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274 posts
  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • The Witch Hunt
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani is shown here with President-elect Trump in November 2016 at a Trump golf club in New Jersey.
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani is shown here with President-elect Trump in November 2016 at a Trump golf club in New Jersey. (Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images)

It’s a time-honored practice by defense lawyers to insist that their clients didn’t do what they’re accused of doing, but then to add that even if they did, it wasn’t a crime. The latter almost sounds like an admission of guilt, but it’s really just a fallback plan in case the evidence against their client proves to be strong.

Which is why eyebrows shot up when President Trump’s current lawyer, former federal prosecutor and ex-New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, told CNN on Monday that “I don't even know if that's a crime, colluding about Russians.”

Prior to that interview, the Trump team had unequivocally denied that any collusion had occurred between the Trump campaign and agents of the Russian government. Going from “no collusion” to “collusion is not a crime” is quite a shift.

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  • Opinion
  • Guns and Ammo
  • We're All Doomed
  • Rule of Law
Efforts to ban sharing of 3-D computer codes to make untraceable guns like this one aim at the wrong target.
Efforts to ban sharing of 3-D computer codes to make untraceable guns like this one aim at the wrong target. (Cody Wilson)

There have been some skirmishes in federal courts recently over efforts by a Texas pro-gun zealot to let people download software instructions that will direct a 3-D printer to create an untraceable gun. It’s a dangerously bad idea, but unfortunately, the man — Cody Wilson, who runs the nonprofit Defense Distributed — is perfectly within his rights, as the Times editorial board explained three years ago.

What? The pro-gun control Los Angeles Times siding with the gun nuts? Well, yeah, in this case, because what’s at stake is not the 2nd Amendment covering gun rights, but the 1st Amendment covering free speech. We reach dangerous ground when we let the government — federal, state or local — tell people what information they can and can’t share over the internet.

The issue first surfaced in 2013 when the State Department went after Wilson, arguing that making the computer programming available globally via the internet put him afoul of U.S. laws on gun exports. But that was an overreach. Wilson wasn’t shipping weapons, he was sharing information — specifically, computer code, which courts have held is speech.

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  • Trump
  • Opinion
President Trump, shown at the White House Sunday, threatened to "shut down" the government unless Congress passed immigration legislation.
President Trump, shown at the White House Sunday, threatened to "shut down" the government unless Congress passed immigration legislation. (Susan Walsh/Associated Press)

We’re learning a lot about the inner workings of the White House from President Trump.

As it turns out, not only is there a nuclear button — and it’s bigger than the one in North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s hands — there’s also an on-off switch for the federal bureaucracy.

In other words, if Congress doesn’t pass an immigration bill, click! The switch gets flipped, and all non-essential government workers are sent home temporarily without pay.

Traffic along 42nd Street in New York City.
Traffic along 42nd Street in New York City. (Mary Altaffer/AP)

New York City may become the first major city in the nation to cap the number of Uber, Lyft and other ride-hailing drivers operating on public streets.

The City Council is considering a proposal that would halt the issuance of most new for-hire vehicle licenses while the city conducts a yearlong study of the industry, according to the New York Times. The council may also limit the number of vehicles operating in an area and could decline to renew a permit if a “need” for service isn’t demonstrated, the Verge reported.

Critics say the city has to crack down because ride-hail vehicles are clogging the streets — there are now 100,000 for-hire vehicles licensed in the city, up from 40,000 in 2011 — as well as siphoning riders from public transit and depressing incomes for taxi and livery drivers. Mayor Bill de Blasio tried unsuccessfully to cap the number of Ubers on NYC streets in 2015.

A first-ever survey finds only 13% of marine wilderness remains unblemished by humans.
A first-ever survey finds only 13% of marine wilderness remains unblemished by humans. (Bruce Rocherrieux / University of Queensland)

It doesn’t take much of a science background to recognize that human activity has made a significant impact on the natural state of the world. But a new study measures that impact in an unseen area: the world’s oceans. And it’s not good news.

According to a study reported in Current Biology, only 13% of the oceans can be considered marine wilderness, compared with about 20% of the dry land globally that falls into the wilderness category (and that percentage is dwindling quickly). The study is the first effort to map global marine wilderness areas. 

