Newsletter: Trump wants civility. He’s a good place to start

Police barricade tape is strung in front of the Colonial Station Post Office in Sacramento, where an explosive device addressed to Sen. Kamala Harris was found.
Police barricade tape is strung in front of the Colonial Station Post Office in Sacramento, where an explosive device addressed to Sen. Kamala Harris was found.
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Good morning. I’m Paul Thornton, and it is Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018. There are exactly 10 days left before election day. Let’s take a look back at the week in Opinion.

Donald Trump has not earned the moral authority to call for unity and civility. He just hasn’t. Yes, he’s president, but he gained power by stoking the smoldering resentments of bitter white voters and convincing millions of people that his opponent was a lying crook. In office, he has insisted those of us in the media lie knowingly and unceasingly (which, based solely on the professional standards of journalism, can be compared to flippantly accusing all physicians of willingly sickening their patients) just so we can stop him from doing wonderful things for his voters.

But in his statements after crude explosive devices were mailed to his most prominent critics this week, he couldn’t help but remind us explicitly just how hollow his appeals for peace and respect are. Amid a bomb scare that targeted a media organization, CNN, which has frequently come under rhetorical fire by the president, Trump blamed journalists for the “anger we see today” and admonished them to “clean up” their act. In other words, Trump thinks we’d all get along just fine if journalists ceased their aggressive coverage of him.

The Times Editorial Board took the president to task for his consistent attacks on the media:

The problem is that this is the same president who once called major news organizations “the enemy of the American People,” who refused to answer a question from a CNN correspondent because “CNN is fake news,” who ranted about “Crooked Hillary” while his adoring fans chanted “Lock her up,” and who only a few days ago entertained the crowd at one of his rallies by complimenting a member of Congress who pleaded guilty to assaulting a reporter while campaigning. "Any guy that can do a body slam, he's my candidate,” the president said.

The intended recipients of the explosive devices are a who’s who of Trump targets: Soros, the bogeyman for right-wing conspiracy theorists; John Brennan, Obama’s CIA director whom Trump has described as “a loudmouth, partisan, political hack who cannot be trusted with the secrets to our country”; Waters, whom Trump has derided as "crazy" and "low IQ."

If it turns out that the devices, which fortunately harmed no one, were sent by a supporter of the president, Trump can of course argue that he never encouraged violence or criminality. But surely this kind of violence is the foreseeable outcome of our increasingly toxic politics.

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Don’t call it terrorism (yet). Scott Stewart, the lead State Department investigator assigned to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, distinguishes between events that cause mass terror and actual terrorism. With this bomb scare, he sees crude explosive devices less intended to cause death and serious injury than to look scary and induce widespread panic. L.A. Times

Trump’s the real crisis, not the migrant caravan. The president’s desire to use military personnel to meet the Central Americans at the border and his attempt to grind the asylum process to a halt — both moves that run counter to long-established law and basic human decency — are much bigger threats to this country than a few thousand people seeking safety and work, writes Scott Martelle. L.A. Times

How do we uphold the law while helping Central Americans? Sonia Nazario, a former L.A. Times reporter who wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning series on a migrant child’s journey through Mexico to the United States, has an answer that she says will work but make a lot of liberals angry: Send more aid to places like Honduras and El Salvador for improving safety, and treat asylum seekers more humanely but deport 100% of the people whose cases are rejected or who are in the United States illegally. New York Times

Safe houses in California: Throughout the country and especially in this state, Latina immigrants are opening their homes to abused women from Mexico and farther south who risk being deported if they report the men — mainly their husbands or boyfriends — who are harming them. California Sunday Magazine

Voting on Nov. 6? Of course you are — why do I ask? Here’s a list of The Times Editorial Board’s endorsements:

Governor: Gavin Newsom

U.S. Senator: Dianne Feinstein

Lieutenant governor: Ed Hernandez

Attorney general: Xavier Becerra

Secretary of state: Alex Padilla

Controller: Betty Yee

Treasurer: Fiona Ma

Insurance commissioner: Steve Poizner

Proposition 1 (affordable housing): Yes

Proposition 2 (mentally ill housing): Yes

Proposition 3 (water bond): No

Proposition 4 (children’s hospitals): Yes

Proposition 5 (property taxes): No

Proposition 6 (motorist taxes): No

Proposition 7 (daylight saving time): Yes

Proposition 8 (dialysis centers): No

Proposition 10 (rent control): Yes

Proposition 11 (EMT pay): Yes

Proposition 12 (chicken cages): Yes

California Supreme Court and 2nd District Court of Appeal: Yes to all judges

L.A. Charter Amendment B (public bank): No

L.A. County sheriff: Jim McDonnell