Advertisement
354 posts

“The Protestants hate the Catholics, and the Catholics hate the Protestants … ”

When I saw Lehrer perform that satirical classic on TV, during my Catholic childhood in the 1960s, Protestants and Catholics still didn’t get along that well, despite the election in 1960 of John F. Kennedy.

Advertisement
  • Trump
  • The Witch Hunt
  • The Swamp
President Trump addresses reporters Friday at the White House before heading to the National Rifle Assn. convention.
President Trump addresses reporters Friday at the White House before heading to the National Rifle Assn. convention. (J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)

Which leading political figure uttered these words of wisdom Friday morning?

“You know what? Learn before you speak. It’s a lot easier.”

That would be President Trump, the least studious and fact-based president of our lifetime. He made the comment to reporters after contradicting yet again the narrative about Stormy Daniels put forward by his own team.

Advertisement
  • California
  • Politics
  • Opinion
A screenshot from YouTube.com shows a KPIX interview with U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Little arguing that Twitter censors white people.
A screenshot from YouTube.com shows a KPIX interview with U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Little arguing that Twitter censors white people. (KPIX/YouTube.com)

A new poll shows that a neo-Nazi candidate not only is the most popular GOP candidate on the ballot for U.S. Senate, but that he’s running second in the race, putting him in a position to face off with incumbent Dianne Feinstein in November.

Patrick Little of Albany had about 18% of the vote, compared to Feinstein’s 39%, according to the SurveyUSA poll released Tuesday. Take the results with a grain of salt — SurveyUSA did not reveal its methodology, other than to say it interviewed 1,100 adult Californians, less than half of whom were identified as likely voters, during the week of April 19.

Little is running as a Republican, and his ballot designation is “civil rights advocate.” His views are unabashedly anti-Semitic. On his website, he calls the Holocaust a “propaganda hoax” and says he would limit the number of Jewish people in government and judgeships. 

  • Trump
  • Opinion
President Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, leaves court in New York on April 26.
President Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, leaves court in New York on April 26. (Hector Retamal / AFP-Getty Images)

It’s hard to come up with a scoop that could send supporters and opponents of President Trump into a frenzy more effectively than NBC News’ anonymously sourced report that the FBI wiretapped one of the president’s lawyers. (Update: NBC is now saying it wasn’t a wiretap, it was a pen register that logged the numbers dialed from the phones in question and the sources of incoming calls.)

For Trump backers, the possibility that Michael Cohen’s phones were monitored was another outrageous defilement of Trump’s attorney-client privilege — yet more proof (not that they needed any) that the Justice Department had gone rogue. According to NBC, the monitor was in place for a number of weeks before the feds obtained a search warrant and raided Cohen’s office, home and motel room.

Reacting to initial reports of a wiretap, former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, a member of Trump’s newly reconstituted legal team, called on Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions to rein in the agents responsible for the Cohen investigation. That investigation began with a referral from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III but is being handled by federal prosecutors in New York.

The United Nations, 25 years ago, thought it was a good idea to put “World Press Freedom Day” on its international calendar, where today it shares designations with the likes of World Environment Day, International Literacy Day and World Suicide Prevention Day.

Advertisement
  • Trump
  • Politics
  • Opinion
Rudolph W. Giuliani, left, and President Trump, shown in November 2016, have offered new details about the $130,000 paid to a porn star.
Rudolph W. Giuliani, left, and President Trump, shown in November 2016, have offered new details about the $130,000 paid to a porn star. (Don Emmert / AFP/Getty Images)

President Trump and his new legal advisor Rudolph W. Giuliani evidently concluded that it was better for Trump to admit to a baldfaced lie to the public than to implicate attorney Michael Cohen in a campaign finance violation.

Smart call.

In a Fox News Channel interview and on Twitter, respectively, Giuliani and Trump emphasized that no campaign funds were used to buy the silence of porn star Stormy Daniels a few weeks before the 2016 election. Instead, they said, Cohen was reimbursed, over time, from Trump’s pocket in the form of a monthly retainer Trump paid Cohen.

