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426 posts
  • Opinion
  • Election 2018
  • Rich Dudes
Roque "Rocky" De La Fuente before a Democratic Presidential Forum in Des Moines, Iowa in 2016. He's a Republican now.
Roque "Rocky" De La Fuente before a Democratic Presidential Forum in Des Moines, Iowa in 2016. He's a Republican now. (Charlie Neibergall/ Associated Press)

Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente is running for U.S. Senate in California’s June 5 primary.

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It’s a good question, and one that has come up more than once since the Los Angeles Times editorial board decided to throw in with former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in the governor’s race on June 5: What about John Chiang? After all, we’d endorsed Chiang for both his current job as state treasurer and his previous gig as state controller.

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  • Trump
  • Opinion
President Trump shakes hands with North Korean envoy Kim Yong Chol after a June 1 meeting at the White House.
President Trump shakes hands with North Korean envoy Kim Yong Chol after a June 1 meeting at the White House. (Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)

A week ago, when President Trump’s much-ballyhooed super-summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was suddenly canceled, I wrote an editorial for The Times asking whether, “seriously, is anyone really shocked?” But just to be clear, I’m no more shocked by the fact that it is back on than I was that it was cancelled in the first place.

That’s because Trump is the most erratic, impulsive, inconsistent leader imaginable. And the guy he’s planning to meet across the table is hardly a paragon of diplomatic gravitas himself.

From the start, the summit was undertaken in, to say the least, an unorthodox manner. It began with name-calling between Little Rocket Man and the Dotard, with the protagonists hurling insults, calling each other “deranged,” “short,” “lunatic,” “reckless,” “fat,” etc. It also included more serious threats: We will “totally destroy North Korea,” Trump said at one point. Kim said: “The entire area of the U.S. mainland is within our nuclear strike range.”

  • Trump
  • Opinion
In this Dec. 15, 2017, photo, the HealthCare.gov website is shown.
In this Dec. 15, 2017, photo, the HealthCare.gov website is shown. (Jon Elswick / Associated Press)

As bad as the Trump administration and congressional Republicans have made things for Americans who buy health insurance in the individual market, it could be worse. In fact, the Trump administration may make it worse later this year, just in time for the midterm elections.

Specifically, the administration is considering a way to increase the pain inflicted by its decision last year to stop reimbursing insurers for certain subsidies they are required to provide low-income Americans enrolled in Obamacare plans. These “cost-sharing subsidies” lower deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses. The decision shifted the cost of billions of dollars’ worth of subsidies from federal taxpayers onto the people buying health insurance in the individual market.

Insurers and regulators in most states found a way to redirect that bullet so that taxpayers continued to absorb much or all of the cost. Now, however, officials at the Department of Health and Human Services are thinking about barring this practice, resulting in higher premiums for more of the roughly 20 million Americans who buy insurance in that market.

  • Opinion
  • The Swamp
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, shown at a news conference in New York on Thursday, has opposed same-sex marriage.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, shown at a news conference in New York on Thursday, has opposed same-sex marriage. (Mary Altaffer / Associated Press)

Like his predecessors, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo allows his name to appear on a vast number of statements issued by the State Department, a lot of which land in my email inbox.

For example, Pompeo on Friday extended “my best wishes and congratulations to our friends in Italy on this 72nd anniversary of the foundation of the Italian Republic.”

But Pompeo’s name also appeared on a message with potentially more political significance than “Happy Birthday, Italy.”

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  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • The Swamp
Senior White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow speaks to reporters at the White House on Friday.
Senior White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow speaks to reporters at the White House on Friday. (Susan Walsh/AP)

In keeping with this week’s theme of double standards, how does President Trump get away with tipping off the markets about this month’s jobs report — something his predecessors never dared to do?

At 7:21 a.m. Eastern time, Trump tweeted this:

Here’s what happened next, according to the Washington Post: 

  • Opinion
  • Rule of Law
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the State Department on Tuesday.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the State Department on Tuesday. (Alex Wong / AFP/Getty Images)

In introducing the State Department’s latest report on international religious freedom, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo this week waxed lyrical about the importance of religious liberty in America’s constitutional system.

 “Religious freedom is in the American bloodstream,” Pompeo said. “It’s what brought the pilgrims here from England. Our founders understood it as our first freedom. That is why they articulated it so clearly in the 1st Amendment.”

Not quite. 

  • Opinion
  • The Golden State
An encampment of homeless people in downtown Los Angeles, near where the latest homelessness statistics were announced Thursday.
An encampment of homeless people in downtown Los Angeles, near where the latest homelessness statistics were announced Thursday. (Carla Hall/Los Angeles Times)

For the first time in four years, the number of homeless people in Los Angeles County decreased. It was only by a modest 3% (and 5% in just the city of L.A.) but that is still a significant reversal of a disturbing trend of double-digit increases in recent years.

The dip was welcome news, but the overall picture remains grim — 53,195 homeless people in the county, 31,516 of them in the city. The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, which administers the count, also says that more than 16,000 homeless people were housed, which is the highest number ever. It’s a sign that city and county agencies are treating the problem as the crisis that it is and directing more money into housing, services and outreach.

The most progress was made with homeless veterans, whose ranks decreased by 18%, to 3,910, and chronically homeless individuals, whose numbers dropped 16%, to 14,389. The latter figure reflects how county and city officials focused much of their efforts on housing the most vulnerable portion of the homeless population.

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  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • The Swamp
Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich speaks to the media outside his home in Chicago with his wife, Patti, shortly before heading to prison.
Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich speaks to the media outside his home in Chicago with his wife, Patti, shortly before heading to prison. (M. Spencer Green / Associated Press)

Pardoning Dinesh D’Souza, as President Trump did Thursday, is one thing. D’Souza, a conservative author and commentator, pleaded guilty in 2014 to making illegal campaign contributions. Many conservatives believe he was overpunished because of his politics. Probably a bad idea to pardon him, but whatever.

Pardoning Martha Stewart, as Trump then told reporters he was thinking of doing, would be a troublesome decision too. She was convicted in 2004 of obstructing justice and lying to investigators about a stock sale that some people believed constituted insider trading. Trump has a long-time personal relationship with her. (See below for her video with Donald and Melania making meatball sandwiches.) She long ago served her time, so pardoning her now would be mostly symbolic.

Those are two highly questionable choices, though they hardly rise to the level of some of Trump’s outrages.

  • Opinion
  • We're All Doomed
(Google screengrab)

Conservatives are on the warpath for Samantha Bee’s head after the comedian called Ivanka Trump a “feckless …” on her cable TV show "Full Frontal” last night, using a vulgar reference to the female anatomy that my editors won’t let me repeat here. Bee’s slur, for which she apologized Thursday, was prompted by Trump’s ostensive refusal to stand up to her father’s heartless immigration policies.

We all know what the missing word in Bee’s invective means. It’s obviously crass. Coming from the mouth of a man, it would clearly be considered sexist. A woman calling another woman the same term isn’t great. It coarsens the culture and gives men cover to use a term we shouldn’t.

Just so we’re all clear on that first word though, take a look at the dictionary definition above. As you can clearly see, “feckless” does not mean “white devil.” It is not an animal of any kind. It is not a pejorative way to attack someone’s religion. It means a person lacking strength of character.