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  • Trump
  • Opinion
President Trump touts the latest economic growth numbers outside the White House on July 27 as Vice President Mike Pence looks on.
President Trump touts the latest economic growth numbers outside the White House on July 27 as Vice President Mike Pence looks on. (Olivier Douliery / Abaca Press / TNS)

As a candidate in 2016, Donald Trump promised that economic growth would rise to 4% or more if he were elected. On Friday, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that the economy may finally have finally complied.

According to the bureau’s preliminary estimate, the U.S. gross domestic product increased 4.1% (adjusted for inflation) in the months of April through June. That’s up from 2.2% in the first three months of the year, and 2.8% in 2017.

Naturally, the president and administration officials credited Trump policies for the boffo numbers. And there’s certainly a connection.

Whom would you believe, President Trump or his longtime lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen?
Whom would you believe, President Trump or his longtime lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen? (Associated Press)

This is the corner President Trump has painted himself into: He lies with such abandon that nothing he says can be taken at face value. And that includes his denial Friday morning that he knew ahead of time about a meeting between a group of campaign advisors (including his son Donald Jr.) and Russians whom his son thought were peddling dirt on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

CNN reported Thursday night that Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime lawyer and fixer, is ready to tell special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s team that he was present at a meeting during which Trump Jr. told his father about the upcoming meeting, and that Trump approved. Trump and his circle have denied that the then-candidate knew anything about the meeting until well after the fact.

  • Opinion
  • Plastic Trash
A handout photo by bird watcher Wu Hsiu-chin shows a Greater Crested Tern with a plastic straw stuck on its beak in June
A handout photo by bird watcher Wu Hsiu-chin shows a Greater Crested Tern with a plastic straw stuck on its beak in June (Wu Hsiu-Chin /EPA-EFE/REX)

Two things seem to get the conservative media riled up like nothing else: laws that force people and businesses to stop polluting, and pretty much anything that liberal California does. When those two things come together, as with the state’s growing plastic straw crackdown, it’s like catnip for the national right-wing media. They just can’t help but go a little nuts.

Witness the overwrought response to an effort by Santa Barbara to adopt a wide-ranging law limiting on single-use plastic takeout ware — to-go cups and containers, forks, knives, stirrers and straws. “California city OKs jail time for defying plastic straw ban,” read the FoxNews.com headline, and many like it from outlets across the nation.

What? Straw police?

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  • Opinion
  • The Swamp
If Twitter really were trying to decrease the reach of prominent Republicans, wouldn't it start with Donald Trump?
If Twitter really were trying to decrease the reach of prominent Republicans, wouldn't it start with Donald Trump? (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

For a group that loves to make fun of triggered oppressed snowflakes, no one has a bigger victim complex these days than people affiliated with the party that controls all three branches of federal government.

President Trump took to Twitter on Thursday morning for his regularly scheduled airing of grievances. In a refreshing change of pace, it was a meta-grievance with Twitter itself.

Employing his signature all-caps-because-I-really-mean-it style, Trump wrote:

  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • The Witch Hunt
Deputy Atty. Gen. Rod Rosenstein is the target of members of the House Freedom Caucus.
Deputy Atty. Gen. Rod Rosenstein is the target of members of the House Freedom Caucus. (Melina Mara / Washington Post)

On Wednesday, 11 House Republicans, led by Freedom Caucus hysterics Reps. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), filed articles of impeachment against Deputy Atty. Gen. Rod J. Rosenstein.

It’s likely that this outrageous idea isn’t going anywhere. Still, it’s an alarming escalation of the attempt by President Trump’s loyalists in Congress to undermine the man who oversees the investigation of possible collusion between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia (or the WITCH HUNT, as Trump refers to it). And it could give the president ideas.

The articles of impeachment are a grab bag of allegations ranging from a lack of responsiveness to congressional document requests to a bogus conflict of interest on Rosenstein’s part to familiar complaints about the surveillance of former Trump advisor Carter Page. There’s even an allegation that “the Department of Justice, under the supervision of Mr. Rosenstein, unnecessarily redacted the price of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s $70,000 conference table because it was potentially embarrassing information.” Talk about “high crimes and misdemeanors”!