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426 posts
  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • The Witch Hunt
President Trump, speaking during a Cabinet meeting at the White House on Wednesday, appeared to walk back his latest walk-back.
President Trump, speaking during a Cabinet meeting at the White House on Wednesday, appeared to walk back his latest walk-back. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

My colleague Michael McGough wrote the obvious on this blog yesterday: that President Trump was believable when he defended Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday in Helsinki and entirely unbelievable in his one-day-later “do-over” effort to walk back his outrageous original comments.

The walk-back defied credulity. Were we really supposed to believe that Trump has come around and now believes the Russians meddled in the 2016 U.S. election on his behalf? Is it even remotely likely that he was in fact contradicting Putin in Helsinki — but that he accidentally said “would” when he meant “wouldn’t”?

Of course not. McGough concluded that Trump’s carefully scripted remarks Tuesday were merely a reaction to “a bipartisan chorus of condemnation over his calamitous comments in Helsinki.”

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Avocado toast plays a starring role in a privileged New Yorker's spending diary.
Avocado toast plays a starring role in a privileged New Yorker's spending diary. (Mel Melcon)

The hate-read is a time-honored internet tradition. The latest entry in the genre comes from Refinery29, a young women's lifestyle site. A series called "Money Diaries" purports to be "tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money." Anonymous writers submit their annual salary and a week's worth of expenses to show what it's like to, say, live in Los Angeles on a joint seven-figure salary, or in New Orleans on a $37,000 salary.

Like most first-person tales of personal finance, they mostly exist so the rest of us can judge their choices in the comments. Who drops $175 for weeknight sushi? Are you really doing a monthly clothing subscription when you have student loans to pay? Etc.

This week, a particularly galling Money Diary is so ludicrous it might just be a covert ad campaign for socialism. In a piece that has whipped social media into a frenzy of righteous outrage, a 21-year-old marketing intern in New York City writes guilelessly about the difficult financial decisions anyone would face if their parents paid their rent, health insurance, phone bill, Netflix and tuition — and gave them an $800 monthly allowance, plus an additional $300 from their grandfather ("#blessed").

Must be nice.
Must be nice. (Refinery29)
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  • Opinion
  • Living While Black

Y’all here is another Permit Patty trying to kick me off my own property because she’s having a hard time getting her...

Posted by Alyson Laliberte on Saturday, July 14, 2018

OK, this isn’t exactly a case of #playingwhileblack or #beingakidwhileblack even though a biracial child was involved.  But something wrong went down when a woman walked out of her apartment building in Cambridge, Mass., and asked an apparently white woman with a biracial child to move from where they were playing on the sidewalk because the child was noisy. 

Alyson Laliberte, the mother of the child, wrote on her Facebook page about the encounter, “Y’all here is another Permit Patty trying to kick me off my own property because she’s having a hard time getting her kids to take a nap at 3:30 in the afternoon on a Saturday.”

After a testy exchange during which Laliberte continues to say she won’t leave, the woman stares at her in exasperation, then asks: “Are you in one of the affordable units? Or are you in one of the Harvard units?”

  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • The Witch Hunt
President Trump speaks at a White House meeting with members of Congress on Tuesday.
President Trump speaks at a White House meeting with members of Congress on Tuesday. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

Reacting to a bipartisan chorus of condemnation over his calamitous comments in Helsinki about Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, President Trump on Tuesday claimed that he misspoke.

On Monday, at a news conference with Vladimir Putin, Trump said: “My people came to me, [director of national intelligence] Dan Coats came to me and some others and they said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin; he just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.”

But on Tuesday, in remarks before a meeting with congressional Republicans, Trump offered “some clarification.”

  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • The Witch Hunt
William F. Browder, CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, speaks in the House of Representatives in The Hague on May 23.
William F. Browder, CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, speaks in the House of Representatives in The Hague on May 23. (Robin Van Lonkhuijsen/ EPA/Shutterstock)

On Monday, Vladimir Putin offered — more rhetorically than seriously, I suspect — to assist Robert S. Mueller III in his investigation of 12 Russian military intelligence officials if Russia was allowed, in turn, to interrogate people  “who have something to do with illegal actions on the territory of Russia.” In particular, Putin said, he would like to interview U.S. intelligence officials about one man: William F. Browder.

(Trump’s response? “I think that’s an incredible offer.”)

Browder is an American-born financier, the billionaire CEO of Hermitage Capital who made much of his money in Russia after the fall of the Soviet regime. After his friend and colleague, Russian tax lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, was arrested and imprisoned — and subsequently died at age 37  — Browder led the campaign in the U.S. to pass the so-called Magnitsky Act, which imposed sanctions and froze assets of people deemed to have been involved in Magnitsky’s imprisonment. Since then, Browder has been an outspoken critic of Kremlin corruption.

