Opinion L.A.
Observations and provocations from The Times' Opinion Staff
D.C. statehood: an appropriately lost cause

There isn’t a Committee of Lost Causes in the U.S. Senate. Too bad, because it would have been a more appropriate venue for a hearing on statehood for the District of Columbia than the panel that did examine the question Monday, the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

The committee heard witnesses on the desirability and constitutionality of the New Columbia Admission Act, which would  convert D.C. – except for a tiny federal enclave containing key government buildings – into the state of New Columbia, complete with representation in the Senate and the House of Representatives. No longer would D.C. license plates have to bear the shameful slogan “Taxation Without Representation.”

This proposal is going nowhere,  and only partly because congressional Republicans are loath to give Democrats two new seats in the Senate. (That’s an ignoble reason for opposing statehood; but jacking up Democratic representation is an equally ignoble argument for the idea.) There are also...

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Please Scotland, don't break up with England

Britain is on the brink. Our once solid little island is now moments away from possible extinction as Scotland prepares to vote on its future -- a referendum that will make or break a union formed more than 300 years ago.

The entire debacle has gone down like a bad breakup: England, the jilted ex-girlfriend, clinging on for dear life as our errant Scotch lover tries to extricate himself from a relationship he’s lost interest in. Scotland doesn’t want to come home to England anymore, even though there’ll be food on the table, and a warm spot in bed. He just wants to go out on the town, damn it! Make his own rules; not have to text and say he’ll be home late. And that’s cool, I guess. Except we didn’t even know there was a problem, Scotland; we didn’t feel you pulling away until you dropped the R-bomb and said you wanted it all to be over. We thought this was forever, but you clearly had other plans.

And it’s not like we haven’t been trying to win you back. We got quasi-literate national...

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Amid pre-election jockeying, some partisan greatest hits in Congress

Here's the latest sign that Democrats are worried about keeping control of the U.S. Senate: They're about to shutter the chamber six weeks ahead of the election so their vulnerable incumbents can spend more time on the campaign trail.

Good luck with that. Six weeks may not be enough time to find a way to close the enthusiasm gap between Democratic and Republican voters, which threatens to give the latter an unbeatable edge in turnout in the red states served by the four Senate Democrats most at risk of defeat.

Not that they haven't tried. As has been his custom, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada recently brought two red-meat bills to the floor despite the fact that Republicans were certain to kill them through the filibuster. As expected, both failed to get the 60 votes needed to end debate and go to a vote.

One was a proposed constitutional amendment to overturn three Supreme Court decisions, including Citizens United, to allow Congress and the states to set "reasonable"...

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California's crime rate may be falling, but my dystopian nightmares are rising

Crime is falling in California. Yet the state's police agencies have one of the highest concentrations of surplus military hardware in the United States. People started paying more attention to a post-9/11 Defense Department program to transfer military gear used against Afghanistan and Iraq to civilian police departments here in the United States in the wake of racially charged clashes between demonstrators and heavily armed police in Ferguson, Mo.

California law enforcement agencies began seriously taking an interest in military-style hardware after a February 1997 shootout between bank robbers and overwhelmed cops in North Hollywood. In most places at most times, however, police rarely confront criminals with that much high-powered weaponry. That's why California Police Chiefs Assn. President Christopher Boyd's claim that "all of this equipment is needed…. Most police departments cannot afford to buy them" seems a bit, well, over the top.

When you have to go back nearly two decades...

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The new Miss America's compelling take on domestic violence

To tell you the truth, I’d completely forgotten there still is a Miss America pageant.

I was reminded by news accounts of pageant judge Kathy Ireland asking Miss Florida an inept question that we once would have categorized as “have you stopped beating …” well, you know.

Ireland asked about the video of NFL star Ray Rice cold-cocking his future wife in an elevator, and her staying with him. Ireland asked, “As a woman, what do you think of her decision?” Miss Florida wisely answered the question Ireland should have asked — about Rice himself. “I don’t necessarily believe that he deserves a second chance,” she said in part.

It fell to the new Miss America, Kira Kazantsev, to speak more compellingly about it. Domestic violence is the cause she chose for herself, partly because of an abusive relationship in college.

She hadn’t then known about help available to women like her, and even if she had, she told NPR, “That’s not the mind-set that you’re in when you’re in that situation. You just...

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Adrian Peterson and the whitewashing of child abuse

Truth be told, I hadn't read the details of what Adrian Peterson is accused of doing to his child before deciding to write a post expressing a smidgen of sympathy for the Minnesota Vikings running back. No parent is perfect, and we routinely violate the lofty standards we set for ourselves before our kids were born. (No iPads or TV for two years; books only; no eating out or processed foods -- sound familiar?)

Thankfully, I have yet to cross the bright yellow line on corporal punishment I drew long before my kids were born two years ago. Perhaps it helps that I'm something of pacifist (or a wimp -- whatever you'd like to call it), but even so, parenting small children can be so indescribably frustrating that it's within anyone's ability to "snap" out of extreme exhaustion and anger and momentarily strike a child.

