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26 posts
  • Opinion
  • 2020
(Molly Riley / Associated Press)

Earlier this week, Joe Biden told an audience at the University of Montana that he was “the most qualified person in the country to be president.” He wasn’t officially announcing his run — he’d decide over the holidays, he said — but one doesn’t generally say such things unless they’re running.

Plus, Biden’s never played coy about his desire to hold the office. He first ran for president in 1988. (Dropped out because of plagiarism scandals.) He ran again in 2008. (Received less than 1% of the vote in the Iowa Caucus.)

In October, Biden received some buzz as early polling showed him leading the Democratic field in 2020. These two-years-out polls don’t mean much; similar ones showed Presidents Clinton and Obama losing re-election. Two years is plenty of time for Biden, a self-declared “gaffe machine,” to give the race away.

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  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • Rule of Law
  • The Swamp
  • Rich Dudes
Artist Robin Bell projected messages of protest onto Trump International Hotel, where the president is his own landlord, last year.
Artist Robin Bell projected messages of protest onto Trump International Hotel, where the president is his own landlord, last year. (Liz Gorman / Robin Bell)

Get ready for a tweet storm from you-know-who.

The attorneys general for Maryland and the District of Columbia, who are suing President Trump over allegations that he is violating the emolument clause of the Constitution, banning payments from foreign governments, has subpoenaed a range of records from the president’s businesses, some of his competitors, and federal agencies that have dealt with the Trump Organization.

This could get interesting.

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  • Opinion
A statue of former United States President George H.W. Bush near the Presidential Library in College Station, Texas.
A statue of former United States President George H.W. Bush near the Presidential Library in College Station, Texas. (Daniel Kramer/EPA-EFE/REX)

The death of former President George H.W. Bush is inspiring comparisons between his presidency and that of the current occupant of the White House. That was inevitable, because the traits that defined Bush’s one term in office are scandalously absent from the way Donald Trump has approached the highest office in the land.

Bush assumed the presidency after serving as a member of Congress, as ambassador to the United Nations, as CIA director and as vice president; Trump was a political amateur when he was elected (and proud of it). Bush was respectful of the expertise of his advisers and career government officials; Trump disdains them as a sinister “Deep State.” Bush was willing to abandon his “Read my lips: No new taxes” campaign pledge in order to cement a compromise agreement on the budget; Trump is loath to repudiate positions he took on the campaign trail, such as his reckless promise to withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement.

Bush was an ambitious politician, but he also was self-effacing and reluctant to personalize the achievements of his administration. For Trump, everything is about Trump. And Bush cherished civility, despite some low shots on the campaign trail — especially his campaign’s questionable use of a prison furlough program against his opponent, Michael Dukakis. (Willie Horton, a black man who raped a woman after escaping while on furlough, figured in a racially inflammatory TV aid aired by Bush supporters.)

  • Opinion
  • The Golden State
California Democratic Party Chairman Eric Bauman announced Thursday that he was stepping down after sexual harassment allegations.
California Democratic Party Chairman Eric Bauman announced Thursday that he was stepping down after sexual harassment allegations. (Los Angeles Times)

More than a year after reports about movie producer Harvey Weinstein kicked off a cultural movement, #MeToo hasn’t seemed to have lost its potency. At least not in California, where two powerful men accused of misconduct saw their political careers derailed this month.

California Democratic Party Chairman Eric Bauman resigned Thursday after a Los Angeles Times investigation uncovered several allegations that he had made sexually explicit comments to staffers and engaged in unwanted touching. Within hours of the Times story’s publication, Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom and other Democratic Party leaders were calling for him to step down.

State Sen. Joel Anderson (R-Alpine) had his own #MeToo moment this summer, and it may have cost him a seat on the state Board of Equalization. The termed-out legislator had a huge lead over his Democratic opponent coming out of the June primary. But in September, Anderson was reprimanded by his colleagues for an incident in which he allegedly threatened to “bitch slap” a female lobbyist.

