Advertisement
414 posts
  • Opinion
  • The Swamp
  • Election 2018
 Rep. Duncan Hunter appears in 2011.
Rep. Duncan Hunter appears in 2011. (Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press)

In a perfect world, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine) would announce on Thursday that he’s taking a leave of absence — preferably, right after he is arraigned on charges that he and his wife raided his campaign war chest for more than a quarter of a million dollars to buy personal things and then altered documents to hide the pilfering from federal elections officials.

As part of the announcement Hunter would say that, as much as it pains him, he knows that he would be too distracted by the case to be an effective member of Congress. It wouldn’t be fair to his constituents to continue. For that matter, he also would say that even though it is too late to have his name removed from the Nov. 6 ballot, he is suspending his reelection campaign.

And then, in this perfect world, the San Diego County congressional district would vote for the other guy on the ballot, no matter the political designation next to his name. After all, it is better to have a clean congressional representative from a different party than gamble on reelecting someone who may soon be a felon. Right?

Advertisement
  • The Witch Hunt
Donald Trump appears at the Republican National Convention in 2016.
Donald Trump appears at the Republican National Convention in 2016. (Brian van der Brug)

What a week. The president's former lawyer says he was directed to violate campaign finance law to influence the election at the behest of Donald Trump. Oh, and he says he's got some Russia stuff he thinks Robert S. Mueller III might be interested in. The president's former campaign chairman became a convicted felon. One of the first congressional representatives to publicly throw his support behind Trump has been indicted for improper use of campaign funds.

It is only Wednesday.

Here in the lamestream fake news media, this is all a big deal. But as far as Trump supporters are concerned, it's barely a blip.

Advertisement
  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • The Witch Hunt
A courtroom sketch of Michael Cohen.
A courtroom sketch of Michael Cohen. (Elizabeth Williams / Associated Press)

President Trump broke his silence about his former lawyer Michael Cohen on Wednesday morning on Twitter (where else?), and he did not disappoint. 

He opened as he usually does, attacking Cohen personally:

Yawn. Not much to get excited about there. But then he tweeted this:

  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • The Witch Hunt
  • Rule of Law
  • The Swamp
The felony convictions of former Trump insiders Michael Cohen, left, and Paul Manafort have rocked the administration; more are likely.
The felony convictions of former Trump insiders Michael Cohen, left, and Paul Manafort have rocked the administration; more are likely. (Don Emmert / AFP/Getty Images)

The double-header loss for Team Trump in the federal courts Tuesday was riveting and will resonate for months no matter how hard the president tries and lies to make it seem like nothing. “Where is the collusion?” President Trump asked. Well, to start with, among him and longtime fixer Michael Cohen, the head of the company that owns the National Enquirer, a Playboy model, and an adult film star.

It’s useful at such moments to take a step back and look at both the arc that brought the nation to this juncture, and the context.

Remember, Trump the candidate picked up significant support from people so disgusted with how Washington works that they thought a modern-day P.T. Barnum would fix it. Trump was the one to “drain the swamp” because he was too rich to be bought or beholden to others (never mind the personal conflicts of interest). Which may or not be true, but it’s clear he is perfectly capable of doing the buying himself ($130,000 to keep the porn star quiet; $150,000 to bottle up news of the affair with the Playboy model) in a clear attempt to corrupt the election. How swampy.

  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • The Golden State
The California Legislature is considering a bill that would bar new pipelines for new federal off-shore oil leases.
The California Legislature is considering a bill that would bar new pipelines for new federal off-shore oil leases. (Los Angeles Times)

The Trump administration’s decision to open nearly all federal waters for oil and gas drilling left California and other states scrambling to find ways to stop expanded drilling off their coasts. One tool, California officials noted at the time, is that the California controls the first three miles of ocean, and regulates the pipelines that bring the oil to shore.

In fact, the State Lands Commission and the California Coastal Commission sent letters to the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management warning that neither body would approve new pipelines to service new wells, and would “not allow use of existing pipelines to transport oil from new leases onshore.”

Now there’s a move in the Legislature to make that refusal law. AB 1775 would bar the state from authorizing new oil and gas infrastructure within state waters and tidal areas for leases issued after the start of this year. The law would not affect efforts to “repair or maintain any pipeline or other infrastructure used to convey oil or natural gas or any other activity necessary to ensure the safe operation of infrastructure used in the exploration, development, or production of oil or natural gas.”

Advertisement
  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • We're All Doomed
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, shown testifying before Congress on monetary policy in February, has drawn President Trump's ire.
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, shown testifying before Congress on monetary policy in February, has drawn President Trump's ire. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

Currency manipulation is when a country’s rulers have their central bank monkey with the supply of legal tender to gain an advantage over trading partners. Typically, it means increasing the supply of the domestic currency in an effort to bring down its value in comparison to foreign currencies, making the country’s exports cheaper and its imports more expensive.

