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  • Shimon Peres: The last Israeli Jeffersonian

    Shimon Peres: The last Israeli Jeffersonian

    Two weeks before his death on July 4, 1826, Thomas Jefferson penned his last public letter, explaining that he was too weak to join the festivities marking 50 years since 1776. Despite his frailty, he took pains to assert that what he and his fellow revolutionaries had accomplished had more than...

  • A better death penalty for California

    A better death penalty for California

    Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh was sentenced to death for the murder of 168 people in 1997. He was executed less than four years later. McVeigh was not railroaded; his claims were fully considered. His case was reviewed on appeal by the federal court of appeals, again by the federal district...

  • Why Iran is more dangerous than Islamic State

    Why Iran is more dangerous than Islamic State

    U .S. political leaders of both parties argue that destroying Islamic State is America’s top priority in the Middle East. In reality, that’s not nearly as important as confronting the challenge posed by Iran. The nuclear deal that went into effect a year ago may have postponed the danger of an...

  • MacArthur fellow Josh ‘Don’t call me genius’ Kun digs beyond Hollywood to discover L.A.’s many cultures

    MacArthur fellow Josh ‘Don’t call me genius’ Kun digs beyond Hollywood to discover L.A.’s many cultures

    USC’s Josh Kun is one of five new Southern California winners of the MacArthur Foundation’s “genius grants.”  His mother used to be a docent at the La Brea Tarpits, and in his research, Kun has taken up spelunking into the musical, political, literary and gustatory culture of L.A. Find the full...

  • Trump takes Clinton's bait in the first debate

    Trump takes Clinton's bait in the first debate

    In the early minutes of Monday’s first general election presidential debate, it was possible that tens of millions of viewers who hadn’t followed the election until that point might have gotten the impression that this was a conventional election. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton disagreed about...

  • Stop trying to shape the narrative

    Stop trying to shape the narrative

    The most exhausting thing about our politics these days – other than the never-ending presidential election itself – is the obsession with “shaping the narrative.” By that I mean the effort to connect the dots between a selective number of facts and statistics to support one story line about the...

  • Will adding a veggie burger to the In-N-Out menu destroy the country?

    Will adding a veggie burger to the In-N-Out menu destroy the country?

    When I opened Facebook, I found a message directing me to eat a very sensitive part of the male anatomy between two slices of bread and expressing the fervent hope that I would soon get run over. That was one of dozens of vile Facebook screeds calling me: un-American, a fascist, a moron, delusional,...

  • Making the L.A. County Board of Supervisors more politically partisan isn't the reform we need

    Making the L.A. County Board of Supervisors more politically partisan isn't the reform we need

    Almost every year, Sacramento lawmakers introduce bills to change something or other about the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, and usually for good reason. The five-person structure that works well enough in a county like, say, Sierra, with its 3,000 residents, is hopelessly inadequate...

  • Trees are dying in the Sierra but the forests aren’t

    Trees are dying in the Sierra but the forests aren’t

    The trees are dying. The forests are not. This distinction is getting lost in all the angst over the tree die-off in the central Sierra, coastal ranges and other forests of California. Players ranging from the Forest Service to CalFire to Sen. Dianne Feinstein and other public officials are ignoring...

  • Stop overusing the word ‘genius’

    Stop overusing the word ‘genius’

    The MacArthur Foundation on Thursday announced its latest crop of “genius grants,” and once again — be honest now — you thought maybe, just maybe, this was your year. And why not? These days, we’re all geniuses. We might be “marketing geniuses” or “culinary geniuses” or “TV  geniuses.” Our children,...

  • Clinton and Trump will be held to different debate standards, but that’s OK

    Clinton and Trump will be held to different debate standards, but that’s OK

    A few weeks ago, Republican pollster Frank Luntz asked a group of undecided voters what they thought of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. They didn’t much like either one. Trump’s “crazy,” they chorused — “a charlatan.” Clinton is “deceitful,” “dishonest,” they said. “So what can Trump do to win...

  • Hillary Clinton would make a sober, smart and pragmatic president. Donald Trump would be a catastrophe.

    Hillary Clinton would make a sober, smart and pragmatic president. Donald Trump would be a catastrophe.

    American voters have a clear choice on Nov. 8. We can elect an experienced, thoughtful and deeply knowledgeable public servant or a thin-skinned demagogue who is unqualified and unsuited to be president.  Donald J. Trump, a billionaire businessman and television personality, is the latter. He has...

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