeper was violating the man’s civil rights. 

Pffffttttt…

Out in Oregon, the student and his family alleged that the government was trampling the young man’s freedom of expression since a state-run school was forbidding him to express his political opinions. 

Since when was defying schools’ ability to regulate the attire and conduct of their students considered a tenet of Republicanism? It is not at all unreasonable for administrators to try to keep electioneering and politically charged conduct out of its classrooms and halls. 

Maybe your mother used to tell you “don’t make a federal case out of it.” She was probably speaking figuratively about your overreaction to a minor discomfort, but the proviso applies literally in these cases. 

Who would want to be a patron at a place where they were unwelcome? How would the beer taste poured by a bartender compelled by a federal judge to draw the pint? One imagines it would taste a little better than the wedding cake prepared by a baker forced by the state into preparing dessert for a ceremony they find morally objectionable. 

This, of course, brings us to compulsory demonstrations of patriotism. 

In a decision that only the NFL could come up with, the league has codified its rules about the national anthem. 

Players who are on the field when “The Star-Spangled Banner” is preformed will be required to stand, those who object may remain in their locker rooms during the patriotic display. 

We sympathize with the franchise owners who have been caught out after many years of profitable patriotism. The league makes big bank off of your pro-American tingles, which is why players protesting police brutality went after the anthem. 

It’s also why Trump went after the players. He and his administration know well that anytime they can force their opponents to defend not standing for the national anthem or the humanity of murderous gang members or the legitimacy of Hamas it’s a political win. 

Trolling may not be pretty, but it works in the era of perpetual outrage. But for anyone who is tempted to celebrate grown men being compelled to express their patriotism for the sake of their paychecks, they ought to think twice. 

Now, we should bear in mind that employers are well within their rights to set requirements for their employees. The NFL is not the government, even if, in this case, it was acting on the demand of the government’s chief magistrate. 

It is sad indeed that even the anthem has become a political weapon and sadder still that there are those who believe the song is an appropriate vehicle for protest. Disrespecting America to get attention for a political cause erodes the very cohesion we need to solve the problems the protestors say need to be addressed. 

But what could be sadder than coerced patriotic expression? Now, this isn’t a North Korean reeducation camp. These men would be freed to forgo their valuable contracts to avoid being made a spectacle of, but it is coercion all the same.

The First Amendment may come at the top of the bill of rights, but it is a liberty that can only prosper within an otherwise functional society. Freedom of expression is a right not a privilege, but it is a right that corrodes the others if it is exercised in a society that lacks trust, respect and recognition of mutual humanity. 

We are doing a poor job at those things these days and find ourselves now at a time where both sides seek limits to free expression, sometimes out of spite alone. 

Dillion knew what to do about those who disrespected her: Rise above the insult and use the moment to advance her cause. Can her elders learn the same lesson?

THE RULEBOOK: AU NATUREL
“The natural strength of the people in a large community, in proportion to the artificial strength of the government, is greater than in a small, and of course more competent to a struggle with the attempts of the government to establish a tyranny.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 28

TIME OUT: LIVE AND IN STEREO
New Yorker: “There’s a special thrill of liberation in the live recordings of jazz that few studio recordings can match. Resonance Records … on May 25th, [will release] three concert recordings of the guitarist Grant Green that had been buried in archives for more than forty years. The first two are on the two-disk set ‘Funk in France: From Paris to Antibes (1969-1970),’ and come from France’s audiovisual archive; the third, ‘Slick!—Live at Oil Can Harry’s,’ was recorded in Vancouver, in 1975, by a Canadian radio station; and both albums offer revelatory delights. … The importance of these new Resonance releases of Green’s live performances is something of a paradox, because several of the most popular items in Green’s discography are concert recordings from the early nineteen-seventies. Those recordings also mark a switch in idiom, featuring tight funk rhythms in lieu of the freewheeling swing of Green’s jazz modernity of the sixties. Green’s playing was narrower and riffier on those live recordings than in his earlier classic-jazz records.”

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SCOREBOARD
Trump job performance 
Average approval: 
41.2 percent 
Average disapproval: 
54 percent 
Net Score:
 -12.8 points
Change from one week ago: 
down 0.6 points 
[Average includes: Gallup: 42% approve - 54% disapprove; CBS News: 40% approve - 55% disapprove; CNN: 44% approve - 51% disapprove; IBD: 38% approve - 56% disapprove; Pew Research Center: 42% approve - 54% disapprove.]

Control of House
Republican average: 
41.8 percent
Democratic average: 48.4 percent
Advantage: 
Democrats plus 6.6 points
Change from one week ago: 
no change 
[Average includes: CNN: 47% Dems - 44% GOP; CBS News: 50% Dems - 41% GOP; Pew Research Center: 48% Dems - 43% GOP; Monmouth University: 49% Dems - 41% GOP; Quinnipiac University: 48% Dems - 40% GOP.]

