Opinion L.A.
Observations and provocations from The Times' Opinion Staff
Is the 'war on Ebola' really a mission for our military?

Boots on the ground! Just weeks after Doctors Without Borders told the United Nations that curbing the Ebola epidemic, and the subsequent riots and chaos in West Africa, would require a military response, President Obama announced that he’ll be sending up to 3,000 U.S. military personnel to Liberia to “battle” the Ebola virus.

The irony of the situation aside -- so far Obama has shied away from planting any boots in Iraq or Syria, where there is actual combat going on -- the president’s latest military move represents a startling transformation of metaphoric language: from describing reality to creating reality.

A “war” against some perceived evil has been a favorite metaphor of politicians and policymakers for decades. There was President Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty” and President Ford’s fire-engine-red “WIN” buttons (the “WIN” stood for “Whip Inflation Now”). More recently there’s been the “Republican War on Women,” not to mention the “Republican War on Science.” And, of course,...

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Battle over Ex-Im Bank shifts to next Congress

Remember when conservative Republicans were drawing a line in the sand against the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank?

On Thursday, the Senate is expected to approve a nine-month extension of the Ex-Im Bank's charter, from Sept. 30 of this year until June 30, 2015, as part of a bill (H.J. Res 124) to fund government operations until early December. The House passed the measure easily on Wednesday, wrapping up all the loose ends that absolutely had to be tied up prior to the November elections.

House Republicans are still going to take up two measures that repackage a number of bills they'd already pushed through the chamber on largely party-line votes. The point there, evidently, is to remind voters about the GOP's approach to the economy, which consists mainly of drilling wells, eliminating regulations and cutting taxes.

But postponing the decision about the Ex-Im Bank's long-term survival suggests that the theme of "crony capitalism" -- the tea party's main beef against the...

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Going solo! Most adults in Los Angeles are single

A recent spate of reports that single people make up 55.8% of the adult population of the Los Angeles metropolitan area may come as a shock to single adult women in L.A., who will most likely respond: “Are you kidding? Then why am I having such a hard time finding a boyfriend?” Or to borrow perpetual thirtysomething dater Charlotte York’s classic line on the TV show “Sex and the City”: “I’ve been dating since I was 15. I’m exhausted! Where is he?”

By the way, 53.6% of adults in New York City -- where that show was set -- are single.  

What’s stunning is that for the first time since the government began compiling these kinds of statistics in 1976, slightly more than half the population of American adults is single (meaning divorced or never married), according to U.S. Census figures, a Bloomberg article reports.

And, yes, in the country as a whole, there are more single women than single men. (Hence the Charlotte York lament.)  One report says the numbers of single women at 18 million,...

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L.A. heatwave: Don't be piggish about electricity use, and everyone can stay pretty cool

What are your air conditioning usage ethics? Are you in the “one for all” or the “all for me” camp?

The Department of Water and Power has been sending out pleas for several days, begging Angelenos  to “conserve energy use where possible” because energy demands are, like the heat, breaking records. The DWP wants us all to “help minimize the risk of power outages due to strain on neighborhood power grids.”

In other words, don’t be piggish about electricity use, and everyone can stay pretty cool.

Does that argument persuade you? Do you think that everyone sharing a bit of the pain – setting the thermostat to 80 instead of 72 – will keep the AC humming for everyone during a heat wave? Or are you a me-firster who says, “Damn the grid and everyone else, it's hot and I’m cranking the thermostat down to 70”?

During a heat wave three years ago in Japan, where energy production dropped after the Fukushima disaster, some people took the call to cut energy use too seriously; 26 people died from...

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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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