Newsletter: Bernie Sanders versus ‘pathological liar’ Trump

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders speakers to members of the L.A. Times Editorial Board on Dec. 21.
(Los Angeles Times)

Good morning. I’m Paul Thornton, and it is Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019. For the final time in perhaps the most interesting year in recent memory, let’s take a look back at the week in Opinion.

Now’s the time of year you’d expect to read year-end lists and “best of” (or perhaps “worst of”) retrospectives that contribute to the light-hearted feel of the holiday season. In other words, we typically ask you not to work too hard reading the L.A. Times Opinion section until after the new year.


But as we prepare to cross into an election year already encumbered by a presidential impeachment trial, it’s hard to defer to tradition and feign whimsy. So let’s discuss the election — or more precisely, a candidate whose supporters insist he isn’t getting the mainstream media attention he deserves, Bernie Sanders.

The Vermont senator stopped by the Los Angeles Times recently to discuss his candidacy and not only the exigency of defeating President Trump, but also why his campaign’s focus on economic inequality, healthcare and poverty make him the best person to do so. Read a partial transcript and watch a video of the question-and-answer session here. Here’s a preview of what he says about the all-important question of electability:

“And let me add to that if I might: [There are] people who run the same old, same old type of campaign. And you know, [former Vice President] Joe Biden is a personal friend of mine, so I’m not here to, you know, to attack him. But my God, if you are, if you’re a Donald Trump and you got Biden having voted for the war in Iraq, Biden having voted for these terrible, in my view, trade agreements, Biden having voted for the bankruptcy bill, Trump will eat his lunch.”

One GOP senator meekly breaks with the party on trying Trump. We’ll take it. Alaska’s Sen. Lisa Murkowski recently said she was disturbed by the close coordination between Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the White House on setting the rules for the Senate’s impeachment trial. That’s a welcome development, even though Murkowski echoed in the same interview her party’s indefensible attacks on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for rushing on impeachment despite the White House’s constitutionally unacceptable stonewalling. L.A. Times

The founders feared demagogues, so they gave Congress the power of impeachment. Historian Eli Merritt writes of the threat foreseen by the statesmen who wrote the Constitution: “They believed uniformly that some men, though elected by the people, would be temperamentally incapable of serving the public interest under the Constitution. Therefore, they offered Congress the remedy of impeachment and removal from office.” L.A. Times

Well, this is awkward if you’re a Pasadena resident: Opinion writers from the New York Times might have been tracking your every location. They weren’t snooping for any nefarious purpose, but to prove a point: It’s remarkably easy to glean your movements, relationships and much more just from the data constantly dumped by your smartphone. In this case, the writers tracked down and presented much of the personal information to the unlucky individuals they monitored. New York Times


We didn’t go all week without mentioning Christmas. Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” polarizes critics and fans, but one thing everyone can agree on is that the song stirs an aching melancholy in a season varnished with cheer. Berlin biographer James Kaplan explores the song’s origins to explain why. Comedy writer Jason Shapiro recalls growing up in a Jewish family that owned a chain of Christmas stores in the Midwest.

She’s Jewish. She fights anti-Semitism and supports Palestinian rights, and she says Trump’s executive order purporting to fight anti-Semitism on college campuses will harm Jews like her. Phyllis Bennis, who sits on the board of Jewish Voice for Peace, writes: “Of course, even as the Trump administration tries to silence criticism of Israel, real anti-Semitism is rising, especially during the Trump administration. We know what it looks like.” L.A. Times

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