FBI, DOJ BRIEF LAWMAKERS ON RUSSIA PROBE
Fox News: “The FBI and Justice Department on Thursday briefed lawmakers on the special counsel's Russia investigation, amid President Trump’s outcry over revelations that a confidential informant made contact with several of his advisers during the 2016 campaign. The noon meeting included White House Chief of Staff John Kelly; Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein; FBI Director Christopher Wray; Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats; House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif.; House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C.; Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin. That meeting is ongoing. A second meeting, scheduled for 2 p.m. ET, is expected to include Kelly, Rosenstein, Wray, Coats, Gowdy, Republican and Democratic leaders from both the House and Senate, as well the top lawmakers from their intelligence panels. The announcement of a second meeting came after criticism from Democrats who said the briefing should have been given to a bipartisan group of ‘Gang of 8’ lawmakers -- as opposed to just Nunes and Gowdy, as initially scheduled.”

Trump campaign aide set for sentencing - WaPo: “A federal judge agreed Wednesday to begin the process of preparing to sentence George Papadopoulos, a former adviser to President Trump’s 2016 campaign, an initial move toward wrapping up one phase of the investigation led by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. Papadopoulos pleaded guilty in October to lying to the FBI about Russian contacts during the campaign and has been cooperating with the investigation. In the filing Wednesday, prosecutors with the special counsel’s office asked the judge to refer Papadapoulous’s case to U.S. probation officials to prepare a pre-sentencing report — the first step to bringing his case to a close. They indicated that they would update the court on that process on June 22.”

The Judge’s Ruling: Interference on the play - This week, Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano asks whether the president can lawfully investigate his investigators: “The president cannot interfere with criminal investigations against himself without running the risk of additional charges of obstruction of justice -- interference with a judicial process (the gathering of evidence and its presentation to a grand jury) for a corrupt purpose (impeding his own prosecution or impeachment). Nor can members of Congress see whatever they want in the midst of a criminal investigation, particularly if they might share whatever they see with the person being investigated. … Can the president investigate his investigators? Yes -- but not until the investigation of him is completed. That's because no one can fruitfully examine the legitimacy of the origins of the case against Trump without knowing the evidence and the charges. Trump's allegations are of extreme scandal… Yet if he is exonerated, those allegations will lose their sting.” More here.

REP. GARRETT DENIES RESIGNATION RUMORS
Roll Call: “Asked about Wednesday reports that he would not be running for re-election, Virginia Rep. Tom Garrett would only say he has no plans to leave Congress before the end of the session. ‘I’m not resigning. I can tell you that definitively,’ Garrett told Roll Call. Garrett said his office would be putting out a statement soon. Politico first reported Wednesday afternoon that Garrett, a member of the House Freedom Caucus, had ‘abruptly parted ways’ with chief of staff Jimmy Keady and was considering retiring. Garrett, a former state senator, was elected to Virginia’s 5th District in 2016 by a 17-point margin. President Donald Trump carried the 5th District by 11 points. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the 2018 race Likely Republican. Democrats have made this district a target. Former journalist Leslie Cockburn won the nomination at a party convention earlier this month. Garrett’s retirement would open up a crowded GOP field. One Republican in the state named Del. Nick Freitas, who’s currently running for Senate, as a likely top contender.”

Cuomo finds base in party’s nominating convention -
NY Daily News: “State Democrats came out overwhelmingly for Gov. [Andrew Cuomo] at the party's nominating convention Wednesday, as New York Republicans gathered to back Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro for the state's top job. The incumbent governor, who faces a challenge from the left by actress Cynthia Nixon, looked like the odds-on favorite, winning more than 95% of the party members' votes. Since announcing her candidacy in March, Nixon has been positioning herself as the progressive alternative to the party machine. The Dems' convention at Hofstra University in Hempstead, L.I., however, was Cuomo's show. Two ministers who gave the convention's opening prayer spent more time talking up Cuomo than they did God. Hillary Clinton gave a full-throated endorsement of the incumbent governor, 60, and Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, 59, who was nominated by the party for a second term.”

Another House hopeful will not support Pelosi if elected - New Jersey Globe: “Congressional candidate Mikie Sherrill announced that she would not vote House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi into a House leadership position if she was elected to fill retiring Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen’s seat. … The move could be a play to win over liberal Democrats who might be put off by the institutional support Sherrill has received in the race. … Since Sherrill’s biggest primary challenge comes from the left, through social worker Tamara Harris, support from otherwise disaffected Democrats could prove valuable come June 5. But, it might be more helpful if Sherrill had picked a torchbearer to replace Pelosi, who has led House Democrats for 15 years.”

Texas feels surge of female candidates - Politico: “A groundswell of female candidates in Texas has resulted in a record number of women on the ballot in November — and a guarantee that the state will have at least two new female members of Congress next year. With the state primary and runoffs now completed, the general election will also feature twice the number of women as in 2016 — from 10 women running for Congress to 20 in 2018. That puts Texas at the forefront in a year when a surge of women as candidates has reordered the political landscape in state after state. During the first round of primary voting in March, 14 women — including three incumbents — won their primary battles outright. Tuesday, six additional women survived runoff contests to win party nominations.”

