Advertisement
266 posts
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has been the target of 14 ethics investigations, three of which cleared him while six remain open.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has been the target of 14 ethics investigations, three of which cleared him while six remain open. (Chris Kleponis/Polaris)

You will be forgiven for not remembering all the ways in which Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has drawn the attention of ethics investigators. That’s because there are so many of them.

In fact, since the departures of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and Environmental Protection Agency director Scott Pruitt, Zinke is likely the most conflicted member of the administration not named Trump or Kushner.

Advertisement
  • Opinion
  • We're All Doomed

On Wednesday, the journal Science broke the story that neuroscientist and lab director Tania Singer allegedly bullied and intimidated her colleagues, particularly pregnant women. Singer is one of the world’s most respected empathy researchers, best known for her groundbreaking work on feeling others’ pain and the impact of meditation.

Singer isn’t the only academic whose alleged personal behavior is in conflict with her professional focus. In March, the Boston Globe reported that psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk was fired from his post as medical director of the Brookline Center, where he had worked for 35 years, for allegedly bullying and denigrating employees. His 2014 book, “The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma,” has been celebrated by experts and laypeople alike; the New York Times ran a 7,000-word profile of Van der Kolk in advance of its release.

Singer and Van der Kolk are far from the first geniuses to (allegedly) also be awful IRL. Think: Bobby Fischer. Hemingway. Flaubert. Mailer.

Advertisement
Rep. Devin Nunes in June.
Rep. Devin Nunes in June. (Alex Wong / Getty Images)

In case there was any lingering doubt that House Republicans are in the tank for President Trump, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) told fellow Republicans at a fundraiser in Spokane, Wash., that the GOP needs to hang onto the House majority in order to protect the president from the Russia investigation and possible impeachment.

The comments, which were recorded by an attendee and eventually aired in part Wednesday night on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show,” make it abundantly clear that Nunes, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee and was an early Trump supporter, is more interested in maintaining Republican power than he is about finding the truth. The fundraiser was with House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), the fourth most powerful member of the House majority.

  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • We're All Doomed
  • The Golden State
The Trump administration has filed notice for an environmental review that could open some federal lands in California to fracking.
The Trump administration has filed notice for an environmental review that could open some federal lands in California to fracking. (David McNew/Getty Images)

The federal government on Wednesday posted notice that it is considering opening up 400,000 acres of public land in California, and 1.2 million acres for which the government holds mineral rights, to fracking, the controversial oil and gas drilling practice linked to earthquakes in Oklahoma and groundwater pollution there and in other states.

The land at stake lies in Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare and Ventura counties, the Bureau of Land Management said. 

  • Opinion
  • The Golden State
An Oscar statue appears outside the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.
An Oscar statue appears outside the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. (Matt Sayles / Associated Press)

This morning, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced its intent to cut the Oscars to a cool three hours and to create a new category for “outstanding achievement in popular film.”

Well, look, they had to do something. This year’s Oscars telecast was the lowest-rated of all time. Even I — who have rock-bottom standards for entertainment — got bored. So if the academy wants to run some awards during the commercial breaks, edit them down and run them later in the program: Whatever.

I know true film nerds will be upset about that. I get it. I was very upset when the “Poetry Magazine Podcast” changed its format from long, juicy monthly episodes to bite-sized weekly episodes. Everyone else’s world somehow kept spinning on its axis.

Advertisement
  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • Election 2018
Missouri voters rejected a law halting compulsory fees for union nonmembers to cover costs such as collective bargaining.
Missouri voters rejected a law halting compulsory fees for union nonmembers to cover costs such as collective bargaining. (Charlie Riedel / Associated Press)

The organized labor movement has been taking it in the teeth. For one, participation has been steadily declining; in 1954, 34% of American workers belonged to labor unions. By 2017, that number had fallen to 10.7%. In May, President Trump signed a series of executive orders that would gut union protections for government workers. And in June, the Supreme Court ruled that government workers would no longer be required to pay so-called fair share fees to their unions, as they’d done for decades.

But plot twist: This isn’t another “we’re all going to hell in a handbasket, everything sucks for the left” piece. Now, I can’t say with any shred of confidence that we’re not or that it doesn’t, but organized labor won big Tuesday night in Missouri. Missouri! A purpley state, a former bellwether.

A measure on the ballot asked voters to endorse a Republican-backed law that would keep private-sector unions from collecting “fair share fees” from workers who decide not to become members. As ever, Republicans embraced baldly manipulative branding:  they call these efforts, created to starve unions of oxygen, “right to work” laws. But if there’s a “Hamilton” lyric to match every political event, last night’s would be: “He looked at me like I was stupid / I’m not stupid.” Missouri voters untangled the lingo and rejected the measure by a 2-to-1 margin.

It can be hard to message effectively when you’re telling the truth. The truth about unions is that they’re complicated to explain, construct and maintain. A “right to not get the job you’ve had for decades yanked away from you without explanation” or “right to not get totally screwed by your unhinged boss” or “right to wages that increase apace with inflation” law doesn’t roll off the tongue as easily. But these protections matter.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross's decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census is only one of several accuracy risks.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross's decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census is only one of several accuracy risks. (Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press)

We’re less than two years away from the 2020 census — and, in the eyes of some researchers and advocates, from a possible undercount that could cost California a seat in the House of Representatives.

The problem is that California — particularly Southern California — has large numbers of traditionally hard-to-count people, including minorities, the poor (who often live in converted garages and other hard-to-find sites), children and people living in the country without permission.

  • Trump
  • Opinion
Donald Trump's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame after was vandalized in July.
Donald Trump's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame after was vandalized in July. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Before Donald Trump was a polarizing president, he was a successful reality television celebrity and producer of beauty pageants. And like so many of his entertainment ilk, his name was placed inside a brass-framed terrazzo star on Hollywood Boulevard’s Walk of Fame.

Then, like other Walk of Fame honorees such as Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger, Trump turned to politics. And when he did, his star became a focal point for protest and abuse from those who oppose his policies and views.

It has been defaced with graffiti, stomped and spit on. In 2017, someone placed a gold toilet next to it, with a sign inviting people to “Take a Trump.” Actor George Lopez pretended to urinate on the star last month. Twice it was nearly demolished — once with a sledgehammer before the 2016 election and then again in July by a man with a pickax.

Advertisement
  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • Election 2018
Democratic congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks at a fundraiser in Los Angeles on Aug. 2.
Democratic congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks at a fundraiser in Los Angeles on Aug. 2. (Eugene Garcia / EPA)

On Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s to-do list when she visited Los Angeles for two days last week? Host a downtown luncheon in support of Occupy ICE. Tour skid row. Participate in a Democratic Socialists of America-sponsored panel discussion at a Koreatown church.

Now, admittedly, several of these functions were fundraisers. Take the panel, for instance: Attendees paid $15. If you couldn’t pay, you could get a subsidized ticket. You could pay more if you wanted to, but you wouldn’t get a better seat.

Ocasio-Cortez, who last month won a surprise primary victory against a powerful incumbent congressman in New York City, skipped Hollywood altogether. According to the Hollywood Reporter, her people never even called Mayor Eric Garcetti. Compare this to other Democratic darlings’ tours and the contrast becomes evident. Tickets to Hillary Clinton’s final Los Angeles fundraiser ranged from $33,400 to $100,000; Elton John performed, naturally. President Obama took the same glitzy approach.

  • Opinion
  • Guns and Ammo
  • We're All Doomed
Emmett Louis Till, 14, with his mother, Mamie Bradley.
Emmett Louis Till, 14, with his mother, Mamie Bradley. (Chicago Tribune File Photo)

How many times can racists kill a child, both physically and symbolically?

In August 1955, a 14-year-old African American boy from Chicago, Emmett Till, was visiting family in rural Mississippi when he supposedly flirted with or whistled at a 21-year-old white woman, Carolyn Bryant, who was working in the white family’s store. Four days later, her husband, Roy Bryant, and his half-brother, J.W. Milam, kidnapped Till from his uncle’s home, tortured him, shot him, then used barbed wire to tie a heavy metal fan around his neck and dropped the body in the Tallahatchie River.

After a fisherman found the body a few days later, Bryant and Milam were quickly arrested, tried and, after 67 minutes of deliberation, acquitted by an all-white jury. "We wouldn't have taken so long,” one of the jurors later said, “if we hadn't stopped to drink pop." A few months later, the two men admitted in an article in Look magazine that they had indeed killed Till.