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  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • We're All Doomed
Russian President Vladimir Putin hands a World Cup ball to President Trump during their news conference in Helsinki, Finland, on July 16.
Russian President Vladimir Putin hands a World Cup ball to President Trump during their news conference in Helsinki, Finland, on July 16. (Yuri Kadobnov / AFP/Getty Images)

The drama surrounding President Trump’s meeting Monday with Russian strongman Vladimir Putin centered, understandably, on whether Trump would confront Putin about Russian meddling in the 2016 election. I think Trump’s comment Monday that “President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today” qualifies as a “no.”

But Putin’s focus was no doubt on other things. For example, how to fend off Trump’s challenge to the new Gazprom natural gas pipeline dubbed Nord Stream 2 that will connect Russian gas producers with European buyers in Germany. 

You may recall Trump blasting the pipeline deal at last week’s NATO summit in Brussels. There, Trump said the pipeline would supply so much of Germany’s energy, the country would become “a captive of the Russians.”

  • Opinion
  • Rule of Law
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai on Monday called for an administrative law judge to review the Sinclair-Tribune deal.
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai on Monday called for an administrative law judge to review the Sinclair-Tribune deal. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

It’s safe to say that Ajit Pai isn’t going to be named Man of the Year from internet advocacy groups in 2018. Or ever, for that matter — his drive to eliminate net neutrality rules has made him Public (servant) Enemy No. 1 for the likes of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Free Press.

But on Monday, Pai did something that should at least stop his critics from claiming he’s completely in the pocket of Sinclair Broadcast Group. He registered his opposition to Sinclair’s blockbuster acquisition of Tribune Media’s television stations, a deal that would have allowed Sinclair to broadcast its right-wing (or perhaps more accurately, Trumpian) pronouncements into more than 60% of U.S. homes. If his colleagues agree with Pai, the deal will head to an administrative law judge for what’s likely to be a contentious review, rather than going to the commission for a vote to approve.

The sole Democrat on the commission, Jessica Rosenworcel, quickly agreed. A longtime critic of the deal, Rosenworcel took the occasion to lay into Pai: “As I have noted before, too many of this agency’s media policies have been custom built to support the business plans of Sinclair Broadcasting,” she said in a statement. “With this hearing designation order, the agency will finally take a hard look at its proposed merger with Tribune. This is overdue and favoritism like this needs to end.”

  • Election 2018
Sen. Kevin de León, at Vista Hermosa Park in Los Angeles in June.
Sen. Kevin de León, at Vista Hermosa Park in Los Angeles in June. (Gabriel S. Scarlett / Los Angeles Times)

The Democratic Party has been focused on building a blue wave to wash over the midterm elections and flip the U.S. House of Representatives. Maybe that’s why they didn’t notice the progressive swell sneaking up.

Late last month, it overtook Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.), a party stalwart representing parts of New York City, who lost the primary to newcomer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old Latina. The upset was written off by some as a rogue wave, a one-off that was merely a reflection of the changing demographics of that particular House district and not a referendum on the party’s neoliberal platform.

But the one-offs are starting to add up around the country as progressive candidates advance over more moderate Democrats, notably in three gubernatorial primaries: Stacey Abrams in Georgia, Ben Jealous in Maryland and Jared Polis in Colorado.

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Former Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting.
Former Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting. (Evan Vucci / AP)

Scott Pruitt may be gone from the Environmental Protection Agency, but his work dismantling environmental safeguards is still inspiring lawsuits — or at least threats of lawsuits.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and a dozen other state attorneys general fired off a letter to the EPA demanding the agency withdraw a decision Pruitt issued on his last day that would allow fleets of super-polluting trucks to stay on the road. The states have threatened legal action if the EPA does not reverse course.

Pruitt’s successor, Andrew Wheeler, a former industry lobbyist, also appears to believe in less stringent regulations, so don’t expect a quick reversal.

  • Opinion
  • The Golden State
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti arrives at a meeting with the Asian and Latino Coalition at the Statehouse in Des Moines in April.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti arrives at a meeting with the Asian and Latino Coalition at the Statehouse in Des Moines in April. (Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press)

Mayor Eric Garcetti has been jetting off to Boston, Chicago, Berlin — and especially to presidential battleground states, such as Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

From September 2016 through August 2017, Garcetti logged 112 days, or nearly one-third of his time, away from California, Times reporter Dakota Smith found. 

There’s nothing wrong with the mayor traveling out of state or out of the country on city business. This is Los Angeles, the nation’s second largest city and a global economic force. The mayor should be out building relationships across the country and the world, not cloistered in City Hall.