Iowa gubernatorial candidate faces sexual misconduct allegations -
Des Moines Register: “Three Democratic candidates for governor suggested that state Sen. Nate Boulton drop out of the governor's race in the wake of allegations of sexual misconduct made by three Iowa women and others are calling for the same. In addition, two Democratic lawmakers who had endorsed Boulton's campaign — state Reps. Bruce Hunter of Des Moines and Art Staed of Cedar Rapids — announced they were withdrawing their support. Other political leaders Wednesday also expressed a zero-tolerance approach to sexual harassment or misconduct, but they didn't ask Boulton to resign his seat or withdraw from the June 5 Iowa primary election for governor.”
 
Ohioans file suit to redistrict map before 2020 -
Cleveland.com: “A federal lawsuit filed Wednesday in Cincinnati seeks to toss out Ohio's gerrymandered congressional district map on constitutional grounds and create more balanced districts in time for the 2020 election. If successful, the suit would move up the timetable by two years for congressional redistricting reform in Ohio. And it could jeopardize some of what otherwise would be safe incumbent seats during a presidential election year. Ohioans earlier this month voted overwhelmingly to establish rules aimed at eliminating political gerrymandering in time for the next scheduled map drawing, but those rules would not affect any election until 2022. The current Ohio congressional map, created under secrecy and full Republican control in 2011, has resulted in districts making little geographic sense, stretching more than 100 miles, and predictable results with 12 reliably Republican districts created by packing Democrats into four solidly blue districts.”

MCCONNELL SETS STAGE FOR 2019 SPENDING
The Hill: “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Thursday that he intends to pass spending bills for fiscal 2019 in groups of ‘minibuses,’ marking a departure from the previous year's dysfunctional appropriations process. The Kentucky Republican also set a goal of passing the first two appropriations bills on the Senate floor in June. ‘It’s our hope that we’re not just marking these up in committee, but taking them to the floor and getting as close to a process that both sides will be comfortable with in the future,’ he said. Speaking at the Senate Appropriations Committee, McConnell said that the strategy had been agreed to in consultation with Minority Leader Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) the bipartisan leaders of the committee and Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). The announcement came moments before the committee voted unanimously to approve 302(b) allocations, which break down the agreed $1.244 trillion in discretionary spending for 2019 into 12 individual bills.”

Meanwhile some lawmakers face backlash for voting on spending bill - The Hill: “A conservative group backed by billionaire donors Charles and David Koch is preparing to launch a six-figure ad campaign targeting Republican and Democratic lawmakers who voted for the $1.3 trillion spending package in March. Americans for Prosperity will drop the radio, print, digital and direct mail ads in the lawmaker’s districts as they arrive home for Memorial Day weekend. … The Republicans who will be targeted by the ad campaign are Reps. Hal Rogers (Ky.), Lou Barletta (Penn.), Mike Bishop (Mich.), Mike Simpson (Idaho), John Carter (Texas), Robert Aderholt (Ala.), Mark Amodei (Nev.), Jeff Fortenberry (Neb.), Tom Rooney (Fla.), and Ken Calvert (Calif.). AFP will also go after Democratic Reps. Stephanie Murphy (Fla.), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.), Pete Visclosky (Ind.), Henry Cuellar (Texas), Matt Cartwright (Penn.), Beto O’Rourke (Texas), and Tom O’Halleran (Ariz.).”

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Trump awards Medal of Honor to Navy SEAL for controversial mission in Afghanistan - Fox News

Trump signs bank rollback bill with bipartisan support - CNBC

Trump admin investigates if tariffs are needed on autos, auto parts - AP

Van Hollen ‘welcomes’ help from Clintons in 2018 elections - The Hill

Former boxer, Jack Johnson, pardoned by Trump - Fox News

Twitter to verify candidates in midterms to promote legitimate accounts - Politico

AUDIBLE: LAWLZ

“[Kim Jong Un] got global recognition and regard. He’s the big winner. And when he got this letter from the president saying, ‘OK, never mind,’ he must be having a giggle fit right now in North Korea.” – House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi discussing Trump’s decision to pull out of the NoKo summit during her weekly press conference.

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OOPS!

Grand Forks [ND] Herald:Mike Kohler lined up with thousands of other runners … ready for his first half-marathon as part of the Sanford Fargo Marathon. … But a misstep, right from the start, put him on an even more difficult course. Nervous and tired from waking up earlier than usual, Kohler wasn't paying full attention. He thought the full and half marathons started at the same time, at 7 a.m. In reality, the half-marathon started 15 minutes later. Wearing headphones, Kohler wasn't listening closely to the starting announcements. … At mile eight, when the course looped around from the bike path, he … fully realized his mistake, knowing the half-marathon course did not go into Moorhead. … Kohler thought about stopping at 13.1 miles, knowing he'd run as far as he'd aimed to. … But hey, he was feeling pretty good, and convinced himself to continue. … And finish, he did, completing the 26.2 miles in 5:54:26.”

Chris Stirewalt 
is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.

Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C.