The Trump-Omarosa fight makes us all dumber

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“Unhinged,” the new tell-all book by former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman, at a Washington, D.C., bookstore Tuesday. (Saul Loeb /AFP/Getty Images)

Tuesday morning, President Trump tweeted (kill me) that his former communications aide Omarosa Manigault Newman (seriously, let’s get off this planet) is a “dog.”

When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn’t work out. Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 14, 2018

It was just the latest in a string of insults he’s lobbed at high-profile black Americans. Less than two weeks ago, he called basketball star LeBron James and CNN anchor Don Lemon dumb. (This is a Trump go-to: he’s repeatedly said Rep. Maxine Waters has a “low I.Q.”)

Trump is riled up that Newman has been on the talk-show circuit promoting her new book, a splashy tell-all about her time in the White House. On “CBS This Morning,” she unveiled a tape from the campaign that appears to reveal aides discussing how to handle Trump’s alleged use of the N-word if it ever came to light.

State Sen. Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) speaks to a Democratic caucus in Oakland on July 14. (Los Angeles Times)

As he challenges incumbent Democrat Dianne Feinstein for a seat in the U.S. Senate, state Sen. Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) has made resisting the Trump administration a centerpiece of his campaign. A good illustration is his take-no-prisoners approach to President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. Feinstein isn’t doing enough to try to block the appointment, De Leon says, arguing that Democrats should go so far as to shut down the Senate. 

OK, so what’s the endgame there? As members of the minority party, the only tools at Senate Democrats’ disposal where nominees are concerned are dilatory ones. They can use the filibuster to kill most types of legislation, but not nominations — thanks in large part to their own shortsighted decision in 2013 to forbid filibusters on almost all nominees. (The only exception was Supreme Court justices, but Republicans predictably removed that barrier after Trump took office.)

The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled Kavanaugh’s hearing for Sept. 4, and assuming he clears that hurdle, the only thing that can stop him from being confirmed is Republicans. Sure, Democrats could threaten to filibuster the spending bills necessary to keep the federal government operating on all cylinders after Oct. 1, but the GOP may have Kavanaugh confirmed by then. And even if it doesn’t, partially shutting down the government over Kavanaugh A) won’t stop the Senate from voting on his nomination, and B) isn’t likely to win much support from a public that does not like government shutdowns.

Omarosa Manigualt Newman waits to promote her new book on the “Today” show on Monday. (Eduardo Munoz Alvarez / Getty Images)

The easy thing to say about the fallout from Omarosa Manigault Newman’s revelation that she recorded conversations with President Trump and White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly is that there’s no honor among reality TV stars. 

The former “Apprentice” star, who was fired from her White House position by Kelly, is promoting a tell-all book about the administration and her loss of faith in Trump. She has accused the president of being a racist and claims that he has displayed signs of a “mental decline.”

Trump in turn has called his former co-star “wacky,” a “lowlife” and “vicious, but not smart.” (Attacking the intelligence of his African American critics is becoming a Trump staple.) He also accused her of missing meetings and said that he asked her to join the White House staff because she “begged me for a job, tears in her eyes.”Trump further tweeted:

While I know it’s “not presidential” to take on a lowlife like Omarosa, and while I would rather not be doing so, this is a modern day form of communication and I know the Fake News Media will be working overtime to make even Wacky Omarosa look legitimate as possible. Sorry!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 13, 2018

The FBI fired former Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok, shown at a congressional hearing in July, on Friday. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

How many FBI agents can you name? 

The agency has produced a handful of famous (or infamous) directors — most notably, J. Edgar Hoover. For the most part, though, it’s a faceless organization of seemingly interchangeable parts. And that’s by design.

Michael Avenatti (Susan Watts / TNS)

Porn star Stormy Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, is currently in Iowa, where he’s glad-handing the locals at a state fair as he mulls a 2020 run for president.

I’m going to ask politely: Oh my god, please don’t.

Avenatti has skyrocketed to national recognition as the lawyer defending Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, in her quest to be released from a 2016 nondisclosure agreement regarding what she says was a one-night stand with President Trump in 2006. The Newport Beach attorney has built a career winning major settlements from celebrities and corporations — what he calls “fighting on behalf of Davids vs. Goliaths.” He’s also racked up his fair share of troubles, including a bankruptcy at his law firm and and multiple lawsuits filed by employees of a coffee chain he owned. 

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has been the target of 14 ethics investigations, three of which cleared him while six remain open. (Chris Kleponis/Polaris)

You will be forgiven for not remembering all the ways in which Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has drawn the attention of ethics investigators. That’s because there are so many of them.

In fact, since the departures of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and Environmental Protection Agency director Scott Pruitt, Zinke is likely the most conflicted member of the administration not named Trump or Kushner.

On Wednesday, the journal Science broke the story that neuroscientist and lab director Tania Singer allegedly bullied and intimidated her colleagues, particularly pregnant women. Singer is one of the world’s most respected empathy researchers, best known for her groundbreaking work on feeling others’ pain and the impact of meditation.

Singer isn’t the only academic whose alleged personal behavior is in conflict with her professional focus. In March, theBoston Globe reported that psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk was fired from his post as medical director of the Brookline Center, where he had worked for 35 years, for allegedly bullying and denigrating employees. His 2014 book, “The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma,”has been celebrated by experts and laypeople alike; theNew York Times ran a 7,000-word profile of Van der Kolk in advance of its release.

Singer and Van der Kolk are far from the first geniuses to (allegedly) also be awful IRL. Think: Bobby Fischer. Hemingway. Flaubert. Mailer.

Rep. Devin Nunes in June. (Alex Wong / Getty Images)

In case there was any lingering doubt that House Republicans are in the tank for President Trump, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) told fellow Republicans at a fundraiser in Spokane, Wash., that the GOP needs to hang onto the House majority in order to protect the president from the Russia investigation and possible impeachment.

The comments, which were recorded by an attendee and eventually aired in part Wednesday night on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show,” make it abundantly clear that Nunes, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee and was an early Trump supporter, is more interested in maintaining Republican power than he is about finding the truth. The fundraiser was with House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), the fourth most powerful member of the House majority.

The Trump administration has filed notice for an environmental review that could open some federal lands in California to fracking. (David McNew/Getty Images)

The federal government on Wednesday posted notice that it is considering opening up 400,000 acres of public land in California, and 1.2 million acres for which the government holds mineral rights, to fracking, the controversial oil and gas drilling practice linked to earthquakes in Oklahoma and groundwater pollution there and in other states.

The land at stake lies in Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare and Ventura counties, the Bureau of Land Management said. 

An Oscar statue appears outside the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. (Matt Sayles / Associated Press)

Well, look, they had to do something. This year’s Oscars telecast was the lowest-rated of all time. Even I — who have rock-bottom standards for entertainment — got bored. So if the academy wants to run some awards during the commercial breaks, edit them down and run them later in the program: Whatever.

I know true film nerds will be upset about that. I get it. I was very upset when the “Poetry Magazine Podcast” changed its format from long, juicy monthly episodes to bite-sized weekly episodes. Everyone else’s world somehow kept spinning on its axis.


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