Newsletter: Trump keeps setting new standards of crazy

President Trump talks to journalists on the South Lawn of the White House on Friday.
(Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)

Good morning. I’m Paul Thornton, and it is Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019. Happy World Teachers’ Day. Let’s take a look back at the week in Opinion.

One of the more delicate things about writing opinion in the era of President Trump is knowing when to cry wolf, and when to hold back even though any other commander in chief would have been flogged out of office over the offenses to which this one has numbed us. You have to make your criticism less easy to ignore, similar to how Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s shift on impeachment registered on a lot more radars than when, say, House Democrats were agitating for an ouster in 2017.

But in the dizzying scandal that is Trump’s Ukraine flap, that calculation changes daily. Consider: When the week started a long, long time ago, L.A. Times deputy editorial page editor Jon Healey penned a piece headlined, “Impeachment is making Trump crazy.” This was before Trump melted down while standing next to the president of Finland and admitted to the wholly impeachable offense of soliciting not only Ukraine’s but also China’s help in discrediting Joe Biden. Looking back at the memorable week that was, the L.A. Times Editorial Board argues that the president appears desperate to keep Biden’s supposed misdeeds at the forefront, in effect making Trump the real whistleblower.

What happens in the coming days or even hours is anyone’s guess. Happy Saturday.

Do all the president’s men have a death wish? Atty. Gen. William Barr says he doesn’t care about his place in history, because “everyone dies.” Rudy Giuliani is similarly unconcerned about his legacy, because when people talk about it, “I’ll be dead.” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo points not to the end but rather the End Times in explaining his blind devotion to Trump. What gives? L.A. Times


Trump’s Ukraine scandal may have thrown Biden a lifeline. The former vice president and arguable Democratic front-runner was sagging in the polls and drawing rhetorical fire from his fellow candidates. Now that Trumpworld has been sicced on him, even Sen. Kamala Harris is telling people to leave Joe alone. L.A. Times

Trump governs by grudge in California. The New York Times doesn’t like what it sees this White House doing to California: revoking our ability to set our own gas mileage rules (while at the same time threatening us because we have dirty air), talking of rolling back protections for our migratory salmon and putting us under extra scrutiny because a lot of homeless people live here. New York Times

Hooray, California poked the NCAA with a stick. Yes, it’s wonderful that college student athletes will be able to earn money from endorsements and hire agents under legislation signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom. But there’s one important thing the law, which was fiercely opposed by the NCAA and major state universities, won’t do: require that athletes are paid for their labor. The law is a start, but it’s not enough. Deadspin

The “Nicholas effect,” 25 years later: After Reg and Maggie Green donated their son’s organs, Italy was never the same. In 1994, Nicholas, 7, was shot and killed while on a highway in Italy. But his heart would beat in the chest of another person for the next 23 years, and some of his organ’s recipients are still alive today. More importantly, in the 10 years after Nicholas’ death, the rate of organ donation in Italy tripled. L.A. Times

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