• Jimmy Kimmel and Donald Trump on the Same Constitutional Page

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    Emmys host Jimmy Kimmel had a lot of fun Sunday night ridiculing Donald Trump in front of an overwhelmingly Democratic Hollywood crowd. The truth is, though, that the talk show personality and the Republicans’ Mad Hatter of a presidential nominee are united in their contempt for one of the Constitution’s most important safeguards of our individual liberty. That protection is the Bill of Rights’ Sixth Amendment, which guarantees every American accused of a crime the services of a defense lawyer: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of ...

  • Surveys Show the Trump Campaign’s Real Fuel is Old-Fashioned Racial Resentment

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    If you’re someone who thinks and writes about politics, as I have for more than four decades, this election cycle has been—by turns—perplexing, humbling and terrifying. More than once over the past months, I’ve found myself watching the primary returns and wondering whether I really know this country or its people anymore? Virtually no serious analyst foresaw the sequence of improbable events and subterranean eddies of popular sentiment that now have put Donald Trump within reach of the White House. It sometimes seems nowadays that the this vulgar bully may be just one more Hillary Clinton scandal from the Oval Office—and God ...

  • Like a dead snake, a defeated Trump could still be a poisonous presence

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    More than once when I was analyzing events for my city’s newspapers, I pointed out that the essential paradox of Los Angeles’ politics was that its leaders are elected by one city to govern another. The city that elects office-holders—older, whiter and far more affluent than LA as a whole—has interests; that city that’s governed—younger, poorer, more Latino, African American and Asian—has needs. The friction between those needs and interests, I’ve always argued, is what gives LA’s civic life the wary, edge-of-the-razor quality that has erupted in violence twice in my lifetime. Now, I’ve begun to wonder whether Donald Trump’s bizarre insurgent ...

  • Trump hasn’t just trashed the GOP, but presidential campaigning itself

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    It now is a commonplace to observe that Clinton and Trump are the two most disliked candidates ever to contest the Oval Office. While her favorable poll ratings are slightly higher than his, both are viewed unfavorably by more than half of those surveyed. Still, barring some unforeseen campaign calamity or tragedy, one of them will be the next president of the United States. That noted, it also is true that their campaigns could not be more different. That difference is more than her optimistic view of the American future versus his dystopian fulminations concerning a country in decay, more than ...

  • Trump’s Reckless Response to Russia’s DNC Hacking Demonstrates How Dangerous He Is

    As his recklessly ignorant response to Russia’s hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s emails demonstrates anew, Donald Trump is the most dangerous man ever to be this close to America’s presidential power. The fact that the Republican Party offered its nomination to this preening narcissist, this loose-lipped vulgar bully, this ill-informed wannabe caudillo, this cheap card room hustler in an undertaker’s suit is an affront to the memories of Abraham Lincoln and Dwight Eisenhower and an indelible stain on the historic reputations of this generation’s GOP leaders. Every one of them who has endorsed Trump—however reluctantly—stands indicted for putting party and ...

  • After Dallas: We Must Find a Clear Perspective on Race, Policing and Guns

    As President Barack Obama eloquently reminded us Tuesday, it is vital that we recall exactly what actually occurred in Dallas Thursday night, before these tragic events slide into the meat grinder of electoral politics where the blades of heedless partisanship will render them into unintelligible rhetorical sausage. Hundreds of people, mostly African American, had peaceably assembled and were exercising their democratic right to march in protest, the city’s police force was guarding their route and ensuring their constitutional right to petition for redress of grievance. A troubled and isolated young man—who was dishonorably discharged from the Army reserve and  intermittently employed—apparently ...

  • Nationalism and Nativism Not Populism Fuel the Trump and Brexit Insurgencies

    What does Brexit have in common with Donald Trump’s instantaneous denunciation of the FBI’s announcement that it found nothing criminal in Hillary Clinton’s handling of State Department emails? Two things: Both are rooted in the notion that, as the presumptive Republican nominee put it, “the system is rigged;” In both instances, that perception is part of a fundamental political realignment in which the old divisions between right and left are blurring into illegibility. We are only beginning to discern some of the implications of such a shift—and none so far are heartening. The continuing chaos that has followed Britain’s vote to bolt the ...

  • Trump’s Disregard for the Facts and Guns Are a Lethal Combination

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    Donald Trump, the Republicans’ presumptive presidential nominee, routinely spews so many lies, exaggerations, half‐truths and what appear to be spontaneously improvised fantasies that setting the record straight behind him would be the rhetorical equivalent of cleansing the Augean Stables. In Trump’s hands facts are a malleable commodity, and his experiences as a real estate promoter, failed Casino operator who bilked his investors and stiffed his contractors, founder of a phony “university” and as a “reality TV” personality have only reinforced his contemptuous disregard for truth. A particularly shrewd political analyst once remarked to me that Ronald Reagan’s great strength as a politician ...

  • Fifty more are dead from gun violence and nothing remotely constructive will be done

    Kenneth Rexroth began his beautiful 1952 elegy to the old Wobblie Eli Jacobson this way: "There are few of us now, soon there will be none. We were comrades together, we believed we would see with our own eyes the new world where man was no longer wolf to man, but men and women were all brothers and lovers together. We will not see it. We will not see it, none of us. It is farther off than we thought."   These days, those bleak opening lines frequently come to mind when I consider the situation of America’s gun control advocates—of whom I have long been one. I have ...

  • GOP Leaders Can’t Denounce Trump’s Rhetoric, But Embrace His Candidacy

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    Even Woodrow Wilson, the most overtly racist president of the past 150 years, felt the need to hide his inclinations while running for office. While campaigning, he promised African Americans that he would “advance the interests of your race” if elected and, as a consequence, received more black votes than any previous Democratic candidate. White supremacist son of the Old Confederacy that he was, Wilson promptly repaid that support by purging the previously integrated federal bureaucracy of all but a tiny handful of its African American supervisors, rigidly segregating all Washington’s integrated federal offices and encouraging the state branches of federal ...

  • Trump and Sanders both deliberately undermine our Democratic system’s legitimacy

    Few things are as lethal for the healthy conduct of democratic politics as a crisis of legitimacy. As far back as the Classical Era, Aristotle argued that a state’s legitimacy hinged on the stability created by distributive justice, which is to say, the equitable distribution of society’s material rewards according to individual merit. More recently, the German political philosopher Jurgen Habermas has identified what he calls a “legitimization crisis,” which occurs when the state structures legally endowed with administrative powers “do not succeed in maintaining the requisite level of mass loyalties” allowing them to exercise those powers.  Among the results, he argues, ...

  • Trump must disavow the anti-Semites now infesting his campaign

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    Given the milieu in which he was raised and prospered, it’s almost certain that Donald Trump is not a conscious anti-Semite.  His daughter and close adviser, Ivanka, after all, is a convert to Judaism married to an observant man. But that hasn’t kept candidate Trump from occasionally invoking a crude anti-Semitic stereotype, but that’s probably because his mind is the sort of coarse instrument in which unexamined notions of every type cluster. His presidential campaign, however, has a serious problem with this most malevolent of ancient antipathies, and the candidate needs to deal with it quickly and decisively. Last week, Trump was forced ...