Top of the Ticket
Political commentary from David Horsey
California drought puts a chill on L.A. pool time

As the East Coast gets pummeled with rain and heavy snow, messing up Thanksgiving plans for thousands of travelers, folks here in Southern California are looking forward to a Turkey Day with temperatures in the 80s. Please pass the sunblock and cranberry sauce.

Enjoying day after day of nice weather makes a person feel somewhat disconnected from the meteorological travails that beset the rest of the country. Last week, when icy air and heaps of snow blasted most of the U.S., it was still possible to walk around in shorts and a T-shirt here in L.A. -- and worry about a sunburn. Newscasters kept noting that there were freezing temperatures in all 50 states, but, in California, that was in the Sierras, not in the city.

Not having lived in Los Angeles until recently, I now understand why Angelenos are generally so good-natured and laid back. Who wouldn’t be if almost every day can be a beach day? When I tell people here I moved down from Seattle, a look of pity crosses their faces and they...

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Chuck Hagel was never let into Obama's inner circle

Chuck Hagel resigned his job as secretary of Defense on Monday. “Resigned” is, of course, a euphemism for being pushed out the door because his presence no longer pleases President Obama.

When a public official departs a job prematurely, it’s never easy to pin down the truth about why it is happening -- although if the excuse is “wanting to spend more time with my family,” it is safe to assume the impetus for the departure involves a hooker, sex in a bathroom stall or a soon-to-be-revealed secret stash of money. 

None of those embarrassing elements is the cause of Hagel being cast adrift. This looks like a fairly classic case of a Cabinet secretary being shut out of the inner circle and finally figuring out it is time to go. 

Gleaning a probable scenario from the most informed first-day reporting, it appears that Hagel initiated a status-of-job discussion with the president several weeks ago. A mutual decision was reached that it would be best to part ways. Most observers are saying...

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Best revenge for angry GOP: Pass an immigration bill

I’ve got a great idea for congressional Republicans who are hopping mad about President Obama’s executive action suspending deportation for several million undocumented immigrants: If you want to undo what the president has done and improve your standing with the American people, turn off talk radio and pass an immigration reform bill.

Sure, that’s not as fun as going on Fox News to call Obama an emperor and to pose as valiant defenders of the imperiled Constitution. It’s not as exciting as shutting down the government or threatening to impeach the president. But it will be a far better use of your time, much better for your party and a whole lot better for the United States.

Yes, Rush Limbaugh has lectured you about how you were not elected to govern. He says your job is to spend the next two years doing nothing but stopping Obama from doing anything. It would be smart, though, if you put Rush on mute and began thinking about the people who elected you and, more crucially, the people...

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Keystone XL pipeline pumps out political nonsense

Like most debates in Congress, the fight over the Keystone XL pipeline is driven by posturing and partisanship rather than common sense. On Tuesday, this phenomenon was on full view as the Senate took a vote that fell short of overriding environmental concerns and giving the pipeline the go-ahead.

The goofiness began with the reason the vote was taken at all. Louisiana’s Democratic Sen. Mary L. Landrieu pleaded with her party's Senate leaders to bring up the measure on the theory that a public display of her strong support for the pipeline would help her prevail in the December runoff election in which Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy is favored to oust Landrieu from her Senate seat.

What’s goofy about that? Well, for one thing, though Landrieu is a sponsor of the Senate pipeline bill, Cassidy is sponsor of the House version, and it is hard to see how passage of the legislation would give Landrieu any advantage over Cassidy.

For another thing, if this was meant to be a demonstration of...

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GOP outrage at Obama immigration plan sticks to an old script

Ronald Reagan pulled off a great performance as president of the United States. All those years in the movies came in handy. Yet, it must be acknowledged that, even without careers in Hollywood, members of the current cast of Republicans are no slouches when it comes to playacting.

I’m not talking about the professional entertainers, such as Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh, who are paid big money for their florid melodramatics. Nor do I mean the party’s hilarious clown corps, the laugh-a-minute buffoons Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann and Louie Gohmert. I mean the true thespians – Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House John Boehner, as well as understated players such as South Dakota Sen. John Thune and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield. 

These are actors who can suspend disbelief and make crass artifice seem sincere. Currently, they are playing outraged defenders of the Constitution and disappointed champions of bipartisanship. Faced...

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Legislators and lobbyists bonding over mai tais on Maui

I got into the news business covering the Washington Legislature as a student intern for the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin. In those days, lobbyists would host frequent fundraising events for key lawmakers during the legislative session and there was always lots of free food. Because I was paid barely enough to cover a dorm-type room and really cheap meals, I dropped by as many of these parties as I could and I’d head straight for the buffet. I didn’t think about the ethics of it at the time; I was just hungry.

The practice of special interests raising money for legislators while they were in the midst of deliberating legislation that affected those same interests was banned in Washington long ago, part of a general trend of elected officials trying to eliminate the appearance of being bought off by lobbyists. But, in this second decade of the 21stcentury, there are still glaring examples of lawmakers getting cozy with the folks who are paid to influence them.

A new case in point: A...

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