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Instead of threatening to punish GM for closing factories, President Trump should seek more subsidies for electric vehicles.
Instead of threatening to punish GM for closing factories, President Trump should seek more subsidies for electric vehicles. (Toby Talbot / Associated Press)

General Motors’ announcement that it is shutting down auto plants and laying off blue- and white-collar workers put President Trump in a predictable froth, which my colleague Jon Healey wrote about.

But if the president was really interested in helping GM, he’d be looking at supportive policies, not punitive (and likely illegal) threats to withhold subsidies. In fact, the president should be increasing subsidies for some of the lines GM plans to end: the Chevrolet Cruze and Volt lines.

GM’s announcement overlapped with a sprinkling of dire reports (which I wrote about) that the U.S. and the world are botching our chance to more directly confront greenhouse gas emissions.

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  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • Rule of Law
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:

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  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • We're All Doomed
Residents watch last year's Thomas fire, the kind of conflagration that will worsen and become more common with climate change.
Residents watch last year's Thomas fire, the kind of conflagration that will worsen and become more common with climate change. (Michael Owen Baker / For The Times)

In the future, when the seas have risen along with global temperatures, and droughts, floods and heat waves have collapsed ecosystems and made sections of the Earth uninhabitable for humans, we won’t be able to say we didn’t see it coming.

Even the Trump administration, in a report released (fittingly enough) on Black Friday, now admits that climate change is here. In fact, another report released the same day says nearly one-quarter of U.S. carbon missions can be traced to oil and gas leases on federal land, so the culpability goes beyond inaction and bad policies to, at least minimally, earning revenues from extracting fossil fuels. Phasing out those leases would go a long way toward meeting national emissions goals.

But wait, there’s more: According to the annual United Nations Environment Program’s Emissions Gap Report released Tuesday in Paris, governments that agreed in 2015 to aggressively reduce their carbon emissions so far have achieved little.

  • Opinion
  • We're All Doomed
Shoppers throng into a Kentucky Best Buy store on Black Friday last year.
Shoppers throng into a Kentucky Best Buy store on Black Friday last year. (Bac Totrong)

For us non-material types (except for books. And music. And cooking utensils — you get the idea) Black Friday is the bleakest day of the year.

On Thanksgiving Thursday, we celebrate comity and family and take stock of our blessings.

  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • Rule of Law
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. defended the impartiality of federal judges.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. defended the impartiality of federal judges. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press)

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. deserves credit for pushing back — judiciously — against President Trump’s latest attack on the federal judiciary.

Trump had complained that “an Obama judge” in Northern California had ruled against the president’s attempt to restrict asylum applications. He ominously added: “I’ll tell you what, it’s not going to happen like this anymore.”

In a statement released by the Supreme Court, Roberts said: “We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges. What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them.”

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  • Opinion
  • Rule of Law
Former state Sen. Roderick Wright testifies during his trial for voter fraud and perjury in 2014.
Former state Sen. Roderick Wright testifies during his trial for voter fraud and perjury in 2014. (Stephen Carr / Associated Press)

With the state Supreme Court having given its blessing, it seems all but certain that Gov. Jerry Brown will pardon former state Sen. Roderick Wright (D-Inglewood), who was convicted of voter fraud and perjury four years ago.

In fact, I would be surprised if he didn’t, and soon. Wright was a popular politician who many believed was unfairly targeted by the district attorney for simply misinterpreting the residency rules for state lawmakers. The law says state legislators must live in the district they seek to represent. But what does “live in” mean?

It’s actually a more complicated answer than you might think. California is a big state, and the job of a full-time legislator means they must spend a considerable amount of time in Sacramento. Many choose to maintain a home in that city, and even enroll their kids in school there. That seems reasonable.

  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • Guns and Ammo
The Trump administration is considering authorizing U.S. troops at the Mexico border to use their weapons to defend border agents.
The Trump administration is considering authorizing U.S. troops at the Mexico border to use their weapons to defend border agents. (Eric Gay / Associated Press)

President Trump may be about to make a bad decision even worse.

In the run-up to the midterm election, Trump tried to turn the northward flow of a few thousand desperate Central Americans into a crisis of sovereignty, describing the parade of young men, mothers and children as an “assault” on the border, which he threatened to close.

  • Trump
  • Opinion
Protesters rally outside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, where journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed Oct. 2.
Protesters rally outside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, where journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed Oct. 2. (Ozan Kose / AFP/Getty Images)

The killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is probably responsible would be a challenge to even the most judicious and thoughtful U.S. president.  The U.S.-Saudi relationship is long-standing and important, yet the United States cannot be seen to condone the state-sponsored assassination of a journalist.

Of course, President Trump is far from being that ideal president, as is clear from the embarrassing statement about Khashoggi’s killing he released Tuesday.

Reading more like the transcript of a Twitter thread or a Fox News interview than a considered foreign-policy pronouncement, Trump’s statement opened with his “America First” campaign slogan — followed by an exclamation point — and the likewise exclamation-pointed observation that “The world is a very dangerous place!”

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Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner at a White House event in March 2017.
Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner at a White House event in March 2017. (Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)

Supporters of Hillary Clinton in 2016 — and even a few non-supporters — are having a good laugh over the report that first daughter/senior advisor Ivanka Trump used a personal email account to transact official business. 

On Twitter, John Dean (yes, that John Dean) opined: “Dems should run this to ground given her father thought a very big deal when it involved Hillary. So it’s got to be [a] big deal for Ivanka!” Newsweek in tweeting out its story used the inevitable teaser: “Lock her up?”

The mirth —  and bitterness —  are understandable. It’s an article of faith among Clinton supporters that the issue of her emails was overblown (including by the “liberal” media). And it’s hard not to chuckle at the irony of improper email traffic ensnaring the daughter of a president who claimed Hillary’s actions were “worse than Watergate.”

A federal judge has temporarily ordered the Trump administration to resume accepting asylum requests from border crossers.
A federal judge has temporarily ordered the Trump administration to resume accepting asylum requests from border crossers. (Rodrigo Abd / Associated Press)

It was clear from the start that President Trump didn’t have the legal authority under the Immigration and Naturalization Act to ban asylum requests at any place other than established ports of entry, but the administration went ahead with the order anyway.

Late Monday night a federal judge told the government to knock it off, at least for now.