  • Trump
  • Politics
  • Opinion
Michelle Obama called herself the "Forever First Lady" at an event for college-bound students in Philadelphia on Wednesday. Backlash ensued.
Michelle Obama called herself the "Forever First Lady" at an event for college-bound students in Philadelphia on Wednesday. Backlash ensued. (Matt Slocum / Associated Press)

It should come as no surprise that the first African American U.S. president and first lady are beloved in some quarters. But when Michelle Obama dared to use one of the titles bestowed by her fan base — “Forever First Lady” — that was just too much for folks on the other side of the political spectrum.

Here’s a typical headline about her remarks Wednesday at a College Signing Day event at Philadelphia’s Temple University, from the right-leaning NTK Network website: “Michelle Obama Declares Herself America’s ‘Forever First Lady.’” That’s one of the less venomous takes, actually. Here’s another view:

Obama helped launch the National College Signing Day events in 2014 as a kind of counterpoint to the fuss made over high school athletes when they commit to a college sports program. Instead of celebrating gifted athletes, it celebrates ordinary high school students who commit to pursuing a degree.

  • Opinion
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Majdi Mohammed / Associated Press)

No one had the slightest reason to believe that relations between Palestinians and Israelis were getting any better in recent days. The long-moribund peace process remains moribund. Tens of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza have been demonstrating against Israeli policies for several weeks; nearly 50 of them have been killed by Israeli soldiers. The United States is set to open an embassy in Jerusalem this month, which will undoubtedly spur more protests.

Just when you thought it couldn’t get more depressing comes the news that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the 82-year-old successor to Yasser Arafat, gave a rambling speech Monday in which he said that the root cause of the Holocaust was not the racist ideology of the Nazis, but the Jews’ own behavior. In the speech, which Abbas described as a “history lesson” — he said that the “social function” of the Jews of Europe (specifically “usury and banking and such”) was what led to the animosity that fueled their extermination.

What cruel, ignorant, ahistorical comments. And how irresponsible for Abbas — a world leader of sorts — to spew such low-level, garden variety anti-Semitic canards. Of course, it’s not only reprehensible for Abbas to say such things, it’s also utterly counterproductive to his cause because it suggests to millions of people around the world that the struggle of the Palestinian people for an end to the occupation and a state of their own is not a legitimate cause, but a smokescreen for hatred and prejudice.

Advertisement
Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks in March at Lane Tech College Prep High School in Chicago.
Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks in March at Lane Tech College Prep High School in Chicago. (Jim Young / AFP/Getty Images)

While analysts caution that it’s still too early to tell how the GOP tax cuts will affect U.S. businesses, it’s clear who the early beneficiaries are: shareholders.

Payments to shareholders, either directly as dividends or indirectly as stock buybacks, are hitting record levels, with Goldman Sachs projecting $1.2 trillion in dividends and buybacks by Fortune 500 companies in 2018. The rise is fueled by companies such as Apple, which announced Tuesday that it would devote an additional $100 billion to buybacks and boost dividends 16%.

The source of the money is likely to be Apple’s cache of overseas profits, which it (like many U.S. multinationals) has been stashing in foreign subsidiaries to avoid being hit with high U.S. tax rates if the profits were repatriated. That behavior was both rational and lamentable, because it discouraged U.S. companies from using the money their products and services earned around the world to hire more people, start new product lines and increase wages here.

  • Opinion
  • Climate Change
A new study finds that microbes, left in isolation with plentiful food supplies, can poison their environment and kill themselves.
A new study finds that microbes, left in isolation with plentiful food supplies, can poison their environment and kill themselves. (Dreamstime / TNS)

Well, here’s a cheery thought for a Tuesday afternoon: Scientists have discovered organisms can commit ecological suicide by gorging on food and then poisoning their ecosystem with their own waste. Remind you of any species you know?

The lab-based study, published in the most recent issue of Nature Ecology & Evolution, found that the soil-dwelling Paenibacillus microbes, in high concentrations and with plentiful food, made their environment too acidic to live, and killed themselves off down to the last microbe.