Something like that, I imagined, is what is alleged to have happened with Peterson and his son.

Then I read this report on the gruesome details of the Peterson case, and not...

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Would you worry first about saving a life or an EpiPen-related lawsuit?

Good for Gov. Jerry Brown for being willing to irritate the two state teachers unions by signing legislation that would stock all public schools with epinephrine auto-injectors and require training at least one volunteer at each school to use them.

The devices, known by the brand name EpiPen, are extremely easy to use in the event that a student or someone else at the school has a severe allergic reaction that could cause airways to close off. Anaphylaxis can be fatal.

Doctor groups, nurse groups and allergy groups all supported the bill, SB 1266, by Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff of Diamond Bar. The only organizations opposed to it were the California Teachers Assn. and the California Federation of Teachers. They said there should be school nurses to do that instead. Yes, and ideally there would be a paramedic at every restaurant, but I’m still going to try the Heimlich maneuver if someone is choking and an ambulance isn’t right outside.

Brown too often bends to the wishes of the...

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The NFL fallout: A severely damaged brand

Easy breezy cover up! #BoycottCoverGirl #BoycottNFL #GoodellMustGo pic.twitter.com/It8DgNLoWg

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$20,000 extra for a Cal journalism master's? Sounds like a tough sell.

Edward Wasserman, the dean of UC Berkeley’s journalism program, is proposing an added student-paid fee of $10,250 per year for a master's degree in journalism, according to an email I received from him. And the predictable response has been, how will journalists, of all people, be able to shoulder the added expense? These aren’t doctors or business executives. They’re, at least in the print world, working in a troubled industry that hasn’t quite figured out a way to hold on to the future.

Valid point. But my reaction is a little different: I’m also concerned about the journalism school’s ability to survive such a move. (Full disclosure: Cal is where I received my journalism training, and I would love to see the school thrive.)

If approved, the higher tuition would bring the annual price for the graduate program from about $15,800 a year to $26,050 a year, close to a 65% increase. That’s still a lot lower than many private schools charge but consider this: Some of the top-ranked...

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Sen. Wright is wrong on racism, right on unfair enforcement of residency law

State Sen. Roderick Wright announced Monday that he would give up his seat in the California Legislature, seven months after he was convicted of voter fraud and perjury for lying about living in his Inglewood district when he ran for office.

But Wright took one last parting shot at the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office, which investigated and prosecuted his case, saying his treatment “amounted to a 21st century lynching.” Wright’s comments were part of a message posted to members of the West Los Angeles Democratic Club, The Times reported.

His supporters also suggested racism played a part in his prosecution. Wright’s attorney, along with Assemblymen Steven Bradford of Gardena, told Times reporters that five fellow legislators don’t currently live in their districts. Yet only Wright, who is African American, has been prosecuted.

It’s hard to see Wright as the victim of racism. The D.A.’s office has successfully prosecuted nearly a dozen politicians – white, Latino and...

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Daniele Watts case: Did confrontation with LAPD have to happen?

Here’s the basic question about the case of Daniele Watts, the young black actress who was detained and handcuffed on a Studio City sidewalk Thursday after refusing to provide identification to police officers: Did the confrontation have to happen at all?   

It all started with a 911 call describing a black woman and a white man having rather explicit sex in a silver Mercedes on Radford Avenue near Ventura Boulevard.  The call went out at 3:02 p.m.  The first L.A. Police Department officer arrived at the scene at 3:04 p.m.  According to the LAPD, he was in the neighborhood. (Let’s hope when you have to call about a serious crime, the cops come that fast.)

When Sgt. Jim Parker did arrive, no sexual misdeed was taking place. Watts was out of the car on the phone. Her boyfriend was in the car. When Parker asked for some identification, she refused. “I can’t make out with my boyfriend in front of my…studio?” she is heard asking on the audiotapes that surfaced online, courtesy of TMZ. From...

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How to defeat haters on the Internet

Last week, the perpetually outraged feminist/progressive blogger Amanda Marcotte announced that she planned to delete permanently the “mentions” feed on her @AmandaMarcotte Twitter account because -- boo hoo! -- people were saying so many mean things about her.

“In the past few months (years?), most of what I get is harassment from users harboring a bilious hatred of feminists. Or, sometimes, just a hatred of me, a person they do not know,” she wrote for Slate, one of her numerous blogging outlets.

Marcotte’s beef this time was that a lot of people took issue with -- or, more frequently, found hilariously off-the-wall -- an earlier Slate post of hers in which she, citing a sociological study, denounced the idea of cooking for your husband and children as an imposition on women’s time, money and emotional well-being. “The main reason that people see cooking mostly as a burden is because it is a burden. It's expensive and time-consuming and often done for a bunch of ingrates who would...

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