Good morning. I’m Paul Thornton, and it is Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017. Here’s your final look back at the week in Opinion before 2018.
Two days remain in 2017, so publishing any retrospective piece or top 10 list prior to the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve risks immediate obsolescence given the unpredictability (or recklessness, some would say) of the man sitting in the White House. But publish we must, and with that and President Trump in mind, here are snippets of two top 10 lists on the most overlooked stories of 2017.
First up is Sean Davis, right-leaning co-founder of the Federalist and a former chief investigator for Republican Sen. Tom Coburn:
1. “Russian collusion” charges were a dud
Despite a year's worth of investigation into the matter, zero independently verifiable evidence of alleged illegal collusion between Donald Trump and the Russian government has been offered to the public. In fact, there's far more evidence that President Obama's Department of Justice colluded with a shady DNC-funded outfit — Fusion GPS — to cook up a pretext for spying on the administration's political opponents. The anti-Trump collusion hand played by Trump's detractors is so far a complete bust. The real story is a journalistic jackpot that for some reason nobody wants to claim.
2. The economy roared
The U.S. economy came roaring back in 2017. GDP growth is strong and steady, and the unemployment rate now approaches lows not seen since the early 2000s. The economy has added over 1.9 million payroll jobs this year. Consumer confidence is at a 17-year high. The 2017 economic recovery is nonetheless a major story widely ignored by the political press.
You can guess where this is going. Click here to read the full list.
Next up is left-wing media analyst Adam H. Johnson of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, whose list shockingly bears no resemblance to Davis':
1. Disenfranchisement of African American voters
While the outrage took place in 2016, the mainstream media’s indifference to voter suppression was deafening throughout 2017. Investigations by academics and journalists alike have revealed extensive civil rights violations on election day, the culmination of a long-term ploy by Republicans to reduce the number of African American voters through ID laws and other devices ....
3. President Trump's unprecedented non-Russia corruption
Time will tell the extent of President Trump’s connection to Russian officials and how it may or may not have influenced his campaign but — regardless — Trump has led the most nakedly corrupt administration in modern American history, enriching himself, his family and his friends and hiring a Cabinet of political cronies and billionaires. Many journalists have done great work revealing this corruption, but these stories have not turned into full-blown scandals, let alone harmed the president.
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The new year could prove devastating for charities. Not that kindhearted taxpayers need a financial reason to give, but the GOP tax reform bill’s limit on certain itemized deductions and doubling of the standard deduction for couples to $24,000 removes major incentives to donate that benefit charities. As noted in a Times op-ed article by Bryan McQueeney, the Council on Foundations estimates up to $24 billion annually will be drawn out of the nonprofit sector under the tax law. L.A. Times
Your dog should go vegan. Op-ed writer Karen Dawn’s pets did, and they lived long, healthy lives. She urges the Los Angeles Animal Services Board to adopt a plan that would put all city shelter dogs on a plant-based diet, something that would put a dent in the amount of meat household pets consume. “Dogs have nutritional requirements, not ingredient requirements,” Dawn writes. L.A. Times
Plenty of “there” there in the Russia investigation. Harry Litman, a UCLA law professor and former U.S. attorney, rounds up all the evidence that points to wrongdoing by the Trump campaign — more than 30 meetings with Russians that were initially denied, Michael Flynn’s guilty plea and, later, the president’s firing of James Comey — and warns Trump opponents not to get too amused by the president’s impending downfall: “These are troubled times for the Constitution, with the president of the United States, who still has the support of at least one-third of the electorate, debasing his office daily and telling repeated lies to the American people.” L.A. Times
The Republican Party’s future looks a lot like its present in California. In 1994, state voters passed the fiercely anti-immigrant Proposition 187, which had the support of then-Republican Gov. Pete Wilson, and the state GOP has yet to recover from that self-inflicted wound. Conor Friedersdorf predicts that the national GOP will suffer a similar fate after Trump is gone, leaving the so-called Never Trumpers as the only faction left standing. The Atlantic
Admit it: Trump accomplished a lot (but his party’s in power too). For better or worse, the president set out to roll back federal regulations, undermine Obamacare, remake the judiciary and pass a tax reform bill. He’s made significant progress on all fronts, writes columnist Jonah Goldberg, even if Congress could not pass an Obamacare repeal bill. But there’s a catch, Goldberg says: “To listen to Trump’s cheerleaders, the biggest obstacle to conservative victories is the party establishment, when in reality it looks more like they’re running the show.” L.A. Times
Dry and drier in California. It’s the wet season, so where’s the rain? UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain writes that all signs point to a continued dry spell for Southern California. The reason? That “Ridiculously Resilient Ridge.” California Weather Blog