Newsletter: How dangerous is Trump? Ask the Kurds

 latimes.com  10/12/2019 13:03:37 

Good morning. Im Paul Thornton, and it is Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019. Beginning on a positive note, we should celebrate the fact that the Dodgers will avoid losing three World Series in a row. Lets take a look back at the week in Opinion.

Last Friday, the Kurds in northern Syria went to bed after yet another day existing precariously between warring factions that would brutalize them were it not for the skeletal presence of U.S. forces. On Monday, the Kurds faced a military incursion from Turkish forces and a renewed threat from Islamic State made possible by a sudden American withdrawal. What happened?

This is one of those rare cases in which a president like Donald Trump can have immediate, deadly and long-lasting consequences, thanks to both the vast powers vested in the position of commander in chief and the malignant incompetence of the person holding it.

President Trump deserves blame for mishandling a number of issues, but a problem like the trade war with China was preceded by a generation of economic duplicitousness by Beijing. Trumps sudden withdrawal from parts of northern Syria, however, has all the fingerprints of his particular unfitness for the job: his impulsiveness, his purely transactional approach to foreign policy (remember, they didnt help us with Normandy), his affinity for autocrats like Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and his supreme confidence in his own great and unmatched wisdom.

This is what happens when we let Trump be Trump  or as the L.A. Times Editorial Board put it in a scathing piece: This episode is a reminder that, whether or not Congress concludes that Trump committed high crimes and misdemeanors deserving of impeachment, he is operatically incompetent in discharging the duties of the presidency.

Trump will only get more Trumpy. Virginia Heffernan writes that the the unconstitutional refusal by the presidents counsel to cooperate in the House impeachment inquiry is bad enough, but it pales in comparison to what Trump himself is doing: To see a panicky president endanger our national security while he showers Erdogan and Putin with gifts is to see a leader over the edge. He has no intention of even pausing his traitorous crime spree on the way to impeachment. L.A. Times

Its (probably) safe to eat red meat again, but not because of some recent breakthrough in raising livestock. In fact, the foods stayed the same, but the way some scientists are looking at the evidence has changed. Nina Teicholz writes that the latest flip-flop on red meat  clarification that, in fact, eating it has not been shown to be associated with a higher heart disease or cancer risk  uses the best science in place of scientists best guesses. L.A. Times

Want someone to blame for blackouts? Look in the mirror. Besieged utility Pacific Gas and Electric is getting plenty of deserved flak for its preemptive power outages in Northern California during high winds. But wind-driven wildfires sparked by malfunctioning electrical lines would be killing fewer people and destroying less property if so many Californians werent living in high-risk areas. L.A. Times

Trump is creating the worst constitutional crisis in 150 years. The term constitutional crisis gets thrown around too often, and it really does not have any legal significance. It is used properly to describe a breakdown in the constitutional order, something that has happened only a few times in U.S. history, most significantly before the Civil War. And Trump, by refusing to recognize the Houses sole power of impeachment as afforded in the Constitution instead of simply making his case to the American people, has touched off that kind of crisis. L.A. Times

Everyone made money off her athleticism  except the athlete. UCLAs Katelyn Ohashi is one of the most celebrated college gymnasts ever; clips of her perfect-10 floor routine have gone viral. Problem is, the only participant in her fame who didnt make any money from it was Ohashi. She explains why she believes thats wrong, and why she supports Californias new law that will allow students to be compensated for their athleticism. New York Times

Reach me: paul.thornton@latimes.com

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