In an interview Monday with Reuters, President Trump accused China and the European Union of manipulating their currencies while also urging the U.S. central bank to allow for a greater supply of U.S. dollars.

It’s bad enough that Trump speaks as much as he does about monetary policy. His predecessors largely steered clear of that topic, in part to preserve the public’s confidence in the Federal Reserve’s independence, in part to avoid the sort of accusation Trump leveled at China and the EU. They were wise to do so.

  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • The Witch Hunt
Rudolph W. Giuliani, an attorney for President Trump, speaks at a Republican campaign event in New Hampshire on Aug. 1.
Rudolph W. Giuliani, an attorney for President Trump, speaks at a Republican campaign event in New Hampshire on Aug. 1. (Charles Krupa / Associated Press)

Former New York Mayor and Trump TV lawyer Rudy Giuliani is trying to extricate himself from his mind-boggling comment Sunday on “Meet the Press” that “truth isn’t truth.” The remark came in a colloquy with Chuck Todd about whether President Trump should submit to questioning by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

Here’s the exchange, which involved whether Trump would answer questions about whether, as former FBI Director James B. Comey has said, Trump had told him, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting [former national security advisor Michael] Flynn go.” 

Giuliani: “I am not going to be rushed into having him testify so that he gets trapped into perjury. And when you tell me that, you know, he should testify because he’s going to tell the truth and he shouldn’t worry, well that’s so silly because it’s somebody’s version of the truth. Not the truth. He didn’t have a, a conversation  . . .

  • Opinion
  • #MeToo
Actress Asia Argento speaks about being raped by Harvey Weinstein during the closing ceremony of Cannes on May 19.
Actress Asia Argento speaks about being raped by Harvey Weinstein during the closing ceremony of Cannes on May 19. (Vianney Le Caer / Invision / AP)

On Sunday, the New York Times revealed that Asia Argento, one of the leaders of the #MeToo movement, paid her own accuser hundreds of thousands of dollars, beginning in April. This is a terrible revelation, including for the millions of survivors who include themselves in the broad coalition Argento helped birth.

Some feminists have been quick to dismiss the reporting, simply circulating an excerpt from a letter Argento’s lawyer wrote to her: “You are a powerful and inspiring creator and it is a miserable condition of life that you live among [lousy] individuals who’ve preyed on both your strengths and your weaknesses.” This may be true. But to engage that excerpt without engaging the broader story is cheap and small. It shows an inability to confront information that challenges our worldview; that is the precise work we ask from those who do not appreciate the ways in which sexual violence is built into our society.

While it can be difficult to judge the tone and content of an alleged sexual encounter, the evidence in favor of Jimmy Bennett’s story is substantial. And as Argento has declined to speak to this point, there is no compelling alternative story on offer. Were Bennett a lower-profile woman providing this same evidence against a higher-profile man, the #MeToo coalition would invariably support the survivor’s version of events.

Advertisement
President Trump canceled his November military parade in Washington before leaving town for the weekend.
President Trump canceled his November military parade in Washington before leaving town for the weekend. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press)

President Trump tweeted a few hours ago that he was canceling the national military parade he had ordered up for this fall in Washington, a decision he made just as unilaterally as when he told the Pentagon to make the arrangements in the first place.

The idea was to march soldiers, veterans and military vehicles (not tanks or other tracked vehicles that would churn up city streets) down a stretch of  Pennsylvania Avenue — which presumably would have passed in front of the Trump International Hotel along the way. Not that the parade would have drawn business for the Trump family enterprise or anything.

  • Opinion
Aretha Franklin sings during a memorial service in Detroit, Mich. on June 7, 2015.
Aretha Franklin sings during a memorial service in Detroit, Mich. on June 7, 2015. (Elizabeth Conley / The Detroit News via AP)

Aretha died Thursday morning at the age of 76. We don’t need to say Franklin. She was singular. And anyhow, you already know.

In a statement, Quincy Jones wrote, “Aretha Franklin set the bar upon which every female singer has and will be measured.” Simple as that. She took songs you thought you’d loved (“The Weight,” for instance, or “Bridge Over Troubled Water”) and infused them with new energy. She was a diamond Midas.

At age 10, I learned about Aretha after a much cooler kid told me she’d sung “Say a Little Prayer for You,” a campy, all-cast version of which was featured in my favorite rom-com, “My Best Friend’s Wedding.” I tracked her version down in a tiny town in New England and sang my little guts out to it. She found us all, eventually. Many of us remember exactly when.