  • Opinion
  • Rule of Law
  • The Swamp
Why would President Trump appoint as acting attorney general someone, Matthew Whitaker, closely tied to a marketing firm the FTC shut down?
Why would President Trump appoint as acting attorney general someone, Matthew Whitaker, closely tied to a marketing firm the FTC shut down? (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press)

At first I didn’t believe Matthew Whitaker was qualified to serve as President Trump’s acting attorney general, but I’ve come around after reading about his involvement with World Patent Marketing before it went out of business.

He is indeed sleazy enough to fit right in with the this administration’s band of miscreants.

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HealthCare.gov, the federal marketplace for health insurance policies subsidized by Obamacare.
HealthCare.gov, the federal marketplace for health insurance policies subsidized by Obamacare. (Patrick Sison / Associated Press)

It’s almost as if the midterm election escaped the notice of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

As you may recall, voters decisively bounced Republicans from control of the House. Democrats had spotlighted Republicans’ attacks on Obamacare, and more specifically the GOP’s efforts to end the law’s protections for millions of people with preexisting conditions. (Those protections apply to the roughly 15 million people who buy insurance directly because they’re not covered by health plans at work; a different federal law provides similar protection to people covered by large group plans.)

Yet here we are, a little more than three weeks from the election, with a new gambit by HHS to promote cheaper, thinner insurance policies — at the expense of people who need comprehensive coverage. You know, like people with preexisting conditions.

  • Opinion
  • The Golden State
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield), called California's voting outcome "strange."
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield), called California's voting outcome "strange." (Michael Reynolds / EPA-EFE/REX)

On Thursday, soon-to-be-ex House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) called the Golden State’s voting system “bizarre” and suggested there was something hinky about how long it took to know the outcome in certain races.

“When you have candidates who win the absentee ballot vote and then lose three weeks later because of provisionals, that’s really bizarre,” Ryan said. “I just think that’s a very, very strange outcome.”

Certainly Ryan and his caucus are dismayed about the outcome in the midterm elections, losing half of the already small number of GOP House seats in California, not to mention control of the House altogether. But if he’s bewildered by California’s voting system, perhaps it is because he’s not used to states that are making it easier for people to vote.

Twitter's suspension of Kelly was seen by those on the right as another example of a social media outlet trying to silence conservatives.
Twitter's suspension of Kelly was seen by those on the right as another example of a social media outlet trying to silence conservatives. (Josh Edelson / AFP/Getty Images)

Two days after Twitter reportedly slapped a permanent ban on right-wing radio host Jesse Kelly without warning or clear explanation, it restored his ability to tweet a mix of goofy humor, insults (directed mainly at Democrats) and provocations about race, gender and whatever else was on his mind to his 111,000 followers.

No big deal, right? Considering the sort of things Kelly says, he was bound to get grounded by the Twitter enforcement team sooner or later. (This is the sort of thing Kelly says: During his last appearance on Fox News Channel, he described soon-to-be House Speaker Nancy Pelosi by saying, “She has the likability of chicken pox. ... She comes off as somebody who's cooking a stew with small children inside.” Even the Fox host seemed appalled, saying, “Next time we'll try to elevate the level of the conversation here.”)

But for the folks on the right side of the partisan divide, Kelly’s suspension was just the latest example of a dominant social media outlet trying to silence conservatives. A newly elected Republican senator called for a congressional investigation into Twitter’s alleged political bias. Even some of Kelly’s critics cried foul:

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  • Trump
  • Opinion
President Trump with General Motors CEO Mary Barra in 2017.
President Trump with General Motors CEO Mary Barra in 2017. (Brendan Smialowski / AFP/Getty Images)

For someone who has pushed hard to free U.S. companies from federal interference, President Trump is unusually willing to tell U.S. companies how to run their businesses.

The latest example is General Motors, which announced plans Monday to cut thousands of jobs and potentially shutter a handful of factories in the face of softening car sales. Traditional Republicans might consider this sort of development a painful but necessary part of the business cycle. To Trump, though, it was a needless blow to an important constituency — autoworkers — in Ohio and Michigan, two blue-collar-heavy Midwestern states that were important parts of his winning coalition in 2016. (The company’s updated plans also envision plant shutdowns in Maryland and Canada, plus two unspecified plants outside of North America.)

So Trump hectored and threatened GM’s leadership, both directly and through the media. He raised the stakes Tuesday on Twitter: