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60 posts
  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • Rule of Law
Letitia James at her victory party after being elected attorney general of New York.
Letitia James at her victory party after being elected attorney general of New York. (Andres Kudacki / Associated Press)

New York state’s incoming attorney general has put a target on President Trump’s back.

“We will use every area of the law to investigate President Trump and his business transactions and that of his family as well,” Democratic Atty. Gen.-elect Letitia James told NBC News in an eyebrow-raising interview published Wednesday.

James mentioned several specific areas of potential investigation, including Trump’s real estate holdings in New York; the Trump Foundation; and the now-famous 2016 Trump Tower meeting involving Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner and a Russian lawyer said to have incriminating information about Hillary Clinton.

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  • Opinion
John Mulaney performs onstage at a benefit in New York City.
John Mulaney performs onstage at a benefit in New York City. (Getty Images)

How can it be that no one (besides Whoopi Goldberg) wants to host the Oscars?  

Are other comics worried that internet users will unearth some cyber trove of homophobic, sexist or racist remarks and stand-up routines in their pasts?  Just days after the announcement that Kevin Hart would host, the comic bowed out when years-old homophobic tweets and footage of his onstage ruminations on why he hoped his son wouldn’t be gay resurfaced on social media. (As he stepped down, he apologized on Twitter for “my insensitive words from my past.”)

Is that why we’re in danger of having the new hashtag #OscarsSoHostless?  

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  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • Border Wars
President Trump and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) exchange words during a meeting in the Oval Office on Tuesday.
President Trump and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) exchange words during a meeting in the Oval Office on Tuesday. (Michael Reynolds/EPA-EFE/REX)

When Washington braces for a potential government shutdown, the usual ritual is that Republicans and Democrats will posture over who will get blamed.

President Trump, however, made it clear Tuesday morning that he will be the one shutting down the government if Congress doesn’t provide money for the bigger, more expansive wall he has promised to build along the southern U.S. border. 

Meeting with the top House and Senate Democrats, Trump engaged in a surprisingly public airing of differences over the last remaining appropriations bills. Funding for about half of the federal government will run out Dec. 21 unless Congress acts to extend it, but it appears that lawmakers and Trump are at an impasse — he wants $5 billion to help fund his project, but he may not have enough votes for the wall funding in either chamber.

  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • Border Wars
Part of the recently closed camp for migrants, mostly Central Americans, at a sports park adjacent to the U.S.-Mexico border in Tijuana.
Part of the recently closed camp for migrants, mostly Central Americans, at a sports park adjacent to the U.S.-Mexico border in Tijuana. (Scott Martelle / Los Angeles Times)

It is only in an administration as dysfunctional and truth-averse as this one that people from other countries exercising their statutorily defined right to seek asylum in the U.S. can be viewed as taking advantage of a “loophole” in immigration laws.

On Monday, the government released statistics showing that the number of people seeking asylum at the border with Mexico has skyrocketed from 55,584 in 2017 to 92,959 in 2018, most of them unaccompanied minors or families with minor children. But asylum seekers still make up only a thin slice of the total number apprehended at the border — 18%, up from 13%.

And two-thirds of asylum-seekers are denied, a percentage that has risen dramatically under Trump policies narrowing the conditions that meet the asylum standard. The vast majority of asylum-seekers are fleeing violence and poverty in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador — conditions that have been influenced by U.S. policies, particularly those of the Reagan and first Bush administrations. Whether those were good or bad policies is a topic for another discussion, but the U.S. decision to support anti-leftist actors during insurrections and civil wars added to the violence and destabilization of the region. Those actions helped lay the foundation for other problems too, from corrupt governments to powerful street gangs, some of which came together here in Los Angeles.

  • Trump
  • Opinion
Leslie McCrae Dowless sits in his kitchen in Bladenboro, N.C.
Leslie McCrae Dowless sits in his kitchen in Bladenboro, N.C. (Justin Kase Conder/ Washington Post)

President Trump’s voter fraud commission was launched in 2017 on the false premise that massive voter fraud by non-citizens prevented Trump from winning the popular vote in 2016.

Since there is no evidence that this type of fraud was or is going on in any significant way, the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity was doomed from the start. And in January, after a short and ignoble life characterized by ineptitude and infighting, it disbanded without having uncovered any fraud other than its own existence.

Maybe the commission, led by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, might have survived if it hadn’t been looking for fraud in all the wrong places. Instead of California and other Democratic states, they might have found what they were looking for right at home in Trump country.

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New light rail and subway lines completed in less than a decade! Fewer clogged freeways! And free transit “forever and ever.”

  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • We're All Doomed
Despite warming temperatures from greenhouse gas emissions, Trump wants more coal-fired power plants like this one in West Virginia.
Despite warming temperatures from greenhouse gas emissions, Trump wants more coal-fired power plants like this one in West Virginia. (Los Angeles Times)

The Trump administration’s new rules to make it easier for coal-fired power plants to come on line is at once dangerous, and silly. Dangerous because coal is choking the planet; silly because the market is already quickly moving beyond coal — by far the most expensive and most polluting of our energy sources.

So why does Trump stick with coal, even though power companies are abandoning it for cheaper and cleaner alternatives? Ignorance is one possible answer — he may not understand what is happening in the energy markets.

But politics is the more likely explanation. Trump campaigned on bringing back coal, and while even coal miners know that’s not going to happen, this rollback of sensible regulations (likely to get a court challenge) allows Trump to brag that he did what he said he would do.

  • Opinion
Chairman and founder T.K. Pillan of Veggie Grill, a vegan food chain that's expanding in the L.A. area.
Chairman and founder T.K. Pillan of Veggie Grill, a vegan food chain that's expanding in the L.A. area. (Los Angeles Times)

Global interest in plant-based cuisine has exploded in recent years.

Although only about 6% of Americans identify as fully vegan (no meat, eggs, dairy or fish), many people see the benefit of limiting their consumption of animal products for health, environmental and moral reasons.

The market has responded to this consumer demand. Plant-based food restaurants aren’t difficult to find in large cities (there are two in my small neighborhood alone), and many meat-serving restaurants offer some sort of vegan fare.

Even McDonald’s, home of beef burgers and processed chicken, added a vegan burger — “El Veggo” — to its menu in Finland.

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Since the Civil War, Americans have struggled to define what seems to be obvious: What is a lynching? It conjures visions of a mob pulling a man from a jail cell, hauling him to a tree and throwing a rope over a branch. But debates have centered on how how many people must take part in such an extrajudicial killing for it to qualify as a lynching (the NAACP suggested in 1921 at least five).

And must the motive be racial? Was the hanging of a suspected white horse thief in the Wild West by ranch hands the same as a white Southern mob, amid taunts, jeers and spit, turning a black man accused of insulting a white woman into “strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees,” as Billie Holliday once sang?

Sen. Lindsey Graham and President Trump at the White House on Nov. 14.
Sen. Lindsey Graham and President Trump at the White House on Nov. 14. (Mark Wilson / AFP/Getty Images)

One of the most curious recent developments in national politics is the reincarnation of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) as an ally of President Trump, a man Graham once called a “xenophobic, race-baiting religious bigot.” 

But even the new pro-Trump Graham is dramatically distancing himself from the president on whether Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is culpable in the killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

In a statement on Nov. 20, Trump embraced a lazy agnosticism about the crown prince’s involvement, saying that “it could very well be that the crown prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!”