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EPA administrator Scott Pruitt -- a man on a mattress mission, and other ethical issues.
EPA administrator Scott Pruitt -- a man on a mattress mission, and other ethical issues. (Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press)

Really, America needs to know – what exactly did Scott Pruitt, the administrator who would be emperor of the Environmental Protection Agency who makes around $190,000 a year, want with a used mattress from the Trump International Hotel?

That little detail was included in comments by Pruitt’s scheduling director to House Oversight Committee staffers that was released Monday by Democratic members of Congress. The staffer, Millan Hupp, said she had done personal errands for Pruitt on her own time, which experts say violates federal ethics standards. She also helped him find an apartment as he moved out of that $50-a-night room-rate favor he received from the wife of a lobbyist.

The Washington Post reported separately today that another scheduler, Hupp’s sister Sydney Hupp, called Chik-fil-A to set up a meeting for Pruitt about a “business opportunity.” Turns out that Pruitt’s wife was looking to become a Chik-fil-A franchisee. 

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  • Opinion
  • We're All Doomed
  • Rule of Law
Douglas High School students David Hogg, center, and Caspen Becher, hug after an anti-school violence demonstration.
Douglas High School students David Hogg, center, and Caspen Becher, hug after an anti-school violence demonstration. (Wilfredo Lee / Associated Press)

Parkland, Fla., shooting survivor turned anti-gun activist David Hogg avoided another potentially deadly incident Tuesday — after police armed with assault rifles burst through the door of his family home. Broward County sheriff’s officials were responding to a call that Hogg and his family had been taken hostage by an assailant armed with an AR-15.

That call turned out to be false.

Hogg, thankfully, was out of town when police arrived at his doorstep en masse — prepared for a shootout with an armed menace.

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  • Trump
  • Opinion
President Trump welcomes members of 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Martin Truex Jr.'s race team to the White House May 18.
President Trump welcomes members of 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Martin Truex Jr.'s race team to the White House May 18. (Olivier Douliery / Abaca Press)

For President Trump, professional athletes are the gift that keeps on giving. 

You might recall how Trump withdrew the customary White House invitation from last year’s NBA champion, the Golden State Warriors, because star Stephen Curry has the temerity to question whether he actually wanted to go. On Monday, Trump did it again, abruptly cancelling a planned celebration at the White House on Tuesday with the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles because a number of team members refused to join in. Their beef? Trump’s strong-arming the National Football League owners into requiring players on the field to stand respectfully during the anthem and not do anything, you know, uppity.

Those protests, by the way, are meant to call attention to the repeated incidents of police shooting unarmed black men. But that’s not the angle Trump takes. Here’s how he characterized the Eagles’ views in a statement Monday: 

  • Trump
  • Opinion
President Trump welcomes members of 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Martin Truex Jr.'s race team to the White House May 18.
President Trump welcomes members of 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Martin Truex Jr.'s race team to the White House May 18. (Olivier Douliery / Abaca Press)

For President Trump, professional athletes are the gift that keeps on giving. 

You might recall how Trump withdrew the customary White House invitation from last year’s NBA champion, the Golden State Warriors, because star Stephen Curry has the temerity to question whether he actually wanted to go. On Monday, Trump did it again, abruptly cancelling a planned celebration at the White House on Tuesday with the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles because a number of team members refused to join in. Their beef? Trump’s strong-arming the National Football League owners into requiring players on the field to stand respectfully during the anthem and not do anything, you know, uppity.

Those protests, by the way, are meant to call attention to the repeated incidents of police shooting unarmed black men. But that’s not the angle Trump takes. Here’s how he characterized the Eagles’ views in a statement Monday: 

  • Opinion
  • Plastic Trash
Eighty pieces of plastic bags were found in the stomach of short-finned pilot whale after an autopsy
Eighty pieces of plastic bags were found in the stomach of short-finned pilot whale after an autopsy (Thai Whales)

During the five days that rescuers tried to save the life of an ailing pilot whale found in a canal in Thailand last week, it vomited up five plastic bags. That, it turns out, was just a horrifying preview of what was discovered after the whale finally expired: 80 plastic bags stuffed into the whale’s stomach.

This is not the first marine animal to be found to have been harmed by ingesting plastic trash in the ocean. Or even the first whale.  In 2013, the body of a sperm whale washed up on a beach in Spain with 37 pounds of garbage blocking its stomach.

But it may be the most heart-wrenching death-by-plastic story yet. And it comes at an pivotal moment. Humans are — finally — waking up to the fact that their addiction to throwaway plastic is killing wildlife in a much more graphic and gruesome manner than climate change. Stories like these ought to be a rallying call for new, and significant, restrictions on single-use plastic items.

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  • Opinion
  • The Witch Hunt
President Trump sits with Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions during the FBI National Academy graduation ceremony in Quantico, Va., on Dec. 17, 2017.
President Trump sits with Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions during the FBI National Academy graduation ceremony in Quantico, Va., on Dec. 17, 2017. (Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

I don’t usually feel the urge to offer President Trump helpful advice, particularly not when the advice would also help his zombie minions in Congress. I’m more of a grip-it-and-rip-it kind of critic. And there’s just so much to criticize.

Then I saw this tweet this morning:

I sensed a soul in pain, and the part of me that loves small children and animals is seizing control of the keyboard to say: Mr. President, never utter another word about pardoning yourself. Just shhh. SHHHHH. Shhhhh.

  • Opinion
  • Rule of Law
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote the majority opinion in the same-sex wedding cake case.
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote the majority opinion in the same-sex wedding cake case. (Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press)

The Supreme Court on Monday finally issued its ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop vs. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, aka the same-sex wedding case case.

Three quick points:

The 7-2 decision is narrower than some social conservatives would prefer, focusing in large part on the majority’s perception that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission displayed hostility toward Christian baker Jack Philips’ religious convictions against same-sex marriage. This issue also featured in December’s oral argument in the case, as I explained here

By a whole bunch of different metrics, too few women occupy leadership positions in U.S. businesses. Just look at corporate boards of directors: At the 3,000 companies tracked on the Russell 3000 index, fewer than 1 in 6 board seats is filled by a woman. More than a quarter of the California companies in that group had no female directors at all. The representation of women is far higher on corporate boards in Western European countries, several of which mandate that women hold 30% to 40% of the board seats.

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  • Opinion
  • Election 2018
  • Rich Dudes
Roque "Rocky" De La Fuente before a Democratic Presidential Forum in Des Moines, Iowa in 2016. He's a Republican now.
Roque "Rocky" De La Fuente before a Democratic Presidential Forum in Des Moines, Iowa in 2016. He's a Republican now. (Charlie Neibergall/ Associated Press)

Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente is running for U.S. Senate in California’s June 5 primary.

It’s a good question, and one that has come up more than once since the Los Angeles Times editorial board decided to throw in with former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in the governor’s race on June 5: What about John Chiang? After all, we’d endorsed Chiang for both his current job as state treasurer and his previous gig as state controller.